Friday, May 25, 2018

Deadpool 2: A Lot Of The Same, But In A Good Way


Marvel is having a very good year. The top two movies at the box office with nearly three billion dollars earned are Marvel movies. You know who's having an even better year? Josh Brolin. You know those two Marvel movies both resting comfortably at the top of the box office charts I mentioned earlier? Josh Brolin plays the villain in both of them. And he's not done. We all knew Avengers was a two-parter, so the dude is gonna be back in Thanos purple next year too. Mad respect for the Brolin. Anyhoo, there's really no point I was trying to make about Brolin, I just thought that little tidbit of information was relatively interesting. So... onto Deadpool 2. What can I say? I am a big Ryan Reynolds guy and it's nice to see him in the spotlight once again. He's got to be one of the most charming and charismatic actors around and not many would be able to do the Deadpool character and make audience members fall in love with him as opposed to sickened by him. I liked the movie. I didn't love it. I liked it. In fact, I liked it just as much as I liked the first one. I've only seen it once. I might watch it again in the future, but it's a movie I was happy to see. laughed at, and moved on from. This is exactly how Deadpool 2 is. If you can't be better than your predecessor, at the very least, don't get worse. And Deadpool 2, while it isn't really better, it certainly isn't worse.

It's the same schtick. Reynolds is Wade Wilson-- a human "avocado" looking anti-superhero who dispenses justice in violent and sickeningly awesome ways. He's crude, he's crass, he's vulgar, and he's hilarious. He frequently breaks the fourth wall with his narration and points out the major faults in most of the pop culture surrounding other Marvel and DC superhero movies. He's the anti-superhero superhero. This time he faces off against Cable (Brolin), a soldier who sends himself back in time from the future to stop the person responsible for causing the deaths of his wife and daughter. It's very Terminator-y, but that can be overlooked because Reynolds' Deadpool is there to acknowledge this and remind us how lazy his writers constantly are with his movies. The action is good, the comedy is good, the CGI is... well... it's sometimes pretty awful. Overall, it's pretty passable, but with each Marvel movie showcasing an ever-evolving technology where most CGI is frighteningly realistic-- there's some pretty bad and cheap CGI. It's not involved with many of the larger scenes, but it's pretty evident the studios cut costs on the quick moments they needed effects. This also could've been done on purpose as an in-joke to the movie constantly complaining about its own budget, but it does stand out like a sore thumb.

We get to meet a few new characters, but the two that stand out are Domino (Zazie Beetz) whose superpower is that she's lucky, and Peter (Rob Delaney) who has no superpower whatsoever, he just found a flyer for the "auditions". There's almost a Mystery Men feel to the middle of the movie and it's definitely not unwanted. There's also a lot more X-Men involved in the plotline-- none of the familiar ones, of course, but they do play more into the central arc of the story. And, finally, audiences who aren't me who were waiting anxiously for it get the inception of the X-Force. The rest of the movie pretty much plays out like the first one. There's the rise and fall of a villain or two. There's the rise and fall of Deadpool himself. There's a lot of swearing, a lot of cool violence, and a lot of narration that holds the movie together. I will say this-- I was impressed at the amount of funny material the first movie generated, but there were a lot of jokes that just didn't land. Or maybe they did land, but they fell very flat. This one has less of that. It's very funny, but the story had me wanting more. The two movies compliment each other very well as they make up for each other's faults.

I do kind of hope that this is one of the last Deadpool movies. Not because I don't enjoy them, but they're so experimental, they should quit while they're ahead. Eventually, the novelty of the movie will fade and it'll ruin what magic it once had. I'm impressed they've been able to make such quality films twice without bordering on offensive and/or failing to achieve an actual comedy value to the film. But, while it's out, it's worth watching. There's a lot of fun to be had and you need to stay for the end credits scenes because they're funnier than they should be. Deadpool doesn't break any new ground with the character and they may have gone a little bit overboard with the self-awareness of being in a movie, but if you liked/loved the first film, it's a lot more of the same. And for once, that's not a bad thing.

B

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Tully: Visual Birth Control


--Written by Guest Reviewer Ashley Green

PAUSE!!!!!

THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW!!!!!

HOWEVER!!!!!

THEY DO NOT NECESSARILY SPOIL THE MOVIE. IN FACT, I BELIEVE THEY ENHANCE THE MOVIE-GOING EXPERIENCE.

BUT!!!!!!!!!!!

IF YOU PREFER NOT TO SPOIL THE FILM FOR YOURSELF... JUST READ THE FIRST TWO PARAGRAPHS.   


I'm not a mom, but I thought I'd like to be one someday. After seeing Tully, that day... is... far, far, far away... beyond sight... if it even still exists.

Tully is not a feel-good movie. Tully will gut punch you with the realness of motherhood and then laugh at you because you were dumb enough to think it's all cute baby clothes and an occasional shitty diaper. Tully will make you feel bad for all the moms ever.

Marlo (m-fing Charlize Theron-- God bless everyone) is an overwhelmed, totally exhausted mother of three... well, two in the first twenty minutes of the movie. Her husband, Drew (Ron Livingston, who is aging decently if you were wondering), is an aloof and absent dude. Not a terrible guy, but definitely not in the top percentile of husbands or fathers. The two have been drained by life. The film opens with Marlo brushing (with an actual brush) the body of her son Jonah, a therapy technique she discovered, meant to help with his "quirkiness". This "quirkiness" is arguably Asperger's, but it's never confirmed in the film. Also, I'm not a doctor. But I'm like 85% sure it's Asperger's. I was raised by a childhood behavioral therapist. Not because I was in a facility or anything, that was just my aunt's job. Whatever. I'm pretty sure I'm right.

Marlo's day-to-day life is stressful. Even sitting in the audience, knowing what I was watching was just an effing movie, my anxiety was on par with hers. She is constantly going. Whether it's getting her kids from point A to point B, breaking down over Jonah's meltdowns, or listening to Jonah's principal telling her that he needs an aide or needs to leave the school. Marlo is consistently at a 10. Or rather, life around Marlo is consistently at a 10. And she's pregnant.

Even the time she tries to take for herself is sad. There's a scene with Marlo at a coffee shop, trying to order a decaf coffee and some asshole lady informs her that there are "trace amounts of caffeine, even in decaf", but Marlo doesn't care. Then, the asshole lady is outraged that Marlo ordered it anyway. THEN Marlo's ex, the totally hot Violet, bumps into her and is clearly horrified by what has become of Marlo. And Marlo is clearly horrified of what she's become as well. Side note, I AM LIVING FOR BISEXUAL CHARLIZE THERON.

