Film Review: THE INCREDIBLES 2 (USA 2018) ***1/2

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Incredibles 2 Poster
Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for Jack-Jack while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world.

Director:

Brad Bird

Writer:

Brad Bird

 

If one is making an animated action hero movie for the family, it makes sense to make the family movie about an action hero family at that.   THE INCREDIBLES 2, the sequel to the successful THE INCREDIBLES is just that, keeping the spirit of the first one intact while introducing the new addition to the family, the tot, Jack-Jack for extra good cheer.  And of course, this baby has super powers too, not only unknown (and multiple ones) but unharnessed as yet, much to the chagrin of papa Incredible.

The super action hero family is comprised of Bob Parr aka Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and wife, Helen Parr aka Elastigirl (Helen Hunt) with their son, Dash (Huck Milner) who has superhuman speed and daughter, Violet (Sarah Vowell).  Father’s best friend is actually a robot, Frozone, Lucus Best (Samuel L. Jackson) who can turn humidity into ice.  This is probably the only film that Jackson never gets to say the ‘mother….The family have assorted super powers that they use to fight crime, only that there is one problem.  They are not allowed to as the government has established that more damage have been caused by the super heroes fighting come than the crimes themselves.  This is observed in the film’s opening sequence when the Incredibles chase after  the villain, Underminer (John Ratzenberger) as he flees in his drilling vehicle, stopping him before destroying City Hall. But the level of damage caused by the debacle is more than the authorities can handle. Rick Dicker (Jonathan Banks) informs the Parr family that his department in the Super Relocation presses most of the acts 

With so many action movies in the theatre (especially the marvel superhero Universe and the Star Wars films – last month saw three action hero movies HANS SOLO, DEADPOOL 2 and AVENGERS) , there is the need to differentiate THE INCREDIBLES 2 from other similar genre films.  The plot therefore does not include the saving of the planet or the universe as the main issue at hand.  The main issue here is the legalization back of the super heroes – to allow them to return to fight for humanity.

Most of the actors in the original INCREDIBLES reprise their roles with  Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Sophia Bush and Isabella Rossellini, voicing new characters.

THE INCREDIBLES 2 has an over convoluted plot involving the different villains and the hypnotic shields that will all prove too much for younger kids to understand and parents to follow if they are in the theatre controlling their kids.  The film runs a bit long at almost two hours, not counting the short animated featurette.

THE INCREDIBLES 2 ends brilliantly and spiritedly, keeping the spirit of both the need for action heroes and (also the need) of the family alive! 

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5qOzqD9Rms

 

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1987 Movie Review: RAISING ARIZONA, 1987


RAISING ARIZONA
Movie Reviews

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter
Review by Andrew Rowe

SYNOPSIS:

When a childless couple of an ex-con and an ex-cop decide to help themselves to one of another family’s quintupelets, their lives get more complicated than they anticipated.

REVIEW:

10 minutes, that’s how long Raising Arizona rolls until the title card hits. If this sounds odd it is, but so is everything else about the Coen Brothers’ second film. As they’ve often done throughout their career, the brothers normally follow-up a serious film with a comedy. Fargo led to The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men led to Burn After Reading. With Raising Arizona the brothers had just come from the neo-noir Blood Simple, their first ever film. Where as that film dealt with deception and murder in the shadows of Texas, Raising Arizona basks in the sun with non-stop slapstick, silly fun.

Nicholas Cage stars as Hi, or H.I. if you’re talking to his friends. He’s a petty criminal who has a thing for robbing convenience stores with ammo-less guns. Because he doesn’t use armed weapons his jail sentences are always small in length, which allows for multiple visits. During these multiple visits he meets Ed, a policewoman played by Holly Hunter. Ed’s fiance leaves her, which opens up the door for Hi to reform and win her heart. This is when the Raising Arizona title card hits.

The unlikely couple moves into a trailer in the desert and realize they need something more in their life because they have too much love to give. After multiple attempts of conception, they learn that Ed is unable to bare children and due to Hi’s criminal record, unable to adopt. Devastated, hope arrives in the form of the ‘Arizona Quints’, 5 boys that are born to a locally famous unpainted furniture storeowner, Nathan Arizona.

