Entries in Action (161)

Saturday
Jun172017

Baby Driver- review

 

“Baby Driver” (2017)

Directed by Edgar Wright

Starring Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Hamm

Running Time 113 Minutes, Rated R.

4.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

I’m listening to the soundtrack to this film, in particular the film’s opening song “Bellbottoms” by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion which is perfectly infused into the super badass high octane opening scene of “Baby Driver”, and all I can say is that I want to watch this film again, right now, right flippin now!, but I can’t cause I saw an early screening of the film so it’s not accessible until June 27th, and now I’m a little sad.  But I keep listening to the soundtrack, and I’m happy again.  Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver” is an absolute smash of a good time, and if you want to be happy for 113 minutes straight then this is a MUST SEE!

Edgar Wright gets it, he knows better than us, he knows what we want even when we don’t, and I feel safe in his arms.  “Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz”, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (super underrated), and “The World’s End”; he hasn’t swung and missed yet, and “Baby Driver” might be his best at bat yet.  “Baby Driver” is cool; so cool that we wouldn't have hung out in high school, so cool that if you wanted your drink on the rocks then you’d just cut up this film into little pieces, so cool that this film gives the sun brain freeze.  Oooh and that opening sequence, is seriously one of the better opening scenes I’ve seen. 

Ansel Elgort plays Baby, a getaway driver to rule all getaway drivers who is working off a debt from crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey).  Baby suffers from a real bad case of tinnitus, and therefore always has an Ipod going with headphones blaring to drown out the humming.  Baby meets a fellow dreamer in a waitress named Deborah (Lily James) and they fall for each other fast, but being Doc’s good luck charm in heists it won’t be easy to get out of that world.  

It took all but 10 seconds for me to fall in love with Elgort here as Baby.  It’s a tricky performance since his character is light on dialogue, but he makes up for it in spades with a charm that raises every other of the fantastic performances that spoil this film.  Elgort and James are so easy to root for, and Wright makes their romance angle just as exciting as the top notch getaway scenes.  Everyone else kills it; Spacey almost sings his dialogue he’s so good, Jon Bernthal pops up shortly but memorably, Jon Hamm finds the film role he’s been looking for post “Mad Men” actually showing me can play scary, but it was Jamie Foxx as the film’s loose cannon that was really scary and if it were up to me I would be so bold as to give him a Supporting Nod.

But maybe the best performance is the music.  Wright interweaves the music so well in every scene with an eclectic selection that hits every genre and hits it perfectly.  You thought “Tequila” by The Champs would always be remembered for “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”, well not so fast champ cause “Baby Driver” has something to say about that now.   

“Baby Driver” has the chance to be Wright’s first big box office hit and if you’re willing to spend your money on a great film, it will be.

Exodus 14:14

 

Saturday
Jun172017

Wonder Woman- review

 

“Wonder Woman” (2017)

Directed by Patty Jenkins

Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright

Running Time 141 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

What a wonderful surprise “Wonder Woman” turned out to be.  No, not because it was female driven, that doesn’t surprise me at all, what surprised me is that the new DC Universe finally made a good film.  I feel like I can finally move forward with the series without dread of having to force myself through another “Batman V. Superman” or “Suicide Squad”.  

While I wasn’t surprised a female driven superhero film could work, I am thankful that it did.  Good on “Monster” director Patty Jenkins and lead actress Gal Gadot for delivering a very fun, well acted, action romp that isn’t without it’s flaws, but, nevertheless, is a legitimate success, which is an important step that should give opportunities to countless more female directors and action leads.  

 

During WW2 an American Intelligence Agent named Steve Trevor, played by the charming and funny Chris Pine crash lands on Paradise Island, an island hidden from the rest of mankind and occupied only by female warriors.  One of these warriors is Diana aka Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), daughter to Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), who wants nothing more than to prove that love conquers all.  What better opportunity than to help defeat the Nazi’s and rescue those afflicted by them.  After a battle with some Nazi’s, which was pretty cool to watch a whole bunch of female warriors take on, Diana joins Trevor, and they head back to England to help save the world.  

Gadot is great as Wonder Woman, uplifting and strong minded, she also shares an excellent chemistry with Pine who both handle some spunky banter very well together.  The movie succeeds by being a feminist film but not cramming it down our throats.  Women are empowered by this film, but it’s egalitarian to the sexes, not a battle of them.  Storywise, there are some pretty big consequences that tie the story together, and the third act showdown with the CG villain is clunky to say the least; however, that can’t take away from how good of a time “Wonder Woman” is.  

Truly wonderful.  

Psalm 46:5

 

Friday
Jun022017

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword- review

 

“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” (2017)

Directed by Guy Ritchie

Starring Charlie Hunnam,  Astrid Bergès-Frisbey,  Jude Law

Running Time 126 Minutes, PG-13

2.5 Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Listen, Guy Ritchie had me for a second, he did, but then it was right lifted away for this bloke.  

I’m not gonna lie, I got caught up in the made for dudes cockney crime caper aesthetics that “Snatch” director Guy Ritchie provides.  There’s Arthur, played by the physically fit and charming Charlie Hunnam, recounting a story along with his other street lads (that eventually become the Knights of the Round Table) trying to evade the higher ups and delivering information in that sleek Guy Ritchie style.  But alas, Guy Ritchie is often more style than substance, and in his latest, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” he confuses substance with running time, and we’re left with mostly only style.

