Tag Archives: movie

‘Suicide Squad’ Wastes Cast in Bland CGI Romp

Suicide_Squad_(film)_PosterIf nothing else it’s nice to see Will Smith having fun in a big budget blockbuster again.

“Suicide Squad” is the third entry into the DC Extended Universe and takes place after the events of this year’s “Batman v Superman.” David Ayer writes and directs as Will Smith and Margot Robbie star as members of a group of villains hired by the government to take out a threat in exchange for reduced jail sentences. Jared Leto and Viola Davis also star.


Like everyone else who has access to the internet, I enjoyed the series of trailers for this film (usually set to Queen songs) and the idea of antiheroes being the focal point of a film seemed fun. Plus I love David Ayer’s “End of Watch” and “Fury,” so I really thought this would be the first official good film of the DC Universe. I thought…


“Suicide Squad” is a frustrating film to say the least. Much like the first two installments of the DC series, “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman,” there are nuggets of greatness in this. Will Smith and Margot Robbie are having a ball playing psychotic killers (one much less sane than the other) and Jared Leto ‘s Joker makes me excited for where he could take the role in future Batman films (even though he’s a glorified cameo here). However these fun characters are lost in a muddled cloud of CGI action and an unfocused narrative.


Like I said, Smith and Robbie and really the whole cast do fine work. Some performances are better than others (or more audible, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Killer Croc mumbles everything) but overall these are all interesting characters that even if we aren’t quite emotionally attached to, still root for.


It would have been so much more rewarding if we had gotten some of these characters in previous films before they had to team up, but because DC is in overdrive to catch up with Marvel we don’t get that luxury. Instead we get forced (and sometimes awkward) exposition-by-file reading, and it’s just a rushed intro.


The film has a very simple plot, it’s essentially a rescue mission with a doomsday clock, and yet I had no idea what the actual hell was going on half the time. The villain of this film is a witch and her ancient demon brother and they want to create a portal to do…something (?) I really couldn’t tell you, the film actually never discloses her plan besides “rule humans” and “create a zombie army.”


Oh, and I’ll just congratulate Cara Delevingne on her Razzie win now because her performance as the witch is so laughably atrocious that every time she opens her mouth it detracts from the film and makes the scene and any dramatic heft that had been building impossible to take seriously.


I wanted to like “Suicide Squad,” I really did. But it is so inconsistent and so frustratingly bland that I cannot recommend it be viewed for $10. If you catch it on TV in six months then sure, give it a view for Robbie and Will, but it is a huge letdown and yet another stumble for the DC Universe and Warner Bros.


Critics Rating: 5/10


Warner Bros.

‘Jason Bourne’ Too Familiar, Sloppy to Fully Enjoy

Jason_Bourne_(film)I kept thinking two things while watching this: (1) Alicia Vikander is unfairly attractive and (2) I still can’t believe that Matt Damon and “The Martian” won Best Comedy at the Globes last year…

“Jason Bourne” is the fifth installment of the Bourne franchise and the first one to feature Damon since 2007’s “Ultimatum.” This time around, Bourne finally discovers the secrets to his past and comes after the head of the CIA (Tommy Lee Jones) for the final answers. Vikander, Vincent Cassel and Riz Ahmed also star as Paul Greengrass returns to direct.

I love “The Bourne Identity” and “The Bourne Ultimatum,” they’re two of the best action films of all-time; “Supremacy” and “Legacy” have their moments but are fully forgettable. So when they announced Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon were teaming back up to return to the franchise that arguably made both of their careers, I was excited. So maybe it was the nine years of anticipation or the incredibly high bar set by “Ultimatum,” but “Jason Bourne” is a just alright action film.

The opening sequence sets the tone for the entire film, in that it is engaging and visceral at times but is confusingly shot and edited and lasts too long. The film opens with a foot chase that turns into a motorcycle chase and each of them have their intense moments; but Greengrass’ trademark handheld shaky cam and rapid editing often make it muddled what is going on.

