Between my regular job and the stage play I'm putting together, I quite simply have not had the time to review any of the movies or stage productions I continue to patronize, and I can't promise that this is going to change any time soon. Nevertheless, this is one of those rare occasions where I've mustard up the energy to play "ketchup" with some recent titles. I don't relish capsule reviews, but I mayo may not be able to return to my regular format in the future. No promises.
KONG: SKULL ISLAND
The latest take on King Kong was exactly the sort of monster bash I thoroughly enjoy. We've remade and retold the original story enough times... this is more in the spirit of Toho's Kong epics of the 1960s with super-new-fangled effects. And of course I invoke Toho for a reason... we all know they're doing the Nick Fury thing and setting up a monster universe. Just like Toho did long ago. And if you wait for the end-title 'tag,' the copyright notice is going to spell it out for you before it even happens. Oh, well. I may be in the majority for enjoying this film, but several of my respected colleagues didn't care for the film. To that I can only say that I certainly agree with them about the lazy soundtrack selections (just as I groaned about the cliched tracks heard throughout SUICIDE SQUAD) but that I didn't have a similar problem with the character of "Kong" (a family member that bears that name, not necessarily "the" Kong). I enjoyed watching him have at the flying machines early in the film without having to worry about him climbing an iconic building later (nice payback from the original story, methinks); and I quite liked that he didn't have to fall in love with the Brie Larson character at all--he saw her futile attempt to perform an act of kindness for one of his fellow creatures and decided she was one of the "good ones" rather than falling under her spell. Great nasty monster 'reveals,' a game cast and some decent swerves added up to a fine time at the movies for me.
THE BELKO EXPERIMENT
The trailer didn't make it clear that the film was set in Bogota, Columbia, but it makes sense that it does... the mostly white (not to mention white-collar) office workers at Belko perform some vague function related to assimilating American workers into foreign companies. And they all agree to have 'tracers' implanted in the back of their heads for security reasons (sure). And then the voice of Gregg Henry informs everybody in the building that they have 'X' number of hours to kill off 'X' number of their population or else he'll make their heads explode. In other words, if you thought THE HUNGER GAMES was a knockoff of BATTLE ROYALE, you haven't seen THE BELKO EXPERIMENT. As we all know by now, GAMES was about a lot more than the title competition when all was said and done--BELKO limits its scope to one day of bloody hell and doesn't really care about the reasoning behind it--it's always for somebody else to worry about. That can't go unsaid--which is not to say that director Greg McLean (WOLF CREEK) doesn't deliver the intensity, the psychological torment or the gory brutality (you can expect an 'unrated' version to hit video before too long). Oh, and extra points for Michael Rooker as a voice of calm practicality... well, I've said enough.
Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence get railroaded to prison in this frequently amusing but rather overlong comedy that... oh, wait... no, this is the one where Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and the rest of the multi-cultural crew of the International Space Station acquire a cell sample extracted from Martian soil and spur its growth into an aggressively dangerous creature known as "Calvin." Okay, a big slice of ALIEN and a big slice of EVENT HORIZON (in style and occasional incident, not in supernatural/hellish content or themes). Another highly derivative (and surprisingly mean-spirited) thriller that at least takes the time to apply a detailed, intelligent script with actual reasons for things to happen as opposed to the scientific team bumbling around and doing stupid things in order to let the creature (a most satisfying minuscule, protoplasmic menace) to have at them in merciless, excruciating detail. The wheel has NOT been reinvented, but at least the proper care and maintenance of the vehicle is evident.
Next I'll probably see GHOST IN THE SHELL... because I saw, enjoyed and reviewed the original anime, not because I want to get into the ScarJo casting debate. Unless RAW opens at the Osio. Then I'll see that instead. Catch you later.
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