After visiting her extremely wealthy brother (Mark Duplass) and his we're-better-than-you-guys-and-we-know-it family, we find out that Marlo and Drew weren't planning on having a third kid and Marlo's brother can see that she's not particularly overjoyed about it. So, he gives her the number of a "night nanny", a person to take care of the newborn overnight so she can actually get some sleep. He tells her that he'll pay for it, and that she needs to take care of herself. Marlo stares at him and I want to give all of the awards to the person who painted on those dark circles under her eyes.

CUT TO: the birth of her third child.

It's a quick montage of what some movies draw out. Her water breaks, she and Drew go to the hospital, she's in the designated birthing room, she's screaming because she's having a baby, etc. The thing is, throughout all of these quick scenes, Marlo doesn't say anything, and Drew really doesn't either. It feels like, to them, this is just another thing to get done. When we see Marlo after she's given birth, she's indifferent to the baby next to her and Drew has fallen asleep in the chair. She gets out of the hospital bed and walks toward the bathroom, her adult diaper the main focus of the shot. I could feel my own vagina sewing itself shut.

After countless nights of taking care of her newborn and dealing with her two very young children, Marlo caves. She's no longer above her hoity-toity brother's night nanny gift.

Enter Tully.

Tully (Mackenzie Davis who is so cute I want to SCREAM) is basically an overbearing hipster, but she's sweet and she's kind and she makes everything better. Marlo's life changes drastically. She's laughing again. She's having fun. She's playing with her kids and enjoying life and dressing up Tully in an old school diner waitress outfit and then letting Tully bang the shit out of her husband, but it's fine! Marlo's there too and she's giving direction! Everyone is happy! Tully's existence in Marlo's life is actually really beautiful to watch. Mackenzie Davis and Charlize Theron have such good chemistry that it's like seeing a genuine and real friendship unfold. While Davis' character isn't very dimensional, she pulls depths from Theron's and helps to create a fleshed out, whole version of Marlo.

Of course, whatever happiness we're given in this movie is quickly taken away because duh. Tully arrives one night riled and upset. She convinces Marlo to out with her and party. They spend the night in New York, driving through Marlo's old neighborhood, drinking, and attempting to drunkenly visit Marlo's ex, Violet. It's a whirlwind of drunk emotion centered on the life Marlo lived before getting married and having kids. After some sad and destructive moments between the two, it's revealed that Marlo's maiden name is, in fact... Tully.

We were Palahniuk'd, people! It's Tyler Durden all over again. Although it isn't very surprising, it doesn't feel cheap. It actually works for the movie. Without Tully, we wouldn't really know Marlo. We would have been stuck in a ceaseless, mundane insanity without ever getting to understand what is beneath Marlo's Postpartum depression and why her depression exists in the first place. What Tully brings to the table is an intimate and heartbreaking look into mental health. It enhances the moviegoing experience, which is why it's a spoiler, but not like a, you know, Avengers-spoiler.

This movie was good. It was really, really sad, but it was good. Charlize Theron is such an incredible actor and your heart will be all kinds of broken when you leave the theater. I think any and all types of moms will like watching it because it probably captures the loneliness of motherhood. I think anyone who wants to be a mom should watch it because we are all naïve and dumb and know nothing of motherhood. I think expectant mothers should maybe not watch it because if I had a kid in my gut and saw that life play out in front of me... needless to say, I'd be really stressed out.

B

Friday, May 4, 2018

Arrested Development Season 4 REMIX Is Better


TV can be a cruel mistress. There have been a handful of shows whose genius was realized too late. Low viewer ratings and cancellations have taken away some great shows before everyone has a chance to truly appreciate them (on the other hand, there are shows that have never been good that have been around for FAR too long-- I'm looking at you CBS). Arrested Development is one of those shows. It was too smart for a 2003 audience. Had the show been released in the 20-teens, it would've soared and assumedly been one of the highest rated shows on television. But, alas, lovers of the show only got three (more like two and a half) seasons of one of the smartest and funniest shows ever created. I've been an Arrested D fan for as long as I can remember. What's great about the show is that it has a very high re-watch value because of how intelligent and intricate its writing is. Each subsequent viewing of previous seasons-- there's something new to catch. There's subtle jokes you can miss having watched the seasons as often as even I have. There's callbacks missed. Easter eggs discovered. It's like watching a new show each time. Hell, it's one of those shows where it's difficult to pick a favorite character because they're all so uniquely amazing (and terrible) that you're unable to leave anyone out of the favorites list.

So, when Netflix announced five years ago that they'd acquired the rights to the show and were planning on releasing a new season, all the fans that had turned the show into a cult following rejoiced. However, due to the popularity of nearly everyone in the cast, getting everyone's schedules to fit into filming another season of the show became problematic. The creators found a somewhat clever way around this-- to change up the format of the show. Each show's format centralized on the main character, Michael (Jason Bateman), and the absurdity of the chaos the rest of his family creates in his everyday life. This is how it was for the first three seasons. The family dynamic is what made the show so great. Now, with everyone's celebrity booming, the new structure had dedicate its episodes to only one character at a time with other characters crossing over only briefly and generally never more than one crossover per episode. By the end of the season, the seemingly random episodes have all collided into one large narrative that would take a hundred viewings in order to piece together and make fully coherent. This was not really the problem with Season 4. The show has always had a bit of an esoteric approach to the arc of each season and that's what makes re-watching them so much fun. The problem with the season was separating the characters.

The beauty of Arrested Development was watching each of the characters interact. Each character's flaws have something to do with how others in the family view them and treat them (and how they were raised). Each scheme concocted by every character influenced and wrecked other characters on the show. When one character decides he/she has had enough and finally stands up for him/herself, it inevitably leads to a catastrophe for another character. These interwoven stories were what brought the best comedy. Plus the fact that this cast had some of the best chemistry in television history. In the last twenty years, I would say the only rival for cast chemistry to Arrested D is The Office. And while the season wasn't a complete failure... it didn't FEEL like classic Arrested D. The jokes became more funny in concept than in execution. The farcical narrative was funny "if you think about it" and not laugh-out-loud funny. The new characters in each episode were able to contribute to the nature of the show, but didn't hold a candle to the old formula. There's a reason the character of Michael is the focal point of most episodes because some of the characters are BETTER as side characters. Gob doesn't have enough character weight to be able to lead two full half hour episodes alone. Neither does Lindsay. Or Buster. Or Tobias. And that's what they tried to do. And while I didn't hate Season 4 of the show... because, come on, it's Arrested Development and I'll take what I can get while I can get it... when re-watching the seasons several times over the past five years, I always attempted to watch Season 4, but each time gave up after a couple of episodes.

