Detroit #review

Riots break out in the city of Detroit, Michigan, in 1967. The local police, state police and national guard are all called in to stop the disaster that is occurring. In the midst of this struggle, murder occurs at the Algiers Motel while the local police investigate gun fire they heard coming from the area of the motel. So, does “Detroit” paint a believable reenactment of the true events that took place ? Or is this just another made for television, historical, movie that high school kids will fall asleep in during History class. Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.

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This film is advertised as a look back at the events that took place in Detroit, as well as, the Algiers Motel. This is partly true. The run time is close to 2.5 hours but the events that occur at the Algiers don’t take the full length. The riots in Detroit also do not take the full amount of time. I would say, it felt like three quarters of the movie is riots and Algiers. The remaining portion is the court hearing for the local police and a look at the lives of the people in the film after everything is said and done. So, the film is broken down in 3 different parts. I’m not speaking about 1st, 2nd and 3rd act either. The actual story is told from 3 different points of interest.

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The first point is a look at the city of Detroit. The film opens with a look at the migration flow of people moving to Detroit post the Civil War. From there we get to see the events leading up to the riots, the riots themselves and the journey that eventually leads us to the Motel Algiers. Once at the Motel, we see what is described at the end of the film as a look at the possible events as told from eye witnesses, court docs, etc. However, we don’t get that disclaimer until the end of the film. Once the horrific events at Algiers conclude, we’re now in part 2. This second portion looks at the criminal court case, and proceedings that took place, with regard to the shootings and murders at the Motel. Once that concludes, we’re safely into part 3. Here get to see how all the events shaped the lives of the people in the film. We also get to see where the survivors are today.

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The film initially confused me. As I walked out of the theater I had to recalibrate my thinking because I was under the assumption we’d see the Motel part and that was the movie. We get to see that, yes, but, and more importantly, the film examines life from the perspectives of the protagonists. Once the Motel scenes concluded I looked at my watch because I couldn’t believe 2.5 hours was already over. Indeed, the movie was not over and we were getting a deeper look into how the main characters view the world. It’s this sudden revelation that won me over for this film. This is not a story about the Detroit riots or the Motel Algiers. Those are merely plot devices used to show, on screen, the distrust that we hear about between black communities and the police. This movie brilliantly shows us the good and the bad. It puts to screen visual reasons that are understandable once the film concludes. You might not agree, but you will at least have a better understanding when you hear someone proclaim the system is rigged, police are out to get us, and more. This movie did well to show us the tragedy involved during the civil rights movement in America. Once I realized that this movie is more of a statement about race relations and culture over riots and murder, I appreciated this film all the more.

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The characters in this film are all important with respect to race relations. The entire time I didn’t understand why Anthony Mackie and John Boyega were in it because I didn’t see them really moving the plot along. However, once I made the realization that this is a story about race relations, it all made sense. Boyega plays a security guard who was helping the police and national guard but still gets thrown in jail towards the end of the film as a suspect to the murders. Even while doing the right thing, his character is mistreated. Mackie, a veteran with two terms of service who was in Detroit looking for work now that he’s honorably discharged from the military. He is abused and mistreated by the police at the Motel even after showing his government card for service. This film really digs into the mindset and beliefs we hear about on the news about cops mistreating black America. While you might not agree with this sentiment, the movie explores that belief we still hear about today, some 50 years later, approximately.

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Detroit” is in theaters now! If you like historical movies you’ll enjoy this. It’s a very difficult movie to watch and I don’t believe everyone has the fortitude to sit through the whole story. So, because of that, I will still recommend people see it but I will add a word of caution while you make your decision. This is intense, unsettling and disturbing. My only real criticism is the run time of 2.5 hours. I feel they could’ve edited this film down and not lost any of the drama and intensity they were going for. I enjoyed it but my goodness, it’s a long movie that requires a lot of emotional energy from the audience.

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Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature

The animals are back and ready to save their beloved park in the follow up to 2014’s “Nut Job.” There’s familiar faces as well as some new characters who all work together to deliver an animated film that explores the lives of critters in a big city park. So, does this sequel provide an entertaining animated adventure or are all the nuts spoiled? Let’s dive in and take a look at “Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature” in this review…

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This movie is garbage. I almost walked out of the theater halfway in and the run time is only 90 minutes. This film celebrates laziness, the benefits of businesses failing, how horrid white business men are and it is also poorly written. This was the biggest piece of propaganda nonsense I’ve seen in a long while. I couldn’t believe what I saw on screen. The writers for this film didn’t even bother to try and subtly imply their political leanings. They were almost beating the audience over the head with it. Meanwhile, they decided to make it animated which almost feels like they’re trying to manipulate kids into relating with the protagonists who were, mostly, indolent characters. I sat through this film aghast at what I was witnessing.

