Mini-Reviews: Mechanic: Resurrection, Pete’s Dragon, & Kubo and the Two Strings

Hey everybody!

So this has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. You know that I do sometimes multiple reviews over the weekend, but I fall behind on my movie watching and I feel like reviewing a week old or sometimes two week old film would be a little late or not worth it since many have already either seen it, or takes away from reviewing the newer films. So instead of doing big reviews, I’ll do these mini-reviews and get right to the nit-and-gritty.

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

Mechanic: Resurrection

Director: Dennis Gansel

Writers: Philip Shelby & Tony Mosher

Cast: Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Michelle Yeoh, Sam Hazeldine, and Tommy Lee Jones

Synopsis: Arthur Bishop thought he had to put his murderous past behind him when his most formidable foe kidnaps the love of his life. Now he forced to travel the globe to complete three impossible assassinations, and do what he does best, make them look like accidents.

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A sequel to the 2011 remake The Mechanic, Jason Statham returns as Arthur Bishop who is living a new life by himself, until an old friend, and now enemy, Crain (Hazeldine) finds him and wants him to do what Bishop does best: make his assassinations look like accidents. However, Bishop has extra incentive as Crain has Gina (Alba), a woman that has her own story for getting involved between these two, and threatens to kill Gina if Bishop doesn’t complete three different and difficult assassinations.

I don’t think anyone was really up for a sequel to The Mechanic, although it was one of the better string of Statham films for a while. When it comes to Mechanic: Resurrection, I think it was better left off without a sequel. Resurrection wasn’t a bad film, but it certainly wasn’t a worthy sequel that it should have been. In fact, Resurrection doesn’t even feel like a sequel at times, there is only one, maybe two, references to the first film.

Jason Statham does his thing, and is still great at it, but it’s the rest of the cast that falls a little short. Jessica Alba never stands out as much as she probably should have while Michelle Yeoh is wasted here and seemed like they just wanted a big name. Sam Hazeldine does okay as the villain, but we don’t get a ton of screen time with him and his arch with Bishop is really underdeveloped, and I think a flashback or two could have helped to really push the rivalry between Crain and Bishop. Finally, Tommy Lee Jones has maybe ten minutes of screen time, but it looked like he was enjoying his time playing an arms dealer.

All in all, Mechanic: Resurrection has some descent action in the film, but it did feel like a forced sequel. If you enjoy Jason Statham beating the crap out of people than this is the movie for you.

Mechanic: Resurrection

3 out of 5

 

 

Pete’s Dragon

Director: David Lowery

Writers: David Lowery & Toby Halbrooks

Cast: Oakes Fegley, Bryce Dallas Howard, Oona Laurence, Karl Urban, Wes Bentley, Isiah Whitlock Jr., and Robert Redford

Synopsis: The adventures of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend, who just so happens to be a dragon.

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I don’t remember watching the original Pete’s Dragon, but I knew about it. So walking into this remake, I went in with fresh eyes and it was completely worth it. The film follows Pete (Fegley), who has lived in the forest since a small boy after an accident. However, Pete isn’t alone as he has lived with Elliot, a mythical dragon in the small town away from the woods. One day, Pete is discovered by Natalie (Laurence), her father Jack (Bentley), and her soon-to-be stepmother Grace (Howard), who is a park ranger for those woods. When they find him, however, it’s Jack’s brother Gavin (Urban) who thinks something is out in the woods, and soon discovers that he’s right: the problem? It’s Elliot.

Pete’s Dragon surprisingly adds more dramatic and personal stories than you would think from a Disney film and a summer movie season film, but it all completely works so I applaud director David Lowery and his co-writer Toby Halbrooks for doing so. But it is those themes that make the film so great. Pete’s Dragon is all about family and loss but it doesn’t beat you over the head with it, instead it lets its cast do it organically.

The cast is also great, Oakes Fegley is extremely likable as Pete, Bryce Dallas Howard brings the sense of wonderment to the film that it needed and Oona Laurence has her moments in the film and continues to show that she has a great career ahead of her. Karl Urban is the “villain” of the film, but Lowery and Urban do the right thing and don’t make Gavin too extreme of one. Robert Redford as Grace’s father Meacham, plays the only person in town that still believe Elliot is actually real and the dragon of the woods is out there. Finally, Elliot the dragon is so awesome to see. I’m sure if more people watched this, we’d be seeing little kids with Elliot’s plush dolls all around us.

All in all, Pete’s Dragon is a fantastic film that should be seen by everyone. It has a great message and flows beautifully.

Pete’s Dragon

5 out of 5

 

 

Kubo and the Two Strings

Director: Travis Knight

Writers: Marc Halmes & Chris Butler

Voice Cast: Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Rooney Mara, Brenda Vaccaro, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, George Takei, and Ralph Fiennes

Synopsis: A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.

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It’s hard to believe that Kubo and the Two Strings is only Laika Entertainment fourth film, but considering their films are so complex and intricate it makes sense. That is what makes their films so different and fun to watch because you know the years of hard work that goes into them.

The film follows Kubo (Parkinson), a one-eyed boy who lives with his sickly mother in a small town. Along with his magical guitar that allows him to control his origami creations tells stories about his legendary father Hanzo to the townspeople before the sun goes down due to his mother’s rules. However, Kubo doesn’t make it back in time one day and is attacked by The Sisters (Mara), who have been sent by The Moon King (Fiennes) for Kubo’s other eye. When his mother realizes what is happening she uses the last bit of her power to send Kubo away and bring a totem of his to life in Monkey (Theron) to protect him on his journey to find his father’s armor to defeat The Moon King. Along the way, they meet Beetle (McConaughey), a cursed soldier who used to work with Kubo’s father. He takes it upon himself to help Monkey and Kubo on their journey.

