Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Friday, August 5, 2022

Movie Review: The Gray Man (PG13 – 122 minutes)

 

While this did release briefly in theaters, I watched it on Netflix, and found it to be a perfectly entertaining streaming action flick. 



Based on the book by Mark Greaney, The Gray Man begins by introducing us to the man who will be known as Six moving forward. Recruited in prison by Fitzroy, he goes to work for the CIA – a nameless assassin.  On one particular mission, he is instructed to take out a target despite several kids and innocents in the way. He declines and becomes the next target of the CIA’s hit squads. When he evades them, head of the unit Carmichael is worried that he knows too much and resorts to some off-the-books assistance from standard psychopathic-hitman-with-unlimited-resources-and-connections Lloyd Hansen.  Despite Carmichael’s number 2, Suzanne, having some issues with the way he is doing business, the CIA continues to pursue Six as he continues to evade Hansen and protect Fitzroy’s niece in the process.  Action hijinks ensue. 



Directed by the Russo brothers, this feels a bit like an action throwback – something I appreciate.  Guy one chases guy two because he did the right thing in a difficult situation. Throw in a couple of good fight scenes and some big action set pieces – a fun way to kill a couple of hours.  The Russos do a great job with making the movie feel big as it criss-crosses the globe by using their signature giant location title cards. The movie stays in its box, and the action scenes are good. The cast is surprisingly big in small parts, but I feel like that contributed to the enjoyment.

I cannot put my finger on what irritates me about Ryan Gosling, but something sure does. I didn’t buy him in this because I don’t usually buy him in action roles.  I think Glen Powell or Jordan Calloway would have been a more interesting choice.  Gosling plays it very small and contained – appropriate for the character, and certainly does a good job with the action. In fact, I think he is good in the movie, the issue is entirely mine.  Will that affect me watching the planned sequel? We will see.



I do feel that Chris Evans stole this movie by going big and crazy with Lloyd.  He’s over the top and playing with no conscious and with Six meant to be more stoic, it goes without saying that he steals the majority of the movie, especially scenes with Gosling. 



Ana de Armas plays another agent who sides with Six and becomes his ally as he goes off-mission and then runs for his life. She is proving to be a good action star herself, and certainly holds her own here.

Billy Bob Thornton brings his patented guy-who-has-had-enough-of-your-sass-so-will-respond-with-his-own-sass to the role of Six’s mentor and friend while Julia Butters plays his niece.  I enjoyed his performance as he attempts to not be surprised by anything that happens. Alfre Woodard plays Six’s other mentor, and both of them go out in explosions of their own making – so clearly, being Six’s mentor is not worth it.

Jessica Henwick plays Suzanne Brewer and Rege-Jean Page plays Carmichael. I really enjoyed the bit about how they and Lloyd all went to Harvard together, which is why they are all connected.  Knowing how skilled she is at action, it was a little disappointing to see Henwick standing around in a suit becoming more and more distressed at Carmichael’s slide into villainy. Maybe she’ll get more to do in the sequel?



As Lloyd puts out the word to all squads of scary hitmen across the world (I would have liked to see a little more one squad at a time action – and each squad having distinctive characteristics as they encounter Six), Indian superstar Dhanush plays the Lone Wolf hitman who comes in to take down Six and then have a change of heart when he sees Lloyd put a kid in danger. He is incredibly charismatic and steals all his scenes.



Overall, the movie is fun and action-packed, just the right run time, and certainly entertaining enough for an evening stream. This is another one where I don’t know if I would have liked it as much if I had seen it in the theater, so I’m grateful it was a Netflix option.

6 out of 10 – extra point for random Shea Whigham and America’s Ass – even when Evans tries really hard to be someone else, his ass still looks amazing in those khakis.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Movie Review: Thor: Love and Thunder (PG13 – 118 minutes)

Be sure to checkout the LAMBCast where we discuss this movie top to bottom! https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/lambcast/episodes/2022-07-11T12_45_11-07_00 

Here we are with another fun stand-alone entry into the MCU. It has been just a few years since we last saw Thor, heading off with the Guardians of the Galaxy at the end of Avengers Endgame – presumably to find himself while they searched for Gamora. 



