‘Hotel Artemis’ Review

Director: Drew Pearce

Writer: Drew Pearce

Cast: Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Dave Bautista, Charlie Day, Brian Tyree Henry, Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto and Jeff Goldblum

Synopsis: Set in riot-turn, near-future Los Angeles, ‘Hotel Artemis’ follows the Nurse, who runs a secret, members-only emergency room for criminals.

 

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

 

Hotel Artemis, the directorial debut of Iron Man 3 co-writer Drew Pearce, has been on my radar since it was announced. Sure the movie drew comparisons to John Wick right off the bat, so the question was what was the movie going to do to stand out? Well, Hotel Artemis does do enough to make it stand on its own, but unlike its spiritual counterpart – for the lack of a better phrase – Hotel Artemis would rather build up the tension for a grand finale.

Set in Los Angeles in 2028, the city is rioting over the lack of water, but during all of that, two brothers (Sterling K. Brown and Brian Tyree Henry) pull off a bank heist that doesn’t go as planned. After Henry’s character gets injured, Brown’s character takes him to the Hotel Artemis, a secret, members-only emergency room for criminals to go to get patched up and lay low. There, they met The Nurse (Jodie Foster), who runs the establishment with her head of security, Everest (Dave Bautista). The Nurse gives everyone there nicknames according to their rooms; Brown gets Waikiki, while Henry gets Honolulu.

As Waikiki’s brother gets patched up, we meet other occupants of Hotel Artemis in a loud and foul-mouthed businessman Acapulco (Charlie Day), the French assassin Nice (Sofia Boutella), and a cop played by Jenny Slate. Things look to be going smoothly until The Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum) enters the picture, and things go to hell pretty fast from there.

While the trailers and TV spots focus on the action in Hotel Artemis, you’ll be surprised – maybe disappointed if you were absolutely looking for that – that Pearce shows a lot of restraint and keeps the action to a minimal until the very end. What Pearce does instead is build up these characters and world before unleashing the action scenes, which is actually kind of refreshing.

Also, the fact that Pearce was able to get a cast like this on his first feature is quite the coup. Everyone nails their roles to a tee. Jodie Foster, despite being behind-the-camera for years now, reminds us why she was such a great actress. The Nurse is the most fleshed out character out of everyone, reaching every emotion available, and while he’s not as colorful as other characters like Day’s Acapulco, her character doesn’t lend to that anyway.

Sterling K. Brown’s Waikiki is a man with a plan for everything, and more level-head than anyone involved including his mess-up for a brother. Sofia Boutella’s Nice is arguably the most dangerous of them all, and has a history with Waikiki that sadly doesn’t play out the way Pearce probably intended it when he wrote the script. Dave Bautista’s Everest is what you’d expect from a Dave Bautista role by now, and that’s okay in my book. Charlie Day looks to be having some fun with his role, but it doesn’t quite click for me. Finally, Jeff Goldblum’s The Wolf King, the man that runs L.A., is really nothing more, sadly, than a glorified cameo. And while his short time on screen is great, it does lead to some important events for the rest of the movie.

Another thing that sets Hotel Artemis apart from other similar movies – yes it does have some sequel bait/world building – is the impressive production design by Ramsey Avery. We are told by The Nurse, that she has worked for the Artemis for twenty-two years. The halls and rooms look old, but some way they look like a room you’d find in nice hotel. Combine that with the cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung, who did It, and you got yourself a great looking movie.

All in all, Hotel Artemis is a solid action thriller that’s worth your time. What Drew Pearce was able to do with his familiar concept, and what he was able to get from his impressive cast for his first feature is impressive. Despite promotion making you think the movie is a shoot ‘em up action thriller, Hotel Artemis takes you down another road that is actually worth it. With a slow build for a big finale, great character development and fleshed out characters, and great production design and cinematography, Hotel Artemis is something to check it out, and something I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel to.

