The Predator

Predator-dvdIs this a comedy or an action flick? A little of both, I guess… It has great action scenes, although not always believable. In a nutshell, it tells the story of a group of misfit soldiers fighting against an alien monster in pursuit of another alien monster. They get help from an unsuspected genius and one of the bad guys is not what it seems. The story is not really original but it is entertaining enough. In fact, the whole movie is just setting up the ground for the next one (or two — but no release date has been announced yet). It might push the Predator franchise into superheroes territory ! Powersuit, yeah! I can’t wait to see that! 

The movie did relatively well at the box office (returning nearly twice its investment) but disappointed the fans of the franchise and the critics (getting only a 5.4 on IMDb and a 32% / 35% on Rotten Tomatoes ). It’s an average sci-fi action movie which remains nevertheless fun to watch. stars-2-5

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Bohemian Rhapsody

BohemianRhapsody-covI never considered myself a fan of Queen (but my wife was one), however, as I was watching this movie, I realized that I knew (or had heard) all the songs featured in the movie. Bohemian Rhapsody is, of course, a biopic about the music band Queen — telling us how would-be graphic designer (lead vocalist & songwriter Freddy Mercury), electronician (bass guitarist John Deacon), dentist (drummer Roger Taylor) and astrophysician (guitarist & songwriter Brian May) got together to make musical history. It seems a relatively faithful depiction of their collective life — or at least its highlights in fast-forward — focusing on the dynamic of the group interaction, the fact that they created music that allowed the audience to participate in their live performances, and giving some interesting insight on the genesis of some of the most iconic songs. As it is to be expected, the movie is centred mostly around Freddy Mercury and his bisexuality.

The choice of actors is excellent as they really look like the part. The acting is also good and their stage and musical performances are particularly remarquable. This movie will certainly get an entirely new generation to discover Queen’s music. It is rather uneven, far from being perfect, but it is well-made and the musical number makes it quite entertaining. It was well received (with a 8.1 rating on IMDb — although there is an interesting discrepancy on Rotten Tomatoes between the critics’ rating, 61%, and the audience’s rating, 86%). In any case, it certainly deserves to be seen, wether you like Queen or not. stars-3-5

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Mirai

Mirai-jpFrom acclaimed director Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children) comes a daringly original story of love passed down through generations. When four-year-old Kun meets his new baby sister, his world is turned upside down. Named Mirai (meaning “future”), the baby quickly wins the hearts of Kun’s entire family. Kun becomes increasingly jealous of her, until one day he storms off into the garden, where he encounters strange guests from the past and future – including his sister Mirai, as a teenager. Together, Kun and Mirai go on a journey through time and space, uncovering their family’s incredible story, in this magical and emotionally soaring adventure about the ties that bring families together and make us who we are.” (From Universal website)

Mirai (未来のミライ / Mirai no Mirai / lit. “Mirai of the Future”) is a beautiful story about good parenting and loving our siblings or family. Kun is a young boy who is jealous of his newborn sister Mirai. However, the genealogical tree that sits in the courtyard of their small house in Yokohama shows him scene of past and future life of his family members (his teenage sister, his mother, his great-grand-father, even the family dog!) so he can relate to them and learn to appreciate them better. Or this is a boy with an extraordinary imagination!

The animation is excellent and offers very realistic background illustrations that you would think it’s CGI but they are actually hand-drawn (although there is CGI in the movie). In fact, it is so crisp that it feels a little cold. For such a story about family I would have preferred a style that evoke more warmth. I particularly like the design of the modern house, conceived by the father (who’s an architect), that takes advantage of the narrow space and the hill to build in several level, with lots of steps.

Animated by Studio Chizu and distributed by Toho (GKids in North America), Mirai was created, written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars and The Boy and the Beast), with character designs by Hiroyuki Aoyama, animation direction by Ayako Hata & Hiroyuki Aoyama, art direction by Takashi Omori & Yohei Takamatsu and music by Masakatsu Takagi. The voice cast includes  Haru Kuroki / Victoria Grace as Mirai, Moka Kamishiraishi / Jaden Waldman as Kun, Gen Hoshino / John Cho as Father, Kōji Yakusho / Victor Brandt as Grandfather, Kumiko Asou / Rebecca Hall as Mother, Masaharu Fukuyama / Daniel Dae Kim as great-grandfather, and Mitsuo Yoshihara / Crispin Freeman as Yukko the dog. 98 min., rated PG (for thematic elements including some scary images). It was favourably received by the audience (rating of 7.1 on IMDb and of 92% / 83% on Rotten Tomatoes). It’s a fine exemple of Japanese animation that everyone should see. stars-3-5

