On DVD & Blu-Ray: June 14, 2016

I felt deeply conflicted after walking out of 10 Cloverfield Lane largely due to the fact it doesn't seem to need the word "Cloverfield" in the title. The fact this "distant relative" of a sequel to the 2008 monster movie came out of circumstances that didn't necessarily create it for the purposes of being what it has become becomes a bigger deal the further one gets into the experience of watching the film and the further it gets away from being anything having to do with Cloverfield. If anything, this film is more of a pseudo sequel if you're a fan of the original and go in hoping for more of the same. Gone is the handheld technique that defined the first film and gone are the monsters (for the most part) that made the film and that handheld technique so noteworthy. Instead, what we are given here is a different type of monster movie; one that excels and propels itself forward based solely on the character interactions and lack of awareness from the circumstances in which these characters come. It is the peeling back of these layers that not only reveal to the audience who each of the three main characters might be, but also the revealing of each's true agenda to one another that makes the proceedings completely enrapturing. 10 Cloverfield Lane sustains such momentum for much of its 100-minute running time due to the fact it is a generally great piece of tension-filled filmmaking that elicits grand gestures of horror and the types of thoughts that come with finding one's self in such situations as typically presented in the thriller/horror genre. It is in the last act, the last fifteen minutes or so that the film stumbles in attempting to connect the dots. Maybe I was simply unsatisfied by the answers the film chose to provide and yet the answers provided in the more contained spaces of the film felt satisfactory whereas when the film attempted to expand its horizons things didn't feel as natural as they should. There was certainly a better way to create reason for having the word "Cloverfield" in the title, but it is this inorganic last act that knocks 10 Cloverfield Lane down from something great to a cog in the franchise machine, if not a shiny cog at the very least. Full review here. Video review here. B

There is nothing more pleasing than a product (or an individual for that matter) that is completely self-aware. It just makes everything less awkward when the fated time comes where one must be honest and up front about things. This is what makes both London Has Fallen and its predecessor, Olympus Has Fallen, so easy to like and enjoy. Both films know exactly what they are and strive to be nothing more (or so I thought given the idea of a sequel to such a film would presumably follow the same pattern). As a blatant Die Hard rip-off that means to entertain a certain type of audience primed for a certain type of entertainment London Has Fallen mostly fulfills that quota. Are either of these films necessarily good? No, not really. The dialogue is cheesy, the CGI is cheap, and the plot is almost completely nonsensical, but to say they're not at least a good bit of fun would be a lie. Gerard Butler (bouncing back somewhat from the truly terrible Gods of Egypt) is charismatic enough to lead the charge in this kind of film while the four-man screenwriting team has upped Aaron Eckhart's presidential role considerably so that there is something of a buddy cop dynamic to the proceedings. Oddly enough, while Olympus made $161 million worldwide on $70m the budget for this sequel apparently went up by $35m, but looks a fair amount cheaper. Iranian director Babak Najafi takes over for original helmer Antoine Fuqua and despite having more money, but a broader canvas on which to paint this inevitable, but costly sequel ends up feeling like more of a laborious effort than its rather elementary predecessor. In short, there are times when London Has Fallen does unfortunately forget what it needs to be (a wall to wall actioner) and instead gets too wrapped up in the politics of the plot resulting in a film that's all the more ludicrous while also slowing what should be a breakneck pace. It is when Najafi sticks to what this franchise is known for rather than attempting to broaden its horizons that audiences get what they paid to see. There's a line in the film, some words of wisdom, that go, "never criticize, only encourage," and while this may not apply to film criticism given "critic" is the root word of the job title if I were to have encouraged London Has Fallen to do anything it would have been to stay more true to itself and not try to be more than what it was always destined to be: a painless cash grab. Full review here. Video review here. C-

