By Shane Sellar
The Jungle Book
The worst part about being raised by wolves is listening to them brag about all the fables that they’re featured in.
Fortunately, they’re only a fraction of the jungle beasts found in this action-adventure.
Forced to flee his wolf pack when the Bengal tiger (Idris Elba) that killed his human father comes looking for man-cub meat, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) must make it out on his own.
Along the way he encounters a menagerie of rainforest inhabitants (Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken) who either want to help or hinder him on his journey of self-discovery, and in his epic showdown with his striped stalker.
Although this collected work of Rudyard Kipling stories has been adapted ad nauseam, this Jon Favreau directed version finally gets it right: eye-popping imagery, solid voice acting and a timeless narrative.
Moreover, Mowgli will make a great human/animal ambassador for the forthcoming logging companies.
Now You See Me 2
Lumberjacks and magicians have a lot in common on account both like to saw women in half.
Fortunately, no red and black plaid shirts are worn in this action-thriller.
The underground conjurers that comprise The Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Woody Harrelson) are employed by the FBI (Mark Ruffalo) to prevent a software wizard (Daniel Radcliffe) from stealing a decryption device.
The quartet is evened out by new edition Lula (Lizzy Caplan), who helps uncover a connection to a former colleague (Michael Caine) working behind the scenes.
The obvious follow-up to Now You See Me, this sequential sequel benefits greatly from the addition of Caplan’s character. However, the same cannot be said of Harrelson’s twin brother: Chase, or the onslaught of digital slight-of-hand and overly complicated cons.
Besides, everyone already knows the real dream team of magic is: Copperfield, Angel, Henning, and the tiger that mauled Siegfried & Roy.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War
The difference between huntsmen and poachers means absolutely nothing to a trophy-class mule deer.
The seeker in this fantasy-adventure, however, is stalking his long thought dead wife.
Trained by ice queen Freya (Emily Blunt) to be a huntsman in her army, Eric (Chris Hemsworth) knows well her aversion to love so he keeps his marriage to fellow hunter Sara (Jessica Chastain) a secret.
But when Freya learns of this adoration, the couple is dispersed and convinced each other is dead. Years hence, when Queen Snow White falls ill, the lovers are reunited. But this time as rivals.
The unwarranted sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, Winter’s War is also a pointless prequel that does little to improve upon its predecessor’s discourteous depiction of dwarves. Moreover, its grandiose effects aren’t enough to sustain its plodding plot.
Incidentally, Snow White’s sobriquet would imply that her ailment is likely an overdose.
Me Before You
They’re called wheelchair ramps but you rarely see people doing jumps off them.
Hopefully, the paralyzed person in this romance gives it ago after their melancholy.
Years after a road accident left him wheelchair-bound, ex-financier Will (Sam Claflin) continues to suffer from depression over the loss of his former lifestyle.
Lou (Emilia Clarke) is an unemployed waitress who agrees to become the primary caregiver to the posh playboy.
Although her pep and his self-pity don’t mix, when she learns of his suicide pact, she plans to dissuade him by showing him the beauty of life with or without mobility.
While the leads have enough chemistry to pull of the love/hate angle of this adaptation of the British bestseller, it comes off as craven and insensitive when faced with the touchy issue of euthanasia.
Nonetheless, it’s still hard to tell if someone’s dating a handicapped person just for the parking privileges.
Born to Be Blue
The key to being a successful musician/drug addict is picking the most lucrative genre in which to perform.
Unfortunately, the strung-out artist in this drama chose jazz.
Failing to pay his drug debts, jazz heartthrob Chet Baker (Ethan Hawke) has his front teeth kicked in in front of his new girlfriend (Carmen Ejogo). Unable to play his horn he must now answer to a parole officer who requires him to find a real job.
While he agrees to undergo drug treatment, Chet refuses to give-up performing, even though his new affliction leaves him sounding like an amateur.
While Hawke turns in a remarkable portrayal of the embattled Baker, the Baker he is depicting isn’t the real Chet Baker, but a fictional account of the addict that uses his bumpy history and embellishes it with substantial poetic license.
Besides, junkies make the worst fans because they never leave after the concert.
Fathers and Daughters
The key to forging a strong father-daughter bond is the dad’s willingness to serve invisible tea to stuffed-animals.
Sadly, the father in this drama didn’t make it to manservant status.
In the present, Katie (Amanda Seyfried) is a sex addict who has anonymous hook-ups to fill a void left by her mentally ill father, Jake (Russell Crowe), an award-winning author.
In the past, Jake suffers from violent seizures caused by the death of his wife. Meanwhile, his in-laws are petitioning to keep him from seeing his five-year-old daughter, Katie.
