Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Movie Review: "Logan's Run" (1976)

Director: Michael Anderson
Year: 1976
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes

In a future utopian society that thrives on balance, people live purely for pleasure. There is just one catch: you have to die when you are 30. You either give up your life willingly at 'Carrousel,' or you run and are hunted down by those who are dubbed 'Sandmen.' When a Sandman named Logan decides to run, it may change his society forever.

"Outside? There's nothing outside." (Image Source)
What would you sacrifice to live in pure pleasure? According to "Logan's Run," people would be willing to give up a lot for utopia. This film is directed by Michael Anderson, who has directed other projects like "Around the World in 80 Days," "Orca," and "Millenium." It is written by David Zelag Goodman and is based on the novel of the same name by William F. Nolan and George Clayton. In the distant future long after the last great war, the remaining population now lives in a domed society where people are hedonistic, and everything they need is provided by the government. Their civilization is perfectly balanced. In order to maintain that balance, people are not allowed to live past the age of 30, which means both BigJ and I would be peaced out of this bitch by now. Most citizens give their lives up willingly in a ritual called Carrousel. Those who choose to run and are hunted down by law enforcers known as Sandmen and are promptly terminated. When a Sandman named Logan (Michael York) is sent on a secret mission to find a runner sanctuary, he begins his run and becomes hunted by his fellow Sandmen, but his experience may change his ideas of their society and their civilization forever.
"One is terminated, one is born. Simple, logical, perfect." (Image Source)
It's so fun to see what the idea of the future was for those who lived in the 70's. It is always so kitschy. "Logan's Run" isn't exactly the most classic sci-fi film of its era, but you can plainly see its influence on many modern films with similar themes, most notably Kurt Wimmer's "Equilibrium" and Micahel Bay's "The Island." When this movie came out in 1976, the effects and set designs were probably in line with what you got from most movies of this genre. Of course, "Star Wars" would come out a year later and change the idea of what people thought was possible for sci-fi and fantasy flicks. Like most "soft sci-fi" movies, "Logan's Run" deals with social and moral questions in a futuristic setting with high-tech doodads everywhere. The society found in this story is essentially a form of Eugenics and extreme communism. People live in relative peace and exist for pure pleasure, but in order for this lifestyle to work long-term, things must remain balanced, so there are just a few teeny tiny trade-offs. The population must be controlled. All forms of reproduction are regulated through the government, and on top of that, healthcare and elderly support are difficult, so people must sacrifice their own lives at the ripe ol' age of 30. There is also an interesting element of indoctrination where the population has been taught to believe they will be "renewed" if they sacrifice themselves. It's the same way radical religious groups and cults are brainwashed to commit mass suicide or carry out suicide attacks. The alternative here is to escape the dome and be forced to fend for yourself in the wild after having everything handed to you your entire life.
"No Sandman ever ran." (Image Source)
There is probably a metaphor for children leaving the comforts of their home in exchange for personal freedom, or maybe its simply an exploration of the difference between a capitalist democracy and authoritarian communism. Either way, we think there is enough in "Logan's Run" to keep you engaged with the story, its themes, and production values despite being a bit dated and a little cheesy.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 68%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Movie Review: "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" (2018)

Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Year: 2018
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Mavis takes Drac and all their monster friends and family on a surprise cruise after Drac tells her he is overworked. In reality, he is just lonely and is looking for someone to "zing" with to fill the void in his life. On the cruise, Drac thinks he has made a romantic connection with a woman named Ericka, though she may have some secrets that could put a damper on their relationship. 

