Hotel Artemis

Hotel Artemis started advertising not that long ago and then went really hard at it. I avoided watching any trailers, but it did have a ton of posters, character spotlights, and general social media campaign.

I definitely thought and just assumed it was the same hotel in John Wick: Chapter 2, because again, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to it.

I also went in expecting a shoot out, broken rules, high famous people death count, and so on.

Really, the only reason I was interested in the movie was due to the people acting in it.

Blooming
Including this formerly elusive fucker who is trying to be in everything the last year.

Hotel Artemis is less a hotel and more a hospital. It is in a penthouse of a large building in Los Angeles and it is a secret organization for criminals. After all, every hospital out there is for the good guys and regular guys, so why not a place for criminals. You cannot just be bad and get in, you have to join their club and pay your membership dues.

Basically, as long as there is an empty room and you are a member, you will have a place to go and get patched up without alerting the authorities. And this film starts with Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) and his brother (Brian Tyree Henry) hurt after a robbery gone wrong making it over to the facilities. It is the future and LA is having big riot problems over clean water, so everyone is on edge.

Thankfully, they get patched up by the Nurse (Jodie Foster) just swell, and just have to wait for a new liver to be created for his brother. They find out that the current patrons of the hotel are not all there by coincidence, and that greater and more deadly stakes are afoot at this place they thought was safe.

Also starring Sofia Boutella, Dave Bautista, Charlie Day, Jeff Goldbloom, Jenny Slate, Kenneth Choi, and Zachary Quinto.

Big Dog Little Dog
Finally, some hired help who can punch and sew.

Hotel Artemis is a film that has some cool and interesting ideas, but never really reaches its goals.

The plot is a bit shit. We have good reasons for future riots, those are believable, but the backstory for the Nurse takes too long to play out despite being one of our major points. The plot line with Boutella was average, and Brown’s was more fleshed out, but still didn’t feel really worth it. Tons of hype around Goldbloom, but in the end it also lacked a huge amount of oomph in the trunk.

It also didn’t have as much action as promised. Sure, we do get a few creative deaths and really well choreographed and decorated rooms, but the action itself is weak. Near the end it looked like there would be two different hallway scenes. One of them was interesting despite the many camera cuts, the other fell completely flat and denied the viewers of a great brawl aspect.

And yet, there are still elements to praise. For example, Foster was completely into this character. She had the quirks, the voice, everything felt unique. Foster transformed herself for this role and really, I couldn’t tell Foster was behind it at all. Probably her best role in over a decade.

Almost all the actors seemed to be acting in ways that were very uncommon for them. Brown doesn’t really play shooting criminal badasses, Day is generally spastic, but this time he was wormy and theoretically “cool” with a different voice, Quinto played a character who was definitely slow witted, and Slate wasn’t completely annoying.

The cast of characters is the reason to watch this movie, but it will unfortunately leave you just watching it once. Too many plot points that don’t go too many places will leave the story forgettable and the idea a wonderful dream.

2 out of 4.

Fahrenheit 451

Without a doubt, Fahrenheit 451 is one of those revered classic novels. It is one of the first dystopian future novels that are now clogging our bookstores, trying to maintain relevancy, and it warned of a specific type of future.

Literary teachers of course loved it, because it talks about a world that is anti-books and free thought, and they want their students to read books! I know I enjoyed it in middle school, and I was able to see parts of the (even old by that time) Fahrenheit 451 movie from the 1960´s.

And it makes sense as a movie. It makes sense for their to be a modern update. So I was excited to find out HBO was giving us a new adaptation. And again, it seems appropriate given the current political landscape.

I couldn´t find a natural way to fit this in, but here is Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury, by Rachel Bloom, before she got TV show famous.

FIre
That song and this movie are HOT!

In the near future, books are OUTLAWED. Why? They are confusing in nature. One person´s text can contradict another. Who knows what to think? It causes confusion, dissent, anger, and separates the population. Instead, the government should let everyone know what they need to know.

This film takes place in Columbus. The firemen of this day and age don´t put out fires, they start them. They are basically celebrities, destroying dissent and burning books if they find a stash, but at this point seeing a real novel is very rare. The world is very digitized. Not only do they have TV´s that are entire walls, they have the news feed on the side of buildings. Everyone is connected to the grid, to the system, and they have three books full of emojis available only.

Guy Montag (Michael B. Jordan) is an up and coming fireman, pretty famous in his community. The crowds love him! He is probably going to be the new fire chief someday, replacing his mentor, Captain Beatty (Michael Shannon).

