DIRECTOR: CHRISTOPHER NOLAN
STARRING: MARK RYLANCE, TOM HARDY, ANEURIN BARNARD, JACK LOWDEN, KENNETH BRANAGH, CILLIAN MURPHY, BOBBY LOCKWOOD
Technically, Dunkirk is a fantastically made movie. Director Christopher Nolan, knows how to stage, shoot and craft, a spectacle. From aerial dogfights, to sinking ships, to flames, Nolan captures the intensity of the situation of Dunkirk. However, where the movie ultimately suffers, is in its complete lack of character. Yes, this is war. Yes, there shouldn't be time to get to know people. However, the lack of character here, or story for that matter, make Dunkirk feel hollow. The vast majority of the film, feels like a master filmmaker doing nothing more than showboating what he is capable of, rather than telling a story. For some, this will be sufficient enough. With a little more connection, for me, Dunkirk would probably have made a bigger impact. Hans Zimmer's often times intrusive scoring, isn't enough to make up for it either. All that said, Dunkirk succeeds for the most part. The dogfight sequences alone, are enough for the price of admission. It's a technical masterpiece of cinema.
TITLE: WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
DIRECTOR: MATT REEVES
STARRING: ANDY SERKIS, WOODY HARRELSON, STEVE ZAHN, KARIN KONOVAL, AMIAH MILLER
Some have called this new Planet of the Apes trilogy of films, among the best trilogies of all time. Having now seen War for the Planet of the Apes, I would have to agree. Every entry in this current saga, has gotten better incrementally. Rise, is a solid spectacle, Dawn, is riveting, and War, is nothing short of superb. Director Matt Reeves, has crafted something with War, that is incredibly special. Anything else that comes after this entry, is going to have a tough time beating the craftsmanship in this film. War for the Planet of the Apes, is incredibly gripping. From the moment the film starts, it has you and never lets you go. Andy Serkis, gives yes, an Oscar worthy performance as Caesar. The emotion that he is able to bring through the motion capture, is both spectacular and heartbreaking. You feel for Caesar in every frame of film. Steve Zahn, is also quite spectacular here, and Woody Harrelson, while one note at times, still manages a great performance. All of the motion capture performers here, are incredible. The evolution of the motion capture technology in War, is astonishing. You can definitely see the advances, as each entry has progressed. War for the Planet of the Apes, is in many ways, daring in its approach. This is a gripping, often times heartbreaking, and emotional drama. In the midst of summer, that's pretty ballsy. Yes, it has its action, but that's not the focus here. War for the Planet of the Apes, is one of the best films of the year, not just of the Apes franchise. Absolutely superb from start to finish.
TITLE: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
DIRECTOR: JON WATTS
STARRING: TOM HOLLAND, MICHAEL KEATON, JACOB BATALON, JON FAVREAU, MARISA TOMEI, ROBERT DOWNEY JR.
There's just enough in Spider-Man: Homecoming to wet the appetites of Marvel fans, who have wanted the character over at Marvel Studios for a while now. The ultimate problem with Homecoming, is that it is essentially an origin story with no origin story. Most of the film gets lost in its meta-John-Hughes-thing, it forgets to be something of value. In fact, nothing of real value happens in the film. Essentially, Homecoming feels like it only exists to tell people that Spider-Man, is friends with The Avengers. And, hey, he can be in those movies too! And, hey, hipster Millennials, it's like a John Hughes movie! Instead, throughout most of the film, Peter Parker is forced to Batman Begins his way through stuff, via a very contradictory method from Tony Stark. Holland, is fine as the character, even if his shtick can get tiresome. Michael Keaton, is owning his role as Adrian Toomes. Vulture is a nice villain, but that's only credit to Keaton, as the character pretty much has one purpose here. And no, it's not to be the bad guy. The film has its moments, and while not on my top list of Spider-Man, nor Marvel entries, it's is fun summer entertainment.
