Warcraft: A Summer Slug
At the hands of the gifted director Duncan Jones (Moon and Source Code), Warcraft is still a complete and utter misfire. Filled with bloated CGI, sluggish characters and a flimsy story this film is strictly for geeks only. Outsiders you’ve been warned.
Director Duncan Jones will live to seize another day. For now, though his newest film is a complete misfire and utter waste of your time. Warcraft is nothing more than a scattershot adventure of Orcs vs. Man. This is yet another example of why video games fail to deliver satisfaction to the big screen. The story follows an Orc horde invading the realm of Azeroth. Now, a few human heroes and dissenting Orcs must attempt to stop the true evil behind this war. A.KA. bloated CGI sequences with actors thrown into the middle of the chaos.
Jones tries his best to craft the battlefield, but fails to bring justice to the flimsy story. This lumbering adaptation was obviously made for fans of the game only. For me, I found it very hard to care about paper-thin characters and a convoluted plot that felt more like a first chapter in an endless, tedious saga of movies full of noise. In the end, Warcraft is a code you can’t crack which makes it frustrating for viewers alike. Apparently, this is only the beginning for more films to follow … God help us all.
Warcraft is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For extended sequences of intense fantasy violence.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows ditches the dark and gritty tone of its predecessor, but stays just as stupid and in the end is another empty shell.
Incredibly dumb and juvenile, TMNT: Out of the Shadows is a film for 11-year-old boys with zero attention spans. These type of comic book flares are relentless to the point of torture. Nevertheless, TMNT: Out of the Shadows is somehow a slight improvement upon its predecessor, but that’s not saying much from a CGI fest of talking turtles. The charm and heart from the ‘80s cartoon hit has simmered. Now, we get another pointless sequel of giant turtle crashing into things with Megan Fox (playing the beloved April O’Neil) helmed as their companion. Please God, help me.
Loud and obnoxious, Fox runs into action while the camera focuses more on her body than her brains. Director David Green (Earth to Echo) continues the reign of childish impulse of good vs. evil. This time around, Shredder joins forces with mad scientist Baxter Stockman (an awful Tyler Perry) and henchmen Bebop and Rocksteady (actors Gary Anthony Williams and Sheamus O'Shaunessy) to take over the world, yawn. Now, the Turtles (actors Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard and Pete Ploszek) must stop them and confront an even greater nemesis … Kraang (actor Fred Armisen). Sadly in the end, TMNT: Out of the Shadows is nothing more than a glorious hot mess of turtle dung.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For sci-fi action violence.
Apocalypse Obliterates . . .
Completing the First Class trilogy, X-Men: Apocalypse blends resonant themes with strong characters even if it stumbles from a few too many mutant fatigues.
Apocalypse thrills and entertains, but does lack depth from previous X-Men entries. Nevertheless, director Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2 and Days of Future Past) completes his master making timeline of the X-Men universe. Sure, it does lack narrative depth but it’s a hell of an emotional roller coaster all the way to the end. Suck on that cynics. All of the characters have grown and deepened since we first took that journey with them back 2011’s First Class.
We’ve been with them during the Cuba missile crisis in 1962 and during the Sentinels launch of 1973. Now, it’s 1983 and with the emergence of the world's first mutant, En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse (a brilliant Oscar Isaac), the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan. Yes, the film is another evil being wanting to accomplish world domination for the mutant race. With the simple plot, Singer focuses on a visual splendor backed by an emotional resonance from each character. All of our favorite actors return to the screen consisting of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters, Lucas Till, Josh Helman and Hugh Jackman. Newcomers Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Alexandra Shipp all perform well as younger incarnations of Jean Grey, Scott Summers/Cyclops, Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler and Ororo Munroe/Storm.
Singer hits all of the staples in this film, there’s the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, there’s Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver’s super speed evacuation scene, there’s Jackman’s cameo scene as Weapon X and there’s McAvoy’s evolution of Professor X. Throughout the destruction of the film Singer cranks the volume up to 11. Buildings crumble and X-Men unite! I get it, there’s an overload of action and a lack of narrative depth in this third outing for the First Class trilogy, nevertheless, Apocalypse rises from the ashes and obliterates the summer competition. With mutant fatigue clouding over Singer’s eyes, the only way to go from this chapter is up … hopefully. Yes, it’s a little underwhelming when compared to its predecessors, but in all honesty, fully satisfying every fan geek when wrapping up a trilogy is nearly impossible.
So take Apocalypse as a grain of salt and you surely won’t be disappointed. A vulnerable superhero franchise that’s been beaten up just keeps on standing. X-Men: Apocalypse is a clear setup for future films to follow in this puzzle piece timeline. Big special effects followed by outstanding performers helmed the path for the film. Apocalypse finds its comic book storytelling through an amidst of the chaos and rises. Don’t let the negative criticism get you down, this ninth chapter for the mutant universe hits some rocky moments but overcomes it all-in-all thanks to impressive visual set pieces.
X-Men: Apocalypse is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned) For sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief strong language and some suggestive images.
The Angry Birds Movie is colorful and harmless for families, but all-in-all it’s just a 99 cent app turned into a $10 cash grab movie for Rovio and Sony.
