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Fantastic Four (2015)
Fantastic Four (2015)
2015 | Action
If you hold the film rights to an iconic and beloved comic book series, one would think you would do everything possible to see that it flourishes under you watch. For 29th Century Fox, The Fantastic Four is an asset that should be a gem of their studio as the long-running Marvel comic series has had legions of fans for generations.

The previous two films did well enough but still had their detractors amongst the fans. So, Fox opted for a hiatus and then a radical reboot of the series complete with casting choices that were considered very questionable.

The new version features Miles Teller as Reed Richards, a young man obsessed with teleportation to the point that his teachers and other students laugh at him for his odd and obsessive ways.

His only friend is Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), who despite a lack of scientific knowledge supports Reed in his efforts which eventually allow him to be recruited by Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey), who discloses that he is working on a large scale teleportation device and seeing how Reed pulled it off with a device he made in his garage, is eager to see what he can do at a fully-funded facility.

Reed meets Franklins adopted daughter Sue (Kate Mara), as well as his son Johnny (Michael B. Jordan), while they work with the mercurial Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), to complete the device.

When the team finds success, they are horrified to learn that the government plans to take over control of the project so Ben, Victor, Johnny, and Reed opt to use it themselves to visit the other dimension in order to leave their mark in history.

Things at first go well but when a mysterious force envelops them, odd things start to happen when they return home. Reed is capable of stretching himself, Johnny is a living fire, Ben is covered in rocks, and Sue is phasing in and out.

Flashing forward the group is under the watch of the government and Reed has fled not wanting to be a part of whatever is going on. Ben is used for special operations and blames Reed for abandoning them as Sue and Johnny are prepped for the field.

Now one would think a setup like this has some potential at the very least for some action and great FX. Sadly the film lurches ahead fairly light on action. The threat to the film appears, and within 10 minutes has moved to a fairly underwhelming final conflict that is so obviously done in front of a Green Screen that it loses much of the intended impact.

The best I can say for the film is that it is a forgettable and flawed film that tries to launch a new franchise in a new way. But the casting choices in the film are so wrong, that it undermines it at every step. Setting aside the debate over an African American Johnny Storm, Miles Teller is so bland; he just does not scream leading man or driving force behind the team.

The same can be said for pretty much the entire cast. The backstories hint at various things but their actions conflict several aspects of the film which to be honest are fairly forgettable.

The entire movie is like watching a Jr. College Fan Film where the cast has a Green Screen and studio funding, but not a clue on how to carry out a story, modern action sequences of character development.

Fox needs to take a serious page from Sony and work with Marvel if they are going to continue this franchise, or return the rights to Marvel so fans can finally get a film that does justice to the source material.

I am glad that Director Josh Trank is no longer associated with the pending Star Wars film as this movie is a train wreck that spits all over the history and legacy of the source material.
Only The Brave (2017)
Only The Brave (2017)
2017 | Biography, Drama
One of the year's best films
Films based on true events are ten-a-penny these days. From 2015s stunning American Sniper and 2016s breath-taking Deepwater Horizon to the critically acclaimed Patriots Day, there seems to be no stopping the ‘true to life’ variety of movies that has suddenly become very popular.

The trouble is, getting the films right is trickier than for any other genre. Not only do you have to please the audience with bombastic spectacle, you have to respect the events that caused them to exist in the first place. The new kid on the block is Only the Brave. But does this tale of the Granite Mountain Hotshots do their incredibly tragic story justice?

Through hope, determination, sacrifice and the drive to protect families and communities, the Granite Mountain Hotshots become one of the most elite firefighting teams in the country. While most people run from danger, they run toward it — watching over lives, homes and everything people hold dear, forging a unique brotherhood that comes into focus with one fateful fire in Yarnell, Arizona.

With a cast that includes the likes of Jeff Bridges, Miles Teller, Josh Brolin, Jennifer Connelly and Andie MacDowell to name but a few, there’s no denying there is some seriously good talent on offer here. After researching the people these characters are based on, it appears that director Joseph Kosinski – who just so happens to be directing the long-awaited Top Gun sequel – has picked the perfect group of actors to portray them.

Teller is frankly, outstanding as troubled Brendan McDonough, joining the Hotshots after leaving his life of crime and addiction behind him. Josh Brolin is his ever-magnetic self as group leader Eric Marsh and the legendary Jeff Bridges really needs no introduction. The cast ooze class in every frame.