But when they come across an extremely large stash of books with a stubborn woman, the likes that has never been seen in years. And when she sacrifices her life in the fire in front of the whole world, reciting a strange word, it puts together events that will change the life of…well, at least a few people.

Also starring Sofia Boutella, Saad Siddiqui, Dylan Taylor, and the voice of Cindy Katz.

Love
Flashy techno lights, to make you know its the future.

As a movie reviewer, I try of course to keep the review to just the film if it is based on a book. I try to not read the book before hand. Unfortunately, I have read Fahrenheit 451. Fortunately, I also read it like 15-20 years ago and that was the last time so my memory of the film is very faint and superficial.

I have no idea how much of this film is based on the novel, how much is new due to coming out 60 years later to reach the modern audience or what. I do, however, still have some tastes available to me. And I recognize a bad movie when I see it.

The acting from the two Michael´s isn´t bad, it is just the whole story feels bad. It feels unbelievable and I am never drawn into it. It feels like a movie and not a tragic direction our country is heading towards. A very simplistic and basic retelling of an actual frightening future.

The story could still work, but it needs to be more fleshed out. These feels like a spark notes version of a story and never goes in depth. It needs more fine tuning. It probably should go further from the source material to make it believable.

Either way, I am trying to forget seeing this adaptation as I type, I should be done soon.

3 out of 4.

Atomic Blonde

Atomic! Blonde! Atomic Blonde! Two words that are powerful, in very different ways, and together make something…about the sum of their parts.

It is a new action mostly film, with promises of sleek designs and fights, with a banging sound and wall to wall fun. It is also being noted as female John Wick, or something like that.

I figured Atomic Blonde would be some cool agent nick name, but it isn’t mentioned at all in the film, so really the title is just…mostly random. Strange, but it wouldn’t be the first time it is done. Sort of a call back to 80’s action films in that regard.

Wall
What a big goddamn symbol of separation. And a wall, there is a wall also in this shot.

In November, 1989, the Berlin Wall was a literal and figurative collapse of the separation between East and West Germany, reuniting the country for the first time in decades. But in this world, it almost never happened.

An MI-6 British operative gained access to a file in a watch that had information on every hidden operative on both sides of the Cold War. It would be devastating for anyone to get their hands on it, as they would gain a big advantage over the others. It getting out might also prolong the Cold War, when it is so close to finishing for once.

And then that operative was killed before he could bring it home, putting it in the hands of a Soviet soldier, who didn’t run back to his country, but is trying to get paid the big bucks for the information. So the UK sends in a new agent, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), to find the file before it gets in the wrong hands. They also want her to find information on a double agent, who is secretly leaking information to the Soviets. And all of this quickly, before the Cold War heats up.

She is sent with information to trust no one, not even their pseudo informant, David Percival (James McAvoy), a man who has been working both sides of the wall to gain intel to gain power and prestige. But he is also her only hope to really starting to crack the case. They also need to find Spyglass (Eddie Marsan), a code name for an East German intelligence officer who helped make the list and is the only one really with that information.

The majority of the story is told after the events, with Lorraine retelling it back at headquarters, to a head British dude (Toby Jones) and a member of the CIA (John Goodman).

Other bodies in this film include James Faulkner, Roland Møller, Sofia Boutella, Bill Skarsgård, Sam Hargrave, and Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson.

Cover
Man, having a big head of hair and covering your face really helps input a stunt double.

Coming from a person who didn’t find John Wick or its sequel to be perfect films (although wonderful cinematography, and wonderful action), this did not feel up to the same quality that John Wick gave us. But I am not going to compare it to John Wick, that wouldn’t be fair.

Theron was fine as our lead. A very distant protagonist, she had a lot of secrets in her head, and they showed her definitely to be a bad ass. There was an incredible scene that maybe went on 10 minutes as a long take with several fights and sequences that just felt like it would never end. It was wonderful.

But it lacked a whole lot more in the story department. It should have tried a simpler plot, instead this movie gets tangled up in its own threads, and doesn’t give a completely sensible final product. Twists and turns are one thing, but if they end up at the finale and feel forced and a bit of a let down, then the movie just ends with a pitter.

The average review isn’t just for the ending, but mostly for how the story just failed to get me involved in anyway. There were secrets, but ones I rarely cared about. I didn’t try to look for hints, because I knew they would be mostly red herrings.

