Category Archives: CURRENT MOVIE REVIEWS

Hope you enjoy my movie reviews which reflect my opinion of the many movies I’ve enjoyed or not!

KIDNAP (2017) – My rating: 7.5/10

Kidnap is a thriller directed by Luis Prieto and written by Knate Lee about a mother who follows her son’s kidnappers to get him back, at any cost.  Although Kidnap seems unlikely to ever happen, it will cause you to cheer this mother on til the very end of the movie. This is not a new concept, as it’s been done before, just not quite like this.  The making of Kidnap began in 2009 and was finally released in 2017.

Karla Dyson (Halle Berry) is a divorced waitress living a pretty decent life as a single mom with her six-year-old son, Frankie (Sage Correa).  Karla works hard and devotes most of her time to her son who she obviously loves with all her heart.  Her x-husband is currently remarried and is pursuing custody rights of their son, despite Karla’s great parenting skills.  One day, after her shift at the diner, Karla takes Frankie to the local carnival where he is kidnapped. She observes Frankie being shoved into a green third generation Ford Mustang by a women and begins to run after them.  While running, she drops her already lowly charged cell phone, grabs hold of the rack on top of the car and continues running while the car is moving. Eventually Karla had to let go but was able to jump into her own vehicle and peruse chasing them as they hit the highway.

Without her phone, Karla is unable to call 911 so she tries to signal nearby motorists, but her attempt is stopped by the kidnapper when she threatens to throw Frankie out of the moving car by opening the car door and displaying half his body.   Karla hears the abductor’s voice over her son’s toy voice recorder, revealing her name as Margo (Chris McGinn), and telling the listener that Karla is looking for her son, despite all attempts to discourage her.  Soon after, she sees a police motorcycle several feet behind her. Hoping to engage the officer’s help in stopping the abductor’s car, Karla sways her car to attract attention, but the abductor  slams the police motorcycle into Karla’s car, knocking the police officer unconscious.

From this point, the story changes dramatically.  I’m sure you can begin to see how suspenseful Kidnap is becoming.  As usual, I have to stop here as not to spoil any more of the story.  I can only say you will be sitting on the edge of your seat right up to the end.  Halle Berry is in every scene and while I think her acting skills are better suited for roles like Storm in X-men and 007 divas she did a pretty good job in Kidnap.  I recommend waiting for Blu-Ray or DVD.  However, if you see Kidnap on the big screen, you won’t be disappointed.  I was thoroughly entertained.

 

THE DARK TOWER (2017) – My rating: 8/10

The Dark Tower is a science-fiction/fantasy/western adaptation of a Stephen King novel of the same name.  I usually don’t fancy Stephen King novels but I love Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, as well as a love for fantasy and science-fiction movies. I didn’t hear good things about The Dark Tower, so my expectations of the film were pretty low, yet I was pleasantly surprised. This is why I critique movies from the perspective of the standard viewer rather than the critic’s point-of-view. I ask myself basic questions as part of my analysis that falls into three separate areas: 1) Was I entertained?  (Did the movie make me laugh, cry, shout in anger or make me want my money back?)  2) Did the movie send a message or did I learn anything? (Did the movie teach me something about myself or the world at-large or do I now know something profound about history that makes a difference to me?)  3)  Was the story brilliant or was the plot dull, offensive or ambiguous?  (could the plot be life changing for someone, including myself, does the way they faced adversity have a logical conclusion or was this just a big waste of time?)  While all three of these situations may not necessarily apply to every movie I see, at least two out of three do. My mission is not to analyze films for their literary content or even ones acting abilities. Yet, entertainment value and relevancy has to exist for me to label a movie as a good film.

Based on my formula, The Dark Tower falls under two of my three areas for analysis.The Dark Tower is about a mythical structure/tower that supports all realities.  Walter Padick / The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) and his nemesis, Roland Deschain / The Last Gunslinger (Idris Elba) are on opposing sides of the tower. An 11-year old boy, Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) has visions of a man in black who seeks to destroy a tower that protects many worlds, including Earth.  He also dreams of a gunslinger who opposes the man in black. Jake’s mother Laurie Chambers (Katheryn Winnick), stepfather and psychiatrist Dr. Hotchkiss (José Zúñiga) dismiss Jake’s dreams as trauma, resulting from the death of his father (Karl Thaning) the previous year.

