Friday, August 7, 2015

Fantastic Four

My ViewFantastic Four  (2015) PG-13   Four young, brilliant teenagers are brought together to create a machine that can transport people to an alternate universe. The machine will change their lives in dangerous ways.  This is the best Fantastic Four film made, but of course, that isn’t saying much. This is a reboot and an origins story, which is part of the problem with this film. It takes forever to get started, much of the film takes place in a laboratory. While the first portion is slightly compelling, I think that it’s mostly due to the strong cast, led by Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan.  The biggest problem with this film is we really don’t meet the villain of the movie, Doom (Toby Kebbell), until 20 minutes left, and the ending feels kind of rushed. This film never really figures out what kind of film it is. It’s a superhero movie, but it takes forever until they become superheroes. It’s almost a horror film (think The Fly, spending a lot of time showing us the horrible aftereffects of the transporter accident that makes them superheroes. Then it’s a buddy movie as Ben (Jamie Bell), and Reed (Miles Teller) meet while in elementary school and become friends. Most of the special effects are well done, especially the scenes with The Thing, but there is a laughable scene involving a horribly animated chimp that looks just downright stupid. Hopefully, the next Fantastic Four film can better utilize the talents of the cast. By the way, there isn’t a bonus scene in the credits.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Fantastic Four Website

My ViewRicki and the Flash  (2015) PG-13   Ricki (Meryl Streep) gave up everything, including her family, for the rock-and-roll dream. Now she is returning to try and make things right with her family.  Meryl Streep is amazing as the flamboyant singer. Her performance reminds me a lot of Bonnie Raitt, a woman who commands the stage. The songs are fun rock and roll pieces and will make a great soundtrack. The problem with this film is that there are so many performance pieces that the movie feels more like a musical than a drama. It’s a strange little film that doesn’t have much of a plot, other than Streep trying to reconnect with her troubled daughter (played by real-life daughter Mamie Gummer). It’s as if director Jonathan Demme said, I am enjoying seeing Meryl sing and play guitar, let's shoot some more songs for her to perform. The 2nd half of the film feels as if it has forgotten what the first half was about (reconnecting with her daughter), so much so, that I don’t think Gummer even has a line in the last thirty minutes. I had fun watching Streep perform, and her band (including Rick Springfield) is better than any house band I have ever seen. Unfortunately, this isn’t a documentary but a drama, and so it feels as if we are only getting half a movie.  My Rating: Cable   Ricki and the Flash Website

Family FaireShaun the Sheep Movie  (2015)  PG   Shaun the sheep (Justin Fletcher) decides to shake things up and take the flock to the big city to find their farmer. That was a big mistake, and now it’s time to get back to the country. This is an imaginative animated film from the same people that brought us the Wallace and Gromit series and the very funny Chicken Run. The kids will enjoy the action of the stop motion animation and adults will enjoy the humor, some of it very subtile. The storyline is creative and the animation is fun to watch.  My Rating: Full Price  Shaun the Sheep Movie Website   

IndiefestDark Places  (2015)  R  Libby (Charlize Theron) was only seven years old when her family was brutally murdered in their Kansas farmhouse. Now it’s twenty-five years later, and she is revisiting the scene of the crime.  Fans of Gone Girl (2014) are probably going to be disappointed with this film, also based on a Gillian Flynn novel. Led by two strong performances in Theron and Christina Hendricks (who plays Libby’s mom ), the film is an intriguing mystery that is let down by some poorly written dialog. The film has a few twists and turns to keep you guessing on who killed Libby’s family but takes way too long to resolve the mystery.  Chloe Grace Moretz gives probably the worst performance of her career as the bad girl who gets involved with Libby’s brother (Tye Sheridan). Dark Places is a film that isn’t perfect but still gives us enough of a whodunit that it’s enjoyable to watch. My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Dark Places Website

IndiefestThe Gift  (2015)  R  Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are a married couple whose life is going great. Then, in walks Gordo (Joel Edgerton), an old high school classmate who starts sending Simon mysterious gifts that may unlock the past that he doesn’t want to revisit. I loved this film that is full of so many twists that every time I thought I had figured out what was going to happen, it would turn out I was completely wrong. Joel Edgerton (who also directed the film) is brilliant as the strange and needy Gordo. Bateman is perfectly cast as Simon, the seemingly nice husband who may have something from his past to hide. The film really revolves around Robyn, and Hall is up to the task of playing the very complex wife who thinks Gordo is worth keeping as a friend. I am not totally happy with the ultimate ending, but, boy, did I enjoy getting to that part.    My Take: Full Price   The Gift Website

IndiefestThe Look of Silence  (2015)  PG-13   Documentary about a family who survived the genocide in Indonesia and the journey that one man, Adi, goes on to confront the men who killed his brother. This is a sequel to the award winning 2012 documentary, The Act of Killing. The killing of Adi’s brother was described by his killers with almost glee in the first film. The Look of Silence doesn’t have the visual flair of The Act of Killing, nor does it have the emotional impact of that movie. It just might be too late, with too many old men’s memories fading or dying, to give the needed release that you want from this film. There are a couple of feeble attempts by some of the children to ask for forgiveness for the sins of their fathers, but it’s few and far between. Adi, while he seems to be a noble and forgiving man, gets very little from his quest. The film gives very few answers to Adi, and many of his neighbors continue to believe that the mass extermination of more than one million people was justified.  That’s why many of the conversations that Adi has with his brother’s killers end with Adi looking at them, in silence.   My Rating: Full Price   The Look of Silence Website 

Forgotten Film:  The Hit  (1984)  R  Willie (Terence Stamp) is a former gangster thug who turned informant. He is trying to live peacefully tucked away in a Spanish village.  The mob knows that he informed on them, and now two hit men (John Hurt, Tim Roth) have been sent to bring Willie back for some mobster justice.  This is a fascinating film with three excellent performances. There is quite a bit of dry humor as the three gangsters try to one-up each other. The film is brilliant and a blast to watch Stamp on-screen in a role he was meant to play.   My Rating: Full Price   The Hit Info   

Weird Credit:  From the credits of Fantastic Four:  Movement Choreographer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouMistress America  (2015) R  A lonely college freshman Tracy (Lola Kirke) makes friends with her soon to be stepsister, Brooke (Greta Gerwig) who makes Tracy a part of her many schemes. Gerwig, who I just adore, co-wrote the screenplay with the director of the film, the great Noah Baumbach. This is a "can’t miss" film in my book.   Mistress America Website
Until Next Time!

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