This is why what creator Mitchell Hurwitz decided to do before the release of Season 5 this month, is remix the season to give it more of a structure like the first three seasons. Because he's literally the only human being on the planet who would be able to put more of a linear storyline together out of Season 4, the show now feels like the classic episodes of the earlier seasons. Instead of 13 individual episodes featuring one singular character as the focal point for thirty plus minutes, it's now 22 episodes with interweaving storylines at about 22 minutes a pop. And it's much better. Even through the majority of the season the family isn't all together and you can tell how each separate character's stories played out-- they're interspliced with the other stories and it FEELS like the older episodes. Instead of watching Lindsay's thirty minute solo story, we get to see what's happening with Tobias and Michael and George Michael and Gob throughout the episode. And, by doing this, we can follow the overall season-wide narrative a lot more clearly. Now, some of the laughs that were only funny in concept, are a little more laugh-out-loud worthy. I found myself chuckling while watching this remix of Season 4 than I ever did watching it the way it was originally released.

If you weren't a fan of the way the creators pulled off Season 4 originally, I would say give this re-edited season a chance. I'm not saying it's strong enough to live up to par as the previous three because it is still the weakest season of them all-- but it's not as weak as it used to be. It's a lot more fun to watch and the way it's presented now almost tricks your brain into believing that all the characters were in the same episode together (even though none of them really ever interact with one another). Also, it gives those solo episodes that were on the weaker side and lacking comedy, a bit more funny while interspliced with episodes that had more comedic weight. Overall, I think it was a great decision for Hurwitz to try this experiment because what we've been given now is a better product-- one that feels a lot more Arrested Development than it did. Another positive to take from this is that Hurwitz actually LISTENED to what fans of the show had to say about it. He took their criticisms as constructive and hopefully carries that over into Season 5.

No matter how strong or weak Netflix's first foray into the world of Arrested D is... it's still one of my all time favorite comedy shows and I genuinely can not wait until the 5th season arrives. There hasn't been a specific date announced as of yet, but it's been confirmed that it will be released sometime this month in May. I assume Netflix and Hurwitz will wait a few weeks for the fans to catch up with the show and get an opportunity to watch the remix of Season 4 (that had to have taken more time to re-edit than it did to film and write) and be fully prepared for an all new season.

Until then, Happy Cinco De Quatro, everybody!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War: Serious Nerd Porn


So... it's all come down to this. Ten years. EIGHTEEN MOVIES. A bunch of TV shows. And Marvel owns the world. Iron Man started it all. A few more solo movies and The Avengers were assembled. Then some more characters were introduced. The Avengers fought again. Even more characters and side worlds (including some Guardians) and then they started a Civil War (which was more like a lovers' spat than a war) until finally the titan Thanos himself, decided to finally get off his giant space chair and cause some serious ruckus. The last ten years have been seriously saturated with Marvel movies and TV. Hell, not even all of them connect with the MCU (I'm looking at you X-Men and Fantastic Four). We've had THREE (count 'em) different iterations of Spider-Man (poor Andrew Garfield). And DC has stuck around in the shadows trying to cling to life attempting to replicate anything close to what Marvel has been doing. I'll give Marvel this-- what they've done with all these movies, all these actors, all these millions of dollars is something never been done before. They've taken the characters and narratives from eighteen movies and put them (almost) all together for the huge climactic battle nearly everyone has been craving since the first Avengers film. I honestly didn't think there was any possible way it could be done right. That many big names. That many important characters. Sharing screen time and giving each character their due-- how could it not be a loud, disappointing mess? And I'll be seriously damned if they didn't almost get it entirely right.

Assuming you've seen all the damn Marvel movies needed in order to understand Avengers: Infinity War, everyone is where they were when we last left them. However, the huge purple thumb Thanos has finally decided after a decade of letting his cronies do the work for him to set out on his own and collect the six Infinity Stones for his big, gold glove (also referred to as an Infinity Gauntlet). The stones all have a piece of the universe and humanity and existence attached to them. Separate, they're pretty dangerous... but combine them all together and one has the power to wipe out half of the galaxy with a snap of his/her fingers. This is what Thanos wants. He believes himself a prophet... the only being in existence to realize that in order for the universe to thrive, half of it must be wiped out. The stones are spread over half the galaxy. As we enter the film, he's already got one (the one from the planet the Guardians of the Galaxy saved in the first movie-- I'll get to my gripe about that in a little bit) and he's already boarded the ship containing all the surviving people of Asgard (again, I'll complain about that below as well). From there, it's Thanos seeking out the remaining stones (one in Vision's head... one guarded by Doctor Strange... and one in the possession of The Collector). While he's doing this, the rest of the Avengers/Guardians/Wakandans/good guys are all putting together their plans to either protect the stones or save humanity or defeat Thanos or some combination of the three.

Here's what I knew going into this film (as I have never read a comic book in my entire life): this was to be part one of a two part Avengers movie featuring Thanos as the main villain. From my understanding, this was to be the Empire Strikes Back movie until next year when we get Return of the Jedi. So, I knew this movie was going to be dark. There are also several contracts of actors ending, with long-standing Marvel actors wanting to move on from the franchise and seek other films. I expected there to be a lot of deaths in this film. And here's why-- Marvel has never been a company to kill off a lead character. And this is their biggest weakness. This is what largely, to me, made Captain America: Civil War such a terrible film-- there were no stakes. They all fought each other, made quips during the fight like "we're still best buds, though, right?" and no one died. Why kill off Captain America in an emotionally resonant way when Chris Evans still has more movies on his contract and they can make more money? Hell, not even most of the villains get killed in Marvel movies and that, to me, is their downfall. Now, they thrive because their movies are very fun. They attract a lot of big-name actors. The special effects are top notch. And there's a great amount of humor peppered into each one. But now... with contracts up... and no more money to be made by some of these actors... Marvel can finally kill them off. Right? That's what I was most interested in and the reason I went to see this movie. If you'd like to know my thoughts on how that all turned out... please jump down to the spoiler section below.

