Friday, March 25, 2016

Reviews: Zootopia, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Brothers Grimsby


Sorry for the delay in reviews once again, but I wanted to throw out a few quick-hit mini reviews over the past few weeks before diving into Batman V. Superman later today (I hope it's not as bad as EVERYONE says it is).

Zootopia

This animated offering from Disney animation (not Pixar) was pretty fun to watch.  There's nothing really new and amazing here, but the story and voice acting is well done.  Lots of clever gags and laughs throughout but the BEST part of the film was the Sloth DMV piece and I had seen it so many times in the trailer that it wasn't really new and funny to me this time around.  This is an animated film that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults.  My four kids really liked it but I wasn't as enthused and am hoping for a better animated offering later in the year (Finding Dory??).  A meager 3.5 out of 5 JRs for this one.

10 Cloverfield Lane

Once again, Mr. J.J. Abrams has entertained me immensely with his Bad Robot production of Dan Trachtenburg's "invasion" drama. This is a quasi-cousin of 2008's Cloverfield and a case study on paranoia and speculation in a confined space that leaves you guessing at whether the intentions of John Goodman's crazy-conspiracy fanatic Howard are good-natured or not.  My friend Omar Latiri commented that he feels this played out as simply a long version of what happens in Tim Robbins' house in Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds, but I totally disagree.  This movie grips you from the start and never really lets go until the "escape" scene towards the end.  I don't want to give away key plot elements but lets just say I REALLY did NOT like the ending of the movie.  I wanted less sci-fi intervention towards the finish of the film but the rest of the movie is so well paces and acted that it almost makes up for it.  I was all set to give this 5 JRs but I have to downgrade to a 4.5 rating for a messy finish in what really is the best movie of 2016 so-far.  Bravo to Goodman for turning in the best performance of his career and kudos to Mary Elizabeth Winstead for playing a strong female lead who pulls us in with her eyes and passion.  This movie wouldn't have been as effective without such strong acting from the three leads.  It's really got to the point where anything Bad Robot spits out I am ready to eat up 100% without any hesitation.

The Brothers Grimsby

Sacha Baron Cohen can be REALLY funny when he wants to be.  I really enjoyed Borat, kinda enjoyed Bruno and was a big fan of Da Ali G Show.  That being said, he, like Adam Sandler has really fallen to new lows with each subsequent movie release.  The Dictator was really bad and this film is even worse.  The film tells the "story" of two English brothers who are split up at a young age and put in different foster homes.  They re-unite many years later and the youngest, Sebastian (Mack Strong), is now a special agent involved in a global conspiracy while the eldest, Dobby (Cohen), is a father of many and a local drunk in the town he grew up in.  The rest of the film is a fish-out-of-water pairing of Cohen working with Strong as they try to unravel a mystery surrounding the head of a charitable organization (Penelope Cruz once again in a comedic role). There are a couple good jokes here and there and I did laugh at times but MOST of this film is a total mess.  There are so many butt jokes throughout that are just so juvenile that they fail to make anyone laugh except for maybe a 7-year-old.  The problem is that this is such a HARD R rated film that you wouldn't dare show it to a young child.  So many sexual scenes with men, women and animals that get to "the finish line" that it's a wonder this wasn't NC-17.  Throw in a disgustingly useless turn by Gabrielle Sidoube (who must have run out of her Precious money) and some awful caricatures of Donald Trump and Daniel Radcliffe and you get a multitude of cringe-worthy scenes.  Scenes that help convey a sense that most of this movie had to be made-up on-the-fly and that the actors and producers just weren't trying very hard.  I still think Cohen is talented but he is totally misguided right now and needs to be reigned in by someone.  Poor Mack Strong looks like he's having absolutely no fun in this movie and I can only imagine that he was just going through the motions trying to perform what was put into this god-awful script.  Please DON'T see this film which earns a paltry 1 JR rating.

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