Being an avid flipping-the-bird guru on my iPhone, The Angry Birds Movie is a bizarre and fast translation from the $1 billion smartphone game turned into a feature length film. These colorful birds are helmed by a talented voice cast (Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader as Leonard, Peter Dinklage, Sean Penn, Keegan-Michael Key, Blake Shelton and more) and vibrant animation, but lacks any narrative structure adapted from the smartphone app.
Sure, the film might knock some sillies out of you leaving viewers in the end mildly satisfied and nothing more. Want to find out why these birds are so angry? Well there’s an island populated by happy, flightless birds who are suddenly bombarded by mysterious green pigs. Now, it’s up to three outcasts – Red (Sudeikis), Chuck (Gad) and Bomb (McBride) to figure out what the pigs are really up to.
Unfortunately, these mad birds never take flight and instead of focusing on the plot, first-time directors Fergal Reilly and Clay Kaytis and writer Jon Vitti (Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Simpsons Movie) decide to throw as many gags/pop culture references at the audience as they can. Yes, it will keep the little ones distracted for a full 97 minutes, while you mindlessly destroy green pigs on your smartphone. In the end, The Angry Birds Movie is a harmless and mildly entertaining translation throughout but not enough to fully recommend nor satisfy smartphone pundits from setting their devices aside.
The Angry Birds Movie is rated PG (Parental Guidance) For rude humor and action.
The most mature MCU film to-date, Civil War hits an emotional core with its audience about thought-provoking themes and old friendships trying to survive.
More like Avengers 2.5 disguised as Captain America 3, nevertheless, the Cap is back again and ready to put up a fight. This action-packed blockbuster nails all of the summer highs. Director’s Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: The Winter Solider) continue to craft Marvel’s expanding universe into a well packaged superhero outing. Civil War also begins the third wave of the MCU, starting eight years ago with the prestigious Iron Man (2008).
This time around a political interference within the Avengers' activities causes a rift between former allies Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). Rogers is wanting to stay vigilant and out of the hands of government contact, while Stark is wanting to keep his superhero pals in check. Tensions arise and friendships are lost. Now, Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Sam Wilson / Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Lieutenant James Rhodes / War Machine (Don Cheadle), Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Vision (Paul Bettany), Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Scott Lang / Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) must choose a side.
Team Cap or Team Iron Man? I’ll let you find out who chooses who. No spoilers here. Newcomers, Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland excel as Black Panther and Spider-Man. Boseman is fierce and strong as the vigilant panther, while Holland steals the show during the airport battle as your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man! All of the writing deepens throughout the film and so do our characters. Blood for blood, Rogers and Stark will stop at no cost for their moral composition. Grand choreographed fight scenes mixed with resonant humor throughout.
Civil War stays fun and smart from beginning to end, unlike BvS which failed to deliver satisfaction earlier this Spring. If this is the Russo Bros response to superhero fatigue, then we are in good hands for future films to follow. Double-down on the storytelling with resonant characters followed by eye-popping effects and you have Civil War. This superhero extravaganza surely will cleanse your palette, as Civil War comes and conquers the 2016 summer blockbuster marathon. This film hits you where it hurts and messes with your Marvel subconscious. Captain America: [about Bucky] “He's my friend.” Iron Man: “So was I.”
Captain America: Civil War is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For extended sequences of violence, action and mayhem.
The Nice Guys: A Groovy Blast!
The Nice Guys blends nostalgic ‘70s vibes with a charming, leading duo (Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling) and gives the audience hilarious results.
One of the freshest comedies you’ll probably see all year, The Nice Guys takes a dying buddy-cop genre and refuels it. Director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and Iron Man 3) throws sex, violence and laughs at the audience with nostalgic ‘70s culture running through their blood. When you think of the buddy-cop genre the most popular film that comes to mind is Lethal Weapon starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.
Back in the ‘80s, Lethal Weapon helped refine the action genre while also immersing laughs throughout. Since then, films have tried to grab that same successful formula as that Lethal Weapon had, but none could match. The Nice Guys is probably the closest film that hits the same sweet spot that Lethal Weapon triggered years ago. Crowe shows us his first comedy chops, while Gosling is just flat out funny as the goofy private eye. Their irresistible chemistry hits a summer sweet spot we have all been waiting for.
It’s Los Angeles, 1970 something, and we are introduced to a mismatched pair of private eyes (Crowe and Gosling) who are investigating an apparent suicide of a fading porn star. It’s a comedy L.A. noir filled with groovy music, slapstick humor and violent shoot em’ up scenes. The leading pair are a real hoot that add structure to the film, alongside Black’s slick direction. And the real star that steals the show is actress Angourie Rice, who plays Gosling’s teenage daughter. Rice is sharp, sassy and trying to succeed as a younger private eye just like her dad.
The Nice Guys is one of the best comedies of the year because the jokes are funny, the leading pair soar and the popcorn charisma taste so good. A guilty pleasure that will delightfully entertain from beginning until end. This crime caper is funny as hell and hits that perfect blend of comedy and action. They say, “nice guys finish last” … not in this circumstance.
The Nice Guys is rated R (Restricted). For violence, sexuality, nudity, language and brief drug use.
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