Franchise newcomers Alicia Vikander and Tommy Lee Jones both add some intrigue to the film, with Vikander being, aside from being beyond bae-able, the voice of reason for the audience. She is dedicated to her job but also has her own motives and senses that maybe the CIA is going after Bourne for the wrong reasons. Meanwhile Tommy Lee Jones plays Tommy Lee Jones in that he scowls and growls as the Director of the CIA who knows more about Bourne than he is leading on.

Riz Ahmed gives the film’s most (only) charismatic performance as the CEO of a social media giant caught in the middle of a conspiracy, although his role could be removed from the film and the plot would be entirely unchanged.

Damon is a bit perplexing. He doesn’t turn in a bad performance, but he just seems tired and is sleepwalking through the role. For a movie with his character in the title, the film actually revolves more around Vikander, with Damon just running around plugging USBs into laptops.

The film’s climax is more of the same as the opening sequence. Set in Vegas, it begins with an incredibly intense ten minutes but is followed by a choppily edited and way overlong car chase. It is almost as if Greengrass and crew had spent so much money on the big set pieces and car crashes that they felt obligated to include everything they shot.

“Jason Bourne” doesn’t do much to answer any of the burning questions left from the original trilogy nor does it leave us wanting more Bourne, but it isn’t completely without intriguing action scenes and exotic locations. But it is more of the same which is fun for a while however in the end just isn’t enough.

Critics Rating: 6/10



‘Finding Dory’ Familiar but Fun Family Adventure

Finding_DoryAnd so, the summer of the sequels we didn’t really ask for continues.


“Finding Dory” is the sequel to the 2003 film “Finding Nemo” and follows the forgetful fish Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) as she searches for her long lost family. Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence and Ed O’Neill also star as Andrew Stanton directs.


No one really asked for a sequel to “Finding Nemo.” The events of that film wrapped up nicely and as much as we all adored the characters 13 years ago I never heard anyone clamoring to see more of them. However in a summer season that has already given us sequels to “Neighbors,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Now You See Me,” why not have Pixar throw its hat into the ring?


Pixar sequels are a fickle business. Some best the original (“Toy Story 2”), some are fun and solid follow-ups (“Monsters University”) and others crash and burn (“Cars 2”). “Finding Dory” falls in the middling ground in that it is colorful and entertaining, but it’s clear there wasn’t enough original content her to warrant a new film.


“Finding Dory” features everything that was great about classic Pixar but also everything that people have grown to question about Pixar. It has some great humor for both kids and adults (including one hilarious sequence in touch tank at an aquarium that plays out like a horror film) and is gorgeously animated; this may be their best-looking film to date.


The voice acting is all top-notch, two. Big names including Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy and Idras Elba (man, that guy is making bank from Disney this year following “Jungle Book” and “Zootopia”) all are perfectly cast and play off each other well, and it is fun to try and recognize the actors as they pop up.


However people have recently questioned the quality of Pixar films and their reliance on sequels (before “Inside Out,” at least), and “Dory” does offer some fuel to that fire. The whole thing doesn’t quite come off as nostalgic but it certainly never feels new. It is kind of just there and we never really get a true purpose for its existence. Don’t get me wrong, seeing Nemo and his tiny flipper again was great, I remember being enamored by the first film as a child, but unlike “Toy Story 3” or even “Monsters U,” this just feels like a rehash of the original instead of its own story.


“Finding Dory” is a solid film and great family entertainment, even if it does feel a little too familiar and derivative of the original works. It is beautifully animated and the voices actors nail it, and although the emotional side of the narrative falls short there is still plenty wonder to behold under the sea (oops, wrong Disney movie…).


Critics Rating: 7/10



‘Warcraft’ Loud, Boring Adventure

Warcraft_Teaser_PosterHate “Game of Thrones” for having developed characters? “Lord of the Rings” too exciting? Well they have made the movie for you!


“Warcraft” is the adaption of the video game series of the same name, and features many of the same characters and locations. In the film, humans must protect their world from an invading orc army after their own homeland is ravished. Duncan Jones directs as Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper and Toby Kebbell star.


