The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

I saw a trailer for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, I was astounded by the screen in front of me.

I honestly didn’t know this was a movie coming out, and my first impression was, “…is this another goddamn Alice in Wonderland movie sneaking its way out?”

I have an easily hate relationship with those two movies. Alice in Wonderland was telling a story so awkward, because it decided to be a secret sequel, and Through the Looking Glass is just legit one of the worst films I have ever seen.

This film just seemed to be equally CGI heavy, with a British slant, and some sort of fantasy uncomfortable world.

But why a CGI fantasy movie about the nutcracker? Was there clammoring for a nutcracker based movie? I mean, it seems to only be loosely based on the play/ballet as well. It certainly is not going to be a ballet showcase. So, a serious non dancing version of a famous dance? Like…Why.

That would be like taking a Tony award winning musical and turning it into a not really musical movie. A very poor decision.

Group
Speaking of poor decisions…the agents of these famous people!

This yarn is about a girl named Clara (Mackenzie Foy) who is really smart and charming in her own way. The kind of girl that boys will chase later in life when she is successful, not when boys are stupid and in school. Her mom died in the last year, and that made things really sad. She has an older sister (Ellie Bamber), a younger brother (Tom Sweet), and a dad (Matthew Macfadyen) who is trying to keep things normal by avoiding the issue almost completely.

So they are taken to a big Christmas Eve ball party for their British aristocratic friends and neighbors. Clara had received an early present before the ball of an egg with a lock, but no key. Her mom had left it for her before she died. Clara is more focused on the key than silly dances.

And sure enough, thanks to the plot, at some point Clara wanders into a different wintry world. No, this is not a world with lions and witches and wardrobes. This one has nutcrackers, mice that seem extremely intelligent, toy soldiers, and sugar plum fairies (Keira Knightley). A world of four lands that have come together to be swell together, or something. A land that her mom used to be the queen of and now it is her time to lead! Once she gets the key and fixes a few issues of course.

Also starring Eugenio Derbez, Richard E. Grant, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and also Jayden Fowora-Knight as a major role, his second role after Boy Playing Tennis in Ready Player One.

Rats
“Go my rat minions! Go and steal the cheese!”

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms…first, the title is terrible. Honestly, why did they not just call it The Nutcracker? That is good, iconic enough, and can get those ballet people in. This title is too hard. THE nutcracker and THE four realms. The first THE could be cut out and it works better. But they wanted the play title too badly. And the second half? The four realms? That does nothing for anyone.

Alright, this is a movie about the nutcracker and four kingdoms. Will we have very location specific places? Different worlds? One of candy, one flowers, one of ice? Yeah, probably. But guess what. Most of the film that takes place in our magical land, takes place just at a castle and one of the realms that is now forsaken.

I have no clue if the “castle” is actually one of the realms or not. Because we don’t do a damn thing with the other 2-3 realms. Why the fuck is the title and advertising focusing on four realms, when we don’t even get to play in four realms? What are they setting up? What is the point?

And the point is nothing. There seems to be very little point in this movie. I guess it is about a young girl who has to use her daring and smarts to save the day. Save the day of a fantasy kingdom that has relatively low stakes. And that effects her regular life about zero. Where no one is close to dying, and everything just feels…flighty.

Speaking of flighty, the only strong connection to the Nutcracker ballet (besides aspects of the story) is the soundtrack, which features music from the nutracker. Some of it is obvious, a lot you may not notice, but they did not fit the story that great. If the music takes out of the story, then it might not be doing its job.

Near the end, a scene with a giant robot fighting toy soldiers (sigh, yes) spliced with other action shenanigans ends up feeling dead. It felt like an unfinished movie. There was no sense of dread or suspense, and it just didn’t feel like it matched what was supposed to be an intense scene.

And you know what? To top it all off? There was a small dance scene to music, where the characters involved were dancing a waltz. But the music was not a waltz song. Come on guys. You’re not even trying.