More than anything Eddie the Eagle, a new inspirational sports dramedy not from Disney, gets away with being as cute as it is largely due to the fact it doesn't come from Disney. Instead, Eddie the Eagle comes to us courtesy of Marv Films, the British production company owned by director Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Kick-Ass, Kingsman). Vaughn, who surprised no one with the quality of Kingsman last year, but did slightly stun a few with its box office capabilities also discovered Taron Egerton in the process. Egerton cements his rising star status in this somewhat unexpected follow-up for the new collaborators. Fortunately, this direction is an interesting one and the film works as there truly hasn't been much in the way of a credible sports story as of late where we don't inherently expect the sentimentality factor to be over the top. With the mouse house not having its hands on this property though, we expect something slightly more mature, something a little closer to reality in the ways of the world and while Eddie the Eagle is certainly cute and even somewhat fantastical in certain aspects it never makes excuses for its titular characters shortcomings. Instead, it simply uses those real world circumstances to push our peculiar protagonist further. And thus, the reason Eddie the Eagle succeeds as well as it does despite being pure formula is that it understands its hero and it breaks down the walls that people were afraid to climb over in Eddie's real life introducing us to a fully faceted character and not just a one note joke who can't take a hint from reality. Yes, Eddie the Eagle is formulaic in every way imaginable as you inevitably know all the beats the film will hit from the training montage down to the late second act obstacle that will be greatly overcome in the third, but it is damn entertaining formula and is made with such affection and honest aspiration one can't help but to want to cheer for Eddie just as all those at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics did. Full review here. Video review here. B-

45 Years is the type of film that likes to hold a single, static shot for longer than one might anticipate while simply asking you to bask in it-to soak every moment of it up. It's contradictory to my spastic American mind to take such calming nuances as intentional, but in reality this technique is enlisted to allow audience members to really drink in the subtle, but hugely devastating ideas the film meddles in. It should be noted, I guess, that the main ideas of the film are not inherently devastating, but that more the conditions that can sometimes come along with the institution of marriage are such that we don't consider them until they happen. For a bond that should be built on such trust and assured confidence it is often times shaken by the most delicate of details. In the case of Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff Mercer (Tom Courtenay) it is little more than what was once an afterthought to Kate, but decides to come back with a vengeance and reveal it may have been much more to her husband all these years. There is no act that was performed on Geoff's part that violates the sanctity of their marriage, but more something completely out of both parties control that informed the way one half would feel forever and the powerlessness of the other to ever allow him to forget it. In a word-it's heartbreaking. One might even call it cruel, the way fate aligned to bring this couple into each other's lives at the time in which it did, forever setting them on this path where they were more or less destined to fail. This fracture is barely visible in the beginning, though. As we come to know the Mercer's as they prepare for a weekend party that will celebrate their forty-fifth wedding anniversary (hence the title) they live a quiet life in the open countryside of England seemingly enjoying the latter years of their lives. It is the resurgence of old memories and "what might have been" possibilities that throws their relationship into a whirlwind of doubt and vulnerability that at least Kate never saw coming. Full review here. B

One of the many faith-based films released earlier this year, The Young Messiah tells of Jesus Christ at the age of seven as he and his family depart Egypt to return home to Nazareth. Told from his childhood perspective, it follows young Jesus as he grows into his religious identity. Sounds interesting enough, right? I'd like to believe so, but as it currently sits at a middle of the road 50% on Rotten Tomatoes I'm a little scared to be deceived by a solid premise as I was with Risen. A perfectly interesting idea executed in truly boring fashion. That said, I'm curious enough that I'll likely give The Young Messiah a shot and rent at some point soon. Here's hoping I'm not playing the fool this time around.

At a lean 90-minutes I was always intent on checking out Hello, My Name is Doris as it received unanimous applause despite its small scale release. It doesn't hurt that the film also stars the adorable Sally Field and the hilarious Max Greenfield (New Girl) in a story about a self-help seminar that inspires a sixty-something woman to romantically pursue her younger co-worker. I may as well go ahead and buy this one it sounds so appealing.

Delayed for over two years this comedy starring Miles Teller and Anna Kendrick as Will and Jillian whose life after college isn't all they imagined as they find themselves lost in a sea of unemployment. Meant to be a "sign o' the times" type commentary the film floundered with critics and seemed to more or less come and go quietly on VOD. It's strange given the two leads are bona fide names now and the supporting cast includes such talent as Bryan Cranston, Marcia Gay Harden, Alison Brie, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, John Cho, John C. McGinley, and Jorge Garcia, but it seems Get a Job was never destined to become anything more than a minor footnote in these two young stars careers. If you like Teller or Kendrick well enough though, you can now rent or own the film and see for yourself if it was best left on the shelf.

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