This movie begins where that movie ended but starts with a preamble of introducing us to Gorr – a being on a desolate planet. He seems to be the last of his people, struggling through a desert while praying to his god for salvation. During the process, his daughter dies, and just before Gorr himself perishes, he comes across an oasis and his god, reveling in the defeat of an enemy who wielded the Necro-sword.  This is convenient on several levels because the sword is calling to Gorr, someone who is furious with the gods for forsaking him, leading to the death of his daughter.  Also, it allows Gorr to see just how petty and uncaring his god is. He picks up the sword and kills him, swearing to kill ‘all gods’. 



We catch up with Thor as he is getting back in shape and assisting the Guardians on various missions throughout the Galaxy.  He still feels lost, and when they stumble across multiple distress calls due to Gorr’s actions, the Guardians seize the opportunity to go one way, leaving Thor, Korg, and Thor’s gift of two screaming space goats to head off to assist Lady Sif in a battle.  Sif tells Thor about Gorr, his mission, and that he is heading to New Asgard on Earth next.  As Thor returns to King Valkrie’s New Asgard, he encounters his ex, Jane Foster, now wielding Mjolnir as The Mighty Thor.  Together, they come up with a plan to stop Gorr before he can reach the center of the universe and kill all the gods.


Like Thor Ragnarok, this movie is helmed by Taika Watiti who continues with the loud, colorful, silly tone he set in Ragnarok. There may be some unevenness in balancing the truly over-the-top silly with some more serious and touching moments, but I found it to be delightful and honestly, exactly the type of nonsense I needed right now.  The score is mostly 80s Guns and Roses, the action is great, and I appreciated that this is the first MCU movie to shoot in the previously-Star-Wars-Shows-only Volume. It gives the actors a better sense of the environment for some of the larger sequences. As with Multiverse of Madness, the trick with continuing with the same actors in the same roles over a decade plus of projects is keeping those characters changing, evolving, or just plain fun to play. It did seem like everyone in this movie was having a good time.

Chris Hemsworth continues to portray Thor as a well-meaning dim-witted action star. He’s great in Watiti’s particular brand of crazy and I continue to enjoy his performance. The return of Natalie Portman to the franchise as The Mighty Thor is wonderful and very entertaining. She’s new to being a superhero, but determined to do as much good as she can while there. For someone who has been a little ‘meh’ on genre-type entertainment, it was nice to see her enjoying this adventure.


Tessa Thompson’s King Valkrie is fantastic – while she has very little to do in this movie, she is fun and action-packed, enjoying ruling her people but also missing going on adventures. I do find myself looking forward to her having more adventures – either with or without Thor. Taika Watiti’s Korg gets to do some narrating of the story in addition to helping out the heroes. Is he a reliable narrator? Who knows, but he surely is an entertaining one.


I was surprised by Christian Bale as Gorr – typically someone who seems to not be fun enough to enjoy this type of thing, he dove headfirst into Gorr and is equal parts angry, creepy, and weird. While I did think a little more could have been done to get us to nearly side with him (he does have a point) the movie was not really about that and I did enjoy his performance.


I really wish the commercials had not ruined that Russel Crowe was playing Zeus.  It would have been a fun surprise. He definitely was having a good time and did a fine job but used a questionable accent and made me wonder if surely they could have cast a Greek actor for that role?


Overall, I really enjoyed this movie – yes, there are a couple of holes plot-wise (not enough that I cared about them) and yes, the tone may have been over-the-top silly (again, I don’t care, that is what I wanted from this movie), but it worked for me.  Once again, I find myself so grateful that we are in a time we get new genre entertainment so regularly and there is so much of it that there is something for everyone!  I also particularly loved that Watiti made this feel like a movie he made with a bunch of his friends and family. The kids in the movie are made up of the kids of the cast and crew – which may have been pandemic-shooting safeguards, but also gives some fun moments.  There are some scary moments as Gorr sends some shadow monsters after the children of New Asgard, and some sad moments when Gorr loses his daughter and gives in to the seduction of the necro-sword, but overall, the movie is fun and silly and the perfect run time to sit and enjoy with your popcorn. 

9 out of 10.

Yes, stay through the credits. Apparently there are no decent wig-makers in Vahalla, but hey, what can you do.



