‘Kong: Skull Island’ Review

(AOTN) The main problem with all of these mega-blockbuster films, going back to the original King Kong has always been incorporating the human elements with these massive monsters, whomever they may be.  It’s one thing to make the monsters in these flicks look visually compelling enough to keep the audiences fleeting interest at bay, let alone tell a compelling story.  For example, the thing that the 1993 original Jurassic Park or 1995’s Independence Day had were compelling HUMAN characters.  Sure these movies used the newest and baddest special effects of the time, the thing that separated these from the rest of the Blockbusters are the human characters audiences can get behind.  Independence Day doesn’t work without Will Smith or Jeff Goldblum.  Jurassic Park isn’t the same film without Sam Neil or Jeff Goldblum (this is not to say Goldblum is the glue of forming a Blockbuster, I completely forgot he was in both until I wrote this but he IS fantastic).  Having digressed big time, it is to say Kong: Skull Island while not on a level of timeless, has proven itself a step ahead of the rest, and an exciting and valiant attempt to bring back the giant monster flicks of yesterdays past.

The original Inkg Kong trailer:

Jumping back years chronologically in Legendary’s Godzilla/King Kong Universe, the GKK as I will refer to it, Kong: Skull Island begins circa 1944.  Two fighters from World War 2 (WW2) land  onto an island in the South Pacific, one American and one Japanese.  After engaging in some hand-on-hand combat, we are quickly introduced to the star of the show, Mr. Kong, the king of kings.  Fast forward the timeline to 1973 and we are introduced to our new set of protagonists.  Led by William “Bill” Randa (John Goodman) and fellow scientist, is geologist Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) who set their sight on the unexplored “Skull Island”.  With a great leading cast including but not limited to James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), Preston Packard (Sam Jackson), Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), San Lin (Jing Tian), and Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbell), the crew set out to explore the formally unexplored Skull Island.

First things first.  Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts did an amazing job of paying homage, yet it makes something completely unique.  It’s hard to stray far from the original without people crying foul.  Kong incorporates enough yet says, “hey, I’ve got something to say”!  Luckily for fans, Kong doesn’t have a weird interspecies relationship with a woman, but has a satisfyingly intimate relationship with humans.  Kong is the main “bad guy” but isn’t necessarily the “bad guy”.  Like 2014’s Godzilla, Kong ills many a people, but isn’t maliciously killing them.  Kong like Godzilla has clearly defined motives that make the audience root for that character.  Humans, you me him and her, are impeding on their turf.  Much like the less-than-subtle Vietnam comparisons, these creatures want to be left alone.  The country of Vietnam didn’t want Western influence inflicting the destruction of their country, yet it happened.  As a member of the West, shit, I’m sorry.  The take-over of things that aren’t ours is in the blood and tradition of our country, and is exemplified in our arts.  Enter Kong: Skull Island, a love-letter to the Vietnam era directly influencing both the aesthetics and message of the new King Kong.

Moving past my rants-and-raves and weird political metaphors, Kong: Skull Island is simply a fun action monster movie.  Unlike 2014’s Godzilla, Kong doesn’t hide its titular character.  Within the first 8 minutes of the film, audiences are introduced to the scale of the title character.  He’s huge.  People small.  Kong king.  People… not king Kong.  This is exactly what you want out of this type of movie, it’s just done more style and care than one may expect.  Going back to my initial rants, this Blockbuster seems to have been made with more care and craft than audiences expect.  It’s a $200 million movie which one can walk away from and realize it was done with ONE specific vision.  Now there may have very well been a too many cooks-in-the-kitchen, but it feels like one filmmakers vision of what a monster movie could be.  Skull Island is done in an stylish manor that respects filmmaking in both past and present yet has a fresh feeling to it…sort of.  It’s not perfect, but it will excite both nerds and average movie-goers universally.  The saving grace of the film is its insane cast.