"A "zing" only happens once in your life and you have to cherish it." (Image Source)
Of all the Adam Sandler-led films released in the last decade+, the movies in the "Hotel Transylvania" series are probably the most tolerable. "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" is directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, who has helmed the entire "Hotel Transylvania" series as well as TV shows like "Samurai Jack," "Star Wars: Clone Wars," and "Dexter's Laboratory." Tartakovsky also takes over writing duties for this installment along with Michael McCullers, who was a writer on SNL and movies like "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" and "Austin Powers: Goldmember." All of the members of the cast return to lend their voices to this third installment in the franchise. This time around, Drac (Adam Sandler) is feeling a bit lonely and is hoping to find love once again. He doesn't want to admit to his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) how sad he has been. Instead, he tells her that he feels overworked and that he doesn't get to spend enough time with the family. In response, Mavis books a cruise for all of their family and friends so Drac can have a vacation. Luckily for Drac, he seems to have met the ideal woman on this cruise, the captain of the boat, Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). Unluckily, Ericka may have a secret that will make their match-up not-so-smooth-sailing as they may have a few rough patches to get over before they can fully "zing" together.
"I'm a grown woman, I can kill whoever I want!" (Image Source)
The "Hotel Transylvania" series has had a pretty consistent message since the beginning, which is learning to tolerate those who are different. It is all about letting go of the fear and hate that has plagued your past and taking the time to look at things from a different point of view. It just delivers this message in between an occasional fart joke and a goofy dance routine, but c'mon, it is a movie for kids after all. Despite that these films have never been the greatest animated movies we've ever seen, they are always enjoyable for the most part. We laughed pretty consistently throughout this installment, just like we have with the other entries in the series. We never laugh hysterically, and it doesn't really ever hit a strong emotional chord, but it is at least entertaining. Sure, there are a lot of physical sight gags and the occasional body excretion joke, but once in a while, there is a really clever pun or quip or situation that speaks to the adults in the audience. "Hotel Transylvania" has always had a large assortment of characters, and fans of the series may see some of their favorites getting left in the fray because this is, and has always been, the Drac Show™. Every character gets a little something to do here and there, but the writers had to pick and choose their battles, and some fan-favorites who have been more prominent in the past have had their screen time cut way, way down to make room for more Drac Drama™. There are also a few callbacks and recycled jokes, but these throwbacks balance out the characters and situations that are unique to this installment.
"There are no fun surprises." (Image Source)
There's not much to say about this movie, everyone. It's fine in every possible way. If you enjoyed the first two films in this series, chances are you will find things to enjoy about "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation."

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~61%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Movie Review: "Mamma Mia!" (2008)

Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Year: 2008
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

A young woman who is about to be married invites three men to her wedding, each of whom may be her father.
"Typical, isn't it? You wait 20 years for a dad and then three come along at once." (Image Source)
We sure as hell hope you like the band ABBA because if you don't, you're not going to have an enjoyable time watching "Mamma Mia!" This musical is directed by Phyllida Lloyd, who only has one other theatrical film credit to her name in "The Iron Lady." The screenplay is written by Catherine Johnson, who adapted it from her own stage play. It stars Amanda Seyfried as Sophie, a 20-year-old young woman who is about to get married to her fiance Sky (Dominic Cooper). She wants to have her father walk her down the aisle, but there's just one problem: she doesn't know who her dad is. Sophie finds her mom's old diary that was written during the summer she was conceived and learns her father might be one of three men, Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Bill (Stellan Skarsgård), or Harry (Colin Firth). Since she doesn't know which person is her dad, Sophie invites all three of them to her wedding, hoping she will know instinctively who it is when she sees him. When Sophie's mom Donna (Meryl Streep) finds out all of her ex-lovers are at her daughter's wedding, it adds extra stress she was not expecting and leaves her in a frantic state, and what else is there to do when you're stressed but to SING AND DANCE!!!!!!!!!!
"'I've done the big white wedding, and believe me, it doesn't always end in happy ever after." (Image Source)
You may know what we're going to say about this film. "Mamma Mia!" has a lot of problems from both a narrative standpoint and from a technical one. The whole concept is absurdly over-the-top and borders on a bonkers, ridiculous territory. The era in which the movie takes place is not entirely clear. If it is meant to take place in the late 2000's, it means Sam (Brosnan) dressed like a hippie well into the 80's. If it takes place in the 80's or early 90's, it sure as shit doesn't look like it (especially given that his wig/outfit combo came from Party City). Given when the music was penned by ABBA, it's not surprising that the time frame is murky at best. There are far too many jump cuts. Some scenes are too dark while others are too brightly lit. Some pieces of the story don't fit together and feel rushed...BUT MERYL STREEP SINGS AND EVERYONE DANCES!!
"You always knew how to make an entrance." (Image Source)
That being said, we're not going to deny that we sort of love "Mamma Mia!" We thought we weren't huge fans of ABBA, but we actually really enjoy the music! There are only a couple of songs that we never get into, but there are far more hits than misses here. Sure, Pierce Brosnan isn't the best singer in the world, but everyone else props him up and makes us forget how bad he is. Give the guy a break, people! He just wanted to work with Meryl effing Streep, and who wouldn't?! This movie also manages to have a lot of laughs, mainly from the "spontaneous" Harry (Firth), the free-spirited Bill (Skarsgård), as well Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski). We like each of the characters (minus Sophie and her constant whining, even though Seyfried can carry a tune), and we like all of the actors who play them. We love this musical despite that it's a jumbled hodgepodge. Watching this movie provides for a lot of joyous fun despite its glaring flaws. We smile, sing, and dance our way through its runtime every damn time we watch it.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 54%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Movie Review: "Skyscraper" (2018)

