Jul 21

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

This is part of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Week at Gorgon Reviews!

Fucking finally. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. It has final in the name, so there will be no more without a reboot, those are the rules. Ignore whatever happened between Saw: The Final Chapter and Jigsaw, those guys are liars, they totally won’t be liars here.

If you read my long milestone review on Resident Evil franchise, there is a common problem with the films. Each film would end with a cliff hanger and a goal! Okay, fine. But the next film will either ignore the cliff hanger and have it resolve off screen and ignore the “goal” set by the previous film. It was especially egregious in films 4 and 5, where they decided to go a completely different route, creating their own excuses that were shit for changing the plot. It was fucking stupid. Although sure, the second film continued after the first where you would expect it to, so that is the only one that really felt connected.

Anyways, if that happens again, I might flip my shit. Also another reminder, one stuntman died during filming of a scene, and a stuntwoman had a shit ton of injuries, 2 week coma, and had her arm amputated off. Holy fuck, that is bad. That is not a good start to a movie, especially a movie no one asked for.

Dangle
But that’s okay, because at least Milla was able to dangle on her own.

At the end of the last film, Alice (Milla Jovovich) and crew had to head to Washington, DC, ready to take on giant waves of zombies at the White House. Wesker (Shawn Roberts) sent them there and was a good guy now, after being a bad guy.

Well this film begins with a backstory, which is different than backstory from previous films, and then jumps over the other films to bring us to now. Which is actually in DC! But some time has passed. Alice is now alone again, for reasons. Also apparently Wesker turned on her and the crew and is a bad guy, again. Seriously, all off screen pre-movie, they were like, lets make him bad again and do none of this DC plot, and let’s put it in a new direction, again. Fuckers.

So after some fighting with a goddamn zombie dragon creature, Alice gets contacted by the Red Queen (Ever Anderson, real life daughter of Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson) and gets an earfull. Apparently the Umbrella Corporation developed an antidote before this whole outbreak thing occurred. They wanted the world to fall to ruin, yes like a Biblical flood, then they would release the antidote into the air, killing anything with the T-Virus inside of them

The Red Queen wants Alice to get to the cure before the last human settlements are wiped out. She has about two days. And of course, the cure is at the bottom of The Hive facility underneath the now wiped out Raccoon City, where there are going to be some zombies, and fucked up shit inside. Hooray!

Also featuring Iain Glen, Ali Larter, Eoin Macken, Fraser James, Ruby Rose, William Levy, and Rola.

Chase
At some point in the franchise, the zombies just become Alice’s biggest fans and always follow her around town.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is a bad movie on almost every front.

First of all, it continues a story only in name, because it literally once again, tells a different story than the previous film implied. Characters have different motivations suddenly. Characters who were at the end of the last film are now gone and not mentioned. The entire backstory is changed at the beginning, just so they can do different things with this film. Yet at the same time, this is just another film where the goal is to go into an underground bunker, do a thing, then escape the bunker. A nice giant open world long fight, implied by the end of the last movie, would have been great.

There is technically action in this film, but good luck figuring it out. Even scenes of very little important are cut so rapidly I found myself barely watching the movie. It was hurting my head and eyes. It is one of those ways to cover up good action scenes by having quick cuts and to hide stunt actors. No good amount of choreography, just cut cut cut with flashing lights and confusion.

Acting is weak. The plot is extremely weak, with twists you can definitely see coming. There is nothing profound about this film, even with Biblical elements. You will just find yourself waiting for it to be over.

HOWEVER. Guess what! It is never over. It. Is. Never. Over. This movie ends on a cliffhanger. The story isn’t over. This is probably not going to be a final chapter. Meaningful conclusions are bullshit. Sure, the story seems like they finally finished the Umbrella Arc. But you know as well as I do that if there is another movie within a decade that there will be Clones or something of the important people, another hidden sect, and a story that just won’t die.

Like zombies.

0 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/resident-evil-the-final-chapter

Jul 21

City of Ghosts

What a spooky week! Technically this review of City of Ghosts comes only one day after my review of A Ghost Story, and they couldn’t be more different. Well, if one was bad and the other was good it could be different. But they are both fantastic. Oh no, I spoiled the talk about this one being fantastic early!

