Transformers: The Last Knight (Full Review)

At this point, Michael Bay directing Transformers films is like that friend of yours at the party who was drunk hours ago but keeps tossing back shots. When he first arrived he was the life of the party, but now he has to drive home and you realize that someone should’ve snatched the keys from him a long time ago. The Transformers movies started off as a goofy, but fun and action packed thrill ride with low expectations due to the fact that it’s based off of a line of action figures. But now, the series has effectively become dumb and redundant.

timthumbIf you thought that the plot to Transformers 2,3, and 4 were overly convoluted, then get ready for this shit. Yeah, I said ‘shit’, and if that bothers you then you probably shouldn’t see this movie because the word is used in every other sentence like the entire cast are fifth graders who think cursing makes them cool and edgy. The heroic Optimus Prime has left Earth in hopes of finding and killing his creator. Back on our planet, the military has outlawed all transformers and is hunting them. You’d think after the Autobots have saved their asses in four movies that they’d stop blowing up the good guys… but whatever.

Meanwhile, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and some 14 year old we’re made to think is relevant but isn’t (Isabela Moner) are fugitives for harboring Bumblebee and the rest of the Autobots. Yeager finds a medallion that belonged to twelve ancient transformers that fought with King Arthur and the wizard Merlin, which brings him into contact with Anthony Hopkins and his annoying robot butler who want to recover the staff of Merlin (portrayed as a buffoon by Stanley Tucci) that they’ll need to keep Earth from being devoured by Cybertron, the Transformers’ home world. Laura Haddock plays Merlin’s successor (that’s a spoiler but you shouldn’t care) and Josh Duhamel and John Turturro reprise their roles for no real reason.

There. Those are the overt basics of the plot and that doesn’t even mention Autobot arch nemesis Megatron who also returns in a useless subplot. So you can only imagine how meandering this nearly three hour film is. At a certain point, there isn’t any reason to care about any of the story, because you know its eventually going to turn into a robot war with a bunch of military aircrafts and explosions. But even that action is often muddled and disorienting.

There are so many robots that you wonder if the writers even remembered them all. Constantly, at every corner one comes, makes a corny joke, blows something up, gets shot, then leaves, appearing on screen just long enough to make you question why it appeared in the first place. The dinobots return from Age of Extinction only to be inexplicably absent during the finale. And if you were excited about the battle between an evil Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, get ready to be Batman v Supermaned (“Why did you say that name!!!”). In fact, Optimus Prime is barely in the movie, so putting him on posters is like putting Hawkeye on the forefront of Avengers promotions.

The goofy humor, which gets less funny with each film, has finally hit rock bottom. There’s barely a chuckle to be had. There’s no Bernie Mac, T.J. Miller or Anthony Anderson here. No one brings the physical comedy that made Shia LaBeouf necessary. Mark Wahlberg looks bored and the feeble attempt at romantic chemistry between he and Haddock is lifeless. So by the time you actually get through the two hours of bull crap and get to the climactic battle, you just feel exhausted. There are just too many characters that are lackluster and irrelevant.

This series has run its course. The writing no longer makes any sense and other than Bumblebee, no character is truly likable or memorable. Even Fast and the Furious knew how to shake things up a bit. Enough with the transformers made to be stereotypes and the quirky, dumb humans searching for some magical McGuffin. The animated films and TV shows can be taken more seriously, so it’s clear that this franchise needs new blood. This is supposed to be Michael Bay’s last time directing Transformers. But after watching his final monotonous entry, it just feels like we’ve already been enablers to our drunken friend who ruined the party.

FINAL GRADE: A big fat Decepticon sized F

Transformers: The Last Knight (Full Review)

The Mummy (2017) Full Review

Welcome to the age of cinematic universes. Marvel did it. DC is doing it. Even Lego has one going. And now Universal is trying to cash in on the action by using their old monster movies. The Brendan Frasier Mummy movies weren’t the greatest, but there is a fun 90’s camp feel to them that makes them enjoyable. Looking to launch their interconnected Dark Universe, The Mummy tosses Tom Cruise into the fold to reboot the series.

The_Mummy_(2017)Cruise stars as US soldier, Nick Morton, who scrambles around the middle east with his friend and fellow soldier (Jake Johnson) recovering artifacts from insurgents to sell on the black market. After stealing a map from an archaeologist (Annabelle Wallis), he inadvertently releases Princess Ahmanet, (Sofia Boutella), an evil mummy who wants to turn him into the god of death and unleash hell on earth. Oh yeah… and Russell Crowe plays Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde ‘cause cinematic universe and stuff.

The movie certainly earns points for some solid special effects and a few successful jump scares, but it’s hard to ignore how out of place everything is. Tom Cruise has never been one for slapstick humor, and this movie is full of zany jokes that would work best if Brendan Frasier were the one leading the charge. Instead, this movie switches between horror and campy action adventure, never truly settling on a correct tone and fading into a failed attempt to be what it thinks audiences want to see in a summer blockbuster.

