Categories
2020 Reviews

Daniel Radcliffe Can’t Save Guns Akimbo

The latest shoot-em-up movie stars Daniel Radcliffe, and yes, you heard that right. He’s easily the best part of the film. I got so much enjoyment out of watching Daniel Radcliffe run around in a bathrobe with guns bolted to his hands. Radcliffe has done really interesting work since completing the Harry Potter franchise. I really respect him being game for pretty much anything.

Guns Akimbo focuses on Miles (Radcliffe), a computer programmer, who makes a poor decision and trolls an underground fight club organization’s stream. The organization, Skizm, doesn’t enjoy the trolling too much and wants to to make Miles pay. They end up bolting firearms to his hands and forcing him to fight in their next competition, against the baddest killer: Nix (Samara Weaving). 

I so badly wanted to like this movie more than I did. The concept is comical and cool. I’m a sucker for great posters with nice color schemes and Guns Akimbo has one of those. Initially, it checked all of the boxes, but in the end it didn’t deliver for me.

If you take away the initial set-up of having a character get guns bolted to his hands and having to participate in a fight to the death, the rest of the screenplay is pretty generic. It doesn’t bring anything new besides its tagline. While watching Guns Akimbo, you may find yourself thinking of other movies it reminds you of. I made a shortlist of ones I could think of right off the bay. Those movies are: the John Wick franchise, GamerNerveCrankHardcore HenryReady Player One, and The Running Man.

Usually when a film combines this many different films it will create a more interesting movie because it has so much to pick and choose from. However, Guns Akimbo feels pretty derivative. One could see Guns Akimbo as an algorithmic movie created from other daring action movies that have come out over the last two decades. I say that because there seems to be no passion or strong voice behind it shining through. The film has a lot of fun in the beginning, with its sleek editing and really interesting compositions, but it takes a step back and doesn’t take any risks. Guns Akimbo then came off as lazy, borrowing shots and successful artistic choices from other films. To top it off, the villain, Riktor (Ned Dennehy) is cartoonishly goofy. Ned Dennehy gives a 80s-esque performance in a movie with a modern feel.

Daniel Radcliffe does everything he can to save the movie and he’s supported greatly by Samara Weaving, who has made a habit herself of making the movies she’s in much better than they’d be without her. Nevertheless, uninspired direction and a common action screenplay prevent this from breaking through the mold of the action genre.

5.0/10.o

Categories
2020 Reviews

Onward is Exactly What Pixar Needed

There’s been questions regarding Pixar over the last few years related to its direction. Why are they only doing sequels now? Do they not have enough creativity anymore to produce more original ideas? OK, maybe this has just been troubling me, but I’m very passionate about Pixar. The studio that I adored growing up, that I’m sure was incredibly influential to me growing up, caught the sequel bug. Incredibles 2, Finding Dory, Toy Story (2,3,4) and lastly, Cars (2&3) are the sequels we’ve gotten. There was even a – gasp – prequel with Monsters University. Many of those sequels are very good, but they weren’t the new characters and stories we were inclined to expect from them.

Even though we got the beloved Coco and Inside Out, Pixar has started to feel like a factory pumping out sequels. So, when we get something like Onward, it is a breath of fresh air.

Onward is exactly what I thought we were going to get from Brave: a quest/adventure story. The quest isn’t the best you’ll ever see – it’s still rooted in the storyworld’s reality, so don’t expect off-the-wall moments – but the physical journey isn’t what the movie is really about. Getting to hang out with Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) on their Weekend at Bernie’s road trip is where the real fun is to be had. There are many funny moments – my favorite being the car chase with the pixies – but the dynamic you get to see between Ian and Barley and half of their dad is where the film’s true strength lies.

Over the years, Pixar has shown us that they can expertly give us movies that appeal to kids and adults. There are almost always adult themes that will go over the heads of children, but Onward might be one of the few where there is a bridge over the gap between the adult and child themes.

Pixar gives us the first animation I can think of that is about brotherhood and the relationship a younger brother can have with their older brother. They show the type of relationship two brothers can have and avoids the typical mean older brother vs. younger brother dynamic we normally see. I believe that when young children see this movie they may be able to pick up on the type of positive relationship two brothers can have.

