By Shane Sellar
The Boss Baby
The best time to ask your newborn boss for a raise is when you’re changing their diaper.
Unfortunately, the CEO in this animated family movie always has the advantage.
Tim’s (Tobey Maguire, Miles Bakshi) perfect life is disrupted when his parents (Lisa Kudrow, Jimmy Kimmel) have another child, Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin). Sharply dressed and keenly acute, the husky-voiced youngster informs Tim that he has been sent from elsewhere to turn the tide in the babies’ battle against puppy popularity.
But if Tim doesn’t help stop the release of an everlasting puppy, Boss Baby will become his brother forever.
An unsettling blend of low fertility rate propaganda, Loony Tune-esque sex education and smart mouthed infants, DreamWorks’ latest offering borrows too heavily from funnier sources. Although Baldwin’s voice work is exceptional as always, nothing much else in this bizarre cartoon works.
Besides, kids already know that all babies come from China.
Ghost in the Shell
Cybernetic implants will make it hard for women to say their vibrating breasts are natural.
Thankfully, the enhanced lady in this sci-fi flick is comfortable in her synthetic skin.
The mind of Section 9 assassin Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the only part from her original body occupying her new metal shell. But when a cyber-terrorist (Michael Carmen Pitt) targets her benefactor, what little memories she retained may now be as artificial as her.
With help from her partner (Pilou Asbæk) and designer (Juliette Binoche), Major unravels her origins, which later leads her to a showdown with an eight-legged mecha.
While it is pretty to look at its Neo Tokyo aesthetic, this whitewashed and ultimately Americanized live-action adaptation of the beloved cyberpunk anime over-explains the narrative with dumbed down meditations on the mind, social unrest and future shock.
Fortunately, once your body is robotic you can eat cured meats again.
The key to raising a gifted child is selling them to science before you get too attached.
Unfortunately, the mother in this dramedy died before getting her payday.
Frank (Chris Evans) gallantly accepts guardianship of his niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) after her mother’s death. Like her mathematician mother, Mary has no trouble solving her first grade teacher’s (Jenny Slate) rudimentary math problems – and she let’s her know it.
Mary’s air of superiority soon lands her in trouble. Luckily her talent with formulas finds her grandmother (Lindsay Duncan) taking an invested interest in her. So much so, she sues Frank for custody.
A paints-by-numbers prodigy anecdote that strokes its brush well within the lines, this charming but predictable squabble only succeeds thanks to its leads who bring humanity to this glorified custody battle.
Incidentally, the best way to knock a know-it-all math genius down a few pegs is with gym.
Kong: Skull Island
The most exciting aspect of finding a giant monkey is all the cosmetic testing you can conduct on it.
Fortunately, the simian in this adventure picture isn’t wearing any mascara yet.
Dispatched by the military to map out Skull Island, Lt. Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), a mercenary tracker (Tom Hiddleston), a photojournalist (Brie Larson) and a government official (John Goodman) arrive to find a 50-foot gorilla protecting the natives from subterranean creatures that roam the atoll.
Conflict erupts when half of the party wants to kill Kong and the other half wants to save him.
The most dynamic incarnation of the 80-year old ape, this fast-paced update set in 1973 doesn’t waste time with exposition or character development. Instead it gets right down to eye-popping creature clashes that excite much more than they engage.
Incidentally, the only way to pacify an enormous primate is with a gigantic tire swing.
The key to conducting a successful arms deal is not loading any of the weapons before hand.
Regretfully, the merchants in this action movie included ammo in the exchange.
A Boston arbitrator (Brie Larson) gets embroiled in an arms deal between IRA members (Cillian Murphy, Sam Riley, Enzo Cilenti) and a South African supplier (Sharlto Copley) and his go-between (Armie Hammer) that results in a standoff.
Trapped inside of a warehouse and armed to the teeth, each party attempts to oust the other and escape with the cash intended for the now botched transaction.
Although it comes off as gritty 1970s throwback, this claustrophobic shootout misfires more than it hits. While the international cast is certainly capable, the plot, the dialogue and the characters are surprisingly weak and one-dimensional. Even the non-stop shootouts are too pedestrian to bother mentioning.
Moreover, arms deals should take place somewhere public, like at a children’s festival.
The most exciting aspect of discovering a giant lizard is waiting for its ossified bones to become oil.
However, the Japan depicted in this sci-fi feature will be rubble by that point.
Cabinet Secretary Rando’s (Hiroki Hasegawa) suspicion of a substantial sea creature living off the Japanese coast is confirmed when a news camera captures images of a massive unidentified organism.
Panic doesn’t set in until the entity makes landfall. Excelled evolution soon allows it to stand upright and emit blasts of radiation.
A strategy to cool the creature’s internal fusion is put into place.