Cruise is also not the only one out of his element. Russell Crowe is useless, to both the plot and as a casting choice and Annabelle Wallis’ Dr. Halsey is dull and unoriginal. And if the meandering story and unnecessary easter eggs don’t make it completely obvious that this movie is designed to set up spinoffs and sequels, the somewhat inexplicable ending does its best to shove that concept as far down your throat as possible. There are worse films to watch, even in the Mummy franchise (Scorpion King anyone?), but this Mummy reboot is just a soulless attempt to cash in on the hottest Hollywood trend without actually doing anything to make you care about any of it.

FINAL GRADE: D

The Mummy (2017) Full Review

Baywatch (Full Review)

If you’re like me, you remember the concept of Baywatch more than the actual show. David Hasselhoff and women in skin tight swimsuits solved crimes as lifeguards on the beaches of Los Angeles. Somehow that was a premise good enough for over a decade of television episodes. If there’s a property that seems ripe for a comedic parody film, it’s this one.

Baywatch_posterIn this adaptation of Baywatch, Dwayne “The Hulk” Johnson takes over Hasselhoff’s role of head Emerald Bay lifeguard Mitch Buchannon, whose job becomes a bit more frustrating after his boss (Rob Huebel) sticks him with arrogant Olympic Swimmer Matt Brody (Zac Efron). When a club owner (Priyanka Chopra) begins smuggling drugs on their beach, Mitch and fellow lifeguards Stephanie (Ilfenesh Hadera), CJ (Kelly Rohrbach), Summer (Alexandra Daddario), and chubby oddball Ronnie (Jon Bass) take on the role of self appointed beach vigilantes to try and stop her, much to the dismay of actual area policeman, Garner Ellerbee (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).

Marketing itself as a comedy for wide audiences and not just fans of the television series, poking fun at the fact that the original cast carried themselves as if they were filming Law and Order, and not a cheesy drama that was just a reason for people to gawk at supermodels, should’ve offered the opportunity for heavy laughs. And yet, the cast of this film version of Baywatch operate almost exactly like their small screen predecessors. Throughout the movie, it is reinforced that this should be a job for the police and that Mitch and his crew are out of their league. Instead of at least crafting a resolution to show that both sides could help each other in protecting the bay, the movie ends up being a tale of superhero lifeguards who can and will recklessly take matters into their own hands with positive results. And maybe that was the point, for Dwayne Johnson and cast to embrace the ridiculousness of the source material by attacking it with the same seriousness. The problem with that is that it makes Baywatch the movie as terrible as the TV show.

Instead of being a spoof, the film wants to be an action movie with self-reverential humor and carries itself as if its rescue sequences are actually intensely thrilling. But the entire time it just feels like you’re being told a boring, over exaggerated story that might be more interesting if you were a lifeguard. It doesn’t help that many of the scenes don’t feel remotely realistic due to an overuse of green screen, which just seems lazy considering the movie is set on an LA beach.

Occasionally the movie makes up for its atrocious attempt at being exciting by throwing in some good laughs. But there aren’t as much as you’d think. The movie follows my comedy pet peeve of having its biggest laughs in its trailers and too often it relies on gross out humor or Jon Bass’ character being the awkward antithesis of the typical Baywatch lifeguard. And it’s a shame, because we know from past films like Central Intelligence and Neighbors that Johnson and Efron are capable of being hilarious with both delivery and physical comedy.

So if you’re expecting a comedic parody, you’ll only be satisfied about 20% of the time. As for the purists, I’ve never met an actual fan of the TV show so I don’t know if it’ll be pleasing to them. Sure, the men look like gladiators and the woman are stunning, but who the hell cares if you have to sit through two hours of lousy plot and cheesy action?

FINAL GRADE: D = Terrible Movie with a few redeeming qualities

Baywatch (Full Review)

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Full Review)

There is a scene in this film where King Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is rapidly retelling a soldier the story of his scuffle with a Viking. The soldier becomes confused and repeatedly asks for clarification. It is hardly relevant to overall plot, but ends up being a great scene in that it is a microcosm for the entire film: A scatter brained, poorly paced retelling of a story we don’t really need to know.

King_Arthur_LotS_posterThis reimagining of King Arthur, directed by Guy Ritchie, involves a war with wizards (referred to as Mages) that eventually leads to Arthur’s uncle Vortigem (Jude Law) uniting with dark magic to overthrow the King (Eric Bana) and take over the kingdom of Camelot. Before he dies, the true king preserves his magical sword, Excalibur, and helps his young son escape. Decades later, tests to find the true heir to the thrown leads to Arthur reclaiming the sword. Along with a young mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) and his father’s old allies (Djimon Hounsou and Aidan Gillen), a reluctant Arthur is forced to embrace his destiny and overthrow his uncle.

Conceptually, there are several elements within King Arthur: Legend of the Sword that can make you understand the attempt. The inclusion of magic and mythology is intriguing and both Hunnam and Jude Law do their best to elevate their characters from cliché caricatures with emotion and charisma. But the overall product just ends up being a convoluted and often boring mess.

