Entries in Sci-fi (87)

Saturday
Jun172017

Alien: Covenant- review

 

“Alien: Covenant” (2017)

Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring Michael Fassbender,  Katherine Waterston,  Billy Crudup

Running Time 122 Minutes, Rated R.

1 Mitch out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Poor Michael Fassbender.  This what Ewan McGregor must have felt like when he was doing the Star Wars prequels.  

Being the main actor in a beloved film series that’s brought back by the director who started it all, has to be pretty exciting- and then your hard and good work end up in films that suck so, so, so much.  Infuriatingly dumb, “Alien: Covenant” is the Phantom Menace of Xenomorph movies.

I was pretty forgiving to 2012’s “Prometheus”, in which Ridley Scott returned to the “Alien” franchise that got started all the way back in 1979.  I gave it 3.5 stars out of 5 even though it had some definite flaws that were irking.  Scott returns for the second prequel to “Alien” with “Alien: Covenant”, and just backhand slaps me right in the face by doubling down on what was wrong with “Prometheus” and making it so I could only focus on the wrongs.  

The year 2104, a colonization ship named Covenant is in the middle of it’s long journey to start up life on a planet named Origae-6 when most of the the 2,000 colonists and 2,000 embryos are lost as a solar flare hits. The captain (a famous cameo) is lost, and Oram (Billy Crudup), a rare man of faith, is promoted.  Much to the resistance of the captain’s now widow, Daniels (Katherine Waterston), Oram decides to forego the 7 years it would take to get to Origae-6  when the ship picks up on a transmission sent from a planet they were unaware of that is much closer and much more compatible to human life and head there.  You’ll never guess what is on that planet.

 

All is fine enough, especially with the bright spot of being able to bathe the eyes on Dariusz Wolski‘s hauntingly gorgeous cinematography.  But then our remaining crew, which are supposed to the brightest of the bright charged with repopulating the human race, make the mistakes of the Prometheus but turned up to 11.  My stomach was twisting in horror, not that at which Scott was trying to deliver, but rather the horror of his inept characters and the choices they make when they land on an uncharted planet.  It was seriously like watching a ‘Laurel and Hardy’ sketch as our ‘crew’ slash ‘knuckleheads’ made decisions that almost guaranteed their demise. This sequence gave me a real seething anger, a blunder so large and just plain dumb that I knew the film could not come back from it.

With very little character development, actors such as Demián Bichir and Danny McBride are wasted.  They were no more useful than teens who had just had sex in a Friday the 13th film, cast as meat for the monster. The film’s real monster; a returning Michael Fassbender pulling double duty as the first android David from Prometheus and an upgraded version for the Covenant ship named Walter.  A Cain and Abel approach questioning your creator played only so deep this time around with Fassbender’s strong acting making it watchable.  

“Alien: Covenant” sludges along not knowing what to do with its Xenomorphs, and rather has to poorly focus on the evil of David. Watch out for a third act ‘twist’ that you’d have to be as dumb as the Covenant crew not to see coming.  

I haven’t been this mad at a film in quite some time.

 

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

Colossal- review

 

“Colossal” (2017)

Directed by Nacho Vigalondo

Starring Anne Hathaway,  Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens

Running Time 109 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

If you’ve seen one ‘girl trying to overcome her personal demons of alcoholism and bad relationships with men that actually manifests into giant Kaiju monsters literally rampaging half way across the globe in Seoul’ movie, well, then you’ve seen them all.  

Said no one ever.

 

I know Anne Hathaway’s has gotten the scorn of many movie goers, but the kid can act and it’s nice to see those talents put to the test.  That they are in Nacho Vigalondo’s (“Timecrimes”) latest, “Colossal”.  Hathaway plays Gloria, a party girl who as the film opens is broken up with and kicked out of her boyfriend’s (played by the everywhere Dan Stevens) swanky NYC apartment and is forced to move back to parents empty house back in the burbs that is conveniently unoccupied.  Soon Gloria runs into old classmate Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who has taken over his father's local bar.  Maybe not the best place for someone trying to detox, Gloria who is out of work and gets a job bartending at Oscar’s bar. When the shifts end, she, Oscar, and couple bar regulars (Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell) drink until the sun comes up.

