By Shane Sellar
Gods of Egypt
The upside to a bird-headed god is they’re easily appeased with a bucket of mice guts.
Mind you, the falcon-faced deity in this action-fantasy movie would rather devour his nemesis.
When the immortal Set (Gerard Butler) assassinates Osiris (Bryan Brown), the King of Egypt, and declares a new tax on all souls passing over into the afterlife, the avian lord Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) partners with a street urchin, Bek (Brenton Thwaites), who has intimate knowledge of his enemy’s booby-trapped compound.
But, in exchange, for helping him, Bek needs Horus’ aid in retrieving his love (Courtney Eaton) from the afterworld.
Inlaid with overblown special effects and abysmal performances from a fair-skinned cast, this whitewashed construct of an alternative Egypt is grossly inaccurate, insulting and inane all at the same time.
Furthermore, with all of their internal organs removed, Egyptians had plenty of room to store spare change for any afterlife tolls.
Kung Fu Panda 3
China would have a higher panda population if it weren’t for the country’s one-cub policy.
Fortunately, the lonely bear in this animated adventure has found that he has more kin.
Kung-Fu Master Po (Jack Black) inadvertently encounters his long-lost father (Bryan Cranston) around the same time a chi collecting villain (J. K. Simmons) escapes confinement and comes looking to collect the chosen one’s enchanted essence.
In order to defeat this newfound threat, Po must return with his father to a veiled panda village where he will learn to harness his inner energy for the imminent conflict.
While this successful franchise has lost some luster over the years, this third installment shows little signs of fatigue, with the laughs, the animation and the fight sequences standing up to close scrutiny.
Incidentally, the only real thing that a panda bear needs to be afraid of is life in a Western zoo enclosure.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
Nowadays, when you attend a Greek wedding instead of a gift you are encouraged to give an austerity package.
Luckily, the couple in this comedy isn’t tying the knot near the Eurozone.
Toula (Nia Vardalos) not only has to cope with her daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) moving away to college, but also her husband (John Corbett) feeling neglected when her parents (Lainie Kazan, Michael Constantine) decide to get re-married, and expect her to do all the hard work.
Meanwhile, Paris’s grandparents pressure her to land a Greek boyfriend for the event.
With a script that lacks a point and jokes that don’t work in today’s culturally sensitive world, this unnecessary sequel to the 2002 sleeper hit pales in comparison to the charming original, and reeks of desperation on the part of its creator/writer, Vardalos.
Incidentally, Greece could be relevant again if only it was reimagined as a philosophical theme park.
The Brothers Grimsby
Young men in England only have two career options: the dole or football hooligan.
The Renaissance man in this action-comedy, however, is successfully pursuing both vocations.
Strapped with a wife (Rebel Wilson) and 11 kids, haphazard Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen) dreams of the day he’ll reunite with his long-lost brother Sebastian (Mark Strong).
But when that day comes, Sebastian is working for MI6 and Nobby fumbles an assassination attempt on a notable humanitarian (Penélope Cruz), making it appear Sebastian’s gone rogue
Now Nobby must clear his brother’s name and prevent a biological weapon from detonating at a football match.
While Baron Cohen has a history of delivering lowbrow laughs, Grimsby does so in spades. Excessively crude and intentionally mean spirited, the few laughs it has are beyond infantile, while the action simply feels out of place.
Besides, the real MI6 kills all your living relatives before they let you join.
No one has a problem with all-animal metropolises as long as citizens always remember to pick their pet human’s poop up.
Mind you, there aren’t many squatting Caucasians in this animated-adventure.
Believing you can be anything you want to be, no matter your genetic disposition, Judy (Ginnifer Goodwin) forgoes carrot farming for police work in the big city.
But instead of protecting the populace, Judy’s issuing parking tickets because her buffalo boss (Idris Elba) doesn’t think rabbits can be cops.
To prove she’s more than her genus, she pairs with her species sworn enemy, a street-wise fox (Jason Bateman), to solve a rash of unsolved missing mammal cases.
Ingenuously devised, strikingly rendered and wholly hilarious, this anthropomorphic whodunit has all the earmarks of classic Disney but with a modern message on diversity and tolerance.
Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, the worst drivers on Zootopian roadways are not always female pandas.
Stop-motion animation is arduous on voice-actors because they can only say their lines in very small increments.
Fortunately, like with this stop-motion dramedy, it all comes together in post-production.
While on a book tour to Cincinnati, unhappily married self-help author Michael (David Thewlis) meets an old flame for a drink in his hotel. When that doesn’t pan out he flirts with an insecure groupie Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and takes her back to his room.