Cinematography wise, the lush landscapes of Arizona lend themselves perfectly to a beautifully shot film that features intense CGI and tasteful practical effects. Make no mistake though, this is not an action film and it feels all the better for it. While the fires themselves are mightily impressive and rendered with magnificent detail and precision, the real action here is in the human drama, of which there is an abundance.

The fact that this touching story is based on true events means that the subject matter needs to be handled as sensitively as possible and in that respect, Only the Brave has succeeded on every level. The touching tribute to these incredible men before the end credits proves to be a final emotional gut-punch after 2 hours of absolute excellence.

The script is good at making us feel for these people through their daily personal lives and their professional mentalities. In fact, it’s so well written, it may just be one of the best scripts I’ve had the pleasure of watching come to life all year and coupled with the glorious airborne shots, it makes for a deeply immersive film.

Only the Brave isn’t a film that shouts about any one thing it does well. Instead Joseph Kosinski rallies a phenomenal cast in a film that is beautifully written, exquisitely acted and is a fitting but perhaps most importantly, touching, tribute to the men who desperately tried to protect those around them.
Insurgent (2015)
Insurgent (2015)
2015 | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
With the faction system thrown out of balance, Jeanine Matthews(Kate Winslet) the leader of Erudite needs to find someone who can open a box with the answer to fix it all. Unfortunately, only a special Divergent can open the box, and Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is that one. Based on Veronica Roth’s bestselling book Insurgent comes second installment of The Divergent Series: Insurgent.
With Tris, Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller) and Caleb (Ansel Elgort) on the run from Eric (Jai Courtney) and other members of the Dauntless who follow Erudite. Now being blamed for the attack on Abnegation Tris and the others must fight to stay alive; to do so they seek refuge with Amity. From that point on Tris and Four realize they must find the rest of the Dauntless to stop Jeanine from slaughtering anymore innocent lives. With betrayal, alliances, and having to face the truth; Tris struggles to forgive herself for the events that happened in Divergent. Will the truth set her free or will she get herself killed?

The second installment of the Divergent franchise brings a strong focus to plot progression and more so action. With the main characters on the run the pace of the movie is fast and keeps the viewer entertained. Be warned though, the 3D is kind of a pain; since a lot of the scenes having running or speedy shots the glasses definitely took away from the experience. If I were to go see it again it would be 2D for me. The acting between the two stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James is a homerun; the chemistry from the first movie did not fade in the second! However, one problem I had with this film is the soundtrack; I feel the first movie had such a dynamic background track. Unfortunately, this film’s soundtrack really did not stand out as must as the first one.

I would recommend this movie to anyone who loved the first one, but to the fans of the books I would take it with a grain of salt. It’s not exactly like the book, but as a fan of the books and the first movie I thought it was a great adaptation.
Thank You for Your Service (2017)
Thank You for Your Service (2017)
2017 | Biography, Drama, War
The words “Thank you for your service” have gone from a meaningful statement of gratitude to an empty platitude. As a veteran, I cringe when someone says it to me when buying groceries, at the gym, or at an event where there is a casual reference to veterans. The film Thank You For Your Service examines the lives of those affected by the war directly and indirectly. In the movie, Miles Teller (Whiplash, War Dogs, Fantastic Four) plays Staff Sergeant Schumann, an Iraq War vet who is returning to his family and hoping to return to some sense of normalcy. Unfortunately, he and his friends discover that the war and the horrors that they witnessed cannot be escaped.

Thank You For Your Service is able to address an aspect of war that many films overlook; how the men and women who are deployed changed by their experiences. Additionally, it tackles the questions of how their families cope with the changes to them, how they go about living a normal existence, and how people understand how they are harmed by war without any visible injuries?

The film is a testament to the men and women suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It doesn’t sugar-coat or trivialize their experiences. The emotions are raw. The visual representation of their daily terror is present. With depth, the film shows audiences who may be unfamiliar with veterans or those suffering from PTSD what the world really looks like to them and how they struggle with just existing.