 

The King Arthur tale is thrown at us with some of the bits you remember but also with the CGI additions of giant elephants and snake sorceresses.  We’ve got a quick cut coming of age as Arthur, unbeknownst to his royal blood, was separated from his king father played by Eric Bana, when his brother Vortigern played by Jude Law betrays him for the throne.  Arthur, raised in the brothels and schooled by Chinese George (I’m not being racist, that’s his IMDB name) in martial arts, is a leader whether he knows it or not.  So when Vortigern, who is not the people’s choice and can be vanquished when the Sword of the Stone shows itself and whomever pulls it from the stone will be named King, it’s Arthurs for the taking.   For a very long time, we see Arthur go through the struggles of taking that throne, and the proceedings are bloated to say the least.

My favorite scene is is a very well paced escape scene when Arthur and his rag tag group of rebels try to escape the clutches of Vortigern’s grasp as Ritchie moves his camera over the rooftops through the ins and outs of the kingdom in a fast paced tense getaway.  That level of fun is never close to matched, but for a brief moment Mr. Ritchie got it right even though this film is eventually in the wrong.

 

Wednesday
May312017

Gaurdians of the Galaxy Vol. 2- review

 

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Directed by James Gunn

Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper

Running Time 136 Minutes, Rated PG-13

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Remember the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” and how out of left field it was, how it just knocked us on our butts but in a good way?  One of Marvel’s better films for sure, we were treated to an action space rock opera (70’s and 80’s music utilized to perfection) that made Chris Pratt an A-list mega star and showcased Vin Diesel’s greatest acting performance to date.  Sequels to megahits are a tricky thing no doubt.  You have to repeat some of the tricks that got you there in the first place while evolving the characters journey and not just giving us a rinse and repeat cycle cash grab.  Director James Gunn (“Slither”) who helmed the first one doesn’t totally knock us on our butts again for Vol. 2, but my dairyaire eventually made it to a seated floor position by the credits and it’s 4 end credit sequences!

There’s meandering in the middle, and the pace slows down to a space snail’s pace but all you have to do is interject Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) and all is forgiven.  Groot, the muscle bound tree sorta humanoid, who sacrificed his life at the end of the first film, but survived as a seedling is now in what could be called his terrible two’s, and it’s the most adorable thing this side of any galaxy.  We’re treated to some Baby Groot dancing as “Mr. Blue Sky” by Elo plays as the rest of the Guardians: Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Pratt), bad-a assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), and Rocket the Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) but don’t call him a raccoon, do contract work battling with a giant squid.  

 

Those tricks earlier mentioned; killer soundtrack, cuter than hell Groot, and wicked insults from Rocket are entertaining, but the film becomes good with the dysfunctional group trying to be a family along with Peter running away from his mother’s death of cancer when he was just a small boy.  In Vol. 2 Peter’s dad, who he’s never met, shows up and just so happens to be a god, in the form of Kurt Russell (noice!) named Ego, who happens to be a living planet.  The question is posed whether Peter will leave his fighting-space makeshift family for Ego, but that storyline never really is believable and Gunn does have a way of laying it on pretty thick at times.  

But sometimes the thicker, the better.  After said meandering, the third act kicks backs into gear action wise and family drama wise, highlighted by Michael Rooker who steals the whole friggen movie (Baby Groot included) as a blue-skinned gnarly toothed space pirate with a  killer whistle that basically raised Peter.  

This time around was definitely less fresh to eyes as the first time around, but that’s bound to happen.  Vol. 2 still wailed, but I would be concerned about the diminishing returns for the inevitable Vol. 3.  

Proverbs 22:6

 

Wednesday
May312017

Free Fire- Review

 

“Free Fire” (2017)

Directed by Ben Wheatley

Starring Sharlto Copley,  Brie Larson,  Armie Hammer

Running Time 90 Minutes, Rated R.

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

British filmmaker Ben Wheatley (“Kill List”, “A Field in England”) releases his latest, “Free Fire” with the cleverness of a film student working on a genre specific homework assignment with gusto, unfortunately this exercise should have stayed in the classroom and not the theaters.

 

It’s Boston, it’s the late 70’s, and it’s a film with one locale and one night to say what it has to say. There are two gangs in an abandoned warehouse trying to pull down a weapons deal.  Looking to buy are some Irish gangsters led by Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley) trying to bring back some arsenal for the motherland.  The sellers are a group of South Africans led by Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and some U.S. associate, whilst the broker of the deal (and the only one who has seen some real action pulling a trigger) is the mercenary Ord (Armie Hammer).  Just so happens that the deal goes south when one from Chris’ side was less than Christian to a loved one from the South African side the night before.  A briefcase of money, a buttload of guns, and even more testosterone are a’blazing, even from the only lady between the two gangs played by Brie Larson.  

 

The set up is fun, and Wheatley gets to the point.  But then that point becomes tedious and repeated to an unpleasant outcome.  They casted well; Copley is one my favorite character actors working today being slimy-funny like nobody else, Murphy is just as quiet and weirdly charming as ever, Larson can play soft and tough all at the same time, but it’s Armie Hammer who grew a giant baby bird hiding beard who delivers some of the funniest lines with his cocky tough guy routine.  Unfortunately, the talented cast can’t mask a weak script that doesn’t peel behind the surface for any of it’s characters.

Not a huge misfire, but here’s a film that should be free to you if you’re gonna see it (see what I did there).

