Everyone knows Nicolas Cage as one of the most insane actors who has ever lived; able to give an over-the-top performance in the blink of an eye, which not even John Malkovich can be able to top; which is why the lead role in ‘Mandy’ is perfect for him. Though “Mandy” is not the name of his character, but that of his girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough), an artist whose hobbies include being out in the wilderness and turning into a deep and meaningful book. The character of Mandy is also a motivational tool for Cage’s Red to go out for some good old-fashioned bloody revenge when a group of hippie Jesus freaks, led by a Charles Manson-esque figure named Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) mess with him and take her from his life.
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It took a long time for DC to get the formula right for a fun, light-heated adventure like ‘Shazam!’, but here we are! In a world saturated by superhero movies, one rises up to prove itself to be a little different than the rest, and that turns out to be a good thing. It is hard to believe we came a long way from the dark, grey matter that was ‘Man of Steel’ to a bright and colorful rainbow known as ‘Shazam!’; it has the makings of ‘Big’ if it were a superhero movie and has the giddy childlike nature to show, but does not risk its intensity and punches to make for an entertaining action movie.
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With the way ‘The Meg’ was marketed, you would not expect anything more than an action B-movie starring Jason Statham, yet surprisingly, a lot of effort and care has been taken to make sure Jon Turteltaub’s adaptation of Steve Alten’s science-fiction horror novel ‘Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror’ was as thrilling of a shark movie as it could be. Despite having humorous moments, audiences expecting B-movie fun will either be disappointed, or find themselves enjoying what they came for; depending on how they see it. As much of a B-movie lover I am, I walked in expecting nothing more than an entertaining, albeit disposable, bad shark movie fit for the SyFy channel, yet instead walked out of something much more. In fact, I could say that ‘The Meg’ is one of the best shark movies since ‘Jaws’!
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I have never had so much fun watching ‘Deadpool 2’. What the first feature lacked, David Leitch’s sequel gains — in terms of fast-paced, non-stop action, and jokes that actually hit me. In case you did not know already, I thought the first ‘Deadpool’ was okay. I was expecting it to be a great superhero movie, but its uneven structure really bothered me; of course, that may have been its intention, and it actually proved to be more enjoyable on its second viewing. I just really loved ‘Deadpool 2’. Not a dull moment flew past me as I sat through explosions, profanity, gore, and fourth-wall breaks. The character of Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is a gift from Marvel heaven, though he has yet to make his appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (The Disney/Fox merger happened in 2017). We might as well enjoy these cinematic offerings while they are hot, naughty, and R-rated.
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‘Rampage’ may be a couple of weeks old, but that does not mean I do not have things to say about this video game adaptation. First of all, it had potential to be amazing and fun; secondly, it is an excuse for Dwayne Johnson to make another possible action blockbuster. Who am I to ponder the existence of the ‘Rampage’ movie? All I cared about when seeing this was seeing monsters destroy buildings in awesome, epic fashion! For those expecting more of the same, you have to get through an hour of movie just to see some destruction. At least, in a way, there are moments of self-awareness, and once we see the action unfold, we are treated to excitement!
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In recent years, Tom Cruise has been labeled by people as “crazy”; whether it be his real life behavior, (Jumping on Oprah’s couch to declare his love for actress Katie Holmes, joining the church of Scientology) or becoming the American Jackie Chan by performing death-defying stunts in his action movies. (The ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchise, ‘The Last Samurai’) Here, in ‘American Made’, Cruise further cements that label as real life American pilot Barry Seal; who became a drug mule for the Medellin Cartel in the early 80’s. Yet, his performance is not as over-the-top as I am making it out to be, instead, it is a bit restrained, and is more of a chance for Cruise to relive his glory days when he played the rebellious jet pilot, Maverick, in ‘Top Gun’. However, instead of fighting enemy pilots in a jet, Cruise plays your average everyday airline pilot who eventually gets an offer that leads to the smuggling of guns and drugs.
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Just because ‘The LEGO Ninjago Movie’ looks like a legit ‘LEGO’ movie, does not mean it is spotless. (Or without its buffs and scratches.) While the style is an improvement over this year’s ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ (which felt more of an animated spoof than an actual movie in the ‘LEGO’ franchise.) to the point where it is equal to ‘The LEGO Movie’ itself, its humor and story line are a result of trying too hard to stand alone as an action comedy for family audiences. You could say that the ‘LEGO’ train has run out of steam and should stop there, (It could go until ‘LEGO Star Wars’, or ‘LEGO Indiana Jones’.) while I believe ‘Ninjago’ suffers from a disease I call “Same Year Syndrome”; this happens when two movies from the same animation studio get released the same year, only months apart, and only results when one or more films end up not living up to their potential. Pixar started suffering with the 2015 release of ‘The Good Dinosaur’, months after ‘Inside Out’, and may continue this year with ‘Coco’ (If it is not good); Last year, Illumination Studios released both ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ and ‘Sing!’, now ‘LEGO’ may be suffering the same fate. It is a shame, because I expected ‘Ninjago’ to be as funny as it was marketed to be.
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What made ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ a fun movie were not just its action sequences or sense of humor, but its elements of both surprise and danger. Almost every moment kept you on your toes – making you wait for something to happen – only to provide a twist at each and every turn. Here, in ‘The Golden Circle’, every bit of surprise and sense of humor is traded in for a gleefully out-of-place story-line involving Julianne Moore playing a drug kingpin named Poppy, living in a hideout drenched in 50’s nostalgia, while grinding unsuspecting victims up as burgers as if she were Mrs. Lovett in ‘Sweeney Todd’, only the opposite. Cheerful and bubbly, but not actually creepy enough to pass as a good villain. Let’s take a look at Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine from ‘The Secret Service’. He was a ridiculous and clichéd spy movie villain with a cliched agenda, but one with an appeal to make him entertaining. I must mention that ‘The Secret Service’ was an action-comedy, which added to the fun.
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Since late 2009, when James Cameron’s spectacular ‘Avatar’ came out and became the highest grossing film at the time (until J.J. Abrams’ ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ broke that domestic box-office record a few years back), 3D was mainly used as a marketing gimmick in order to bring in the big bucks. Not to say that CG is a bad thing; I don’t mind looking at colorful characters or immersing myself in a world of beauty. I am starting to catch on to the techniques filmmakers are using. CG is looking more noticeable; making it really hard for me to “feel the moment” so to speak. There are times when the CG in Luc Besson’s ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ looks noticeable, but if one were to sit back and relax, you could immerse yourself in a world of beauty and realize that things aren’t as bad as they seem.
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From the word “GO!”, Edgar Wright’s ‘Baby Driver’ is a vehicle that never runs out of gas (or tunes) for the trip. Each and every moment is non-stop action and master film-making that Wright uses to full potential. With every drive young Baby (Ansel Elgort) makes, the action is exciting, as well as dangerous. At every turn, danger never quits and he has to be in the middle of it. Why does Baby drive? What is he doing there? And most importantly, “What is the thing with the music in his ears?”, most characters who question him and his ability to be a getaway driver, ask Doc (Kevin Spacey), the crime boss who sets up all the robberies Baby has to be a part of. The story behind Baby’s condition, location, and job, is quite tragic. When he was a little kid, Baby’s parents died in a car crash leaving him with tinnitus, or “a hum in the drum” as Doc calls it; (Don’t worry, that wasn’t a spoiler! It was in the trailer!) the only way Baby can drown out the ringing in his ear is to have music playing in his ear at almost all times. Not only does this make him the best getaway driver in the business, it also serves as the film’s main soundtrack.
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