Tag Archives: john goodman

‘Captive State’ Holds Audiences Hostage with its Boredom

Remember back in 2014 when Netflix was known for its cut-rate made-for-TV movies instead of helming Oscar contenders? Yeah, this film feels like it missed the queue by a few years…

“Captive State” takes place on Earth after an alien species has invaded and forced humanity’s surrender, and follows a small faction determined to start a revolution. John Goodman, Ashton Sanders, Jonathan Majors, Machine Gun Kelly and Vera Farmiga star as Rupert Wyatt directs and co-writes.

When the trailer for this dropped, the few people who saw it (I bet most people don’t even know this film exists) believed it was another “Cloverfield” joint and that John Goodman was playing his character from “10 Cloverfield Lane” who was right about aliens after all. Unfortunately, instead of that possibly interesting story we get a pretty standard rebellion movie with some less-than-convincing effects and way less-than-entertaining alien encounters.

I love John Goodman and was part of the group of people who really wanted award voters to take notice of him back in 2016 with “Cloverfield Lane” because it was arguably a career-best turn from him. Here he is reuniting with “The Gambler” director Rupert Wyatt (who is best known for helming the first and best film of the “Planet of the Apes” reboot trilogy) and he just seems bored. He has a frown on his face the entire time and often seems as lost as the audience. Wyatt intentionally (or maybe not) gives us little information about Goodman’s character in an attempt to murky the waters and not let us know whether or not we can trust him, but the problem is Goodman isn’t the only person running around 2027 Chicago without an arc.

Ashton Sanders, Vera Farmiga, Machine Gun Kelly, all these people are given a job title and name and that is where their character development begins and ends. No personal demons to combat, no past they’re trying to run from or future they’re trying to embrace, just “character #14 in a sci-fi thriller.” Sanders has shown after his “Moonlight” turn that he has some acting chops and can even hold his own alongside Denzel Washington, but here he seems lost and his character literally does get lost for a good chunk of the film.

The alien designs are laughable at best (and just plain ugly and dumb at worst) but Wyatt doesn’t waste any time letting us get a good chuckle in. The aliens are shown in the very first scene, ruining any and all sense of wonder or suspense, and also confusing us the entire film with why the aliens are here and how they actually operate. Some of the other effects would be cheesy by 1977 standards and the climax to the film makes about as much sense as Rami Malek winning Best Actor this past year.

“Captive State” has all the makings of the next classic alien invasion thriller, except for the layered characters, creative creature designs, engaging plot, nail-biting tension and revolutionary special effects. It is the kind of film you would flip on Netflix and have going in the background, and if you were to randomly start watching at any point you would still know about as much as someone who had been paying attention since the opening credit crawl. Skip it. If you’re really jonesing for a movie, go see “Captain Marvel,” save your money for “Us” or go find John Carpenter’s “The Thing.”

Critic’s Rating: 3/10

‘Monuments Men’ a Big Bowl of Meh



            I personally love historical movies, especially those set in the 1940’s. Seeing as “The Monuments Men” is set in the end of World War II, and boasts an impressive cast that includes George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman and Bill Murray, it had all the makings of a fantastic film. Unfortunately, it does not live up to its lofty ambitions.

Directed by and starring Clooney, “Monuments Men” is the true story of a team of artists and architects assigned to find and protect paintings and statues that have been stolen by the Nazis.

The film was originally slated to be released in December of last year; however, it was postponed until this February in order to finish editing the special effects. When a film willingly bows out of Oscar season, it is usually not a great sign. And after seeing the film, my suspicions and worries were justified.

The movie is not awful, but it just falls short on almost every level it was striving for. The trailers implied it was going to be a blend of comedy and drama; that was in fact one of the reasons the movie was delayed, to properly edit the two genres. Every attempt at humor falls flat, or the scenes are just plain unfunny. This is hard to blame on the actors, who feature established comedians such as Murray and Goodman. Instead, the fault lies on the screenplay (written by Clooney and his production partner Grant Heslov), for writing jokes and one-liners that are as stale as a week-old sandwich.

The pacing and narrative are also a large issue. Because there are so many characters in the film, it is hard to feel any real connection to them; it also makes the story arch a little stretched, and thus slow. There are quite a few dull moments in this movie, most of them coming whenever Cate Blanchett’s French art expert is on screen. Her side story however is uninteresting and, for the most part, unneeded.

The film does have some positives. The chemistry between the star studded cast is at times entertaining to watch, and all the actors do seem to try their hardest. The production value and scenery are also very well-done, and at times you are immersed in the ruins of a bombarded, war-torn European city. It was also interesting to see the pictures of the real life Monuments Men at the end of the film.

Its ambitions are large and its intentions are pure, but “The Monuments Men” fails to be anything more than a history lesson, and more often than not it is a pretty boring one. If you are a lover of historical art and monuments, then this may be worth checking out once it hits video. Otherwise this is an ever-so-slightly entertaining, albeit forgettable, George Clooney vehicle.

Critics Rating: 5/10