Leading the charge and keeping the audience fully locked in was the character Hank Marlow portrayed by John C. Reilly.  We first met this character in the opening scenes of the film, as the American solder who fell to the island with the rival Japanese soldier.  We pick this story up 29 years later, as the rest of the cast lands on the island looking for their buried treasure.  The heart and soul of these movies must be the glue, and while these characters minus Reilly’s don’t quite hold up to the necessary standards, there is enough to keep audiences engaged.  My real qualm with the film is the lack of character development, but thats a hard task to ask.  It’s like an episode of 24.  But, you have less than two-hours to complete and you have to tell both a visually strong yet cohesive story to satisfy both Democrats and Republicans.  Kidding, but its hard to make everyone happy.  Kong: Skull Island is a fantasic attempt at this, and is so far superior to movies like Jurassic World, it’s laughable.  It’s a silly monster movie that knows exactly what it is, but strives for more.

Kong:Skull Island
is now playing in theaters nationwide.

The post ‘Kong: Skull Island’ Review appeared first on Age of The Nerd.

‘Kong: Skull Island’ Review

(AOTN) The main problem with all of these mega-blockbuster films, going back to the original King Kong has always been incorporating the human elements with these massive monsters, whomever they may be.  It’s one thing to make the monsters in these flicks look visually compelling enough to keep the audiences fleeting interest at bay, let alone tell a compelling story.  For example, the thing that the 1993 original Jurassic Park or 1995’s Independence Day had were compelling HUMAN characters.  Sure these movies used the newest and baddest special effects of the time, the thing that separated these from the rest of the Blockbusters are the human characters audiences can get behind.  Independence Day doesn’t work without Will Smith or Jeff Goldblum.  Jurassic Park isn’t the same film without Sam Neil or Jeff Goldblum (this is not to say Goldblum is the glue of forming a Blockbuster, I completely forgot he was in both until I wrote this but he IS fantastic).  Having digressed big time, it is to say Kong: Skull Island while not on a level of timeless, has proven itself a step ahead of the rest, and an exciting and valiant attempt to bring back the giant monster flicks of yesterdays past.

The original Inkg Kong trailer:

Jumping back years chronologically in Legendary’s Godzilla/King Kong Universe, the GKK as I will refer to it, Kong: Skull Island begins circa 1944.  Two fighters from World War 2 (WW2) land  onto an island in the South Pacific, one American and one Japanese.  After engaging in some hand-on-hand combat, we are quickly introduced to the star of the show, Mr. Kong, the king of kings.  Fast forward the timeline to 1973 and we are introduced to our new set of protagonists.  Led by William “Bill” Randa (John Goodman) and fellow scientist, is geologist Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) who set their sight on the unexplored “Skull Island”.  With a great leading cast including but not limited to James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), Preston Packard (Sam Jackson), Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), San Lin (Jing Tian), and Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbell), the crew set out to explore the formally unexplored Skull Island.

First things first.  Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts did an amazing job of paying homage, yet it makes something completely unique.  It’s hard to stray far from the original without people crying foul.  Kong incorporates enough yet says, “hey, I’ve got something to say”!  Luckily for fans, Kong doesn’t have a weird interspecies relationship with a woman, but has a satisfyingly intimate relationship with humans.  Kong is the main “bad guy” but isn’t necessarily the “bad guy”.  Like 2014’s Godzilla, Kong ills many a people, but isn’t maliciously killing them.  Kong like Godzilla has clearly defined motives that make the audience root for that character.  Humans, you me him and her, are impeding on their turf.  Much like the less-than-subtle Vietnam comparisons, these creatures want to be left alone.  The country of Vietnam didn’t want Western influence inflicting the destruction of their country, yet it happened.  As a member of the West, shit, I’m sorry.  The take-over of things that aren’t ours is in the blood and tradition of our country, and is exemplified in our arts.  Enter Kong: Skull Island, a love-letter to the Vietnam era directly influencing both the aesthetics and message of the new King Kong.