At the same time, in Seoul, Korea a giant skyscraper sized Godzilla-type monster appears every morning around 8:05 am eastern standard time and begins to cause destruction on epic levels, appropriately becoming the phenomenon the world is glued to watching.  Weirdly enough, these two storylines are connected. You can gather from the trailers how, but I’ll let you unravel that while watching for yourself.  The beautiful thing Vigalondo and his actors create, especially Hathaway who is funny, broken, and empathetic all at once are the ways these storylines do merge and obvious but still poignant metaphors aren’t trampled on but delivered with in simpatico.  

Toxic relationships that keep you from evolving from your patterned transgressions are a strong message here, but I also read into the way it can seem impossible to back away from a strongly abusive relationship and the buildings that crumble when you don’t.  Not to mention just trying not to trip over yourself which does enough damage.  This is all shown with strength from Vigalondo.  I will say that while some may say the ending is powerful, and they get their comeuppance, I found one flaw in the way the monster portion of the movie was solved and how that was supposed to fix Gloria’s real problems as well.  In the real world that’s not the way to go, and if you do there will be consequences.  Well, enough sage jibber jabber from me, go see “Colossal”.


1 Corinthians 15:33 

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

 

Thursday
Apr202017

Life- Review

 

“Life” (2017)

Directed by Daniel Espinosa

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds

Running Time 104 Minutes, Rated R.

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Things don’t tend to work out the way we’d like them to in life.  Not in actual life (my jump shot), and unfortunately not in Daniel Espinosa’s Alien-lite sci-fi R rated thriller “Life”.  I could see how, on paper, there was enough for committed interest from such a talented cast as big A-listers Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, and eventual household name Rebecca Ferguson, who won moviegoers over with bad A turn in the last Mission Impossible film.  It’s set up as a fast paced monster B movie with the budget of an A, but after a good start, the weight of the material simply fizzles out interest beyond repair.  

 

A small soil sampling has been recovered by six astronauts on an international space station.  Inside that sample is the first proof of alien life; a sporulating cell structure, later named Calvin by a grade school back on Earth, what is unique about Calvin is the fact that each cell has brain, muscle, and sensory organs all in one. Small and adorable at first, eventually Calvin gets bigger and breaks free from it’s curious human captors, and the body horror begins as “Life” becomes a chess game of squid-like Mars alien and the Earthling spacemen at hand.  The semantics are posed but not really delved into that Calvin is not a monster but simply doing what all creation does: fight for survival.  It just so happens the crew is the only organic matter around.

The aforementioned Calvin breakout scene is a good one, but, unwisely, the best Espinosa has to offer, mixing sci-fi horror with some well paced tension.  The rest of this film is a less than thrilling move of those chess pieces.  There’s some benefit in watching the chess pieces, but I don’t know too much about those pieces and ultimately I saw where those pieces were going to be six moves ahead; even as clever as the player moving the chess pieces around thought they might be.  

 

Deuteronomy 6:24

 

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

 

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

 

Thursday
Dec152016

Arrival- review

 

“Arrival” (2016)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Starring Amy Adams,  Jeremy Renner,  Forest Whitaker

Running Time 116 Minutes, Rated PG-13

5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

Whomever decided to release this film directly after the election is a genius.

Speaking of genius, Denis Villeneuve’s “Arrival” is just that.  With how increasingly difficult it is for a world to communicate with each other, even though technology has granted us so many opportunities for it, how cathartic it is for a story to come along that shows immense benefits reaped from such a noble endeavor that is communication.  And cathartic this film is, the heavy hurt of such treacherous communication from this recent election (from BOTH sides) lifted, if not temporarily, but in essence, show how it could be cured.  Film is so beautiful in the way it can do that... if so inclined.

