Cayle’s Movie Review: Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan’s newest film follows the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk in northern France during the early years of World War II. The film’s narrative structure is a throwback to earlier Christopher Nolan films such as Memento. The film takes place during the Dunkirk evacuation from three different perspectives:

  1. The evacuation of various land soldiers from Dunkirk over a week.
  2. The relief effort over the sea involving one Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance), his son, and his son’s friend over the span of a day.
  3. An hour-long dogfight between two Royal Air Force pilots and a Luftwaffe plane over the English Channel.

Nolan manages to weave these three perspectives into a cohesive story. It is my firm belief that a master visual storyteller can tell a narrative with little to no dialogue. I feel that Nolan has accomplished this feat with Dunkirk. There has been some criticism of this movie over the lack of character development. However, I must point out that the film is about the Dunkirk evacuation itself and the characters represent the larger collective of the relief effort, a point I will I explain later in this review.

Dunkirk is a film that needs to be experienced in theaters. The only time the experience could be replicated inside your home is if you have a good sound system. Dunkirk manages to capture the intensity of war despite its PG-13 rating. This is a surprise considering that most war films such as Saving Private Ryan and last year’s Hacksaw Ridge are very upfront about the brutality of war. However, Nolan takes a subtler approach to the intensity of war with this film.

A constant criticism of Christopher Nolan as a director is that he is rather cold and distant. However, Dunkirk may be his most humanistic film thanks to its message of hope in a dark place. It is a fitting tribute to the people who were involved in the relief effort. Overall, Dunkirk fits right in with the best war films.

SCORE: 10/10

Cayle’s Movie Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

In 1968, the film adaptation of Planet of the Apes was released to theaters. Despite the title sounding like the name of a cheap B-movie, Planet of the Apes was praised by critics for being a thoughtful social commentary. Not only that, the movie was so much of a commercial success, it managed to spawn four sequels. There was an attempt by Tim Burton to resurrect the franchise with 2001’s Planet of the Apes. Although it was a financial success, it was savaged by critics. There wouldn’t be another Planet of the Apes movie until 2011’s Rise. The film was so successful, it spawned two more sequels: Dawn and War.

Obviously, the best part about this movie are the motion capture performances. In addition to his previous motion capture performances as Gollum and King Kong, I felt that Andy Serkis deserved a Best Actor nomination for his role as Caesar in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”. This film is no exception as he manages once again to convey human emotion into a non-human character. Not only that, I felt that the main ape characters are some of the best-rendered CGI characters in recent memory.

In a lesser movie, the main antagonist of this movie would be the generic ape-hating villain. However, the Colonel manages to be a complex character thanks to Woody Harrelson’s portrayal of said character. On one hand, he is a Colonel Kurtz-esque character who brings out both fear and admiration from his troops. On the other hand, he is a tortured man that is haunted by a tough decision he had to make.

Another aspect of this movie that is worth mentioning is the visual direction by Matt Reeves. He manages to direct some well-choreographed action scenes in the movie, some of which I consider to be among the best in the entire series.  To say that this movie is visually stunning would be the understatement of the year. This film contains some of the best cinematography in the entire series.

While I do think that this movie is a fine finale to the rebooted series, I disagree with the consensus that it’s one of the best conclusions to a trilogy in cinematic history. I was a little underwhelmed that this film was not an epic war film but rather a prison escape movie like The Great Escape. While this isn’t bad per se, it felt a little disappointing.

While I preferred Dawn of the Planet of the Apes for its depth, War is a must-see for fans of the franchise.

SCORE: 8/10

Chris’ Movie Review: Valerian

Chris’ Movie Review

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets

Rating: 4/10 (Sub Par)

Recommendation: Redbox It

After seeing Dunkirk, I decided to check this film out because it was raining outside. I think I would’ve been better off just walking back to my truck instead of almost falling asleep half way through.

Valerian stars Dane DeHaan (Valerian) and Cara Delevingne (Laureline).

Plot Summary

Valerian is an government agent that works with Laureline. The two get called to retrieve a creature that can produce multiple of whatever it eats. But then they come across a cover up story that’s been in the works for years.