City of Ghosts puts us in Syria, before the fall of Assad. During the Arab Spring in 2011, protests happened throughout the country and in Raqqa, the capital of Syria. The regime had been dickish in the past, but they tortured a bunch of school aged kids for graffiti that was anti-government, and that set the protests into a bigger momentum. Protectors fought with soldiers, and eventually the government was toppled over. Hooray freedom!

Just kidding, this started a country wide civil war, and it wasn’t long before a militant group referring to themselves as the Isalmic State came into Raqqa and took over. They promised to be nice, but also came in with machine guns and executed those faithful to the past regime. And then they kept killing. They took control over everything, and kept executing those who sucked. But they controlled the media in the area and sent messages about how awesome things were.

But things weren’t awesome. People were living in more poverty, there were food shortages, more and more of their basic freedoms were being taken away. Worse than when Assad was in control. But the militant group had their ranks grow still, because it was the only way to have a good life in the area.

One group of citizens decided that their city was dying and no one in the world knew about it. They started an organization, called Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS). Their goal was to smuggled out videos, information, pictures, to major media about the realities of their life and to let people know that this group called ISIS was doing a lot of harm and lying about it, putting their own lives on the line in the process.


That’s right, ISIS motherfuckers!

And I found the beginning of this documentary fascinating about the rise of ISIS in the area fascinating. They could have done the whole story on that and it would have been great on its own right. But no, this is by the guy who gave us Cartel Land. He wants to talk about the citizen journalists of RBSS and showcase them as heroes.

We learn about some of the men who founded the website/twitter account, and how they first got the word out. We learned about their passions and lives before the protests begin and how they saw their lives going. We saw them on the run in their own city, secretly recording and getting the message out. We saw them on the run out of their country, into Turkey and Germany, when one of their own was captured and killed with information on them.

And we saw them more importantly, double down on their efforts. Ramp up security for their own operatives still inside the city risking their lives, while worrying about political assassinations across country lines. We saw them feel like they were safe, but still get wrecked by the ISIS Hollywood level media campaign against them in their homes, as more of their family members were found and killed, while also dealing with protesters in their new homes who want the new “dangerous” immigrants out.

What we have here is an extremely powerful documentary that handles a broad subject with grace and humility. This is their story and another way they have to get their message out into the world. It also sheds a message on refugees and helps show just what they are escaping, and how ridiculous these protesters who are anti-refugee look. It should almost be required viewing just to get certain hard ass individuals to maybe open their goddamn eyes.

City of Ghosts tells of a world, a nation, a city, that was stripped of its humanity from outsiders. And the message they want to pass on is to not let these same outsiders destroy the rest of the world’s humanity as well.

4 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/city-of-ghosts

Jul 20

A Ghost Story

This is part of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Week at Gorgon Reviews!

2017 has been a great year for alternative thrillers and horrors. From Split, to Get Out, to It Comes At Night, to even Colossal on some levels, a lot of fucked up shit is happening this year in movies, and we get to watch it on our screens.

So why not turn things even further on their head with A Ghost Story?

The idea behind this movie I have to imagine was taken as a bet. And it seems funny that it is by David Lowery who just gave us Pete’s Dragon. I wonder how many parallels can be made between the two?

Haunts
Omg turn around such spooks watch out!

The story is about a man (Casey Affleck) and a woman (Rooney Mara), madly in love with each other. The man is a musician, the woman really enjoys books and writing notes. They fight some times, sure, but they at least communicate well.

And then the man dies. In a car accident, right outside of their home. Fuck.

The woman identifies the body at the morgue and leaves, unsure of what she is going to do with her life. And then? And then? And then?! The man rises up from his table, still covered in the sheets from the morgue. He walks down the halls and no one notices him. He feels a calling, back to his home.

And in that home is where he stands and waits. He glimpses into the woman’s life that he used to be married to. He sees her in her great levels of grief, he sees her begin to move on with her life. He even sees the worse thing of all – he sees her find another person to love.

Also featuring Liz Franke as a real estate agent and Will Oldham as the Prognosticator.

Building
Something haunts these hallowed empty halls. Something that smells sheety.

Of course of course, how could a film that looks so much like a joke be anything more than a joke? How can a joke supersede its own existence into something greater than the movie average that exists? How can I cry to a man dressed in a ghost sheet costume?

Well, I did. At least five times. An emotionally gripping movie where sure, a lot of it was my own imagination getting away from me imagining how similar circumstances would affect my own life. But that’s what movies should do, draw upon your own life experiences and make you feel shit.