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Former FBI agent Will Sawyer is hired to assess the security of the world's brand new tallest skyscraper known as The Pearl. When mercenaries seize control of the building and set it on fire, Will's family gets trapped inside. Now, he must face off against armed criminals and navigate a burning skyscraper to save them.

"If you can't fix it with duct tape, then you ain't usin' enough duct tape." (Image Source)
If you combine the towering inferno from "The Towering Inferno" with the hijacking of a building a la "Die Hard" and add Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, you get writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber's latest film "Skyscraper." Thurber is known for directing movies like "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" and "We're The Millers." The story revolves around a man named Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson), a former FBI agent who now works as a security specialist after having the lower part of his leg blown off in the line of duty. His latest job is to assess the safety and security of The Pearl, the world's tallest skyscraper which stands three times the height of The Empire State Building. As Will works on his assessment, his family gets to be the first to live in the residential part of the building, which is not yet open to the public. When mercenaries who want something from the building's owner (Chin Han) seize the building and all its controls, they set the bottom floor of the residential portion on fire, trapping Will's family inside. Will must now find a way to get back into the building, face off against these mercenaries, and get his family out before the entire upper half of the structure burns to the ground.
"Light a man's house on fire and you'll find out what he truly loves." (Image Source)
When we watch a movie like "Skyscraper," we pretty much know what to expect. What we expected this movie would be is exactly what we got: a giant building that is up in flames with The Rock racing against a ticking timeclock trying to save his family while fire rages and explosions bang around them, all while he hangs off ledges and other unstable structures showing off his beefy arms being a hero. What's not to love?! Dwayne Johnson gets to be the badass he always is, but he is a bit more human in this film compared to some of the other projects he has done where he has played a hulking man with seemingly super-human capabilities. As Will Sawyer, Johnson isn't throwing people ten feet in the air or kicking them through walls this time around. He takes his licks and at least pretends to look like he gets badly beaten up by the end. That being said, Johnson still carries out a few big stunts that are wholly unbelievable yet oh so amazing. C'mon, what did you expect from a film that promised someone jumping from a highly-suspended crane to a structure being succumbed by a bombardment of flames? The action scenes are exciting, and they damn well better be with a $125 million budget. We can feel the tension whenever someone gets near a ledge that is 100+ stories in the air despite knowing what will happen because it was almost always in the trailer. Dwayne Johnson isn't the only one who gets to kick major ass in this action crime drama. We love that his wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) isn't a total damsel in distress waiting to be rescued. She holds her own and tries to save herself and her kids, handling herself very well in a fight being that she is a former member of the military.
"It's Fort Knox a mile in the sky." (Image Source)
"Skyscraper" isn't a smart film. Everyone chases around a MacGuffin for the entire runtime, and it can get pretty ridiculous at times, but director Rawson Marshall Thurber knows what type of movie he is making, and the cast knows exactly what type of movie they are in. Everyone involved with this project sets a great tone right from the beginning and manages to make the whole experience a heck of a lot of fun. If you are looking for a two-hour fire-infested thrill ride with relatively high steaks, a kick-ass cast, and a turn-your-brain-off-good-time, "Skyscraper" is the movie for you.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~51%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Movie Review: "Boundaries" (2018)

Director: Shana Feste
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

A woman with abandonment issues and her teenage son, who has recently been expelled from school, are forced to take her pot-dealing geriatric father on a road trip to move in with her sister in Los Angeles after he was kicked out of his retirement home.