I absolutely loved this film in every way possible. There’s a lot more to the story I’m telling you because I want you to experience the story yourself first. I will say the production design is perfect and the score fits perfectly with the film that makes the experience so much better to watch. Kubo also continues Laika’s tradition of handling some darker themes of storytelling – The Sisters are a bit terrifying – but in a way that younger audiences can still enjoy and not feel too scared. However, the film also has a ton of humor to offset it if you’re worried about that.

All in all, I will say that you should go watch Kubo and the Two Strings. It has everything you can ask for and it’s a beautiful film to look at and experience. There is a character moment, and even story moment, late in the film that misses the mark just a bit but I enjoyed everything else about the film so much I could forgive the film for it. Lastly, there is an awesome and beautiful cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by Regina Spektor that plays during the end credits that I highly recommend you check out.

Kubo and the Two Strings

5 out of 5

‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Review

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Dir: Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Eva Green, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Ray Liotta, Jaime King, Juno Temple, and Christopher Lloyd

Synopsis: Some of Sin City’s most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with a few of its more reviled inhabitants

 

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review*

 

 

It’s been almost ten years since Sin City came out, and at the time the movie made some bold statements. The film followed the graphic novels so close that it felt like we were watching the novel coming to life. It also took a huge leap, technology wise, in using green screen for just about the majority of making the film. The first Sin City was almost beloved by everyone, and everyone asked, where’s our sequel? Well, flash forward to now and we have Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, a prequel and sequel with the same set up as the first. A noir, over-the-top violent, narration and sexy story with four intertwined stories based in a city that will eat you up and spit you back out. But the question is if it’s any good. Well, sadly A Dame to Kill For hits all the same beats from the first, but it’s a little late for a sequel.

 

Like the first film, A Dame to Kill For features three stories that take place in Basin City – I mean Sin City. One features Johnny (Gordon-Levitt), a gambler who looks like he doesn’t think things through. Nancy (Alba) who is still stripping but is aiming for revenge for the death of Hartigan (Willis), and then the “Dame to Kill For” story that follows the “Dame” Ava Lord (Green) and Dwight (Brolin) trying to kill each other. While all the stories have their elements, they pretty much share two things in common, Senator Roark (Boothe) and Marv (Rourke).

 

Like I stated before, the movie is intertwined with these three stories and some of the transitions are a bit clucky and murky but the story that obviously takes up most of the screen time (and the middle) is the Ava and Dwight story. The story sometimes feels like a soap opera, but it feels deliberately and connects a bit to the noir theme but lucky Green, Rourke, and Dennis Haysbert as Manute (taking over after Michael Clarke Duncan’s passing) performances save, the otherwise, slightly more than average story. Which is a shame, since the story is probably one of the most famous and favorite stories from the graphic novels (next to Hell and Back).

 

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Brolin is okay as the pre-surgical Dwight. He brings his usual gruffness to the role and has a couple of standout moments but the segment belongs to Eva Green (which I’ll get to). Christopher Meloni and Jeremy Piven play cops Mort and Bob respectively but Meloni gets the better role of the two, in what turns out to be a weird and maybe unnecessary arc that really goes nowhere and is only there to show how powerful Ava Lord is. Mickey Rourke, who pops up as Marv throughout the movie, has his strongest outing during this part, as does Haysbert as Manute who comes off as a powerhouse, and seeing the two fight each other was pretty cool.

 

But like I said, this story and maybe the movie, belongs to Eva Green. I’m a fan of Green and not because she’s nice to look at, but because she brings something different to every role and although her character is a typical femme fatale, Green does her best to make Ava her own. However, if guys need another reason to watch the movie, you’d probably like to know that Green has the least amount of wardrobe than any character, maybe ever.

 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Johnny story is rather interesting. Gordon-Levitt brings his usual charm and makes Johnny a pretty likeable character. Although, it’s not that hard considering he’s surrounded by crooked cops and dirty senators playing poker in the back of a strip joint. But, Johnny’s story is really here for two reasons; to show how Sin City works, who runs it, and brutal it can be, and to show how viscous Senator Roark is. Other than that and a cameo by Christopher Lloyd as a “doctor” the story really serves no other purpose that prove Sin City is not a city you want to live in.

 

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The final segment is Nancy’s story. Alba’s Nancy is more matured in a sense; she’s still a stripper but now heavily drinks before, during, and after performing. All she wants is to kill Boothe’s Roark for driving Hartigan to kill himself so she can live. Bruce Willis pops in as a spirit for the lack of a better word, following Nancy and sees how hard it has been for her since he’s left. Alba is okay as the tortured soul but Powers Boothe as the villainous Senator Roark is great, but Boothe is always great as villain, but at least he has more to do than the first Sin City.

 

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While it might sound like I didn’t like the movie, A Dame to Kill For does have some cool moments. The whole movie is filled with essentially cool screensavers and some great performances by Green, Boothe, Gordon-Levitt, and Rourke. The fight between Marv and Manute was cool to see and could have been bland if it wasn’t for one particular instance. Then there is Miho, played by Jaime Chung who replaces Devon Aoki (because she was pregnant), who basically glides around with samurai swords and a bow-and-arrow and kills anybody that she looks at because, why not.

 

All in all, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is more or less of the same as Sin City. Whether that is a good thing is completely up to you when you watch it. I for one, didn’t mind the sequel, but considering we waited soo long for it, it lost some of its charm and effect on me, and it was kind of boring sometimes.

 

 

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

3.5 out of 5