The film takes the statement of “Thank you for your service” and gives it greater meaning in able to connect the problems inherent in the military, healthcare system, and how we as a society view mental health. The film allows for an authentic examination of what servicemembers deal with in their return home from war. It becomes apparent that they themselves may be able to leave the battle, but the battle stays with them, tormenting and haunting them as each day passes. The war they face never ceases. Thank You For Your Service will hopefully help foster substantive discussions about what many men and women deal with in their return from the horrors of war.
Allegiant (2016)
Allegiant (2016)
2016 | Action, Romance, Sci-Fi
The third film in the popular “Divergent” series is here and will follow the pattern of recent book based films of splitting the finale into two films. In “The Divergent Series: Allegiant Part 1”, we catch up with Tris (Shailene Woodley), and Four (Theo James), shortly after the events of the previous film.

The wall has been opened and residents seek to leave the city and see what lies beyond. This is cut short when a power grab arises as Four’s mother is putting people on trial for supporting the last regime and executions or a common place as mob mentality has arisen.

Risking it all, Tris, Four, and a few companions make a daring brake and discover a wasteland beyond the wall before being taken in by a seemingly ideal community under the leadership of David (Jeff Daniels). It is learned that via sophisticated technology, they have watched Tris and the others as well as their society for ages as they were conducting a social experiment to undo evils of the previous world which lead to war.

Tris is highly prized as she is seen as genetically pure and David hopes to find out why and how so it can be replicated for the betterment of humanity. Naturally things are not always as they appear and before long, Tris, Four, and the others are forced to pick sides especially with a civil war brewing back at home.

The movie has some decent visuals but relies on the characters to carry the film. In many ways this is the downfall of the film as Woodley simply does not emote and James is very one-dimensional. Only Miles Teller and Jeff Daniels show any real or sustained emotion throughout the film.

There is also the matter of plot holes such as a society which amazing surveillance technology but they could not see a fairly obvious and common effort used during the finale of the film.

The movie is setting up the finale which hopefully will bring some advancement and satisfying closure to the series and characters. For now the film is a flawed but at times entertaining entry which should keep fans happy until the final film arrives.

JT (287 KP) rated Rabbit Hole (2010) in Movies

Mar 10, 2020  
Rabbit Hole (2010)
Rabbit Hole (2010)
2010 | Drama
6.7 (3 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Anyone with children will surely feel the pain in this film which is disheartening right to the core. It’s emotionally draining with great central performances from Kidman and Eckhart.

Set eight months after the death of their son, Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) are trying to come to terms with him not being in their lives anymore and both have a different way of dealing with it. Howie prefers to relive the past by watching videos on his phone late at night, while Becca wants to eradicate his memory altogether by giving away his clothes, removing his paintings from the fridge and cleaning his room so that all traces are gone.

The pair try to seek solace in counselling, talking with other couples who regale their grieving process. This doesn’t sit well with Becca but Howie tries to stick with it. He even becomes close, too close in fact, with one of the other wives when he realises that the bond he has with his own wife might be slipping away. Their cause is not helped by the fact that Becca’s slightly rebellious sister falls pregnant or that her Mum, Nat, is still hurting from the death of her own son, a drug user. This only angers Becca more when Nat compares the two.

The cause of the death is slowly discovered when Becca spots the culprit on a school bus and it is revealed that Jason (Miles Teller) was behind the wheel of the car. The pair engage in secret meetings, as if having some kind of affair but simply sit to talk and reflect on each others lives and the accident itself.

Pain never goes away, it’s something that is carried around with you forever, people seem to tread lightly around you, and life will never be the same again. It’s certainly a tear jerker, there are plenty of moments to choose from in this but for me the film is all about the acting of which there is much to enjoy.

Kidman is at her best and Eckhart who was hand picked by Kidman to be her leading man is sublime and yet explosive in a number of highly charged scenes. The ending shot is one of hope, amid the shattered pieces of their lives scattered all over the place you feel that they might have crossed the road to a happier future.
Footloose (2011)
Footloose (2011)
2011 | Comedy, Drama, Musical
7.7 (7 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Public dancing is against the law in the small religious town of Bomont. But Boston-raised teenager, Ren McCormack and the Reverend’s daughter Ariel have other ideas in this remake of the 1984 classic.

The original “Footloose” requires a 1980s mindset and was successful partially due the disjointed storytelling of teen films during that era. Up until now it could be said that there is no “Footloose” without Kevin Bacon. But surprise! The remake is so good that you may need to step back.