The 31st installment in the reptilian franchise, Godzilla Resurgence returns the character to its nuclear roots, alluding to recent atomic disasters that have tested Japan’s mettle. While the damage done is on par with most kaiju movies, it’s the film’s urgency that makes it memorable.
Incidentally, Godzilla always dresses funny after trampling Tokyo’s Harajuku district.
The Fate of the Furious
The worst part of street racing in the summertime is you have to slow down in construction zones.
Fortunately, the motorists in this action movie can afford the double fines incurred.
While on a mission to retrieve an electromagnetic pulse device for agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), former street-racer turned secret agent Dom (Vin Diesel) betrays his crew (Michelle Rodriguez, Chris Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Nathalie) and gives the EMP to a terrorist, Cipher (Charlize Theron).
Backed by black ops (Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood), Hobbs and Dom’s crew track their former comrade to Russia, where he and Cipher have commandeered a nuclear submarine.
Equipped with over-the-top sports car chases, boastful banter and buckets of machismo, this eighth installment in the Fast and Furious franchise maintains those touchstones. However, its interpretation of those mainstays is more cartoonish than its predecessors.
Furthermore, due to the extreme depths they achieve, submarines are the ultimate low-rider.
Dating during wartime is hard since most of the restaurants and theaters are rubble.
However, the couples in this drama have been able to find love amid a holocaust.
On the eve of WWI an Armenian medical student (Oscar Isaac) studying in Constantinople manages to evade conscription in the Ottoman army long enough to fall in love with a Paris-raised Armenian (Charlotte Le Bon). Unfortunately, she is betrothed to an American newsman (Christian Bale) and he is promised to a neighbour’s daughter.
All four lives collide in the aftermath of the Great War, during Turkey’s systematic slaughter of the Armenian people.
The Promise is a well-acted piece of historical storytelling that doesn’t manipulate the facts of the Armenian Genocide for the sake of fiction. Unfortunately, the awkward love triangle only distracts from the enormity of the massacre.
Fortunately with post-war breakups, you have your wife stateside to console you.
The Lost City of Z
The easiest way to find a lost tribe in the Amazon is to clear-cut the entire rainforest.
Sadly, the explorers in this drama forgot to bring some lumberjacks with them.
After returning home to England with ancient artifacts obtained on his latest expedition to the jungle to prove the existence of an advanced civilization, renowned explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) becomes a laughingstock.
Not until after WWI does Fawcett find funding through the Rockefellers and is able to return to the wilderness with his son (Tom Holland) to find the lost city of Zed. Neither father nor son returned to Nina Fawcett (Sienna Miller).
The haunting tale of Fawcett’s real life disappearance that still remains unsolved, this artfully shot biography is an engaging adventure saga that is hindered by poor editing, a prolonged narrative and a weak lead.
Incidentally, if lost tribes wanted Englishmen to find them then they would build pubs.
The Zookeeper’s Wife
The best part about having animals as your co-workers is that you can pet them during meetings.
Unfortunately, the only engagements in this drama are with Nazis.
Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh) is a predominate zoologist who maintains a menagerie in Warsaw with his wife Antonina (Jessica Chastain). When Hitler wants to resurrect extinct animals with help from his own zoologist, Dr. Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl), the couple is obligated to open their zoo to the bizarre experiments.
Unbeknownst to Herr doctor, however, the Żabińskis are harbouring Jewish families within the walls of the park.
While this true story of wartime charity is intriguing, this artistic adaptation of the bestseller doesn’t deliver the emotional gut-punch expected from a Holocaust movie. Sluggish, with a stereotypical SS villain and a fictitious love triangle, admission to this exhibit is regrettable.
Incidentally, a delicatessen enclosure is a dead giveaway that you’re harbouring Jews in your zoo.
Smurfs: The Lost Village
If the Smurfs are looking for their descendants they should start with the Blue Man Group.
Unfortunately, in this animated film the azure imps are looking for Smurfette’s lineage.
As the only female in the village, Smurfette (Demi Lovato) is revered by her blue-skinned male kin, but baffled by her own existence.
Forged by the evil sorcerer Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) but swayed to good by Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin), she now leads Brainy (Danny Pudi), Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) and Hefty Smurf (Joe Manganiello) into the forbidden forest to find a lost tribe of Smurfs (Julia Roberts, Ellie Kemper, Michelle Rodriguez) before Gargamel does.
Infused with low-level vocal talent, a puerile script and lackluster 3-D animation, this pointless reboot of the popular eighties cartoon languishes in mediocrity. While girl power is present, it’s eventually paired off with a male partner and dies.
And here everyone just thought Smurfette was a polygamist.
He’s an Overgrown-up. He’s the…
VidiotFree Fire, Ghost in the Shell, Gifted, Kong: Skull Island, Shin Godzilla, Smurfs: The Lost Village, The Boss Baby, The Fate of the Furious, The Lost City of Z, The Promise, The Zookeeper’s Wife, Vidiot