Review

Valerian is a movie that presents a great looking world but does little to nothing to build upon it. Which is okay. The trailers told me this film was going to be basic anyways.
For starters, the acting is mono. The line delivery is flat. The villain over acts. And the main leads provide little to no chemistry on screen. Which is a shame. Because, in the first 5 minutes, these two had a lot of promise.

Cara and Dane are the leads and they just fall so flat. Starting with Cara, has she ever been good? Normally, I don’t like to call out actors directly but Cara has never came off as a “Promising talent.” She has certain facial expressions that she always uses but they’re never convincing. She always comes off as an actress who’s just playing this role to pay off her car. Which, if you can make a living doing that, fine. But she doesn’t offer any reason for casting directors to give her a call. Now Dane, he’s another story.

Dane has been good. Chronicle is the first movie that comes to mind when I think about him and it’s deserving. In this film, Dane is asked to play a savy ladies’ man. Which sure, he’s trying to broaden his horizons, but this role doesn’t fit him at all. It’s possible the director messed this up for Dane but he’s so stiff that a piece of wood could’ve replaced him and no one would’ve noticed.

Now, as I was saying earlier, the first 5 minutes is literally the best you get from these two. For whatever reason, they are the most compelling in the beginning of the movie and then just fall flat the rest of the way. Which is a shame. If these two played their roles the best that they could, this film could’ve been better off…. Well, maybe a better script would have been nice too.

The dialogue in this movie is so unreadable at times. Cliche lines can work. If you have the right actors and director, sure, this script can be fun. But when the chemistry is lackluster, the cheesy lines come off as more of a chore to listen too, than pleasure. Which, again, is just a shame because this movie does have some really solid elements to it.

The world is fascinating. There is so much to explore and see that you wish you could just get on your laptop and click around to see the different sections that make up the city and planets. There is a ton of potential world building that’s presented to us but we barely get a chance to view a fifth of it. Guess the bantering couple needed more screen time.

The other great aspect is the graphics and set pieces. Sure, a lot of this film is CGI but it’s designed well. There are parts where it’s too cartoon looking but when the effort is put in, it’s seem less to look at and it blends in well with the environment. It’s a shame it just goes to waste though. A lot of good material is basically tossed aside for basic characters and a underwhelming script. Once more, it’s just a shame.

Overall

Valerian is a movie that’s full of eye candy but it consists of no flavor. There are plenty of good ideas and visuals lying around but the actors and director just didn’t seem to care all that much about the project at hand.

The world is beautiful. The CGI is mostly good. And there is a good story/characters hidden somewhere in this film. But the acting is stiff. The script is generic. And the main two leads don’t seem to give it their all to try and make this movie work.

It may sound like I hate this film but I don’t. It’s mainly bland with a touch of sugar added in to make think there’s something good in the mix.

If you want an visually pleasing movie with substance, watch Dunkirk. If you don’t care about plot or characters, Valerian is the way to go.

As usual, thanks for reading!

Chris’ Movie Review: Dunkirk

Chris’ Movie Review

Dunkirk

Rating: 10/10 (Excellent)

Recommendation: Blu-Ray It

Oh man, this review is late. Normally, I get these out before the next week starts but I had no time to hit a theater till now. That’s trucking though. You can’t always get what you want. But the real question is, was this film worth a 3 mile walk to see?

Dunkirk stars Fionn Whitehead (Tommy), Tom Glynn-Carney (Peter), Jack Lowden (Collins), Tom Hardy (Farrier), and Mark Rylance (Mr. Dawson).

Plot Summary

Thousands upon thousands of troops are cut off from being saved. The German army, along with their Air Force, are closing in fast. The evacuation for the British and French is failing. There seems to be no hope left in sight.

Review

Dunkirk is a movie with no main characters but yet, it’s full of main characters. Every person represented is a valuable asset to the war and the way we live today. It may sound cliche but from the bottom of my, and everyone the appreciates their sacrifice, heart thank you. We wouldn’t be able to do the things we do today without you.