The cast is more polished than the original, particularly in lead female role of Ariel Moore brought back to the screen by Julianne Hough. Hough’s performance is more engaging than that of the original portrayal by Lori Singer. Taking the reigns of the role that made Kevin Bacon famous is Kenny Wormald as city boy Ren. Wormald wears the role with charm and the required “Footloose” too-cool-for-school style.

Reverend Shaw Moore, now played by Dennis Quaid, is far more emotional than the original depiction of the character first played by a John Lithgow. However, the same cannot be said for his wife, Vi Moore, with a disappointing performance from Andy McDowell. This is balanced however by the truly enjoyable portrayal of Ren’s best friend Willard by the well-timed comedy of Miles Teller.

Yes, there were cheesy moments. There was even a sunset so over the top that it may remind you Star Wars buffs of a certain lengthy romance scene in Episode Two. And yes, more than one of the reanimated lines from the classic film was forced. But the flubs were few and far between as this “Footloose” remake manages to succeed in many places where the original could have been improved.

The explanation of tragedy that originally befell Bomont has been extended, giving the town’s anti-dance perspective a little more sway. And this time around “Footloose” directly addresses a number of the small town versus big city stereotypes with strong dual sided humor.

The new “Footloose” still has less dancing then you want from a film entirely about dance, but when it does occur the style is much more diverse, ranging from hip hop to that famous “Footloose” country. There were things missed from the original; particularly the precision of Bacon’s solo dance scene, but this remake honors the impact of the original while standing on its own.

Now where do you buy a pair of red cowboy boots?!
Fantastic Four (2015)
Fantastic Four (2015)
2015 | Action
An absolute snooze
Here comes yet another superhero film. Ending Marvel’s year that has included the charming Big Hero 6, the overstuffed Avengers: Age of Ultron and the surprisingly excellent Ant-Man, the Fox produced Fantastic Four reboot has a tough job trying to get audiences to forget the horror that came before it.

It’s been a tough ride for the quartet of heroes, but does director Josh Trank’s modern day reimagining of Marvel’s first team do enough to change perceptions?

Not by a long shot. Despite some excellent special effects, this yawnfest of a film that was plagued by rumours of constant behind-the-scenes tension and last-minute editing doesn’t have an ounce of originality in its short 100 minute running time.

Miles Teller (Insurgent), Kate Mara (Transcendence), Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle) and Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) take on the roles of Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm respectively and are fine, if lacking in any real chemistry.

Fantastic Four is above all, an origins story as the four young adults try to crack interdimensional travel. Naturally, things don’t go quite to plan and they, alongside fellow colleague Victor Von Doom end up with an unusual set of powers – with Doom becoming the main antagonist.

Unfortunately, the plot, devised by no less than three writers is a complete bore. There is hardly anything of interest throughout the entire film as Trank pushes his cast from one underwhelming set piece to another.

When things do get tense, it’s only for a five minute scene involving Doom breaking out of a research facility. This is when we get to see what Fantastic Four could’ve been, a dark and brooding film with a disturbing villain at its core.

However, it seems this has been pushed back to make way for an unusually flat sense of humour and an uninteresting origins story. Marvel films live and die on their comedic elements and unfortunately Fantastic Four is as poor as they come.

Nevertheless, the film’s special effects are on the whole, very good. The other dimension looks fantastic and The Thing in particular is rendered using excellent motion capture animation.

An underwhelming climax wraps up a bitterly disappointing outing for the four heroes. Most superhero films end with a spectacular showdown of good versus evil but Fantastic Four has none of this. The ending is clichéd, short and has no real payoff.

Overall, expectations were already low for this reboot and despite director Josh Trank’s obvious talent for direction, this talent is nowhere to be found in Fantastic Four.

A cast that doesn’t gel together, a poor soundtrack and a lack of tonal balance ensures it will rest alongside X-Men Origins: Wolverine as proof that Marvel Studios needs the rights to all of its heroes returning to it.
Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
2022 | Action, Drama
The very definition of "Summer Flick"
There is absolutely no denying it - TOP GUN: MAVERICK is the very definition of a “Summer Blockbuster” movie - the kind of film that will appeal to a wide variety of audiences who want nothing more than to escape into a world of heroes (and villains), good vs. evil, with lots of fast chases and things exploding.

And that is just what you get with the sequel to the 1986 hit - a summer blockbuster, which will do well at the box office - just don’t expect tricky plot developments or in-depth character examinations. The plot and the characters are just there to deliver the blockbuster goods.