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The main character, Surly, celebrates a businesses failure because it’s a nut shop and that allows the park critters to eat for free instead of having to hunt for food like a normal animal would. Instead, they are all celebrating this failed business that is now providing them shelter and free food. When charged with finding a new home, as their park is getting rebuilt as an amusement park, this same character leaves to find more free food from another failed business… instead of another park. The other lead in this movie, Andie, is openly mocked and ridiculed for trying to get the rest of the animals to go back to their normal life style of hunting and gathering.

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The villain in the film is such an over-the-top negative stereotype of the white business man it’s borderline ludicrous. The character refers to political contributions as bribes, the license plate on his car is about embezzling, and on and on. This film did so little to make me believe this was anything but an animated propaganda film attempting to lure kids or indoctrinate them into this bizarre view of the world. The writers didn’t even attempt in the slightest to make their points subtle or use any tact at all. This was a pile of animated garbage.

Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature” is in theaters now! Hopefully, it will be out of theaters sooner than later. I don’t recommend you see this film. I don’t recommend you let your kids watch this either. It’s a poorly written, piece of propaganda trash. I stayed until the end of the movie to see if there would be some sort of redeeming value and there wasn’t. This would’ve been a complete waste of my time except that I get to share this disaster with you in an attempt to save you from wasting 90 minutes of your life.

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The Dark Tower – #review

Countless times I’ve heard how movies have fallen short of the original source material when adapted from the pages of a beloved book. If you search for meme’s online you find pictures of icebergs and the tip of the ice berg is the movie while everything else is the book. So, does “The Dark Tower” manage to become more than just the tip or are we destined for frozen boredom? Let’s take a look in this review…

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The movie is based on a series of novels by writer Stephen King. The story blends fantasy, horror and western elements together to create something unique but still familiar. The run time was approximately 90 minutes and that was enough. The story itself was comprehensive, in that, we clearly understand what each character’s role is in the overall plot of the film. However, I will say, it took some time before the reason is explained. Little in this film is explained, actually. The director, Nikolaj Arcel, placed great faith in us as an audience that we’d be fine knowing things are a certain way without them being explained. For example, what’s the deal with the rat people and where did they come from? The gunslinger has a mantra, ok, but why and what’s the point of remembering the face of your father? Why does a child’s psychic ability need to be used to destroy the tower? Kids have psychic abilities? Sure, ok. How are all these kids getting kidnapped and the news not talking about it? How does the gunslinger live on a world that had an amusement park, but doesn’t know what an amusement park is? There’s no historians that kept a record of life pre the war/battle? In short, there’s a lot of questions.

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Overall, the story had great ambition but was executed only in mediocre fashion. I believed Chris Hemsworth (as Thor, in the 1st Thor) when he came to earth and had to adjust. I found that same story in this movie but not as well received. The kid (Tom Taylor) was actually more believable in his response to the dialogue of Idris Elba, than I found myself believing Elba’s performance on earth. Also, quite odd, in the hospital scene what was the point of mentioning several diseases that the gunslingers character had? It felt like they were trying to make a joke but it did not come across that way to me. The gunslinger pays in a gold coin, says he’s stronger than most, and then walks out of the hospital, to drop several pain pills on a bus with the kid while drinking a soda pop. What is going on in this movie??

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The Dark Tower” is in theaters now. You can skip this movie. There’s more story missing than present and because of that you’ll be scratching your head a lot. The ending makes sense only because that’s the ending we have been led to expect and Matthew McConaughey was just a demonic/sociopathic version of who is plays in the car commercials for Lincoln. In fact, since his performance was so similar it would’ve been a nice comedic nod to have his character move through worlds in that car. Ok, maybe not. Also, the last fight scene looks really bad. McConaughey looks like a mime the way he moved, waving his hands around, pretending to be a sorcerer of sorts. If you pick this up on RedBox or VOD I understand. It’s actually not a terrible movie. I could see what they wanted to achieve and how much they wanted to invest in the characters but fell short. I walked out of the theater thinking, “Well, at least they tried.”

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Atomic Blonde [spoiler free] #review

The trailers and promotional posters all had me excited to see this film in theaters since day 1. I am a fan of spy movies and period pieces usually intrigue me. The story is simple enough to follow as well being that it’s about an undercover MI6 agent tasked with recovering a missing list of double agents in Berlin during the Cold War. So does this retro espionage tale deliver an adventure that’s sure to bring the wall down or should it be taken out back behind the dumpster? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review…

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David Leitch directed this film and the only other directing credit on his IMDB was uncredited for “John Wick”. So we can safely say that this is his first official major motion picture directing job. I was impressed but not wow’d by his directing of this film. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie actually. It did feel similar to “John Wick” with the gun play and fight scenes which make sense after learning he worked on that film. However, I felt like the story itself could’ve been built out a bit more. I appreciated the characters and how he got each of them to be something different. So, each scene, if three people are in the shot, it feels like 3 people and not like someone is there unnecessarily. I thought he gave us entertaining performances across the board.