The movie, strangely, was very entertaining and quite good. There is a LOT going on and there's almost too many characters and sequences to follow without getting a little bit overwhelmed, but overall it's not the mess I expected it to be. Captain America: Civil War was a lot messier, in my opinion. It felt like each character got their moments to shine, which was nice. Even smaller characters like Scarlet Witch, Wong, Mantis, Shuri, and Nebula (yes... I had to look all of these names up). The major characters all got a significant amount of time and there's much fun to be had. Somehow, with all these characters with their own story-lines colliding... there was a lot of good chemistry.  All of the interactions felt organic and credit the writers here, man-- everyone had something important to contribute to the plot of the film. Unlike The Last Jedi where if you took Finn and Rose's storyline completely out of the movie-- the plot doesn't change at all. It's not easy to find something important for everyone to contribute to, but they did it and it was very impressive. The fight sequences, like most Marvel movies, are very thrilling and superb. The big, climactic battle at the end got a bit jumbled at times, but overall I was able to keep everyone I was looking out for in check. I knew where they were and what they were doing, which in a movie this large is important. It also balances a very serious tone with some really great humor. The great humor of Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok are used impeccably in this film and elevates it above dumb summer popcorn blockbuster.

Finally, Thanos is a great villain. He may look like a thumb painted purple with a ball sack for a chin, but FINALLY there's a Marvel villain, played by a more-than-capable actor (Josh Brolin), who brings some actual conflict and danger to the table. Credit the writers again here because he's not just this hulking being with no emotion hell-bent on destroying the universe. He's got some actual emotional resonance to his character, some real humanity. He's more than just a one-dimensional bad guy. The scenes in which Thanos shows up, you know some bad shit is actually going to happen. As we know Marvel movies aren't going away any time soon, I hope this trend of creating villains not just with depth, but ones who are actually frightening and not afraid of actually KILLING SOMEONE. It makes the stakes of the movie that much better. I'd have to say the last few Marvel villains-- Hela from Thor: Ragnarok, Kilmonger from Black Panther, and now Thanos are some of the best written villains from the entire MCU.

Oh! Right! I forgot-- I have to complain about one thing that isn't necessarily a bad thing in this movie, but something I just kind of dislike as far as continuity goes. So, the beginning of the movie, as stated earlier, talks about how Thanos got the purple stone from Xandar after "wiping out the planet". Don't worry-- this isn't a spoiler as it's one of the first things said in the film and the "wiping out" is never shown. However, it's just kind of upsetting because it really just negates the entire first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Everything they go through, all the struggles, saving the planet... seeing the families reunited... it's just gone. And not in an epic way-- but in a side comment. Same with the Asgardian ship. The end of Thor: Ragnarok is all about saving the last remaining people of Asgard by boarding a ship. A lot of people lose their lives, sacrifice themselves to save these survivors. And then Thanos shows up and wipes them all out-- as something smaller than a side plot. It might just be the evolution of comic book writing and a way of showing that this Thanos fella is that much of a bad mf'er... but it's something that was disappointing to me and as a moviegoer, felt cheap.

That's all you're going to get out of me because the rest of my feelings about the film contain some major spoilers (and again, if you're interested... check them out down below). Otherwise, if you're even slightly a fan of Marvel movies. If you've seen most of them casually like I have, you're definitely going to enjoy this film. It's one of the only Marvel movies I've ever wanted to just watch a second time while still in theaters. It's stuck with me all day and there is a lot of good in the movie. The stuff I didn't like-- that I can't discuss with you if you haven't seen the movie-- might not even be that bad. It's all going to depend on how the second Infinity Wars movie goes. But, go watch the movie. Come back. Read my spoiler-y stuff and tell me if you've got any theories of your own.

B-






Okay... there's some SPOILERS down here... only scroll further if you're good with it.









Seriously... stop scrolling if you don't wanna see the SPOILERS that I'm going to discuss.










This is the last time I'm going to warn you of the SPOILERS below. 








Ah, screw it. If you didn't read the warnings above, you deserve to have this movie SPOILED for you.









Okay, people who've seen the movie. WTF?! I sat through that entire movie just enjoying this shit out of it, waiting for these moments of main characters killed in glorious ways... like Gamora. Holy hell was that an unexpected and emotionally exhausting death. I thought-- wow. If Marvel can kill her off after only two Guardians movies... I must be in for one hell of a shock by the end of this movie. I mean... I figured Tony Stark would die (contract ending), Cap. America (contract), War Machine (side character who should've been killed in Civil War), Hulk (we're all kinda done with Hulk as a character... as much as we love Mark Ruffalo), Loki (actually dead this time probably), Vision (actually dead-- probably), and a few other minor characters. But what they did with the annihilating half of the universe really pissed me off. Not because a bunch of the characters I really liked got killed-- no. That's not it. If I thought they were all really dead, I would stand up, scream, shout and applaud Marvel for having not just balls, but the biggest balls in cinematic history.

But they're not.

You know they're not.

And that's what pisses me off. Not only did we not really get any of the deaths we were promised, but all the deaths that were supposed to be "shocking" ---weren't ---because you know they're all going to come back! I don't know how... but they are. There's another Spider-Man movie coming out. There's another Black Panther movie coming out. There's another Doctor Strange movie coming out. So, clearly these people aren't dead. And because of that I've come to realize that Marvel didn't finally decide to kill off major characters-- they just temporarily killed them off for a year until the next one arrives. The end of that movie didn't feel like the end of an era of Marvel movies... it felt like the season finale of a TV show and now we have to wait for the next season to see how they're going to "get out of this mess".

What I'm hoping happens is that however they figure out how to bring these people back, it's only people who were killed by Thanos snapping his fingers. If they bring back Vision and Gamora I'm probably never going to watch another MCU movie ever again on principle (except Black Panther... I'll watch all of those). Marvel needs to seriously nut up and allow their movies to have actual stakes. There were no stakes involved. Tony gets stabbed through the gut-- he lives. Cap gets punched by a fucking Titan-- he lives. But because lil' Spider-Man turns to dust crying-- I'm supposed to care?! That's supposed to make me respect and fear Marvel? Nearly the whole movie will come undone in a year and Marvel will continue to treat us like children who can't handle the death of a main character. And THAT-- is what soured the movie for me.  Marvel is just like my dog Lenny... they got no balls.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Upcoming Best and Worst of Summer 2018


Summer movie funtime is almost upon us again, movie fans. We love summer movies because we get big production value, sequels to movies that don't need sequels, little indie movies that pop up and quietly make decent money that end up being the best movies of summer, and gems that look terrible but wind up being good. So, once again, here is your summer movie guide to what you should see, what you should stay away from and what you should do a little bit of research on before you take the Dwayne Johnson-sized leap to the theater. And now, without further adieu...

