Lightning Review: Logan Lucky

Logan Lucky movie posterSynopsis
When Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) gets let go from his job, he convinces his siblings, Clyde (Adam Driver) and Mellie (Riley Keough), to help him rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Logan and Clyde recruit experienced bank robber Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) to help them get into the vault. But first, they have to figure out a way to get Joe Bang out of jail.

Review
Part way through Logan Lucky, I thought “Wow, this is a hillbilly Ocean’s Eleven,” which felt much more original until the movie made almost the same joke and I saw that it was directed by Steven Soderbergh (the director of Ocean’s Eleven) in the credits. In any case, it had many of the elements from Ocean’s Eleven that I enjoyed in that film. Like Ocean’s Eleven, it is a fairly slow burn for the first two-thirds of the film. Most of the run time is spent on the Logans concocting the plan / setting up all the pieces. However, also like Ocean’s Eleven, the fun characters, well-written dialogue, and great chemistry between the actors make this time enjoyable and entertaining. Once the heist actually happens, the payoff is well worth it. Keeping the film close to a formula that has worked well before and twisting it slightly was a brilliant move by Soderbergh. It keeps the film familiar yet still manages to keep it feeling new and fresh.

Having a great cast too doesn’t hurt the film either. Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as the Logan brothers are absolutely a blast to watch. On the surface, they seem like they might be a pair of dim-witted rednecks but you soon realize that’s not necessarily the case. Add in a Southern-accented Daniel Craig as Joe Bang and you know you’re going to have a good time. To my surprise, Joe Bang’s two brothers, played by Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson, were two of my favorite characters in the film. Several of their lines had me cracking up the most. I would love to see a sequel if only to see those two characters on screen again.

I thought Logan Lucky was GOOD 🙂 There is nothing original story-wise in this film but it uses what has been tried and true before and makes it work again in an unconventional way. The vibrant cast is clearly having fun, giving a fun Ocean’s Eleven vibe and keeping my attention despite not really picking up until the end. There are many better heist films out there but few of them are as whimsical or playful as Logan Lucky.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Steven Soderbergh – Director
Rebecca Blunt – Writer
David Holmes – Composer

Channing Tatum – Jimmy Logan
Adam Driver – Clyde Logan
Riley Keough – Mellie Logan
Daniel Craig – Joe Bang
Jack Quaid – Fish Bang
Brian Gleeson – Sam Bang
Farrah Mackenzie – Sadie Logan
Katie Holmes – Bobbie Jo Chapman
David Denman – Moody Chapman
Seth MacFarlane – Max Chilblain
Sebastian Stan – Dayton White
Jim O’Heir – Cal
Rebecca Koon – Purple Lady
Katherine Waterston – Slyvia Harrison
Hilary Swank – Special Agent Sarah Grayson
Macon Blair – Special Agent Brad Noonan

Jupiter Ascending Review

Review #101

Jupiter Ascending movie posterSynopsis
Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is a maid who hates where she is in life. Her life changes when she gets attacked by aliens and is rescued by Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), and she learns that she is the reincarnation of the leader of the House of Abrasax and rightfully owns Earth. But the three Abrasax children, Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Kalique (Tuppence Middleton), and Titus (Douglas Booth) are reluctant to give up their rule.

Review
When I first saw the trailer for Jupiter Ascending, I was excited. For two reasons: The Wachowskis. I haven’t seen Cloud Atlas but everything else they have been involved in I have greatly enjoyed (yes, even Speed Racer). After it got pushed back from August of 2014 to this February, I was a little bummed but understanding since it looked very special effects heavy. So I was excited when it was finally here. I wanted to really like this movie when I left the theater, I really did. Unfortunately, I simply liked it.

First things first, it’s understandable why Jupiter Ascending was delayed six months just by looking at it. A good portion of this film is composed of CGI. I think it looks pretty good. If there is one thing the Wachowskis are good at is understanding how to make their movies aesthetically pleasing. Everything from the environments to character design clearly had a lot of time put into it. It’s hard to pick out something in particular that stands out but I would have to say when there were zoomed out shots of anything, I was amazed.

