‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ stunk like a rotten fish

What the fuck, Guy Ritchie?!

Let me ask the 100 million dollar question: who actually wanted another take on King Arthur? There was the old version with Sean Connery and long haired Richard Gere, and then the Antoine Fuqua cartoonish take with Clive Owen. Budgets lost, never found, and not much juice left on the steak to wonder. So, why another?

I’m sure there was a good idea trapped somewhere in Guy Ritchie’s new film-King Arthur: Legend of the Sword-but the execution just isn’t there. This is a two hour tutorial on how not to make a summer blockbuster film. There’s noisy action, little story composition, and the acting is by the numbers cardboard friendly.

Charlie Hunnam’s movie star looks are the only depth attached to his swing at the legendary son who can pull sword from stone, and the supporting cast all stand around as if they are waiting for their checks to cash. Jude Law was much more appealing at Dr. Watson in Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films, but here he is a dull villain with nothing to do  but pout for the entire running time. Continue reading “‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ stunk like a rotten fish”

Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien: Covenant’ is a disappointing sequel

The latest sequel fails to introduce anything fresh to the series.

Is that all you got, Ridley Scott?

Let me tell you a story and you tell me if it sounds like something that would interest you.

A ship carrying a crew of explorers and mercenaries is traveling to a certain location to start a new habitat and possibly a colony for humans to find refuge from Earth on. Instead of going there, they decide to chase down a mysterious signal from a place they have no idea about. Why? Because these are the movies and characters do stupid things that get them killed. Once they get to the mysterious place, bad things happen quick. Remember, it’s an Alien movie. Continue reading “Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien: Covenant’ is a disappointing sequel”

‘Norman’ review: Easily forgotten political farce

Just skip this drama all together and catch an old Gere flick instead

Can rugged persistence eventually get you in trouble?

Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) is insufferable in the worst way; a man who is overwhelmingly nice, but doesn’t take no for an answer, and persists like a toothache. He can’t catch a break, but he also can’t get out of his own way. Norman is a small time operator in New York City looking for work influencing and advising small parties or corporations when he runs into a young ambitious politician named Michal Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi) and they become fast friends.

Years later, when Eshel rises to the top of the Israeli political world, Norman reconnects with him and a relationship blooms for better or worse. Things don’t end well, but when the tagline reads, “The moderate rise and tragic fall of a New York fixer,” what do you expect? I expect Norman’s greatest strength is Gere, who can make any character interesting and injects a valve of interest into the weakest of characters. Norman‘s biggest weakness is the viewer doesn’t care much for Norman, because they barely get to know a thing about him. Continue reading “‘Norman’ review: Easily forgotten political farce”

‘How to Be a Latin Lover’ will make you laugh out loud and warm your heart 

I’m up for more Eugenio Derbez comedy

Maximo (Eugenio Derbez) is a freeloader in the worst way; a 42 year old former seducer of older women who gets dumped by his 80 year old bride for a younger man (Michael Cera, making a lot out of a little) and has to move in with a sister he hasn’t seen in decades, (Salma Hayek). Maximo’s talents are put to the test again, as he attempts to find another bride who bathes in dollar bills.

That is the simple makeup of How to Be a Latin Lover, the hilarious new comedy from first time director Ken Marino (you’ve seen him in Wanderlust and Role Models) and the writing duo of Chris Spain and Jon Zack. This movie made me laugh out four times and produced a consistent comic vibe for its entire two hour running time. While very funny and ingenious, Latin Lover has a heart of gold to make all the laughs stand up, but it doesn’t overwhelm you sappy dialogue or manipulate you by changing Maximo’s motivations and attitude.

Marino’s talents as a director pull from his bag of acting tricks, which is derived from a sophisticated self deprecation brand of humor; in other words, making fun of a popular stereotype instead of taking it too seriously. The audience loves Maximo from the start because he is pitiful and hopeless, but that adds to the tongue in cheek appeal, and allows Derbez (who pleasured audiences with 2013’s Instructions Not Included and produced this comedy) to unleash his gifts as an entertainer.

Derbez is a Mexican film star in his native country, but is looking for crossover appeal with this adventure, and he’ll most likely find it. He has a gift for taking an ordinary screenplay and wringing some magic from it, while also showing off some physical humor. Just wait for the scenes between Maximo and his young nephew Hugo (Raphael Alejandro), as they work together to women. Those scenes could have been stuffed full of emotional dead weight, but the actors play them up for laughs.

Hayek doesn’t work enough these days, but Latin Lover is a perfect stage for her manic energy and comedic skills. Her Sara doesn’t think Maximo will amount to much, but it’s an entertaining trek seeing the ice on her feelings towards her brother thaw and a relationship grow. Maximo gets into plenty of trouble, but like the film, he has a heart.

