Friday, August 26, 2016

Movie review - Jason Bourne (PG-13) - By Daniel Kilgallon

Run Time: 123 min

Jason Bourne is a new action movie and the fifth film installment in the series based on the same named character created by author Robert Ludlum. Matt Damon finally returns to the title role and reunites with director Paul Greengrass for the first time since 2007s The Bourne Ultimatum. 

However, this new movie follows 2012s The Bourne Legacy, which starred Jeremy Renner as a totally separate character. Like many people, I thought that Legacy was a bust, so I was excited to see that they were going back to the original formula this time around. In addition, I strongly believe that the original Bourne trilogy is one of the best of the 2000s with Ultimatum in particular being one of the greatest pure action movies ever made.

Those who have seen the other films will recall that Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is a former CIA assassin, who also happens to suffer from extreme memory loss. Now, Bourne has come out of hiding to find out more about his true identity. Early on in the movie, he receives some information about his past from his friend Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles). It doesn’t take long for the CIA to find out about this, and soon Bourne finds himself being hunted down by his former organization yet again. 

While this plot sure sounds a whole lot like the original Bourne movies, I think that a return to that template was just what this franchise needed after a failed reboot (Legacy). Speaking of which, having Matt Damon back as the star was very satisfying and he was better than ever in what is undeniably one of his most popular roles as an actor. I would also add that Alicia Vikander and the veteran Tommy Lee Jones turned in nice performances as the CIA agents that were hunting Bourne down. Coupled with that were a handful of mind-blowing action sequences throughout the movie. 

That being said, I do have some issues with this film, including a rather uninteresting subplot as well as a few moments that were a bit too over top for me. 

Personally, I prefer the original trilogy to this new installment, mostly due to the more realistic take on the action. All things considered, there is no doubt that Jason Bourne is a far superior film to its lackluster predecessor, a fun summer action movie and a respectable chapter of this series.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Movie Review - Suicide Squad (PG-13) - By Daniel Kilgallon

Run Time: 123 min

We all know that modern day Hollywood is defined by a seemingly endless onslaught of comic book movies with Suicide Squad being the fifth to be released this year alone. That being said, this film is unique in the sense that it focuses on a team of supervillains as opposed to heroes that we have grown accustomed to. Like many others, I was very excited for this movie due to that, as well as a pretty awesome marketing campaign of original posters and interesting trailers. This follows 2013’s Man of Steel and this year’s Batman v Superman as the third installment in the new DC Extended Universe. As awesome as Marvel movies are, I have always preferred DC’s characters and am excited to watch them come back to life on the big screen over the course of the next couple of years. 

A decent amount of this movie is shown in flashbacks as a storytelling method of efficiently introducing us to all of these characters, particularly early on in the film. Some critics have bashed the movie for this, considering it a quick and lazy method of filmmaking. However, I did not have an issue with it whatsoever, and I really thought that it was the best way they could have made this movie work. 

Anyways, Viola Davis portrays Amanda Waller, an operative of a secret government agency that is recruiting a handful of supervillains from prison. Ultimately, the so called “Suicide Squad” operates as a team of mercenaries and is sent on a dangerous black ops mission to destroy a new threat with the capability of destroying our planet.

While this comes off as a cliché storyline, I can honestly say that it worked for me and I had a great time watching Suicide Squad. The movie reminded me of this year’s Deadpool in the sense that it took a more lighthearted, humorous approach to this now overused genre of filmmaking. 

As mentioned before, I love watching DC Comics on the big screen and I thought that they nailed down just about everyone in this large cast of characters. Some standout performances for me include Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robie as Harley Quinn and Jared Leto as the Joker. On a final note, even Jai Courtney was great as Boomerang, which blows my melon considering he played a huge part in ruining the Die Hard and Terminator franchises . . .