Friday, July 15, 2022

Movie Review: Jurassic World Dominion (PG13 – 147 minutes)

 

I truly love the original Jurassic Park from 1993. I will never forget the amazement in the theater of seeing real-looking dinosaurs on screen. Thanks to Stan Winston and his practical effects and the astounding visual effects by Industrial Light and Magic – the movie contributed to a lot of accepted dinosaur looks and sounds. We all think we know what a TRex sounds like, because of that movie.  I enjoyed both sequels, to varying degrees and was unsure when they launched a reboot/sequel idea with Jurassic World.


I did enjoy Jurassic World, mainly because the most compelling characters in the movie were the dinosaurs. I maintain that Blue was the best character in the movie with the most compelling story arc and the hero entrance and of the T-Rex at the end was just spectacular.  I hated the second entry, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, which seemed to be made by someone who did not care about dinosaurs at all – which is fine, for anyone not making Jurassic movies.  While Jurassic World played into the love and awe we felt at the original, Fallen Kingdom threw all that aside by causing pain and terror to the dinosaurs and people in the movie. Having such a strong reaction to that movie, I was unsure I wanted to see another one, but was grateful that Colin Trevorrow was back at the helm.


This movie begins with humans attempting to deal with the after-effects of Fallen Kingdom – dinosaurs are now loose in our world and living with them side by side is proving difficult. There is a sanctuary built in Italy by Biosyn, the company run by Lewis Dodgson who we briefly met in the very first movie.  Remember how Nedry got the shaving cream can from him to steal dino embryos and help his company catch up with Ingen’s science?  Owen Grady seems to be working on collecting dinosaurs and sending them to the sanctuary, and Claire Dearing is working to stop the quickly rising black market breeding and trading of dinosaurs. Oh yeah, and together they are trying to raise the girl from the second movie who was the clone of the daughter of the secret business partner of John Hammond (what?). In the woods near their home, Blue has made herself a home and a baby (ohmygoodness the tiny baby raptor is the cutest!!). 


In addition, a swarm of giant locusts has started sweeping across the globe, completely wiping out crops and multiplying so quickly it could cause some serious damage – but remarkably not attacking crops grown from Biosyn seeds.  Our dear Dr. Ellie Sattler is researching the locusts and collects Dr. Alan Grant from a dig to head to the sanctuary to do some digging around where their old friend Dr. Ian Malcom has already begun some investigating.  On top of this, Owen and Claire and others we’ve met in these new movies head to Italy because a group of shady poacher-types has kidnapped both the clone girl and Blue’s daughter, and Owen is going to get both back.  Along the way they stop in an underground black market dino-dealing and dino-fighting ring where they meet some new cast and some returning cast (they really did put everyone in this movie).  Eventually everyone (EVERYONE) ends up in Italy just in time for a very exciting conclusion to this franchise.


I am very happy this was directed by Colin Trevorrow – it does have the same sense of appreciation and awe of the original films as Jurassic World did.  I liked all the sequences of people respectfully attempting to live with dinosaurs and I appreciated all the practical effects - Far more robotic dinos in this movie.  The black-market sequence was both entertaining and unnecessary…honestly, that is the perfect description for the majority of this movie. I liked the introduction of a couple of new dinosaurs that we hadn’t seen yet, once again leading me to say that the dinos were the best characters in this movie – well, almost the best.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are just fine as Owen and Claire, I like the operation they have set up, out in the woods where they can raise their adopted clone daughter and keep an eye on Blue and her daughter.  Pratt is getting so good at playing generic leading-man-action-hero-guy that they have all started to feel the same, not necessarily a problem. Howard was a little more fun and seemed to understand that you don’t have to take this so seriously. Isabella Sermon plays Maisie Lockwood, the clone introduced in the last movie. She does a fine job, and I liked her scene of helping some construction guys gently move some apatosaurs out of their way.  That said, she and her entire storyline could have been removed from this movie and I think we would still be okay. 


Also returning from various version of the new trilogy are Justice Smith as Franklin Webb, Claire’s sidekick from the last movie, and Omar Sy as Owen’s sidekick from the first movie. Both are essentially cameos that seem to be there just to remind you they were in the other movies.