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Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers_InfinityWarThis is a very depressing movie mostly about sacrifice and loss. The sophisticated and over-the-top special effects are not enough to make you really appreciate this over compartmented story which is a literal who’s who of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as they pit almost EVERY Marvel superheroes against Thanos in order to try saving the universe. It is just too much (too much non-stop action, too many character killed). And it is also “To be continued” ! ;(

Of course, it was greatly appreciate by the Marvel Universe fans (score of 8.5 on IMDb and critic/viewer ratings of 85% / 91% on Rotten Tomatoes), but for me it wasn’t enough to prevent me from feeling bored (beside the occasional “what? Those characters are part of the same universe” or “oh no, they didn’t dare going there” or “you means, he’s dead, dead?”)—although I almost sympathized with the supervilains who has a very gordian way of solving the universe’s problem (who knew? Earth is not the only place with an overpopulation of idiots!). It might have helped to have watched some of the one shot movies (like Spider-Man: Homecoming,  Ant-Man or Doctor Strange) as well as some of the TV series. Now, they will really need new characters (oh, yeah, that’s probably why they dug out Ant-Man, Black Panther and Captain Marvel !). However, I am curious to see how the heroes will manage to find their way out of this dire situation… Which we will know, of course, with Avengers: Endgame coming out next month !

It is an entertaining movie, the kind you watch with friends, beer and chips, or that you distractingly watch while fiddling with your phone. stars-2-5

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Logan

Logan-covThis movie from the Marvel universe is far more darker than the comedic Deadpool movies I commented earlier. Here, an aging Logan (aka Wolverine) is taking care of an Alzheimer Charles Xavier (Prof. X) along with Caliban. The X-men are no more–as mutants has been chased into near extinction. Although Transigen, under Dr. Zender Rice, is trying to create and weaponize new mutants. A compassionate nurse helps a bunch of mutant kids escape, but they are separated. With only one kid left under her care, she seeks Wolverine to help bring them to a sanctuary in the north. He first refused but grudgingly takes up the task when the nurse is  killed and he realizes that the young mutant girl, Laura (aka X-23), has the same powers as he and that his own genes were probably used to create her. It is the end of a generation and the birth of another…

The obvious comment about this movie is that it is very violent. It is even quite troubling to see such a young girl committing extremely violent acts (and even more having such a young actress performing it!). However, the story is very reflective and rich in emotions. You wouldn’t think that those could go well together. It works only because the acting is quite excellent as the actors give superb performances (particularly the young Dafne Keen, Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart) in expressing a nuanced range of feelings : angst from not seeing the path forward, rage for being somewhat “powerless“ over their situation, regrets from bygone days and past mistakes, longing for a normal life and family, etc. Also it is clear that the director, James Mangold, has put lots of stylistic research into this movie (notably taking inspiration from film noir and old westerns like Shane, which is featured into the movie).  All this makes of Logan a surprisingly good superheroes movie. And indeed it was successful, both at the box office (earning five time its budget) and in reviews (with ratings of 8.1 on IMDb and of 93% / 90% [critics/audience] on Rotten Tomatoes). It is well worth seeing. stars-3-5

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Deadpool 2

6252772_sa.jpg;maxHeight=640;maxWidth=550It was unavoidable: the bad guys kill his girlfriend. The anti-superhero tries to redeem himself to be worthy of her but he remains a jerk. It offers the usual thin story (this time about family and friendship), senseless violence and teenage humour, but even worse than the first movie. Although it IS amusing to see the Marvel universe NOT taken seriously. It was a success at the box office (earning seven times its cost) and it got a surprising rating of 7.8 on IMDb and 85% on Rotten Tomatoes! Again, it’s mostly the performance of Ryan Reynolds that sustain the film. For myself, I would say that it was an entertaining movie but only if you are a hardcore fan (which I’m not). stars-2-0

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Deadpool

deadpool-posterA comedic take on the superhero movies (and particularly the X-Men). It offers the usual plethora of stunts and special effects, as well as the usual story [¡SPOILER! although it’s all in the trailer…]: mercenary boy is madly in love with girl, but has to leave her to go seek a cure for his cancer which turn him into a super-healing anti-hero with a new ugly face so he cannot come back to her but instead seeks revenge against the vilain who did that to him however in counter-action the bad guy kidnaps girl therefore he has to save her and they ends up back together in a happy ending but the guy remains a jerk.

It’s all rather ordinary but what’s distinguish this movie is the dialogues (actually, mostly the monologues, performed by Ryan Reynolds) which are rather funny. Frankly, the movie should have been titled “deadpan”… It’s another brainless action movie. Nothing serious (the good thing is that it doesn’t take itself seriously at all) but it offers some twisted entertainment. A fan-boy movie.

