Friday, April 20, 2018

Theater Review - Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Maria Aitken
Where: Thompson Theatre at the RoselleCenter for the Arts
(University of Delaware, Newark, DE)
When:  Thursday, April 19, 7:30pm

Photos throughout by Nadine Howatt / REP

Yes, it's purportedly uncouth to review a play before it opens, but unlike Broadway where previews last upwards of a month, there are only two previews of the University of Delaware's Resident Ensemble Players' production of Twelfth Night, so one has to imagine that things are pretty much as locked in as they're going to be.  Add to that, the average number of readers per post here is a measly seven people and there's not a whole lot of need to hold back a review.  Since this is likely going to be the first review posted of this production -- which will transfer to Brooklyn's Theatre for a New Audience with the entire cast and set intact immediately following its run at the REP -- I wish I could heap huge plaudits upon it, but I can't quite go that far.

Perhaps the REP spoiled all future Shakespeare productions for me with their gloriously magical A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2010 and their equally powerful 2013 Hamlet, but Twelfth Night just didn't quite hit the mark.  Tony-nominated director Maria Aitken makes her third appearance at the REP and, as a director, I think she succeeds here most of the time, although a few directorial flourishes cause the production to falter a bit.  Surprisingly, these flourishes are probably what make the play most like a production that would have occurred during the era of the playwright and yet in the modern era, they didn't quite click for this viewer.

The bulk of the play revolves around a case of mistaken identity.  Viola (Susanna Stahlmann) washes ashore on the island of Illyria after a horrific shipwreck that seemingly has left her twin brother Sebastian (John Skelley) presumably drowned at sea.  With the help of self-professed fool Feste (Joshua David Robinson), Viola disguises herself as a man named Cesario and gains work at the feet of Duke Orsino (Matthew Greer).  Orsino is pining over Olivia (REP's Elizabeth Heflin), but she wants nothing to do with Orsino especially since she is grieving over the death of her brother.  Orsino sends Cesario to try and woo Olivia for him, but Olivia ends up falling for Cesario who in turn is slowly falling for Orsino.  This love triangle causes a bit of chaos that is only amplified when Sebastian arrives in Illyria and his similar look to the now-dressed-as-a-man Viola creates much confusion.

This particular plot thread of Twelfth Night is still likely as much of a success today as it was in Shakespeare's time.  Misses Stahlmann and Heflin and Misters Greer and Skelley all prove captivating and manage to make this far-fetched plot seem believable somehow.  Stahlmann in particular holds our attention as Viola wavers in her attempts to be masculine, capturing comedy in her awkwardness and making us feel for her plight of being stuck in this foreign land unable to let her true self shine.

The problem here lies in the subplot revolving around a cadre of fools and their attempt to make Olivia's strict and self-righteous steward Malvolio (REP's Stephen Pelinski) pay for his uppity attitude.  Malvolio, you see, is also secretly pining for Olivia, and because of this, Olivia's maid Maria (Kate Forbes), Olivia's uncle Sir Toby Belch (REP's Lee Ernst), and family friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek (REP's Michael Gotch) hatch a plan to embarrass Malvolio and cause him to think he is slowly losing his mind.  This storyline is most certainly one that appealed to the lower classes in Shakespeare's time -- the underlings usurping the upper classes through silly ingenuity -- but it simply feels like padding in this day and age.  Forbes, Ernst, and Gotch go all in on the humor aspect and what makes this whole complaint sad for this reviewer is that they all do an excellent job in bringing their characters' seedy motivations to light.  Unfortunately, this tedious plotline leads to very little payoff despite sharing nearly equal stage time with the aforementioned love triangle.  In defense of Aitken and the production, I'm not quite sure what could've been done here to make this anymore successful.  The cast is game...it's just that Shakespeare's plot doesn't resonate.

I do think Aitken falters a bit with how she presents the fool Feste.  Feste's minstrel-like songs that pepper the theatrical production certainly would've been successes in Shakespeare's time, but feel oddly out of place here.  Similarly, a second act scene involving an imprisoned Malvolio and a disguised Feste comes off almost uncomfortable with Feste taking on an over-the-top reverend persona that doesn't jibe with everything else that we've seen heretofore on the stage. 