TITLE: BABY DRIVER
DIRECTOR: EDGAR WRIGHT
STARRING: ANSEL ELGORT, KEVIN SPACEY, JON HAMM, JAMIE FOXX, EIZA GONZALEZ
There's no denying the craft in Baby Driver. However, the flick suffers a bit in the first half. It's a weird, uneven pace, where we are supposed to try an connect with the titular character. The problem is his odd quirk, just wasn't enough for me to care about where the film ultimately goes. That being said, Baby Driver is all style over substance. All of these characters are more or less odd quirks, whom we are forced to go on this ride with. In the end, what we are left with is a rousing crime thriller, with a little bit of Fast & Furious flavor sprinkled in for good measure. The story takes a bit of a back seat, and it works here. The soundtrack, and the way music is used, is the real winner in the film. The performances are all pretty solid, with Kevin Spacey, and Jon Hamm, stealing the show. The chemistry between the characters are what sell the weak, and often times cliche'd storytelling here. In the end, the flaws present in the film are pretty much erased, with its slick style. And we are left with a fun time at the movies.
TITLE: TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT
DIRECTOR: MICHAEL BAY
STARRING: MARK WAHLBERG, LAURA HADDOCK, ISABELA MONER, ANTHONY HOPKINS, JOSH DUHAMEL,
Ok. Here's the thing. I did not walk out of The Last Knight, with the same seething hatred I had for both Revenge of the Fallen, or Age of Extinction. After some serious thought, I feel the same about this incarnation, as I did about Dark of the Moon. In short, it's an improvement over the last one. However, that being said, it's not saying much. The Last Knight, is not a great film. However, there are moments that I did genuinely enjoy. Whenever the Transformers are alone on screen, particularly Optimus Prime, I had some fun with the film. There's a little bit of life, that permeates throughout, unlike Revenge of the Fallen, or Age of Extinction. While I still left having no fucking idea what the hell was happening, there's no denying that final sequence, is great summer spectacle. And there are some interesting action sequences, even if the majority suffer from Bayitis. The human characters, are what they are. I really enjoyed Anthony Hopkins in this. He's chewing all the scenery he can. I also didn't hate Wahlberg this time around, so that should count for something. And I enjoyed the young Isabela Moner as well. Bottom line, The Last Knight is not great. It's not particularly good either. And it's shorter than the last film. So, that's good. If you like this franchise, then you should like this one.
TITLE: 47 METERS DOWN
DIRECTOR: JOHANNES ROBERTS
STARRING: MANDY MOORE, CLAIRE HOLT, MATTHEW MODINE, CHRIS JOHNSON
While 47 Meters Down suffers from a plethora of problems, the flick manages to swim away mostly entertaining. Director Johannes Roberts, crafts something out of literally nothing here. Mandy Moore, and Claire Holt, just aren't strong enough for us to really care what happens to them. However, I'm not exactly sure if it is entirely their fault, or the skinny script, which is the problem. The duo are mostly left to shouting names, or breathing heavily, which can be grating over time. There is also a repetitive problem with the film. The same thing tends to happen more than once, and it gets annoying. Nevertheless, there are a few sequences which are sure to entertain. The CGI sharks, are a huge letdown too, but I like how they are used here. 47 Meters Down, is one of those flicks that gets worse, the more time one has to ruminate on it. Like, that boyfriend subplot, which was useless. I mean, why? Anyway, it's an entertaining, but quickly forgettable film.
TITLE: THE MUMMY
DIRECTOR: ALEX KURTZMAN
STARRING: TOM CRUISE, SOPHIA BOUTELLA, ANNABELLE WALLIS, JAKE JOHNSON, RUSSELL CROWE
Every year, there are a few films I vehemently disagree with critics on. In this day and age, there is no in between when it comes to film criticism. Something is either garbage, or the greatest thing since Jebus created the heavens. While The Mummy isn't perfect, it is a lot of fun. Sure, it has some scripting problems; and the second act, which I will forever call the "Exposition Act", almost halts the film entirely. However, with the problems it does have, I found The Mummy to ooze charm. I love the cast here. Everyone is having FUN, and it shows. You could tell Tom Cruise, had a blast making this movie, and it was great to see him sort of play against type. That energy, leaped off the screen for me, and I was swept up in its sandstorm of cheese. Sofia Boutella, is great as Ahmanet, and Russell Crowe, is chewing every bit of scenery he can. I'm glad the film is doing well overseas, and the concept of Universal's Dark Universe may not be lost entirely. I really want to see where this goes. Yes, the film has problems, but those problems never amounted to catastrophic for me, as some would have you believe. Through the turbulence, The Mummy is still a fun time at the summer cinema.