Given Jake’s strange behavior, his school suggested that he be temporarily admitted into a psychiatric facility where he would be rehabilitated. At his home in New York City, a group of workers from the facility appear to take Jake away but he recognizes them from his visions as monsters disguised as human, and flees. Jake tracks down an abandoned house that he recognizes from one of his visions and discovers a high-tech portal, which allows him to travel to a post-apocalyptic world called Mid-World.  Once in Mid-World, Jake encounters the last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain from his visions. Roland is pursuing Walter Padick, the Man in Black who had also appeared in his dreams across a desert, seeking to kill him in revenge for the murder of his father, Steven (Dennis Haysbert). He explains that Walter has been abducting psychic children, and is attempting to use their powers to destroy The Dark Tower, a fabled structure located at the center of the universe; this will allow monsters from outside of the universe to invade and destroy the worlds that the tower protects. Roland takes Jake to a village to have his visions interpreted by a seer. Learning of Jake’s escape and journey to Mid-World, Walter investigates, and realizes that Jake has enough psychic potential to destroy the Tower without any help from other children.

Since The Dark Tower is derived from a comic book series, which I’ve never heard of, this is my first encounter with this story and its characters.  I mention this because many fans are disappointed that this adaptation does not follow the comic book series closely.  My critique is strictly from a new viewer’s perspective, with no prior knowledge of The Dark Tower.  As usual, I am stopping here because I do not want to give away any more of the story, which has a lot more twist and turns.  I really enjoyed the film, “what you see is what you get”.  It was suspenseful and entertaining and had a good message.  I think it’s worth checking out and the acting was excellent!  I understand there are 2 sequels in the works.

 

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DETROIT (2017) – My rating: 8.5/10

It’s hard to believe a movie based on true events that happened in  1967, at the Algiers Motel in Detroit during the 12th Street riot is still playing out in 2017. I’m sure it was just as shocking these events were happening in 1967, since slavery was suppose to be a thing of the past and the emancipation meant hope for a brighter future. I’m even sure many people won’t believe this really happened and many won’t care but one thing is certain, 3 young Black adults were killed by the hands of the police force at a very troubling time. These young adults will never see the light of day nor have another opportunity to do anything, good or bad. Their crime was the color of their skin. That was sad then and it’s sad now, it will be sad forever more. Kathryn Bigelow felt she had to bring this riveting story to the world, because no one else would — for that, I say thank you. You did an outstanding job reporting what happened as written by Mark Boal to the best of your ability.

On July 23, 1967, the Detroit police staged a raid on an unlicensed club that was celebrating the return of black veterans. A riot started while suspects were being arrested. The mob started throwing rocks at the officers before looting nearby stores and starting fires. Unable to maintain any semblance of order, Governor George W. Romney authorizes the Michigan National Guard and Army paratroopers to enter Detroit to provide assistance. On the second day of rioting, two cops pursue a fleeing looter. One of them, Philip Krauss, (Will Poulter) mortally wounds the man with a shotgun against orders, but is allowed to remain on active duty until his superiors can decide whether to file murder charges.

The Dramatics, a professional black R&B group, arrive in Detroit hoping to score a recording contract. Seconds before their scheduled performance at a music hall, the police shut down the venue and order them to leave the city. while in route, their bus is attacked by rioters and the group subsequently splits up, with lead singer Larry Reed (Algee Smith) and his friend Fred Temple (Jacob Latimore) renting a room at the local Algiers Motel for the night. They meet 2 White girls, Julie Ann (Hannah Murray) and Karen (Kaitlyn Dever), who introduce them to their friends Carl Cooper (Jason Mitchell) and Aubrey Pollard (Nathan Davis, Jr.) who were already staying at the motel. Carl and another friend (for fun) staged an innocent prank using a toy starter pistol, upsetting Julie and Karen, who move to the room of Greene (Anthony Mackie), a Vietnam War Veteran, while Larry and Fred return to their own room.

