Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Shallows

Director Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Shallows is a heart-pounding thriller that had me releasing more than a few teardrops at the end.
Writer Anthony Jaswinski’s taut script pits Blake Lively as a free-spirited medical student against a shark whose ferocity makes Jaws seem like a domesticated pussycat.
If this is shown in one of those theaters with 4SX seats, it would, definitely, be worth the extra price…as long as you’re not faint-of-heart.  In any case, I guarantee you’ll be making your seat move just to keep yourself from freaking out.

Congratulations to everyone involved with this film…especially Blake Lively.

I give The Shallows a 4.6 out of 5.  

Independence Day: Resurgence

Writer/Director/Producer Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day: Resurgence is the epitome of a summer popcorn thriller. 
 Together with Co-Writers Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods and Dean Devlin, Emmerich has crafted non-stop beginning to end action with several story lines that are easy to follow and all interesting.  And, while some might criticize the convenient coincidences that draw some of the characters together, they just don’t appreciate the fun of a summer popcorn adventure.

A lot of the fun is seeing characters from the original Independence Day of 1996 back again, including Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldman, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Viveca A. Fox, Robert Loggia and James Storey.

Newbies Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward, Angelababy and William Fichtner are all top-notch.  And, the Aliens are bigger and badder than in the original.  So, what more can you want?

Whether you see it in 2D or 3D, Independence Day: Resurgence is a fun ride for everyone in the family.  I give it a 4.5 out of 5.

Les Cowboys

Writer/Director Thomas Bidegain’s Les Cowboys is a contemporary thriller that pays homage to American Cowboy films like John Ford’s classic The Searchers in which John Wayne is going after Apaches, who kidnapped his sister. 

Here, the cowboys are from a French working-class family and the Indians are Islamic extremists from Pakistan.

Though Bidegain is a good director and his Cinematographer Arnaud Potier captures the action, vividy, the problem is with the script that was co-written with Noé  Debré from an idea by Laurent Abitbol. 
The main character is the obsessive father played by François Damiens, who can’t let go of the fact his daughter Kelly (IIiana Zabeth) has run off with a Pakistani neighbor’s (Djemel Barek) son.  The film is about his inability to come to terms with her decision and, when he dies in his frantic search, that story is over.

But, the film isn’t over.

Now, the young son (Finnegan Oldfield) of the dead father grows up and follows the trail of his sister and we’re in what seems like an entirely new film.  And, it’s not that either of these stories is badly done, it’s just that we’re watching what seems like Parts 1 & 2 of the original story….which normally would have been a year apart for other film franchises.

I give Les Cowboys a 3.8 out of 5 for its…in my opinion…weird, but not entirely successful effort to be innovative.

The Conjuring 2

The tough thing about documentary-style horror films, is that it takes a lot of setup time before the scary stuff starts to happen.  That’s the main problem with Writer/Director/ Producer James Wan’s The Conjuring 2.

When you start to add in the usual stupid moves of characters that are typical to most horror films, you make some of your viewers…like me…start to drift off.
The saving grace or, in this case, graces of The Conjuring 2, however, are actresses Vera Farmiga, who I’ve never seen give less than a top-notch performance, and Madison Wolfe, who plays the spirit-afflicted young British girl.  They are enough to bring the film to life and add the essential spookiness.

I give The Conjuring 2 a 3 out of 5. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Central Intelligence

Writer/Director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s Central Intelligence takes a while to get off the ground with a bit too much back story, but, once it gets going, the going is a lot of fun.

Interestingly, the bulk of the humor comes, not from Kevin Hart, but Dwayne Johnson. 
While the gags and thrills are hit and miss, overall the fun wins out and, whether you’re a fan or not, you should enjoy the experience.

I give Central Intelligence a 3.5 out of 5.