Sullen, bleak and unrelentingly depressing, this American-Italian co-production may be a well-acted and somewhat interesting exploration of the effects a parent’s past actions have on their child’s present, but its parental profundity is done-in by its muddled, melancholic, and occasionally perverse subject-matter.
On the bright side, at least his daughter isn’t having sex with nameless strangers in exchange for money.
The Nice Guys
If it weren’t for bad fathers there wouldn’t be any porn stars in the world today.
Thankfully, there are no shortages of either in this buddy-comedy.
When an adult film actress (Margaret Qualley) disappears, a gruff enforcer (Russell Crowe) is forced to work with a PI (Ryan Gosling) and his daughter (Angourie Rice) in order to find her – and to dissuade a dangerous third-party.
But when her latest project turns out to be an X-rated exposé on the car industry’s exhaust inhibitor cover-up, the motley detectives find themselves searching for her misplaced stag film at the 1977 L.A. Auto Show.
With all of the sleaze of 1970s pulp cinema and the witty banter and odd couple camaraderie of classic comedic duos, Gosling and Crowe forge a unique bromance through a sharp script and apt directing.
Furthermore, porn shoots make the best crime scenes on account that they’re covered in DNA evidence.
The Angry Birds Movie
Online, people are either playing with themselves or playing against themselves.
Fortunately, this animated-comedy was based on people performing the latter.
An irate avian, Red (Jason Sudeikis), is incensed when a boatload of green-skinned pigs land on Bird Island and introduce the flightless populace to helium.
Red’s rage intensifies when more swine show up and all the birds’ eggs start disappearing. Eventually Red and his equally flustered friends (Sean Penn, Danny McBride, Josh Gad) engage the pigs in warfare using weapons forged from pig tech in order to win back their missing ova.
With subtle odes to colonialism and nods to the indoctrination of a native species, this vividly rendered kids cartoon based on the popular gaming app is surprisingly deep. Nevertheless, its profundity isn’t enough to keep this humorless commercial from becoming tiresome.
Furthermore, the birds’ victory simply comes down to avian flu being more infectious than swine flu.
The biggest difference between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is that kids can actually find their moms to celebrate with.
This romantic-comedy, however, has found a few fathers that have stuck around.
Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) is a single dad dealing with his wife’s death during May; Miranda (Julia Roberts) is a successful writer reunited with the daughter (Britt Robertson) she gave up for adoption; Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is a divorced mother whose husband (Timothy Olyphant) has just remarried; and Jesse (Kate Hudson) and her sister (Sarah Chalke) are about to introduce their narrow-minded mother (Margo Martindale) to their controversial partners.
The third installment in Gary Marshall’s forgettable sabbatical series, Mother’s Day may follow the same sappy multi-love story narrative as its predecessors, but it differs because it arrogantly believes that schmaltz can eradicate intolerance.
Besides, why make a million-dollar movie for Mother’s Day when a phone call home would’ve sufficed?
Cats make better burglars than dogs because they don’t stop to sniff the night watchman’s crotch.
Unfortunately, the feline in this comedy is messed up in harder crimes.
Recently dumped Rell (Jordan Peele) and his unhappily married friend Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) receive unconditional love from Keanu, a kitten that randomly showed up on Rell’s doorstep.
Unbeknownst to them, Keanu belongs to two assassin brothers who desperately want him back. Rell and Clarence unknowingly impersonate the cutthroats to liberate Keanu from the drug dealer (Method Man) who stole him from them.
While the absurd plotline lends well to the comedy duo of Key & Peele, surprisingly neither brings their usual genius to this action-y buddy-comedy. Not to say it doesn’t have its moments, just that it doesn’t have as many as their television sketch show work.
Incidentally, a crime boss is more apt to have a gamecock as their house pet.
A good way to enjoy lobster on a budget is to chug a glass of warm garlic butter.
Oddly, the man in this dark-comedy actually wants to be turned into a crustacean.
In a world where relationships are paramount, singles are sent to a secluded hotel where they are given 45 days to find a partner, or be transformed into an animal of their choice. Recently dumped David (Colin Farrell) opts for life as a lobster if he is unable to find love.
Fortunately, he finds it in Short Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz). Unfortunately, both are part of the resistance movement, which forbids relationships and wants to overthrow the single’s hotel.
While this quirky dating world is well thought-out and the characters are amusing, the director’s static shots and the script’s monotone dialogue may become taxing for impatient viewers.
Furthermore, never become an animal that has “-fest” follow its name.
He’s a Balloon Animal Activist. He’s the…