Hi and Ed decide that abducting one of the boys for themselves is a good idea and do so. After welcoming the child into their home, Hi and Ed are greeted by two of Hi’s friends from prison, Gale and Evelle, John Goodman, and William Forsythe. The two inmates have broken out of prison because the institution no longer had anything to offer them. Against Ed’s wishes, the two fugitives stay at their home where they begin to influence Hi.

At this same time a heavily armed bounty hunter by the name of Leonard Smalls, “My friends call me Lenny… only I ain’t got no friends”, is on the hunt for the child. Blowing up bunny rabbits with grenades, Leonard is fear itself. Gale and Evelle eventually learn of the child’s actual identity and decide to turn him in for the reward money. Everyone collides on a strip in the middle of the desert highway that involves a bank robbery, gunfire, hand-to-hand combat, screeching tires, and a large explosion.

The script, written by the Coens possesses their trademark tongue-in-cheek dialogue as well as an explosive climax and slow burn denouement. No one writes stupid characters like the Coens do. These people that inhabit the film aren’t very bright, and it’s hard to believe anyone in the world could be of this level of intelligence, but the Coens draw you in, first making the world they live in real, then the characters, then the silly things they do. Besides the charming dialogue, there are so many ridiculous sight gags that you may not even catch them all the first time around.

Raising Arizona is arguably the craziest movie the Coen Brother’s have made in their three-decade career, and that’s saying a lot. The film acts as a live-action Saturday morning cartoon. Working for the second time with cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld who had shot their debut film Blood Simple, the visuals on screen are closer to a Dr. Seuss book than any of the current film adaptations. Using his trademark wide angles, everything remains in focus allowing the viewer to fully appreciate the immaculate Art Direction. The camera also moves with the action at the right time giving certain scenes a feeling that the camera is a character in the film, namely a chase scene through a house, and a fistfight between two characters.

The actors do a tremendous job of bringing these cartoon characters to life. John Goodman who would go on to work with the Coens several more times is perfect as Gale, the harder of the two brothers and number one bad influence on Hi. Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter have great comedic chemistry and give weight to characters that otherwise wouldn’t have much soul. Hi may just be a dummy, but he’s a dummy with a large heart that wants nothing more than for his Ed to be happy. He is like Bugs Bunny mixed with Wilde Coyote, he’ll get away from Elmer Fudd only to celebrate and have an anvil fall on his head. Randall “Tex” Cobb is a towering inferno on wheels, and makes lighting a match look almost as cool as Clint Eastwood.

It’s of course the Coens that bring it all together. The characters all seem real in this colorful world they’ve created. The slapstick is done wonderfully and gives you a nostalgic feeling of when these Buster Keaton-style comedies were king. It’s just a really fun movie that’ll have you laughing and shaking your head in tandem. This film is also the Coen’s most family friendly; it is almost Disney-like in some aspects.

The film’s innocence is something rarely seen in today’s crop of comedies as well as in the Coen’s filmography. It doesn’t feature as dark of humor or the violence that comes with most Coen Brothers’ films, but here that’s a good thing. The film is a great little gem that shouldn’t be missed.

raising arizona

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Film Review: THE BIG SICK (USA 2017) ***

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the big sickA couple deals with their cultural differences as their relationship grows.

Director: Michael Showalter
Writers: Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani
Stars: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter

Review by Gilbert Seah
 
When Kumail sees the girl he is dating, Emily in a coma in the hospital, he tells himself that if she ever gets out of this, he would marry her. It would be difficult for one not to feel for this romantic affair, especially when the incident is true. This is what differentiates THE BIG SICK from most romantic comedies. THE BIG SICK is based on the real-life courtship between Kumail Nanjiani and his now-wife, Emily V. Gordon. Nanjiani plays himself using the same first name in the film while Emily is played by Zoe Kazan. Hi real wife co-wrote the screenplay with her husband for the film.
The film project began when producer Judd Apatow (KNOCKED UP) met Nanjiani after he did his stand-up comic routine. So, there are a lot of stand-up routines in the film. In fact, a lot of the dialogue spoken during the film would be typical of what comes out of the mouths of a stand-up comic. This is here a good thing, as the film is pleasantly funny from start to end – dialogue-wise.

