Tag Archives: Kristen Stewart

‘Charlie’s Angels’ Review

And so the “sequel that acts as a soft reboot” trend continues.

“Charlie’s Angels” is the latest installment in the titular spy franchise which began with the 1970s TV series followed by the two films in the early 2000s. This rendition stars Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska as the three new Angels, alongside Elizabeth Banks, Djimon Hounson, Sam Claflin, Noah Centineo and Patrick Stewart. Banks also directs and wrote the screenplay.

This is one of those films, one of those reviews, where it is just a light watch and there’s nothing wrong with that. The three main Angels, Stewart, Scott and Balinska, all have a nice energy about them, and Stewart, returning to studio tentpoles after a stint in the indie world, continues to show that she is capable of succeeding in any genre. Not all of her jokes land, and sometimes Banks’ script has her make these bad quips at the wrong time or on the wrong beat, but Stewart seems to be having a ball and manages to produce a few solid chuckles with her animated movement.

The action sequences are a bit of a mixed bag, as some of them are fun and seem like they were choreographed well, however the editing is so quick (like a cut a second) and the camera is held so close to the actors that it is hard to tell what is going on. I don’t get why movies do this, like why rehearse a fight scene if it’s just going to come across as random chaos, but that’s been a problem for a while so can’t expect this to be the last time we see it.

The plot is, serviceable. It is your classic “we have to find out who is trying to buy this new weapon before it’s too late” storyline, and the few twists that do come into play are pretty predictable. As I touched on with Stewart, Elizabeth Banks’ script (and she also produced, so all flaws on this project truly fall on her shoulders) feels lazy at times, many of the jokes are obvious or dialogue full of exposition (at one point a character explains a plot point we just learned to another, just to ensure the audience caught it).

“Charlie’s Angels” is perfectly sufficient entertainment, although the action is scattershot and the humor only lands every now and again. Based on the reactions from my audience I’m guessing there are Easter eggs sprinkled in for fans of the previous installments, and if you thought the trailers looked fun then I’m sure you’ll get exactly what you want out of this.

Critics Rating: 6/10

‘American Ultra’ is Ultra Stupid

American_Ultra_posterWell, the dream eventually had to die. After a surprisingly solid start to August (“The Gift” and “Straight Outta Compton” rank among the year’s best films), we are back to the regular dumping of dumpster movies in the dog days of summer.

“American Ultra” stars Jesse Eisenberg as a stoner who is actually a sleeper agent for the CIA. After being targeted for death, he is activated and alongside his stoner-in-crime girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) must stop the CIA agents (led by Topher Grace) who want him gone. Connie Britton and John Leguizamo also star as Nima Nourizadeh (or as I like to call him, “Nima Nour—yeah, that guy”) directs.

Stoner comedies are a fickle bunch. Some transcend expectations and work as a plain comedy for the sober, like “Harold and Kumar” or “Pineapple Express.” Others are just plain stupid and aren’t fun for anyone, like “Your Highness.” And then there are the stoner comedies that are probably wonderfully trippy when you’re high, but aren’t great if you watch it while not on drugs (*clears throat* which should be all the time, because drugs are bad and illegal!). “American Ultra” falls into that third category.

I will give credit where credit is due: “American Ultra” knows it is a stupid stoner comedy, and very rarely tries to be anything more. The action is enjoyably and mostly chaotic, which Nourizadeh proved he is capable of capturing in his only other directorial project, “Project X,” and all the actors seem to be dedicated to having a good time. For what it’s worth, “American Ultra” is a relatively well-made movie; it’s just a shame it is a relatively not good one.

As I said above, “American Ultra” is probably a very good time if watched under proper circumstances, but a stoner comedy, in my opinion, shouldn’t pander just to that demo. Films like “Pineapple” or “Harold and Kumar” are great because they know not all of their audience will be high while watching, so low-barrel humor and trippy black light sequences aren’t the only source of entertainment they strive to provide. “Ultra” doesn’t have very many well-written jokes, so unless Topher Grace saying the f-bomb several times during a temper tantrum is your kind of humor, then there isn’t much in the film to laugh at.

One other thing that annoyed me was a character played by Walton Goggins. This is the most minor of spoilers but it isn’t going to ruin the movie and to be honest, you shouldn’t care. It is revealed early in the film that Grace’s character has been training mentally insane people to be CIA agents; however the film treats Goggins’ character as if he is mentally challenged. He acts like a young child and even though the film tries to justify his and its actions by saying “they messed with his head,” I found it in poor taste and just plain grating.

Look, I know “American Ultra” wasn’t trying to be a smart, sophisticated comedy, but if it featured more than three laughs I would have appreciated the effort. This is exactly the kind of movie you will find playing on Comedy Central at 3pm on a Saturday, and maybe as background noise it works. But I didn’t find it all too entertaining, despite the cast’s admirable efforts and the crew’s impressive production work. Go rewatch “Pineapple Express” instead of watching this; better yet, go see “Straight Outta Compton.” Your brain and your wallet will thank you.

Critics Rating: 4/10