 

 

Thursday
Apr202017

The Fate of the Furious- Review

 

“The Fate of the Furious” (2017)

Directed by F. Gary Gray

Starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez

Running Time 136 Minutes, Rated PG-13

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


Like the rest of the masses I pledged my allegiance to the Fast and Furious saga with the fifth installment.  In “Fast Five” the powers that be decided that Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and crew weren’t just illegal street racers slash carjackers with hearts of gold on the run from the law, nay they had become basically superheroes. Their crew became recruited and entangled in taking down terrorism threats that ultimately protected the U.S. of A.  Somehow that move worked, and worked in a major way.  The Furious movies are a global phenomenon billion dollar business more furious than ever, but unfortunately the 8th entry stalls out for way too long to be measured up to the delights that are entries 5 thru 7.  

“The Fate of Furious” opens spectacularly with a drag race in Cuba that literally goes up in flames and shows us repeatedly what the ‘Cuban Way’ is, or so we’re told a half dozen of times.  The film ends on a very high note with Jason Statham stealing the show with the best airplane fight sequence gun battle while holding a baby throughout that I’ve seen in quite some time.  It’s everything in the middle that really drags and feels very un-Furious like.  At times I was actually bored, which is something I haven’t felt with this series in awhile; prime example is the film’s big midway action set piece of every car going zombie getting hacked in NYC that just didn’t have the exuberant visual flare I’ve come accustomed to.

 

This time around, Dom goes to the dark side having to split from his Furious familia when an uber hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron) has something on her phone that even he can’t overcome.  I so wanted the blackmailing video to be of Dom drinking a Budweiser instead of his usual Corona, unfortunately this is not what the video is but nonconsequential spoiler alert: it turns out they do drink Budweisers at the end of the movie.  Betrayal.  

The film takes a dark turn, and for me that’s a risky move that is valiant but doesn’t pay off.  The fun that this series churns out so easily is dimmed this time around.  Don’t go to a Furious movie looking for Aaron Sorkin writing, but even for this series the dialogue is quite painful at times.  Charlize Theron feels neutered, stuck to a hacker’s keyboard trading wild kingdom metaphors with Diesel that prove my previous point.  

I will say that the Furious team is literally up against someone this time around that is out for world domination, and I salute that.  I keep waiting for the Furious crew to end up in a Marvel movie, I wouldn’t blink an eye.  Here’s hoping #9 gets back on track.

Isaiah 27:4

 

Thursday
Apr202017

Saban's Power Rangers- Review

 

“Saban’s Power Rangers” (2017)

Directed by Dean Israelite

Starring  Dacre Montgomery,  Naomi Scott,  RJ Cyler

Running Time 124 Minutes, Rated PG-13

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Two sides of a coin.  I was just lamenting about the other film opening this week how “Life” is too much a carbon copy of “Alien”, but the very next film I saw, “Saban’s Power Rangers” is no more than a “Breakfast Club” but with kids who get superpowers, and I loved it.  Feels weird to type, but I really did love this Power Rangers movie.  I’m not even the target audience although I noticed some who were in the theater, and they were enjoying it even more.  Maybe not as ‘camp’ as its Saturday morning predecessors, but it’s just the right amount of corny because the casting of the kids is so good.  I almost cried during the yellow ranger’s monologue.  That shouldn’t happen.

 

I’m not gonna go much into the plot.  Five kids get powers, Might Morphin Power Ranger powers, but it takes time to learn how to use them because they have to learn how to both get to know each other and especially themselves.  Told you it was corny, but it’s also fun, as a film about being able to be special should be.  The writing is both touching and has some good one-liners.  The lead, Dacre Montgomery who was made in the Zac Efron cloning tank is spunky as the Emilio Estevez type from “Breakfast Club”, and I think it’s actually really cool that they gave the Blue Ranger Billy (RJ Cyler) aspergers. I think the fact that it was handled very well without being shoved down our throat as a PSA is pretty uplifting.  Throw in Bryan Cranston and a very hammy Elizabeth Banks, and baby you got yourself a good movie stew.

This is one of those films I’ll eventually take my kids to rolling my eyes but come out gushing over it more then them.  

1 Corinthians 1:10

 

Monday
Mar272017

Kong: Skull Island- review

 

“Kong: Skull Island” (2017)

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson

Running Time 118 Minutes, Rated PG-13

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

A failed Vietnam War allegory as the latest version of the giant ape, “Kong: Skull Island”, painfully beats its chest trying to be an Apocalypse Now monster movie mash up to no avail.  Kong Screenwriter Max Borenstein, who also wrote the last Godzilla, is too focused on spearheading the two’s impending monsterverse to concentrate on the human element as the films leads are basically bystanders while the impressive CGI components do battle.  

As the Vietnam War is about to conclude, one more mission is sent to a career soldier played by Samuel L. Jackson and his outfit. They are accompanied by scientists including John Goodman, an expert mercenary tracker played by Tom Hiddleston, and an ‘anti-war’ photographer played by Brie Larson.  Goodman’s character says monsters do exist, and in no small size he is correct as they depart to an uncharted island where all Kong breaks loose.

 

The special effects are the fun of the movie, and Kong shines but I liked the giant creepy crawlers in Peter Jackson’s version better.  Borenstein tries to have too many characters, and neither him nor director Jordan Vogt-Roberts can make any of them compelling.  Hiddleston and Larson have so little do as the leads, especially Hiddleston’s sensitive tough guy really adds nothing story wise.  Jackson’s character is way too close to Colonel Kurtz as the film dimly points at what the “real price of war” is, and “who the real enemy is” and the soundtrack is as cliche spot on as Vietnam films go.  John C. Reilly pops up and gives the film life but is delegated to a unintentionally laughable credits sequence.  