Hotel Artemis

3.5 out of 5

‘Star Trek Beyond’ Review

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Director: Justin Lin

Writers: Simon Pegg and Doug Jung

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Joe Taslim, and Shohreh Aghdashloo

Synopsis: The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

 

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

 

It’s only fitting that a new Star Trek film comes out on the 50th anniversary of the franchise, and that it’s actually great. Star Trek Beyond has a lot of things going for it, and some things going against it, not in the bad way though. One, a new director in Justin Lin. One of its stars, Simon Pegg, co-wrote the script, and it doesn’t follow any previous story told before. The other thing is the film has two stars that sadly passed away in Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin, which the film is dedicated to the two. Getting past that, Star Trek Beyond is a great addition to the Star Trek franchise, and one that deserves to come out on the 50th anniversary.

Beyond follows the USS Enterprise on its third year of its five-year mission, and Captain James Kirk (Pine) is starting to feel the effects of being in space for so long, saying everything feels “episodic.” It also doesn’t help that his birthday is around the corner, and for him it’s bittersweet. It’s not that he’s another year older, but it’s also the day his father died protecting the members of his crew – which will also make him older than his father. He vents to “Bones” (Urban) that he might be living in his father’s shadow, but the issue is put aside when the crew arrives at a new starbase called Yorktown. There, the crew has a short time to relax as a ship comes with an alien saying her crew was attacked and is stranded in the far reaches of space. The Enterprise then go off when they are attacked by a swarm that takes over and destroys it, leaving the crew to scatter and crash land on an uncharted planet. With most of the crew captured and taken prisoner by the villain Krall (Elba), the rest of the crew has to find a way to not only rescue them, but also rest off the planet before Krall can unleash a very dangerous and powerful weapon.

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One of the best things that Star Trek Beyond did, and one of the reasons I think it works, is that it splits the crew up. Making the film follow the crew for the majority of the film rather than making the film just about raising the stakes and stopping Krall’s plan. Yes, the crew eventually bands together to stop Krall, but that doesn’t happen until the final act of the film. It’s everything that builds before that which makes the final act better.

Uhura (Saldana) and Sulu are in Krall’s camp with the majority of the crew, Scotty (Pegg) gets found by the alien warrior Jaylah (Boutella) and helps her fix her “home,” Kirk gets help from Chekov (Yelchin), and Bones is with Spock (Quinto) going through the terrain of the planet. All of them have their own strengths and leads to some great dynamics with the highlight being Bones and Spock. The back-and-forth between Bones and Spock is easy enough to steal the film as a whole. Spock’s part in the trek, no pun intended, with Bones throughout the planet might make some hardcore Trek fans a bit conflicted, but it totally works in context.

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However, despite the focus being put on different groups, the central conflict that is introduced at the beginning – Kirk’s feeling about being out in space so long – gets thrown to the side once the action picks up and the crew is on the planet. It helps that the action is great; especially the takeover of the Enterprise and a scene that takes place outside Yorktown, but Kirk’s central conflict gets lost in the shuffle and isn’t bought back up until the very end when he’s going up against Krall. If anything, this would be the biggest misstep that Star Trek Beyond has. Which does suck a bit since Kirk is seen here as a true captain, and not trying to prove himself to his crew or the rest of the Federation like the first film or Into Darkness. The inner conflict also rose an interesting question, that we do get answered by the end, but would have been nice to see play out throughout the while film.

The returning cast all do great, this is their third outing after all, and the two new cast members aren’t that bad either. Sofia Boutella’s Jaylah is a great addition to the film, playing a strong alien character that holds her own in her solo fight scenes. When it comes to the villain Krall, Idris Elba nails. Elba already has a pretty demanding presence onscreen, but covering him up with heavy alien makeup makes him a bit more scarier. Krall does have an interesting twist, which I know a TV spot spoils (thankfully I avoided that), but his villain character is very Trek, and does mirror a bit of what Kirk feels and what he goes through.

