Liam Neeson said fairly recently that he was set to retire from the action genre, so it was only fitting that another action film starring him was set to be directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. But when you see a name like Jaume Collet-Serra is behind the camera, you can only expect he can make a simple premise seem entertaining enough even if it isn’t set to last fairly long. Nevertheless he’s also shown himself to be at his best working with Liam Neeson as proven by Unknown and Non-Stop, so it was among many reasons I was still curious enough to see The Commuter. If this is going to be Liam Neeson’s sendoff from the action genre, it’s disappointing – but nonetheless it’s entertaining to see him getting into action as if he were young, then again it was what I expected.
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The original Jumanji hasn’t particularly aged very well outside of Robin Williams’s role but the premise alone having been based on Chris Van Allsburg’s book of the same name has always remained an inventive one. In the film’s best moments it feels like an inventive take on the obsession with gaming by juxtaposing said dangers as a reality to really test how prepared its unsuspecting players truly are, but at its worst it also feels relentlessly dark, and these moments only make clear the film’s age more than anything. Now that we have a film taking on the same idea but placing it all in the world of a video game, the least I can really say about Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is that I’m already signed up to actually play a video game of this sort.
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Sofia Coppola has always been an interesting if inconsistent filmmaker. Following up 2011’s Somewhere, Coppola offers her own perspective of the American dream – and its effect on youth. For as much as this could easily have led to one of her most interesting films, it only satisfies on one end and the other it only falls dreadfully flat. When The Bling Ring is at its most intriguing it offers a biting satire regarding how celebrity culture has affected the youth but at its worst it also feels rather incomplete. It doesn’t help that within the same year, Harmony Korine had tackled similar subject matter via the brilliant Spring Breakers and right next to such, The Bling Ring feels far more underwhelming.
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Actually not too bad considering where else it could have gone. Martin Campbell’s career has never always been the most consistent but when he’s at his best he can assuredly create an exciting action scene (among many reasons his Bond films are among the best of the bunch). At his worst, however, he seems to have no control over what he wishes to tell (The Legend of Zorro, Green Lantern). With that having been said, it’s also fitting enough to say that Jackie Chan is always a delight to watch in the action genre when the film gives him enough room to work with – leaving part of me to hope that this would be a chance for the better side of Martin Campbell to show itself once again. To some extent, it was worth it for The Foreigner proved itself to be much better than it had much capacity to be – even if its more lackluster elements still are noticeable.
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Colin Trevorrow’s debut film Safety Not Guaranteed was a film I remember having enjoyed upon my first sighting of it, when I was going out of my way to seek out quirky independent films as a means of passing time. Coming back to it now after seeing what more had Colin Trevorrow become after the abysmal nostalgia-sucking experience of Jurassic World didn’t help any better, for what I’ve once seen in Safety Not Guaranteed now comes off as a stereotypical indie film just the way I see everything coming about. The quirky characters and equally quirky premise, starring actors who’ve already made names for themselves in other smaller films – this easily could be great. But after a long period of time having gone without seeing Safety Not Guaranteed only ever showed an incomplete film to my very own eyes, in the sense that it seems to build up to become so much more – and then suddenly everything just stops.
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I can’t say I expected much out of The Hitman’s Bodyguard because I knew not so much about it other than the pairing of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, a pair of actors that I’ve always enjoyed depending on the sort of role that they’re playing. To see the two of them being themselves and put together only would have made for something entertaining but the notion that Patrick Hughes was going behind the camera had me skeptical after having been left a bitter taste from The Expendables 3. I suppose having all of that in mind would have only kept me waiting for what to expect out of The Hitman’s Bodyguard overall and it was exactly what I had received. A movie that spends nearly two hours with the two of them getting within shenanigans and not much beyond that. I had only supposed the pairing of the two would only provide such as a means of killing time for said length.
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Was hoping to enjoy it more on this go after having been disappointed from a theatrical viewing, but on a revisit my opinion nevertheless remained the same. Gareth Edwards, a director only known at the time for a small scale science fiction film, Monsters, started off Legendary Pictures’s MonsterVerse on a more middling note than anything. Being the first American Godzilla film after the atrocity that is Roland Emmerich’s film, Edwards seems to have a grasp on what made a great monster film as a whole at least by remaining within the spirit of the original Japanese films – and yet it’s still somewhat lacking. As a star for the MonsterVerse it was intriguing to see what would have come out as a result from Godzilla but the most it evokes is that it’s just desperate to start up an entire series of films rather than standing out on its own: which I suppose I can get behind with what more it teases.
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It already seems as if we’re getting cinematic universes after another at this rate that stretch outside the likes of Marvel and DC, for now we also have Legendary’s MonsterVerse and now Universal is chiming in by reviving classic horror movie icons for the Dark Universe. To say they’ve started things off interestingly is one thing, because I’m still struggling with trying to deconstruct what it is that I’m really feeling about The Mummy right after having seen it because it only seems like this new cinematic universe will probably not go the way it was planned to be; and yet somehow that’s a part of why The Mummy only resulted in such a baffling experience. I was far too busy laughing at the stupidity of where it was going to the point I couldn’t say I was ever finding myself getting bored, yet at the same time that’s a part of why it’s difficult enough for me to even say it allows the Dark Universe to show promise.
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Feels at its very core like groundwork, but it isn’t especially surprising to me considering the fact it was only James Gray’s debut film. Considering his own tendencies were still in growth here, it was only fitting that Little Odessa was in fact his own debut but it shares a common trait that has always bothered me so greatly about his work. They aren’t badly made films at all, but I try my best and no matter what, I just can’t find myself getting into them. Little Odessa is yet another one of those cases but the fact it’s only his debut feels very clear because right next to his other films, it still feels just like he’s working to form his trademarks on the spot. It hints only at what would be a promising filmmaker but on its own it doesn’t really stand out or do anything fairly remarkable. This won’t be the last James Gray film I watch after my fondness of The Lost City of Z, but I’m not sold in on his work yet.
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For once I found myself skeptical of a Marvel Cinematic Universe film because the first Guardians of the Galaxy actually proved itself to be something that stood out amidst the rest of the crowd because it surprisingly happened to be one of only two films thus far from them that I really liked (the other being Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Naturally, the thought of a sequel would actually be met with warmth compared to the rest of their output but skepticism would also rise in regards to what it would end up turning the film into, and to some extent it’s what I got as always from the most typical MCU film. As promised from the return of James Gunn as writer and director another vibrant and colourful film would come back like the first but perhaps sticking to the same schtick that the first one carried only wore out the charm it had, at the film’s very worst moments.
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