Friday, November 16, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody

Starring: Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee, Lucy Boynton, & Ben Hardy
Director: Bryan Singer - Rating: PG-13 - Score: 4 Stars

I never really liked the rock band Queen, and as far as it's front-man, all I really knew was that he was the first superstar to die from AIDS. Knowing this, I feared that this film would be just another Philadelphia, and I was hesitant to see it. That is until the reviews of Rami Malek's career defining performance were released. To my surprise and delight this film wasn't just about Freddy Mercury's lifestyle nor was it about the way he tragically died. Bohemian Rhapsody is a film that not only parallels the life of Mercury, but it also shows everything that goes into making a successful band. From their humble beginnings to the process of how music is made, what it's inspirations are, what goes into making an album, and finally to the internal conflicts involved with the different personalities in a band. Bohemian Rhapsody illustrates better than any film I have ever seen, what it truly means to be part of a successful band. As for it's star, Mr. Robot's Rami Malek proves in one foul swoop that he is so much more than simply a TV drama star. His performance was far and away the best I've seen all year, and even though we're a long way away from Academy Award nominations, if Malek's name isn't at the top of that list, it will be an unmitigated outrage. Not only does Malek nail the performance, but he is Freddy Mercury right down to his mannerisms. To be honest, if Freddy Mercury were still alive and starred in this film, I don't think even he'd be as convincing as Malek was. The film is truly a performance that will be talked about for decades, but what about the film itself? Being that music is a huge part of my life, I found everything to be very interesting and informative, but others could see it as slow moving and somewhat boring. Some of the choices Bryan Singer made could be questioned, such as showing the entire Live Aid performance, all twenty minutes of it. Yes, it is an important part of the Queen story, but to show the whole thing in a feature film? Overall, I thought this film was terrific and even if you aren't into the music and aren't a fan of Queen, you need to see this film for nothing else than the performance of it's star. Performances like this one are what gives films the title of classic and are talked about and studied forever.


Starring: Nicholas Cage, Dwayne Cameron, & Michael Rainey Jr.
Director: York Shackleton - Rating: R - Score: 1 1/2 Stars

By now, my regular readers will know that I absolutely love Nicholas Cage, however being a super fan comes with some complications. The fact is that Cage is one of the most active stars in Hollywood, willing to take on any role, and there in lies the problem. His most recent film, 211, may be one of the most pointless and uninteresting action films ever made. Four mercenaries who are looking to get back at their corrupt boss, start robbing banks where he keeps his money. This leads them to the small town of Chesterfield, where a job is interrupted by the police, leading to a stand-off. Cage stars as Mike Chandler, an officer nearing his retirement, saddled with his son-in-law as a partner. What made 211 so bad is that the stand-off and shoot outs take over the majority of the time and Dog Day Afternoon, this film is not. Aside from the occasional expletives, there are long shoot out sequences with no dialogue. When the action cools down and people finally do speak, it's actually worse, because then the lack of experience and talent of the supporting cast is painfully evident. Action movies are supposed to be exciting and get the blood pumping, even if the story isn't all that great, it's something the genre has lived on since the 1970s, but 211 is an action filmed that bored me. When one is watching an action film and nodding off, it is an indicator that something is seriously wrong with that film. I do love Nicholas Cage, but this movie won't be anywhere near the greatest hits boxed set.

Seven In Heaven

Starring: Travis Tope, Haley Ramm, Gary Cole, & Dylan Everett
Director: Chris Eigeman - Rating: PG-13 - Score: 2 1/2 Stars

Trippy mind-bending movies are among my favorite types of film, but sometimes a good idea can be pushed too far and just become madness. Jude (Travis Tope) is a bullied kid, who makes the mistake of going to a house party at his friends house. Forced to play a game he doesn't want to, he loses and has to spend seven minutes locked in a closet with his bullies girlfriend. When the door opens, Jude and June (Haley Ramm) find themselves in another place, one that is very much like the one they just came from, but inherently different. Based on the butterfly theory, that for every action, somewhere there is an opposite and equal reaction, this closet leads these teens into alternate realities. At first the film is wildly original and seems to be going some place magical, however, with each jump things just get stranger and not for the better. When they finally ended up on the game show from hell, I'd pretty much had enough. Believe it or not, this film was billed as a horror movie, but there aren't any elements of that, and the film should have focused more on the scientific angle and the aspects of these alternate dimensions. Newcomer Travis Tope stars and does an adequate job, although I question his casting. Filmmakers cast Dylan Everett and Gage Munroe in backing roles, but then have the stars, their classmates, played by actors who are considerably older? Gage Munroe is a terrific actor, fits the age of the lead, and in my opinion would have made the film a lot more fun. The wildly different age differences didn't make much sense to me, neither did the ending. The whole film seemed to be building up to some angle centered around Jude's mother and teacher, but in the end, it is simply overlooked. This was a major theme of the film and one of the answers I was looking forward to. Having it white-washed just left a bad taste in my mouth. As a whole, Seven In Heaven was a good idea and has some elements of science fiction that I can't get enough of, but the lazy casting and systematic breakdown of the story just ruined the whole experience for me.

The Hurricane Heist

Starring: Toby Kebbell, Maggie Grace, & Ryan Kwanten
Director: Rob Cohen - Rating: PG-13 - Score: 3 Stars

Die Hard meets Twister in the new thriller, The Hurricane Heist. When I first heard about this film, I was really excited and hoping for something new, but the truth was this film was nothing more than a compilation. A severe hurricane is about to hit the Gulf Coast, and U.S. agents are in town to secure the U.S. mint. As the storm bares down they are confronted by a gang of thieves intent on taking millions. The only things between them and freedom are a lone agent, two local boys, and one hell of a storm. There were so many parallels to other films that throughout The Hurricane Heist I was getting nothing but deja vu. At some points I felt like they should have just made the hurricane a series of tornadoes and called the film Twister 2. That was bad enough, but when you combine lack of originality with predictable behavior, you get a story that is very dull. What saves the film from being just another disaster movie are some amazing chase sequences, from the minds behind The Fast & The Furious, as well as some incredible special effects. This film is definitely an adrenaline rush, but the story, star power, and originality are severely lacking. I was expecting a daring robbery in the midst of a cataclysmic storm, instead I got Hard Rain, without the star power. In the end, The Hurricane Heist wasn't a terrible film to watch, but it was anything but memorable.