REVIEW: Studio-driven ‘Doctor Strange 2’ short on substance

Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been pretty poor so far.

Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) starts off this latest Marvel adventure on a down note, having to attend a wedding where the woman he loved is getting married to someone else. Any negative feelings about that have to wait, though, when a giant monster attacks a young woman nearby.

The woman is America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), who has the power to travel to different universes, but can’t quite control it yet. After rescuing her, Strange seeks counsel from Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), as she might be able to help with her knowledge of magic. However, Wanda sees an opportunity to use America’s powers for herself so that she can find a different universe where she can be happier.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Studio-driven ‘Doctor Strange 2’ short on substance”

REVIEW: ‘The Batman’ is a brilliant caped crusader story

Some of the best elements of the “Batman” interpretations by directors Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan are melded into the new crime epic featuring the Dark Knight.

In director Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” Robert Pattinson stars as Bruce Wayne, who spends his nights out in Gotham City as the caped crusader. The film picks up with him meeting with Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) after a night of fighting criminals to consult on a murder case.

The victim is the city’s mayor, and the suspect is the Riddler (Paul Dano), who leaves behind haunting clues. The killing sets Batman on an investigation, where he partners with Gordon and a cat burglar, Selina (Zoe Kravitz). The investigation brings him in conflict with the city’s underbelly, with the likes of the Penguin (Colin Farrell) in his way.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Batman’ is a brilliant caped crusader story”

REVIEW: Star cast unable to salvage below average ‘355’

If you like McGuffin hunts, then “The 355” might be the perfect movie for you.

Jessica Chastain stars as Mace in “The 355,” a CIA agent tracking the location of a device that can practically hack any computer system in the world, from transportation programs to weapon launches. After the death of her field partner, Mace doubles down on her efforts to recover the device.

Those efforts bring her in contact with other agents from several intelligence organizations. The agents include Graciela (Penelope Cruz) from Columbia, Lin (Fan Bingbing) from China, Marie (Diane Kruger) from Germany and Khadijah from England (Lupita Nyong’o). While they are at odds to begin, the agents eventually decide to work together.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Star cast unable to salvage below average ‘355’”

REVIEW: Movie about cons has plenty of cons, but still entertains

A bottle film with plenty of bullets is usually good for entertaining audiences, but the quality can really vary.

“Copshop” is a situation where the film does entertain, but the quality is a bit on the lower end.

Alexis Louder stars as Valerie Young in “Copshop,” a rookie officer who works at a rural police station. One night on patrol, Young arrests a man named Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo), who is placed in a holding cell. Not long after, other officers from the station arrest a drunk driver known as Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler).

It turns out, Teddy and Bob know each other. After working for the mob, Teddy was looking for a way out and went to the authorities. Bob, meanwhile, is a hitman. Now, the two are both at the same station and Young is forced to do some quick thinking as another gunman comes to the station, also looking for the hit on Teddy.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Movie about cons has plenty of cons, but still entertains”

REVIEW: ‘The Protégé’ provides thrills despite plot issues

More action movies with Maggie Q please.

Anna (Q) is the protagonist in “The Protégé,” an elite assassin who works alongside her friend and mentor Moody (Samuel L. Jackson). The two are exceptionally efficient in their work and the film picks up with them successfully completing another mission.

As the film gets underway, Anna begins researching a new job, but soon after finds Moody murdered. With revenge in mind, Anna travels back to her homeland of Vietnam, where there may be some clues as to who killed her mentor. During her journey, she comes across Rembrandt (Michael Keaton), an assassin who works for another involved party.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Protégé’ provides thrills despite plot issues”

REVIEW: While flawed, ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ gives audiences a fun experience

The title “Gunpowder Milkshake” makes sense, because like the cold drink, it’s an enjoyable summer treat.

Karen Gillan stars as Sam in “Milkshake,” a young woman who works as an assassin for a mysterious agency known only as The Firm. The agency is helmed by a man named Nathan (Paul Giamatti), who sends Sam out on her assignments.