But the soundtrack was definitely banging. And again, some of the fight scenes were just extremely well choreographed, so if that is all you care about, you will have a good time. I just think who cares? Big deal, I want more.

2 out of 4.

The Mummy

Holy shit, it is finally here, the Universal Monsters Movie Franchise! Or Dark Universe, as it is going to be called. And this is for real!

Yeah yeah, you heard it was going to start so long ago, but with less buzz, with The Wolfman, But nope. And you were super seriously sure it was starting with Dracula Untold (because they said so), but apparently they changed their mind. They changed their mind DESPITE the ending taking place in modern day, clearly being ready for the Dark Universe.

So this time it is real. They have a name for the franchise. They have photos with actors in it. They have bigger names.

And you thought my intro to The Mummy would just be talking about the last Mummy Franchise? Well, you’re also right. I really enjoyed The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. The third one sucked, besides some yetis. The Scorpion King was fine, its sequels are bad. And I expect this movie to be NOTHING like the previous iteration, so I won’t really compare them.

Mummy
The main difference is wanting to make this Mummy sexier.

Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) is in the military, or some subset of their intelligence. But he is a bit of a rebel. He has taken his underling, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), to a completely different area of Iraq where he believes there is some sweet buried treasure that they can sell on the black market. They are supposed to be 100 miles away on a basic scouting mission, so they kind of are really big jerks here.

And sure enough, there is a goddamn hidden pit/tomb thing here, Egyptian made, despite Iraq being decently far away from Egypt. Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), an Egyptian Archaeologist, believes that there was a Pharaoh princess written out of the records due to shenanigans and this might be her resting place.

Speaking of this princess, Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) lived a long time ago. She was going to be the new Pharaoh when her dad died, and then despite her older, ready age, he went and had another child, a boy. And there went her hopes and dreams. So she made a deal with Set, got all demonic, killed them all and was about to bring Set into the world when she was mummified while alive (kind of BS) and you know, imprisoned far away and for ever.

Ah yes, the plot of the movie. This sounds like a lot, but honestly, this is all the beginning of the movie. What follows including death, destruction, magic shit, mummy curses, the dead rising, jokes, and a whole lot of other mysterious allusions to monsters. All in two hours!

Starring Courtney B. Vance as a general, Marwan Kenzari as a bodyguard, and Russell Crowe as a mysterious doctor dude and sometimes narrator.

Plane
This may look like a romantic moment, but that bitch is about to get sucked out of a plane OMG

I have FAR MORE to talk about with this movie than I had possibly imagined before viewing. There is a lot going on, possibly to its own detriment, certainly that is a negative a lot of people are pointing out. Because it is the first film in this universe (Of which Dark Universe was given its own big logo right after Universal) it has to give a complete film and tease out the future. All without an after credit scene to help them either.

A lot of the film can be described as messy. It jumps across genres in a bad way, it decides to describe the entire mummy backstory through exposition out of nowhere. A poor decision. We also get a bit TOO much teasing of the future. Another character that is relevant to the films appears and does a bit more appearing than I wanted. I wished they teased him more out and didn’t go full on monster so early in this franchise.

And the ending? Well, it puts the film and the universe in an interesting place. But at that point it didn’t go strong enough and didn’t seem to match really what was being built.

But despite all this, I still had a lot of fun. It had a real adventurous feel throughout it. The Mummy was straight up scary at points, raising her own undead army to get some shit done. It wasn’t campy throughout, but there was still some camp. Some of the stunts from Cruise were of course amazing, and just, I am excited for more. I really am.

Oh, less Jake Johnson would have been nice. They really don’t need him in future films. Alas.

3 out of 4.

Star Trek Beyond

I am sad. People die all the time, but now this is my third review post Anton Yelchin death, watching a movie with him in it. And sure, in this one he isn’t the lead. He is a major player, but a relatively minor part with only a few scenes to probably excel in.

Still though, he isn’t the captain.

But going into Star Trek Beyond, I am going in very weary. The last one was interesting, some cool scenes, but overall fell flat as a film. Star Trek Into Darkness was not trying hard enough to be its own movie, relying too heavily on being am unannounced remake.

So I am sad that the Star Trek movies are beginning to feel generic. Sad that Yelchin won’t be in future movies after this one. And sad that this one has unnecessary controversy relating to what George Takei does or does not give his blessing for.

Dance
Although if the film gives me a dance number, I might reconsider the generic comment.

