Saturday, 22 April 2017

'Unforgettable' (2017) Review: So Bad It's Terrible'

Read A Book: Don't go see it. Seriously. Don't think to yourself "It can't be that bad". It is that bad.
It seems there's no such thing as a bad movie anymore. Everything from the live action cartoon of the modern 'Fast and Furious' movies, to the incredible true story of "coloured folk" sending a man into space, can find an audience. Gone are the days where creators had to painstakingly design their artistic vision to ensure mass appeal. If absolutely anything can be entertaining, what is the barometer of quality? That's the approach taken in the big budget lifetime original, throw everything at the wall and see what sticks style, of 'Unforgettable'.

Huh. Look at that. Makes a mess.
Perhaps refreshingly, albeit regrettably, 'Unforgettable' is a reminder that yes, bad movies do still exist. Although with one so aggressively bad as this one, it almost seems done out of spite. 'Unforgettable' is the story of Julia, played by Rosario Dawson, a woman with the perfect new life. She's about to marry the man of her dreams and become step-mother to a little girl she adores. The only problem is ex-wife Tessa, played by Katherin Heigl, who threatens Julia's perfect little life in ways she couldn't possibly imagine.

How fortunate for Julia, since Tessa's actions never shock or surprise the viewer. From the first 15 minutes of the film, the events of 'Unforgettable' aren't a question of "What?", they're a question of "When?". You see all the parts fall into place, as slowly as the film will allow. With the best thrillers, the viewer feels pride in being clever enough to figure out the plot. Here, you feel cheated that what the movie does is the best it has to offer.

Apologies to the films 'When The Bough Breaks' and 'The Perfect Guy', whose ratings have been increased in the wake of 'Unforgettable'
Even if the movie had an idea worth watching, the performances are so insincere, it renders the film's events inert. The characters make bafflingly bad decisions, even by horror movie standards. Made worse by the fact that the actors either decide or are directed to be as exaggerated as possible. Heigl's Tessa does not feel like a genuine character for a single moment in the film. Neither is Geoff Stults' David, as the husband who is charming as he is stupid. The script does nothing to help these characters, but the performances behind them only worsen what's there.

The one soul who seems as tortured as the audience is Dawson's, Julia. Julia is the only character who is somewhat relatable, simply for behaving like a functioning human being rather than a walking plot device. Rosario Dawson even plays her believably and is so remarkably normal compared to her co-stars, who feel 1/4 baked. You feel worse for Rosario Dawson than Julia for being in this film, and Julia gets a scar on her face!

Dawson when she read the script for the movie after she already signed on to do it. 
2/3 of the way into 'Unforgettable', I was done. Finished. The movie had nothing to offer me, except another 30 minutes of blank stares, both by me and the characters. Still, with a film like this, you at least want to wait for the stunning climax, where all the thrilling pieces come together. Even this, the simplest element that elevates a film of this ilk to the heralded tier of being "so bad it's good", the movie fails miserably at. Credit is to be given, for a final twist so shocking, it has yet to set in, days after the credits have rolled. Had the movie been filled with moments like this, it would have been the trashy thrill ride of my dreams. This movie is indeed unforgettable, but in the absolute worst way.

Rating: Read A Book

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

'The Fate of the Furious' (2017) Review: Just As Fast And As Furious As You'd Expect.

Reluctant Big Screen Watch: A Big Screen Watch I didn't want to give, but a big screen watch all the same.
For what is usually well past the expiration date, Fate of the Furious marks the 8th iteration in the Fast and the Furious Franchise. At this point, most movies turn to gimmicks. Putting their characters in space in a desperate attempt to catch the attention of viewers who checked out around movie 4 or 5. For this family though, there are no signs of slowing down. Once again the tight knit family of car enthusiasts turned super spies must come together. This time, it's to stop their biggest threat yet. Fearless leader gone bad, Dominic Toretto. 

That's a welcome new element in a series that for all the upping it does of the ante, has felt a bit stale. How many times can Dom's team be sent after a dangerous piece of technology, only to be outsmarted by a sophisticated adversary, but ultimately win the day with street smarts and a can of Nitrous Oxide? That's no different than what you see in this movie by the way, but despite being formulaic, 'Fate of the Furious' definitely delivers on what fans of the series want.

Rapid fire incomprehensible nonsense coming atcha face boiiiii

I don't go for world class acting. I don't go for intricate storytelling. What I do go for, is fast cars doing impossible things. Boy does 'Fate of the Furious' has a great number of vehicles doing massively impossible things. If you're a stickler for logic, reason, the observance of the laws of physics, or just a plain old acknowledgment that man is subject to harm, you shouldn't really watch this movie. If you can set all that aside, you'll be able to enjoy some genuinely thrilling and exciting sequences, in which director F. Gary Gray crafts moments that are classically fast and quintessentially furious. 

The series has never tried to be any more than what it is. Each of the characters does what's expected of them at this point. Diesel's Toretto might be playing for the other side, but he's still the same strong silent type that solves every problem with a street race. Ludacris' Tej spouts some ridiculous techno jargon, alongside Game of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel's Ramsey. Dwayne Johnson's Hobbs mugs his way through one liner after one liner, flexing all the way, and Tyrese Gibson, God bless him, earns every cent of his paycheck, making sure you hear every last syllable of Roman's dialogue.

A being of pure bliss.
Because the series regulars are so ingrained in their roles at this point, the real fun comes in the new cast members. Most notably is Charlize Theron playing the villainous Cipher. The Fast and Furious villains have always felt sort of like the rebellious kids of Bond villains. Desperate for their much more charismatic parents' approval. Each one gets a little better, but Cipher is a step in the wrong direction I feel. Theron plays her well, as she is wont to do, but the character takes herself so seriously, it can feel out of place in a movie that is essentially a live action Looney Tunes cartoon. 

