65 posts categorized "Action/Adventure"

March 11, 2017


Kong-skull-island-posterWho is Kong this time? That’s the burning question any movie audience should be asking themselves when going into this woefully disappointing military adventure flick.

In 2017, you might suppose that the biggest monkey on the planet would be anatomically correct; however, that is not the case. We are left to conclude that Kong might represent a transgendered ape co-opted by a foreign and domestic patriarchy to fit their narrative agenda. One thing is for certain; our gigantic ape protagonist isn’t sporting a package.

Kong: Skull Island' (Film Review) | King kong skull island, Skull island,  King kong art

The by-committee (and focus grouped) script loses ground early on by not identifying the human protagonist that we should put our faith in for this two-hour endurance test.

At first blush it seems that John Goodman’s super-invested scientist Bill Randa is the man for the job, but the screenwriters quickly shuffle Bill off to the side in favor of Tom Hiddleston’s oh-so-metrosexual James Conrad, a British ex-military mercenary tracker who probably counts calories. Conrad comes across as the kind of guy who wouldn’t know what to do with a boner if he ever got one.

Kong: Skull Island' review: The creature feature, evolved | The Seattle  Times

Equally absent of a libidinous center is Brie Larson’s “antiwar photographer” Mason Weaver. Even Kong can’t manage to muster any romantic interest in Mason when he holds her tiny body in his giant maw. Forget about Fey Wray or Jessica Lange (two O.G. actresses whose characters Kong took amorous interest in); the days of cross-species attraction are over. You can’t have a King Kong movie without a love story.

Kong Skull Island

The storyline goes half in the bag as a “Heart of Darkness” knock-off that might whet your appetite to check out Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now Redux” just to remind you what a great film is like. There are so many rock music montages in “Kong: Skull Island” that they feel like commercial breaks in the action. It’s fine to give Iggy and the Stooges props by playing “Down On The Street,” but it reeks of filmmakers trying way too hard to be hip.

Deep Focus: Kong: Skull Island

This movie devolves into a slasher picture where you keep guessing about who will be knocked off next. We already know most of the U.S. soldiers sent along on the (circa 1973) mission are doomed. The filmmakers could have at least pulled out some real surprises in this area of character deletions. Instead, every plot point seems so rote you could script the story as you’re watching it. Sure, there’s some cool spectacle to be had, as when Kong battles a giant lizard creature, but there’s isn’t any meaningful social commentary for subtext.

“Kong: Skull Island” is a neutered adventure movie without any soul, or balls.   


Rated PG-13. 120 mins.

1 Star


Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

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October 29, 2016


Sully-poster-2For a near-disaster movie about a pilot who famously kept his commercial jetliner (with “155 souls on board”) above water, Clint Eastwood’s fact-based procedural feels like it was filmed underwater. This film’s dirge-like tempo and similarly muted emotional range of every single character puts a deadening filter between the story and this film’s audience.

It’s more like watching a funeral, than witnessing one of the most spectacular lifesaving events in recent memory.

Sully ADMITS he did not want the film made in case he REVEALED secrets |  Films | Entertainment | Express.co.uk

Perhaps most troubling is Eastwood’s (possibly subconscious) inclination toward celebrating white people for the sake of their whiteness. If historic Caucasian pap is your thing, then this movie is for you. You can count the number of people with brown skin in this film on one hand. More to that point, the film’s dramatic arc crescendos on Sully and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) agreeing that they “did their job.” If you’re looking for a low thematic bar to hurdle, we’ve go a ringer here.      


Tom Hanks plays Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, the stoic pilot who crash-landed his US Airways plane on Manhattan's Hudson River after a bird strike took out both engines. Hanks’s performance might be true the human model he represents but we don’t get much, if any insight, into what makes Sully tick. He’s an underpaid career pilot whose vast experience, flying many thousands of hours, allowed him to make critical decisions in split seconds that saved the lives of everyone aboard his plane. We already knew that. This film doesn’t explain much that most of our collective American conscious doesn’t already know, other than how flight simulators work.


“Sully” comes across as an exhausted victory lap for Clint Eastwood. Give the guy his due. That still doesn’t mean that he hasn’t made a disappointing movie.

Film review: Sully — 'Padded out' | Financial Times

Rated PG-13. 96 mins.

1 Star


Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

July 29, 2015


Mission-Impossible-Rogue-NationTested by a inane MacGuffin that would make anyone who's ever heard of WikiLeaks burst out laughing, an anti-heroine (named Ilsa Faust) whose allegiances are tediously ambiguous, and an overlong running time that wears out its stunt-filled welcome, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is a total bust.

In keeping with producer Tom Cruise’s modus operandi for the “Mission Impossible” franchise (to change directors for each film) Christopher McQuarrie (“Edge of Tomorrow”) takes his shot at injecting energy into a series that has run out of gas. McQuarrie, famous for writing the script for “The Usual Suspects,” fumbles with supporting characters so much that action sequences arrive as a relief from watching the storyline crumble all around them.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation - Cinema Ecuador

Looking every bit his age, the 53-year-old Tom Cruise reliably works though breathtaking stunt sequences, some more so than others. The film’s much-ballyhooed outdoor plane ride kicks off the action with Cruise praying that nothing flies into his eyes as the military cargo plane that Ethan Hunt hangs onto accelerates high into the air. It’s an impressive stunt, and gives the movie a running start that sadly wanes considerably by the film’s third act.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation - Plugged In

The nerve-gas missiles Ethan needs to reroute in midair have nothing to do with the gumbo narrative that re-teams the action-prone spy with his IMF (“Impossible Missions Force, not the “International Monetary Fund,” though the they may as well be interchangeable) cohorts William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), tech guru Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames). Don’t go looking for much plot participation from Renner, Pegg, or Rhames, they’re only in the movie as background.

Film Review - Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation | The MacGuffin

An international crime syndicate, called (shock) “The Syndicate,” has been busy imitating the US Government’s escalating practice of destabilizing countries and communities around the world. Obviously, the filmmakers couldn’t make the US Government the film’s rogue boogey man but they might have come up with a better movie if they had. Go big or go home.


The picture is nothing more than a mishmash of disjointed suspense and chases scenes that would have Alfred Hitchcock turning in his grave. There’s never any build-up; the audience is thrown into such sequences cold. Ethan does some fancy backstage footwork at a Vienna State Opera performance of “Turandot,” where a couple of wily snipers have their laser sights aimed at a dignitary in the audience. Although the scene ends in a neat bit of hairsplitting decision-making on Ethan’s part, we the audience aren't supplied with enough context or backstory to care.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation review – all guns blazing, almost  constantly | Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation | The Guardian

A madcap motorcycle chase in Morocco juices up the location-jumping intensity, but by the time Ethan finally gets around to facing down the Syndicate’s diabolical leader (played by Sean Harris), the villain seems like a very small fish indeed. It’s an old law of screenwriting that any protagonist must have a worthy opponent. In the case of “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation,” the heavy is a paper tiger. Next.

Rated PG-13. 131 mins.

2 Stars


Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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