But I am getting ahead of myself. The movie. First thing someone should notice is the aspect ratio. It is 1.33:1, which is basically a box with rounded edges, to make the whole thing seem like an old styled family film. It is not just the introduction, or the ghost scenes, it is the whole film. And the film uses very minimal camera movement. Long scenes where it just sits as the characters move around, or scenes where it basically floats around the house/room/office like a ghost itself.

In ghost form, Affleck doesn’t say anything (if it even is Affleck under those sheets). But he says so much in those darkened sheet eyes. Fuck this is hard to describe.

A Ghost Story is possibly one of the realest feeling films this year. Mara herself just captivates the idea of grief incarnate. Watching her just exist in the home alone brings so much pain to the viewers. You just want to jump through the screen and hold her, letting her know everything is not okay but she is okay and she will be fine. Just get out of the house, make some friends.

In this film you get to watch Mara eat pie. Like a real human being. One long shot of her just going into some pie, with a break away shot, then more goddamn pie. It is the most human thing you will see in cinemas this year.

A Ghost Story is an experience unlike many others. It takes us across time to question what is the purpose of life and how hard it is to move on – both for those who survive and for those who do not.

4 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/a-ghost-story

Jul 19

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

This is part of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Week at Gorgon Reviews!

I hate Luc Bessson. I probably have said that at least a thousand times in my life at to this point. I have also already said that he hasn’t made anything good since The Fifth Element, which was of course 20 years ago, and relevant to the release of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Because I went into Valerian and I expected to hate it. I expected it to be somehow a Eurotrash movie, but in Space. I didn’t have any fond reasons to love the leads at all, and was just ready to be scathing. But then I didn’t hate it. I didn’t dislike it either. At the lowest I knew it would be an average rating, but not sure if it could land higher.

I did know that I had to go and rewatch The Fifth Element before I wrote this review. Because in all honesty, I hadn’t seen it since it came out when I was a kid, and I remembered nothing except for the intro scenes. And after going back and watching it, I sort of shrugged me shoulders and sighed, remembering it to be better than that.

Two takeaways from this intro: I guess I only really really like Leon, The Professional from Besson, and I don’t hate Valerian.

Boob Armor
But I did hate how stupid looking they decided to make her armor.

Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are team of space soldier ranger things. They work for some intergalactic agency and have to do missions. In space! Pretty standard police stuff. We get to see them doing some space mission after Valerian wakes up from a space dream where a planet of blue things get wrecked super hard.

From this mission, Valerian and Laureline, gain a sweet pearl of extreme energetic power, and a cool little lizard who makes copies of anything it eats. I think you all can put two and two together to see why this is an intense combination. And this is the cause of all of their problems. Because when they return back to Alpha (aka the City of a Thousand Planets. A floating, giant space station that has inhabitants from all over to create one massive entity in unity), shit starts hitting the fan. A wiped out race of aliens appear and steal the lizard, but they use non lethal means. The main captain is taken and people who have no idea what is going on are in charge.

But don’t worry. We have Valerian and Laureline, who will take turns saving each other, to get to the bottom of this mess.

Also featuring Alain Chabat, Clive Owen, Elizabeth Debicki, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, John Goodman, Kris Wu, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rihanna, Rutger Hauer, and Sam Spruell.

Aliens
Stare deeply into the eyes of the Blue Dhalsim.

I have put off writing this review for over a week. I have reviews that come out next week that I have already written before this one, it is just so hard.

The thoughts I had when I left the theater: Well, I don’t hate it. But do I love it? Is it average?

It is so damn hard to tell. There is quite a lot for someone to like in this film, and almost an equal number to dislike. So…Here…we…go!

Dislikes:

  • DeHaan is not a bad actor, but he is not great in this film. Far too much of his dialogue is spent trying to badly woo Delevingne and it just drags on. His voice is way too gruff for his boyish face, like he is trying to play Batman. He worked for A Cure For Wellness, but it is hard to like him here.
  • Delevingne, for the most part, is a bad actress. She isn’t great here either, but they don’t give her a lot to work with. Her character is weakly written, despite being an integral part of the team. Her name should be part of the movie, not just focused on the boy hero. But also, it is like her role is one entire eye roll.
  • Goodman was wasted in this film, his voice was great for the character, but they implied he would have a bigger impact on the movie and then he…never came back.
  • The Alpha station got really annoying. All of these special biomes and places to live, so of course we have a couple parts of the plot where our characters can rush through EVERY SINGLE ONE MENTIONED. Doing the “look at all the stuff in here!” and making sure it all matters instead of just keeping it small scale and letting stuff happen in the future. I had a similar issue with Zootopia, all these biomes, MAKE SURE WE HIT THEM ALL.
  • Related to points 1 and 2, Delevingne and DeHaan had terrible chemistry.