BEST UPCOMING:

5/4
Tully

   











Our friends Jason Reitman (Up in the Air, Juno) and Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult) are back with another comedy together. Separate, they've had some interesting career decisions, but they really work best when together. Young Adult was a very underrated dark comedy, and it looks like they're taking that energy for Tully. A story about an over-worked mom (Charlize Theron) who, in need of a break, gets a new nanny named Tully. There's the hint that it's going to be a bit of an R-rated Mary Poppins thing going on, but either way-- early buzz has it that this movie is as funny as it is equally heartbreaking.


5/18
Deadpool 2

  











I have to say... I was seriously won over by the first Deadpool movie. Little did we know that we, the oversaturated Marvel audience, needed a movie that not only upped the violence, but called out all the other cliches from Marvel movies in general. The way the character Deadpool can be such a snarky asshole, full of raunchiness and vulgarity, all the while breaking the fourth wall and telling you why his movie is better (or not as funded) as other Marvel movies is such a fun thing to watch. Finally, with a bigger budget and a better bad guy, I'm willing to say this is probably going to be the best superhero movie of the year that doesn't involve Black Panther.


6/8
Hereditary

  











I'm going to be honest with you-- I don't know much about this movie other than what the trailers have shown. But I've heard it's supposed to be scary and disturbing as all hell. It's being heralded as The Exorcist of this generation (as most sub-par horror movies are), but from the trailer I can tell you it already looks balls-to-the-wall f**ked up! A24, the company releasing the movie, does a good job with horror. They're like a darker, more gritty, more gruesome Blumhouse productions. With The Witch and The Babadook already in their arsenal, I'm willing to take the leap and say this is going to be another horror staple for an already reliable company.


6/15
Incredibles 2

 











I'll be honest with you-- I wasn't a huge fan of The Incredibles. I didn't think it was one of Pixar's weaker entries like Cars is, but I just wasn't really sold on the whole movie. I thought while it was particularly well done, it was a little on the boring side. However, Pixar has been on a roll lately and there's no reason to suspect this movie is going to be any different. I almost put this one in the Wildcard section, but if you can't trust Pixar to give us one of the best movies of Summer, then who can you trust?


6/29
Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado

  











Here comes the onslaught of sequels, people. Most of them look mediocre at best, but there will be a few that surpass the challenge of being an inferior movie. Sicario 2 looks like it knows exactly what it needs to be. Benecio Del Toro, a side role in the first movie, was the best character of the movie. So, the natural progression of things is-- if you're going to make a sequel... make it about him. Sure, it's sad we're losing Emily Blunt, but the problem with the first film is they didn't know what to do with her in the first place. Following Del Toro, now facing his ally from the first film Josh Brolin, is going to give us a gritty, dirty, violent, and overall exciting sequel. Hopefully.


7/6
The First Purge

  











This definitely has to be the first time I've put a Purge movie in the Best Upcoming section. While The Purge movies have all been great ideas, most of the time the execution just isn't there. The last one-- Purge: Election Day was the closest we got to a great Purge film. But this one... this one looks extraordinary. Judging by the poster alone, it's clearly going to be an indictment of our current presidency. And judging by the trailer, it looks like they know exactly what they're aiming for. If the purge was an actual thing-- OF COURSE it would be used to systematically wipe out all minority figures in this country and target people of color. DUH. The fact that the filmmakers know this gives the movie all kinds of chances at political commentary, while being a solid thriller too. They also got Marissa Tomei, a real movie star, to join the film, so there had to be something in the script that stood out to her, no? Don't make me regret putting you up here, The First Purge, because I really don't want to be wrong about this.


7/13
Skyscraper

  











As much as you want to fight me on this, you know I'm gonna be right. The Rock, as we've seen with Rampage and Jumanji, can turn anything into solid gold. Now he's doing a movie where it's like a combination of The Towering Inferno and Die Hard, only he has a prosthetic leg?! I'm definitely in for that. Written and Directed by Rawson Thurber (Dodgeball, We're the Millers, Central Intelligence), he's already demonstrated he's a capable filmmaker and that he's got somewhat of a rapport with The Rock... I can't wait until I get to see this on the big screen. It could be the biggest turd wrapped in burnt hair... but The Rock will still make it come out smelling like roses.


7/20
The Equalizer 2

  











What I love about Denzel-- he gets to do whatever the hell he wants. He got to do Fences and he got to do Roman J. Israel... but now he wants to go back to being a badass action star... and we are all going to watch and love this movie. The reason I know it's going to be one of the best of summer is this is Denzel's first sequel he's ever been in. Ever. Dude has never been in one. So, for this to be the one to break that streak... and judging by the trailer alone... this movie is going to be just as good as the first one, if not better. The Rock can make any trash movie fun. Denzel can make ANY movie great. And I'm calling this one great.


7/27
Mission: Impossible - Fallout

 











 Forget what you feel about Tom Cruise as a person. Think back-- what was the last Mission: Impossible movie to disappoint you? Probably the second one, right? I know at this point the last few kind of all run together, but they're very good movies. And in fact, this is one weird series of films that actually gets better with each movie. Cruise doing is own crazy stunts, the gagetry they keep coming up with, the "masks" concepts, and Simon Pegg as the comic relief-- these movies are awesome and there's no reason to think there's going to be a regression in quality now. They're doing the thing that the 007 movies are having a hard time keeping up with-- they're getting better with each passing film.


8/10
The Meg

 











Okay, so I can't tell you how I know this-- but I KNOW this movie is good. I will be able to reveal my "source" to you when the film finally comes out, but trust me when I tell you that The Meg is going to be the most fun at the movies this summer. Forget how terrible the poster is (seriously, the guy who created the poster for this movie should be fired immediately) and just understand and soak in what I'm about to tell you: it's Jason Statham versus a Megalodon shark. It's so much better than you think it's going to be and it's seriously just some great, great fun at the movies. You WILL enjoy this film. I promise. 


WORST UPCOMING:


5/4
Overboard

  











First, let me ask you-- do you know that this movie is a remake? If you had to- could you name the actors that starred in the original version? Yeah, I didn't think so. Talk about a remake to a good movie that NOBODY wants. People who remember the original love it so much that this movie looks terrible. People who don't know the original-- do you even care? I mean Anna Faris isn't exactly a box office draw anymore and the humor being portrayed in this movie feels decades old... BECAUSE IT IS. Sure, it's clever to do the gender flip on the original story, but that's not going to make up for a movie that's going to provide zero laughs and make no money.


