Guest Review Movie Review

Let’s Talk About Movies – Weekly Roundup

Alpha ★★½

It’s an age old tale: prehistoric man meets man’s best friend for the very first time, and the rest, as they say, is history. That’s the story at the core of “Alpha”, a familiar but visually stunning film that has to be experienced on the biggest screen possible. Director Albert Hughes knows that his material isn’t particularly deep, so the focus is on making the ride as emotional as possible, and this is where his movie scores points. In telling the story of how a young man struggles to return home after being separated from his tribe, Hughes tackles themes of loyalty, family, and friendship. It’s breathtaking to watch a wolf racing alongside our hero, looking for their next meal. It’s even better when the opening and closing scene is narrated by Morgan Freeman. There’s a lot to admire here, even if it all feels familiar somehow. If you enjoy a good survival story, look no further. “Alpha” may not be a masterpiece, but it’s a visual feast.

Destination Wedding ★★

It wouldn’t be completely unfair to say that this movie has no reason to exist except to showcase two of Hollywood’s most beloved actors of the 90’s: Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder. These two have been friends for 30 years and appeared in several movies together. But “Destination Wedding”, written and directed by Victor Levin, is a missed opportunity. It relies way too much on the chemistry between these two, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I couldn’t care much about the story itself. Reeves and Ryder play two strangers who meet on their way to the same wedding. Basically they just talk and talk and talk and talk until the credits start rolling. Usually I don’t mind this type of storytelling (I love Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy), but Levin is relentless with his dialogue and rarely allows his characters to stop and take a deep breath. Worse, the dialogue itself is pointless most of the time and my mind started to wander at some point. Instead of being pulled into their story I felt myself drifting away from it. That’s a damn shame, because both actors are great, and surely they deserve something better than this forgettable rom-com.

Crazy Rich Asians ★★½

It would be tempting to call this comedy the “Asian” version of “Meet the Parents”, but considering the thought process that went into it, I won’t. For those who may not know, “Crazy Rich Asians” is Hollywood’s first major film in years starring an all-Asian cast. This is a big deal for Asians around the world (I watched it in a packed theater here in Montreal), and I expect it to be a major hit. Usually I don’t ask much from this type of comedy: I want it to keep me entertained, and this one does exactly that. It helps that the events take place in Singapore, which means it’s an opportunity to discover a new culture. It also helps that the cast seems to be having a great time, despite a familiar plot. Henry Golding plays a New Yorker who decides to take his girlfriend (Constance Wu) to visit his family in Singapore. The ultimate joke of this movie is that his family is “crazy rich”, which makes things a little bit awkward. Like I said, there isn’t much to say about the plot itself, but the performances are first rate, and the movie managed to keep me amused. It’s a modest but disarming comedy that will most definitely entertain a wide audience this summer.

Disobedience ★★★

To describe “Disobedience” purely as a lesbian drama is to miss the point. This is a devastating story of love, that happens to take place in an “obedient” society. When the movie opens, we are welcomed with a speech by a rabbi, talking about angels, beasts, and, ironically, freedom of choice. It’s a gripping speech, and the hook that will lead you into this mesmerizing drama. Rachel Weisz ignites the screen as the daughter of the rabbi, who returns home following his death. We learn that she was somehow “disowned” by this society for having a love affair with another woman (Rachel McAdams) many years ago. The two eventually meet again, and their passion is aroused once again. The confident Weisz and the shy McAdams (now married to a man) seem to have little in common, but you can tell heir love is mutual and deep-rooted. Although the film takes place in modern-day England, director Sebastian Lelio doesn’t miss a chance to remind us that obedient societies still exist, and such matters are not to be discussed in public. This allows us to root for these characters even more, especially when things get even more complicated. As their story unfold, we feel their pain and anguish, which gives the movie its much needed emotional impact. “Disobedience” flows at a deliberately slow pace, which means it won’t appeal to everyone, but if you’re a patient viewer, you’d want to savor every moment of this rewarding piece of work.

Slender Man ★

It’s 2018 and movies like “Slender Man” still exist on the big screen. This truly horrible horror movie shouldn’t even exist on DVD. But here we are, on a hot summer day, watching this preposterous film…on the big screen. Why? Why waste a perfectly decent budget on a movie that: 1) isn’t scary at all. And 2) doesn’t even make sense. This mess of a film will confuse even the most avid fans of the genre. Where do I even begin? Ever heard of the boogie man? Well, Slender Man is pretty much the same “man”, and he’s about to unleash hell on a group of teenagers who attempt to prove that he doesn’t exist. Ha! You know the drill: endless “boo” scenes that lead nowhere. Nothing works here. Nothing. From the amateur acting, writing and directing (was anyone even in control of this?), “Slender Man” will have you looking for the nearest exit to request a refund. Or better yet: avoid it altogether. It’s that bad.

The Equalizer 2 ★★½

Denzel Washington kicking ass is probably everything you need to see this summer. This sequel to the 2014 hit follows the same formula, which means you won’t go in expecting a fast-paced action flick like “Taken” or “Mission Impossible”. But director Antoine Fuqua, who is often hailed as a lyrical filmmaker, does things his way, taking his precious time developing his characters and story. Washington yet again plays retired special-ops agent Robert McCall, who uses his regular job as a cover while he roams around the city fighting criminal scum. “Not all heroes wear cape” they say and McCall embodies that, taking justice into his own hands. Then things get personal, perhaps a bit too personal, and it’s up to our hero to step in and deliver justice. The movie runs long, and much like the first film, I could have done without many of the subplots. No matter, Fuqua deliver the goods when it matters the most, and it’s always a pleasure watching Washington kicking ass. I can’t think of anyone else capable of carrying the film through. Is it predictable? Probably. Is it still worth watching? You bet. Heck, I’d watch Washington in almost anything.

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