Quick Netflix review: HUGO (2011)

Starring: Asa Butterfield (THE SPACE BETWEEN US [2017], MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN [2016], and THE BOY IN THE STRIPPED PAJAMAS [2008]), Chloë Grace Moretz (NEIGHBORS 2 [2016], CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA [2014], and KICK-ASS [2010]), and Ben Kingsley (COLLIDE [2017], THE JUNGLE BOOK [2016], and SPECIES [1995]).

In support: Sacha Baron Cohen (ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS [2016], LES MISÉRABLES [2012], and BORAT [2006]), Helen McCrory (THEIR FINEST [2017], 007 SKYFALL [2012], and HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE [2009]), Emily Mortimer (THE SENSE OF AN ENDING [2017], SHUTTER ISLAND [2010], SCREAM 3 [2000], and the upcoming Disney revival, MARY POPPINS RETURNS [2018]), Christopher Lee (THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES [2014], STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH [2005], and GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH [1990]), and Jude Law (KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD [2017], SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW [2004], GATTACA [1997], and upcoming films FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM 2 [2018] and SHERLOCK HOLMES 3, no release date announced).

Director: Martin Scorsese (SILENCE [2016], THE DEPARTED [2006], GOODFELLAS [1990], and the upcoming THE IRISHMAN [2018]). Screenwriter: John Logan (ALIEN: COVENANT [2017], THE LAST SAMURAI [2003], and GLADIATOR [2000]). Composer: Howard Shore (DENIAL [2016], THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING [2001], and SE7EN [1995]). Cinematographer: Robert Richardson (LIVE BY NIGHT [2016], A FEW GOOD MEN [1992], and PLATOON [1986])

(SUMMARY)

Set in the 1930s, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan in Paris after his father (Jude Law) tragically perished in a fire. He lives in a local train station’s clockworks, repairs and modifying it to keep himself busy. But his real goal is repairing the broken automaton that his father had found, but never finished, so Hugo runs around the station looking for the necessary gears to fix the machine, all while avoiding the station’s stalwart limp-legged inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). However, after he attempts to steal a piece from the station’s toy store and it’s owner Georges (Ben Kingsley), and Georges steals Hugo’s notebook of necessary tools and parts to repair the automaton. Following the older man home, Hugo eventually meets Georges’ goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), and the two strike up a friendship as she helps Hugo repair his machine and the two discover a love for films and fate of one of the most celebrated film-makers of a bygone era.

(REVIEW)

Jumped from one Paris-set film to another. Shocking how it took me this long to see this movie. I guess I was in denial that a borderline kids flick was a product of a director who has made some of the most violent films in cinema. The idea that he was even capable of doing whimsy and innocence, you’d think this was a Spielberg film than Scorsese. But no, it’s a Scorsese film and… honestly, it’s brilliant. Despite the story being about a pair of kids, the movie doesn’t talk down to it’s younger audience. Both characters, Hugo and Isabella, barely resemble kids, but more like young adults and both Butterfield and Moretz carry the film beautifully, making this movie their best roles that I’ve seen them in, and that’s saying something because it’s hard to top Hit-Girl. But everyone’s fantastic: Kingsley, McCrory, and yes, even one of my least favorite actors of all time, Cohen, was really good. Eh, he got a little too goofy in some parts, like when he’s talking to his romantic interest Lisette (Emily Mortimer). But you know what? A little goofy is infinitely more preferable than disgustingly unbearable, like I usually associate him as. If you’re a lover of film like I am, then this movie will leave you sitting, staring wide-eyed like a kid when you see the magic of watching A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902) and how those old-time silent films were made. It’s, for a lack of a better word, magical and I say if you haven’t seen this movie, then you’re doing yourself a huge disservice.

My honest rating for HUGO: 5/5

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COLLIDE review

Um… hello, random action movie. Are you here to not be good? Well, it’s still February, January’s cousin, so you’re welcomed here.

I’m not even entirely sure how this movie got made. I mean, at first it seems pretty standard. About a dude whose girlfriend’s kidney fails and needs surgery, but in order to pay it off, he goes back to old illegal habits to obtain the money. But then the movie goes from lame thriller, to sudden action-thriller, complete with car chases, CG car flips, kidnappings, and a bad tagline for the poster. I mean… damn. It doesn’t look good.

Well, let’s look at the talent. Starring is Nicholas Hoult (X-MEN: APOCALYPSE [2016], WARM BODIES [2013], and ABOUT A BOY [2002]). For an otherwise talented actor, he’s had a pretty checkered career. For every good movie he does, there’s one that may not be the most… prideful of projects. But whatever you think of his movies, he’s a solid actor. Let’s hope his agent doesn’t let him down. But the real meat of the talent that makes this movie slightly worth seeing is Felicity Jones, from A MONSTER CALLS (2016), ROGUE ONE (2016), and THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (2014). This woman is a C4 brick of talent, and is quickly climbing the charts of one my favorite actresses. Top ten, at least. But I won’t lie… it hurts to see her in something that will be forgotten. She doesn’t deserve a role like that. Finally, we have a pair of acting legends who have done timeless and ground-breaking performances, as well as cringe-worthy and ball-busting roles, Anthony Hopkins (NOAH [2014], THE RITE [2011], THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS [1991]) and Ben Kingsley (THE JUNGLE BOOK [2016], BLOODRAYNE [2005], SCHINDLER’S LIST [1993]).

