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Logan

Logan ticketstubLet's be clear, this is not a happy fun X-Men movie. It's about aging and loss and loneliness and guilt. Logan is complicated and he's had a long sad life only briefly punctuated by friendship and love, and he's lost all of that several times over. Now, facing the end, Logan finds a cause, and only barely the will to deal with it. This movie feels long and has pacing issues, but the acting is good and the writing works well and the subject matter feels sufficiently weighty. What actually bugs me about it is not a problem with the production, it's that this is effectively the end of the X-Men. We are watching the final moments of that story and it makes me sad. Because of this, it has a very different tone then all of the other movies and that's not bad, it's just different. Be aware, this is an R rated movie with quite a lot of graphic violence and language. I actually really enjoyed the transition into an adult super hero movie, just not a movie for the young children.

4/5

Get Out

Get Out ticketstubThis is a tough movie to categorize. There's a little comedy, some graphic shooty stabby action, a little horror, but mostly it's social commentary. I don't think I'm smart enough or even aware enough to get all the nuance I feel is in here somewhere, so I won't make a fool of myself trying to guess, but even if you're not fully aware of the message, you can clearly see there is a message there, and it does make you think about race relations. This is absolutely an excellent movie. The acting is wonderful, the writing is excellent, the pacing is probably perfect, and the reveal is a lot of fun. So why not a perfect score? Plot holes. While I can potentially excuse these issues for the sake of just enjoying the film, I feel they still detract significantly from the meaning behind the reveal. So, good job, just not perfect.

4/5

The LEGO Batman Movie

The LEGO Batman Movie ticketstubIf you are expecting LEGO sight gags and pop culture references and Batman being dark and a full on dick, then you will not be at all surprised by this movie. It does have a bunch of funny jokes and fairly clever writing that appeals to kids and adults, it's just not really new anymore. If you're wondering if it'll be fun to see with your kids, then yes, go with your kids. Should you see it on your own? Eh... you could maybe wait to stream it and avoid all those kids who don't know how to use their indoor voices.

3/5

John Wick Chapter 2

John Wick Chapter 2 ticketstubWhere John Wick 2 lacks the mild emotional punch of the original movie, it pushes far beyond in assassin mastercraftery. I know that's not a word, but this movie has earned some inventive language. The sequel, which picks up shortly after the end of the first film (I'm still not quite sure how long it's been, a couple months maybe?), shows Wick back in his comfy place, plotting and executing a precise assassination that, unfortunately, doesn't go according to plan, but that's to the audience's benefit. Wick is a goddamned unstoppable force of nature and he is a sight to behold when he's working. The brilliantly choreographed fight sequences are a delight and then we get more of Wick reaping bloody revenge on those that wronged him. Again. It's fun, not very deep with a paper-thin plot, but I came out of it thrilled and excited for whatever comes in chapter 3.

4/5

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter ticketstubReturning to the story started by the first Resident Evil movie, The Final Chapter opens with a ten minute retconning sequence catching the viewer up on everything that's happened up till now, starting now. There's actually more backstory here than we ever got in any previous movie, which is nice, but it starts exposing nagging plot holes that grow to monstrous proportions by the movie's conclusion.

TFC picks up at the end of the previous movie as Alice scavenges the wastes of Washington D.C. The Red Queen tells Alice she has 48 hours to save humanity, and the crazy artificial countdown to doomsday begins ticking. This little bit of story and a couple mysteries that I guess need answering are the scaffold around which a breathless stream of action sequences play out. The action isn't bad if you can tolerate the over-the-top sort of fighting we've come to expect from RE movies. I found it loud and the jump-cut editing made it difficult for me to follow what was happening. The unstoppable evil commander from several previous movies, Wesker, had a relatively small and inconsequential part in this movie simply relaying commands from the actual evil leader to the Red Queen. "Lock down the Hive!" he tells her... three times.

In the end, the resolution of the series was fine and this movie at least had a story that tried to get back to where the series started (even if bears little resemblance to the source material), but I found the previously mentioned plot holes to be too distracting for me to buy into what they were trying to sell me.

2/5

Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed ticketstubIntensely intense intensity! This movie is working so hard at being serious and heavy and intense that it feels like it's in the way of itself. I would not call the Assassin's Creed franchise light-hearted by any stretch of the imagination, but these are games and there's a fair bit of unreality built into them. This movie, though, is just so into itself with long stares and intensely spoken dialog, none of the characters felt real to me. There was no... humanity... anywhere to be seen, even though the plot is to save humanity's free will. And speaking of free will, we're told several times that those are the stakes, but there's no demonstration of those stakes anywhere. No scene showing a test of this power or a suggestion of how this would affect large populations. Just intense talk about how, if we take away free will, there won't be any violence. This spoken by a member of an intensely violent Illuminati-like organization. So there's never a concrete sense of what the stakes are in all this. We've got Michael Fassbender doing some Assassin's Creed style assassinating, and that's fun to watch, but all this stuff that kind of works in a video game that isn't real, doesn't seem to work quite as well in a movie that isn't real. When people start doing some of the super-human moves that work in the games, but in the real world, the need for wires or CG becomes apparent and that kind of pushed me out the movie a bit. By the end of the movie, the action picks up, but I've already lost track of what's going on. There are *gasp* reveals, but because of people's accents and the action going on all around, I don't quite follow what those reveals are.