Likes:

  • What a goddamn introduction to he film. A nice, beach and ocean planet. A tribe of native aliens. In my screener there was a mess up with the intro, where we couldn’t see their dialogue and subtitles, and guess what, IT WASN’T NECESSARY. A story was told, it was awe inspiring, it was great, quality, film.
  • The CGI for the most part was always on par as well. A ton of visual effects and they helped the universe, they didn’t hurt it. A lot of unique elements too, maybe from the comic, maybe not, but it was pleasing to look at.
  • The plot wasn’t terrible. It had quite a few good elements and a lot of random twists in the middle. No one would guess where this film is going, even if you could guess where it ends.
  • This hurts to say this, which makes it more true. Rihanna was in this film, and her character was fun. It was fun and Rihanna was completely fine in it. She didn’t take away from the movie, although how she exited the movie seemed unnecessary.

Honestly, I could keep going on and on about this movie. What I am left with is realizing this is a step in the right direction for Besson. Another of these films with a more focused story and planet or planets could be amazing. And I wouldn’t even care if he replaced the leads, I swear. It is not terrible, despite pretty bad elements. It is just totally okay.

2 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/valerian-and-the-city-of-a-thousand-planets

Jul 18

The Shack

This is part of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Week at Gorgon Reviews!

Another film to come out in March that I missed, due to the extreme circumstances of birthday nonsense that incorporates that month of my life, when I first saw the trailer for The Shack, I didn’t realize it was a religious film.

Yes, even though there was an original song by Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, I didn’t realize it was a religious film. Even though it came out right around Easter, I didn’t realize it was a religious film. Even though it was about death and overcoming grief, I didn’t realize it was a religious film.

I just thought it was a fantasy film. But when I had to see the trailer a second time my wife was there and told me. Whoops. Well, religious films are still fantasy films, so it is relevant enough for me to finally watch it.

Group
Worst superhero team ever?

Willie (Tim McGraw) gets to serve as our narrator and local church pastor for this film, so I know you are stoked.

This film is instead about Mack Phillips (Sam Worthington), a successful family man at some job, with his wife Nan (Radha Mitchell), and three kids Kate (Megan Charpentier), Josh (Gage Munroe), and Missy (Amélie Eve). Mack had a rough life growing up, when he was a kid (Carson Reaume), he lived with his alcoholic father (Derek Hamilton) and mother. The dad got angry a whole lot, beat up the mom, and beat up Mack. When Mack tried to tell the church, he just got beat up more. Sucks a whole lot.

Either way now he is a happy dad. They still go to church, but he isn’t fully into Jesus like his wife. On a camping trip where Nan cannot make it, he is enjoying life with his three kids. When his two oldest get into an accident on the lake, Mack rushes into the water to save them, hooray big hero! But now his daughter, Missy, is missing.

He was barely in the water, it was only a few minutes, yet she is gone and he and the other campers cannot find her anywhere. The police believe it to be a serial killer (!) in the area, who has been taking girls. Days later, they find her clothes and blood in a shack, no real resolution. Holy crap!

Now, months later, it is winter, and of course Mack is still upset. His whole family is, but Mack is more upset at the big guy upstairs. He ends up getting a note to go back to the Shack, and against the wishes of his pastor, he heads up alone, thinking it is the serial killer and he wants revenge.

Instead, he finds a magical cabin, with representatives from heaven who want him to heal. Featuring Octavia Spencer as God, Avraham Aviv Alush as Jesus, and Sumire Matsubara as the Holy Spirit. Also Alice Braga as some sort of judger and Graham Greene also as God.

Cook
They heal his soul the southern way, with biscuits.

A lot of the problems/issues that the movie have, problems with story structure and more, can unfortunately be written away by spiritual magic. Dream sequences and all of that jazz. Because while watching it, the viewer should be saying “Hey, how can he spend multiple days up here with no one knowing where he is?…Oh. Because it was maybe all in his head real time wise and he never made it to the Shack? Gotcha.”