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All in all, Star Trek Beyond is a fun, entertaining, and action-packed addition to the Star Trek franchise that is well worth the watch. The action is great, and while it does follow some of the summer blockbuster formula, the film never lacks nor eliminates its originality and fun. There are nods to the original series that are pretty organic and aren’t just thrown in for the sake of it. Thrusters on full!

 

Star Trek Beyond

4.5 out of 5

‘Hitman: Agent 47’ Review

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Dir: Aleksander Bach

Writer(s): Skip Woods and Michael Finch

Cast: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto, Thomas Kretschmann, and Ciaran Hinds

Synopsis: An assassin teams up with a woman to help her find her father and uncover the mysteries of her ancestry.

 

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

*Reviewer Note 2: There is a mid-credit scene.*

 

Video game movie adaptations have a rough hill to climb. For one, they take away the interactive aspect of it all, and forces you to watch –essentially– an entire cut-scene. The other – which is the main reason – is that they aren’t always very good, in fact, a lot of the time they are downright terrible. The problem with Hollywood is that forget most video games are fun to play and they take away that fun and make the films just a tad more serious than they probably should be. In other cases, it’s the studio or creative team thinking they can create something on their own and use the basic skeleton of the video games, which is often the reason the films fail. In the case of Hitman: Agent 47, the reboot tries to inject some more aspects of the video game, but still fails to bring a descent adaptation, despite two solid leads.

 

Hitman: Agent 47 starts off by telling us what and when the “Agent” program started. The program was to create Agents, genetically modified assassins, but was eventually shut down. However, a corporation called Syndicate International, lead by Le Clerq (Kretschamann), is looking to restart the program and to do so they need the lead scientist of the program, Litvenko (Hinds). They believe they can find him through his daughter, Katia (Ware), who is also looking for him for personal reasons. So they send John Smith (Quinto) to find her and bring her in, but Agent 47 (Friend) is after them as well with his own agenda.

 

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I did enjoy, for the most part, 2007’s Hitman with Timothy Olyphant as Agent 47, but with this being a complete reboot, Showtime’s Homeland’s Rupert Friend takes over the role and I have to say, he’s a little bit better in the role. Agent 47 is a bit of a tough character to crack in the sense that he’s a genetically modified assassin that had all his feelings stripped away from him. It is really all about the actor playing him and the charisma he brings along with his body language and style. You want to feel this guy is going to kill you and isn’t going to stop until that happens. Friend does bring most of that to the table, and for the most part. Friend brings that Terminator-esque vibe at the beginning as he calmly walks toward Katia and John Smith in a train station. However, I should say, in case you didn’t know, Paul Walker was originally intended to star before he sadly passed away.

 

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Probably one of the best cast members is newcomer Hannah Ware. Katia acts in some ways as the surrogate to the audience and the world of Agents. She plays a rather important part to everything going on, and if you have avoid the trailer – since one of them actually gives it away – I won’t spoil it here. But, it’s a pretty nice addition to the potential series, if they continue making them. Her character at one point feels like she’s going through a “tutorial level” with Agent 47 telling her how she has to deal with her surroundings. Ware does thankfully hold her own and gets involved as much as possible in the action.

 

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The villain side unfortunately doesn’t hold up too much. Thomas Kretschmann’s Le Clerq feels like he’s suppose to be main villain, but sends most of his screentime inside his specially designed safety office. That said, Zachary Quinto, who is really a henchman for Le Clerq becomes the primary villain for us. Quinto, who is usually reliable, doesn’t really deliver as the villain here. He doesn’t really do too much, sure he has some pretty intense fight scenes with Friend’s Agent 47, and he has an interesting character trait, but his character just lacks a bit. Ciaran Hinds, who isn’t a villain, gets a small but descent role as Katia’s father and creator for Agent program. Hinds is reliable as always and it’s kind of a shame he didn’t get more screen time since he brings the heart to the movie.