Villenueve’s “Arrival” introduces first contact with extraterrestrial life the same way many of us came to find out about 9/11.  Silently frozen to our television screens watching something of this magnitude start to unfold.  That’s how Amy Adams’ Dr. Louise Banks, an expert linguist, finds out about it, as her students are missing from class glued to the television showing 12 skyscraper spacecrafts that have landed in 12 separate areas of the globe that have no known pattern as to why.  Dread and fear are most people's first reaction, and the longer they hover there with nothing happening only allows the human race to dread and fear.  It’s human instinct to fear what we don’t know because we’re worried that what we have will be taken away from us by the unknown, and so we often feel obliged to strike first as a protection mechanism.

  

Within days of the arrival Dr. Banks is met by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) who recruits her and her top linguistic skills to go to Montana where one of the ships are located and take on trying to figure out why the aliens are here and what their intentions are.  There, Dr. Banks pairs up with physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), and in an absolutely stunning shot of the ship's first introduction, get to work trying to talk to them.  The ‘them’ are two squid-like creatures that Ian names ‘heptapods’ due to their seven symmetrical tentacles.  Quickly, Dr. Banks figures that understanding won’t come from the audio sounds of their language for which we have no way to derive anything from, but rather, the written word which when put down becomes an actual object that can be deciphered.  

The intelligent sci-fi is rewarding, but it’s the human story that amazingly pulls it all together and to the next level.  The film opens with Dr. Banks rehashing her daughter’s life and eventual way to soon demise.  This storyline is more than just a subplot and way more than just a device.  For me it was a new way of telling a story that much like Dr. Banks I had to learn a new cinematic language as the story unfolded, and at times I felt the fear, the dread, but eventually an immense joy of what we as humans are capable of.  You have to be reminded of that sometimes, and “Arrival” not only reminds you but celebrates it.

I was once again reminded of just how good Amy Adams is.  There is such sorrow yet such hope evoked that her character's journey is a spectacular one, one that few actresses are able to accomplish.  

“Arrival” is also a spectacular journey, that very few films are able to accomplish.    

James 1:19

 

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

 

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

 

Wednesday
Aug032016

Ghostbusters- review

 

“Ghostbusters” (2016)

Directed by Paul Feig

Starring Melissa McCarthy,  Kristen Wiig,  Kate McKinnon

Running Time 116 Minutes, Rated PG-13

1.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

The new “Ghostbusters” doesn’t suck because it’s an all female cast.  I am very much in the camp that if you’re gonna take on the 1984 classic (one of my top 20 favorite films of all time, a classic) then why not shake it up with an awesome female cast.  Their female cast is awesome.  I love Melissa McCarthy, I strongly like Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones, and I’m absolutely smitten with Kate McKinnon who is not only one of the funniest women in the world but also people, place, and thing for that matter.  Love me some Kate McKinnon, but this female cast although awesome, isn’t awesome in 2016’s biggest ecto-turd of the year, Paul Feig’s disastrous “Ghostbusters”.

Here’s why it does suck.

- Feig and writers made both of their leads insanely boring.  It’s like they didn’t want to go too closely to the original blueprint with the alpha male that Bill Murray so cockily played (which both McCarthy and Wiig could knock out of the park) so they made them both Dan Aykroyd’s character, and that made the film so so boring.  

- The villain sucks.  I enjoy Neil Casey, he’s one hell of an improviser, but he’s just an imprint of the sucky villain in Ghostbusters 2 which is the biggest reason why that movie wasn’t good.  But still better than this film.

- Brutally unfunny.  These amazing females don’t come across so amazing, and I was wowed by that.  Chris Hemsworth who takes over for the Annie Potts secretary, is played as super handsome and super dumb, which is funny at first; however, his character is so dumb, and he plays it so broad that it’s a looney tunes cartoon. The first film had their characters rooted, even Rick Moranis’ nerdy accountant, Louis Tully, never played it so far as completely unbelievable, but Hemsworth’s character doesn’t only proverbially slip on the banana peel, he picks it up and uses as a phone, and then mistakes it for it’s long lost brother.   Fine, so Hemsworth isn’t a comedian, but you know who is, THE REST OF THE CAST!  Even McKinnon just comes off stilted and weird, the only one who comes off good here is Leslie Jones who actually gives the film some gravitas.  

