THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015)
Latest flick from Quentin Tarantino finds bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) heading to the town of Red Rock with his latest acquisition, murderess Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). They are reluctantly in the company of another bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and there is a massive blizzard on it’s way. Ruth, Warren and a group of others find themselves taking shelter at a remote haberdashery to wait out the storm. The owners are suspiciously absent and now Ruth begins to suspect he’s walked into a trap with possible associates of Miss Domergue. As they are all snowbound together, paranoia begins to take over as no one knows who they can trust. Accusations begin to fly, can bullets be far behind?
If I am to sum up Quentin Tarantino’s latest in one word it would be underwhelmed. The film is well directed and certainly looks great, as Tarantino knows how to frame a shot. It’s just that it is a very long winded mystery/thriller at almost three hours and there are tedious stretches of dialog that seem to drag on. Tarantino is known for his snappy dialog, but here it just seems to meander, taking a long time to accomplish something. Once the bullets and blood start to fly in the last act, it just comes off as gratuitous after such a long time of slowly unraveling what is going on. That and when it is all laid out before us, it’s not all that impressive or a big deal. You kind of feel like “I sat through almost three hours for this?”. There are some really good characters and performances in the flick and it has a great cast, but just takes a long time to not go anywhere all that interesting or far. Not an outright bad movie, just one that is only moderately engaging. Also stars Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen and Channing Tatum.
JUPITER ASCENDING (2015)
Although credits claim it is actually written and directed by The Wachowski’s (The Matrix), watching this colorful mess implies they were simply making it up as they went along. The plot, if there really is one, is vaguely about a young Earth woman, with the porno name of Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who is actually alien royalty and being hunted by her mumbling rival, Balem (a horrible Eddie Redmayne) and protected by alien warrior, Caine (a blonde Channing Tatum in hilarious elf ears). The film is tedious, talky and very hard to follow, though, when there is action, it is spectacularly done. The FX are really well orchestrated, too, but used to such ridiculous ends at times, it’s hard to remain impressed by them. Simply an overambitious mess with Redmayne being possibly one of the worst villains in movies history.
Written by Matthew Holt and directed by Michael Axelgaard, this British found footage flick has an interesting concept, but is a slow moving bore. The film entails a trip by two couples (Sam Stockman , Emily Plumtree, Matt Stokoe and Jessica Ellerby) to a remote farmhouse near an old tree with a bizarre history. It is said that for centuries, couples have been found hanging from the tree and that there is an evil lurking in the ruins nearby. So of course, this is the perfect vacation spot! Obviously, one of the vacationers is a camera-phile and everything is being recorded. And what they capture is a lot of dull exposition and couple bickering till the film actually decides to become a horror movie in the last 10 minutes. A snoozer with one or two creepy moments at best. At least the British birds were cute.
Written and directed by James Ward Byrkit, this 90 minutes of pretentious drivel tries to stretch a Twilight Zone plot into a full length movie. Film has a bunch of yuppie hipsters getting together for wine and cheese and self-important conversation when a comet passes over and they soon find out that there are duplicates of their house and themselves all over the block. What we then get is a bunch of quantum physics techno-babble and then fearful panic. For a bunch of science-minded, supposed intellectuals, they then begin to do some stupid stuff. It all adds up to a lot of boring talk and a very shallow attempt at doing what Dennis Illadis’ +1 did a lot better. Stars Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Nicholas Brendon in an annoying role as the least helpful of the bunch.
22 JUMP STREET (2014)
21 Jump Street turned out to be a hilariously fun surprise with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum teaming up as Schmidt and Jenko, two misfit cops who get sent back to high school on an undercover assignment, a la the 80s TV show. Not only did Tatum show a gift for comedy but, the two really had a great chemistry and the flick was really funny. Two years later we are back for a sequel that this time finds the duo going to college to investigate a new drug that has already cost one student their life. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are back too and while this flick is not nearly as fresh and funny as the first film, it is still entertaining and their are still plenty of laughs. Hill and Tatum continue to be a really tight comic team and the fun they are having together translates to the screen and gets us through some of the more stale bits and more tired jokes. Overall, I was entertained by this second entry, in what appears to be a franchise in the making, but, the recently announced third installment is going to need some freshening up to keep us in our seats for more.
Heard some good buzz about this Norwegian monster movie but, those annoyed at Godzilla’s lack of screen time will really be frustrated with this one. Family style film finds a Norwegian archeologist (Pal Sverre Valheim Hagen) taking his kids and colleagues to Finnmark to a no-man’s-land of former Soviet territory to find evidence of the whereabouts of a lost Viking tribe. Instead he finds the horrifying truth of the reason for their disappearance in the form of a massive serpent that lives within a lake. Written by John Kare Raake and directed by Mikkel Braenne Sandermose, the film is well made but, takes over an hour for our CGI creature to appear and then it’s further appearances are briefer than Gareth Edwards Godzilla. In between we get a lot of Raiders of the Lost Ark cliche’s Norwegian style and while it isn’t boring, when all is said and done, not a lot happens and what does is nothing we haven’t seen before. An OK flick to pass the time and the Viking lore was an interesting angle but, too familiar and uneventful to be memorable.