Logan (R)

Logan (2017) – 2h 17min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

Synopsis: In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X somewhere on the Mexican border. However, Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are upended when a young mutant arrives, pursued by dark forces.

MPAA: Rated R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity

Logan is the final run (as far as we know) of Hugh Jackman as the iconic X-Men character, Wolverine. Taking place in the future (2029, to be exact), Logan focuses on a battered and worn out Logan who may age differently from his peers, but is slowly starting to suffer consequences of his weakening healing factor. He works as an Uber driver to support much needed medication for an even worse off Charles Xavier. Charles has succumbed to Alzheimers and occasionally has seizures that can paralyze – and potentially kill, we’re lead to believe) people within a fairly large radius of his location.

The story of Logan is the swan song of Wolverine as we’ve known him since 2000′s X-Men debuted at the theaters. He’s held the role and done well for the character, despite some pretty bad movies that have been released starring the mutant characters.

In Logan, our two remaining heroes are just trying to eek by as something has happened in the past, which is referred to several times, but never explained, and seemingly eliminated all mutants. No new mutants have been born in over 10 years. Then a little girl shows up who displays the same abilities as Logan, himself.

The movie is awesome. All the online hype is well deserved as the director, who is also the writer, seemed to be given full control on what he brought to the screen. Story is great, acting is top notch, action is brutal and doesn’t pull any punches or fake cutaways. If I say anything negative, it’ll be that the only thing that really drew me out of the film was all the language. I believe it’s the fact that we have been handed these subpar films with PG-13 ratings and mild profanity, but Logan is a hard R for violence, gore and language. Hearing Prof. X string along a series of F-bombs while describing a situation is way out there, in my mind, and it was uncomfortable for me to hear, personally. Yet, oddly enough, I wasn’t bothered a bit by the violence and gore. That seemed perfectly fitting for a character that has metal coated bone claws that shoot out of his knuckles.

Logan deserves all the attention it’s getting. It raised the bar for all future X-Men movies going forward. They should only hope to reach this level of quality. One of the few movies I’ve been to where the theater cheered, laughed, and even cried.

Kong: Skull Island (PG-13)

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Kong: Skull Island (2017) – 2h – Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Synopsis: A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong language.

Kong: Skull Island is, 3 months into 2017, the best movie I’ve seen this year. Understand, however, that I’ve only seen 2 movies this year. Of those two, this one is amazing. There’s actually a good story, great acting, and it’s played as a serious action drama, not cheesy and goofy like the 2005 version. In fact, I’d just like to forget that one even exits, especially after seeing this film.

K:SI continues in the Cinematic Universe creation process of slowly merging with other monster films. As many fans of the monster movies know, there’s going to be a new American Godzilla coming in a year or two, and this film serves as a continuation point from the 2014 film and lead-in to the next big screen version in 2018 or 19. In fact, stay until after the credits (which seemed incredibly long) to see a setup for future films.

Kong would have been perfect as a Summer blockbuster because it had all the makings. Big guns, explosions, action, Samuel L. Jackson, you know, the things you just expect in a movie these days! The characters were totally believable, the details of Monarch and their mission, the military involvement, the true purpose of their visit, etc, are excellent reveals and draw out the story. I’ve never even been a huge fan of John C. Reilly, but he was fantastic in Kong.

Great movie, great story, great characters. Go see it, it’s pretty … great.

Knock, Knock (R)

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Knock Knock (2015) – 1hr 39min – Drama, Horror, Thriller

Synopsis: When a devoted husband and father is left home alone for the weekend, two stranded young women unexpectedly knock on his door for help. What starts out as a kind gesture results in a dangerous seduction and a deadly game of cat and mouse.

MPAA: Rated R for disturbing violent behavior, strong sexual content, nudity and language

I really don’t know why I bother with Eli Roth movies anymore, but here comes Knock Knock starring Keanu Reeves. Reeves plays a happily married man with two kids. All that comes crashing down around him when he’s left home alone to work on a project and two girls show up at his door claiming to be lost. What happens over the next hour or so is … well … something. Twisted dark fantasy meets nightmare as the girls reveal they’re just playing a demented game with the men they scope out, but it’s not all their fault, as Reeves’ character initially doesn’t put up much of a fight.

Knock Knock is a prime example of todays world, I suppose, and what happens when you give in to your lusts. Throw in blackmail, some whacked out girls, nudity, and let’s not forget social media in this digital age, and you’ve got the makings for a life and career ending escapade.

Keanu seems to be overacting just a bit in this role, or maybe that’s to make his whole character look fake anyways. From the way he’s happily shouting his lines to his wife and kids, to the way he’s shouting and trying to act upset with the crazy chicks at the end. It all comes off as fake – or bad acting – and we all know Reeves is fairly decent as an actor.

