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

‘Interstellar’ Review

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Dir: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley, Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy, David Gyasi, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow, Matt Damon, and Michael Caine

Synopsis: A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

 

 

 

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

 

 

Christopher Nolan is back behind the director’s chair and he didn’t take the easy. Nolan decided to tackle doing about a movie about wormhole travel and finding a new home for the human race in a different galaxy. It’s really heavy stuff and maybe a bit too much. Interstellar has some great things about but sometimes the movie should have slowed down to allow us to catch up with some of the scientifically information.

 

Let’s try to put Interstellar in simple terms. Cooper (McConaughey) is a former pilot and engineer who now farms corn, which is Earth’s last sustainable crop. All the other crops have been hit with “The Blight”, which has killed every crop around and has caused massive dust storms. During one of the storms, Cooper’s daughter Murph (Foy) gets a message from her supposed “ghost” trying to talk to her, but it ends being something else. The message eventually leads them to a secret base and find out there is a mission to save humanity and find a new home, in a different galaxy. Cooper eventually joins scientist Amelia Brand (Hathaway), Doyle (Bentley), and Romilly (Gyasi) to travel through a wormhole near Saturn and find their new home.

 

Simple right? Wrong. The major obstacle is the theory of relativity. If they spend too much time in one world it could equal years back on Earth. Time is not on their side, so they have to work fast or their will be no one on Earth left to save.

 

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Young Murph (Mackenzie Foy) and Cooper (Matthew McConaughey)

 

As I mentioned, Interstellar is cramped with a lot of stuff. The world that Nolan has made puts us in an undated future where farmers are the most important job in American and the military is basically no more and replaced with cool looking robots. And I can’t even begin to describe all the science material and theory, but I will say the movie does a great job of making sure you know what’s going on and doesn’t lose you when it starts going on its long exposition.

 

It’s also one of those movies that you should go into not really knowing much about, especially with the final act. The film is a tad long but is engaging enough that you stick with it and want to know if the mission will end well and see where they go. It’s really exciting stuff and could leave you asking questions about the possibility of this happening and what would you do.

 

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Amelia (Anne Hathaway) and Cooper (McConaughey)

 

The acting is great here, which is no surprise since Nolan has a way getting performances from his actors. McConaughey, even though he was a pilot and engineer, his Cooper character is kind of like the everyman in this situation, but he does know what he’s talking about on some occasions. Anne Hathaway gets some standout sequences at the middle of the movie while her father character Michael Caine playing Professor Brand is always great but doesn’t do much here.

 

Mackenzie Foy plays young Murph, and does a tremendous job even though most of her screen time is limited to the first half hour/forty-five minutes of the movie, but she leaves her mark. Jessica Chastain plays the older Murph in the last half of the movie and does pretty well with what she’s given. Older Murph ends up as Professor Brand’s assistant and helps him with his work.

 

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Jessica Chastain as (Older) Murphy

 

The rest of cast is hit-or-miss but feel like they are there so that McConaughey and Hathaway can play off of. Wes Bentley and David Gyasi as the other two scientists chew up scenery as they delve into all the material. John Lithgow plays Cooper’s father-in-law and Topher Grace pops up as Chastain’s helper but doesn’t bring much to the role. Bill Irwin and Josh Stewart voice the two robot helpers that bring some surprising humor to the film in TARS and CASE. Finally, Matt Damon shows up right before the final act as one of the scientists and explores that have done through before Cooper’s team. His character adds an element to the film that will probably make question some of the events of the film and what the whole mission is about.

 

The special effects however are something to see. Nolan and the special effects department really bought their A-game to the film. The overall look of the film is great and the wormhole stuff is unique to see. Even the worlds that are created like world of mountain waves that have been promoted in every ad or the ice world that is seen in the trailers as well, everything feels real and makes the viewing even more enjoyable.

 

All in all, Interstellar isn’t perfect and does lose a bit of steam in the third act, which also might even cause some viewers to tune out and lose them completely. However, overall it is a quality film with great performances and special effects. I happen to see the film in IMAX and I honestly think that is the best way to watch it.

 

 

Interstellar

4.5 out of 5

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