5/11
Life of the Party

  











I think Melissa McCarthy is a hilariously great comedic actor. She doesn't use her weight as a punchline and she can hold her own with all the Ferrell's, Stiller's, Rogen's of the comedy world. She and Paul Feig make comedy magic together. But, whenever she makes a movie with her husband in the Director's chair-- they're her worst movies. The two previous collaborations between them have been Tammy and The Boss, arguably her two worst movies. Life of the Party looks just as bad. I hope I'm wrong, because with the right people in her corner, Melissa McCarthy can make me laugh harder than anyone, but with the wrong people it's just another missed opportunity for her comedic talents to shine. This film leaves me with little hope.


5/18
Show Dogs

 











Yeah, there's really not a more obvious entry into the Worst category than this one. Go ahead and name the last GREAT movie that involved talking dogs and Will Arnett. Actually name the last great movie that involved either one. Don't worry... I'll wait.


6/29
Uncle Drew

  











It stars NBA basketball star Kyrie Irving as an old basketball phenom, and old I mean elderly, Uncle Drew. Nope. This movie is going to be terrible. It started as a series of silly commercials and worked its way up to a movie. There are SNL sketches that are longer than the commercials that couldn't sustain the joke long enough for a movie. But it clearly has enough fans that it was greenlit. Which means it will make a decent amount of money. But it won't be good. People. You know it won't be good.


7/13
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

  











Let's review the last few movies that have taken place on a cruise ship: Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Boat Trip, Speed 2. Yeah... this movie smells worse than Jack and Jill.


7/20
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

   











People! How many movies can we make surrounding the songs of ABBA?! There are a lot of people who really enjoy the musical, but did you see the first movie? It's one of the worst put together musical movies of all time. And it had freakin' Meryl in it! Just look at the trailer for this landfill of shit. It's pretty much implied that Meryl's DEAD. And that she wanted nothing to do with this sequel. Are there even any ABBA songs left to sing? Because clearly there are just some re-used ones from the first movie with a bunch more white people dancing. Oh, and Cher. Great. Cher. Cool. Go to Hell, people associated with this movie. "Here We Go Again" sounds less like a tagline and more like the uncomfortable sighs spoken by people who are forced to see the sequel to the movie they hated in the first place.


8/3
The Darkest Minds

  











More YA novel adaptations that are a mistake from the get-go. They're all trying to capture that Harry Potter magic and it's never going to work again. Ever. I promise you. The big draw here is that it's produced by the dudes who did Stranger Things. Produced. That's it. And the biggest name attached to the movie is Mandy Moore. When I saw the trailer for this movie, I thought they were showing me a trailer for a new show on ABC Family (or FreeForm as it's now called). Cheap, stinky, bad.


UPCOMING WILDCARDS:


3/27
Avengers: Infinity War

   











I know. I know. You're ALL excited about this movie. It looks epic. But do you possibly think it looks too epic? Like there's literally TOO much going on that no filmmaker, no matter how capable, could organize this many A-list actors and Marvel heroes into one movie? How is it not going to be a cluttered mess? I mean, Captain America: Civil War was such a mess it was hard to care about anyone! We can't lock on to anyone here to care about much, we have to rely on how we feel about them in previous movies. I don't know. I'm not saying it's going to be bad... but I just don't see how it's going to be that good either.


5/25
Solo: A Star Wars Story

 











This is going to be the biggest Wildcard of the Summer. With everything happening during production, the firing of its original directors, the bringing in of Ron Howard to re-shoot and re-write most of the movie... I'm worried it's going to be a mess of epic proportions. Now, Rogue One was really good and went though similar problems, but I would LOVE to see the Phil Lord/Chris Miller version of this movie. They're the exact type of directors and writers who can handle a one-off Han Solo film. Ron Howard is very capable... but he's also very safe. So, hopefully it's better than I'm expecting. But really... we know we're all seeing it for Donald Glover's Lando character. No one actually wants to see a movie about Han Solo where he's not portrayed by anyone other than Harrison Ford. That's just blasphemy.


6/1
Action Point

  











I only put Action Point in the Wildcard section because I didn't know where else to put it. I don't think it's going to be one of the best of the year, nor do I think it'll be the worst. The trailer looks funny enough, but I feel like it's going to fall into the hole that Bad Grandpa did where we just want another Jackass movie and not a movie that has real-stuff in it, but is put around a fake movie plot. So, it'll be funny in some areas and a bit incoherent in others. Connecting these moments to a plot is going to be a bit of a stretch, but watching Johnny Knoxville hurt himself is one of life's greatest pleasures.

6/8
Ocean's 8

  











So, I genuinely think this movie is going to be a good movie. I love the fact that they're making another Ocean's movie with an all-female cast. I'm in for that. And I had originally intended to put this in the Upcoming Best... but I just couldn't shake the fact that this is still a spin-off/fourth sequel to a franchise that really ran out of steam fast. I like that there's new characters and new capers... but is it really going to excel in the series where the others didn't? Chances are it's just going to be another acceptable entry, but not really elevate itself over any of the other films in the series. Except Ocean's Twelve. It'll be better than that.


6/15
Tag

  











 Great concept. Great cast. But the execution is going to be a little bit more of a challenge. I'd heard about the idea of a group of friends playing a 30-year game of tag and thought it sounded humorous. People getting tagged at weddings, funerals, etc. is all ripe for comedy. But then the trailer came out and I'm less convinced it's going to be funny. It's probably going to be your run of the mill summer comedy that has a few very funny moments, several chuckles here and there, and be forgettable as soon as the credits start to run. I doubt it'll be the best... I'm just hoping it's not one of the worst of the summer.


6/22
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

 











I was so excited when Jurassic World came out. I thought it looked like the perfect vehicle for Chris Pratt. After seeing the movie, I was devastatingly disappointed. Not only did they misuse Pratt, but it's the worst movie of all the entries. It's somehow NOT fun and it's the reason director Colin Trevorrow lost the ninth Star Wars movie. Now, if they'd let him direct this sequel, it was easily going into the Upcoming Worst section. And while he's still credited as a writer... new director JA Bayona is someone I trust. The Orphanage and A Monster Calls are brilliant movies. I feel like he's got what it takes to look at the trash Trevorrow puts out and make it actually work. The fact that they're using animatronic dinosaurs again makes it even better. CGI, even as great as it looks these days, still makes the dinosaurs look fake. If he can breath some life into this movie and especially its hollow and boring characters, this could be one of the best movies since the first one. If he lets too much Trevorrow creep in... it's going to be just as much of a letdown as Jurassic World was.


7/13
The Nun

  











Now, there's not a trailer for this movie, yet, but here's why I can't put this film into either Best or Worst category-- I love what James Wan has done with The Conjuring franchise. Yet, the first Annabelle was terrible. But the second one was good. Spinoffs are tricky. The Nun character in The Conjuring 2 was terrifying because we got no background. It was just horrifying to look at. Trying to create a mythology around the character may elevate the scares or completely diminish them. I hope it's the former, but chances are it'll be the latter.