Now for behind the scenes. Directing and co-writing the script is Eran Creevy, known for a pair of films I’ve never heard of. Co-writing the screenplay F. Scott Frazier, known for XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE (2017). Composing the music is Ilan Eshkeri, known for SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE (2015), STILL ALICE (2014), and STARDUST (2007). Finally, the cinematographer is Ed Wild, known for LONDON HAS FALLEN (2016).

Overall, I doubt this movie will be good. The best I can hope for is something so over-the-top that it still shines through as entertaining. But considering the ratings (IMDb = 5.7/10 [as of 2/14/2017]), I’m not holding my breath. Trying to keep my expectations low.

This is my honest opinion of: COLLIDE

(SUMMARY)

Casey (Nicholas Hoult) just met the beautiful Juliet (Felicity Jones). He wants to go out with her, but she’ll only do it if he quits his job of working with drug dealers, particularly his boss, Geran (Ben Kingsley). He does so on the spot and the two share a great relationship for awhile. That is, until Juliet suffers a stroke and Casey realizes that she has a medical problems. They can be fixed with surgery, but it requires money that they don’t have… but it’s money that Casey can get… by going back to his criminal ways. Seeking work with Geran against Juliet’s wishes, Casey manages to steal a lot of money from Geran’s boss Hagen (Anthony Hopkins), which causes a destructive manhunt for Casey as he tries to bring the stolen money to Juliet, get her out of the country, and pay for her operation.

(REVIEW)

It’s not good, as predicted. In fact, some of what makes this movie bad is incredibly schmaltzy. And yet, there are a few slivers of enjoyability that save this from being absolutely bad.

Well, lets talk about the bad. First of all, the story. I would ignore it and categorize it as unoriginal if it wasn’t for one thing: it beats you over the head with it. The opening narration of the movie is basically, “I do bad things. I wish I didn’t. But when love is your reason to do those bad things… how bad can they be?” Wow. If love is the reason… shut the hell up! You’re a throwaway action movie! Get over yourself! And it doesn’t end there. There’s lines that are like, “The love of my life in great danger.” Okay! We get it! Love love love love love and fucking love! Christ dude, you’re as in love with love as MOULIN ROUGE! (2001) was!

By the way, side note… Hoult and Jones are both British, so… why are they using American accents? I know their characters are supposed to be American, but… this couldn’t be rewritten? Was this an exercise in their accent usage? Not a legit complaint or anything, but still kind of a question mark. Well, speaking of Hoult and Jones… they’re both great actors. They’ve proven it before. They are not great here. They are bland and forgettable. An insult to their talent.

There’s sadly not a lot to say about the bad because it’s all pretty straight-forward in what it is. So, is there anything good about it? Well… Kingsley and Hopkins look like they’re having a lot of fun. Kingsley chews the scenery like taffy and Hopkins is delightfully sinister like a fun James Bond villain, reciting Shakespeare and shit.

Oh, and oh my god, there’s this one character named Wolfgang (Joachim Król) and he’s bar-none the best part of this movie. Casey has just survived a high-speed chase down a freeway, resulting in a major car crash. He steals a car, supposedly scott-free from his pursuers, but discovers the car he has is running low on gas. Unhappily making a detour into a gas station, an older patron purchases something from the gas station attendant and walks out. Casey manages to convince the attendant to give him gas with money they don’t take, but lo and behold, Hagen and a couple of his henchmen arrive to steal back the money Casey stole from him. The previous older patron takes notice and leaps into action. He grabs a shotgun from his truck and goes back in to the store to scare the bad guys off. Who is this brave and ballsy patron? Wolfgang, of course! Still, you may ask, who is Wolfgang? Is he perhaps named after Mozart? We never learn. It’s a mystery. But we do know that he’s been hunting since he was twelve years old and he rarely misses a shot! He manages to survive a direct gunshot from Hagen and continues to fight. It’s pretty awesome. The real crime is that his character is completely dropped from the movie. Casey escapes with the money, the bad guys watch him escape, and… we never see or hear from Wolfgang again. We don’t know if he survived the gunfight or anything. It’s… bizarre. But clearly the focus of the movie was on the wrong character. This kid is boring. He put me to sleep for, like, five minutes. Wolfgang was cool! I wanted to know his backstory. I wanted to know where his bravado came from. Who taught him to hunt? What did he hunt? Did he join the military and become a sharpshooter? What, movie?! What’s this man’s backstory?!

As for the rest of it… it’s not worth it. I wasn’t kidding when I said that it put me to sleep for about five minutes. Not a good sign. The acting is boring, the action can be decent sometimes, but if your action’s highlight is an older man brandishing a shotgun who’s only in the movie for five minutes, there’s something wrong with your movie, even if that shotgun brandishing man is bad-ass. Maybe some can enjoy the lack of trying from Kingsley and Hopkins, but the movie as a whole will not be remembered by the end of the year. I say, don’t see it in theatres. I don’t even think it’s worth a rental. By no means the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s very much below average.

My honest rating for COLLIDE: a weak 3/5

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