Much of the blame has to go to Guy Ritchie (The Man from UNCLE, Sherlock Holmes) whose overindulgent cinematography is stuffed with hokey CGI fight sequences, dizzying camera angles, excessive slow motion effects, and awkward pacing. The rest of the blame goes to the script itself, which fails to find a central arc and instead crams far too much information and lure into a film that is moving too fast for its audience to grasp it all. Important elements are given montages that turn what might’ve been intriguing  character building moments into rapid footnotes that could’ve been left on the cutting room floor if they weren’t going to be expanded upon.

There are also far too many characters to learn and become attached to, many of which serve the same purpose. While some, such as Aiden Gillen’s Goosefat Bill and Berges-Frisbey’s mage have wit and charm, the vast majority are immediately forgettable and just take up valuable screen time that could’ve been spent elsewhere. Thus, despite having an interesting foundation, an attempt to be a unique take on a classic story ends up making King Arthur: Legend of the Sword one of the most disorienting films in recent memory.

FINAL GRADE: D

MOORE REVIEWS Grading Scale:

A = Must See/Top 10 Nominee

B = Good film. Flawed, but still very entertaining

C = Not Bad, but highly flawed/Probably better off waiting for Redbox

D = Terrible Movie with a few redeeming qualities

F = I wanted to walk out/Don’t waste time or money

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Full Review)

The Circle (Full Review)

Just how much social media is too much? Is social media and the rapid growth of technology making the world less private? Is privacy worth trading for security? These are just some of the philosophical questions that are bound to pop up in the coming years as our world evolves. The Circle, adapted from a 2013 novel written by Dave Eggers, is a story that raises many of those questions. If only it had answers for them.

The_Circle_(2017_film)The Circle takes place in the near future where people all over the world are connected through a Facebook meets Apple meets Google media conglomerate known as ‘The Circle’ ran by tech genius Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks) and legal figurehead Tom Stenton. When her friend Annie (Karen Gillan) gets her a customer service job at the Circle, Mae (Emma Watson) sees it as a golden opportunity to help her ill father (the late Bill Paxton) and improve her dull life. As her career within the company rises and her relationship with a close family friend (Ellar Coltrane) begins to deteriorate, she begins to question the morality of the Circle.

There is a strong theoretical core to The Circle as it does manage to raise all of the questions mentioned earlier, but overall this is a film that collapses on itself without truly understanding what it should be. After taking far too long to introduce actual conflict, the film teeters in its final act when it doesn’t quite know how to answer all of its many hypotheticals. Emma Watson’s character goes through tragedy as a result of the issues brought up, but the resolution matches neither the build up or the lesson that should’ve been learned.

We are asked by the narrative to think about what social media means to our societal privacy. We are asked to wonder how much information is too much, and yet… the film’s climax veers off into a hardly relevant commentary about corruption. As a result, The Circle ends up like an uneven equation. It raises questions then responds with an answer to one that was never asked.

The lack of resolution wouldn’t be as frustrating if there were other elements that made the film worth while. But the performances are mostly flat, save for an underutilized John Boyega as the one questioning cog within the Circle. Emma Watson gives her worst performance since childhood as she spends most of the movie poorly hiding her accent and trying to find the correct emotional footing through an uneven script. Several characters also have uneven arcs like Gillain’s Annie, who goes from peppy Circle subordinate to paranoid, jealous, pill addict without any real transition. And sure, thought provoking films don’t necessarily need to have all of the answers to the questions they raise, but The Circle comes off like a film that doesn’t even know what questions its asking.

FINAL GRADE: D

 

 

The Circle (Full Review)

Unforgettable (Full Review)

Here we go again. Another film about a crazy love triangle that ends in a same sex brawl. Hollywood seems intent on pooping one of these out at least once a year. And if you’ve read my reviews of Boy Next Door, The Perfect Guy, or When the Bough Breaks… you can probably guess which direction this review is going in.

Unforgettable_2017_posterRosario Dawson stars as an internet blogger and former victim of an abusive relationship who moves across the country to live with her new fiancé (Geoff Stults). As she attempts to build a loving relationship with her new beau’s young daughter, she soon finds herself dealing with his psychotic baby mama (Katherine Heigl) who will do anything to get her family back.

Heigl’s character takes crazy ex  to the extreme, and she fits the role perfectly (although I’m not sure that’s a good thing). Her bug eyed performance almost makes the movie delve into the “so bad it’s actually good” territory. Almost. The movie as a whole is too busy being held back by sheer narrative incompetence to find even B-movie enjoyment. Dawson’s character is a moron who makes so many poor decisions it’s hard to actually pull for her and Stults has the personality of a wet paper bag.

The movie plays out exactly how you’d expect, without a single thread veering into anything truly suspenseful all the way into an ending that laughably attempts to set up a sequel. So Unforgettable ends up being the most forgettable movie I’ve seen in a while. It’s almost mind boggling that writers keep finding new spins on the same concept and yet have failed to make any of them truly interesting or memorable. The real question is, which actor with a flailing film career is going to pop up in the next one?

FINAL GRADE: F

Unforgettable (Full Review)