Friday, August 12, 2016

Movie review - The Legend of Tarzan (PG-13) - By Emily Maier

Run time: 110 mins

The Legend of Tarzan is the latest rendition of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ famous novels from the early 1900s. The film takes a unique approach in that it follows Tarzan - who now goes by the name John Clayton III - after his time in the jungle. Though the audience sees flashbacks of his previous life, the movie begins with Tarzan’s life in England with his wife, Jane. However, he is quickly drawn back to Africa upon learning of the atrocities being committed there by King Leopold. In the King’s search for diamonds, slavery and mass murder are beginning to spread throughout the Congo. Accompanied by his wife and friend George Washington Williams, Tarzan soon learns of an old enemy that wants revenge. 

If you’re like me, and your extent of knowledge on the Tarzan story was the 1999 Disney animation, the differences might throw you for a bit of a loop. Tarzan’s real name, for example, confused me for a majority of the movie. In the animation, the antagonist is known as Clayton, so I was baffled by why they would use the same name for Tarzan. However, it turns out that John Clayton was Tarzan’s “human” name in the original story. Additionally, the animation diverges from the original story in how Tarzan’s parents die. Instead of a leopard attack, it was actually illness that killed Tarzan’s mother, and gorillas that killed Tarzan’s father. So kudos to The Legend of Tarzan for attempting to follow the original story!

Alexander Skarsgård and Margtoo stuck in his element. Always one to play the debonair villain, it was a little disappointing to see him play the same cookie-cutter character. 
ot Robbie played decent roles as Tarzan and Jane, but were left a little pale compared to their costars. Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson - both Quentin Tarantino favorites - felt much more vibrant and attention-grabbing in comparison. The only downside was that Waltz, obviously in his element, might have been

The only real quarrel I have with this film is its likeness to The Jungle Book. Both movies focus on a feral human who attempts to save their native homeland, but they also appeal to difference audiences. I had been hoping that Tarzan would try to emphasize this difference, but more often than not, I found myself a little struck by the cheesiness. The fact that Tarzan could essentially talk to animals - not just gorillas, but all the animals in general - felt like something straight out of a child’s book. I know it’s a fictitious story, and that realism likely wasn’t the main priority, but some things just felt too disingenuous. 

But altogether, The Legend of Tarzan wasn’t a bad flick. It had an adequate plot, enough action to keep it flowing, and fair acting. I’d definitely advise it to anyone looking for an engaging summer film. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Movie review - Star Trek Beyond - written by Daniel Kilgallon

Run Time: 120 min

Star Trek Beyond is the thirteenth film adaption of the popular science fiction franchise and follows 2009s Star Trek and 2013s Into Darkness as the third installment of the reboot series. Since J.J. Abrams was focused on directing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, his role was diminished to a producer this time around, with Justin Lin taking the reigns as director. 

Lin is most well-known for directing the fourth, fifth and sixth movies in the Fast and Furious series, all of which I find to be entertaining action flicks. That being said, I was a bit concerned about this transition to science fiction when it was announced that he would direct this new Star Trek film. I am not a “Trekkie” by any means, as the two latest reboots are all that I have seen from the beloved series. However, those are two of my favorite sci-fi films of the past decade or so and I was looking forward to seeing this next installment.

At the start of the film, Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the crew of the USS Enterprise are now three years into the five year exploration mission that they began at the end of Into Darkness. Early on, the iconic ship is attacked and nearly destroyed by a wave of aliens, causing the entire crew to be separated and stranded on an unknown planet. They soon find themselves pitted against Krall (Idris Elba), a mysterious new enemy who has been working on acquiring an ancient weapon with the intent of unleashing its power. 

Overall, I had a really good time watching this movie. It was great to see the whole cast return yet again, alongside some new faces. The characters have really made these movies for me at least, and all of the actors and actresses continue to deliver impressive performances. Unfortunately, this will be the last time we get to see Anton Yelchin portray Chekov, as the young actor tragically passed away in a car accident just over a month ago. However, I feel confident in saying that this new film truly did a great job of honoring him as well as the late Leonard Nimoy by building upon the success of the first two reboot movies. Personally, I prefer the Abrams-directed films, but Star Trek Beyond is still a blast of a summer sci-fi movie that shouldn’t be missed.