“Kong: Skull Island” slips on a giant banana peel this time around.

Numbers 13:33

 

Sunday
Mar262017

Logan- review

 

“Logan” (2017)

Directed by James Mangold

Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen

Running Time 135 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

The heart of Wolverine has finally made it onscreen.  

It only took Jackman’s 9th time portraying the character to really feel it.  This is no fault to Hugh Jackman, who got the career changing role after Dougray Scott had to drop out for Mission Impossible 2 reshoots (ouch), and has killed it ever since.  It’s just tough to truly capture a 200 year old plus dude who has knives for hands and uncontrollable berserker rage because all he loves eventually dies because of his name.  

“Logan” director James Mangold nearly got it right with the character’s last solo outing in “The Wolverine”, but a wrong third act where the studio took over and Mangold’s very nice character piece up to that point was pushed to the side.  That was a still a decent picture overall, but now with Jackman declaring that this would be his last Wolverine/Logan outing he had the chip stack to bluff the studio out of a PG-13 superhero blueprint, Mangold was given the canvas with an “R” rating and not shackled with having ‘fate of the world’ stakes, but instead this beloved actor played with his beloved character and Logan’s ‘soul at stake’.   

Thy soul has been redeemed with “Logan”.

 

Somewhere and sometime after “X-Men: Days of Future Past” we find a weary Logan who has lost everyone he’s ever cared for besides a senile Charles Xavier (Sir. Patrick “Friggen” Stewart) whose mind is the first to be classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the U.S. government.  If it wasn’t for Xavier, Logan just might use the one adamantium bullet he hast left on himself; the only thing that he knows for sure that would end his seemingly immortal existence.  That is until someone else comes along for Logan to protect.  An 11 year old girl named Laura (an impressive debut from Dafne Keen) who has the same ‘gifts’ that Logan has with just as much anger to boot.  With much convincing from Xavier, the three head out on a road trip to North Dakota where a young mutant ‘eden’ is said to be had.

“Logan” is a sloppy film at times.  You can feel the different drafts and how different story aspects were meshed together.  There are plot holes as well.  Like giving an arbitrary finish line in the film of getting to a border and all danger for our mutant outlaws will cease.  Regardless of that and the feeling that one very important scene midway was too underplayed so that a similar scene towards the end could be played bigger, “Logan” is a winner.  Intimate, touching, tremendous violence that actually resonates to the viewer instead of just bouncing off our bloody immune eyes, this is a film that goes smaller but hits harder than any X-Men previously ever could.  We have been blessed to see Jackman play so many chapters of this character, and play them with such force that he has changed the landscape of cinema.  

Bravo.   

Proverbs 25:28

 

Monday
Feb272017

The Great Wall- review

 

“The Great Wall” (2017)

Directed by Yimou Zhang

Starring Matt Damon,  Tian Jing,  Willem Dafoe

Running Time 103 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Matt Damon is a great director whore.

Matt Damon has an unquenchable thirst for the world’s greatest film directors.  After knocking out legends; Spielberg, Scorcese, Eastwood, Van Sant, Scott, Nolan, Coen Brothers, etcetera, etcetera… Matt Damon keeps on hunting.  His latest effort has him under the thumb of legendary Chinese director Yimou Zhang (“House of Flying Daggers”) in the baffling and somewhat slightly above generic “B” monster movie “The Great Wall”.  I say generic, but I say it slightly above, because with all the talent in this film you’d hope for something more than slightly above but as I kept my eyes peeled the ‘eye rolls’ didn’t come and most importantly to my surprise I honestly wasn’t bored.

 

Matt Damon is William, an 11th Century scruffy haired mercenary thief who is trying to work his way out of Gobi desert to bring back the game-changing ‘black-powder’ and head back to Europe and become rich.  From a larger group of thieves only William and Pero (Pedro Pascal), who the two have some of the best ‘worst buddy banter’ to have scratched screens in quite some time, survive an attack from unknown monster beast that we later come to know as the Tao Tie.  Basically lizard creatures that appear every sixty years to look to world domination but serve the Chinese more as a life lesson not to be greedy.  It’s a good thing that William is a bit of a hoarder, as the trophy arm that he removed from a Tao Tie and a black rock (their kryptonite) that nobody else wants somehow comes into play greatly with the plot (you don’t say???!!!)

The more advanced Chinese army, who are ready for the Tao Tie attack, take William and Pero in and join forces under the leadership of Lin Mae (Tian Jing) who tries to teach William a thing or two about the benefits of teamwork and trust.  Basic film equation plays after; show enemy, heroes survives first enemy attack, that gives us time to have an arrow-off to showcase heroes skills, the two walks of life get to know each other, blah, blah, what’s the Chinese word for blah.

But like I said, I wasn’t bored.  Zhang is known for his colorful imagery, and that is certainly the highpoint for “The Great Wall”.  It certainly isn’t Matt Damon’s weird accent, which is explained by him being an orphan soldier who has served under many flags, but it’s fascinating to hear him speak and tell jokes like he was actually Chinese and trying to do an impression of what he thinks a white American joke sounds like.  I was truly entertained by Damon and Pascal cracking whips with the likes of “Do you think they’ll hang us now?”, with the response of “I could use the rest”.  And don’t miss Willem Dafoe in the film for practically no good reason but to hit home what greed is and to get that international Dafoe box office money (ka ching!)