The Mediterranean-esque set by Lee Savage is beautiful to look upon and the costumes by Candice Donnelly also add much to the proceedings.  I also must admit that I enjoyed the co-production aspect of this in that it brought some new blood the REP's standard troupe.  I've been longing for years for the REP to get back to its roots and return to being a theatrical training program for students.  While that seemingly won't happen, at least bringing in some fresh faces in this way added that sense of newness I've hoped for.

While Twelfth Night wasn't quite the success I'd hoped it would be, it's certainly not the Shakespearean tragedy (in more ways than one) that was the REP's ill-conceived 2014 production of Macbeth.  I do think the bigger issues I have with this piece stem from Shakespeare's words themselves rather than anything created for this particular production.  Yet, as is often the case with what the REP brings to us, I appreciate seeing things like this for the low price that the REP offers simply because it opens my eyes to things I wouldn't typically pay to see on a much more expensive Broadway stage.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Chappaquiddick

Chappaquiddick (2018)
Starring Jason Clarke, Kate Mara, Ed Helms, Jim Gaffigan, Clancy Brown, Bruce Dern, and Olivia Thirlby
Directed by John Curran
Written by Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan

Summary (in 500 words or less): On Friday evening, July 18, 1969, Senator Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) was driving a car with Kennedy secretary Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara) as his passenger.  The car ran off a small bridge on the island of Chappaquiddick and overturned, slowly sinking into the water.  Kennedy escaped, but Kopechne did not, perishing in the car.  Kennedy's actions after the accident along with those close to him prove that politics is an ugly game -- it seemingly always has been and always will be.
  • Solid, adult-centric drama detailing a scandal that shockingly didn't affect the political aspirations of Senator Ted Kennedy who managed to become a long-standing representative for his state.
  • While the public will never know the inner workings of the Kennedy clan on that fateful weekend in July 1969 following Kopechne's death, Chappaquiddick details the likelihood of what went down.  We know that multiple stories were coming out of the Kennedy camp attempting to paint Ted in a better light -- many of them contradicting one another -- and the rapid-paced actions of a clan of lawyers set into motion the events that helped turn the public back into Ted's good graces.  
  • At its heart, Chappaquiddick displays just how horrid, underhanded, and truly seedy the game of politics is and we can certainly draw comparisons to both candidates from our last Presidential election to see that nothing has really changed in nearly a half century.
  • Jason Clarke delivers a captivating performance as Ted Kennedy, balancing the emotions of a man who knows he did something horribly wrong with a man who desperately wants to please his family and keep the Kennedy name shining in a positive manner.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Mountain Between Us

The Mountain Between Us (2017)
Starring Idris Elba, Kate Winslet, Dermot Mulroney, and Beau Bridges
Directed by Hany Abu-Assad
Written by Chris Weitz and J. Mills Goodloe

Summary (in 500 words or less):  When their flight to the East Coast is cancelled due to bad weather, strangers neurosurgeon Ben Bass (Idris Elba) and photojournalist Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) decide to pool their money together and get a local private pilot (Beau Bridges) to fly them to their destination.  Midflight, however, the pilot suffers a deadly stroke and their plane goes down in the mountains of Colorado.  Desperate to survive in the frigid landscape, Ben and Alex band together to make it to safety.


  • The Mountain Between Us is unfortunately about forty-five minutes too long...and it's not all that long to begin with at 110 minutes.  
  • Despite being anchored by two very strong and capable performances from Idris Elba and Kate Winslet, the film pushes a romantic chemistry between the duo which the survivalist pic didn't really need.  
  • Director Hany Abu-Assad's film works best in its first act in the lead-up and immediate aftermath of the plane crash and then falls apart when it pushes Elba and Winslet to fall for one another which just ends up coming off as laughable.  It leads to one of the silliest and foolishly shot sex scenes I've seen in a while.
  • It's a bit of a shame the film's script takes this flick where it eventually goes because there were pieces at the beginning that made this seem more promising than it ended up being.
The RyMickey Rating:  C

Monday, April 09, 2018

Coco

Coco (2017)
Featuring the vocal talents of Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach,  Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía, and Edward James Olmos
Directed by Lee Unkrich
Written by Adrian Molina and Matthew Aldrich