 

- The Fall Out Boy/ Missy Elliott wannabe Ray Parker hit absolutely blows.  Fall Out Boy/ Missy Elliott… enough said.

- The special effects are cartoony and stupid.  They are more for spectacle than pushing story forward in any way.

- Most sad of all are the cameos.  They made me cry and throw up a little.  The only thing Feig pulled off with the film’s supernatural theme is how eerily unfunny he made the original icons be.  

Notice the credits where a huge costly dance number was dumped after being cut in a third act that proves your previous query to why it felt so choppy and broken.  Also, notice the credits as your cue to get the heck out of this suck fest as you might be paralyzed with disbelief with how bad this film is.  

Ephesians 6:12

 

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

 

Thursday
Apr212016

Hardcore Henry- review

“Hardcore Henry” (2016)

Directed by Ilya Naishuller

Starring Sharlto CopleyTim RothHaley Bennett

Running Time 96 Minutes, Rated R.

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

“Hardcore Henry” is a first person go-cam video game in film form.  The kind of video game that cruelly kills one mindless bad guy to the next cramming every shoot ‘em up trope you can think of.  At first watching “Hardcore Henry” is as little fun as when you used to have to watch your friend play the video game while you waited for your turn, but eventually I caught up to the films wicked breakneck speed and was able to appreciate it for the legitimate ‘experience film’ that it is.  

Henry comes to being told by his pretty scientist wife that he is now half cyborg and before his voice implant is activated (in true FPS form) his surroundings are ambushed by a Dutch bleached blonde Darth Vader type (Danila Kozlovsky) who wants an army of Henry super soldiers to you guessed it, rule the world.  Henry is separated from his girl and embarks on a very, very violent rescue mission, with sex, drugs, and decapitations galore.  We don’t really get to care for anyone because writer/director Ilya Naishuller never stops for a minute for character development, but the film still pulls through.

 

The action is sweet, yes sir, but the biggest reason why “Hardcore Henry” was saved for me was because of South Africa’s finest, Sharlto Copley (District 9, The “A” Team).  Copley’s acting is man on fire, and literally at one point.  Copley is Jimmy, Henry’s right hand man who helps out in many different forms and accents.  There is an excellent wacky number where Copley does a song and dance routine to “I Got You Under My Skin” manically switching back and forth with all his many of characters.  Worth the watch alone.  

“Hardcore Henry” may not evoke as much as Pauly Shore’s Hamlet, but it is harcore and for this film that’s enough to win the game.   

Psalm 11:5

Thursday
Apr212016

Midnight Special- review

 

“Midnight Special” (2016)

Directed by Jeff Nichols

Starring  Michael Shannon,  Joel Edgerton,  Kirsten Dunst

Running Time 112 Minutes, Rated PG-13

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

It’s these type of films that make me want to stop film reviewing.  Not be cause they’re so gosh-darn awful, no, because they ultimately make me feel stupid.  Jeff Nichols is an extremely smart and thoughtful filmmaker who is one of the rare ones who takes the time to challenge the viewer.  Watching his latest, “Midnight Special, a sci-fi heavy on the intrigue and light on the sci-fi, I feel as if this challenge has overmatched me.  I was blown away from both of Nichols’ previous efforts in “Take Shelter” and “Mud”, but in “Midnight Special” I was left more than a tad frustrated as I tried to wade through all the never-ending vagueness that for this viewer, built up to nothing rewarding.

A young boy named Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) is unique to say the least.  Alton wears goggles to keep bay powerful beams of light shooting from his eyes and he can also intercept radio transmissions.  His father Roy (Michael Shannon) has reclaimed him after having him raised in a cult like congregation called The Ranch where the boy is thought by some to be a messiah.  Roy is driven to bring his son a specific place at a specific time that Alton deciphered and that’s all that matters.  Roy has the help of his old hometown friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton) and eventually Alton’s mother Sarah (Kirsten Dunst) but is being hunted down by both zealots from The Ranch and every branch of the government assisted by a green NSA agent played by Adam Driver.