I have not played a second of Warcraft; the closest I have come to the game is watching the incredible South Park episode. So I really went into this with no expectations or anticipation, all I wanted was a fun fantasy adventure. What I got is a lot of exposition and loud, messy battle sequences en route to a slow and pretty derivative tale.


Remember last year’s “Fantastic Four?” Of course you don’t, because it was awful and nothing memorable happened in it. Well the biggest problem with that film was most all the film was exposition, setting up characters in a world we never fully get to play with before a boring CGI finale. Well, that’s “Warcraft.” We have a lot of people talking about how bad the orcs are and how they need to be stopped, and finally with about 30 minutes left in the film they actually do something about it.


Every character in this film is there just to fill a niche and push certain plot points along. You don’t remember any of their names (not that you could if you wanted to, most all are made up language gibberish) and couldn’t give me three adjectives to describe them if I put a gun to your head.


The effects aren’t even that incredible. The film has become known in the last few months for having a budget of $160 million (another $130 on marketing), so you should expect a lot from it. However aside from the main orc (motion captured by Toby Kebbell, who ironically starred in F4), most every other CGI character looks like a CGI character; picture the orcs and trolls from the “Hobbit” trilogy to get a feel what I’m talking about.


There are just lazy, awkward moments, too. Some editing makes no sense, people will be on one side of the room in one shot then hiding behind a pillar on the opposite side of the room in the next, and there is one laughable sequence where characters share a conversation in real time as everyone around them fights in slow motion. It’s deplorable.


The film makes sure to give fans of the game plenty of Easter eggs and fan service, but as we learned last week with “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” fan service does not for a good movie make, nor does it excuse an awful one.


I’m sure the studios wanted a big, epic adventure with wide-reaching appeal, but I cannot see any person who isn’t a Warcraft player enjoying this movie. Even my friend that I saw this with, who grew up on the games and said he appreciated all the nostalgia, acknowledged this movie isn’t very good, and he’s the target demo.


“Warcarft” isn’t painfully awful but it is in no way, shape or form a good or even passable film. It is mostly just build up for final conflict we don’t care about because we never get any attachment to the characters, and the action sequences can only distract us for so long. The film makes absolutely no attempt to wrap up any plotlines in an attempt to set up a sequel, but much like “Fantastic Four” I cannot see people clambering to revisit this world anytime soon.


Critics Rating: 3/10



More Tricks, Less Logic in ‘Now You See Me 2’

Now_You_See_Me_2_poster (1)Well, it’s like the old saying goes: “some pointless 2016 sequels will be ‘Neighbors 2,’ but most will be ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass.’”


“Now You See Me 2” is the sequel to the surprise 2013 hit, “Now You See Me” (they missed a golden opportunity by not calling this “Now You Don’t”). Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco all reprise their roles as Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan and Jay Chou join the cast. This time the Four Horsemen must steal a device capable of tracking and erasing all data from any computer, while still being on the run from the FBI. Jon M. Chu, director of such thrillers as “Step Up 3D” and “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” takes over here.


The first “Now You See Me” was a stupid film that thought it was smart, and despite some entertaining bits it dragged along before a laughably implausible finale. No one really asked for this sequel yet here we are, and the second act of this series is quite literally more of the same: the film looks great and is fun in bursts, but overall mistakes randomness for cleverness.


Much like the first film, the all-star cast elevates this with seemingly dedicated performances. Even though romps such as this are below the talent level of the likes of Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, they don’t ham it up and sleepwalk through their roles (here’s looking at you, Jennifer Lawrence in “Apocalypse”). Jesse Eisenberg, fresh off ranting in “Batman v Superman,” gives some charming sarcastic lines and newcomer Lizzy Caplan injects the film with some shots of energy.


But the cast is really where the compliments end with this thing. As any magician will tell you (and the film will beat you over the head repeating), the most important aspect of a trick is misdirection, and the film hopes its talented and attractive cast (ugh, have you seen Dave Franco lately?) will distract you from the messy and unintelligent pot going on right in front of your eyes.