Moving past my rants-and-raves and weird political metaphors, Kong: Skull Island is simply a fun action monster movie.  Unlike 2014’s Godzilla, Kong doesn’t hide its titular character.  Within the first 8 minutes of the film, audiences are introduced to the scale of the title character.  He’s huge.  People small.  Kong king.  People… not king Kong.  This is exactly what you want out of this type of movie, it’s just done more style and care than one may expect.  Going back to my initial rants, this Blockbuster seems to have been made with more care and craft than audiences expect.  It’s a $200 million movie which one can walk away from and realize it was done with ONE specific vision.  Now there may have very well been a too many cooks-in-the-kitchen, but it feels like one filmmakers vision of what a monster movie could be.  Skull Island is done in an stylish manor that respects filmmaking in both past and present yet has a fresh feeling to it…sort of.  It’s not perfect, but it will excite both nerds and average movie-goers universally.  The saving grace of the film is its insane cast.

Leading the charge and keeping the audience fully locked in was the character Hank Marlow portrayed by John C. Reilly.  We first met this character in the opening scenes of the film, as the American solder who fell to the island with the rival Japanese soldier.  We pick this story up 29 years later, as the rest of the cast lands on the island looking for their buried treasure.  The heart and soul of these movies must be the glue, and while these characters minus Reilly’s don’t quite hold up to the necessary standards, there is enough to keep audiences engaged.  My real qualm with the film is the lack of character development, but thats a hard task to ask.  It’s like an episode of 24.  But, you have less than two-hours to complete and you have to tell both a visually strong yet cohesive story to satisfy both Democrats and Republicans.  Kidding, but its hard to make everyone happy.  Kong: Skull Island is a fantasic attempt at this, and is so far superior to movies like Jurassic World, it’s laughable.  It’s a silly monster movie that knows exactly what it is, but strives for more.

Kong:Skull Island
is now playing in theaters nationwide.

The post ‘Kong: Skull Island’ Review appeared first on Age of The Nerd.

New ‘Alien: Covenant’ Trailer Shows the New Xenomorph

Set 10 years after the events of Prometheus, Ridley Scott picks up right where he left off in the exploration of the Alien mythology with his newest feature- Alien: Covenant.  While there seems to be some slight variation to his groundbreaking 1979 original Alien, the premise seems relatively the same.  A crew (although larger) will be terrorized, by at least one angry Xenomorph.

Here’s the official synopsis for Alien: Covenant:

Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created, with ALIEN: COVENANT, a new chapter in his groundbreaking ALIEN franchise.  The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world.  When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.

And Here’s the new trailer:

As much as I would have loved to see Neill Blomkamp’s version of Alien, which he was once attached to direct and may still helm another sequel down the road, I’m still very excited to see what Ridley Scott has in store for us.  While it looks similar to the original, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Despite Scott’s hit-or-miss filmography (especially as of late), his films are always beautiful if nothing else.  But Alien: Covenant looks like it has something beyond its beautiful aesthetics.  While all speculation or guessing at this point, it seems like the film will answer some questions about the fate of Noomi Rapace’s character of Elizabeth Shaw.  We last saw Shaw at the end of Prometheus as she gathers the remains (really just his head) of the android David played by Michael Fassbender, as they set out to find the Engineers’ home world to find answers.

Did Shaw find her answers?  Will we find the answers we’re seeking in Alien: Covenant?  We will have to wait and see as May quickly approaches.

The cast is large and features Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Amy Seimetz, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Nathaniel Dean, Alexander England and Benjamin Rigby.

Alien: Covenant opens in theaters on May 19th.

The post New ‘Alien: Covenant’ Trailer Shows the New Xenomorph appeared first on Age of The Nerd.

