Movie Review: “Central Intelligence”

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Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) was the most popular student in high school who was voted most likely to succeed. Twenty years later, Joyner is a lowly accountant whose life has peaked. After having drinks with Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson), a former high school geek turned bodybuilder, Joyner finds himself in the middle of a stand-off between Stone and the CIA.

Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson (or “The Rock” for Attitude-era WWE fans) make a great comedic duo. In this double act, Johnson plays the funny man while Hart plays the straight man when he’s not in full Chris Tucker-mode. They have a great comedic chemistry together. At one point during the point, the actor playing Bob Stone’s partner is shown. I won’t spoil anything about this actor, but it’s a cameo that is worth mentioning. The comedy in this movie can be rather hit and miss. Unlike the recent “Ghostbusters” reboot, most of the jokes in “Central Intelligence” work. While this movie’s humor isn’t as intelligent as “The Nice Guys” for the sake of example, “Central Intelligence” is a pretty competent comedy.

SCORE: 3.5/5

Movie Review: “Free State of Jones”

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This film follows a Confederate deserter by the name of Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey) as he establishes a safe haven for other deserters, runaway slaves and freedmen in Jones County, Mississippi during the Civil War.

The main saving grace of this movie is its cast. Matthew McConaughey does a good job portraying Newton Knight. The supporting cast, which consists of the likes of Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mahershala Ali, is also impressive despite not having a lot to work with.

However, “Free State of Jones” has no plot, it just meanders all over the place. Although the movie was almost two and a half hours long, it felt a lot longer due to its slow pace. At certain points throughout the movie, there is a courtroom scene taking place 85 years after the Civil War involving the great-great-great grandson of Newton Knight. I felt that this particular scene added nothing to this movie and was just there to pad up the overall running time. If that scene was taken out of the movie, it wouldn’t impact the rest of the movie.

Overall, this movie is Oscar bait. However, it’s not the good kind of Oscar bait, it’s the pandering type of Oscar bait.

SCORE: 2/5

Movie Review: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows”

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The heroes in a half shell return in the second installment as they battle a nemesis from another dimension. The good news for this movie is that “Out of the Shadows” better than its predecessor. The first movie in the rebooted franchise failed at its “darker and edgier” premise that a lot of non-Marvel films are taking nowadays. I know that the 1990 “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” had some of the darker elements from the original indie comic, but it also has some comedic moments to relieve the tension. Gary Anthony Williams and WWE wrestler Sheamus work as the comic relief characters Bebop and Rocksteady respectively. They provided most of the movie’s comedic moments. Stephen Amell also did a good job of playing Casey Jones even though he didn’t have a lot to work with.

Despite being better than its predecessor, “Out of the Shadows” still a lot of problems. For example, the movie has some serious pacing issues. It takes a long time to get the plot moving. As a result, the film felt a lot longer than it actually is. There was a subplot about Michelangelo wanting to be human that ended up going nowhere. It was explored for a decent amount of the movie but then it just stopped. Most of the film’s dialogue is essentially exposition. Despite the fact that the movie is called “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows”, the ninja turtles felt like background characters instead. The supposed protagonists of this movie are overshadowed by the other characters of the movie. The same could be said about their sensei Splinter. I won’t spoil anything about this movie but the third act is just a replay of the first movie’s third act.

While Megan Fox isn’t overtly bad as April O’Neil, she wasn’t very good either. One of my main gripes of the previous TMNT movie is Will Arnett’s wasted potential. His character of Vern Fenwick came off as a douchebag rather than the deadpan snarker the filmmakers had intended him to be. While his character wasn’t annoying this time around, Fenwick was pretty much a background character who had little to no effect on the main story. Say what you will about the “Madea” movies, but Tyler Perry has proven himself to be a pretty capable actor thanks to 2014’s “Gone Girl”. However, Tyler Perry’s portrayal of Baxter Stockman felt rather over-the-top despite the effort put in the role.

SCORE: 2.5/5

Movie Review: “The Shallows”

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It seems that the last great shark movie was “Jaws”. Otherwise, it seems that all the shark movies are nothing but formulaic B-movies such as “Sharknado”, “Shark Attack”, and “Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus”. Will “The Shallows” be able to reverse that trend?

Although the film has a small cast, “The Shallows” is pretty much Blake Lively’s movie. A movie that focuses on a single individual can be either be really good or really bad based on their performance alone. Thankfully, Blake Lively provides the anxiety needed in a man (or woman in this case) vs. nature scenario such as this one.

The movie was very well-directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. This was a nice surprise considering the director’s past catalogue (i.e. that horrible “House of Wax” remake with Paris Hilton). The film has a really great use of atmosphere despite taking place on a beautiful Mexican beach.

Despite the great qualities of the film, “The Shallows” was short of being a masterpiece. I won’t spoil anything about this movie but the third act suffered due to tone issues. For most of the movie, the shark in this movie was a menacing presence. However, the shark became rather cartoonish by the end of this movie. However, “The Shallows” is a cut above the rest.

SCORE: 4/5