Many people got in a tizzy that this film was whitewashing and that Damon would be a the white savior.  He is not, the Chinese teach whitey a lesson and his character becomes a better person from taking on their ways.  I don’t really recommend this film but I don’t don’t recommend this film, if that helps any.  Which I know it doesn’t.  

Isaiah 38:2

 

Friday
Feb242017

John Wick: Chapter 2- review

 


“John Wick: Chapter 2”
(2017)

Directed by Chad Stahelski

Starring Keanu Reeves,  Riccardo Scamarcio,  Ian McShane

Running Time 122 Minutes, Rated R.

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

It came and left the theaters in 2014 without much of a thump, but the reviewers (yes, me included) knew it instantly.  “John Wick” wasn’t just good, not just an ‘out of the blue’ winner, but a cinematic ‘achievement’.  I walked out of the theater knowing that “John Wick” was an action genre instant classic.  For those who listened to my recommendation, their lives were enriched.  For those who were Keanu Reeves haters, their hearts were no longer hardened by the “Cool Breeze’s” talent converting the nay’s to whoa yays.  

“John Wick” is, and I don’t say this lightly, life changing- two lifelong stunt coordinators turned first time directors taking on delicate precision on wide-shot excellently choreographed action sequences, done by the film’s star who has the intensity that the film’s assassin lead character requires to build a legend that makes other killers tremble.  A film that created a civilized world for paid killers and above all, telling the story of a man who got out of the game for true love and has to return to it after said deceased love’s dying gift of a dog is taken away from him by the unwitting thug son of a mob boss.  Don’t F’ with John Wick because he’s John F’ing Wick!

 

Word caught on of John Wick’s cinematic legend, and so we were blessed with news of a greenlit sequel.  All too often I’ve salivated over a film’s original and when the sequel comes out I have cried tears of sadness, but I come to you with tears of joy after viewing “John Wick: Chapter 2”.  Above all, the action hasn’t been changed or tainted, the ‘gun-fu’ of the original is only elaborated but enhanced for the delight of viewers.  What grabs ahold of you here is the excellent world building that takes the first film’s only rule; no blood will be shed in the Continental, a hotel sanctuary for all assassins and adds the second and last rule; if you agree to a blood oath, it must be honored no matter what.

Chapter 2 picks up hours after the first one concluded where an Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) calls upon the blood oath that Wick owes, even though Wick wants nothing more than to honor his late wife and leave his past behind.  Criminal community politics play out, earning Wick two assassins on his tail; an old colleague played by the actor Common with very good results and a petite deaf assassin played by Ruby Rose whose character doesn’t play as well as she doesn’t have much to do besides one scene.  

You could say that most of this film is set up for the inevitable Chapter 3, and I say that’s not a bad thing. Chapter 2 is exciting, fun, and badass to boot and Reeves, who has always been a personal favorite of mine, doesn’t disappoint.

 

Ezekiel 25:17

 

 

Thursday
Dec222016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story- review

 

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016)

Directed by Gareth Edwards

Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna

Running Time 134 Minutes, Rated PG-13

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

The best ones stay with you.  I came out of Roge One feeling good and feeling satisfied, but the scenes have stayed with me over the past few days.  Something drives this film to another level, one could say that this film has a certain- wait for it…..- force to it (lame).

It’s right there in the title: A Star Wars Story, and that it is.  A story that precedes to the point of exactly right before A New Hope.  A story that deepens and enriches the Star Wars lore and mythology but so much more importantly, this is a story that holds up on its own.  

On imdb the genre listed is sci-fi, but it should be listed as a war film first.  George Lucas didn’t mince in the New Hope that the Imperial Guard was the Nazi regime and Rogue One tells this from the rebel side of a war torn Europe ravaged by it’s evil and it was the Rebels that back in WW2 helped change the tide for victory and that same power is translated to the Star Wars universe.  There is power there in it’s message because this did happen, sure there weren’t lightsabers, but there was a sweeping hate that took advantage of people’s fear and masqueraded as the right way.    

 

If I ever wondered why the Death Star had such a crippling flaw as it does, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” gives you a worthy and plausible explanation.  Without getting into too much detail, Felicity Jones fiercely plays Jyn Erso the daughter of the scientist who created the Death Star, which is now just being completed and is ready to be unleashed on a less than unified Rebel Alliance.  Erso is rescued by a Rebel intelligence agent played by Diego Luna and his trusted by sassy say-whatever-is-on-it’s-mind’ droid K-2SO (voiced by “Firefly” actor Alan Tudyk).  Later the rag tag crew is joined by a blind warrior named Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen who is working on his ‘force’ skills, and I’m pretty sure his common house law scruffy nerf herder looking haired NRA card toting boyfriend Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen); rounded out by defected Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed).

Forest Whitaker has some great scenes as a guerilla warfare leader, and even better Darth Vader returns and his scenes do not disappoint.  Besides a ‘not worth it’ cameo by the “A New Hope” deceased Peter Cushing the rest of the lore doesn’t feel forced.  Kudos also to the ending, not the most Disney way to end it and that’s a good thing.  

Rogue One is a good thing.

Proverbs 17:11

 

Wednesday
Dec142016

Hacksaw Ridge- review

 

“Hacksaw Ridge” (2016)

Directed by Mel Gibson

Starring  Andrew Garfield,  Sam Worthington

Running Time 139 Minutes, Rated R.