"Your father is incapable of helping you, Laura." (Image Source)
Ahhhh, the road trip, the ultimate place where people with longstanding issues can air all their grievances and eventually come to an understanding with one another. At least that's how it happens in the movies. "Boundaries" is written and directed by Shana Feste, who has written and directed movies like "Country Strong" and "Endless Love." The story revolves around a woman name Laura Jaconi (Vera Farmiga), who is dealing with abandonment issues due to her father never being there for her. She has a son named Henry (Lewis MacDougall), who has some problems of his own. He has a penchant for drawing people as naked caricatures and very obviously likes to stir up trouble when he can. His antics have recently gotten him expelled from school. Laura is left with minimal options since she has no money for a special school. While dealing with that, she receives word that her father Jack (Christopher Plummer) has been kicked out of his retirement home because of his "low moral fiber." Basically, he was caught growing pot in the community shed and was kicked out because of it. Laura gets her sister Jojo (Kristen Schaal) to agree to take their father in and let him live with her. Now, Laura just has to get Frank from their home in Seattle to her sister's house in Los Angeles. Since her father wants to keep his Rolls-Royce, they have to take a road trip down the west coast.
"She can't help it, she likes an underdog." (Image Source)
"Boundaries" is a movie you have seen dozens of times already. It is the most basic road trip flick you can picture in your mind. It takes characters who don't exactly get along and sticks them in a confined space to get them to hash out their problems while on the road. Jack gets to make up for years of neglect while making some money and bonding with his grandson at the same time. Laura gets to spend time with her father, who wasn't there for her when she was younger. Henry gets to finally learn about who his grandpa is and get a male authority figure in his life. Despite these cliches, the narrative doesn't flow all that well and feels very disjointed at times. It is written in a way that introduces oddball characters to create opportunities for Jack to do things that will make him look like a decent person despite years of being an asshole. Because of this, much of the film feels contrived and formulaic and tends to drag through its runtime.

That being said, the movie as a whole is not entirely pointless. Each of the actors gives a good performance, though it would be more surprising if Christopher Plummer gave a bad one. Each actor adds a little something to the mix, and "Boundaries" is as good as it is because of the acting alone. Without the performances, this would be a derivative mess full of expected drama. There are a couple of humorous moments here and there, but much of the off-color dark humor may be off-putting for some viewers. Technically speaking, a couple of things stood out and bothered us. The directing, the lighting, and the camerawork are done in such a way that some of the shots look over-saturated while others look murky. Some of these technical aspects got so bad that it took us out of the story and distracted us from what was actually happening on-screen.
"I think they're rude, judging a man by his diapers." (Image Source)
"Boundaries" is very mediocre and forgettable for us, despite some good performances by actors who never give bad performances.

My Rating: 4.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~3.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 49%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Movie Review: "Shimmer Lake" (2017)