Inspired by a fevered-dream, he suggests they run away together. But her annoying idiosyncrasies and his increasing anxiety towards society may end their elopement before it begins.
A surreal, yet substantial, look at a mid-life crisis through the meticulous method of stop-motion animation, esoteric writer-director Charlie Kaufman brings his awkward insight and doleful humor to this Herculean effort with unprecedented and depressing results.
But at least this Claymation mid-life crisis has a lower body count than the California Raisins’.
Disgracefully, in the 1950s only white actors were cast for communist roles in Hollywood movies.
Fortunately, this comedy offers some enlightenment on the cultural insensitivity of “Redface.”
Employed by Capitol Pictures to protect their stars from public scandal, Mannix (Josh Brolin) faces an array of back-lot indignities, including: a pregnant starlet (Scarlett Johansson), an inept heartthrob (Alden Ehrenreich), twin sister gossip columnists (Tilda Swinton) and a leading man (George Clooney) who has been shanghaied by communists within the studio (Channing Tatum, Fisher Stevens).
The Coen Brothers’ ambitious but aimless attempt at lampooning the low-end genre pictures of post-war Hollywood and the escalating red menace therein, Hail Caesar does have some noteworthy odes to old Hollywood. Unfortunately, they never coalesce with the larger story, which seriously lacks the siblings’ eccentric brand of humor.
Besides, the best way to catch commie actors is to stakeout the pot of borscht at craft services.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
The best part about the U.S. embassy is that you don’t have to remove your footwear when you invade it.
Mind you, the Islamic militants in this true story don’t seem to care either way.
On the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, contract soldiers (John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Dominic Fumusa) working in Benghazi must protect the U.S. Ambassador to Libya (Matt Letscher) and the embassy from hoards of angry rebels.
But as their defenses fall and their supplies deplete, these former Navy SEALs must prepare for the inevitable.
The dramatic retelling of the 2012 events that inspired the bestselling book on the anniversary attacks, 13 Hours is a surprisingly humane story from the usually bombastic Michael Bay. Not to say, that it isn’t draped in patriotic pap.
However, honouring the anniversary of the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the anniversary of the actual 9/11 attacks could get confusing.
London Has Fallen
To get the upper hand on terrorism we need to employ the use of suicide bomber-hostages.
However, the high-level hostage in this action movie isn’t likely to be allowed to wear an explosive vest.
In London for the Prime Minister’s funeral, U.S. President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his bodyguard Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) are caught in a terrorist plot to wipeout all world leaders in attendance and kidnap Asher for online execution.
Across the pond, the U.S. vice-president (Morgan Freeman) works with White House staff to solve the mystery behind the mastermind’s (Alon Moni Aboutboul) motives and the possibility of a mole.
Overstuffed with straightforward shootouts, commonplace car chases and patriotic orations, this unwarranted sequel to Olympus Has Fallen is even more bombastic and nationalistic with Butler’s brutish performance and xenophobic one-liners as its highest and lowest points.
Besides, you’d get more online traffic executing that hunky Canadian Prime Minister.
Eddie the Eagle
The upside to the Olympics being in Canada is the low exchange rate helps your IOC bribe go a lot further.
Unfortunately, the hopeful in this dramedy will need more than a kickback to compete.
Dreaming of gold since he was young, Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) has shoehorned himself into every possible activity with disastrous results. It’s not until he witnesses ski jumping does the fearless Brit find his calling.
With help from a failed ski jumper (Hugh Jackman), Eddie gets the training he needs to qualify for the 1988 games in Calgary, but not the respect of his fellow competitors.
Despite its over indulgence in sentimentality and played out sports clichés, this true underdog tale still manages to rally enough heart and good humor to provide a pleasant reflection on this unorthodox athlete.
Mind you, to those in the southern hemisphere, this Winter Olympic anecdote is brand new.
10 Cloverfield Lane
Here’s a helpful handyman tip: why not turn that old bomb shelter into a contemporary sex-dungeon?
Or, like, the doomsday prepper is this psychological-thriller: keep stocking it with preserves.
Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) comes to after a car accident to find she is confined in an underground bunker curated by conspiracy nut Howard (John Goodman), who believes the air above is now contaminated from an unknown attacker.
Remaining distrustful of her captor while building a rapport with him, Michelle conspires with her co-inmate (John Gallagher, Jr.) on constructing a homemade HAZMAT suit for escaping in.
On one hand it’s an intimate and exhilarating cat-and-mouse game with sporadic bursts of humor and malice. And on the other, it’s an out-of-left-field alien incursion sequel to the 2008 found-footage Cloverfield. But some how these two conflicting narratives work in an unanticipated fashion.
Ironically, to aliens, underground bunkers are like cans of preserved peaches.
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