And that takes away from so much. If they dealt with the real consequences of him disappearing it would have added some more real drama to the film. But it gets swept under the rug, we get an hour plus of movie and “growth” from Mack that happens in the span of apparently getting into a car accident and waking up in a hospital. How convenient.

The main message of the film is to live a better life, you need to forgive and forget the bad things and focus on the good. But they chose a really messed up person to preach this too. Yes, they are saying to forgive and forget the dad who beat them. They are saying to forgive and forget a serial killer for abducting, killing, and who knows what else his tiny girl.

I’m sorry, but no. There are bad things in the world, and this film says it is okay, because there are still good things in your life and Heaven awaits. That is a bad message to pass on.

Also, Spencer gets to play neighborly helper woman again, but also as God. She just can’t get a typecasted break. At least the Jesus character looks more Jesus-y than normal.

0 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/the-shack

Jul 17

Life

This is part of Fantasy and Sci-Fi Week at Gorgon Reviews!

Look, I am a big fan of all of these classic board games being turned into movies. Clue is the golden standard, and that was over thirty years ago. So why not a movie about the board game Life?

The good news about Life is that it is so expansive of a game, you can basically make it about anything, as along as it involves growing up, getting a job and family, a career, and eventually retiring. Anything could happen to you in between that. You could win a Nobel Prize! You could play the stock market. You could just not at all do anything worth while.

As long as you don’t set it in a fantasy realm, or in outer space, or anything like that, it could count as a movie about the board game.

Calvin
What the fuck is this? Is this in Millionaire Estates?

Aboard the ISS, we got a lovely crew of people, crewing around, doing science, being astronauts. They grab a probe returning from Mars, hoping to analyze some soil and maybe see if they can find life. And guess what! They do! A tiny tiny microorganism, but it is life not from Earth. Hooray science!

Everyone is stoked, the world is stoked, some kid wins a contest and names it Calvin, big celebration, we are not alone! But maybe w should be alone?

Things start to go wrong on the space station. Calvin starts to grow, Calvin starts to show intelligence, and Calvin needs to eat to survive whatever he can on the ship. And you know who that means.

It means these people! Hiroyuki Sanada, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds.

Finaltwo
The poor ISS gets destroyed and fucked up in so many different movies.

Obviously this has nothing to do with the board game, that is just a joke, but this film still has a shitty title. Life is too vague, has certainly been a title before, and isn’t as ominous as they had hoped.

I first avoided this film because it came out on my birthday, and everyone knew that Power Rangers was the bigger story there. Also despite having actors I knew in it, I thought there was not way it would be a good film.

And guess what? I actually did enjoy it. Sure, on the surface, it is basically just the movie Alien, but with a different Alien and not in deep space. Actually, it is extremely similar to Alien, including having people ignoring quarantine rules in order to doom everyone. However, we don’t get a badass female protagonist, we just get people continually sacrificing themselves for the greater good of humanity.

Despite its lack of originality, I still enjoyed it. The ending had me very tense and on the edge of my seat. The acting from Gyllenhaal and Ferguson was decent enough, and Sanada’s character made me feel incredibly sad.

I would say objectively it is not a bad thriller/horror film at all. It does get a bit messy at points, a little bit confusing not being familiar with the layout or everything they are talking about. There are plenty of worse films out there that won’t scare you, so might as well give Life a shot.

3 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/life

Jul 14

The Journey

Think about a movie called The Journey. What sort of genre would you think that movie is?

Well, first, I know I would think of maybe…adventure? Yeah. Adventure. If not an adventure film, maybe a war/action movie. If not a war/action movie, then something spiritual, a religious film. If you thought historical drama, I would think you were a liar, and I would no longer make bets with you.

And that is what The Journey is. A “True story” or, a true-ish story. But I will get into detail on that.

Walk
The journey they speak of is more of a drive and a walk through the woods.

Northern Ireland and Ireland have had a lot of issues in the past. Religious stuff which led to extremism which led to people bombing places, straight up government based military groups, to get people to see different points of view and you know…go on a war basically. It also led to this song from The Irish Rovers about a dysfunctional marriage.

This is set after a lot of the physical conflict, when people were still pissed, in the mid-2000’s. The territories were on the verge of creating a new agreement, to put a lot of the past behind them. Not rejoin as one unified country or anything, but at least start working together better and look more unified (I think, hard for me to tell as a non European).

Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) is the head of the Catholic people, and Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney), former member of the IRA, is I guess leader of the protestants now. Honestly the whole thing is fuzzy to me what their titles are, but they have the ability to enact change. On the verge of the agreement being signed, Paisley has to return to his home for a celebration on his 50th Wedding Anniversary. The other side is worried that when he gets back with his people, they will convince him that the agreement is bad and he will pull out last minute.

Thank the weather gods, they have cancelled Paisley’s flight, and to show a sign of goodwill, the other side agrees to let him use their plane in Edinburgh for him to get home. But, McGuinness argues he must join him on the trip. Due to rules of travel, if both leaders are in the same vehicle, it is unlikely that anyone will try something nefarious. McGuinness and others think that if they get Paisley talking, they can find common interests between them and really work out and finalize this agreement.

The problem is, these gentlemen have never talked before in their lives. But this journey to their airport, and plane ride, will be their last chance to pull this thing together.

Also starring Freddie Highmore, John Hurt, Toby Stephens, Ian McElhinney, Ian Beattie, and Barry Ward.

Bate
And if they don’t agree quickly, Norman Bates will finish the job!

In real life, this agreement did take place. And in real life, these two people never talked to each other or cared for each other. In real life, they did take a car ride and plane ride together, and in real life, they suddenly became really close friends. And in real life, both of them are now dead.

The things that might not be real include their stops on their journey and the events that happened to them along the way, like the flat tire. The things that definitely did not occur is any of the conversation they decided to highlight in the film. It is a complete guess, it is where the storytellers can become storytellers. To guess the sort of conversation these great men might have had, how they would have acted towards each other, and how they would have slowly come to terms.

I am not saying it is bad that they are guessing, just setting the picture, because I obviously don’t need my movies to be 100% factual all the time. I do like my movies to be entertaining, or at the very least feature some nice acting moments.

I went in expecting I would be bored out of my mind throughout this film, but it surprisingly kept my interest once it got going. It wasn’t entirely easy to follow all the time, because of referring back to historical events that have no effect on my upbringing, but that is okay. I became involved with what they were saying and felt like a passenger in the vehicle.

And yet I could still only describe this film as okay. I would never watch it again, and I would never really recommend it to anyone. Spall and Meaney do some pretty good acting based on their previous works that I know of, and definitely give it their best jobs. But I am still just left asking why this movie was made, as, historical, this significance doesn’t mean squat to me.

2 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/the-journey

Jul 13

The LEGO Batman Movie

If you are new here, I have rallied against animated films so far this year. We just had a summer with Cars 3 and Despicable Me 3, both incredibly bad to super bad films. And these are our tent pole films for the year more or less!

There is very little hope of animated films saving it by the end of the year, but I openly acknowledge that I had not yet seen The LEGO Batman Movie. I know a lot of people enjoyed it, our first LEGO movie since The LEGO Movie.

But I am one of the people who only gave The LEGO Movie a 3 out of 4, it was no where close to being my favorite animated movie of the year, but it was quality and hilarious, I give you that. Despite that, I was never looking forward to this movie. I was disappointed to hear it as a sequel.

I want some new original LEGO content, not relying specifically (mostly?) on pop culture content from a single established franchise. I also acknowledge that the previous LEGO film was FULL of pop culture content, but it wasn’t entirely. This just feels…well, unoriginal.

Robin
Now that brightly colored chap, he seems like a great way to take any brooding franchise.

Ah yes, Gotham, city of villains and crime and 1 super rich dude and some vigilantism. Batman (Will Arnett) is the best and everyone loves him! But he lives a life alone, mostly hanging out in his house, sometimes interacting with Alfred (Ralph Fiennes). But you know, just being a lone with all his money, cool gadgets, and lobsters.

He is still really good at fighting crime though, and even when the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) gets a shit ton of villains to work together to blow up the city, Batman still stops them. Even worse, Batman refuses to acknowledge the Joker as his greatest villain, his foil, his reason for Batmanning. So now the Joker feels bad. Batman just shuts the door on everyone!

However, with a new commissioner in Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), they are going to focus less on Batman and more on actually catching these bad guys who still terrorize the streets. And you know, maybe focus on getting them fixed instead of just imprisoned. And shit, it starts to work, so Batman has even less to do and no one to hang out with in his increased downtime. Except for Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), whom he accidentally adopted.