Despite the film based on true events and a real life Kumail, the romantic comedy falls into the same trap that most fall into. THE BIG STICK is a predictable Harlequin romance paperback type story complete with awkward first meeting, the necessary obstacles, in this case Emily finding out about Kumail’s other dates from the photographs in his box, not to mention her coma and his objecting parents. These obstacles are conveniently overcome for the couple to live happily ever after.

The film’s story is simple enough. While Kumail is performing stand-up comedy on stage, he is heckled (though she insists is a good heckle) by Emily, there as a spectator. An affair slowly develops. Meanwhile Kumail’s mother keeps setting him up for a Muslim bride. Kumail keeps this from Emily, though she finds out. Emily goes into a coma due to a rare decease and Kumail meets her parents forming a bond with them. It does not take a genius to figure out what happens in the end.

The film’s funniest parts come from Kumail’s Muslim parents. The mother is constantly trying to matchmake her son to marry a Muslim girl. The father is more tolerant but no less funny. Emil’s parents are funny too but they bring a more serious side to the film. The unexpected bonding between Emily’s parents and Kumail add a nice unexpected twist to the story.

The film’s humour is also heightened by having several other standup comics deliver their stand-up acts during throughout the film.

The film ends with shots of the real couple Kumail and the real Emily during the closing credits. THE BIG SICK is one of the better romantic comedies, credit to producer Apatow who seems to have the knack of discovering new comedy talent.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcD0Daqc3Yw
 

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Movie Review: BATMAN V SUPERMAN (2016) #BatmanvSuperman

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batmansupermanBATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (USA 2016)

Directed by Zack Snyder

Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, Gal Gadot

Review by Gilbert Seah

Before the film starts at the press/promo screening of BATMAN V Superman, director Zack Snyder appears on screen practically begging the audience not to give away plot points and spoilers to the rest of the world in order for them to enjoy the film. True to word, there are a lot of spoilers that could be revealed but this latest multi-million dollar effort is so bad that no spoiler could have made the film any worse.

Snyder makes no qualms at reminding the audience that he directed the Spartan film 300. At the film start, after Bruce Wayne rushes into the dust from the rumble of a fallen skyscraper, a lone horse is seen on the screen. 3/4 through of the movie, a cop and a horse is again shown on the screen. Of course lots of muscled bodies like the Spartans in 300 are on display throughout the film.

One can tell that a movie is bad from its continuity. The car chase segment makes no sense whatsoever. The reason for the chase is zero. When it takes place, there are lots of overturned other vehicles, lots of explosions but the scenes could have be taken out of 4 different streets for all that matters. The editing is awful and continuity is non-existent.

At the promo/press screening the executive introducing the film touted the imax technology involved in the making of the film. 40% more images can be seen in the imax version. But in the in the imax version that I saw, only the last sequence and the Batman Superman fight was in full imax top to bottom presentation.

There is little to enjoy in this film – the main problem being that the film is all over the place and all the filmmakers seem more content with the special effects. Comic book fans will be flabbergasted at the way the filmmakers have taken liberties to change what fans deem unchangeable and a staple to the comic book fan base. The main premise for example, would be that if ever anyone would want to see Superman fight Batman? And who would care which one would win? A true comic book fan would cringe every time anyone of the heroes, Superman or Batman was hurt.

The plot of the film involves Superman and Batman questioning each others tactics in order to save the world. The reasons are superfluous and unconvincing. All this leads to a confrontation and fight at the film’s climax.

BATMAN V SUPERMAN is a very dark film no doubt. So was the recent DEADPOOL. But DEADPOOL was smart enough to be funny and tongue-in-cheek while the latter took itself far too seriously.

And there is the question of the villain and a few other loose ends. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is an odd one. Eisenberg seems to have sculptured his role from Heath Ledger’s edgy Joker before his death. Esisenberg does what he does best – speaking his lines at a thousand words per minute but in this film, with creepy twitchings. It is not what is expected from classic Lex Luthor. Eisenberg dons his long hair till shaved off bald when in prison. Aquaman and Wonder Woman make their appearances but for no real reason. It seem a total farce and they should have been better totally omitted from the script.

In one segment of the film, a character says that people hate what they do not understand, referring to the suspicion they have of Superman being an alien doing good but causing destruction of the planet. Audiences might hate this film for it is impossible to understand for its purpose or plot.

*****

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