In terms of new cast, DeWanda Wise was super fun as pilot Kayla Watts. She seems to be all about black market dino transfers, but then has a change of conscious and works to help our heroes. I was very excited to see Dichen Lachman pop up, but as much as I enjoy her – her black-market dino-trading baddie was also unnecessary. I suppose she introduces a pack of raptors trained to pack hunt whatever she targets with a laser, but again – unnecessary. Campbell Scott steps into the slimy shoes of Dodgson and my goodness, what a creepy bad guy.  You can’t wait for him to get eaten.  Mamoudou Athie joins as Ramsay Cole, a guy working for Dodgson. He’s great, again, but all his scenes could have been done by B.D.Wong.


Speaking of which, B.D.Wong’s Dr. Henry Wu shows up once again looking for redemption.  Honestly, it would have been more interesting having him be the big bad that our heroes find in Italy, running the company and going full mad scientist – looking to create human/dino hybrids. Instead he’s quietly sitting in a lab working to eliminate the locusts.  Again, he’s great, but why not let him go a little over-the-top?


The best part of this movie is getting to see Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, and Sam Neill back as Drs. Malcolm, Sattler, and Grant.  They clearly understood the assignment, are not taking anything too seriously, and are having a great time.


I still think Blue is the best character in this new trilogy, although she had less to do this time around.  She basically established her new life in the beginning, and then seemed to request Owen’s help once her baby was taken, and then demonstrating some gratitude at the end when Beta was returned to her. Oh yes, I will spoil that for you – Beta is fine. Also, the T-Rex gets some well-deserved love too. After being the hero of Jurassic World, she is the hero again here, despite nearly getting felled by a Giganotosaurus. She gets some accidental help from a Therizinosaurus – an herbivore with a deadly manicure.


Overall, I certainly enjoyed it, but there were way too many humans in it and not nearly enough of them got eliminated by dinosaurs.  In the very first Jurassic Park, we meet a whole group of very interesting humans and only a handful make it out of the movie. Here, we meet a whole group of not-very-interesting humans and nearly all make it out.  Also, way too many unnecessary plot lines in a movie that was way too long - two and a half hours. Cutting some of that would have brought this to a tidy two hours. Take out the locusts, the black market bits, most of the new cast, and focus on giving us more with the returning cast and awesome dino-chase sequences. I will say – so many dinosaurs!  Which I loved. Lots that we had seen before and some species we have never seen – which makes sense, because new species are being discovered constantly. I love the inclusion of feathers on many of them, and I particularly loved seeing the Dilophosaurs return, wonderful – but nothing beats baby Beta. In case you want a full list of them – I’ll recommend this site: https://a-z-animals.com/blog/meet-every-dinosaur-featured-in-jurassic-world-dominion-30-total/

6 out of 10 – Too many people, but plenty of dinosaurs! An exceptional entry into the unnecessary nonsense genre!



Friday, June 10, 2022

Movie Review: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (PG13 – 126 minutes)

 

For a bonus treat - check out the LAMBCast on this movie, where opinions were mixed! https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/lambcast/episodes/2022-05-09T15_54_46-07_00 

Those who live inside the MCU continue to deal with the fallout from Thanos’s snap, the resulting blip, and the reappearance of all those who were blipped.  In addition, they now have to deal with the sudden and brief exposure to the multiverse in Spider-Man: No Way Home.  It feels like we have had multiple Doctor Strange movie, but in reality, this is just his second stand-alone movie.


This story picks up after Dr. Stephen Strange has helped the world (including himself) forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.  He wakes up from what he assumes is a nightmare where a different version of himself was helping a young girl evade a monster by trying to reach a fancy book.  As he heads off to attend the wedding of Dr. Christine Palmer, his ex, the reception is interrupted by a big one-eyed tentacle monster (with great facial expressions despite having only one eye) chasing that same young girl.  After he and the Sorcerer Supreme, Wong, defeat said monster and rescue the girl, she informs him that was no nightmare, but a glimpse into one of his variants in the multiverse.  She is America Chavez and has the unique power of being able to travel the multiverse, but without the ability to control that power.  The monster was sent by some sort of demon who wants that power for itself.  Wong takes the girl to protect her, and Strange heads off to speak with Wanda Maximoff to get her opinion on the runes used on the monster.


From this point on – spoiler alert!