Much like the first film, this expects you to have your jaw drop at the big twists and reveals; only just like the first time, there aren’t any clues along the way or logic to back anything up. The film essentially points at a curtain and says there is a dog behind it, only to drop the curtain and have it be a cat, but expects you to wonder how it isn’t a dog. If that analogy made sense then great, you know how senseless this movie is; if you didn’t get what I was going for then the film’s stupid logic won’t make any sense to you, either.


There is a sequence in the middle of the film that perfectly summarizes the entire experience: when the group is stealing the device, they must hide it in a playing card and sneak it through security. What starts off as playful and entertaining soon drags on for (at least) five minutes and it loses any and all whimsical nature about it. And that is what “Now You See Me 2” is: a film that starts off fun but soon wears out its welcome, and no amount of faux twists or Dave Francos can change that.


Critics Rating: 4/10



‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2’ Is Deplorably Awful

Teenage_Mutant_Ninja_Turtles_Out_of_the_Shadows_posterWhen Tyler Perry is the best part of your movie, the alarm started going off a long time ago.


“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” (the longest, most unnecessary title of all-time) is the sequel to the 2014 films about everyone’s favorite pubescent modified warrior reptiles. This time around the gang must stop Shredder (who apparently survived his fall off the Empire State Building in the first film with no explanation) from doing evil things. That is really as much of a plot as I can give you because that is really as much of a plot as there is in this thing. Megan Fox, Tyler Perry and Stephen Arnell star as Dave Green directs.


The first Ninja Turtles movie wasn’t good, but at least (from what I faintly remember about it) it was watchable enough. The complaints people had about the film were mainly that didn’t have enough fan service, the Turtles’ design was ugly and the film wasn’t overly charming. This sequel has none of those problems because it took all those complaints and flipped the script; now there’s too much fan service, the Turtles are way too dressed up and the attempts at charm and fun are nauseating.


Nothing in this movie feels organic, everything just has the “let’s get a summer blockbuster sequel out as fast as possible” way about it. Right from the opening sequence I knew something was off because the film literally stops to put the Turtles’ names and roles within the group on the screen as if we didn’t see the first film or know these characters. Or, more likely, the screenwriters were too lazy to create fleshed out characters so they just gave you cliffnotes to put you up to speed.


The humor of this film has to be addressed because it is all over the place, as long as none of those places are “funny.” The inclusion of Bebop and Rocksteady (Gary Anthony Williams and Stephen Farrelly, respectively) was something fans wanted to see, and granted I never watched enough of the show to develop a bond with the characters, but oh my god, I hated these two. If you don’t know, Bebop and Rocksteady are a mutant rhino and warthog and they are just there to make fart jokes and pick their noses. They add nothing of value to the film except an occasional pity chuckle from a young child and as the aforementioned fan service. Brad Garrett also voices a bad guy who gets no intro or character development, and unless you know TMNT lore you will have absolutely no idea who he is. Post-Raymond life has not been kind to Brad…


Tyler Perry is the best part of this mess and it is only by comparison. Perry knows he is in a dumpster fire that is beyond saving so he hams it up, including a beyond stupid chuckle that is possibly brilliant, probably just dumb, but I laughed every time he did it.


The screenwriting is so atrocious and predictable that it is deplorable. Casey Jones (Arnell) breaks a jukebox and smashes a half dozen liquor bottles while trying to get info out of a bartender, just to have the bartender hand him a GPS tracking device that will lead him to the bad guys. Convenient way to solve his problems, but you know, also a crime. Then the Turtles find a potion that can maybe turn them human. Does the film make this into a “Spider-Man 2” moment and create inner conflict? Lol, nah, it lasts one scene then has no effect on the plot.


Look, I could write an essay about how awful “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” is. Within 20 minutes my friend and I were squirming in our recliners because we needed to be put out of our misery. If you are a fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles then maybe you will enjoy the easter eggs enough to overlook the smaller flaws, but unless you are the youngest and least-demanding of children, there is nothing in this film for you. I just spent most of the runtime staring at the screen with a blank look on my face, wondering what the shell was going on and what I had done that God was punishing me so.