Along with the CGI, I am glad to see many of the actors playing alien creatures wore makeup. There is something comforting about seeing special effects that aren’t computer-generated. It seems nowadays most films opt to use CGI to create anything non-human, so it appears the art of makeup is slowly going away. Many of the aliens had cool designs that would have looked corny otherwise.

There were a few laughs to be had throughout the film. One of the highlights was seeing that even in an advanced civilization, they still had to deal with bureaucracy and long lines like the DMV. Although it may be saying something if that was the highlight of the humor. I’m not sure if I didn’t find any of the jokes funny or I just didn’t notice them.

Clocking in at around two hours, Jupiter Ascending tries to get through a lot, so it moves pretty quickly. This both helps and hurts it. As I said, there is much it tries to do and it manages to do all of it. However, the story suffers because of it. For instance, one of the characters tries to build Jupiter’s trust only to betray it. Had the movie gave more time with Jupiter and this specific character, the betrayal could have been much more shocking. Instead, there was no build up, no reason for me to care this character was making an effort to deceive Jupiter. Also, many of the scene transitions were jarring because scenes were cut short abruptly to keep trudging along to the next scene.

Another casualty of the quick pace was the love story. First off, I think it was unnecessary in the first place. But second, if a movie contains a love story, it should have time to bloom and build the relationship between the two characters. It comes up maybe three times throughout the film and the first time it seemed, at least to me, to just show up without any kind of build up. With as much as the film was trying to accomplish, there wasn’t room for another subplot. It could have been removed and nothing would have changed.

Jupiter Ascending is one of those rare films that tries to be unique and do its own thing in a world filled sequels and reboots. Unfortunately, it tried to do too much and trips over itself. I enjoyed it but still found myself leaving the theater with a twinge of disappointment.

Rating
3/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Andy Wachowski – Director / Writer
Lana Wachowski – Director / Writer
Michael Giachino – Composer

Mila Kunis – Jupiter Jones
Channing Tatum – Caine Wise
Sean Bean – Stinger Apini
Eddie Redmayne – Balem Abrasax
Tuppence Middleton – Kalique Abrasax
Douglas Booth – Titus Abrasax
Niiki Amuka-Bird – Diomika Tsing
Christina Cole – Gemma Chatterjee
Nicholas A. Newman – Nesh
Roman Tikaram – Phylo Percadium
Ariyon Bakare – Greegon
Maria Doyle Kennedy – Aleksa
Frog Stone – Aunt Nino

Movie Quote of the Week – 10/10/14

Answer to 10/8/14 MWL: Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) – 21 Jump Street

Hardy: Do you even know the Miranda Rights?
Jenko: Yes.
Hardy: Let’s here them then.
Jenko: You got a lot of stuff to do.
Hardy: No, go ahead. Are you going anywhere, Schmidt? You’ve got time.
Schmidt: I had a thing but I could probably push it back.
Hardy: Go ahead. It’s four declamatory sentences followed by a question for a total of 57 words.
Jenko: Uh, ok. It obviously starts with ‘You have the right to remain silent.’ I know you’ve heard this before. And then, um, I think it sounds something like, uh…
Schmidt: [Under his breath] You have the right to an attorney.
Jenko: Yea, oh, right. You have the right to remain an attorney.
Hardy: Did you say that ‘you have to right to be an attorney?’
Schmidt: You do have the right to be an attorney if you want to.

The following people answered correctly:
emmakwal (explains it all)

Lightning Review: White House Down

White House Down movie posterSynopsis
John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a Capitol Policeman and Afghanistan veteran who is applying to be in the secret service. After the interview, he takes his daughter on a tour of the White House. During the tour, the White House is attacked by a group of mercenaries trying to kidnap the President (Jamie Foxx). Cale manages to elude the terrorists and goes to search for his daughter (Joey King).