The most heartbreaking and touching moment comes from a great act of selflessness that Ian does. I won’t spoil the movie, but I will never forget the image of Ian looking on (this will make sense after you’ve seen the movie). I can see this moment being one of my favorites of the year and it’s only March. Ian’s act of selflessness is another great message for children and complements its brotherhood theme in an excellent way.

Onward is a fantastic and emotional ride. Tom Holland and Chris Pratt are perfectly cast and never feel like they’re only voicing their characters solely because of being A-list stars and members of the Avengers.

Go see this while it’s still in theaters.

8.4/10.0

Categories
2016 Reviews

Hardcore Henry (2016)

Innovative and action-packed, Hardcore Henry does not disappoint. The film is shot entirely from first person point of view and because of that, has some very cool and engaging cinematography. The best way to describe Hardcore Henry is that it feels like you’re watching someone else play a video game. Everything about Hardcore Henry screams video game, especially its story structure, which happens to be the film’s major flaw. The story is overly simplistic. It begins with Henry having a single mission and then evolves into him trying to work with Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) to take down Akan (Danila Kozlovsky). Having a simple story isn’t always a problem, but it is when the dialogue is poor and seems like an afterthought at times. Hardcore Henry is certainly a lot of fun for lovers of action movies, but don’t go see it if you’re looking for a strong story.

7.2/10.0

 

Categories
2016 Reviews

Allegiant (2016)

Allegiant is another misfire for the Divergent Series. The story is fairly uninteresting and appears to take way too much from other dystopian movies. Allegiant feels very much like The Giver meets Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. There’s nothing new or exciting in Allegiant. Not to mention, it lacks any real surprises.

3.8/10.0

Categories
2016 Reviews

Deadpool (2016)

Deadpool is a nice change of pace when compared to other superhero movies.  For once we got a R-rated superhero movie that had a character with a foul mouth.  Like the opening credits say, the writers are the real heroes of this movie.  They wrote a film full of funny jokes, plenty of destructions of the fourth wall, and action sequences that worked on a modest budget.  The writers were very restricted, but they made it work.  However, I think Ryan Reynolds does not get enough credit.  Ryan Reynolds is arguably better than he has ever been as Deadpool.

7.4/10.0

 

Categories
2016 Reviews

The 5th Wave (2016)

The 5th Wave is another miss for Apocalyptic Sci-Fi movies.  For an action movie, it isn’t too exciting most of the time.  I often found myself bored.  Maika Monroe brings life and energy into the film when her character is introduced, but she isn’t on-screen for a great amount of time.  The dialogue can be pretty cheesy and cringe-worthy at times.  Basically, The 5th Wave has very little to offer.

Skip.

3.4/10.0

Categories
2015 Reviews

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

The Force Awakens does not disappoint.  The film looks fantastic and it’s one fun ride.  Even if it may have similarities to A New Hope, I think The Force Awakens still stands on its own.  Daisy Ridley and John Boyega are fun together and Adam Driver proves to be a worthy villain.  The Force Awakens may not be the best movie in the franchise, but it’s definitely worth your time and money.

8.0/10.0

Categories
2015 Reviews

Spectre (2015)

Spectre was not as good as I had hoped.  Stylistically, the film is well-done.  The cinematography specifically stands out.  Nonetheless, its story failed to hold my attention consistently.  There were moments in the movie where I found myself uninterested.  I found Skyfall to be better.

5.8/10.0

Categories
2015 Reviews

Sicario (2015)

Sicario is a good movie, but forgettable.  The film has its intense and action-packed moments, but aside from that it isn’t too interesting.  The cinematography is very good and so is the acting.  Emily Blunt’s performance particularly stands out.  The problem with Sicario lies with its screenplay.  The story is not engaging and the characters are fairly bland.

Sicario is great technical-wise, but lacks a compelling story.

6.6/10.0

Categories
2015 Reviews

American Ultra (2015)

American Ultra is a stoner action-comedy that fails to deliver.  The movie isn’t action-packed or nearly funny enough to be an enjoyable film.  Personally, I found most of the movie to be bland and it had too much fluff.  Jesse Eisenberg is fun to watch and it is exciting to see Topher Grace again, but the narrative is too dull.  American Ultra had potential, but unfortunately doesn’t reach it.

I don’t recommend it.

3.8/10.0