Summary (in 500 words or less): Twelve year-old Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) is passionate about music and he dreams of being famous like his idol, the late musician/actor Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Brett) who was one of the most popular Spanish icons in his grandmother Coco's (An Ofelia Murguía) era.  On the Day of the Dead in which homage is given to family members who have passed away, Miguel discovers a picture of Ernesto standing next to his departed great-grandmother and he immediately believes that he is related to his idol.  Miguel visits the mausoleum of Ernesto and breaks in, grabbing Ernesto's prominently displayed guitar.  However, when Miguel strums a note on the instrument, he is transported to the land of the dead...and the only way to escape is to find his deceased family members to assist him.

  • Coco is a return to form for Pixar, capturing the heart that feels as if it's been absent for a few films.  This film is all about the importance of family and it touched me.
  • The vibrant colors are pleasingly eye-popping, creating a visual landscape that never disappoints.
  • The Hispanic vibe is a new look for Pixar and comes across much more stylistically appealing than the somewhat similarly themed Book of Life from a few years ago.
  • The Academy Award-winning song "Remember Me" is ingenious in its simplicity, able to be reworked into multiple versions as the film progresses, ending with a heartbreaking rendition by Miguel and his grandmother that nearly brought a tear to my eye.
The RyMickey Rating:  B+

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2016)
Starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, and Benicio del Toro
Directed by Rian Johnson
Written by Rian Johnson

Summary (in 500 words or less):  The Star Wars saga continues in this eighth installment of the original series.  Here, Rey (Daisy Ridley) trains with a forlorn and unpleasant Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on a secluded island where she tries to learn how to utilize the Force for good.  Meanwhile, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is becoming more powerful among his ranks, utilizing his commanding of the Force to communicate with Rey to try and convince her that the Resistance headed by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) is a group she should want no part in.  

  • I'm a relative newbie to the Star Wars films and I've yet to see Episodes I-III, but I wholeheartedly enjoyed Episode VII upon its release a few years ago.  The Last Jedi doesn't fare quite as well, but it still adds pieces to the overarching story that I found believable (even if several of the long-time fans were extremely disappointed).
  • That disappointment stems from a development with Luke that many found antithetical to his character, but I found a welcome character trait that adds legitimate depth to his character.  Some found this plot twist casting quite a pall over this heretofore "flawlessy" good character, but I thought it worked quite well.
  • Unfortunately, several other aspects of the film didn't work quite as well.  A ridiculous "space scene" involving Leia was laughable even for this Star Wars newbie.  Several characters introduced in the last film -- Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) -- are given very little worthwhile to do and their subplots just unnecessarily pad the runtime.
  • The final battle sequence is a powerful visual experience and ends things on an up note, but this film -- much like my apparently sacrilegious opinion of the original trilogy's middle film The Empire Strikes Back -- takes a downturn.
The RyMickey Rating:  C+

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

My Cousin Rachel

My Cousin Rachel (2017)
Starring Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Iain Glenn, Holliday Grainger, and Pierfrancesco Favino
Directed by Roger Michell
Written by Roger Michell
***This film is currently streaming via HBO***

Summary (in 500 words of less):  Orphaned as a young boy, Philip is adopted by his cousin Ambrose.  When Philip gets older, Ambrose leaves for Florence, Italy, where he meets up and begins a relationship with his cousin Rachel.  Now 24 years old, Philip (Sam Claflin) begins to receive letters from Ambrose stating he is distrustful of the medical care that Rachel is giving him.  Soon after, Ambrose dies, and although Philip is bequeathed Ambrose's estate, Rachel (Rachel Weisz) pays Philip a visit in England where Philip, initially convinced that Rachel murdered Ambrose, begins to fall for the older women.  Is Rachel playing Philip simply for his wealth?  Did she murder Philip's adopted father?  

