April 21, 2016

Entourage (2015)

Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven

Final word: This movie is exactly what you'd expect from a feature-length version of this TV show. I literally have nothing else to say about it.

April 18, 2016

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogan, Lucy Liu, David Cross, et al

The original Kung Fu Panda was the first time I finally felt ok about Jack Black acting. I mean, we didn't have to see some poor actress completely out of his league have to pretend to find him charming or attractive (hello, Kate Winslet in The Holiday) or see him in his underwear (unfortunately, Nacho Libre is seared into my memory). Instead, he embodied a lovable loser panda we could all laugh at while simultaneously root for.

The of course, came Kung Fu Panda 2, which was inevitable, given the success of the first one. It was watchable, though a big step down, like most sequels. And I thought we were done with it.

But of course we weren't. Because in a world where studios will continue to wring franchises for every dollar they can get, no matter how little effort is put into the movie, movies like Kung Fu Panda 3 will continue to get made.

I'm not saying this is the worst sequel ever made. I'm not even saying it's the worst animated sequel. But in a world where this was released in the theater only mere weeks before Zootopia with the same target audience, I can't help but wonder why moviegoers don't demand higher quality. Does anyone really feel the price of admission was equal for these two movies? How is it possible, knowing the level of quality an animated children's movie can produce, that we can settle for drivel like Kung Fu Panda 3

Honestly, I'm not sure why I even bother asking these questions. After all, it's the same studio that put out 4 (yes, four!) Shrek movies and the spin-off, Puss in Boots. Not to mention both a Christmas and Halloween Shrek movie, because we needed that. 

Final word: I should probably just start bracing myself for Kung Fu Panda 4

April 12, 2016

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)

Everyone from the first movie except Tom Wilkinson

This movie made two things abundantly clear:

1. I need more Indian friends. I have yet to be invited to an Indian wedding and that needs to be remedied. They look amazing.

2. Sequels are somehow more disappointing when the first movie is enjoyable.

This is a movie that did not need to be made. Tom Wilkinson apparently knew that, since he's the only original cast member not to return. Instead, they've subbed him with in Richard Gere as if we wouldn't mind the best character from the first movie being replaced by someone who peaked with Pretty Woman in 1990.

It's not completely intolerable, though you'd be hard-pressed to find a movie I can't sit through. This tried my patience, with its scattered storylines and over-the-top whodunnit-type shenanigans. Dev Patel, who is apparently in need of employment since The Newsroom ended, channels some hybrid of every Diane Keaton character and Leslie Mann in The Other Woman. Between Patel's constant hysterics and Maggie Smith's usual dour-faced unpleasantness, the movie is hard to watch. It tries to cover for its lack of charm by throwing as many storylines as possible with the hope audiences won't notice. Memo to writers: I noticed.

Final word: At least there's dancing?

April 8, 2016

Spectre (2015)

Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw

You know how the last 10 minutes of Furious 7 is really just a farewell tribute to Paul Walker, thinly disguised as part of the plot? This movie is basically one long farewell to Daniel Craig as James Bond. Except not as good as the last 10 minutes of Furious 7. Let that sink in for a minute.

Let me just clarify: I liked Daniel Craig as Bond. There was a lot of controversy in his casting, saying he was too gritty looking (and blonde! Gasp!), but I think he brought a tougher action-star feel to the series after years of Pierce Brosnan's suave campiness. Casino Royale was brilliant. Skyfall was good. The others? Well....

Spectre, unfortunately, goes the way of Quantum of Solace. I can't pinpoint exactly what made it so disappointing, probably because there were so many things that made it so. The attempts at nostalgic reminiscing over Craig's other Bond outings was weird, at best. Considering 007 has been around for decades, the laser focus on the storylines of just the last 4 films was a perplexing decision.

Guess which girl actually gets the guy?
Everything in this movie just felt a bit stale. Christoph Waltz, who should be a shoo-in as a super villain with that accent, played a character so contrived I felt like Ed Harris in The Truman Show was more sinister. The hype about the 40-year-old Bond girl was completely blown out of proportion, as she was in the movie for all of about 2 minutes and lacked any kind of physical chemistry with Craig. And after her tiny cameo, the "main" Bond girl was a petite 30-year-old blonde with daddy issues. Yawn!

Perhaps I am being too hard on it. After all, it's just a silly little spy film, right? But a franchise with a legacy of that magnitude sets expectations to an at least enjoyable level, which this was not. Even the opening credits were the worst I've seen of any Bond movie, with very weird shots of a shirtless Daniel Craig instead of the normal shadows and heavy graphics. Oh, and Sam Smith's theme song that somehow won the Oscar for Best Original Song? Like I said, disappointing all around.

actual screenshot from the opening credits

Final word: If I was a conspiracy theorist, I might believe this was intentionally bad to say good riddance to Daniel Craig and to soften the public's reception to whomever is cast as the new Bond.