 

Question builds upon question producing curiousness but never evoking substance. When Alton’s powers are elicited it’s definitely neat and puzzle worthy but for what and for why.  I do appreciate a slow burn heady genre piece that is usually littered by morons but when the pieces are put together in a big visual finale I was nowhere closer to understanding why we were putting the pieces together in the first place.   The acting is the film’s saving grace.  Nichols veteran Michael Shannon is his consistently strong self portraying a father who knows his son is beyond him but is relentlessly committing to his parental duties.  Edgerton brings some well needed softness, Driver brings some even more needed flashes of awkward humor and Lieberher holds himself up very well for a thespian of his age.  

The acting isn’t enough for “Midnight Special” to bring out something special.

 

Monday
Dec282015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens- review

 

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015)

Directed by J.J. Abrams

Starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford

Running Time 135 Minutes, Rated 135 Minutes

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

And so we have it; let everyone rejoice, the force has been awakened and J.J. Abrams has pulled it off.  Like the original trilogy, this newest Star Wars is a film for everyone; not just the nerds and the fanboys and fangirls, but the nerds and the fanboys and fangirls that is each and every single one of us- right down to your 100 year old grandmother.   

I’m not gonna bother with plot synopsis, and I’m sure as heck not gonna give any spoilers away.  You don’t have to have prior knowledge to enjoy the 7th film in the series, but even for the people who’ve never seen it (the horror!), they still know of it and its components, so I’ll let you the viewer discover what happens in The Force Awakens with your own two eyes and/or lightsaber.    What I will tell you is what J.J. has so fantastically done is make you feel like you're watching a real Star Wars film and not that Phantom Menace sadness.  

 

The new cast dazzles; with John Boyega (“Attack the Block”) giving a hyperkinetic performance as Fin the ex-Stormtrooper who has found his soul, the great Oscar Isaac using his coolness for the good side of the force as Poe the best pilot in the fleet, and Adam Driver who gives a powerful performance as Darth Vader wannabe Kylo Ren.   But who really steals the show is Daisy Ridley, who becomes the film’s main protagonist, believe me a new star is born and thy name is Daisy.  Even new droid, BB8, who serves a major part in the story is a breakout character, something they tried with Jar Jar Binks but all that succeeded in was making us lean to the darkside.  The old cast is great as well.  Most veteran screen time goes to Harrison Ford wonderfully reprising his role as the Galaxy’s number one cool guy Hans Solo.    

The one knock on the film is that J.J. who wrote the screenplay with The Empire Strikes Back scribe/director Lawrence Kasdan is that that they hit a lot, and I mean a lot of the originals beats.  This can be compared to that and that can be compared to this from the originals to The Force Awakens.  But it doesn’t feel like a Gus Van Sant “Psycho” rehash, but more an homage to what works with enough tweaks to really take The Force Awakens to a great rollicking thrill ride.  

There’s adventure in the stars again and it feels so so good.

There’s “this” in the stars again and it feels so so good.

Psalm 83:10

 

Monday
Nov302015

Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 2 - review

 

"Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” (2015)

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

Running Time 136 Minutes, Rated PG-13

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


It’s not breaking news but they never should have split Mockingjay into two films.  I’m sure the studio disagrees as they got two films with $100 million opening weekends instead of just one, but I don’t review box office numbers, I review films and Part 2 ends not with a bang but a fizzle.

Too much slow burn from the Part 1 and too light on the action in Part 2 make for a disappointing end to the exhilarating first two films in the Hunger Games series.  I’d take Mockingjay 2 well over any of the rest of the YA garbage, but I’m on record that Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen is one of the most iconic female characters ever put on film, and she deserved a better finish.  

 

We pick back up with Katniss trying to bring Peeta back from his brainwashing handed out by President Snow and the Capitol.  Katniss knows that for the war to end she must kill Snow, and so she’s leads without knowing she’s leading all against the wishes of her rebellion President, Coin (Julianne Moore).  The capitol is creatively Hunger Games-esq booby-trapped up the ying-yang with the likes of boiling oil and zombie like creatures that are never really explained.  While it’s the political overtones that give Hunger Games it’s true strength, I will say I could have used a few more of those action-packed set pieces for Katniss to narrowly escape.  

