Friday, July 5, 2024

Despicable Me 4

FamilyfaireDespicable Me 4  (2004)  PG In Despicable Me 4, Gru (Steve Carell) and his family have a new addition, Gru Jr., who seems to have a mission to torment his father. Gru faces a new adversary, Maxime Le Mel (Will Ferrell), and his girlfriend, Valentina (Sofia Vergara). Maxime Le Mel aims to make a name for himself by destroying Gru. Gru, his family, and a few Minions enroll in a protection relocation program that entails moving to a new neighborhood. What could go wrong? Everything. What could go wrong in the latest Illumination animated film? Everything. Let’s start with the addition of a new villain, Maxime, voiced by Will Ferrell. Who at Illumination asked, 'Hey, what are the kids into these days?' What about cockroaches? Cool! So the new villain turns into a giant cockroach, and he has a ton of cockroach followers (they kind of disappear about halfway through the movie, so someone figured out that might be a problem). Will Ferrell and Sofia Vergara as his sidekick/wife (I never could figure out what her purpose was) didn't bring anything to the film at all. Attempting to make a giant cockroach morphy thing funny must have been challenging. The film is a mess as it has three stories going on at once: Maxime trying to kidnap Gru’s baby, the family trying to fit into a new neighborhood, and Gru gets sucked into a caper by the next-door neighbor’s daughter Poppy (voiced by Joey King). By the way, some of the Minions have been transformed into extremely unfunny versions of the Fantastic Four. Look, a Mega-Minion can shoot a laser with his one eye and melt an igloo on the other side of the earth. Hilarity ensues. I liked the first two Despicable Me films, but since then, these films have been lazy, unfunny films that show no sign of originality. What made the first film work was Gru was genuinely evil. He was a guy who delighted in causing problems like freezing everyone in the coffee line, and he was a tough guy, beating up the shark from Jaws. Then, he had to deal with three kids who were too cute for him to be horrible. The second film worked because we got a love interest for Gru, and the minions were funny. Now, with the Minion movie offshoots and these sequels, they have run out of ideas. What’s the next villain to take on Gru in DM5? Maybe Illumination will come up with Boogerman! Just know, we will keep getting these because they can make Minion popcorn buckets and that makes money. My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  Despicable Me 4 Website  Now playing in theaters. 

My ViewBeverly Hills Cop: Axel F  (2024)  R  Detective Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) returns to his old haunt, Beverly Hills. After his daughter Jane (Taylour Paige) is threatened, she and Axel team up with a new partner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and uncover a conspiracy that could shake up the town. Axel calls on some old pals in Billy (Judge Reinhold) and Taggart (John Ashton) to help bring down the bad guys. We forget how good and what a bit of fresh air Beverly Hills Cop was back in 1984. Murphy was so much fun as a fish-out-of-water Detroit cop who finds himself in the surreal world of Beverly Hills. Playing off of Judge Reinhold and John Ashton as two uptight cops, Murphy had a field day making fun of everything he encountered while trying to bring down a bad guy. The film even received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. The two sequels, released in 87 and 94, were not up to the same standard, with Cop III being a disaster. This fourth film has been in the works since the late 90s, and scripts have been bouncing around for the last 20 years. Is this film as good as the first one? No, but it will make you forget the bitter taste of BHC3. Axel F is a fun ride of nostalgia, as 30 years later, Axel goes back to the 90210 zip code to help his estranged daughter, now a public defender, who has taken a case of a young man who has been wrongly accused of killing a cop. Murphy's performance as the wiseass Foley is still enjoyable, and it's a delight to see some of the familiar characters from the previous films. I did get a bit tired of some of the retread moments in this film. While the theme song (named Axel F) is warranted, the film uses quite a few of the first film’s soundtracks to try and bring back those fond memories. The same holds true for the action sequences. Instead of a big eighteen-wheeler crashing through cars from the first film, we get a combo trash truck/snow plow doing the same thing. There is a big shoot-out that seems to steal quite a few shots from the shoot-out sequence in the first film. The film also tries to push a few plot points that don't hold up, including Jon Ashton's Taggert (who retired in the third film), who is now, somehow, the Beverly Hills Police Chief. The film also tries very hard to capture the magic of Bronson Pinchot’s Serge appearance (one of the highlights of BHC I), but that falls incredibly flat. New additions to the cast, including Taylour Paige as Foley’s daughter and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the new Beverly Hills cop, are fine editions. Bringing in Kevin Bacon as a flashy, Rolex-wearing detective is a nice touch. The plot gets a little too complex, and I started feeling the almost two-hour length near the film’s end. Nevertheless, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F may be the perfect Netflix film. It's a film that feels nostalgic and, at times, funny, with some big car chases to keep you awake when things get slow.My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F Website  Now playing on the Netflix platform