  • Unfortunately, My Cousin Rachel is a bit too stodgy and bland to be truly successful.  
  • The source material was written by Daphne du Maurier, the author of Rebecca and The Birds - two stories masterfully crafted into films by Alfred Hitchcock.  Unfortunately, the same can't be said here.  I don't know if the material just lacks substantial tension, but in the hands of writer-director Roger Michell, this flick doesn't quite click.
  • Yes, Rachel Weisz imbues the title character with a mysterious quality that has us questioning all the way to the end whether her intentions are good or bad, but it isn't enough to captivate and the slow pace bogs things down.
The RyMickey Rating:  C

Monday, April 02, 2018

mother!

mother! (2017)
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, and Kristen Wiig
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Written by Darren Aronofsky

Summary (in 500 words or less):  A woman known only as "mother" (Jennifer Lawrence) has recently moved into a large under-renovation home with her husband, a struggling poet known only as "Him" (Javier Bardem).  When a man (Ed Harris) shows up on their doorstep, Him invites the man only much to the chagrin of mother.  The man overstays his welcome, in fact inviting his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) to the home where their sexually charged repartee doesn't sit well with mother.  Eventually more members of the man's family show up causing much chaos.  Eventually, mother becomes pregnant...which opens up a whole other can of beans and sets the story reeling in all kinds of directions.


  • Had I not known the allegorical nature of this piece prior to watching it, I would've undoubtedly hated it.  However, knowing what writer-director Darren Aronofsky was going for made me appreciate it much more.  So then that begs the question -- if the writer/director hasn't explained things enough that you need background before you go into a movie, is the movie a success?  My rating below showcases that I'm not sure I know the answer to that question.
  • mother! is an allegorical retelling of Earth's creation, Adam and Eve, and how temptation changes the landscape of all our lives.  Not exactly a story that would appeal to the masses in a cinematic manner and the film proved to be an epic failure at the box office in part because it was marketed as a horror film -- while it certainly has all the markings of a horror film, it's not "scary" in a jump-out-of-your-seat kind of manner.  What's scary is Aronofsky's tension-filled direction as we see this story unfold through the eyes of "mother" and the chaos that's slowly tearing her world apart.  
  • Jennifer Lawrence is by no means my favorite actress -- in fact, I think she's a bit overrated -- but she's perfectly capable here and held my attention throughout.  It's also quite nice to see Michelle Pfeiffer onscreen again in a surprisingly sultry, sexy role that she more than adequately tackles.
  • mother! is the type of movie that I may watch again a few years down the line and appreciate even more in large part because I think that what Aronofsky is trying to do here is utterly unique.  That said, it certainly isn't going to appeal to the masses and it gets a bit too messy in its final act to really pull me in completely.  However, for those who call themselves cinephiles, I'd give this one a go if you passed on it in theaters like I did.  You're in for, at the very least, an interesting experience.  My recommendation, however, is to google "darren aronofsky mother allegory symbolism" before you do so and prep yourself with what each actor is signifying.  It'll be tremendously beneficial if you do.
The RyMickey Rating:  either a B or a D


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Starring Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom, Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Written by Michael Green

Summary (in 500 words or less): Detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) embarks on what should be a pleasant train ride only to discover that a murder has occurred.  The only possible culprits are those on the train and it's up to Poirot to figure out whodunit before the train reaches its destination...and before they strike again.

  • Kenneth Branagh's Murder on the Orient Express feels like it could have been made decades prior to this one.  That's not a bad thing, however, in this fast-paced culture in which we live, even I feel like this one could've stood to have a bit more life injected into it.  The pace proves to be a bit too slow.
  • It's fun to see a big cast like this and the film's twists and turns allow most of them to ham it up every now and again with some overly dramatic moments.  The cheesy corniness works in a film like this and isn't ever laughable, but instead adds to the overall aesthetic.  
  • That said, while the actors' corniness isn't laughable, the story often is.  The plot's surprise mystery twists just end up seeming too convoluted to be even moderately believable.  Sure, the screenwriter is simply following in the footsteps of Agatha Christie's book...but that doesn't mean Agatha Christie's book was any good.  Sometimes simpler is better, but in my few experiences with Christie -- via movies, plays, or books -- she doesn't follow that mantra...and it doesn't always work with modern-day audiences.
The RyMickey Rating:  C+

Friday, March 30, 2018

Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Anthony Hopkins, and Mark Ruffalo
Directed by Taika Waititi
Written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost

Summary (in 500 words or less):  Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to his home planet of Asgard and forces his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to help find their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) who was missing, but then found hiding in Norway.  Odin reveals that he is dying and that his death will unlock the prison cell that his firstborn daughter Hela (Cate Blanchett) has been kept in for years because of Odin's fear that his daughter was becoming too ambitious.  Upon Odin's death, Hela returns to Asgard and chaos begins to reign as she forces Thor and Loki off the planet.  Thor lands on  Sakaar, a weird planet full of space waste and home to massive gladiator-style battles by people captured by The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), one of whom happens to be the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) who had been missing ever since the events of "Captain America: Civil War."