Critics Rating: 2/10




‘Popstar’ Is 2016’s Best Comedy

popstar 2I hope one of the songs from this film gets an Oscar nomination, if not just so I can ironically say “Academy Award nominee Andy Samberg” for the rest of my life.


“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is a mockumentary following Conner4Real (Samberg), a Justin Bieber-esque popstar who must cling onto fame after his latest record tanks. Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Sarah Silverman and Tim Meadows also star as Schaffer and Taccone direct.


Samberg, Taccone and Schaffer make up The Lonely Island, the group you probably know from their SNL shorts “I’m on a Boat” and “Dick in a Box,” which won the trio an Emmy. Together they made the 2007 cult hit film “Hot Rod” (if you have never seen that film, do yourself a favor and find it), as well as made cameos together in films such as “Neighbors.” “Popstar” is incredibly dumb, but that’s always been Lonely Island’s thing, and it turns out being a hilarious, slightly brilliant, satirical look at the music industry and what fame does to young stars.


Andy Samberg has always been a mixed bag for me. I love him on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and in “Hot Rod,” but he was very hit-and-miss on SNL and wasn’t funny in “That’s My Boy” (but in his defense, who was?). Here, back with his boys, Samberg is mostly great as the egocentric Conner, playing a star whose newest album gets panned and he must hold onto the fame he has become so accustomed to. Samberg isn’t over-the-top and sometimes just lets his facial expressions do all the talking, and has great chemistry with every one of the actors (in pretty much just a revolving door of cameos).


Even though the fictional record gets bad reviews, the musical numbers in “Popstar” are fantastic, often catchy and hilarious at the same time. One song by Samberg about gay marriage (poking fun at Macklemore) had me in actual tears and trying to stop laughing so loud because I was afraid I was going to miss the lyrics and/or annoy the people around me. It could be a long shot, but if one of the film’s songs could get some award season love, it would be well warranted.


Most of the film’s big laughs (and when I say big, I mean absolutely side-splitting) come in the first act, and the second act is mostly deprived of anything besides a few chuckles here and there. The climax brings everything together and even if it doesn’t end on a killer punchline or the film’s best song, it still makes up for the slight lull in the middle.


Two random things of note:


1)      Will Arnett portrays the head of a parody TMZ and it is simply amazing (thank God he got a redemption from his fellow newcomer this week, TMNT 2)

2)      The film is shot and edited great; it looks very sleek and despite being just a brisk 86 minutes it never feels rushed


“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is the best comedy so far of 2016, on top of one of the year’s most pleasant surprises. I really did enjoy this movie and will for sure see it again, and I implore you to check it out, too. It’s everything a summer comedy is supposed to be.


Critics Rating: 8/10



‘Apocalypse’ a Boring Waste of Talent

X-Men_-_ApocalypseThe year of the disappointing superhero film continues.


“X-Men: Apocalypse” is the ninth installment of the X-Men series and the sequel to 2014’s “Days of Future Past,” a movie that I loved and is universally accepted as one of, if not the, best of the franchise. James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence all reprise their roles from the previous two films and Bryan Singer once again directs. This time around, the X-Men must stop Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), the first-ever mutant who awakens from a 5,000 year sleep and wants to destroy the world (because, cliché).


Like I said up top, 2016 has been a relatively disappointing year for superhero films. “Deadpool” is a good movie but both “Batman v Superman” and “Civil War” failed to live up to their promised epic showdowns. Add “Apocalypse” to the list of letdowns, as instead of being an emotional layered picture with interesting characters and engaging plots like the previous X-Men films, it chooses to succumb to CGI destruction porn and a cookie cutter villain.