 

So despite the two solid leads in Friend and Ware, Hitman: Agent 47 does have its faults, and unfortunately those faults do take you out of the movie a bit. For one, a lot of the CGI takes you out of it. Some it works, but a lot of the time it just doesn’t look good at all. Sure the movie is low budget, but it shouldn’t have affected the CGI too much. Even some of the action sequences – which were put together by John Wick directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch – are great to watch, especially the beginning set-piece, but director Aleksander Bach makes some weird editing choices that don’t help the scenes out in any way and even makes them a bit hard to watch.

 

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One little tidbit that I thought could have added to the movie is having more world building. It looked like Fox was setting up for a franchise and there were some great opportunities for Fox to build that up a little more. They tried with a character named Diana (Angelababy), who looks to be Agent 47’s contact, but it was the scene at the end that really tries to build up the world, but by then it is too late.

 

All in all, Hitman: Agent 47 has some problems that take away from the movie a bit, but with its leads in Rupert Friend and Hannah Ware you can overlook them (for the most part). While it’s not the best video game movie adaptation – there’s also some nice nods to the games – it certainly isn’t the worse.

 

Hitman: Agent 47

3 out of 5

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‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Review

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Dir: J.J. Abrams

Cast: Chris Pine,Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin,Alice Eve, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bruce Greenwood and Peter Weller

Synopsis: After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world tocapture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

 

*Review Note:This is a NON-SPOILER review and if you comment PLEASE DO NOT PUT SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS.*

J.J. Abrams has once again made a Star Trek movie for not just Star Trek fans (although they are mostly likely to catch the small winks and nods), but also for the general going audience. Some people will say Into Darkness had some plot holes and falls apart in certain areas (I slightly agree with some aspects but not entirely) but it will still be one of the most fun experiences you will have.

The opening sequence in the movie really sets the tone for the movie. It’s filled with humor, tension, suspense and action that is only pumped up as the movie moves along. We see the Starfleet still struggling with their adventures and how to come together as a crew. We see how Kirk (Pine) is still doing things his own way and ignoring regulations and Spock (Quinto)being by the book.

However, all there is really put to the test when John Harrison (Cumberbatch) shows up and sets in motion a series of events beginning with attacks on a futuristic London and having Starfleet big wigs setting up a manhunt into deep space for him. Of course, things don’t go as planned and Kirk and his crew are put to the test against Harrison’s smarts andnerve worthy intention.

Of course Cumberbatch’s Harrison character has been the spark of many fans on whether it is or isn’t a certain character. And since being a non-spoiler review I won’t confirm or deny but the reveal is pretty cool in my opinion. Cumberbatch, in no surprise, is excellent as John Harrison and you can truly see his character is willing to go anywhere to get what he wants.

Chris Pine has made Kirk his own bringing in his roguish,young, and humorous back but also bearing a lot of the emotional weight this time round. Zachary Quinto’s Spock is once again the soulful figurehead of this series, remaining clueless, in a good way, of “normal human interactions” while also dealing with two different both relationships in the film.

The rest of the cast tend to fade into the background behind this central trio (Cumberbatch, Pine, Quinto), fulfilling their roles when need be. Urban’s Bones has a lot more wise cracks than the first film while Pegg’s Scotty has his own sub-plot that involves him disappearing for a while but will still be a fan-favorite (if he wasn’t already). Zoe Saldana’s Uhura has a much smaller role than usual and when she’s not having her comic relief moments, she is having her romantic moments with Spock which honestly kind of slows the movie down just a bit. Also the addition on Alice Eve as Carol Marcus isn’t really all that besides her quick scene when she’s in her bra and panties.

I mentioned earlier that people will find problems with the movie. Which is fine by me because honestly what movie is absolutely perfect? Anyway,the movie does have fan-service and some might find it eye-roll worthy but I see it as Abram just doing that, fan-service, but also making general movie audience conformable and for many, it won’t matter.

All in all, Star Trek Into Darkness is a hell of a lot of fun, maintaining all of its tones in order that they don’t over power each other and ensures the viewer that this is a franchise you want to keep seeing.

Star Trek Into Darkness

5 out of 5