  • Right off the bat, I should just say that Thor: Ragnarok is my favorite Marvel movie yet.  Director Taika Waititi (along with the trio of screenwriters) have crafted a fun-filled humorous ride filled with solid action sequences that carry some gravitas and importance in the grand scheme of the Thor franchise storyline.
  • The balance struck here by Waititi in terms of action and humor is what the Guardians movies wants to be, but hasn't yet achieved. 
  • Considering how much I despised Thor: The Dark World, I admittedly wasn't expecting much here, but the change in tone to something a bit more light-hearted works amazing well.
  • Despite the oftentimes more whimsical and humorous nature of the film, there's still some important stuff going on here.  The family dynamic between Thor, his sister Hela, and their brother Loki is some heavy stuff and carries heft in the grand scheme of Thor's story...all the while likely helping to set up storylines for the upcoming Avengers film.
  • Kudos to the entire cast -- Chris Hemsworth gets to display his comedic chops (which are always impressive), Jeff Goldblum and Mark Ruffalo appear to be having a ton of fun, Tessa Thompson brings a strong female presence to the proceedings, and Cate Blanchett tears up the screen as the villainess.  SPOILER ALERT -- Here's hoping they can find some way to bring her back in future films because she lit up the screen whenever she appeared.
The RyMickey Rating:  B+

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Laura Harrier, Jacob Batalan, Tony Revolori, Marisa Tomei, Chris Evans, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Robert Downey, Jr.
Directed by Jon Watts
Written by Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers

Summary (in 500 words or less):  After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) - AKA Spider-Man - returns to New York where he wants to officially join the Avengers, but is told by Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) that he is not ready.  Peter returns to high school while fighting minor crimes in the city underneath the Spider-Man outfit.  At the same time, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) is incredibly angry after the Department of Damage Control reneges on the deal his salvage company had received to continue clean-up of the Battle of New York (which was seen in the original "The Avengers" movie).  Toomes had already uncovered several pieces of extraterrestrial paraphernalia and has discovered that he can utilize them to create advanced weapons.  Eventually, the worlds of Peter Parker and Adrian Toomes will combine as Parker attempts to prove to Tony Stark that he deserves to be an Avenger.

  • Undoubtedly the best Spider-Man movie to date, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a fun ride, filled with some great performances and a bad guy in Adrian Toomes - AKA The Vulture - who feels based in reality as opposed to being some maniacal supervillain hellbent on the destruction of Earth.
  • Despite having storylines being built upon from previous Marvel films, I couldn't help when watching this to think that this would be a great introduction into the Marvel Universe for a young kid.  There's something refreshingly innocent about the proceedings.
  • Sure, there may have been a sextet of screenwriters for this one -- a number which usually doesn't bode well for things -- but this group manages to create a balance between typical Marvel tropes and a 1980s John Hughes-ian vibe which the screenwriters and director Jon Watts admitted they were going for.
  • Tom Holland is absolutely engaging as Peter Parker and actually feels like a high school kid which is something the previous iterations could never quite manage.  His classmates -- Zendaya, Laura Harrier, Jacob Batalan, and more -- help to create a humorous and realistic high school atmosphere that doesn't feel fake, but also doesn't feel outside the realm of the Marvel Universe itself.
The RyMickey Rating:  B+

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, and Kurt Russell
And the vocal talents of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper
Directed by James Gunn
Written by James Gunn
***This film is currently streaming via Netflix***

Summary (in 500 words or less):  The Guardians clan is back as we further explore familial relationships of members of the group.  Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) reunites with his long-lost father, the god Ego (Kurt Russell), while Gamora (Zoe Saldana) continues to explore the rocky relationship with her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan).  