In the meanwhile, not far from the motel, Melvin Dismukes (John Boyega), a Black private security guard was assigned to protect a grocery store from looters, ingratiates himself with the Guardsmen so he won’t be mistaken for a rioter. Not expecting any problems, they all hear shots fired in their direction, which they all perceive as a sniper attack coming from the Algiers. A detachment of police arrive, led by Krauss, who immediately guns down one of the Algiers’ guest, plants a knife next to his body and watches him as he bleeds out.

This marks the beginning of the Detroit incident that caused this movie to be written in the first place.  I cannot go any further, you’ll have to see it to find out what happens next — Krauss seems to be the loose cannon and several others who followed him made it all come together as the inhuman, racist, murdering event it ended up being.  Just like the Holocaust, this is another moment in Black history that needs to be told, like it or not!  No one deserves to die because of their race or skin color!  Good job on telling a profound story.  Check it out if you haven’t!

 

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ROUGH NIGHT (2017) – My rating: 6.5/10

Rough Night was a rough movie.  While some of it was funny most of it was a play on male bonding comedies done many times before.  I found Rough Night down right silly yet tolerable.  There were quite a few “not so bad moments” along with too many annoying moments, as well.

The movie starts in 2006 with 4 friends Jess (Scarlett Johansson), Alice (Jillian Bell), Frankie (Ilana Glazer) and Blair (Zoë Kravitz) in their first year of college.  During this period of friendship and bonding, they are doing what first year students do, attending silly parties and performing senseless acts, like spitting a ball across the room to break a rubber boob.  Oh my, what a party that was.  Guys dressed in thongs, women dressed in ridiculous outfits that served no purpose and everyone just drank and did stupid things.  Nothing that really resembles a real party like dancing and meaningful conversation.  The film then takes us 10 years in the future where Jess is running for office and is engaged to be married to Peter (Paul W. Downs).  She seems to be out of touch with her old friends from college except for her upcoming bachelorette party. Alice, who always considered herself Jess’s best friend, decides that the four friends should spend the weekend in Miami partying. They are also joined by Pippa (Kate McKinnon), Jess’s friend from a semester she attended in Australia. The friends get high and party at a club and then decide to hire a male stripper (Ryan Cooper).  When the stripper arrives, the adventure really gets going.

The series of events is the meat of Rough Night so I can’t list what follows.  There’s a death, misunderstandings, an unexpected trip, unexpected sex, oversexed neighbors (Ty Burrell and Demi Moore), robbers, wild emotions, make ups, break ups, bodies, handcuffs, drugs, burner phones, diamonds, boats, a cop (Colton Haynes), hellos and good-byes.  Rough Night is a roller coaster of crazy.  It starts off crazy and ends crazy with crazy in the middle.  Good acting — but doesn’t measure up to any of the guy bonding movies like The Hangover Trilogies.  I would wait for the DVD.

 

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (2017) – My rating: 8/10

Since I don’t read comic books, I didn’t know what to expect or even that this movie was derived from a comic book series. The pitch was “Valerian is the most beautiful movie we’ll ever see.” It was compared to Avatar and I was convinced that if it was half as good as Avatar, it still would be pretty fantastic as far as outstanding special effects goes. As it turns out, some of this was right but not all. It wasn’t until two thirds through, I found Valerian becoming more than tolerable and even interesting. The acting was good but the story was a little confusing. Then something happened; camera, action, a change of pace — oh boy, I think I like this after all.

A space station called Alpha was started in the 28th century where millions of creatures from different planets could live peacefully, exchange knowledge and cultures without any problems. What began as a space station around the planet Earth, grew as many nations from Earth and races from other planets joined. One of the planets called Mül was a low-tech humanoid race that lives peacefully in a tropical paradise. They fish for energy-containing pearls and use certain animals to duplicate the pearls.  Their philosophy was to give back what was given to them, much like Luke 12:48 – (NLT) “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”

Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are romantically involved as well as special agents of the human police forces. In a dream, Valerian sees this planet in all it’s beauty and glory.  As this idyll is destroyed by spaceship debris crashing onto the planet, Valerian wakes up to find he and Laureline on a mission to retrieve one of the rare animals from his dream, called a “converter”, from a black market dealer.