The end is all too predictable, including loss, treachery, and love.  I’ll always remember the Hunger Games for being an exciting American “Battle Royale”, and the showcase that made Jennifer Lawrence the household name she is today, but if these four films were to be put in a last-film standing competition to the death of their own, Mockingjay Part 2 would be the first to perish.

“This” would be the first to perish.\

Jeremiah 29:11

 

Saturday
Oct242015

The Martian- review

 

“The Martian” (2015)

Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Running Time 144 Minutes, Rated PG-13

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


“The Martian” actually delivers as an ‘event film’ that turns out to be a worthwhile event to attend.  Optimism is becoming a rare commodity in the Hollywood landscape, but “The Martian” is drenched in it.  That’s something this film’s director, Ridley Scott, doesn’t often partake in, but Scott, along with Drew Goddard’s script from Andy Weir’s upbeat bestseller, and a perfectly peppy Matt Damon, will bring a smile the size of the Milky Way to your face.  

Matt Damon is NASA astronaut Mark Watney, who gets left behind on a botched trip to Mars after his fellow space buddies accidentally presume him dead.  Stuck solo on the red planet, Mark has to learn how to survive for the next four years and devise a rescue mission in a station only set up for 30 days of survival.  Good thing Mark is the ship’s botanist giving him the know how of starting his own potato farm with his own excrement as fertilizer.  That sounds bad, but the true horror comes when he runs out of ketchup.

  

Scott and Goddard do a really splendid job of balancing the film’s ongoing cheeky humor with the tense Robinson Crusoe set piece danger at every turn, and while the script is good, Matt Damon is better.  He is very funny, often complaining in his video journals about how the only music left onboard was that of one of the other astronauts disco playlist (which is a brilliant move in itself, reinforcing the film’s sheer positivity), but when the dialogue doesn’t let him show much despair it’s those moments in between that display the weight of this man’s great survival.  

The supporting cast is just as good (Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Chiwetel Ejiofor) except for maybe Donald Glover (“Community”), who is trying way too hard to pull off quirky genius; instead, he just comes off as the final product of Troy and Abed after they both entered the teleporter from “The Fly”.  Also, I did do a very hard eye roll after one script misstep when Jeff Daniels head of NASA character delivers the obligatory dumb foreshadowing line, “...that’s, of course, if nothing goes wrong”, which is instantly the cue for the something-about-to-go-wrong-scene.

Small gripes for such a crowd pleaser.  “The Martian” is good times with good peoples involved.

“This” is good times with good peoples involved.

2 Corinthians 5:8

 

Tuesday
Aug252015

Fantastic Four- review

 

“Fantastic Four” (2015)

Directed by  Josh Trank

Starring Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan

Running Time 100 Minutes, Rated PG-13

1.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

The latest attempt to bring “Fantastic Four” to the big screen has resulted in a very bad movie, a ‘special’ very bad movie.  These are the kind of movies that instantly earn a spot on the “How Did This Get Made” podcast. Much has been made of this clustermuck; 20th Century Fox throwing shade at “Chronicle” director Josh Trank claiming he was erratic and indecisive resulting with him getting fired from helming the Bobba Fett Star Wars film.  Trank fired back on Twitter saying he had a ‘fantastic’ version of “Fantastic Four” a year ago.  Well, both Trank and Fox have four eggs on their face with this truly wasteful flick.  

 

“Fantastic Four” goes from its sedative inducing intro that takes half the film working on building a transporter to another world to taking a hard left with its bonkers final act that just screams reshoots (just check out Kate Mara’s terrible blonde wig).  Trank went for such a dark touch that it seems that this world has never seen a sunny day, almost co-existing in David Fincher’s “Seven” universe.  Simply put, “Fantastic Four” is on track to be the worst film of the year.

Ezekiel 37:9