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The acting talent in this movie is also strong. John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Til Schweiger, James McCoy, Sofia Boutella and Charlize Theron. There’s so much quality in this list that it is almost unfair. This cast was great. Even the smaller parts, for example, the cop that beats up the guy with a skateboard, he was believable! Everyone showed up for this film and performed well their parts. I don’t recall any one particular character who I thought was unbelievable or miscast. In general, I appreciated each of them. And as always, John Goodman. He’s always great. He has a couple really nice moments in this film with Charlize and Toby that I think you’ll enjoy.

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The action sequences in this film also look great. The film in general looks great. This is the most stylized action/spy film I think I’ve ever seen. Everything about this movie is style. The outfits, the dressing up of locations to look like something right from an 1980’s music video about Berlin, the color palette used for particular scenes. In the trailer we see that shot of Charlize coming out of a bathtub full of ice. That entire scene is that blue/chrome and it look incredible on the big screen. This film felt like an art student fell in love with the style of the 1980’s and also had a fondness for violent espionage movies. While I was watching this I could tell a lot of attention went into the design of things. Again, costume, how a scene is colored, the locations, etc. This is an exciting and well dressed movie. Even the descriptions for what city the scenes are in was done creatively. So good!

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Atomic Blonde” is in theaters now. I really enjoyed this film. I know there are some negative bits out there about the story being weak and predictable but I didn’t go into the movie for an epic story. I wanted a rock and roll action flick and what I got was that and little bit more. I definitely recommend you see this film on the big screen. If you like spy movies, the 1980’s, action and two beautiful women making love to each other, this is your type of movie. Plus, again, the style of this film is incredible. I’m looking forward to seeing this at least once more in theaters because it’s an entertaining time at the movies. Definitely check out this film out!

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Dunkirk #review

The story of Dunkirk from World War 2 deals with heroism. It examines the brave and selfless acts of the citizens who were called to aide the British Navy with a rescue mission of over 200,000 soldiers who were stranded (and surrounded) on the beach of Dunkirk. As the German forces continued their assault on the soldiers from both land and sky, the military men did the best they could to survive long to be extracted. So, does “Dunkirk” the movie deliver on the dramatic and horrifying realties of war or should it be washed out to sea? Let’s dive in and take a look…

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Christopher Nolan directed this film and to my surprise it’s under two hours long. The official run time for this movie clocks in at 1 hour and 46 minutes. I can honestly say that under two hours is perfect. The story begins with soldiers walking through a deserted street (as seen in the trailers) and then gun fire starts and the intensity builds from there. The manner in which the story is told was a bit confusing at first as it jumps around in time. However, about 15 minutes it everything made sense and it was easy to figure out where in the timeline we were as the multiple stories eventually tie together. That aside, this movie will keep you on the edge of your seat, from start to finish. The opening scene in “Saving Private Ryan” is intense. This movie is similar to that opening. The entire story is similar to that introduction. There are brief moments that allow you to exhale a sigh of relief but it’s back to edge of your seat and tension mounts and the stress builds almost immediately. This is the most enjoyable stress you will have in theaters this year.

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I will say that my only real negative critique on this film is character development. We don’t really get a sense for the characters but that’s ok in this particular instance. The point, I feel, is to experience survival and heroism. This isn’t a film about individuals. We get to examine the cost of war. We examine what it means to be brave, to fulfill duty, to be there when called on and to survive. If time was spent on getting us to understand or care for characters who were most likely going to die, the movie would’ve been much longer. This is direct and to the point. Christopher Nolan does a great job at getting the actors to understand their motivations so that we don’t need it explained to us. We get to see it, first hand. In short, the cost of war is great and we are given a front row seat in which to view it. As events unfold, as characters survive or die, as normal individuals become hero’s and hero’s need saving, you will be on the very edge of your seat for it all.

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Dunkirk” is in theaters now! I recommend you see this on IMAX. Spend the extra bucks and get to IMAX. If you don’t have an IMAX screen near you, get to the largest screen possible. The wide open shots in this movie show incredible landscapes and oceans. There are close ups on characters but there’s also scenes where the camera is so far back you get a real sense of how small the airplanes are that are engaged in combat above the water. This movie looks incredible. The story is fantastic. The characters, while we don’t really get to know them, are all wonderful in the parts they are playing. If I can recommend anything beyond simply seeing this movie it’s make sure to get a bucket of popcorn. This is definitely a “shove popcorn into your mouth while never taking your eyes off the screen as you sit at the edge of your seat” type of film. I loved my time in the theater with this story and the characters. “Dunkirk” has knocked “Baby Driver” from #1 to #2 for my Top 10 films this year. Go see this film in IMAX (or whatever your largest screen is). Go now!