This film is forgettable, regrettable, and probably something that Disney is really going to bury in the future. I expect no sequels, no great toy tie ins, and just a lot of disappointment from everyone involved.

0 out of 4.

Logan

I am quite weary over Wolverine solo films at this point. The first one was utter crap, and The Wolverine was just regular crap. That’s right, neither of them were good.

And honestly, words like Hugh Jackman retiring from the role don’t mean a lot to me either. Actors have said that in the past and lied. The rating going to R after the success of Deadpool makes me worried it isn’t that way due to necessity, but because it can earn them some money.

Look, I just want a good story. A good story, some good action, and some good acting. Okay, apparently I just want a good movie. I don’t want a convoluted villain story. I don’t want mutants running around with vague powers. I don’t want action for the sake of action.

Just give me a high quality work of art, then I can start the praise. But until the credits roll, Logan will remain skeptical.

Mel Gibson
Deciding to make our hero mimic Mel Gibson was an interesting aspect.

And now, we find ourselves in the future. Not the Days of Future Past future. A simpler future. Where there aren’t a lot of mutants. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is older, more grizzled, and gives very few fucks. He also drives a limo. He now lives in the southwestern United States, in a small farm compound. With an Albino dude, Caliban (Stephen Merchant), who is also a mutant who can sense and detect other mutants.

Oh, and there is also Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). A very old man at this point, his brain isn’t as strong as it used to be. Oh, he is still a telepath. But Alzheimer’s disease is still a thing, so he is prone to memory loss, and seizures. And when he has a seizure, a lot of people suffer.

Also! There are not a lot of mutants in the world left. And mutants have apparently not been born for decades. They are dying out. And Logan is hoping to escape it all, live on the sea, not have to deal with hurting others. Until a girl enters his life. Laura Kinney (Dafne Keen), a young girl who has escaped from a facility in Mexico City and is heading North to Eden, with other children, hoping to free to Canada for safety. Of course, Laura and the other kids are mutants as well. The future of their kind! That isn’t the only thing they have in common. Laura is also Logan’s “daughter.”

Also s tarring Boyd Holbrook, Daniel Bernhardt, and Richard E. Grant as some bad guys, and Elizabeth Rodriguez as a nurse from the facility.

Smile
Aw, she is smiling! How can she be related to that mean old grumpy man?

R rated Wolverine. This is what we wanted. We wanted to see Wolverine go full, well, Wolverine on a group of guys. Slashing throats, stabbing heads, blood flying everywhere, which is what past movies were missing. Wolverine is a weapon, he should be shown how really deadly he is. And this film finally delivers on this promise. Right at the start, he has to take out a group of thugs trying to rob and murder him, and we get claws through skulls, blood spraying, limbs off, the whole thing.

Not that excessive is the only violence we need to earn this R rated. There are also boobs and at least five fucks! Look at how R that is!

Aside from the rating, Logan also features something that other Wolverine films do not. A decent story AND decent acting. Stewart helps that. Jackman and Stewart brought their A-Game. Merchant added a weird and nice to the story, despite a smaller role. Keen ended up being a tiny power house in this film, growling and jumping around. She is the little ball of hate we had always hoped for with Wolverine (since Jackman is actually so god damn tall).

It isn’t a perfect plot, but there are some great surprises along the way. We have weaker villains of course, some unexplained dilemmas to create mystery, and annoying scenes where mutants are running for too long before attempting to fight back. But the film also spends a lot of time world building. Taking place in the future, it isn’t extremely tech heavy, but there are minor improvements around and everything seems arid and dry. Global Warming is a bitch. We also have self driving trucks! And extreme genetic farming!

Logan is definitely the Wolverine film we needed, and a fitting send off for Jackman and Stewart. The former wanting to retire from the role, the latter being old and probably just not necessary for any future films. Definitely go see Logan, just don’t bring your kids.

3 out of 4.

Jackie

Has there been any movies out about JFK yet?