8/3
The Spy Who Dumped Me

  











Huge Kate McKinnon fan. Not a fan of Mila Kunis. I don't think she's funny and yet she's the supposed star of this movie. It's supposed to be an action-comedy that finally lets empowered women have their own action-comedy movies... yet it's titled after the male spy who dumped HER. So, I don't know. The trailer doesn't look great, save for McKinnon's parts. And we've seen with Rough Night that she can't always save a movie, even though she's great in it. My instinct is to say this is going to be bad and just go watch Melissa McCarthy's Spy again... but it might actually surprise me.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Super Troopers 2: Seventh Grade Me Is So Happy Right Meow



I saw Super Troopers in seventh grade. My grandmother dropped me off at the theater to see something else- I dunno, probably Spy Kids or something. But I snuck into Super Troopers and it was one of the best movie-going experiences of my entire life. It was the first movie I ever snuck into. It was the first R-rated movie I'd ever seen in theaters. And it was the first movie I'd ever seen alone. From the very beginning, when the trio of stoners are pranked by the "serious" highway patrolmen, I was laughing so hard I had to quiet down for fear of being noticed and kicked out. Super Troopers will always have a special place in my heart. I've seen it dozens of times and every time I watch it, it brings back those moments of glee from seventh grade me watching it alone in the theater and I can't help but laugh. However, this is the problem with waiting 17 years to do a sequel to a comedy-- comedy evolves. Look at the last few comedic sequels that waited 10-20 plus years before offering the world a second helping. How have they fared? Anchorman 2, Zoolander 2, and Dumb and Dumber To were not very good movies. We saw them, and even convinced ourselves we liked them because the originals were such iconic and original films when they first came out. They defined the comedy brand of their time-- but the comedy brand evolves quickly. If one waits too long to make a sequel to the funny... the funny isn't funny anymore. After Will Ferrell made Anchorman he made Talladega Nights which was in the same humor-vein that Anchorman was. Then he made Blades of Glory, then Stepbrothers... then it kind of fizzled out. When was the last time you saw a Will Ferrell movie like that? He's had to adapt to the times. Ben Stiller doesn't make "character based" movies anymore and Jim Carrey apparently just doesn't make movies anymore. Comedy evolved past these humors. Hell, as sad as it is to think about... even the Seth Rogen/Apatow crew aren't churning out movies like they used to. Comedy is an ever-evolving thing, so sequels need to happen immediately... or not at all. Super Troopers made the seventh grader in me so happy... because that's where the humor is at. It's 2001 humor in 2018 and anyone who's not a die-hard fan of the first film isn't going to enjoy this latest entry.

The troopers are back! All five, comprised of comedy troupe Broken Lizard. Our favorite stoner cops, Thorny (Jay Chandrasekhar), Mac (Steve Lemme), Foster (Paul Soter), Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske), and of course, Rod Farva (Kevin Heffernan). If you recall, their Vermont highway patrol station had been shut down and they became local cops. Now, they're all working odd jobs, but none are cops anymore (due to what is only known as the "Fred Savage incident"). However, the governor of Vermont (Lynda Carter) has learned that the border between Vermont and Canada actually extends more north. A small Canadian region is now an American region, and needs a small police force in order to smooth over the transition of Canada to America. So... she recruits our troopers. From there, it's a series of gags, puns, and a shit-load of Canadian jokes (seriously, I didn't realize how much material you could generate from jokes about Canada). Rob Lowe plays the Mayor of Canada who runs a Hockey bar/brothel. Will Sasso, Hayes MacArthur, and Tyler Labine play French-Canadian Mounties hired to show the troopers around, even though they're losing their jobs. And Emmanuelle Chriqui is a French woman who has something to do with the plot, but I'm not entirely sure. There's also a sub-"plot" involving drug smuggling that they tackle briefly, but mostly it's just there to keep it looking like an actual movie.

I had a hard time dealing with the fact that Super Troopers 2 isn't a very good movie. Because Broken Lizard is very important to me. They're one of the very few comedy troupes still making movies-- and they haven't even made one in close to ten years. They had commercial success with Super Troopers, elevated their game to Club Dread, leading to the culmination of their careers in Beerfest which is arguably the best movie they've done. Then... they fizzled out. How many of you saw (or even heard of The Slammin Salmon)? Exactly. It was their Beerfest follow-up and it felt like a movie they could've made in college. Clearly, studios weren't trusting them enough to give them any real money and it cost us a chance at seeing if they could surpass Beerfest before becoming irrelevant. They had to use Indiegogo and crowd-source the money to get Super Troopers 2 made, and that's a shame. Because now, they've been out of the spotlight so long, they can only resort to making the same jokes and playing up the same humor that was in style over 17 years ago. Comedy evolved, but studios wouldn't let Broken Lizard evolve with it.

Something I've noticed about comedy sequels that are made decades after its predecessor-- there is a weird thing where they have to try to keep the characters the same... call back to a lot of the old jokes... and try to make it feel relevant in the new era. Super Troopers succumbs to this trend as well, though they somehow succeed backwards. The call backs (which never really work because the joke is already known) are some of the funniest parts of Super Troopers 2. Somehow, they've been able to take old jokes, use them again in a new time, and they're funnier than most other stuff in the film. However, it's when they try to make jokes adhering to what's relevant now-- is when the film fails. The movie feels like a couple of high school stoners got together and tried to write a movie with humor from 2001. For example, one of the most disappointing parts of this film is what they did with Thorny's character. I've always been a fan of Jay Chandrasekhar and I think he is the strength of the Broken Lizard gang, but his character, in the midst of the drug smuggling case, takes a female boner-pill called "Flova Scotia" and winds up having "female traits"-- like bitchiness, being overly-emotional, and having a bad sense of driving direction. These stereotyped jokes about females were tired in 2001, but maybe would've illicited a laugh or two. In 2018, they're beyond unfunny, they're offensive.