Review
White House Down works best if you go in with the mindset of accepting the absurd. The plot is just ridiculous; Each new twist is more silly that the last. It is riddled with cliches and tries to act as a call back to the cheesy action movies of the 80s. At the very least, it is aware of this and isn’t afraid to poke fun at the absurdity of itself. There are many funny moments throughout the film and Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx each get their fair share of one-liners, which are hit or miss. However, some of best bits come when those two are bantering back and forth. I was hoping that given the cast (Tatum, Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods), director and writer (James Vanderbilt also wrote The Amazing Spider-Man) that it would have turned out better. As long as you go into White House Down understanding it is nowhere near Emmerich’s best film and expect a lot of cheesy dialogue, the action, one-liners and buddy-cop-like chemistry between Tatum and Foxx make it more enjoyable than it otherwise would be.
 

Rating
3/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Roland Emmerich – Director
James Vanderbilt – Writer
Harald Kloser – Composer
Thomas Wanker – Composer

Channing Tatum – John Cale
Jamie Foxx – President James Sawyer
Maggie Gyllenhaal – Carol Finnerty
Jason Clarke – Emil Stenz
Richard Jenkins – Raphelson
Joey King – Emily Cale
James Woods – Martin Walker
Nicolas Wright – Donnie Donaldson
Jimmi Simpson – Skip Tyler
Michael Murphy – Vice President Alvin Hammond
Rachelle Lefevre – Melanie
Lance Reddick – General Caulfield
Matt Craven – Agent Kellerman

Lightning Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra movie posterSynopsis
Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) escort a convoy transporting experimental nanomite warheads when it gets ambushed by Baroness (Sienna Miller) and her Neo Viper soldiers. They are rescued by Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Snake Eyes (Ray Park), Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), and Breaker (Said Taghmaoui), members of an elite military unit known as G.I.Joe, or Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity. The Joes race to stop the creator of the warheads, James McCullen (Christopher Eccleston), from using the warheads to start the next World War.

Review
G.I. Joe has followed in Transformers’ footsteps as the next Hasbro toy line to receive the live-action movie treatment. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a fairly standard action movie, one that sacrifices plot for explosions. But that works in its favor because it knows exactly the kind of film it wants to be. The action is pretty good, particularly anything with Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow (or both), but the thin plot is pulled straight from the 1980s cartoon. There are times it tries to be serious and these scenes feel out of place compared with the rest of the film. My favorite performance was Rachel Nichols as Scarlett. Brendan Fraser had a little cameo as Sgt. Stone that was a nice surprise. With this movie being the rise of Cobra, we don’t see Cobra Commander until the end, and even so he isn’t wearing his iconic mask. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is nothing special, but if you take it for what it is, there is some fun to be had.

Rating
3/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Stephen Sommers – Director/Story
Stuart Beattie – Screenplay/Story
David Elliot – Screenplay
Paul Lovett – Screenplay
Michael Gordon – Story
Alan Silvestri – Composer

Channing Tatum – Duke
Marlon Wayans – Ripcord
Sienna Miller – Ana/Baroness
Christopher Eccleston – Jame McCullen
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – The Doctor/Rex
Byung-hun Lee – Storm Shadow
Ray Park – Snake Eyes
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje – Heavy Duty
Rachel Nichols – Scarlett
Said Taghmaoui – Breaker
Dennis Quaid – General Hawk
Arnold Vosloo – Zartan
Karolina Kurkova – Cover Girl
Leo Howard – Young Snake Eyes
Brandon Soo Hoo – Young Storm Shadow
Gerald Okamura – Hard Master
Jonathan Pryce – US President

22 Jump Street Trailer

Official Synopsis: After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) when they go deep undercover at a local college. But when Jenko meets a kindred spirit on the football team, and Schmidt infiltrates the bohemian art major scene, they begin to question their partnership. Now they don’t have to just crack the case – they have to figure out if they can have a mature relationship. If these two overgrown adolescents can grow from freshmen into real men, college might be the best thing that ever happened to them.

21 Jump Street was a surprise hit for me.  Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill had good chemistry, so any time to see them on screen together, I’m in.  It looks like a lot of the humor that made the first one so enjoyable is still there, which is a good sign.  One of the ongoing gags was Hill and Tatum looked too old for high school, and that gag continues here as well.  But I’m not sure if it will hold up the way it did before.  In any case, I’m looking forward to seeing this next summer.

Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and starring Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube, 22 Jump Street hits theaters June 13, 2014.