‘A Cure for Wellness’ Review

A Cure for Wellness is a strange film to wrap my brain around as I attempt to write a comprehensive review and assign the film a number representing its “quality”.  While strange is certainly a fitting word for Gore Verbinski’s (2002’s The Ring, Pirates of the Caribbean) latest feature, it does the film absolutely no justice.  You may see me use words like strange, weird, bizarre, and so on and so forth, I just don’t know how else to describe exactly what I witnessed.  One clarification before I fully dive into the deep cavernous experience that is A Cure for Wellness. I need to point out that weirs and other such synonyms are good.  When I use those words it comes from a place of excitement that the filmmakers (as well as the studios and financiers) would take these risks, when the payoff could be very minimal.  Look no further than the films opening weekend and how poorly it performed- earning an estimated $4.2 million from 2,704 theaters.  With a reported $40 million budget, the film will struggle to earn back its money, which is a shame because movies like this need to be made.  In a time of $200 Blockbusters or $2 million indies, we need mid-level budgeted movies.  This is especially true with A Cure for Wellness– while it has many flaws, it’s refreshing to see a movie like this still can be made in 2017.

So what exactly is A Cure for Wellness about?  Well, to keep the things as simple as possible I refer to the official IMDB synopsis (plus I’m too lazy to write my own):

An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps, but soon suspects that the spa’s treatments are not what they seem.

Dan DeHaan (Chronicle, The Place Beyond the Pines) stars as the ambitious Wall Street exec Lockhart, who’s sent on a mission to retrieve the CEO of his firm from a remote rehabilitation center isolated in the Swiss Alps.  There he meets Dr. Heinreich Volmer, played by Jason Isaacs (Lucius in the Harry Potter series), the lead doctor in charge of the entire facility.  Let’s just say strange things begin to happen to Lockhart as things appear darker than the surface level within the institution.  Any more plot analysis would harm you (the reader’s) enjoyment of this film.  You just need to know the set-up, and buckle into the twists and turns A Cure for Wellness will take the viewers through the eyes of our protagonist Lockhart.

The most striking thing about the film is its visual ascetics.  Say what you will about Verbinski’s storytelling methods, the guy can shoot a visually striking movie.  Was his last film 2013’s The Lone Ranger any good?  No.  But it sure looked beautiful.  A Cure for Wellness is a slightly better film with beautiful images and imaginative use of camera work.  Besides just making the film look “cool”, the visuals help aid in the descent taken on by our main character Lockhart.  Things are bright and shiny while in New York, but as he approaches the Swiss Alps things begin to change.  The change doesn’t happen quick however.  While I appreciate not rushing into the craziness, the plot structure is a bit off.

Things take too long to to materialize, and at a hefty 146 minutes, its the opinion of the author that the filmmakers could have trimmed some of the fat.  I appreciate that the movie takes risks, especially not spoon feeding the audience your standard three act structure.  It helps in setting the tone and letting the audience learn about the characters.  Having said that, it doesn’t dive too deep into the characters as there seems to be almost no character development.  Just when you think you’re seeing growth of Lockhart for example, its quickly forgotten, and leaves him almost exactly how he was in the very beginning of the film.  At one point early on, Lockhart breaks his leg and spends almost the entire film on crutches.  If he had simply broken his arm, they could have shaved of 20-30 minutes and gotten a tighter film.  I’m joking of course, but despite trying new things, A Cure for Wellness ultimately falls a bit flat.

The script and the way the plot is delivered may have its problems, but beyond the beautifulness of the film the acting is superb.  DeHaan is absolutely captivating as the lead.  He’s able to convey so much emotion without words in a simple and extremely subtle way.  He hops around on crutches exploring the “wellness center” for half the film, yet he had my full attention.  Opposite DeHaan Mia Goth (Nymphomaniac: Vol. II, Everest) has many of the similar qualities.  She has a very unique look to her and the scenes between the two are exquisite and immensely intriguing as we (the audience) try to figure out just what the heck is going on.  Great casting all around.  It would have helped if the characters went through more change and some constant themes featured throughout were also fully fleshed out.  We could have had something truly special but it’s still not-to-shabby of an effort.