Wanda is at first shocked by this turn of events and offers some opinions on the runes, the multiverse, and her life at the moment. She then slips up and requests that Stephen bring America to her, so that she can protect her.  Of course, since he has not told her America’s name, he realizes she is the demon that has been sending the monsters. She’s still obsessed with finding her ‘children’ that she manifested and then lost in WandaVision.  Stephen must then try to protect America while falling through the multiverse.

I was not sure what to expect with this one, I enjoyed the first Doctor Strange stand-alone, and knowing Sam Raimi was stepping in, this one had the potential to go a little dark. And it certainly does. It has the expected Raimi touches from the Danny Elfman score to the Bruce Campbell cameo.  It has some genuinely terrifying moments and truly scary scenes. It seems to me that bringing Raimi back into these movies with this particular story was a great choice.  With any huge franchise, especially one like this, the actors can suffer some fatigue from playing the same character over and over in multiple movies. The way to avoid that is to keep the characters fresh, growing, and evolving.  I felt like everyone involved in this movie was having a great time.


Benedict Cumberbatch continues to have tons of fun as Doctor Strange. Despite this being his second Doctor Strange movie, he was also in Thor 3, Infinity War, Endgame, and No Way Home, so it can feel like this is his sixth movie.  Strange is still crazy arrogant and confident, but that is tempered a bit here by realizing that Christine is moving on and he never really has, despite having amazing adventures. I really appreciated how this movie seems to end with him putting his past away (literally and figuratively) so that he can finally move forward with his life. Being able to play multiple Strange variants seems to have made him very happy and he looks like he is having an absolute blast – especially as the zombie Strange.

Benedict Wong has stepped up his game as Wong and again, seems thrilled to be the Sorcerer Supreme. Wong has just about everything handled until Strange throws all kinds of mess around.  Their partnership feels real and genuine and I look forward to their continuing adventures.


It was fun to see Chiwetel Ejiofor back as Baron Karl Mordo.  I could not get enough of the scene between he and Cumberbatch where they attempt to out-thespian each other at the highest level and then have to have a hand to hand combat sequence. Fantastic.


Xochitl Gomez brings a freshness of spunky confusion to America with an amazing power that she is confused by and struggles to control. She is going to be great in additional MCU projects. And, while it might be a little cheesy – I love her star-shaped power – very fun!

Rachel McAdams as various Christine Palmers all get to keep Stephen grounded, focused, and reminded that he is not the be-all-end-all of existence. It’s a tempered and layered performance that I enjoyed.


I feel like Elizabeth Olsen steals the movie. Continuing her excellent work from WandaVision, where her grief was the big bad – here she is corrupted by dark magic using that grief to manipulate her into becoming a true villain and a fully realized Scarlet Witch.  She dives headlong into very Raimi-esque horror sequences and thrashes her way through anything and anyone that tries to stand against her as she struggles to reach her kids.


Overall, the movie was scary, yes, twisted, sure, but so much more fun than I expected and mainly because the cast seemed to be having such a good time.  In a franchise this deep, creating new flavors and layers is a great way to keep new entries fresh while still feeling familiar.  Side note – I did get to see this in 3D and I loved it. 

9 out of 10

Super spoiler-y statement here, but I loved the Illuminati as they appeared. Who knew this would be the movie that justified my watching the Inhumans TV show, or that that Professor X version we would get would be the one from the 90s show, or that watching the animated What If show pays off in a brilliant Captain Carter turn by Haley Atwell, or that Lashana Lynch is an exceptional Captain Marvel variant, or that the fan-casting a lot of us have been hoping for would be fully realized in John Krasinski.  Now I cannot wait for that Fantastic Four movie.




Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Movie Review: Ambulance (R – 136 minutes)

 

There are several things I expect from a Michael Bay movie:  intense action and chase sequences, sweaty lead actors, sweeping and circular camera movements, and ‘splosions.  You know, general Bay-hem.  AmbuLAnce delivers exactly what is expected of it. 



Set in L.A., to the point that the city functions as a character, veteran Will is struggling to get the money he needs for his wife’s medical treatments. He is not getting the benefits he should as a soldier returned home, and they have just had a baby. He is frustrated and desperate, and all of that is conveyed swiftly as the movie opens while we watch him make several phone calls.  He heads out to meet up with his brother, Danny, promising his wife he will get it solved.  Danny offers him a position in a bank heist he is putting together, promising it will be quick, easy and no one will get hurt.  Will, feeling like he has no other option, agrees.