  • Many Marvel fanboys love the irreverence of this series, but as evidenced in the first Guardians film and now this one, these movies don't excite me as much as others.  I like the characters that inhabit the films, but writer-director James Gunn hasn't yet crafted an overarching story that really pulls me in.  
  • There is certainly a charm and ease that Gunn and his cast delivers.  The easy-going nature of this flick makes for an enjoyable watch at times, but whenever the film tries to create exciting action sequences, I find myself checking out.
  • Unlike some other Marvel franchises which didn't succeed on their first go-rounds, but then rebounded on their second like Captain America (or even vice-versa, succeeding in their first and failing in their second like Thor), Guardians has maintained this middle ground of being simply average through both of its film iterations.
The RyMickey Rating:  C+

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Snatched

Snatched (2017)
Starring Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Joan Cusack, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, and Christopher Meloni
Directed by Jonathan Levine
Written by Katie Dippold
***This film is currently streaming via HBO***

Summary (in 500 words or less):  Fired by her job and dumped by her boyfriend, Emily (Amy Schumer) is desperate to have fun on her pre-planned trip to Ecuador.  With no one to go with her, Emily reluctantly agrees to have her mother Linda (Goldie Hawn) tag along.  While out exploring the island, Emily and Linda are kidnapped by masked men and they must do all they can to return to safety.

  • Snatched is a 2017 equivalent of Romancing the Stone -- an "adventure comedy" minus the romance -- but it's not as good as that fun 1980s flick.
  • My first experience with Amy Schumer was with the very good Trainwreck, but this film squanders her comedic chops with a plot that can't really sustain itself even over the short runtime.
  • That said, because of both Schumer and Goldie Hawn, Snatched is much more watchable than it deserves to be.  Yes, subplots with some ridiculous characters played by Ike Barinholtz, Joan Cusack, Wanda Sykes, and Christopher Meloni are too silly to merit screentime, but at its heart the mother/daughter dynamic between Schumer and Hawn is believable and undeniably enjoyable.  It makes me long for Hawn to take part in a better film instead of having this be her first screen venture in 15 years.  Here's hoping she doesn't wait another decade-and-a-half before she takes another role.
The RyMickey Rating:  C+

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Justice League

Justice League (2017)
Starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, J.K. Simmons, and Ciarán Hinds
Directed by Zack Snyder
Written by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon


Summary (in 500 words or less):  Indulge me for a moment, as I copy the first paragraph of the Wikipedia summary for Justice League -- 
"Thousands of years ago, Steppenwolf and his legions of Parademons attempt to take over Earth with the combined energies of three Mother Boxes.  They are foiled by a unified army that includes the Olympian Gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, mankind, and the Green Lantern Corps.  After repelling Steppenwolf's army, the Mother Boxes are separated and hidden in locations on the planet.  In the present, mankind is in mourning over Superman, whose death triggers the Mother Boxes to reactivate and Steppenwolf's return to Earth an effort to regain favor with his master, Darkseid.  Steppenwolf aims to gather the artifacts to form "The Unity," which will destroy Earth's ecology and terraform it in the image of Steppenwolf's homeworld."
  • Granted, there's a whole lot more to Justice League than that summary above, but just reading that gives you an idea of how ludicrous the overarching story of how this movie is.  Justice League is supposed to be DC Comics' equivalent of Marvel's Avengers, bringing together the best of DC's superheroes, and yet director Zach Snyder and his two screenwriters squander the appeal of bringing together Batman (Ben Affleck), Superman (Henry Cavill), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher).
  • It's obvious that screenwriter Joss Whedon was brought on to add lightness and humor to the decidedly heavy aesthetic that always permeates the DC Universe films.  While some jokes land, most just feel like they were added on in reshoots.
  • Ben Affleck has talked about leaving the franchise and I think that's best.  Granted, it isn't all his fault as Zack Snyder's choice of direction cause the character to lose any modicum of charisma, but Affleck just never seems like he's having fun with this iconic figure in the slightest.
  • The Flash is certainly the standout here to me with Ezra Miller getting the bulk of Whedon's jokes and thereby showing the most charisma.  Perhaps his standalone film will be the first DC flick to actually win me over completely because thus far, they've been incredibly disappointing.
The RyMickey Rating:  C-