All in all, I’d say this is one of those movies where you are left to decide on your own which direction you want to go. Feel bad for him, or feel glad that he is revealed for the true character he is when all is said and done. The girls little speech at the end can almost make them seem like vigilantes out to take down the real bad guys, one by one. Or else you can view them as the demented villains who just tarnished our hero’s reputation.

I’m always torn when a movie leaves it up to me to decide how I want to view a film. I just want to be entertained, not left wondering for weeks if X, Y, or Z was the director’s original intent on making the choices they did.

Whether you decide to watch the movie or not, you won’t be missing out either way. And besides, as a guy – being stupid and all, as guys are – I can’t say my story wouldn’t end the same way, but I’d like to think I’d be the better man.

Gantz:0

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If you aren’t familiar with Gantz, let me say right now that this is pretty tame to the Manga I originally read many years ago. Given to me by a friend, I was not fully prepared for what lay between the covers. But that’s not what I’m here to discuss. Just know that, going into Gantz:0, you’re getting a much calmer version than you would in the Manga.

Gantz:0 is a CG movie. Using motion capture, animation, etc, they have a beautiful film right here. It’s darn near breathtaking at how realistic the characters look most of the time. The monsters/aliens are right out of a nightmare. Good stuff to look at on a giant theater screen, I bet. But even on the 50″ television in my living room, the movie was just down right awesome to look at.

The characters are from the novels/manga, what have you. I’m not a huge follower or fan, I just have that one brief moment in time of a particular storyline a friend had given to me. That said, the main hero in the manga’s, from what I can tell, dies in the first 10 minutes of this movie. Gantz:0 follows one of the manga storylines known as the “Osaka arc.” Forgive my ignorance, but I have no idea what that is originally. All I can tell you is this:

Gantz:0 is beautiful to watch, the CG is near flawless, the characters are realistic, and the story is not to darn bad. I really enjoyed this film, having limited knowledge of what Gantz is and what was going on. There are some edge of your seat moments, it’s extremely graphic in violence, and there is a scene involving female nudity (breasts) in which a … well … I won’t ruin it, that’s just part of the amazing art that this film is.

Gantz:0 is well worth a watch, and can currently be found on Netflix, if you have that service. The story is interesting, the movie held my attention the entire run time, and the whole experience was enjoyable.

Split (2017)

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Saw Split last night with my wife. A new, original film from M. Night Shyamalan. That’s right, the guy who brought us The 6th Sense, Unbreakable, Signs … and then a bunch of other crap movies in a row. So, what’s M. Night been up to with this story? Why, exploring the fun world of DID – Dissociative Identity Disorder. Multiple Personalities, split personalities. In particular, our main character – who I’ll simply call Kevin, despite the fact that he has 23 distinct personalities living within him and fighting for their time in “the light.”

Kevin ramps up the movie in the first 5 minutes by kidnapping 3 teenage girls and holding them hostage as a tribute to The Beast, who is teased to be coming through out the film. We’re given a look at about 9 of the 23 personalities within Kevin, and given only a brief flashback of his childhood and hints of his abusive mother.

The story seems to focus on one of the girls as a main character. Casey has some childhood trauma of her own, which is revealed through several more flashbacks. She is, for the most part, the loner – and also the most level headed – of the group of abducted teens.

There’s also an outside character in the form of the Therapist that Kevin visits and talks about his personalities with. She provides our outside look at just who and what Kevin is, and gives us some of the more revealing dialogue that … trust me … will make perfect sense by the time you get to the last 4 minutes of the film.

And in all honestly, the last 4 minutes of Split is what you will have come to see. Split is a solid movie – if not a bizarre one – on its own. But tack on the last 4 minutes, and you’ve got fans of M. Night Shyamalan screaming, hooting, and clapping their hands. I don’t get excited at most movie endings, but as soon as the musical score begins to play toward the end, where a normal “twist” would come in, I just started elbowing my wife and stomping my feet. Heck yeah!

If you have fallen off the band wagon for Shyamalan’s work, go jump back on it. Watch Split and just take it in for what it is, then sit there at the end and absorb it for everything it REALLY is underneath. M. Night’s back, my friends, and he’s bringing his trademark filmmaking that made him famous to start with along for the ride.

While it’s a good movie, and the surprise at the end had me nearly jumping for joy in the theater, there’s still a few missed beats that the uninitiated might feel lost on. Shyamalan asks you to go into Split with an open mind, to be patient, and then understand what’s going on when he hands you the final piece of the larger puzzle.