Hey look! The USS Enterprise is still in action, still doing their normal things. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is still captain-y, Spock (Zachary Quinto) is still Vulcan-y, Scotty (Simon Pegg), Checkov (Yelchin), Sulu (John Cho), Bones (Karl Urban), and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) are all their names-y. Especially Bones.

Except there are some boredom pains. Kirk is worried he no longer cares about exploring and is just running with the motions. He is thinking bout switching up to a higher position and getting off the ship. Spock is also worried about his future. He just figured out that Future Spock has died (Fuck, I also forgot Leonard Nemoy had died since the last movie. Fuck fuck fuck). With the Vulcans a dying race, he feels he should get off the ship, help be an ambassador and start a purely Vulcan family.

But first, let’s do one more mission. They have to go into a Nebula to look for a missing space craft because only the Enterprise is built well enough to handle it. Everything is going okay, and hey, a surprise attack! Now the Enterprise is crashed on a planet, the crew separated, and a scary race of aliens who want to take down the Federation for some reason.

One last mission always does this, doesn’t it? Starring Idris Elba as the bad guy, Joe Taslim as the bad guy in second command, and Sofia Boutella as Jaylah, mysterious awesome alien lady.

NCA
And Jaylah is like Jesus, in that she is a savior of the film.

My main thought during the film and after it was over was how much better the title Into Darkness would have fit for this film than the previous film. It was definitely a darker in tone film. The crew was split up, the Enterprise fucked up, many people captured and some red shirts killed. They went into a very dark and scary Nebula to get to the plot. They went INTO DARKNESS.

But sure, a lot of the film is on a bright planet during the day, but still, that title change would be great.

The film itself is silly and full of meh moments. I honestly found myself shaking my head. Elements that were going to explain everything felt short. Action scenes might not have made a lot of sense. There was a very clusterfucky scene involving the enterprise mostly empty on the planet in the middle of the night, was written for explosions and not for anything else to make sense.

Without a few characters I would have been bored out of my mind and given this a pretty failing grade. But Urban as Bones was really on his game in this film and always brought a smile to my face. Boutella as Jaylah was a breath of fresh air, in terms of humor, action, and the whole package. Jaylah rocks, we need more Jaylah.

In fact, that is the only reason I want more Star Trek movies. Let Jaylah star in all of these movies and not get reduced down to a small bit character and I got something interesting to finally watch.

Yelchin has better movies out this year, go watch them instead. There are better action and Sci-Fi movies this year, and obviously better comedies. But if you just want filler, then there are worse ways to go.

2 out of 4.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Normally when movies get pushed back, I wonder and worry. Sure, sometimes it is as simple as not being able to compete with a bigger movie coming out that same day. Sometimes it is due to a production company not wanting to compete with its own product.

I have no idea why Kingsman: The Secret Service got moved from November 2014 to February 2015. February/January are generally deader months where a lot of shit goes, so it feels like the studio just didn’t think it would be good enough to make it. So they put it at the beginning of the year to hide it.

That is clearly what is going on with Jupiter Ascending, which got pushed out of Summer to February, which means they don’t think it will succeed as a blockbuster.

But this is Kingsman, and the trailer actually looked interesting. Damn it. WHY DID THEY MOVE IT?

Hold on to your butts
I can only hold on to my butts so long in anticipation!

Back in the day, Great Britain decided it needed to protect the world. That is a bit of paraphrasing. Either way, they made a secret service, based on the Knights of the Round Table. Each soldier is incredibly well trained, combat, spy gadgets, code names, Gentleman as FUCK, and lives a thankless life as they can never let their existence be known.

Galahad (Colin Firth) didn’t notice a bomb one time, and one of the new recruits died saving his life. He wanted to help out his family, so he gave them a medallion with a number on it to call if he ever needed help.

Now, seventeen or so years later, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is in trouble. Sure, he is a smart lad (British terminology), but he has wasted his life living on the streets. His mom never got over his dad’s death and is now dating an alcoholic. He is involved with gangs. He runs from the cops!

And guess what, he needs help. Quite obviously, Galahad thinks he has what it takes. They need a new member as one of their own was slashed down by rich tech billionaire Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) and his assassin Gazelle (Sofia Boutella).

So you know, training, spy stuff, gadgets, a shit ton of action, and everyone talking super funny.

Also with Jack Davenport as Lancelot, Mark Strong as Merlin, Michael Caine as Arthur, Sophie Cookson as the female main lead/training rival, and Mark Hamill as a professor. I normally wouldn’t even bring him up, but I mean, come on. Mark Hamill.