I love Oscar Isaac. Not to be “that guy” but I’ve liked him for a while, before he was finally thrust into the mainstream last December for starring in “The Force Awakens.” So having him cast as the bad guy in a superhero film should have been a homerun; but it turns out to be a massive swing and a miss. First off, Isaac is buried under a coat of makeup; he is legit unrecognizable and looks like a big blue crayon. Second, his motivations and plan are standard: he wants to destroy the world because he feels humans have ruined it. Yawn. Third, he has three voices: whisper, yelling and autotune. No joke, whenever he starts to yell, his voice sounds like a Britney Spears album. What a waste.


There is a market for mindless destruction films; Michael Bay has made a career off of it. But Bryan Singer is no Michael Bay, and that is a sentence I bet no one ever thought would be typed. Singer’s strengths have always been with his actors and the small, nuanced moments, not the big CGI action sequences. Michael Fassbender again steals the show as Magneto, and has several scenes that really showcase the pain and inner-conflict his character has. But by the end of the film everything is blowing up and the human death count is likely in the millions. If you thought Zach Snyder and “Man of Steel” killed too many civilians then you may want to skip this finale (or this whole movie, if you value your time).


The first act of this movie may be the most boring 60 minutes put on film this year. I am not exaggerating, I rarely check my time in movies but I glanced at the time three times in the first hour. Literally nothing happens: pretentious (and clearly bored and done with this franchise) Jennifer Lawrence is doing her boring search for mutants while standard evil bad guy (who clearly signed onto this before he was approached for Star Wars) is doing his boring search for mutants.


“X-Men: Apocalypse” is a very boring film that can’t even succeed on a mindless action entertainment level. The characters are cliché, boring or just plain wasted (sometimes a combination of the three) and the story is by-the-numbers. I wish the real world apocalypse had taken place while I was in the theater so I would have been put out of my viewing misery; the heavenly hellfire has to be less painful than this.


This isn’t bad in comparison to the fantastic “Days of Future Past;” it is just bad.

Critics Rating: 3/10



Beautiful, Gritty ‘Revenant’ Is 2015’s Best

The_Revenant_2015_film_posterI think this is it. I think Leo will finally get his Oscar.

“The Revenant” stars Leonardo DiCaprio as 1820’s frontiersman Hugh Glass, who after being mauled by a grizzly bear is abandoned by his fur trading company (Tom Hardy and Will Poulter). Glass then sets out on a path of revenge against the men who left him for dead. Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who won the Oscar for Best Director for last year’s “Birdman,” directs here.

Obviously Leo is a fan favorite for everyone, but he is my personal favorite actor, and as a fanboy of cinematography, having Emmanuel Lubezki, who shot the breathtaking “Gravity” and the amazing “all-one-take” “Birdman” (winning Oscars for both), got me excited. However there was a lot of behind-the-scenes drama, including problems with location shooting and numerous crew members quitting/getting fired, resulting in the budget ballooning from $60 million to $135 million and shooting lasting until this past August instead of the planned March. Production problems doomed “Fantastic Four” earlier this year, so was “The Revenant” another victim? No. Not even close. Because “The Revenant” is the most beautifully shot film possibly of all-time, is 2015’s best films, and may finally give Leo the statue that has so long evaded him.

Right off the bat, this is a fantastic, masterfully shot film that somehow manages to be both gorgeous and gritty at the same time. Set in in the early 19th century American wilderness, there is plenty to behold. At several points the film shows the majesty and massive scale of the world we live in, and my jaw hit the floor. What is all the more impressive is this this was filmed with all natural light, giving the film a more genuine feel. If you know anything about filmmaking, you know how insane it is to shoot without using studio lights; if you aren’t familiar with film, allow me to tell you how absolutely insane it is to shoot without using studio lights.

There are also numerous one-take scenes including the five-minute bear attack sequence, which is one of the most intense and gritty things ever put on film. Lubezki will win his third straight Oscar, so sorry, Roger Deakins, looks like you’re going to have to wait another year to win yours (he’s currently 0-12, likely 0-13 after hopefully getting a nod for “Sicario”).