While not my favorite movie, I applaud the effort and the risks taken by the filmmakers to craft this weird beautiful thriller.  These types of films are a dying breed.  If you love movies, it’s important to support these types of outings.  A Cure for Wellness isn’t a property owned by Disney or some action figure/board game company, it’s its own thing.  We need more of this.  I picked some aspects of the movie apart but overall had a great experience watching it.  They made a weird movie with a mid-range budget.  Go see it.  Judge it for yourself.  But, go see it so we can keep getting these types of movies instead of 7 Paranormal Activity flicks (not trashing the franchise, its just enough already).

A Cure for Wellness is currently playing in theaters nationwide, and is worthy of a trip to the theater to experience it with an audience.

 

 

 

The post ‘A Cure for Wellness’ Review appeared first on Age of The Nerd.

‘The Lego Batman Movie’ Review

(AOTN) Building off the success of 2014’s The Lego MovieThe Lego Batman Movie perfectly follows its predecessor, adding an exciting chapter to the Lego cinematic universe in a fully satisfying and fun way.  The Lego Batman Movie essentially is constructed of self referential humor and dialogue poking fun at all previous Batman films that have come before it.  For any Batman fan this will be welcomed with full glee.  While poking fun at the films and television series that came before, The Lego Batman Movie does it in a non-cynical way- paying homage to the installments that came before.  After last years Batman V. Superman and his brief cameo in The Suicide Squad, it’s great to come out of a Batman movie both happy, entertained, and relieved they didn’t fu*k up another Batman movie.

It’s been three long years since Lego Batman, voiced brilliantly by Will Arnett, graced audiences with his standout performance in the original Lego Movie.  In that time he’s continued to fight crime in Gotham City- working alone of course.  After stopping another plot to destroy the city by The Joker (Zach Galifianakis), Batman is forced to reveal that The Joker is not very important to him in his life.  The Joker is rightfully upset after thinking they had great hero-villain chemistry.  This sets up the entire film as both Batman and The Joker are forced to look within themselves and discover whether or not they truly need each other.  While this is the underlying plot of the movie, lots of crazy action happens, things blow up, jokes are rattled off at exuberant speeds, at heart this is still a kids movie.

Using the Batman-Joker dynamic as the backdrop, The Lego Batman movie does an amazing job bringing together elements from the entire Batman sandbox.  There is a lot the filmmakers had to play with-and they certainly take advantage of Batman’s rich and goofy history.  The film itself references everything from the 1940’s Batman Serials, Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy to the most recent BVS and Suicide Squad.  No character from Batman’s history is too obscure for references either- I’m looking at you Polka-Dot Man (a real DC Comics villain who first appeared in the groovy 1962).  The thing that really stands out is the movies ability to poke fun of Batman and his cinematic and televion history, but in a respectful manner.  It’s easy to be cynical (especially the way the DCU has begun) but The Lego Batman Movie partakes in none of that.  The movie respects the material and it comes through in the final product.

On many levels, The Lego Batman Movie explores the character of Batman better than any previous installment.  Certainly taking a serious character and adding levity to situations allows room for self referential and self awareness that truly explores the main characters in a way we’ve never seen (at least on screen).  Robin (Michael Cera) and Batman’s relationship is explored and analyzed just as Batman and The Jokers dynamic.  Giving room for spoof, allowed The Lego Batman Movie to peel back the level of mystic and show each characters personality traits and how each character in the Batman universe feed off and need each another.

Lego Batman feels like one giant easter egg.  Not only does every scene have a joke every 10 seconds with action happening all around- there are a ton minor details that are hard to catch on one viewing!  It’s hard to keep up with JUST how much Batman they put into this iteration of Batman.  Having said that, Warner Brothers doesn’t just stop with characters from the world of Batman but also their back-catolouge of characters including but not limited to King Kong, The Eye of Soron and Lord Voldemort.  Now at first I was a bit pessimistically curious why they would put these non-Batman characters, but it works.  It adds a new dynamic between Batman and his plethora of villains in a satisfying way.

