Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Movie Review: The Nice Guys

The first time I saw Russel Crowe on screen, he was playing a hard-nosed cop in LA Confidential. Since then, I’m struggling to remember a movie where Crowe didn’t ultimately play this same sort of character. No matter where I see him, he’s using a physical approach to intimidate everyone and everything in his path. Ryan Gosling tends to play the heart-wrenching sort of character that women tend to fall for. I am imagining a Hollywood producer salivating over the box office returns for pairing these two together. And thus, I can see exactly how this movie got made.

The story was quite fast moving. The scenes were breathtaking at times. The first sequence was an interesting weave of a dream sort of becoming a reality, for at least one person in the scene. What progresses is two hours (though it felt like a lot more), of mysteries steeped onto one another. Much like LA Confidential, there were quite a few twists and turns and the ultimate ‘bad’ guy was never held responsible. The over-arching story was somewhat ridiculous in contrast to the smaller scope story of just finding a missing girl.

The true draw of this movie, the star, was Angourie Rice, who played Gosling’s daughter. Her performance outshined Gosling and Crowe. She was Penny to their Inspector Gadget. In many ways, I had wished they’d just let her run the investigation. Gosling played a drunk sort of character who had some mild competence, while Crowe was the clear muscle (as usual). It was so tired and yet mildly entertaining.

There wasn’t a great deal of diversity to speak of, but both of the non-white characters that were ‘featured,’ and I use the word loosely, ended up being ‘bad guys.’ In a movie that seemed to be contending for an award of some sort, I would have expected more attention paid to this sort of thing, but that wasn’t the case.

I’m not sure I’d recommend this movie. It was amusing, sure, but that isn’t a reason to waste time or money on something. 

Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War

While I saw this movie almost two weeks ago, this is the first time I’ve had to sit down at a computer for an extended period of time to write down my thoughts, however scattered they are at this point. If you’ve seen one super hero movie, you’ve really seen them all. Having said that, for about 2.5 hours, this was a decent use of time and money. There’s no way to have a story without conflict and the movie opens with a ridiculous fight sequence, picking up where the last Avengers movie left off. And just as happened in all the other movie, civilians get in the way, get hurt and sometimes it is unavoidable. Not so, says the government, who come in to dictate to the Avengers that they can’t run amok without supervision, a committee or something of the like. The group fractures and wackiness ensues.

The plot is hardly surprising. The ending is fairly expected. I did read a comment online stating that the costs should have been greater for the team, but I’m not sure which character would have been eliminated. Given the tenor of the world right now, unless it had been one of the two main characters, I don’t think people would have been satisfied. That didn’t happen and at the end of the day, the movie almost felt like a waste.

What I love and hate about the Marvel universe is that the scope of it has no bounds. The entire series is tied together and everyone is working towards a common goal. At the same time, it starts to feel overburdened and directionless. The same things keep happening and people continue to watch without pause. But should we pause? What is Captain America really doing? Is he not a vigilante? Sure, you could argue he was searching for the truth, but to do so with no boundaries, and near limitless power, means he is unstoppable. This is the cue that Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man came in, trying to find a middle ground. I thought it interesting that the flamboyant playboy was the voice of reason and Captain America was the one that refused to compromise.

The whole movie seemed weighted, a production that was bigger than the screen that could hold it. At each turn there were yet more heroes and more obstacles for them to overcome. When the super hero movies first started out, Batman would be opposing two bad guys. Then Batman got Robin and they’d play against more villains. It seems that Disney has forgotten how this turned out (lest we forget Batman and Robin) and we’re doomed to repeat it. I appreciate the entertaining quality to these movies, but my expectations are going to continue to lower as each new movie preens onto the screen.