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

When WW2 came along young Desmond Doss, played by the scrawny yet deceptively athletic Andrew Garfield, wanted to enlist just as much if not more than his peers around him, only thing was Desmond swore not to pick up a gun in battle with the strict intentions of not taking a life.  Desmond only wanted to save them, and he thought he could do that by being a war field medic.  Being a Seventh-Day Adventist, he held no commandment higher than ‘thou shalt not kill’, and after much resistance from his fellow unit and commanding officers that nearly resulted in a Court Martial, Desmond's’ faith and strong conviction led him to serve becoming the first ever ‘conscientious objector’ to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his remarkable heroics in the battle at Okinawa in 1945.  

 

The person telling this story is fascinating itself as it comes from the much maligned yet much celebrated Mel Gibson.  Gibson focuses on the faith you pursue in Desmond Doss and the great tests that will come of it, and the conviction it takes to stay true to your faith.  At one point Desmond gets a psyche evaluation where his commanding officers are hoping for a discharge, but Gibson makes a strong point that even though you can’t literally see, hear, or touch your god, that doesn’t make you mentally ill and in fact you are just as sane as the next.  There is beauty in the trials and tribulations of Desmond’s faith, and with the ability to extend himself to something greater than him he was able to have the unfathomable strength to do what most couldn’t in a time of war.

What is odd is the insanely violent bloodied take Gibson uses to tell the story of the peaceful Desmond’s story. “Hacksaw Ridge” becomes a straight horror film with Desmond and his fellow troops hit Okinawa. Dismembered limbs aplenty and a soldier's insides resembles moms spaghetti.  No doubt war is that visual and even more so, but there is sense this visual style is told to entice the viewer with great violence rather than to repulse and horrify.  

The story of Desmond Doss at Hacksaw Ridge is a powerful one, the story told by Gibson is a somewhat powerful story.

Exodus 20:13

 

Wednesday
Dec142016

Doctor Strange- review

 

“Doctor Strange” (2016)

Directed by Scott Derrickson

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams

Running Time 115 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

Seriously, what more can I say?  The Marvel film universe has a formula, and it works.  There is a mathematical algorithm, and I am a fan.  You’ve got to introduce a new character by giving a backstory, that involves the magnitude of weaving into 20 other films with similar characters that are all moving to one all inclusive event (Infinity Wars).  We’re never (probably) gonna feel the way we did when the first “Iron Man” came out as it literally changed the game; we have seen “Doctor Strange” before, in a manner, because it comes as another branch sprouted off by Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr.’s creation.

But rejoice, because the powers that be are incredibly smart about tweaking said formula as well as not afraid of getting weird with how much clout the Marvelverse has acquired.  “Doctor Strange” is as weird as the formula would allow, and that is high praise.

 

Oh Benedict Cumberbatch, you unquantifiable English channel dreamboat, you do not disappoint.  Here Cumberbatch goes American accent as Dr. Stephen Strange, the top of his field surgeon whose incredible talents are only outreached by his ego (I smell character arc).  An early PSA for using your phone and driving puts Strange into a horrible accident that cripples his hands and has him reaching the far ends of the earth for healing.  What he finds in Nepal is the “Ancient One”, either fantastic or insulting casting with Tilda Swinton (fantastic), who after convincing from her right hand man Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) lets Strange into her school of, wait for it, magicians.  Not the dove freezing Job type, but those who are trained in both martial arts and the arts of the outer dimension that comes with realizing existence on a different realm.

A realm that comes with benefits.  Where “Doctor Strange” pays off is the action sequences.  Yes, they are heavily inspired by “Inception”, and yes they are a blast.  Running up and down doing battle in an MC Escher acid trip in NYC is killer.  Later, Hong Kong, stole the show for me.  More importantly, they allow Dr. Strange to win his battles not with the martial arts training, but with his smarts.  Oh yeah, there’s a villain.  Mads Mikkelsen (“Hannibal”) is talented and does what he can but as per usual, discounting Netflix’s “Jessica Jones” Purple Man, Marvel bad guys are not that good.

Regardless, there is definitely some magic left in the Marvel tank, and “Doctor Strange” continues that feat.

1 John 4:1

 

Thursday
Nov172016

The Accountant- review

 

“The Accountant” (2016)

Directed by Gavin O'Connor

Starring Ben Affleck,  Anna Kendrick,  J.K. Simmons

Running Time 128 Minutes, Rated R.

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

Ben Affleck’s latest, “The Accountant” is a damn better superhero film than “Batman V. Superman”.  Strip mall accountant by day, deadly assassin by night, Ben Affleck plays Christian Wolff, a MMA trained, crackpot sniper, who is a mathematical savant that cooks books for those who don’t go through conventional (mob-fearing) accountants. What is the source of his superpower you ask, well that’s the best part, Christian Wolff is autistic.

 

Wolff, diagnosed with a high functioning form of autism, may not be able to look you in the eye, but his bullet will.  Wolff has the superhero tragic upbringing; a disability that led to his wearied mother hitting the bricks while his military father ‘doesn’t believe the world is a sensory-sensitive place’ so his son shouldn’t be coddled as so.  “Warrior” (5 star film) director Gavin O’Connor takes us back and forth with Wolff and that pays off for the viewers as well as giving us flashbacks to J.K. Simmons’ Treasury Agent supervisor that don’t pay off almost taking the film off it’s tracks all together.  Thankfully, good action, nice side performances from junior accountant Anna Kendrick, and competing assassin played by the very cool Jon Bernthal, as well as, of course, Affleck who rightly downplays his character (even though I think a Christian Bale would have brought out more) bring it back on track.  