For starters, Dunkirk is a visually stunning looking film. Christopher Nolan is the director and he just knows what he’s doing when it comes to making movies look gorgeous on screen. He takes every shot and places it so that we feel like we’re in the moment. The intensity level is brought up to a 10, when needed, and dropped down for those quiet moments when the soldiers finally have a minute to breathe. As an audience, we feel each and every moment ring out. It’s just brilliant.

The sound of the movie is loud, but very engaging. Theaters should give out optional ear plugs for these screenings because the sound is directed right into your ear and there’s nothing around to dampen it’s ear piercing ring. Now, with that being said, this really works in favor of the film.

The loudness of the movie brings you into the scenes. Yes, it can be over the top, but the high volume let’s you experience the moment as if you’re a solider on the beach. The film emerses you into every scene with it’s visuals and sound and you can’t help but feel nervous/anixous in these moments. A lot of directors may try this technique but I don’t think more than a handfull could pull this off with such conviction and quality.

If I have to nitpick, I’d target the lack of an actual main character. The movie focuses on three different stories, and it has people that you follow, but they barely say a word. And when they do, it’s all about the war. There’s no backstory, development, et certera. Now this can turn some viewers off because you can’t become attached to one particular individual but you’re not supposed too.

The point of the film is to get you to feel the emotion of the men on the beach, boats, and planes as a whole. You’re supposed to relate to their pain and feeling of dread that they’re never going to get out of this horrible situation alive. And if you don’t, that’s perfectly fine. It’s hard to attach yourself to thousands of men’s fears. But open your mind and give it a shot. You may be extremely surprised how emotional you may become during the movie.

The last little nit pick is the three plot points. These stories all intertwine with each other but they’re told at different times and perspectives. As long as you follow along, you should be fine. There’s nothing that’s truly confusing about these plots but you can feel a little lost at first, if you happen to a miss scene transition.

Overall

Dunkirk is a movie that made the person next me say “That was really good.” She was very much engaged and even leaned into the screen to focus her attention even more. The last time I witnessed that level of engagement was last year when I saw The Shallows.

You may have also noticed that I didn’t say a whole bunch about the positives either and, I’ll be honest, there isn’t much too say. This film is an experience. You’re more or less meant to sit and just watch what comes on screen. The movie is a ride and it banks on more of the visuals rather than story and characters.

If you’re into a visual based movie, then this should be right up your alley. If not, then it’s still recommended to see this film at least once but it’ll be understandable if you don’t fully connect with it.

The three story plot can be a little confusing, at first. There isn’t a main character. And the loudness can be a little much at times. But the film looks beautiful. Christopher Nolan creates a gorgeous but haunting atmosphere. And there’s a hidden emotional rollercoaster that comes to light as the movie progresses into it’s final acts.

Dunkirk might be one of those films you may only watch once but it’s worth every penny to see another great war film on screen. (And from I heard, this movie is better suited for IMax. So if you’re near a theater that is showing it on one of those screens, go check it out and let me know how it goes.)

As usual, thanks for reading!

Cayle’s Movie Review: “Spider-Man: Homecoming”

Spider-Man: Homecoming is arguably one of the most comedic films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. Aside from a botched Ferris Bueller joke and much of the “Aunt May is Hot” running gag, most of the humor in this movie works well. As with the previous MCU movies, the action scenes are well shot and choreographed. While I am not a fan of shaky cam, I felt it worked here because of the Spider-Man character.

While we got a taste of Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, we finally get to see him in action in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Out of the two previous incarnations of the character, Tobey Maguire managed to capture the lovable dorkiness of Peter Parker while Andrew Garfield captured the comedic smartass aspect of Spider-Man. Out of the three actors who have portrayed Peter Parker/Spider-Man, however, Holland is the best as he managed to capture both aspects of his personality.

It’s official: The Marvel Cinematic Universe finally has an interesting villain. Michael Keaton does a fantastic job as Adrian Toomes/Vulture. Instead of the underdeveloped villain that has been the norm in the MCU, he plays a family man who only turned to a life of crime because his company was forced out of business. Keaton manages to bring a certain complexity to the character.