Bringing back the main character from the first TOP GUN film, Tom Cruise as Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, TOP GUN: MAVERICK shows Maverick 30 years (or so) after the events of the first film with “just one more” mission to go. Maverick is brought back to train a dozen hot-shot pilots, including one that is the son of his best friend - a friend who’s death Maverick has been traumatized by during the past 30 years.

Cruise, of course, is perfect in this role. He has the right blend of arrogance and charisma to pull of the fine balance needed between these two traits. Jennifer Connelly is on board as the requisite love interest and she more than holds her own with Cruise in what is an underwritten role as are all of the roles in this film by writer Peter Craig (BAD BOYS FOR LIFE) with Direction by Joseph Kosinski (OBLIVION).

Miles Teller (the son of the man who Maverick is mourning, who blames Maverick for his dad’s death), John Hamm (the a-hole boss that thinks that Maverick is “writing checks his body can’t cash”), Glen Powell (the arrogant young hot shot) and the rest are all one-note caricatures that leaves the audience not really caring about their fate.

Only Val Kilmer (reprising his role as “Iceman” from the first movie) comes out of this unscathed for his character is suffering from throat cancer and cannot speak above a whisper (much like Kilmer in real life). It was good to see him on the big screen again.

But…you don’t come to this film for the characters, you come to this picture for the high-flying action sequences, and…in the last part of this film…you get ‘em in spades! Unfortunately, you get way too LITTLE action in the first part of this film, it’s mostly nostalgic fond remembrances of the first film, so I found myself wriggling in my seat waiting for the action that I knew was to come.

It’s the perfect summer movie and one that is far more superior being seen on the big screen. It is the type of flick that one doesn’t have to pay to close attention to, but when it does grab your attention, it does it well…enough.

If you have the need…the need for speed…you can do much worse than TOP GUN: MAVERICK.

Letter Grade: B

 7 stars (out of 10) and you can take that to the Bank(ofMarquis)
Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
2022 | Action, Drama
Back in 1987, Tom Cruise and Paramount released “Top Gun” and in doing so created a cultural phenomenon that launched Cruise into Superstardom and became an enduring classic.

Now after decades away and delays due to the pandemic, Cruise has returned to the franchise with “Top Gun: Maverick” and has crafted the rare feat, of a sequel that is not only better than the original but also gives audiences an edge of the seat summer event film when it is needed the most.

Cruise stars as Captain Pete Mitchell who after thirty years is not only haunted by his past but unable to shed his insubordinate and impulsive ways which have kept him from reaching the rank of Admiral and have moved him from one assignment to another.

After his latest action confirms his incredible aviation skills but infuriates the upper brass in the process, Mitchell is out of options as he is unwilling to retire, unable to be promoted, and out of posting options. He is tasked by an old friend with enough clout to watch out for him to return to the Top Gun program as an instructor. Mitchell is hesitant as his last attempt as an instructor did not last long and he believes he is better suited to fly versus teaching.

It is learned that an enemy faction is about to open a Uranium enrichment facility in violation of established law that would threaten the region, and Mitchell is tasked with training a team of Top Gun graduates in three weeks who can make what appears to be a near-impossible assault on the facility to destroy it before it becomes a threat.

While the assembled pilots represent a brash and talented group, Mitchell must contend with the ghosts of his past as one of the members Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw (Miles Teller), is the son of his deceased friend Goose and has a very fractured relationship with Bradshaw over their shared past.

With pressure on him from Admiral Simpson (Jon Hamm), Mitchell must somehow find a way to train the group in a small amount of time for what is considered by many to be an impossible mission due to the terrain, defenses, and location of their target.

The film is an edge-of-the-seat adrenaline rush that grabs ahold of you from the start and never lets up. From the opening music to the intense aerial sequences, the audience was hooked as gasps and cheers erupted frequently as the characters and action clearly connected with the audience.

While the visual sequences are nothing short of spectacular, the film is a character-based story and there is a depth to Mitchell and many of the cast that goes much deeper than one would normally see in a summer action film.

Jennifer Connelly offers a great counter-point to Mitchell as a person from his past that has known him through several key moments of his career and helps him endure the turbulent emotions that he has.

From the solid characters and story to the rousing final segments of the movie, “Top Gun: Maverick” returns the Summer Event film in grand style and exceeded my expectations and the original in every way.