The main problem with most comedies that start off sharp and edgy are the scripts lightening up and changing the character too much. While there is a sweetness to the final act of How to Be a Latin Lover, Derbez’s aged Casanova never changes his ways too much or becomes someone that the audience doesn’t recognize. A snake never changes its colors even if it does shed its skin on occasion.

Rob Lowe is well cast as Maximo’s fella moocher in crime and Kristen Bell’s “cat lady” has a few good moments with Maximo. Old flame Raquel Welch returns for role with some juice, but the real bite comes from Linda Lavin (a brief role in The Intern) who makes Lowe’s character do ungodly things to stay in the money. Marino essentially cast a bunch of his friends, and they all bring something to the part.

How to Be a Latin Lover won’t blow you away nor make you rethink what a comedy could be, but it will make you laugh out loud more than once, smile proudly, and produce a few well earned feel good moments as you cheer (and jeer) at the unfortunate plight of Maximo. You may even leave the theater perfecting “the Latin lover walk”. Stick around for the credits.

If Marino and Derbex want to get together for another Maximo adventure, that would be a sequel worth making.

 

 

‘Get Out’ is an important comedy that you need in your life

Jordan Peele doesn’t give a shit what you think

The first descriptive word that comes to mind with Jordan Peele’s Get Out is “unique.” It’s a different kind of flick that defies a single genre. This movie stands out from other recent horror flicks and classic comedies, because of the chances it takes and the entertainment it elicits. Producer Jason Blumhouse is known for taking chances with his films, and handing the keys to comedy maestro Peele is an extremely wise move. This movie works for several reasons, so let’s get to them.

First, let me dish the plot at you. Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) has no idea what he has in store for him when his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) takes him to meet the parents for a weekend getaway. He does alert her that taking the black boyfriend may have been a detail she wanted to release to her parents before the trip, but she thinks otherwise. They head up there, and let’s just say things get weird very quick. That’s all I’m telling you.

The big elephant in the room of this movie is race, and how it affects certain people. Instead of beating around the bush with this huge element of the plot, Peele thrusts it into the middle of the room like a lit candle. Without over-shadowing the rest of the fun of the film, it sets the tone for what you are about to see. Peele is fearless, but doesn’t need a soapbox. He mixes elements of racial stereotypes in with the standard horror and humor.  Continue reading “‘Get Out’ is an important comedy that you need in your life”

‘Logan’ finally does Wolverine justice

A gritty and raw sendoff with a never better Jackman

Logan isn’t just the best Wolverine film; it’s the greatest X-Men cinematic adaptation yet. James Mangold and Hugh Jackman have saved their best tale for last, and they got there by serving up the darkest and most soul searching journey for the title character yet with the Old Man Logan storyline.

The movie picks up in 2029 with the majority of the mutant race dead, buried, or being experimented on. Logan and Professor X aka Charles Xavier are hiding out in El Paso, Texas in a secluded factory plant. Each men are broken, physically and psychologically, and are essentially waiting to die or escape the world that has turned on them. The emergence of a mysterious young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) sends the three on a rigorous road trip north to find salvation whilst Logan tries to find a resemblance of peace. They are tracked by a band of mercenaries led by Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), who work for a pharmaceutical company running tests on child mutants. A battle of wills ensues.

Logan is equal parts Road to Perdition, Mad Max, and Outlaw Josey Wales. Mangold, along with co-writers Scott Frank and Michael Green, aim for the heart and soul yet craft a relentless film that finally honors the identity of the title character. Logan is the classic outsider, and thus doesn’t allow a shred of emotional connection, because it has burned him in the past. Everything he has stopped to love or admire was taken away or is being slowly pulled from his grasps. However, he has the DNA of a hero trapped inside of him, so he can’t turn his cheek for long when Laura is in serious peril and Charles urges him to help her.  Continue reading “‘Logan’ finally does Wolverine justice”

‘Gifted’ aims for the heart, but leaves you with a stomach ache

This movie manipulates the viewer like a bottle of pancake syrup and plays it too safe in the end.

Gifted is like pancake syrup-it looks warm and loving, and tastes sweet while serving as a catalyst for a fine meal, but in the end, it manipulates your taste buds into making a bad choice for your stomach, which then creates an ache. Allow me to explain.

Image result for gifted review

Frank Adler (Chris Evans) just wants to lay low, raise his niece Mary (McKenna Grace), and create a small quaint life in the peaceful suburbs of Florida. There’s only one problem: Mary is a mathematical genius and stands head and shoulders above the rest of her first grade class and isn’t fitting in. When Frank refuses to send Mary to a prestigious school for gifted kids, certain measures are taken to ensue the young girl is given the “proper” education. But what exactly is “proper” for Mary and does it fit with Frank and the grandmother, Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), who may have ulterior motives. Continue reading “‘Gifted’ aims for the heart, but leaves you with a stomach ache”