Just kidding. Outside of JFK itself, we have had Thirteen Days, Bubba Ho-Tep (technically), and recently we had Parkland, about his assassination.

But what is with all the focus on the dead president? What about the lives that were left behind?

Jackie wants to give us an important look on his wife, Jacqueline, also told from the perspective of her life before, during, and after the assassination on her husbands life. And when I say it wants to focus on her, we mean mostly every single possible shot and with her stories.

Blood Red
See? No one else in the camera, this is about Jackie not her husband!

For the story, it takes place after the death of John F. Kennedy (Caspar Phillipson), where Jackie (Natalie Portman) is now living out side of the White House in a big private estate. Some journalist (Billy Crudup) is invited to get an interview/update with her, knowing that she has full control over what actually gets written. And then the stories all come out.

Most of it is about what little time she had in the White House to actually try and make a difference. Jackie under went a full restoration for many parts of the white house, bringing back original antiques. And she also brings back art in the form of live entertainment, musicians at the top of the careers and instrument group, bringing back culture. She even did a show for PBS giving a tour of the White House on those new fangled television sets.

And then there is the death. The after math. Lyndon B. Johnson (John Carroll Lynch) getting sworn into office, dealing with the logistics of a funeral, telling her two kids about what just happened, while also having not a lot of time to suddenly move out of her home. I think it is great that such normal problems can elevate so much when talking the highest government position in our country.

Also featuring Peter Sarsgaard as Bobby Kennedy, Beth Grant as Lady Bird Johnson, John Hurt as a priest, and Greta Gerwig, Mac Casella, and Richard E. Grant.

Blood
If you look close, one of these pictures is a blood red dress, the other just has red blood on it.

Jackie was not what I expected. A drama about a woman in distress. Sure, technically that is what the film delivered. But it had another element attached. A scary element. And it all started before the first real frame. The film began with a dark screen and incredibly jarring music. It made me nervous, not just in its intensity but thinking this film might turn into a real art house flick. The same sounds continue at various parts of the movie, adding a sense of panic to a story that you already know the outcome.

Portman was of course superb. I quickly forgot it was her, she embraced Jackie with her voice, her smile, and even down to the way she presented herself in front of others. I am weaker at the Best Women acting categories (like every year), but I have to imagine her chances are the highest for the Academy. They love biopics.

I was also impressed with Sarsgaard as Bobby Kennedy in this movie. I don’t know a lot about him, I haven’t even watched Bobby, but he did a significant amount in this movie to not make this 100% about Jackie. I also wonder if John Carroll Lynch ever thought he would get to play a real US President in a film one day.

Jackie is not your standard biopic. Is it downright almost scary at points and shows that not all griefs are handled equally.

3 out of 4.

Dom Hemingway

The first and only time I heard about the movie Dom Hemingway was as a trailer before The Grand Budapest Hotel. The latter movie was fantastic, so that felt like a good sign for Dom Hemingway.

But the trailer? The trailer made me want to see Dom Hemingway right after I watched my Wes Anderson picture. You should watch the trailer right now. t

So, a few months and a move later, I can watch hopefully a very interesting character driven movie.

Public Drinker
With characters who drink in the public with no regards to laws or facial hair restrictions!

Dom (Jude Law) has been in prison a long time, twelve years in fact. He hasn’t said a word about his former boss after the gig went south, but he is still kind of pissed over it all. Dom used to be the best safe cracker in the biz, now he is stuck in prison, missing his wife who died of cancer and daughter who was just a teenager when he left.

But then the call came through. Dom is free to go. So he reconnects with his old buddy Dickie (Richard E. Grant) and demands that he go see his old boss Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir) to get the money he is owed, plus interest, and maybe a little bit something extra for keeping quiet for so long.