Brella Ella Ella Eh
“I came here to drink tea and give someone a good going over, and the Americans dumped all of my tea.”

Right before the movie started, I found out it was 129 minutes and thought it was way too long. Now that it finished, I found myself only wanting more.

Kingsman is based on a comic by Mark Millar, the same man who wrote Kick-Ass. Hey. Matthew Vaughn, the director, also did Kick-Ass! How quaint! Matthew Vaughn had to leave Days of Future Past to do this movie, and that is fantastic, because it made it so we got two pretty awesome movies instead of maybe two terrible ones. I can’t believe how entertaining Kingsman ended up being. The action was high octane and firing on all cylinders, and the movie built a bigger body count than you would probably expect.

Samuel L. Jackson was in it, and of course he kicked ass as the villain. He had so much personality, I was almost rooting for him by the end. Colin Firth is usually fantastic when he isn’t in a super serious role as well, and I wonder if he backed out of Paddington to build up his R-Rating persona. Another movie with questionable things going on.

I mean. Honestly, the only thing I found super disappointing, was some really awkward stuff that happened at the end. It just felt so forced and childish. It felt like a 13 year old wrote the last minute, almost. It will be very off-putting to people, even if they enjoy it.

Kingsman may be truly the first very entertaining movie of 2015, and it helped kick start my hope for some unique things to come through the pipeline this year.

3 out of 4.

StreetDance 2

A few months ago, for whatever reason, I decided to watch a shit ton of random dance movies that came out throughout the years, that I of course ignored. These were the non Step-Up movies, basically. I stopped because Battlefield America really messed with my psyche.

But before that abomination happened, I watched StreetDance, a British dance flick from a few years ago that for whatever reason took over a year to make it to the US. It was okay, very Step-Up based plot, but had a lot better music than the other dancing movies so I gave it a a pass. I knew at the time that a sequel, StreetDance 2 already existed, but wasn’t making it to America until over 1.5 years after it was released in the U.K.

Those jerks. Well, today is my day! Come on, mediocre dance movie!

Blindfold
Huh. Blindfold dancing. I wonder if this will be important at all.

Ash (Falk Hentschel) wants to be a dancer. Well, he dances. But he wants to be great. He challenges the Invincible crew who always wins (random dance competition), but while spinning his moves, he falls down and everyone laughs at him.

Everyone buy one man, Eddie (George Sampson) who wants to be his manager? What? That was quick. Yeah, his manager, and he wants to put him as the leader of a crew to challenge Invincible and take em down.

And what a crew they find! During the opening intro to the movie, we see them shuttle all around Europe. They all have clever-ish names too, like… Steph (Stephanie Nguyen), Tino (Samuel Revell), Skorpion (Brice Larrieu), Bam-Bam (Elisabetta Di Carlo), Killa (Ndedi Ma-Sellu) and his son? Junior (Akai Osei-Mansfield), Ali (Ali Ramdani), Legend (Niek Traa), Yo-Yo (Delphine Nguyen), and Terabyte (Kaito Masai).

But besides making the rag taggiest rag tag group of dancers “All around the world!” (re: Europe), Eddie still claims they are missing something. That is because he was in the last movie and knows what’s up. Last movie infused ballet with street dancing. This movie, this movie Eddie wants to bring in some Latin dancing element. So he goes to some big club, and there they meet Eva (Sofia Boutella) and boyyyyyyyyyyyyy can she dance. But can the team accept the fusion? Can Eva? Can her overbearing but wise Uncle Manu (Tom Conti)?

Or will everything work out magically at the last moment?

Fencing
Shit, are they also doing invisible fencing?

Well, I guess all I can do is compare this one to the last one.

It definitely is following the same plot line as the first film, maybe even set in the same world. Dance crew, adding traditional dance element. So that is good. Being similar makes sense in a movie series.

But overall, this one is definitely not as good as the first. The crew is less likable, as there are only 3-4 characters who matter I guess. I only was able to get the whole crew down correctly because I wrote their names during the intro. Most of them didn’t have personalities. Junior? There is a fucking kid on this team? What? Meh.

The music is okay. Still better than a regular dance movie, just not as good as the first. I don’t want to go listen to the soundtrack afterwards.

The ending went as expected. The main chracter is currently most well known as a random bad guy from White House Down. And I guess the dancing was a bit worse than the first film too, with more nonsensical plot moments.

All the words put me towards giving this an overall 1, but it was still okay, and better than a lot more current dance movies. So hey. Take what you will from this.

2 out of 4.