TITLE: WONDER WOMAN
DIRECTOR: PATTY JENKINS
STARRING: GAL GADOT, CHRIS PINE, DANNY HUSTON, DAVID THEWLIS, CONNIE NELSON, ROBIN WRIGHT, ELENA ANAYA
Wonder Woman is fantastic entertainment. Not just from a comic book movie perspective, but from a sheer cinema perspective. The film packs an intriguing story, wrapped around World War I, which in and of itself, is a unique setting. Big kudos to director Patty Jenkins, who delivered a comic book movie, which transcends the genre. Wonder Woman, is actually a character study. And I'm not just talking about Diana Prince. This is a character study about the human race; the horrors we are capable of, but also the hope and goodness we are capable of. There is some spectacular action set-pieces in here, as is to be expected. However, what really shines, are the quieter character moments, we get between Diana, and Steve Trevor. Gadot and Pine, have magnificent chemistry together, and both are a delight to watch. The film does have some slow spots at times, but all in all, it's a fairly evenly paced film. Gadot, owns this role, and I can't wait to see more of her as Wonder Woman. The film is highly entertaining, and while I am a one of the rare few who truly enjoyed Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman is by far, the best entry in the DCEU to date. Here's hoping they can keep the momentum going.
TITLE: ALIEN: COVENANT
DIRECTOR: RIDLEY SCOTT
STARRING: MICHAEL FASSBENDER, KATHERINE WATERSTON, BILLY CRUDUP, DANNY MCBRIDE
I think I am officially done. I have a feeling Ridley Scott, just wants to make a series of films, that explore existential and philosophical questions. However, no studio will let him make those movies. The compromise is what we have now, which is throw some Xenomorphs and Alien references into them. These last two films, not only fool the audience into thinking we are walking into an Alien movie, they also barely pass as entertainment. Covenant, is painfully slow. I thought Prometheus had pacing issues. However, Covenant, is far worse. Things. Things don't happen in this movie. The human characters, are all but a waste here. Michael Fassbender, is the only one really even trying. McBride, does occasionally pitch in from time-to-time. The David/Walter stuff, can be interesting at certain points, but in the end it amounts squat because Scott, has to throw in those studio promised Xenomorphs. A high point in Alien: Covenant, is in its gorgeous cinematography. Prometheus, had that going for it as well. In the end, Covenant is another bait and switch by the filmmakers. This time though, they blatantly lied about this being an Alien movie. It's barely even a movie at all in fact. It's nothing more than a 2 hour expressionist painting that we are forced to stare at.
TITLE: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOL. 2
DIRECTOR: JAMES GUNN
STARRING: CHRIS PRATT, ZOE SALDANA, DAVE BAUTISTA, BRADLEY COOPER, VIN DIESEL, MICHAEL ROOKER, KURT RUSSELL, KAREN GILLAN
As someone who was not on the full Guardians of the Galaxy train the first time, I am still not the second time. What made the first Guardians entertaining, despite its faults, were the characters. Thankfully, Vol. 2, still has that going for it. Sort of. Where Vol. 2 suffers, is in its story and these characters standing on the precipice of getting annoying, and repetitive. Still, as the film tries to force a more sentimental character study on us, the characters still drive the film's entertainment value. However, as the film rolls on, the novelty of these characters, tend to wear thin. By the end of the film these characters are mere caricatures, and have very little humanity for us to care. For a film that IS posing as a character study for these guys, it barely works. The cast is doing everything they can, to make it work. And they are all solid for the most part. Karen Gillan, is still the weak link here. Vol. 2, offers some dazzling effects, set-pieces, and eye-candy as well. However, there are quite a few segments, where one has to question how in the world certain effects were given final approval. In the end, Vol. 2 is passable entertainment in the MCU, despite its bumpy ride. Forgettable, but passable.