There is a want to be as badass as “John Wick” with attacking some social issues.  “The Accountant” definitely is no John Wick but if there’s a franchise a brewing, then count me in.

 

Friday
Oct072016

The Magnificent Seven- review

 

“The Magnificent Seven” (2016)

Directed by Antoine Fuqua

Starring Denzel Washington,  Chris Pratt,  Ethan Hawke

Running Time 133 Minutes, Rated PG-13

1.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

“The Magnificent Seven” is not magnificent, it’s not even good, in fact, it’s worse than bad, it’s magnificently bad- guess I was wrong, this IS a magnificent film.  

A crap cinema boulder picking up mass and speed as it rolled down the hill, this is one of those movies that tried to break me.  I endured, but barely.  “Olympus Has Fallen” (which I loved) director Antoine Fuqua calls plays from the John Ford playbook of Westerns with sprawling frontier shots, busty damsels in distress, and gun fights aplenty, but “The Magnificent Seven” doesn’t qualify for the ‘western’ genre but rather the ‘two-plus hour western reenactment at a nearby-ish historical farm put on for a high school kids field trip who don’t care too much’ genre.  

The small town of Rose Creek is bullied and broken by Bartholomew Bogue, (hammy Peter Sarsgaard) his henchmen, and his ideals of harsh economic democracy.  A consequently widowed damsel (Haley Bennett) pleas her distress to Fuqua regular Denzel Washington who plays Sam Chisolm, a bounty hunter who takes up her mission of retribution when he hears the name Bogue.  Washington is kind of fascinating in this film, as his character Chisolm is obviously the lead with probably a less than average screen time when he saddles up his other six gunslingers to fill the film’s title.  Washington is on super laid back neutral gear the whole film, and until the very last moments of the film, we really have no idea why he’s risking his life for this supposed impossible mission.

 

You know who is featured way, way more than the lead of the film? Yeppers sly smiling second lead Chris Pratt. Pratt’s heavy drinking and even heavier smirking Josh Faraday kind of takes over the film but not in a good way.  I’m a big fan, but it was obvious that the producers told Fuqua who the golden boy is right now, giving the thirteen minutes the film is painfully over two hours to just his cut away would-be charming reaction shots. Like most of the seven, Pratt’s Faraday reason to join forces doesn’t make sense and feels like a whim. Even more perplexing, when the boys come across a Native American played by Martin Sensmeier who tells Chisolm that he was told by his elders that he has a different journey to take, he instantly joins up with them, not knowing what their crusade is or whether it’s noble or not, he just joins.

The movie takes a long time building up to big finale, and big it is, but boring it is as well.  Boobey trap sprinkle inbetween an unholy amount of bullets, so much that it was all just background noise to me.  Not compelling in the slightest.

Revelation 12:3

 

Monday
Aug292016

Suicide Squad

 

“Suicide Squad” (2016)

Directed by David Ayer

Starring Will Smith,  Jared Leto,  Margot Robbie

Running Time 123 Minutes, Rated PG-13

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

2016.  Yeesh!

Big budget fare just can’t catch a break this year.  As the expensive muck just kept rolling in, I kept “Suicide Squad” as an anchor for hope that all would be redeemed.  Surely, David Ayer’s William Friedkin bullyish style of directing mixed with top tier talent, and even the reintroduction of one of America’s greatest literary characters with The Joker would deliver.  “Suicide Squad” does not deliver and is yet just another movie garbage bag thrown into the dumpster fire that is 2016.  And I am sorry for calling you surely.

Basically, the villains of the DC comic universe, which is getting trampled by Marvel’s regime, are ordered to unite and save the day for humanity.

A whole film filled with anti-hero’s sounds like a pretty damn good idea and with The Joker running amok, it sounds even better, and you know what, this is a fine picture if you can forget the the void of character development, the bipolar tonality that halts any sustained vibe, the gross cliche of faceless bad guy drones to slice and dice through, the action choreography that helps me rest better than my sleeping pills, and just a feeling that so much was left on the cutting room floor that would have made it more comprehensive but still wouldn’t have made it any easier to watch.

Will Smith as never-miss assassin Deadshot gets the most backstory and subsequently is the most engaging character.  I adore Margot Robbie, but there’s something a smidge off about her vexing Harley Quinn that at times works and at others doesn’t.  As far as Jared Leto’s much hyped method approach to The Joker, I was intrigued, I just wish there would have been more.  His character really doesn’t serve much story wise and to my knowledge, what I really like about the character is that he’s supposed to be the smartest person in the room, a psychopathic genius who has contingency plan after contingency plan, but not so much in “Suicide Squad”.  He’s basically just winging it.

“Suicide Squad” feels like it just winged it as well and it sadly shows.

Hebrews 9:22

 

Wednesday
Aug032016

Star Trek: Beyond- review

 

“Star Trek: Beyond” (2016)

Directed by Justin Lin

Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban

Running Time 122 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

Sometimes I look at a rotten tomatoes score and wonder how in the world the majority of people can admit to liking a film, as is the case with the really awful reboot of “Ghostbusters” which is currently has a 73% favorable score, and then I remember “Star Trek: Into Darkness”.  I gave it a 3.5 out of 5 and 86%, and I will admit that I was wrong about that picture.  I was swept up in my love for all things Star Trek and was simply blinded with a phasers set on stun shot to the eyes with how truly lackluster that film is.  It’s makes me want to shout out “Khaaaaaaaaan!” with how disappointing that film is, if you know what I mean.