While her latest mission seems straightforward, though, it turns out to be anything but. Caught in a conflict between two violent faction related to Sam’s assignment is a young girl named Emily (Chloe Coleman). Sam decides to get involved and protect Emily, but it only complicates things as hitmen are sent after her. In response, she looks to get help from her past.

Continue reading “REVIEW: While flawed, ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ gives audiences a fun experience”

REVIEW: ‘Quiet Place’ sequel suffers from poor character decisions

“The Purge” is a great example of kids screwing things up in the middle of a tense situation. Another example is “28 Weeks Later.” The latest example is “A Quiet Place II.”

After a brief opening scene showing the first day of the alien attack, this sequel picks up immediately after the events of the original 2018 film. With their home in tatters, Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and her newborn baby, as well as her school-age children Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe), are forced to venture out for a new shelter.

Along the way they meet an old friend from their destroyed town, Emmett (Cillian Murphy), though he’s reluctant to help. With the knowledge that her hearing aid is useful against the aliens, though, Regan has a drive in her to find a way to spread the word.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Quiet Place’ sequel suffers from poor character decisions”

REVIEW: ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’ brings big sky thrills

Angelina Jolie has taken a break from playing Maleficent to return to the action genre.

This time, though, she plays a character with survival skills, rather than being a master martial artist or super spy.

In “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” Jolie portrays Hannah, an elite firefighter in Montana who’s trying to get over a traumatic event that took place about a year ago. Because of the experience, Hannah is taken off the frontlines and instead is stationed at a fire lookout tower.

Meanwhile, a father and his son Connor (Finn Little) go on the run. The father, Owen (Jake Weber), is an accountant mixed in a situation where he could potentially expose several financial scandals and therefore has a hit on him. Those looking to take Owen out do succeed, but Connor escapes. After doing so, he runs into Hannah, who takes on the task of protecting him.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’ brings big sky thrills”

REVIEW: Good direction from Ritchie makes ‘Wrath of Man’ work

Many revenge movies are straightforward in their approach, so any time a good director can come along with some flair to elevate things, it’s a plus.

That’s the case here with “Wrath of Man.”

The film centers on Patrick Hill (Jason Statham) who simply goes by “H.” Appearing to be just an everyman, H begins working for an armored vehicle company, mainly under the supervision of a man whose nickname is Bullet (Holt McCallany).

His first several days there are routine, but one day a truck he’s in is stopped by a gang of thieves. It’s no problem for H, though, who takes out the criminals with great skill and precision. It soon comes to light that H is working at the company for a specific reason and has revenge on his mind.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Good direction from Ritchie makes ‘Wrath of Man’ work”

REVIEW: ‘The Marksman’ never hits the bullseye

When I saw Liam Neeson on the big screen fighting a mob in France back in 2009 during my first year reviewing and second year in college, I didn’t know I’d be spending a decade watching him battle all kinds of things.

He’s fought wolves, been an agent in Germany, he took on terrorists as an air marshal, and now all this time later, he’s fighting against a Mexican cartel.

In “The Marksman,” Neeson portrays Jim, a former Marine and rancher who owns property along the Mexican border in Arizona. Because of where his land is, Jim has a radio with him to call the U.S. Border Patrol in case there are crossings. Meanwhile, in Mexico, a young woman and her son are sent on the run from a cartel because her cousin double crossed them.

Her and her boy, Miguel (Jacob Perez), make it across the border, but the cartel quickly catches up, right as they make it across a fence. At the same time, Jim just happens to be there ranching his land. A firefight ensues and the woman passes away, asking Jim to take care of Miguel and get him to Chicago where the rest of their family lives. While reluctant, Jim decides to take on the task and try to make his way to the Windy City with the boy. However, the cartel remains committed to finding both of them.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Marksman’ never hits the bullseye”