My ViewMaXXXine  (2024)  R  Maxxxine takes place in 1980s Hollywood, where adult film star and aspiring actress Maxine Minx (Mia Goth) is about to get the big break she has been dreaming about. Maxine’s bloody past could be catching up with her as a mysterious killer stalks Tinseltown’s streets. Ti West has made two good horror films for this series, both starring Mia Goth in X (2022) and Pearl (2022). X was a take on slasher films with a heavy influence from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Pearl, a take on the crazy slasher genre, is a story about a young woman who dreams of stardom but starts killing to get her freedom. Now comes MaXXXine, a film that doesn’t fit the horror film genre like the first two West films. MaXXXine is a film that focuses on suspense rather than horror. I'll admit that my initial reaction after watching the film was that it was a bit disappointing. Yeah, there are a few gruesome deaths (and one really gruesome take down by Maxine on a bad guy), but most of the killings take place off screen and we only see the results as the police investigate the crimes. However, after further reflection, I think this fits perfectly with the other two films. It’s a twist that I didn’t see coming, but it’s one that still satisfies me. MaXXXine is more about a young woman who, against the odds, is trying to make it in Hollywood and will let nothing get in her way, including a copycat serial killer. It’s funny that we have two films about Hollywood being released this week, with the other being the fourth installment of the Beverly Hills Cop franchise. In that original BHC film, we saw Hollywood’s fun and kooky side. That’s not Maxine’s Hollywood. Hers is full of sex workers, sleazy peep shows, and desperate women trying to make it in a world full of desperate people. The film centers around whether Maxine will fulfill her dreams of becoming a successful star or whether her violent past will bring her down. You will have to go and visit Maxine Minx’s world to see if she succeeds. My Rating: Full Price  MaXXXine Website  Now playing in theaters. 

My ViewKill (2023)  R   In Kill, Army commando Amrit (Lakshya) discovers that his true love, Tulika (Tanya Maniktala), is engaged to be married against her will, so Amrit boards a train on a quest to stop the marriage. But first, he has to stop a gang of forty thieves who are terrorizing passengers on his train. If you are a fan of the brutal action film series John Wick and The Raid, then this film is for you. I will warn you, this film has some of the most bloody and goriest kills that I have seen, some of which would make a slasher horror film fan jump out of their seats. The film takes its title seriously, as very few people survive in this almost non-stop fighting fest that makes use of the very tight spaces of a train that keeps speeding along as the kill count keeps moving up. Although the film depicts close-quarter fighting brutally, it is also a film about love and family. Our hero is in love with a woman who has been promised to another. He wants to run away with his love, but she is worried that if they try to run away, her family will use violent means to get her back. Little does she know what is in store for her love, her family, and everyone else on the train, as a gang of thieves plan on taking over the train to rob everyone on it. Our hero, Amrit, played by the ultra-charismatic Lakshya, and his best friend, Viresh (Abhishek Chauhan), are on the train and are highly trained commandos, ready to take on all the bad guys. The family aspect is the reason why this film works. Amrit is defending not only his true love but also her family, who do not want him to be with her. Adding to the mix are the story’s villains, a group of related thieves, one big family of bad guys. In the mix is the son of the leader of the group, a young man named Fani (Raghav Juyal), who delights in killing in the most psychotic ways and has a lot of daddy issues. Kill is a film that once the battle is on and the fighting ramps up, it doesn’t slow down to take a breath, and you almost become overwhelmed by the violence and mayhem. For action fans, this is a film that will keep you interested until the end. Just don’t bet on anyone surviving. Remember the title of the film. My Rating: Full Price  Kill Website  Now playing in theaters. 

Forgotten FilmThe Last Supper  (1995) R  A group of idealistic, liberal students who live together in a house, invite a truck driver who gave them a ride to dinner. It turns out the truck driver is a racist and bonkers. When the truck driver goes nuts, the students kill him and bury him in the backyard. Then, the group comes up with an idea. Why don’t they invite right-wing people whose beliefs they hate to dinner and poison them? This is a fun film with an important idea at its core: would you kill an evil person if you disagreed with them? The cast is outstanding, with the students comprising Cameron Dia, Annabeth Gish, Ron Eldard, Jonathan Penner, and Courtney B. Vance. The dinner invites are equally enjoyable, including Charles Durning, Mark Harmon, Ron Perlman, and Jason Alexander. The film loses its way in the end but it's still a fun watch.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Last Supper Info The film is available to rent/buy on Apple TV+ and Amazon. 

Weird Credits:  From the credits of MaXXXine: Biscuit Stunt Driver

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: Twisters  (2024) PG-13  Kate Carter (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is a meteorologist who used to love chasing tornadoes until she encountered one that had deadly results. Kate is lured back into the open plains by her friend Javi (Anthony Ramos), who has developed a groundbreaking new tracking system that could save hundreds of lives. She soon meets Tyler Owens (Glen Powell), a reckless storm chaser with a huge social media following. Let’s see if Mr. Powell can keep his winning streak going and if the film will meet the expectations of the fans of the 1996 film Twister, which starred Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton.   Twisters Website The film will be in theatres on Friday, July 19th. 

Until Next Time!

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