The acting here is top-notch. DiCaprio doesn’t have too much dialogue, and spends much of the film crawling around and lying next to campfires. But it is those physically demanding crawls, and well as all the sympathetic or painful emotions conveyed through his eyes that quietly makes this possibly the top performance of his career. Supporting actors Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, and Domhnall Gleeson all turn in career performances as well and more than hold their own with DiCaprio, although much of DiCaprio’s scenes are him on his own, eating raw bison meat or climbing inside of a horse for warmth.

There really aren’t any glaring problems with “The Revenant.” The plot itself is pretty straightforward but it is engaging nonetheless, although there is one subplot (won’t say what it is to avoid spoilers) that adds probably 10-plus minutes to the 156 minute runtime, and in the end of the day it does nothing to alter the narrative or outcome.

“The Revenant” isn’t something you pop in and watch on a Saturday afternoon with your friends, but it is a fantastic film, and it seems all the behind-the-scenes drama that Alejandro G. Iñárritu caused in his strive for perfection paid off. “The Revenant” demands your viewership with its gripping performances and breathtaking cinematography, and hopefully is the final push DiCaprio needed to finally bring home Oscar gold.

Critics Rating: 9/10



‘Daddy’s Home’ Lazy Effort By All Involved

Daddy's_Home_posterThey say lightning doesn’t strike twice, and Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg have gone through lengths to prove this.


“Daddy’s Home” stars Ferrell as a stepdad who must win the affections of his two stepkids when their estranged biological father (Wahlberg) shows up.  Linda Cardellini and Hannibal Buress also star as Sean Anders directs.


Will Ferrell is hit-and-miss for most people, but there is a pattern that makes you able to tell if a movie of his will likely be good or not. Was it rated R or PG-13? Because his R films (“Semi-Pro,” “Get Hard”) are usually unfunny while his PG-13 ones (“Anchorman,” “Talladega Nights”) work. However there’s a follow-up question: was the movie written and directed by Adam McKay? Because when it is (“The Other Guys”) the film works but when it’s not (“Land of the Lost”) it doesn’t. And guess what? “Daddy’s Home” was not directed by Adam McKay.


It was, however, directed by Sean Anders, who has directed such comedic gems as “That’s My Boy” and “Horrible Bosses 2” (sarcasm alert). It is somewhat hard to tell direction styles in comedy since camera work is usually standard and there aren’t usually many emotional scenes to have to perfect, but Anders somehow makes his films have a distinct level of laziness and snail-like pacing to them. Just like in his other directorial works, Anders allows his actors to sleepwalk through their roles here, and much of the film feels like the same scene rinsed and redressed for 96 minutes. Also like his other works, Anders feels the need to rewrite the script with his partner John Morris, which is likely how so many unfunny jokes made it into the final cut.


Will Ferrell always gives at least some effort in his works, but there are times where it is clear that it is simply about the paycheck, and this is one of those times (even millionaire celebrities have bills to pay). Ferrell seems toned down from his usual antics and high-strung rants, which sometimes works to the film’s advantage (like “Stranger than Fiction”) but more often than not is a disappointment.


Speaking of disappointment, Ferrell and Wahlberg’s last collaboration, “The Other Guys” was arguably Ferrell’s funniest film, and was what made us all realize that Marky Mark could be funny. Their chemistry in that film was off the charts, so it would be fair to assume that the same energy would come into play here, right? It doesn’t, though; Anders makes sure to smother any hope for that real quick. It’s like how Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn were great together in “Wedding Crashers” and then everyone assumed “The Internship” would be just as fun, but it turned into the opposite of that.


There are some laughs to be had in the film. As Ferrell’s boss Thomas Hayden Church offers several funny monologues about his ex-wives, although he clearly is phoning it in and Cardellini has some genuine moments as the mother, but she is for the most part wasted in a plot-dependent role.


“Daddy’s Home” isn’t an awful film, but it is certainly a frustrating one given that we’ve seen every actor in here be able to deliver hilarious products. Guess it goes to show that even comedies need good directors to keep their actors in check and make things flow, and if any Hollywood exec is reading this review (which, why wouldn’t they be?), let me tell you: Sean Anders will never be that director.

Critics Rating: 4/10