Another thing about this movie that is worth mentioning is the relationship between Tony Stark/Iron Man and Peter Parker/Spider-man. This film takes place right after the events depicted in Captain America: Civil War, so of course Stark pops in from time to time to check in on his apprentice. While he does have his comedic moments, Stark manages to become a sort of father figure to Peter Parker. At one point in the movie, Stark enforces a “tough love” policy when he thinks that Peter is out of line. It’s great to see another angle of this character.

As for the supporting cast of this movie, they can be rather hit and miss. I can see people being annoyed with Peter Parker’s sidekick Ned. However, I thought he was fine as the comic relief. The main problem of the cast is the character of Flash Thompson. In the comic, Flash was a jock who bullied Peter Parker while he ironically idolized Spider-Man. In this movie, Flash is more of an annoying rival than anything.

Overall, Spider-Man: Homecoming is the best Spider-Man movie since Spider-Man 2. This was a great introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the character.

SCORE: 8/10

 

Chris’ Movie Review: War For The Planet Of The Apes

Chris’ Movie Review

War For The Planet Of The Apes

Rating: 7/10 (Satisfying)

Recommendation: Pay The 8

The first film, good. Second movie, great. Third installment? Well….

War For The Planet Of The Apes stars Andy Serkis (Caesar), Woody Harrelson (Colonel), Steve Zahn (Bad Ape), and Terry Notary (Rocket).

Plot Summary

Caeser wants peace. He wants the wars and senseless killings to end. Unfortunately, a human group, led by the Colonel (Woody), wants to finish off the apes. After a raid by the Colonel’s men, and himself, Caeser sets out to seek revenge.

Review

War For The Planet Of The Apes is a movie that has a lot of expectations to live up too. While the second movie wasn’t much of a  character developing plot, it provided an immense amount of eye candy for the viewers. The third film, took a different approach.

For starters, give Andy Serkis an Oscar. What else does he have to do? All of these movies succeeded with his tremendous acting skills. He dominates the world of motion capture acting and for anyone to deny him an Oscar, is completely aburd. You actually tear up for Caeser in certain moments. You feel his pain, passion, rage, happiness. All of that for an fictional motion captured creature. Come on Oscars. Get with the show already.

Moving on from my little rant, Woody Harrelson is a ton of fun in this film at well. He plays the villain of the movie and he almost gets you to side with him at one point. His acting is top notch here and watching him play off of Andy Serkis is an incredible viewing experience.

The action of this movie is well directed. All of these films have great looking action scenes and this movie is no exception. The shots are placed well. The camera angles are just right. And you can see everything that plays out. It’s so great to point out films that do action scenes correctly. It shows that not only the director knows what they’re doing but also that they care about what the audience sees.

Alright, here are the week points. This film is slow. Really slow. If you’re expecting an action packed thriller, go watch the second movie. War For is mainly focused on developing the last character arcs of this carnation of apes. Caeser, being the main focal point, deals with a lot of pain and suffering throughout this movie and the film tends to him in many of the sequences throughout.

Now, this isn’t a bad thing. If you’ve been following Caeser from the beginning, you won’t be disappointed watching his character grow. But for those who are just jumping into this movie or haven’t watched the others in a long time, the third film in this trilogy will seem a tad too long throughout your viewing.

Another negative is the action scenes that we do get, don’t really invovle Caeser. Which is fine, you can set him aside but when you’ve focused all of your time and effort into building this character, he should be the leading charge in this battle. Not some outside influence. (As per usual, no spoilers will be given as to what that “Outside influence” is).

And lastly, there’s a girl character that’s brought in for… something. Granted, she has a use to one of the plot lines but she doesn’t really bring a lot to the table. You could’ve cut her out, put an ape in her place, and you wouldn’t notice that you were missing her.

Again, she does serve a purpose but it’s debatable on how important she really is. She does contribute in some key moments, so I guess I can give her that. Otherwise, this character seemed to be made important in the trailers, when she kind of isn’t.

Overall

War For The Planet Of The Apes is a solid conclusion to a surprising prequel trilogy that we never knew we needed.