The bank heist goes wrong in several ways, mainly due to a cop showing up to flirt with a teller and the feds being outside, having known about the heist and waiting to catch the crew when they exit the bank.  Everything goes sideways, ending with Danny and Will taking the young cop and Cam, an EMT hostage in an ambulance as they attempt to make a run for it.  Over the course of several hours, they attempt to avoid cops, feds, gangsters, and Los Angeles traffic. 



If you like Michael Bay movies, I think you’ll enjoy this one. It’s nothing new, but it doesn’t need to be.  As with all Bay movies – it looks amazing. He makes the absolute best-looking action movies.  What I found interesting is that it seems to be very pandemic-safe.  It is a remake of a French movie and lends itself to keeping the cast socially distanced as much of the movie takes place in separate moving vehicles communicating over phone or radio. Even the sequences with several cast members together were sparsely populated. It is a clever way to make it safely and I really appreciated that aspect. 



It also seems that Bay has either discovered or rediscovered drones for this movie. There are so many rapidly sweeping drone camera shots which really help drive home the space between the separate vehicles and where they are in the city.  The cast is less of a factor in this movie as the real stars is the city and the car chases.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Danny and Will are great and believable as brothers.  They throw in enough ‘my-family-took-you-in’ and flashes of the two of them playing together as children to cement the relationship. Will knows that Danny is a loose cannon, but he is his brother and he will do what he can to keep them both safe. 



What I appreciated even more over the course of the movie is the slow reveal that Eiza Gonzalez as Cam was the true ‘hero’ and lead of the movie.  Because the opening and marketing of the movie made it feel like Danny and Will are the heroes, it was interesting to see that slow shift over the course of the story.  She was great, and a good Bay star, trying to keep a cool head and do her job to keep everyone alive in an insane ambulance chase across the city.


Garret Dillahunt plays Captain Monroe, who comes in to coordinate the police response and brought his dog (Played by Bay’s dog).  He doesn’t have much to do but has a good time holding together various different sequences.


Keir O’Donnell plays Agent Clark who steps in midway because he went to school with Danny and has some insight as to how he thinks and acts.  I’m not sure why Dillahunt’s character could not have also covered this aspect.  I could have used more back and forth between the two of them. They seem to represent two different mindsets in chasing down the duo.


A Martinez shows up to play Papi, a crime kingpin that Danny goes to for assistance partway through the chase. It does not go as well as he planned.

Overall, the movie is predictable and delivers as expected.  Fantastic looking with some great action sequences. It is perfect for kicking back, turning off your brain, and enjoying your popcorn.

6 out of 10

Monday, May 9, 2022

Movie Review: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (R – 107 minutes)

 

To listen to myself and two other amazing LAMB members discuss this movie in detail, check out the LAMBCast: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/lambcast/episodes/2022-04-26T14_11_33-07_00


Nicolas Cage is one of those actors who has occasionally had his work overshadowed by his personal life.  From naming his son Kal-El to perhaps buying a mummy, there have been rumors about wild living and excessive spending on top of some truly eccentric behavior for years.  However, he still managed to have enough of a sense of humor about himself to star as a fictionalized version of Nick Cage in this charming flick.


The movie starts with Nick Cage being desperate to get a new role that he believes will put him ‘back on top’. He’s recovering from a divorce and living in a hotel, racking up massive debt.  Out of the blue, his agent informs him that he has an offer from a mysterious businessman to receive one million dollars to come to the businessman’s birthday party.  Despite being very skeptical, he needs the money, and sets out to the villa.


Javi, the businessman, is a huge Nick Cage superfan and has written a screenplay he wants Nick to star in.  While there, Nick is collected by the CIA and told that Javi is suspected to be an international gun-runner and now Nick will need to help them collect intel. From there, hijinks ensue as Nick tries to get right with himself, his family, Javi, and life in general.

The movie is written and directed by Tom Gormican and is exactly as silly and fun as you expect. I am not sure there are any other actors that would have been able to pull off this level of nonsense.  The movie at no point makes fun of Nick Cage and manages to let him come off as genuine and excited about his work ethic and career – embracing some of his more questionable choices in the past. 