L to R: Elmer Fudd, Tasmanian Devil, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester the Cat, Charlize Theron, Bugs Bunny, Lola Bunny, Marvin the Martian, Tweety Bird, Porky Pig, Foghorn Leghorn
If you like these movies, you're already planning on seeing this film. If you don't like these films, but wonder, maybe this time they'll change, they don't. It's everything that you've come to either love or hate the franchise for, cranked up to 11. For me, that made for a great time in the cinema, as I was transported to a world where up was down, left was right, and an orange Lamborghini raced across a frozen ocean. What else is cinema for. 

Rating: Reluctant Big Screen Watch

Here's a podcast episode we did talking about the entire Fast & Furious series, with two people who vehemently defended it:

Monday, 10 April 2017

Movie Money: Episode 16 (April 10, 2017)

There are no two ways about it, Disney is about to have another gargantuan year at the box office. The live-action remake of 'Beauty and the Beast' was not at the number one spot this week. That privilege went to 'Boss Baby', which gained $26.3m this week, bringing its domestic total to $89m, and its worldwide total to $200m. Already it's set to outpace 'The Lego Batman Movie', which has only just reached a total of $300m worldwide. But as the animated features duked it out for their piece of the lunch money pie, 'Beauty and the Beast' comfortable maintains its impressive run.

After just 4 weeks, the film has gone on to earn $976m worldwide and is set to be the years first billion dollar movie. The movie has enjoyed a steady dominance, with it's numbers only declining slightly since its release. For context, Marvel movies, and other of the ilk usually suffer the brunt of a drop off between 50% and 60%, every week of their release. Meaning, their numbers decrease by 60% of whatever they had the week before. 'Beauty and the Beast' has yet to decrease by less than 50% of the business they've done every week so far. That means they've made more than half of the money they've made the week before every week.

That's the most exciting thing about this week in my eyes. Exciting is probably the wrong word, considering this is a blog post about movies that make more money than I'll probably (definitely) ever see in my life, but that's kinda my thing here. For the rest of the Box Office, 'Power Rangers' dropped down to the number 6 spot, bringing in about $6m this weekend, but has made back its budget worldwide. There's no sequel confirmed yet but its safe to say there'll be more to come from the franchise in the future. 'Ghost In The Shell', had a similar fate this week as it clawed its way to a $31m domestic total. International markets are carrying this film, and brought it to $124m worldwide this week, saving this film from being both a critical and a commercial failure.

For the rest of the breakdown, as well as a discussion of the 'Thor Ragnarok' trailer, and a mini 'Get Out' review, check out the new Movie Money Podcast:

Friday, 7 April 2017

'Going In Style' (2017) Review: Old Dogs, Not So New Tricks

'Catch It On Cable': Definitely better than it has any right to be, but it never quite warrants a trip to the cinema.

Imagine at the end of your life, after working yourself down to the bone, the people you dedicated your life to suddenly turn around and put you out to pasture. That's the scenario for the heroes of 'Going In Style' Joe, played by Michael Caine, Albert, played by Alan Arkin, and Willie, played by Morgan Freeman. After 30 years at the same company, the trio is swindled out of their hard-earned pension. Down on their luck, at their wit's end, and not enough time to start over, they decide to do the only logical thing they can think of. Rob a bank.

Before reading any further, if the idea of 3 men in their late 70s planning and performing a bank heist is too much for you to swallow, this is not the film for you. I myself had to seriously suspend my disbelief just to suffer the premise. Once I did that though, I found myself seriously enjoying a movie that I did not expect to.

We'll call this the 'Sing' effect.
Most of that is due to the sheer level of class brought by the cast here. 'Going In Style' is not the first film to bring together a premier cast of actors of a certain age. Usually, those movies are less an embarrassment of riches, and just plain embarrassing. This time though, the performances of Caine, Arkin and Freeman actually feel wonderfully understated. They give these characters life and make their stories tremendously relatable. 

Not only are the characters easy to get behind, but the film has its fair share of laughs. It's not every day you see Morgan Freeman being pushed in a motorized shopping cart. There's the odd joke here and there that doesn't exactly land, but overall, there were far more hits than misses. It helps that the supporting cast is chock full of heavy hitters. Christopher Lloyd and Kenan Thompson are far from the bottom of the barrel. Funny considering Kenan Thompson used to live at the bottom of the barrel.

2004 was a weird time.
Even though it's a comedy, 'Going In Style' has a plentiful helping of pathos. It dives headfirst into the heartbreaking stories of the men that drive them to a life of crime. As emotional as it can get, the movie never forgets that it's a comedy. You'll get moments where it just about steps into the deep end but quickly does a backflip into the kiddie pool. 

Of course, this is a heist movie, and the entirety of this review has yet to mention the heist itself. That's because the movie doesn't dwell on it too much. Since its protagonists are knock knock knocking on heaven's door, you can't exactly have them pulling any over the top stunts. Plus, the best heist movies work with an element of tension. By the time the heist comes around, you pretty much knew how the movie was going to end, 20 minutes prior. It has as much tension as a loose ball of yarn.

But not as much tension as this gif of a puppy, trapped in a loose ball of yarn. 
The downside to 'Going In Style' is that it doesn't feel very fresh. It's certainly better than I anticipated, but ultimately, it's a movie that you wouldn't miss much by staying at home. While the actors certainly elevate their roles, it still remains the feel-good movie that lightly tugs at your heart strings, playing a safe inoffensive song. 

Rating: Catch It On Cable