Valerian interrupts a meeting of the dealer with two prospective customers for the converter, both looking like the humanoids from his dream. He and Laureline obtain the converter, and he surreptitiously steals one of the pearls that had been given to the dealer as payment.  They now return to Alpha, where they are told by their Commander, Arün Filitt, (Clive Owen) part of the station has been infected by an unknown force, rendering it highly toxic, and troops sent into the area have not returned, plus the infection is spreading. Laureline and Valerian are assigned to protect the commander. However, while briefing an assembly about the infection, they are ambushed by the humanoids, who incapacitate all participants and kidnap him. Valerian frees himself and the others and chases the kidnappers, who head for the infected area. Valerian loses control of his vehicle and Laureline loses contact with Valerian who infiltrates the residential sector of the group with the help of a shapeshifter named Bubble (Rihanna).

While this is all starting to sound a little confusing, you probably can understand why I became a little loss in the beginning.  Trust me, it all comes together and even is fun and very interesting, especially when Rihanna enters the scene.  It definitely was not the fabulous movie they promised but it was descent.  You’ll learn why and who destroyed the planet Mül, as well as what happened to the planet’s beautiful inhabitants.  Also Valerian ask for Laureline’s hand in marriage, does she say yea or nay?  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is not too violent and the special effects are fantastic.  Nicely done!    You will also get to see: Ethan Hawke as Jolly the Pimp, Herbie Hancock as a Defence Minister and hear John Goodman as the voice of Igon Siruss, a Kodar’Khan pirate captain and the galaxy’s most-wanted criminal.  Check it out!

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THE PROMISE (2017) – My rating 9/10

Based on a true story the Turks still deny, The Promise flew way under the radar.  This is another history lesson that everyone should know and see.   Everywhere, The Promise was featured/advertised as a love triangle involving a medical student, an American journalist and an Armenian women raised in France.  However, more than a love triangle, it’s a story of Genocide against the Armenians in the 1900’s just as World War I was getting started. 
NOTE:  The film was a box office bomb, grossing just $8 million against its $90 million budget.  According to the studio, The Promise was made to bring attention to the events of the Genocide as oppose to making money.

Mikael, (Oscar Isaac) an apothecary is an Armenian whose life dream is to be a medical doctor.  Living in the small village of Sirun with not enough money to afford medical school, he promised his hand in marriage to the daughter, Marta (Shohreh Aghdashloo), of an affluent neighbor, in exchange for 400 gold coins as her dowry, which would more than pay for his education.  Mikael was sincere in his proposal and was determined to fall in love with Marta upon his return from Constantinople’s Medical Academy as a doctor.  Upon arrival in Constantinople, Mikael was to contact a wealthy uncle and family friend, Mesrob (Yigal Naor) for his boarding, food and any other help he may need.  While there, Mikael meets and falls in love with Ana, (Charlotte Le Bon) who is already romantically involved with Chris Myers, (Christian Bale) an American reporter for the Associated Press, as well as befriends Emre Ogan, (Marwan Kenzari) who is also in training to be a doctor and is the son of a high level Turkish official but is only doing so for his father, as he has no interest in the medical profession.

World War I as started and Mikael temporarily manages to avoid conscription in the Ottoman army through a medical student exemption with the help of Emre.  But when he tries to save his uncle from imprisonment during the roundups of April 24, 1915, he is detained and sent to a prison labor camp himself.  There he is put to hard labor where many Armenians were brutalized and died of exhaustion and starvation.

The events of The promise are graphic and sad.  An estimated 1.5 million people were murdered, including innocent women and children, for no reason.  The love story was insignificant but felt necessary to keep relations between the nations at a tolerable acceptance.  I for one, feel horrible that anyone should get away with such atrocities but it has happened many times in many places with no repercussions.  At any rate, this movie was well put together and was very informative.  It’s due to be released on July 18th to DVD.  Check it out if just for the history lesson!