Nicholas Cage has been very clear that this is a fictionalized version of himself, and he does get to place both current Nick Cage and his imaginary friend, a younger version of himself going by Nicky who seems to fuel his more unbridled behavior.  He seems to be having a great time, and this is definitely a treat to watch him delicately walk between introspection and slapstick comedy. In particular, the scene where he accidentally tranquilizes himself while attempting to plant a bug in Javi’s security office is fantastic.


While the movie is absolutely all about Nick Cage, Pedro Pascal still manages to steal several scenes. He is sweet and charming, professing his fandom to Nick while attempting not to ‘spook’ him by being too creepy.  I am not sure any other actor could have provided this perfect counterpoint to the whirlwind that is Nick Cage.


Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholz play the CIA agents and both of them seem to be just over cameo roles. They are there just to move the story along and are certainly entertaining enough for the brief moments.


Sharon Horgan plays Nick’s ex-wife Olivia and Lily Sheen (Michael Sheen and Kate Beckinsdale’s daughter) plays his daughter Addy.  They manage to get swept up into the action as Nick has to solve the mess that the CIA creates.


Overall, the movie is quick and fun with some hilarious comedy and some surprising good action sequences. It is definitely worth checking out!

8 out of 10

I think maybe Tom Cruise is the only other actor who I would like to see in something like this. After all, his role in Tropic Thunder shows he can have fun about himself from time to time.



 

Monday, April 25, 2022

Movie Review: Everything Everywhere All At Once (R – 139 minutes)

There was a Jet Li movie released in 2001 called The One where a Jet Li from one universe realized he could travel to other universes in the multiverse and kill other Jet Lis.  As he killed each one, he become stronger, seeking to eventually become The One Jet Li, with the most power. During the course of the movie he encountered multiple Carla Guginos as his wife as Delroy Lindo and Jason Statham chased him throughout verses.  It is a fun little action movie and worth a view if you haven’t seen it.

I bring it up because Everything Everywhere All At Once made me think of it. It is similar and  different.  Here, Evelyn Wang is a woman overwhelmed. She is overwhelmed by her husband, her daughter, her aging father, her business, and her taxes. She is pushing the ends of her limits and struggling to keep things together when suddenly a version of her husband from a different verse jumps into her husband and tells her only she can help save the multiverse from an encroaching evil.  


At first completely unwilling and unbelieving, she attempts to shrug off his warning. He eventually teachers her how to use something uncomfortable (with increasing levels of uncomfortableness) to tap into the skills and abilities from an Evelyn somewhere else in the multiverse which she can then use in this verse to combat the henchpeople of the big bad. 

Despite what sounds like a complicated premise, the movie manages to be a simple and beautiful story about the everyday struggles we all face against the constant feeling of daily pressures. Written and directed by Daniels (Kwan and Scheinert), the movie is exquisitely centered by the goddess Michelle Yeoh and I do not know that anyone else is capable of pulling off something this simple and outrageous.  Yeoh can shift from everyday to supernaturally glamorous to insanely weird quickly and expertly. The action sequences are brilliant, the fight scenes are fantastic, the comedic sequences are fun and nonsensical, and the dramatic moments are lovely and touching. 


Ke Huy Quan has mostly been working behind the scenes since his debut in Temple of Doom and Goonies.  He steps back in front of the camera here as various versions of Evelyn’s husband Waymond.  He has to shift from the everyday Waymond hesitantly pushing for divorce to the warrior from another verse looking for help.  Stephanie Hsu plays their daughter Joy and she gets to play even more versions of herself – each more outlandish and entertaining.


James Hong plays various versions of Evelyn’s father, shifting from old and doddering to resistance leader. Jamie Lee Curtis plays Deirdre, the tax lady and she is absolutely wonderful as varying levels of smarmy rule-following. 


 Overall, while the movie is fun and different, it is the cast that truly takes this movie over the top.  We’ve seen some multiverse fun stuff lately – No Where Home was exceptional – but this story manages to make the overwhelming idea of the multiverse a little more personal and really hammer home that it is the connections between all of us that matter the most, even throughout layers and layers of universes.  Also - there's a surprise Harry Shum Jr. appearance that I really cannot even begin to explain because it makes no sense but was really entertaining.


9 out of 10.  Go see it in the theater, get popcorn, not bagels.