The pacing is a tad too slow. The girl is replaceable. And there isn’t a lot action scenes involving Caeser. But the action is wonderful to watch. Caeser’s character arc is great. And Woody Harrelson and Andy Serkis are tremendous on screen together. Plus, give Andy a fucking Oscar. Thank you.

Each movie is done with a lot of care and focus to detail. Even though this is the weakest link in the series, for me, it’s still a good send off to the series as a whole.

As usual, thanks for reading!

Chris’ Movie Review: The Big Sick

Chris’ Movie Review

The Big Sick

Rating: 9/10 (Great)

Recommendation: Pay The 8

97% on Rotten Tomatoes? Well then. I guess that’s a good enough reason to give this film a look over.

The Big Sick stars Kumail Nanjiani (Kumail), Zoe Kazan (Emily), Holly Hunter (Beth), Ray Romano (Terry), and Anupam Kher (Azmat).

Plot Summary

Kumail is a stand up comedian who lives in Chicago. After one night, in a comedy club, he comes across a girl who gained his attention during his routine. They go out for awhile and things are going well…. Until it all falls apart.

Review

The Big Sick is one of those movies that come out during the summer and tend to be forgotten about as time moves on by. Which is really a shame because these films are generally really good or a ton better than whatever the studios are pushing on us as audience. (Full disclaimer: This summer has been really good to us.)

For starters, this film is an emotional rollercoaster ride. The movie starts off comedic, charming, likeable, and then the tone just shifts at a snap of the fingers. The film then dives into some serious issues but there’s always that hint of a smile right around the corner. Letting you know, or at least you think you know, that things are going to be alright.

When it comes to romantic comedies, there’s usually a “Stereotype” plot that these movies follow. And The Big Sick seems to be heading into that direction but no. It’s a complete surprise. Everything that happens in the second act feels fresh and new. At least it does to me.

This could be a spoiler so, you’ve been warned. But Kumail’s girlfriend becomes really ill. She gets an infection that spreads across her lungs, to her kidneys, even to her heart. And during these moments, Kumail isn’t even her boyfriend. They actually broke before this incident occurred. But here’s the kicker.

What separates this movie from the rest is the fact that Kumail becomes the person that puts her into a medically induced coma. He’s the only one who can sign the papers at the time and he goes through with it. During this time, Kumail gets sort of forced to spend time with her parents. Who, her mom and dad, knows everything about the reason why Kumail and Emily broke up. And her mom really holds it against him.

This second act is great for two reasons. One, I don’t think this has been done before. And two, watching strangers work together to overcome their grieve and sorrow is fascinating. Just imagine you loving someone, breaking up, and then trying to get along with their parents that you’ve never met. It would be awkward and very difficult to overcome. And the ultimate spoiler is, this is based on true events.

Okay, you can decide whether or not to dock points from originality for this movie but I’m giving it points. The studios could’ve came in, said “This needs to be changed,” and then we’re left with a totally different second act. The fact that the writers, director, and Kumail were able to fight and keep the movie the way it is, is pretty impressive. Oh, and Kumail is portraying his real life self. Another spoiler drop. (I keep saying “Spoiler” but all of this information is probably out there somewhere.)

Now there are some aspects to this movie that are great. The acting can be a little off, the third act drags a tad, and the comedy will vary (As usual), but there are so many great elements that come from this movie that make it entertaining, caring, and endearing that it over shadows the negative by a mile.

In all honesty, this movie won’t resonate with everyone. There are films out there that just don’t do it for some, but The Big Sick is one that should get support. Sure, you may not love it, or even watch it a second time, but there’s a great true story here that’s well done. And that needs applause alone.

Overall

The Big Sick is a movie that will most likely get overlooked because of the main feature “War For The Planet Of The Apes” is out this weekend. But it shouldn’t stop you from giving it a look over at least once.

And since I strayed away from my usual style, I’ll end it with this. Give it a shot. Even if it’s a rental, try it out. If you hate it, you can let me know in the comments below.

As usual, thanks for reading!