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Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets #review

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This story is based on a popular graphic novel that I have not read. So, I walked into the theater knowing little to nothing about the story, the characters or the worlds those characters inhabit. All I knew was that the movie was being advertised as the 3D film to see. The basic premise is that a growing threat needs to be stopped and two special agents are tasked with completing the mission and saving the galaxy. So, does “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” manage to conquer the day or is it doomed for disaster? Let’s dive in…

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Luc Besson is known for making visually stunning films. As a fan of his previous films I was excited to see this in theaters. The marketing campaign said it was 3D event so I did end up seeing this film in 3D even though I am opposed to such nonsense. The marketing team was correct. This movie looks spectacular in 3D. The vibrant colors mixed with bizarre creatures inhabiting new worlds are all eye candy. Everything about how this movie looks is phenomenal. I walked out of the theater completely mesmerized. The visuals in “Valerian” are fantastic. If you are a fan of look over dialogue this is your movie.

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The story was equally entertaining however the dialogue is terrible. The writers did well enough to create a worthwhile tale but then seemingly decided to apply minimal effort with how everyone communicated. The dialogue felt almost like this movie is geared for young adults and teenagers. It’s quite bad. In all truth, had the dialogue been adjusted to something more conversational to how people actually sound, this movie would have probably crushed this weekend in theaters. Sadly, it won’t and I feel the main reason for that is the poor writing. Again, writing for dialogue not story. Two different things but equally important to note.

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The characters in this film were entertaining. While I did feel that Cara Delevingne was directed to act more 2 dimensional, to showcase thought over emotion, I could’ve used more believability in her thoughtfulness. Spock (from Star Trek) is a thought filled character but he is a character of depth. I feel we were also missing that here with her character. The three information sellers were a highlight of the film for me. I wasn’t sure what to expect when they first appeared but they won me over immediately. I enjoyed their characters very much. There’s plenty of characters, monsters and aliens in this film and at times it deals with some dark, adult themes, but overall it was enjoyable. Plus, for some reason, Rihanna has a random burlesque dance number that showcases her hotness, which was fine. I understand the point of her character and the pivotal role she plays in the overall story. I was just confused, albeit pleasantly confused, by the reason for the sexy dance number.

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is in theaters now! I recommend you see this movie if you enjoy visual spectacle films. The world building in this movie and the myriad characters inhabiting the worlds are equally fantastic. I continue to support Besson’s visual style and this film did not disappoint. Plus, the movie starts off with a David Bowie song which is nice. If your favorite time of year is Oscar season for complex films about humanity and the human experience, skip “Valerian.” You won’t get much from the characters. This movie is all visual and that’s ok. Variety is the spice of life and this film provides some spice. Check it out!

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Despicable Me 3 #review

The trilogy began with Gru being a villain and now in this newest installment we see that he’s a good guy who is actively working to stop crime on a global scale. However, things do not always go as planned and we discover that he has a brother and his family has been in the business of crime for generations. Set in modern time, he’s faced with a villain who is reliving the 1980’s and enjoying as much bubble gum as possible. So, does “Despicable Me 3” live up to the fun of previous films or should we lock this franchise up and throw away the key? Let’s dive in and take a look…

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This is a movie made for children. That may seem obvious being that it’s a cartoon, however, some family movies are designed for both children and their parents who will have to sit through the film with them. This was a kid specific movie. I found myself bored with the story and the characters to the point of wanting to nap in the theater. The story is predictable and the jokes almost seem mapped out. What I mean by that is you could tell the joke was about to happen and you probably knew what the joke would be. I was not impressed with this movie but I will say that it was better than “Minions.”

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The antagonist of the film is a child star from the 1980’s who had a key signature line “I’ve been a bad boy.” His career ends abruptly once he hits puberty because he’s no longer adorable and from there he develops a disgust for humanity and becomes the criminal in real life that he portrayed as an actor. Overall, I actually enjoyed the dialogue of his character more than the character itself. The constant references to pop culture from my childhood in the 80’s was great. In fact, he goes so far as to refer to his minions as “The Brat Pack” which I found amusing. His story though was not great either. He’s basically committing crimes that he performed as a child actor and not a single character in the movie saw the pattern.

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Despicable Me 3” is in theaters now. I can’t recommend this movie at all. I literally wanted to take a nap I was so bored. If this movie comes out on Redbox or VOD and you want to throw it on for your kids, go for it. Kids will probably love this movie. I don’t have much to say about this movie except that the 1980’s pop culture references were great and that’s about it. You can skip this movie in theaters unless your little ones are demanding you take them. In which case, hire a baby sitter to take them so you still won’t have to sit through this snoozer.

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