Of course eventually some stuff happens and things get really bad, but Batman has to learn to work with others if he is going to defeat this new threat!

Featuring an incredible slew of famous people doing extremely minor voices, because YOLO. Seriously, most of these people have like, 1-2 lines, or grunts, or one scene.Again most, there are like two people thrown in here who have slightly more lines. Totally pointless for the most part still, so, whatever. We got Adam DeVine, Billy Dee Williams, Channing Tatum, Conan O’Brien, Doug Benson, Eddie Izzard, Ellie Kemper, Hector Elizondo, Jason Mantzoukas, Jemaine Clement, Jenny Slate, Jonah Hill, Kate Micucci, Mariah Carey, Riki Lindhome, Seth Green, and Zoe Kravitz.

Joker
And just think, that wall of text is just the famous people you know who did voices.

Right away in the film, we get introduced to the Joker and his plans to take over Gotham once and for all, with a giant team of villains on his side, which are all presumably real Batman villains. Action, fighting extreme. I was shocked it happened so early, but since this film mostly deals with Batman’s loneliness, we needed to just get him doing Batman stuff, so we could see him existing waiting to do more Batman stuff.

And that part was just…okay. It didn’t connect with me on an emotional level or anything, because this is a film focused on comedy, so it went for quick jokes instead. And to contrast the opening, the ending is long and even more action packed. Even more villains, many more than you’d expect in a Batman movie, and explosions, and action and…

Being overwhelmed. That is what this movie felt like. It went to the extremes early on, then it went to the extremes in the end. In the middle, it is mostly lowkey, plot stuff. My body didn’t enjoy the “rollercoaster”. It failed to find a middle ground, and frankly, basically all of the action felt so excessive that it was not enjoyable from my point of view.

The best parts of the film were just Batman interacting with Robin and Barbara, regular dialogue for regular jokes. But the majority of the plot was off, along with my earlier complaint. It was an okay film when it comes to entertainment, but not one I am rushing off to buy and talk about over and over, like The LEGO Movie.

And now, also this year, we have The LEGO Ninjago Movie? This is based on their own IP, so hopefully they stick to their own stories to give a good film and don’t rely so heavily on other franchises pop culture references.

2 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/the-lego-batman-movie

Jul 12

Tour De Pharmacy

A couple years ago, I saw an ad for 7 Days in Hell while using HBO and I was instantly drawn in. I had to watch that movie RIGHT AWAY and review it ASAP. It looked magicial, and really, it was.

I didn’t know it was so short, only 40 minutes. I didn’t know it was to poke fun at the ESPN documentary series. But I went in, it was short, but I still called it a film and had an okay review.

And now years later, I saw an ad for Tour De Pharmacy. This time I was older, a bit wiser, a bit smarter, and a bit less repetitive. I knew what I was getting in to, and thus I was excited. Why can’t lightning hit twice?

Bikes
And look, we have more athletes now than a single tennis match!

Tour De Pharmacy tells the story of the 1982 Tour De France, and all of the bizarre happenings that occurred during the race. Including the first time that someone died on the race!

Due to plot reasons, a lot of bicyclists in the race ended up getting eliminated really early on, as it turned out they paid bribes in order to avoid being drug tested. Like, a lot, a lot. As in, only five bikers remained.

We had Slim Robinson (Daveed Diggs / Danny Glover), nephew of Jackie Robinson, who wanted to be the first black athlete in some sport, so he was the first black athlete to compete in the Tour De France! There was Adriana Baton (Freddie Highmore / Julia Ormond), the first woman to compete in the race, but no one knew it at the time, as she pretended to be a man in order to qualify. There is also Marty Hass (Andy Samberg / Jeff Goldbloom), who is actually the first African to compete in the race. Yes he is white, and was an aristocrat, and it pisses off a lot of people that he has taken that first away.

The other two members of the pack were Juju Pepe (Orlando Bloom), a native Frenchman and actual famous bike rider, and Gustav Ditters (John Cena / Dolph Lundgren), a giant muscle man who didn’t fit the normal physiques that one would expect from a bicyclist. Along for the ride is Rex Honeycut (James Marsden), a journalist who will bike alongside the pack, in order to give in person interviews as the race happens!

