Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Four Spring Movie Reviews (2016)

Allegiant (2016)
Genre: Action/Sci-Fi

With so many teen book adaptations, there has been an interesting trend of the series declining in interest. In my opinion, although studios continue to release each book into film, I feel the hype wanes much quicker than they have as in the Harry Potter and Twilight days. Series like Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and Divergent seem to have a dwindling audience as they continue. Despite the trend, I have become invested in seeing the Divergent series to the end.

Allegiant being the third of four (though I thought this was a trilogy), takes the story in a very interesting direction. It picks up where we left off with Insurgent and slowly unveils the world that lies behind the walls of Chicago. We finally get to see just what kind of damage was done to the Earth, but also the advancement of the society that survived to rebuild humanity. It handles the often explored themes of how much should be sacrificed for the future of mankind and when to consider something a lost cause. The acting isn't too bad and up to par with the preceding movies. I feel the movies have gotten better with the CGI as they've gone on and this is no exception. Therefore even if the general interest in the series has died down, I'd say if you've liked it so far, give it a watch.

Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016)
Genre: Comedy

When it was announced that Barbershop was coming back, I was excited with a slight side of skepticism. I always loved the franchise (I also include Beauty Shop), but after so long it seemed like an easy money grab due to nostalgia factor bringing butts to seats. Also, seeing so many new names being added to the brand was worrisome, namely Nicki Minaj. Yet, knowing everyone involved have had success in the comedy and/or acting scene gave me enough security to see the film.

Barbershop has always been a fun series with little sprinkles of social commentary included, yet this addition makes it the focal point. As Calvin's Barbershop is based in Chicago, they took advantage of it to comment on the gang violence currently plaguing the city as it does many inner city areas. Other topics that come along with the shop talk include double standards in gender, racial inequalities, and even the role of politicians in local affairs. All of this is squeezed into many laughs delivered between the slew of comedians and even a possible love affair between the trio of rappers turned actors (Common, Eve, & Nicki Minaj). I honestly was completely satisfied with the movie and highly recommend this movie to anyone looking for a good comedy with a message.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Genre: Action/Drama

DC live action films have always garnered inconsistent reception. Yet, it is the era of the superheroes and many are on the lookout for each peak and addition to the cinematic universes. BvS is no exception, yet I was just hoping it would be better than the divisive Man of Steel (me being on the unfavorable side of the argument). The Marvel movies definitely have the leg up in the reception department, so I was hoping that this could set up DC's catch up season.

One difference that many have noted between the DC and Marvel movies is humor. BvS is a certain demonstration of that contrast as it is a very dramatic story. Batman's introduction and integration into Zack Snyder's universe is very well done as it's as gritty and realistic as Man of Steel. The movie also succeeds at quickly laying down the groundwork to introduce a Justice League as well as the pivotal member, Wonder Woman. Lex Luthor, played by Jesse Eisenberg, was a nice villain as the maniacal genius as he is in the comics. My only gripe is the way some of the dream sequences play out and how stiff some of the fight choreography is. Overall, I have to say that it was a good movie...not great...but worth seeing if you want to prepare for the DC films to come. Plus, it's better than Man of Steel!

The Jungle Book (2016)
Genre: Family

"Oh, Disney...why are you making live action versions of all your cartoons?" I'm sure that's what all crossed our minds when this movie began being advertised. I was curious to see how this would turn out, though, since this would be a very CG heavy experience. Also, it has many big names cast on the bill doing the voice acting. Thus, the family wanted to go check it out for my younger brother's sake and I figured I'd tag along.

To be honest, this movie ended up being really great. The CG was very well done and managed to make the animals' speech very natural. The young Mowgli was performed greatly by Neel Sethi and story stayed intact. You still get the fan favorite music numbers and their placement doesn't feel groan-worthy when they are about to come in either. When I realized it was Jon Favreau directing the film, it all made sense that it ended up a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The only thing I can see being unlikable about this movie is Christopher Walken's "You-oo-oo-oo" during his song. I'm can say I was pleased by this retelling of this beloved story, so it's okay, Disney, I forgive your money loving ways. I highly recommend this remade classic to anyone who love family films!

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