Although Lego Batman is a kids flick, it works for adults.  While the themes aren’t as rich or complex as the themes tackled in the first Lego Movie, there is enough to keep the parents occupied.  Maybe non-Batman or superhero parents may find it tough to sit through, overall I think a vast majority of audiences will find The Lego Batman Movie an enjoyable watch.  The visuals are stunning and the star-studded cast of voice actors do an amazing job coming together to construct a well-balanced movie that moves at a rapid pace.

The Lego Batman Movie is now playing in theaters nationwide and stars Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Jenny Slate, and way too many other legends to name.

The post ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ Review appeared first on Age of The Nerd.

A ‘La La Land’ Review From a Person Who Hates Musicals

First things first.  As the title suggests, I absolutely hate musicals.  I know hate is a strong word but I never use it lightly.  Sure I can appreciate the great musicals and I even sang along to Disney movies as a young lad, but over the last 20 years whenever a character begins to break into song and dance my heart sinks.  “Why can’t this character just say what they’re thinking?”  “Why is this happening?”  “Why am I watching this?”  To put it simply “Why?”  I always had a lot of questions regarding musicals and their necessity in popular culture.  That is, until I saw La La Land.  The second directorial effort by the talented filmmaker Damien Chazelle.  Coming off the success of 2014’s Whiplash, expectations for his sophomore film were expectedly high.  La La Land delivers in every way and is a visually and emotionally a unique experience.

La La Land stars Emma Stone as Mia, an aspiring actress who currently works at a coffee shop on the studio lot.  Co-staring with Stone (for the third time) is Ryan Gosling who portrays Sebastian, a jazz pianist who’s inspired by the greats who came before him.  Ultimately Sebastian’s dream is to own his own jazz club to keep the rich history of jazz alive, while Mia seeks stardom and fame.  After a couple chance encounters, Mia and Sebastian begin a relationship, knowing that their desires completely juxtapose each others.  What ensues is a classic romantic comedy steeped with rich vibrant musical numbers that will leave viewers feeling a wide array of emotions, which ultimately consume the heart with joy.

As a person who wants a career in creative endeavors, this movie spoke to me on a level that most will also find solace.  It’s funny, beautiful, engaging, thought provoking, yet heartbreaking in many ways.  Again, I can’t underestimate my distain for musicals, and as soon as the opening number began I thought “Why did I see this”?  I was quickly brought down off my cynical horse and engaged in a somewhat cliched but timeless tale of two people coming together at a time when their lives aren’t YET where they want them to be, but together they both change the course of each others journey in life.  La La Land is a film clearly influenced by other musicals, but rather than ripping them off, Chazelle show his appreciation for these influences and brings them together for a whole new audience, much like a Tarantino flick.

The visuals are the major element (or the only element I could notice) in La La Land where you can really see the influences come to fruition.  It really doesn’t matter if his influences are transparent, Chazelle is trying to hide them.  La La Land is as much a celebration of musicals as it is a love story.  I needed to attend this celebration to turn my cynical mindset of musicals forever, and I am forever grateful I actually gave this film a chance, because looking back on 2016, La La Land is one of my favorite films of the year.  That’s a statement I never thought I’d say, but the talent involved in this film made it possible for an a**hole like myself to be lifted into the magical dream-filled world La La Land represents.  The film shows a story desired by anyone who wants a career in the arts or who has had love creep up in their lives in the most unexpected ways possible.

La La Land is a film to be seen and not talked about.  I could go on for hours about the film, but go see it for yourself.  It doesn’t matter if you love or hate musicals, La La Land has something for everyone.  I couldn’t recommend it more.  It’s a beautiful film and shows the career progression of director Damien Chazelle, who’s next film will have even crazier expectations.  I for one can’t wait to see what this dude will do next.  Oh yeah, Gosling and Stone are absolutely unreliable, and their chemistry is infectious.

La La Land stars Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, and Rosemarie DeWitt and is now playing in theaters nationwide.

The post A ‘La La Land’ Review From a Person Who Hates Musicals appeared first on Age of The Nerd.

WordPress theme: Kippis 1.15