But Dom? He is a drinker and a drug user. He has a lot of sex and rock and roll to catch up on thanks to the last twelve years, and his mouth and filthy habits might get the best of him. Like when he sees Paolina (Madalina Diana Ghenea), Mr. Fontaine’s girlfriend. Smoking. He wants that. He also wants to re-kindle the relationship with his daughter, Evelyn (Emilia Clarke). He also wants a shit ton of money and to never stop partying.

Good gosh, what will become of this sad little man? Also starring Kerry Condon as a very strange extra role and Jumayne Hunter as a new gang leader who might need a safe cracker.

Safecracker
Whatever it takes. That safe is getting opened. Maybe.

Dom Hemingway started out as everything I had hoped it would. A 1-3 minute conversation from Dom to what appeared to be the camera about his penis and how hard it was. Yes. That is exactly what I need.

But seriously, the beginning of the movie was fantastic. Dom living life up large, all the way to getting to Mr. Fontaine’s house. I thought I was on a wild ride that wouldn’t stop. Then a small twist happened, and the rest of the movie began to change as a result. Dom was left a broken shell of a man who had lost his way, with nothing going right. That part, although still acted really well, just kind of felt off from the first half. The second half definitely had some exciting moments, but it felt a bit slower and less exciting than the first half.

So that is where I am at. Jude Law? Fan-fucking-tastic. Really great. He killed this character and it was great. I want more Dom Hemmingway. I want a movie where he is just hanging out in prison for twelve years. I don’t want any character development, I just want the black comedy that I knew this thing could be.

The movie delivers on some aspects, but the ending just…loses so much interest for me. Hard to describe. But I think it failed to maintain the high bars it set early on.

2 out of 4.

Love Hurts

Sometimes you just have to watch all of the titles that begin with Love. Turns out there is a lot of these bad boys, and I don’t mean overall, just the last few years. Because if you don’t believe in love, you can’t be bohemian. Some say it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. This movie says fuck that. Losing a love, sucks. It hurts. Love Hurts.

Grant
And…and twins!

This movie is about that weird moment in a marriage when the kids have all moved on and again, it is just you and your spouse. Apparently a lot of relationships only stay together for the kids and end once they are gone and they are both left to only spending time with each other. Some thrive at the freedom, and some get complacent.

Richard E. Grant plays the husband and apparently is pretty boring. His wife, Carrie-Anne Moss (yes, that girl from The Matrix), leaves him to live her life, unable to stand that house any more. Well that sucks. That makes him all depressed.

Now that his son, Johnny Pacar, is off at college, he has no one and is in a big rut. If you thought he was boring before, just you wait! But his son feels bad and tries to get him back on the market and into the social world. Not only does he take a liking to it, but he starts to kick its ass.

He finds FOUR women to fill his void and time with. Jenna Elfman, his nurse, who likes to dance. Janeane Garofalo, his personal trainer, who likes to…be Jewish I guess. And also two twins, who sing karaoke. TWINS GUYS. That stuff is so hard to do. Mostly because in real life it is gross, because twins = related. But still.

But then a funny thing happens. His son, in college, life ahead of him, falls in love. Shit. Doesn’t he know? Dating around is the way to go, not one girl. That shit is for boring people! Or will his attempts to help his son win the girl of his dreams let him realize who he really loves after all? (Yes)

Moss
“Oh! I get it! That is his wife!” – Gorgon Reviews reader.

Somehow, in all of the crap I have picked up this week, this movie has been the best. I was getting jaded, in that I had previously watched three movies that all lacked any reason for me to like them, but this one was thankfully different. I have never heard of the main guy before, but his character and his mid life crises was actually pretty fun to watch. The beginning wasn’t very good, but once he started getting into the social scene, and living life, and realizing how much he missed his wife, it was much better.

If you can only have 2/3 of your movie be good, having it be the last 2/3 doesn’t hurt (but I think the first and last third are the best. Get em hooked, make em want to leave, then punch them in the face with awesome. That is what I always say). We can all agree that it is at least better than only the first 2/3 being good.

2 out of 4.