That's how a lot of the humor goes in Super Troopers 2. It's strange the different chasms of comedy they rely on for laughs-- like pun-based jokes. Don't get me wrong, I love pun-based humor, especially when it's used well. But when it's relied on for nearly 75% of the dialogue of your main characters, it becomes tedious and eye-rollingly bad. Seriously, I don't remember everyone just speaking in puns in the first movie, right? Poor Foster... all he really gets to do is keep bringing up why purchasing a police "Triangulator" was a good idea... funny? There's endless jokes about Canadians which runs its course well before the movie is even half over. Which reminds me-- in Beerfest, one of the best parts is the Broken Lizard characters had German rivals played by American comedians doing hilariously bad German accents-- and it was HILARIOUS. It worked. Here, the Broken Lizard characters have Canadian rivals played by American comedians doing humorously bad Canadian accents-- and it's just meh. There's really only one scene with them that got me rolling and it had to do with an argument over who Danny DeVito is. It's that weird kind of humor that made Broken Lizard so popular-- not archaic stereotypes about women or dialogue filled with over-used puns. The first movie worked so well because they gave each member of the troupe a different, fun quirk, which all came together to produce this magic comedy energy each member could feed off of. Now, they all have the same quirk, while trying to add a new quirk and it's just kind of disjointed.

There are some very funny moments, however. Throughout a lot of the tired and dated humor are moments that had me laughing now just as hard as I did back then. But they're so few and far between. However, there is one thing Super Troopers 2 does better than every other comedy sequel that came out well past its expiration date. Most of these comedy films know who the breakout star of the movie was. In Anchorman, yes Ron Burgandy was the comedic focal point-- but he wasn't the funniest character of the movie. That was Brick Tamland played by Steve Carell. So, what did Anchorman 2 do? They over-used the character, tried to give him more to do (even though the character Brick worked best when just in the background) and wound up making him the most annoying, irritating character in the sequel. I anticipated this is what would happen with Farva. They know he's the fan favorite and he's got to be the most fun character to write because he's such a blowhard asshole. However, not only did they not kill the character's comedy... he's the best part of the movie. They give him more to do, they up the ante on his obnoxiousness... and it works. All of the best and funniest moments of Super Troopers 2 involve Farva in some way. And this is why the film is not a total loss.

So, what can I say about the movie that you don't already know? No. It's not even close to as good as the first film. Yes, if you loved the first movie, there is plenty in here for you to like, but you're not going to leave fulfilled-- you're going to leave with this aura of disappointment. Probably the same disappointment you were hoping wasn't going to happen before you sat down to watch the film. The jokes that don't hit (and there are a lot of them) just aren't elevated enough to warrant many laughs. There's so much they could've done with the movie. Thorny lactating from female estrogen pills isn't funny. There's a scene in which a bear enters their station, which was ripe for any number of comedic situations winds up turning into nothing but Farva ending up in a porta-potty and getting knocked over... which isn't funny. The end reveal of what "actually" happened to Fred Savage (which could've been one more HUGE laugh) is such a let down that you realize this movie is trapped in 2001. Had this movie come out a year after Super Troopers was released, it may have been received just as well as the first one. But too much time has gone by, too much in pop culture has evolved and the only people that are going to appreciate the movie are our former seventh grade selves who found the first film as funny as it was. I do hope this movie makes money so Broken Lizard is able to continue making new movies instead of resorting to sequels, but I hope this is the last incantation of Super Troopers we ever get.

C-

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Rampage: The Rock Is A Magic Man


I'm convinced that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson made a deal with the Devil because there's no reason the dude should be a huge as he is. I mean, seriously... no one actually wanted to see the new Jumanji movie. Most scoffed that it looked like a cheap knock off that sullied the late Robin Williams' name. Yet, it made a TON of money and no one walked out of the movie hating it. For the good part of the 20-teens, The Rock has been able to smolder his way through movies and make us love him. And none of the movies are all that great is the thing! With a less affable actor on board, they wouldn't have made shit. He single-handedly revitalized the Fast and Furious franchise. Vin Diesel's career was all but over and then came this mountain of a man to breath fresh life into an already exhausted franchise. Central Intelligence was just okay, Baywatch was humorous at best, hell, the dude made a damn Hercules movie fun! He's able to take mediocre source material and turn it into solid box office gold. Rampage is no different. This movie is bad. And yet... I had a great time watching it. Thanks, in large part... to the man, the myth, the rampager... Dwayne Johnson.

The plot of the film... well, the plot of the film matters little. The Rock is a monkey doctor. Or a monkey wrangler. He's a monkey taker-carer and his albino gorilla, George, is his best friend. A pathogen created by a shady company is aboard a space station. The space station explodes. The containers holding the pathogens make it through Earth's atmosphere without burning up and land in the zoo next to George's enclosure. He ingests the pathogen and it turns him humongous and angry. The pathogen also lands in the wilderness where a wolf inhales the green chemical as well as a swamp where it affects a gator. Enter an ex-employee of the shady company, Dr. Caldwell (Naomie Harris) who knows how to find the cure for big ol' George. Enter dickhead, self-proclaimed "cowboy" government agent Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to take over the "situation" and totally mess everything up. Enter head of the evil corporation Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman). Through this laundry list of people, they inadvertantly lead huge, angry George, evil flying wolf, and croc the size of a football field to the middle of the city where they, indeed, RAMPAGE the shit out of it.

Rampage reunites The Rock with his San Andreas director Brad Peyton, so we already know the two have some sort of chemistry and together can make a fun disaster-type movie. Instead of bad weather, we've got mutant animals rampaging through town. But, the movie is bad. It's really, really bad. But, and I'm sure you've already realized this-- it's fun bad. It's fun to laugh at how bad the movie is until the monsters do their destruction and then have to (of course) fight one another. The Rock is really there to keep us happy in our seats, so we don't get the urge to walk back to the box office and demand our money back. Because it's really, really bad. The dialogue, in particular, is the worst part. Evil Claire is there to spell out in excruciating detail her evil plan. Harvey is there to do a piss-poor southern accent and grin like a moron all the while spouting cowboy cliches and causing minor conflict for The Rock. Caldwell is there to look good next to The Rock and give his character answers to lingering questions he has. And all of it is junky and schlocky and bone-headed... but damn it if I didn't have a really good time watching the movie.

There is a significant amount of destruction caused within the film and wayyyyy more casualties than I expected, and some of the fights with the "monsters" are a little shaky and fast... but because The Rock runs around fighting back with them-- it works. He saves the movie from being just another forgettable creature feature. The latest Godzilla was a mess and arguably worse than the hated 2008 Matthew Broderick incantation... but I'm willing to bet had they cast The Rock in that film... it'd have made triple the money and be remembered as America's best Godzilla movie ever made. As strange as it sounds-- a movie about a giant albino gorilla, an evil flying wolf, and a massive teeth'd out crocodile shouldn't fail no matter who the star is. But without The Rock... the movie wouldn't have made any money, any sense, and anyone leave the theater feeling like they had a hell of a good time.

Look, video game movie adaptations suck. The Rock doesn't. You figure it out.

C