Director: Oren Uziel
Year: 2017
Rating: TV-MA
Running Time: 1 hour, 23 minutes

A small town sheriff investigates a bank robbery, which has led to a string of murders. 
"Man, Zeke. This is a real mess." (Image Source)
"Shimmer Lake" is the directorial debut of writer/director Oren Uziel. It is a darkly comedic crime thriller mystery where the twist isn't so much at the end of the story but at the beginning. Because of this, the film is told in reverse, starting with the events on the Friday following a bank robbery and working its way back to the day the actual crime occurred earlier in the week. We have seen this technique before, most notably in the film "Memento," though this is slightly more rudimentary than that. It stars Benjamin Walker as Zeke Sikes, a small town sheriff who has spent the last few days investigating a bank robbery and a series of murders that happened because of the fallout of the crime. Zeke's brother Andy (Rainn Wilson), a one-time criminal prosecutor and now, is a prime suspect in the robbery and murders. It may seem weird for a sheriff to be investigating his brother, but it's a small town where everyone knows everyone. Also in the film are Wyatt Russell, Adam Pally, John Michael Higgins, Rob Corddry, Mark Rendall, Ron Livingston, and Stephanie Sigman, who are all either involved in the crime or are the people investigating it.
"Surprise is for the ill-prepared." (Image Source)
We knew nothing about this movie going into it. We just saw that it was one of the latest Netflix original films to be released on their service. Netflix-distributed movies have been hit or miss for us, but we always hope for the best, especially when it comes to oddball stuff like "Shimmer Lake." We are fans of dark comedies and crime comedies, so this one seemed right up our ally. This type of dark humor isn't for everyone, but it is for us. We ended up enjoying this movie quite a bit. It isn't the type of comedy that is outrageous or raucous with jokes and scenes that are roll on the floor funny. The laughs come from an intriguing story, its tongue-in-cheek banter, and a subtle wit that will make you chuckle throughout its runtime, even if it's stuff you shouldn't always be laughing about. This is a movie that doesn't have to rely on comedy entirely since the audience is also pulled in by the actual plot, the characters, and its mystery aspect. Benjamin Walker plays a charming good ol' boy type and gets in his fair share of quippy lines, but he is actually one of the few non-comedians in the film. He and the rest of the cast do a great job in their respective roles, particularly Rainn Wilson.
"I'm giving this town a bath." (Image Source)
As we go backward in time, we get more and more clues as to how it all began, which is perfectly revealing to how it ended, picking up steam as it goes along its story. In the end, "Shimmer Lake" has solid performances, a great premise, and is successful as both a mystery and as a dark comedy.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 56%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Movie Review: "Chappaquiddick" (2018)

Director: John Curran
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

The story of Senator Edward Kennedy's 1969 Chappaquiddick scandal after an incident that left a female campaign staffer dead in his car at the bottom of a pond after an automobile accident. 
"Teddy, call your mom first. Don't let her find out about another family tragedy from the news." (Image Source)
So, what you're saying is that wealthy politicians use their power and influence to keep themselves out of trouble??....noooooooooooooooooooooooo way! ShOcKiNg! "Chappaquiddick" is directed by John Curran, who has directed films like the "The Painted Veil" and "We Don't Live Here Anymore." It is written by Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan and is the first feature film writing credit for both of them. The movie tells the true story of Sen. Edward 'Ted' Kennedy (Jason Clarke) and the events just prior to and following his widely publicized automobile accident on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, an incident which left a female campaign staffer dead. It also covers the efforts of Kennedy and his staff to use their connections to contain the scandal as best they could and to keep Edward out of jail.
"I think my chance to define my legacy died with Mary Jo.(Image Source)
Anybody who has any knowledge of the car accident at Chappaquiddick will find little to nothing intriguing about this story. It is basically a rehash of the official account of what happened that fateful night in 1969. There is only minor speculating if more could have been done to save Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara) and whether or not Kennedy held more fault for the incident than what he accepted. The main focus of the film is on the aftermath of the collision and Kennedy's use of his family's political connections to make sure he faced the smallest punishment possible for a woman's literal vehicular manslaughter. It should come as no shock that wealthy and powerful celebrities and politicians use their connections and clout to get special treatment. Since most of us know that Kennedy served in the U.S. Senate until his death in 2009, there was never a question if he would face any repercussions for his actions. Because of this, the crux of the story involves watching Kennedy's staffers try to contain something that we know was successfully contained decades ago.
"This isn't about opportunity. It's about integrity.(Image Source)
"Chappaquiddick" is neither an indictment nor an exoneration of Ted Kennedy and his actions. It doesn't present any new evidence and never bothers to speculate about rumors or conspiracies. It can be commended because it attempts to stick to the official public facts of the case, but that doesn't exactly make for an exciting movie and can easily be ripped apart by people on both sides of the aisle. You'd probably get more out of reading the Wikipedia page for the Chappaquiddick incident than you would watching "Chappaquiddick" itself. Don't get us wrong, it is a well-shot movie from a technical aspect, and the actors do a decent job with what they have been given on the page. Still, we found ourselves questioning why this movie was made as the credits rolled. It can be rather dull at times. It acts as little more than a reenactment of an easily obtainable set of court documents and statements that Ted himself made post-crash. We're not really sure what the point of this movie was. But hey, at least we got to see Ed Helms and Jim Gaffigan running around in their skivvies under the cover of darkness...that's gotta be a plus for someone out there.

My Rating: 4.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.6/10
RT Rating: ~80%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!