This also features a slew of other actors, some playing themselves, to tell the story of the 1982 Tour De France: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kevin Bacon, Lance Armstrong, Maya Rudolph, Mike Tyson, Will Forte, and narrated by Jon Hamm.

Cena
The more arm muscles have, the faster you go on a bike. It’s fucking science!

If you liked 7 Days in Hell, you will like this movie! If you didn’t, you won’t. Pretty simple. Of course, a whole mess of you might not have seen the first one, so I still have to talk.

Honestly, this is just an absurd parody movie, I love it. It is short, so some of their jokes and moments don’t ever get to go into depth, and that is probably where it excels. After all, there is only so much stupid stuff they can throw in it before a viewer might get tired of it all. I think it was just the right length and zany to amuse the shit out of me, possible amuse the shit out of me over multiple viewings.

Now, despite that? Yeah, there are still some dull parts as well. The film even comments on it, as there were long boring stretches in the actual race that caused viewership to drop tremendously, in the fictional recounting. Making it meta and commenting on the progressiveness however, still didn’t do it for me.

Also, well fucking done Lance Armstrong. His role as hidden informant was a joke that just kept on giving, it surprisingly never got stale. All of the cameos were pretty funny.

Tour De Pharmacy is a relatively smart and quick laugh thrill ride, with only a few moments of slowed traffic to catch your breath.

3 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/tour-de-pharmacy

Jul 11

American Anarchist

American Anarchist is a title I can get behind. I know, I know, movies that are two word phrases with the first word American are goddamn everywhere. At some point, movie studios decided these were the best sort of movies and it became overused and now it is almost generic. I currently have 9 reviews that begin with the word American, which is absurd (and yes this will make 10). I have more reviews of movies that begin with American than I do with the word Harry!

I digress, let’s talk about American Anarchist. This title really works because it is a bit ironic. Yes, technically, you can be American and an anarchist as the same time, but it is odd to rally against having a government at all, when that is what technically makes us qualify as “Americans”.

And who do you think of when you hear Anarchy? Is it the Joker? Is it V? Is it the hacker group Anonymous? Or is it William Powell?

No, probably not William Powell, but he is a pretty big name. He grew up in the UK despite being American, then moved back here as a teenager. He grew up here during the 1960’s, through the protests, through the police state feel, and he was angry and he wanted to change things. He thought that the people should fight back and in case they did, he wanted to make a guide for them to do that.

He worked in an indie book store, and going through their military books and research in the library, he put together a manual for military tactics, making drugs, and making homemade bombs, among other things. He also filled it with rhetoric about freedoms and his own thoughts. He was able to find a publisher, and in 1971, The Anarchist Cookbook was born.

Moneyshot
Oh goodness, this is the money shot of the documentary right here.

So why haven’t you heard of the author? If he is still alive, why hasn’t he been an outspoken member of the media about war and the government? Well, first of all, unfortunately, Powell passed away from a heart attack exactly a year ago today (July 11, 2016), after this documentary was filmed.

Secondly, Powell grew up. He didn’t care much for the book, he didn’t have the copyright rights (his publisher did) so he couldn’t stop the book if he tried. He left the country and became a teacher in Africa and Asia, trying to make the world a better place on terms he could handle. He, in all honesty, has done the right thing.

Thirdly, he doesn’t have a wikipedia page. He has a blurb on the Cookbook page, and if you go to his “page” it will just redirect you to the book. So he is a bit of a mysterious fellow.

This documentary gives a nice look at his history and inspirations, but it also gives us a look on his opinions NOW and how his thoughts have maybe changed since he was a teenager. We get real, personal feeling conversations between him and the director, Charlie Siskel (who did Finding Vivian Maier), so much that the director almost becomes a character in this story as well. Because Powell is a smart man, he doesn’t let his emotions take over him and he actively fights against Siskel as Siskel tries to get a “gotcha!” moment for the camera.

It makes the whole thing feel more…real. I am glad Siskel kept it in, it makes him look like an asshole, a guy who just prods way too much. And honestly, I gained a lot of respect for Powell, who I also never heard about before this documentary.

This documentary did what great documentaries, in my mind, are supposed to do. They highlight a real person or event who is NOT already super well known, and they do it in a way to make the watcher interested in the story. Not every real person needs a documentary, but with the life Powell led and the unfortunate negative impact he had on the world, he definitely deserved this one.

4 out of 4.

Permanent link to this article: http://gorgonreviews.com/american-anarchist

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