BARE BONES: COLOSSAL (2016)

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COLOSSAL (2017)

Very weird flick from Nacho Vigalondo (Time Crimes, Open Windows) has troubled alcoholic Gloria (Anne Hathaway) getting the boot from her boyfriend (Dan Stevens), prompting her to move back to her family house in her home town. Not only does she reconnect with childhood schoolmate Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), but is shocked to find a gigantic creature is attacking Seoul, Korea. In a weird turn of events, Gloria soon finds that she and the gigantic creature are somehow connected, as it mimics her actions and only appears when she is in the park where a fateful event once took place a long time ago.

Writer/director Nacho Vigalondo concocts a very strange tale that almost works. It’s first half is oddly engaging despite the really weird premise and we are eager to find out what this strange beast has to do with Gloria, who is struggling to get her life together. It’s in the flick’s second half where Sudeikis’ Oscar shows his true colors, that it becomes a rather unpleasant movie as Oscar becomes more and more abusive towards Gloria. We do get some answers to our questions, but the film, at that point, stops being fun. One can appreciate Vigalondo’s boldness and the originality of his tale, but when it goes from Gloria’s whimsical and comic attempts to unravel a “colossal” mystery to her conflict with the mean-spirited and bitter Oscar, both creature and movie lose their grip.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: CONDEMNED and THE INTERN

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CONDEMNED (2015)

Awful movie has spoiled brat Maya (Dylan Penn) leaving her posh digs and arguing parents to live with her musician boyfriend (Ronen Rubinstein) and some fellow squatters in an abandoned NYC tenement building…that somehow still has electricity and running water. They live amongst an assortment of unsavory characters including meth-heads, drug addicts, drug dealers and sadomasochists. Soon a virus caused by all the filth and meth maker Cookie’s (Perry Yung) toxic refuse, creates a rabies-like infection that starts to turn the squatters into vicious killers.

Watching this 28 Days Later meets Rent…without the musical numbers…is like staring into a toilet for 80+ minutes. Writer/director Eli Morgan Gesner just keeps a steady flow of filthy imagery, deviant behavior and then over-the-top gory violence for pretty much the entire film and that might have been fine if there was any wit or cleverness to it. There isn’t and it’s just a parade of how gross can we be for 83 minutes without any suspense, tension or even fun…and if you’re looking for a point or message, you’re wasting your time. The acting and dialog is equally terrible though the make-up FX aren’t bad. You’ll want to take a shower after watching this, if you can get through it, and not in a good way. Only if you must.

-MonsterZero NJ

one star rating

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THE INTERN (2015)

Sappy and overly sentimental flick has retired widower Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) wanting to get back out in the world and applying for a senior citizen internship at a fast growing e-commerce fashion company. The company is run by multi-tasking entrepreneur Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway) who reluctantly takes on Ben as her personal intern. Soon not only does Ben start to brighten things up around the office but his bonding with Jules helps her get her personal life into perspective, too. 

On the positive side, this flick is completely harmless and is actually well acted by it’s leads. Otherwise, it’s also over two hours of complete schmaltz, that is so contrived by writer/director Nancy Meyers, that it seems almost as much a fantasy as say, The Lord Of The Rings. Not that a senior citizen couldn’t excel in an internship at such a company surrounded by hipsters without a clue, but the whole solving all of Jules’ problems both business and personal…including somehow saving her failing marriage…is just a bit much. All De Niro’s Ben needed was a magic wand and some fairy dust. The film never even tries to exist in the real world, especially when it comes to Jules all too accepting attitude toward her husband’s (Anders Holm) unfaithfulness. It’s like she blames herself for being a busy businesswoman and chasing him away. Really? What is the message THERE? Add to that, some of Hathaway and De Niro’s scenes together came off as very uncomfortable. Was there supposed to be a hint of something more between the 70-ish Ben and the thirty-something Jules? Nothing happens, but at times it seemed like it was on the verge as they just seemed a bit too chummy despite Ben’s interest in company masseuse Fiona, played by the more age appropriate Rene Russo. Regardless, after the over two hour running time you basically sit there asking yourself…what was that supposed to really be about?…and what was the point?