I understand all we really want out of an Assassin's Creed movie are some sick fights and rooftop chases, and we certainly get some of that in this movie, but the story seemed flimsy and the intensity of the acting and dialog didn't match the mostly abstract gravity of the plot.

2/5

La La Land

La La Land ticketstubAs the credits started rolling, the elderly woman on my left (there was another on my right) turned to me and asked if I enjoyed the movie. She said, at her age, it's really wonderful to see a good old-fashioned musical. Now, I don't really have any experience with old movies, including musicals, but if I had, this is what they would be. A young woman goes to Hollywood to live her dream of being an actress meets a young man in Hollywood to (attempt to) open a jazz club. Classic. There are some very slight pokes at the movie industry and what it's like to live in LA (50% of those gags come in the form of titles on the screen that announce "Winter," "Spring," etc, when, of course, all the seasons in LA look the same), but this is no LA Story. We start of with a few fun song and dance numbers, and then a long lull in the middle till we get a few less happy songs toward the end. Not to say this movie doesn't have a happy ending, it's just not THE happy ending, and I think that's swell. I get the idea of doing an old-timey romantic comedy musical and La La Land works really well, I'm just sad to say that isn't the sort of musical that really excites me.

The characters are fun and feel mostly real, but still kind of like slightly cartooney versions of romantic leads because being in a movie where people randomly engage in song-and-dance is a bit cartooney. I did like the message at the core, about following your dreams and not letting that voice in your head that's always telling you you aren't good enough to drive you away from what you've always wanted. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling can sing and had wonderful chemistry with each other. My personal issue with the movie is probably the persistence of jazz music, which I simply have no tolerance for, but that really shouldn't detract from the really excellent movie-making on display.

4/5

Passengers

Passengers ticketstubAn accident on-board an interstellar colony ship causes mechanic Jim to be awakened from hibernation. In a fit of lonely desperation, Jim awakens another passenger and things sorta get complicated. This is a pretty simple plot involving the ethical questions around deciding the fate of another person to satisfy your own interests. This is not an action-packed adventure, it's largely just Jim by himself, accompanied only by the android that tends bar. The addition of Aurora introduces the romantic story, but otherwise we're simply watching these two characters go on dates. The last act involves problems with the ship and that feels more like a big action-ey adventure, but in the end, that's not the point.

I won't say I had a problem with this movie's slow burn, it's vitally important to understanding these two characters and what their hopes and dreams were before their lives took a turn. Chris Pratt is funny and charming and Jennifer Lawrence brings the emotions, but I could have used a little something more to juice the interaction between the characters. I really loved the art direction, the ship was clearly very advanced technology, but it was also clearly recognizable as a cruise ship. For example, in order to do anything on a cruise ship, you have to show or swipe your ID badge, in Passengers, this was replaced by a wrist band. Even in the far future you still need the Gold Package to get the good meals.

Perhaps my issue is that there isn't any antagonist. The only enemy here is loneliness and the drive for human interaction, everything else is just a giant overblown case of life problems that are out of the protagonists' control that they have to deal with. It's a fine movie, but it's not exceptional.

3/5

Rogue One

Rogue One ticketstubHeroes and villains and spaceships and sacrifice and revenge and droids with no filters and did I mention spaceships? It's fun and tense and feels more like a two-hour episode of Star Wars Rebels than the traditional Star Wars movie. This movie is stand-alone, you won't need previous Star Wars experience to understand what's happening, but if you are a fan, you'll be treated to some fun nods to the other movies (mostly A New Hope). Have fun storming the castle!

4/5

The Edge of Seventeen

The Edge of Seventeen ticketstubHigh school girls dealing with high school issues is a common theme in movies, so when it comes to differentiating the good from the bad, I think it's either about humor or sincerity, and The Edge of Seventeen has both. While they don't use the term, I would say the character Nadine is a solid introvert. She has a small number of good friends (or just the one friend) and does not manage well in crowds, but does better one-on-one. She sees herself as the outsider, as weird and awkward and doomed. She doesn't believe she has anything to offer the world. To top it off, her only friend starts dating her perfect brother leaving her feeling betrayed and alone. I don't think I'm alone in being able to identify with that. Many high school dramedies utilize over-the-top scenarios to build humor around, while this movie's humor comes from some pretty real situations and snappy dialog that feels appropriate for the age of the characters (both the teenagers and the adults). I really enjoyed Nadine's progression and the realizations her behavior bring about, as well as the characters who float in her orbit. I particularly liked Woody Harrelson as her history teacher and Hayden Szeto as Erwin, the awkward classmate who seems to have a crush on Nadine. My only criticism may be the same issue I have with just about any major movie, all the characters are so darned good looking! It's difficult for me to buy into the suggestion that no one notices Nadine or Erwin given they're not at all subtle attractiveness. The R rating seems to be mostly for language and a little bit of sexual situations, but nothing graphic. I'd say if you like these sorts of high school movies with well written and very not perfect characters, then you'll probably enjoy The Edge of Seventeen.

4/5