I have given the Trek follow-up “Star Trek: Beyond” the same 3.5 score, but in this case, I know deep down in my heart that that score and opinion will stand the test of time and altered timelines as well.

 

Kirk (Pine grasping the character better than ever), is having a quarter life/ measuring up to his dad crisis when a rescue mission becomes a setup for an attack destroying the Enterprise and marooning our cast on an enemy planet.  The crew, now disbanded, must come together against all odds and save the lives of millions.

I really appreciate making Dr. McCoy the true third character in the Trek trinity with Kirk and Spock rather than Uhura, played wonderfully by Zoe Saldana, but it’s McCoy/Bones that is the glue, and the one who keeps both of them true to themselves, a sounding board of cranky wisdom, and Urban has the salty charm in space spades.  

A lot was made about John Cho’s Sulu being noted as gay for this film in a tribute to George Takei from costar/co-writer Simon Pegg to original cast member George Takei.  I thought it was gentle yet decisive, and it worked all for the better in the Trek universe.  

“Fast and Furious” director Justin Lin doesn’t his all the marks, letting the villain played by Idris Elba be a little too distant and one-sided until the end, but he definitely injects some rollicking fun with his talents in the action genre that makes for second time the Trek films have magnificently used the Beastie Boys since the ‘09 reboot. 

More than anything this Star Trek felt like a Star Trek film again, something that J.J. Abrams wasn’t able to focus on and especially lost in Into the Darkness.  

Daniel 12:3

 

Monday
Jul112016

Central Intelligence- review

 

“Central Intelligence” (2016)

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber

Starring  Dwayne Johnson,  Kevin Hart

Running Time 107 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

 

Steven Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson, Kathyrn Bigelow, or even Martin Friggen Scorsese please listen up!!!! Not three exclamation points for that last sentence, nay, four of them.  Please cast Dwayne Johnson is one of your films.  I was telling the wife the other day that Tom Cruise and Will Smith are the only living movie stars in today’s cinema, but I’d be willing to squeeze in someone that you can put up against scissors any day.  Dwayne Johnson is mandatory opening weekend viewing in my books, and his latest, a low IQ action comedy “Central Intelligence” only proves my point.  He puts every less than par film he’s cast in in the ‘very watchable’ category, just imagine if Spielberg worked some of that old magic with the high proteined charm factory that is Johnson... it would be legendary.  

 

Johnson plays Bob Stone, an aggressively teased high school student turned a Bond/Bourne  government agent on the run trying to prove his name clean while using the accounting skills of Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart against type, sorta) who was his high school’s most likely to succeed and the only one to stand up for Bob.  Accounting wasn’t the bright future Calvin imagined for himself, but the two get mixed up in a half-assed black ops plot where the two get to right the wrongs of the past and the present.

This film works only because of Johnson and Hart’s chemistry that bounces off each other like two positively charged ions, one being crazy huge and buff and the only really tiny and fast talking.  Johnson once again stretches his comedic range by going super broad with his super happy Bob and it crazy works.

“Central Intelligence” doesn’t crazy work but Johnson and Hart do.

 

Saturday
Jun112016

X-Men: Apocalypse: review

 

“X-Men: Apocalypse” (2016)

Directed by Bryan Singer

Starring James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender

Running Time 144 Minutes, Rated PG-13

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

X-Men films do not run well come the third entry.  Bryan Singer’s closure to the resetting of the X-Men franchise, “X-Men: Apocalypse” isn’t anywhere near as embarrassing as Brett Ratner’s “X-Men: The Last Stand”, but regardless, it doesn’t hold up to the other entries.  If “X-Men: Apocalypse” the movie had a mutant power it would be that of muddling something by overstuffing it with bland action and blander villains.

That villain is Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), a would-be god and the first mutant who has been lying dormant since when the Egyptians ruled.  Now back, Apocalypse grabs four mutants, makes them his four horsemen, who all share the superpower of lackluster acting and interest so that they can all clean the slate of normies and take over the world blah, blah, blah.  Here’s a real supervillain power; this film taints not only the filmography of the GREAT Oscar Isaac, but also makes his choices look dunderhead-ish and that’s quite the accomplishment.

 

Here’s what works- Magneto’s storyline.  The combination with a stellar actor such as Michael Fassbender and a truly heart wrenching character arc that gives you insight to why he chooses the path opposite of Xavier (James McAvoy).  Quicksilver’s (Even Peter) speed scene may not be as baller as his last, but it’s still a totally original stamp that is crazy fun to watch.  Wolverine’s cameo (not a spoiler- it’s in the friggen trailer) works, and that’s all I’ll say about that except that Hugh Jackman’s take will surely be missed.  The overall themes of what being afraid of the unknown in a people and the evil that that is capable of being brought out in people (Trump-a-dump-dump) plays strong and very real.

Here’s what doesn’t work.  The whole Apocalypse storyline is dull and used up.  Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique as an unintended rebel, and her whole misplayed love triangle with Magneto/Xavier/Beast never catches hold.  The character Storm has yet to be done right in the films.  The only character in this film that comes off lamer is Olivia Munn’s Psylocke- she is utterly useless in this film (and many others if we’re counting).  The action for the most part is dull.  Also, we’re getting the same argument between Magneto and Xavier that is highlighted with a flashback montage that only reinforces how the story has basically gone nowhere since the first film.  

What I’m not sure about working yet is the new additions, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops and Sophie Turner as Jean Grey do well enough but don’t have well enough to do.  I’m curious to see if the mutant torch being handed off to them will do well enough because this film didn’t.

Deuteronomy 31:6