It is based on a Marvel comic book set in the X-Men’s universe. Despite being called vulgar, infantile, obnoxious, irreverent, etc., it was well received (mostly by  the comics book fans) with ratings of 84% / 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.0 on IMDb ! Rated R…stars-2-5

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Tomb Raider

tomb_raider_(2018_film)This reboot of the video game adaptation is neither better nor worse than the previous one with Angelina Jolie. Unfortunately, the story is not very inspiring, but it offers good action (despite the impossible stunts typical of Lara Croft), as well as very nice acting from Alicia Vikander and Daniel Wu. I was quite annoyed by the fact that all the aspects of the supposedly Japanese ancient culture presented in the story is completely bogus and actually looks more Chinese than Japanese. (WTF!?) However, [SPOILER ALERT] I like that the ancient curse turned out to be a disease [SPOILER END]. It offers a nice breath of realism in the movie. Unfortunately, to make it cinematically palatable they had to make the disease’s symptoms completely, absurdly improbable. 

It is safe to say that Alicia Vikander comfortably slips into the Lara Croft character (despite not having her exaggerated physical attributes which she thankfully compensate with great stamina and charm) and delivers a performance that saves the movie from a complete wreck. The movie received mixed reviews (6.3 on IMDb, 51%/56% on Rotten Tomatoes). All in all, it’s an average action movie that offers brainless entertainment. It’s worth watching, whether you are a fan or not, but only if you have time to spare. stars-2-5

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Damn! The trailer is showing all the best scenes of the movie!

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Pacific Rim Uprising

pacificrim2-posterAs bad as this movie is you cannot but love it if you are a mecha (or giant robots) and a kaiju fan — which I am. There’s plenty of action (although not very realistic and playing loose with the laws of physics), not much story, a hint of human drama, and a bit of humour. There’s not much originality either, but let’s call it an “hommage.” The term Jaeger reminds me a little of Heavy Gear (although it could come from so many other sources: it means hunter in German, could refers to infantry troops, a bird, a car, or several anime or manga), some designs seems inspired by many giant robots anime (Giant Robo, Mazinger, The Big O) and, of course, the kaiju part if inspired by Ultraman, Godzilla and Gamera, but the biggest “influence” is without contest Neon Genesis Evangelion — and this is probably the closest we’ll ever get to an Evangelion live-action movie. The alien monster attacking Earth, using alien technology to develop weapon against them, the synchronization part, the tall slender design similar to the rogue jaeger Obsidian Fury (damn! I love that design!): that’s seems all “inspired” by Evangelion. Although they’ve gutted all the really interesting stuff (mystical bits and human drama) it is still pretty entertaining.

There is plenty of cool stuff in this movie. No transforming robot but instead a combining kaiju. Not a bad idea. And I’ve certainly LOL when the pilots of Bracer Phoenix have to eject and land at the feet of a statue of a… Gundam! Beautiful and really funny. I couldn’t fail to notice the heavy Chinese presence in the cast and crew (not surprising since producer Legendary was bought by the Chinese Wanda Group and some of the shooting was done in a studio in China). It did relatively well at the box office but was not particularly liked (rating of 5.6 on IMDb and 44% / 41% on Rotten Tomatoes !).

All in all, it offers brainless sci-fi action and lots of mecha & kaiju nostalgia. If you are a fan. stars-3-0

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Transformers: The Last Knight

TransformersTheLastKnight-covThis story literally puts Earth against Cybertron. It’s Megatron versus Unicron. The Transformers have been here since the night of time. They fought with King Arthur, they fought in World War One, and even against Hitler. But we didn’t know about it because their existence has been occulted by a secret society started by Merlin himself, as he was entrusted with a power staff to control them all (or at least the three-headed dragon made of the bot-knights of the round table!). And Stonehenge is a weapon (more or less; maybe more a socket for a weapon…)!

Under the influence of Quintessa, Optimus has become Nemesis Prime! However, Yeager’s Autobot partner, Bumblebee, turns him around and, with the help of the bot-knights, they fight back against Quintessa and Megatron’s plan to destroy Earth. But it is far from over as the fight will continue with yet another movie (no, please, make them stop!)…

This movie offers a few good ideas (transformers in the past, steampunk influences, introduction of interesting new characters like Viviane or Izabella), but they are unfortunately slapped together in a messy way. The editing is horrendous, the dialogues terrible and don’t even get me started with the bad humour! At 2h34, the movie is way too long and the action is going too fast — transformations are just a blur and it feels like you’re watching a movie in fast-forward! Definitely entertaining but also rather annoying (particularly Cogman, the Bot-ler). I guess it is mostly for the hard-core fans.

The movie made plenty of money but it was disliked by viewers (with a mere 15% critic rating and 44% audience score at Rotten Tomatoes and 5.2 on IMDb — strangely the next film, standalone prequel Bumblebee, did very well with a Rotten Tomatoes critic rating of 94%). Maybe it’s time to pause and rethink the franchise… stars-2-0

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