-MonsterZero NJ

2 star rating

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REVIEW: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)

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THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)

Decided to have a quiet Sunday night on the couch revisiting the climactic chapter of Nolan’s Batman trilogy!

Dark Knight Rises is the final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and despite some flaws, it still delivers a spectacular and epic conclusion that should satisfy most fans of this series. The film opens 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight and Batman, having taken the fall for Harvey Dent/Two Face’s crimes, has disappeared and The Dent Act has locked up most of Gotham’s organized crime. Billionaire Bruce Wayne, still heartbroken over the death of Rachel Dawes, has become a Howard Hughes-like recluse, also not seen in as many years. But, with the arrival of mysterious and beautiful cat burglar, Selina Kyle (a sensational Anne Hathaway) and a vicious mercenary/terrorist called Bane (a bad ass Tom Hardy), Bruce Wayne decides maybe it’s time for The Batman and Bruce Wayne to return to Gotham. Most of my issues with the film are in the first act… the set up. Nolan has a lot to bring us up to speed on, multiple interconnecting stories to start us on and a lot of characters to introduce us to. And it’s a bit too much to accomplish in a reasonable amount of time despite the 165 minute length of the film. The first act comes across as choppy and rushed and, to be honest, some of the new characters could have been left out with no harm to the story (Matthew Modine’s jerk of a cop and Selina Kyle’s young friend for ex.). But, once Batman hits the streets, the film settles into it’s groove and we get a strong second act, followed by an absolutely spectacular last act that alone delivers more movie for the buck then most flicks do. While The Avengers was a superhero epic for the kid inside all of us, TDKR is an operatic epic for the adults. Nolan gives the film his trademark intensity which overcomes the film’s first act flaws and some of the minor quibbles one might have during the rest of the film, to really deliver a riveting cinematic experience, as he brings his Dark Knight tale to a close. The set pieces are of an epic scale that has rarely been achieved in modern films and Nolan never loses track of the characters within the action. His cast is almost perfect, even with some of the lesser characters being performed very well. Bale delivers another emotionally charged performance as a man who is not only larger then life but, very human as well. He successfully creates a man who has two distinct identities yet, is very much the same man. Ann Hathaway is simply a great Selina Kyle. She gives a complex portrayal of a woman who is desirable, dangerous, cunning and yet, not without her humanity. She is a survivor and an opportunist and outright lethal, if she needs to be, but, there are also hints of vulnerability and a heart. She and Bale have a great chemistry together as both their outer characters and their alter egos. Tom Hardy is perfectly cast as the terrorist, Bane. A monster of a man but, with an intellect that is only matched by his ferocity and viciousness. Hardy hits a home run with this villain, who may not be quite The Joker but, makes his own impact and is totally believable as a man who could possible outsmart and outfight The Dark Knight. He makes Batman the underdog and that adds to the film’s drama and intensity. Marion Cotillard was the weak link here. Her Miranda Tate is given little to do through most of the film and when she does become important to the proceedings, she just doesn’t have the dramatic strength or intensity to make it work. She’s not bad but, just doesn’t give the role the strength it needs in the short amount of time the character is given to make an impact. In contrast Joseph Gordon-Levitt once again shows he’s an actor to watch as a beat cop who has never lost sight of the true hero that Batman is, despite taking the blame for Dent’s murders, and maybe has some of that hero in himself when everyone else around him gives up hope. To wrap up the casting call, Caine, Oldman and Freeman are brilliant as always. Caine in particular has a few scenes that prove he is, without a doubt, one of the greatest actors of all time, plain and simple. On a technical level, TDKR is beautifully filmed with Nolan’s camera achieving a rarely seen grandeur and the SPFX are flawless. The action scenes are intense, especially the fights between Bane and Bats and any further questions or flaws I have with the film are drowned in the operatic spectacle that Nolan has delivered. Sure the first act could have been smoother in flow and there are some plot holes and I don’t agree with absolutely everything Nolan and company chose to do in finishing their epic trilogy but, when the smoke clears, it is both entertaining and satisfying on a grand scale and if Nolan did get a bit bombastic in his final chapter, the indulgence can be easily forgiven when considering the overall achievement in delivering not only one of the greatest film trilogies but, giving one of the greatest comic book characters ever, the film series he needs… and the one he deserves.

3 and 1/2 Banes!

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