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WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (2017) – My rating: 10/10

In my humble opinion, War for the Planet of the Apes is by far the best Planet Apes movie I’ve seen and I’ve seen them all.  Incredible makeup, incredible acting, incredible story and incredible directing (Matt Reeves).  The cinematography is outstanding and the message was loud and clear.  This movie couldn’t have come at a better time in our lives.  At one point I just weld up and as tears streamed down my face, couldn’t help but wonder why man makes an already difficult world so much more difficult by adding their egos and evil ways to the mix because one thing is certain, WE ALL WILL DIE SOMEDAY!  Having said that, I had to give War for the Planet of the Apes a whooping 10.

Now hiding in the woods after being attacked by the US military group, Alpha-Omega, Caesar, who is the current leader of the Apes, offers the humans peace if the Apes are left alone to live in peace.  Unfortunately Koba, the former rebellious leader of the Apes, who is now dead, still has many followers that are against Caesar and his clan of intelligent Apes and have joined the US military against Caesar.  After a recent attack, Caesar and his clan decides it’s best to go further into hiding by relocating to a new home across the desert where they won’t be found by Alpha-Omega and their mysterious Colonel.

The night before Caesar and his clan are to journey to their new home, they suffer another attack in the night and many Apes are killed, including Caesar’s family, causing him to go after the mysterious Colonel of the Alpha-Omega and the gorilla called Red.  Caesar’s youngest son Cornelius is now the only family he has left alive.  From this point, the emotions and intensity of the journey is overwhelming.  As the pieces fall into place, War for the planet of the Apes is anything but predictable.  We find out the fears and secrets that drive both sides (Man and Ape).  While the other Apes headed for the desert, Caesar along with Maurice, Luca and Rocket are forced to perform many ill gotten deeds like asphyxiating another Ape, which causes Caesar to worry if he is becoming just like Koba.

Not only is War for the Planet of the Apes the best of the entire franchise, it’s also one of the most entertaining movies of the summer.  Check it out, you won’t be disappointed!  Below are the cast of characters (apes and humans, alike) with  synopsis of each, courtesy of Wikipedia).

CAST OF Apes

  • Caesar (Andy Serkis) – an intelligent common chimpanzee who is leader to a tribe of genetically enhanced apes.
  • Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) – a common chimpanzee who lived in a zoo before the Simian Flu outbreak and was a hermit before joining Caesar’s group.
  • Maurice (Karin Konoval) – a wise and benevolent Bornean orangutan who is Caesar’s adviser.
  • Rocket (Terry Notary) – a common chimpanzee who is Caesar’s brother-figure.
  • Red (Ty Olsson) – a Western lowland gorilla who was once a follower of Koba, now serving the Colonel to defeat Caesar. Olsson previously played Chief Hamill in Rise.
  • Cornelia (Judy Greer) – Caesar’s wife.
  • Lake (Sara Canning) – a common chimpanzee in Caesar’s tribe, Blue Eyes’s mate and later Cornelius’s caretaker.
  • Blue Eyes (Max Lloyd-Jones) – Caesar and Cornelia’s oldest son.
  • Cornelius (Devyn Dalton) – Caesar and Cornelia’s youngest son and Blue Eyes’ younger brother. Dalton previously played Cornelia in Rise.
  • Luca (Michael Adamthwaite) – a Western lowland gorilla in Caesar’s tribe.
  • Winter (Aleks Paunovic) – an albino Western lowland gorilla in Caesar’s tribe who defected to the Colonel’s side.
  • Koba (Toby Kebbell) – reprises his role as  from Dawn, appearing in Caesar’s hallucinations.

CAST OF Humans

  • The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) – an iron-fisted soldier and the leader of the paramilitary organization Alpha-Omega who is obsessed with wiping out Caesar and his tribe to preserve his people’s role as the dominant species.
  • Nova (Amiah Miller) – a bold and kind mute orphan whom Maurice adopts as his daughter.
  • Preacher (Gabriel Chavarria) – a human soldier working under the Colonel in Alpha-Omega