Life (2017)

Life
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writer: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Cast: Ryan ReynoldsRebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dykhovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare
Seen on: 29.3.2017

Plot:
Six astronauts/scientists on the International Space Station study samples that have just been successfully collected on Mars. They hope to find out more about the conditions on Mars, but what they find instead is actually life: a single cell organism that’s either dead or dormant – but it’s there. They can barely contain their excitement, especially when their attempts to revive the organism are actually successful. But they have never encountered a live form like this – and it quickly turns out that it’s more than they bargained for.

Life is a decent, albeit derivative film that works pretty well – at least if you don’t keep comparing it with the Alien franchise it is a little sibling of.

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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast
Director: Bill Condon
Writer: Stephen Chbosky, Evan Spiliotopoulos
Based on: Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont‘s fairy tale
Remake of: Beauty and the Beast
Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Hattie Morahan, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Nathan Mack, Audra McDonald, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Seen on: 29.3.2017

Plot:
Belle (Emma Watson) lives in a small village with her father Maurice (Kevin Kline), an inventor. Her life wouldn’t be so bad if the local library had more books and if village beau Gaston (Luke Evans) wasn’t constantly harrassing her with marriage proposals. Then one day, Maurice doesn’t return from the market as planned. When Belle sets out to find him, what she finds is an enchanted castle, where a Beast (Dan Stevens) is holding her father captive. Fearless as she is, Belle takes Maurice place. And she might just be what the Beast needed to break the curse that weighs on them all.

This live-action version of the film isn’t strictly necessary and there were a couple of things that really didn’t go all that well, but the film was nevertheless enjoyable and managed to capture the magic of the animated version at least in part.

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Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Writer: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly
Remake of: King Kong
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Miyavi, Richard Jenkins
Seen on: 13.3.2017

Plot:
Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) are convinced that monsters exist – and they may be hiding on a recently discovered island. When they can finally secure funding for an expedition there, they hire ex-military tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), a group of soldiers under command of Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) and photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) to make sure they succeed in finding and documenting whatever lives on that island. But once they get to the island, things don’t go according to plan.

Over and over again I try to like kaiju movies and over and over again, I fail. In this case, though, it’s mostly because Kong: Skull Island really sucks.

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T2 Trainspotting (2017)

T2 Trainspotting
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: John Hodge
Based on: Irvine Welsh’s Porno
Sequel to: Trainspotting
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald, Peter Mullan, Shirley Henderson, James Cosmo, Irvine Welsh
Seen on: 13.3.2017

Plot:
Twenty years after the events of Trainspotting, the now clean Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland for the first time. He wants to see his family and to catch up with Spud (Ewen Bremner) and Simon (Jonny Lee Miller), though he’d rather not see Begbie (Robert Carlyle). He suspects that Begbie is still very angry with him from when he left. Simon is angry, too, but once they get over the inital anger, they are back to making plans of how to make their lives more than it is. But the past can’t be left behind that easily.

T2 Trainspotting captured most of the mood of Trainspotting perfectly, although it does lack some of the inescapable energy of the first one. That being said, I’m very content with this sequel so many years later.

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Logan (2017)

Logan
Director: James Mangold
Writer: Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
Based on: Mark Millar and Steve McNiven‘s comic series Old Man Logan, which is in turn based on the character Wolverine created by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, John Romita Sr. and the Marvel Comics X-Men series
Sequel to: the X-Men movies
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Quincy Fouse
Seen on: 8.3.2017

Plot:
Mutants have been practically eradicated. There are only a few left – those who manage to hide very well. One of them is Logan (Hugh Jackman), whose age is starting to show in the decreased tempo of his healing. He takes care of Xavier (Patrick Stewart), whose age is in turn showing in the dementia he developed. They are constantly at risk of being discovered. When Logan is asked to drive the young Laura (Dafne Keen) to Canada, he smells trouble and tries to refuse. But Laura won’t let herself be refused. She is like Logan in many ways and definitely a mutant. And she is pursued by an organization that means her harm. Laura forces Logan to face the world and his place in it.

Logan is probably the most emotionally mature superhero film, at least of recent years. Nevertheless, I’m not quite as taken with it as many other people were.

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John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

John Wick: Chapter 2
Director: Chad Stahelski
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Sequel to: John Wick
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, Claudia Gerini, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, Tobias Segal, John Leguizamo, Bridget Moynahan, Thomas Sadoski, Erik Frandsen, David Patrick Kelly, Perry Yung, Peter Serafinowicz, Peter Stormare
Seen on: 22.2.2017

Plot:
After John Wick (Keanu Reeves) finished his quest of vengeance and made sure that there will be no continuation of a blood feud, all he wants is to get back to his life of peace and quiet. But his reappearance in the world of assassins hasn’t gone unnoticed and there is still a debt John owes to Santino (Riccardo Scarmarcio) – and Santino has come to collect. John wants to refuse, but if he does, he goes against one of the central principles of this world – and his life will be up for grabs.

John Wick: Chapter 2 may not have blown me away quite as much as the first film (which may be due mostly to my higher expectations now), but it is definitely a more than worthy sequel.

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Mein Blind Date mit dem Leben (2017)

Mein Blind Date mit dem Leben [literally: My Blind Date with Life]
Director: Marc Rothemund
Writer: Oliver Ziegenbalg, Ruth Toma
Based on: Saliya Kahawatte‘s autobiography
Cast: Kostja UllmannJacob Matschenz, Anna Maria MüheJohann von Bülow, Nilam Farooq, Ludger Pistor, Kida Khodr Ramadan, Herbert Forthuber, Michael A. Grimm
Seen on: 16.2.2017

Plot:
Sali (Kostja Ullmann) has dreamed of working in a hotel since the childhood holidays he spent in Sri Lanka, where his father is from. But shortly before he is done with school, his eyesight suddenly becomes very bad. After surgery, all he is left with is about 5% of his sight. But Sali is determined to succeed anyway. He finishes school despite everything and when he gets the chance to work at a noble hotel in Munich, he decides to just not tell them that he can’t see all that well anymore. But that doesn’t necessarily make things any easier.

Mein Blind Date mit dem Leben is a sweet film, though not one that warrants rave reviews. Despite its being inspiration porn, I enjoyed watching it, but it didn’t touch me very deeply.

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The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

The LEGO Batman Movie
Director: Chris McKay
Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington
Based on: Bob Kane‘s and Bill Finger‘s comics character
Cast: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakis, Jenny Slate, Jason Mantzoukas, Conan O’Brien, Doug Benson, Billy Dee Williams, Zoë Kravitz, Kate Micucci, Riki Lindhome, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Jemaine Clement, Ellie Kemper, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Adam Devine, Hector Elizondo, Mariah Carey
(I saw the dubbed German version, though.)
Seen on: 9.2.2017

Plot:
Bruce Wayne aka Batman (Will Arnett) leads a rather lonely existence. Between beating up criminals like the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) and eating lobster thermidor prepared by his trusted butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), he spends most of his time alone and in pain at the memory of the family he lost. But things change rapidly when Bruce not only accidentally adopts an orphan (Michael Cera), but the Joker and pretty much the entire league of supervillains surrender themselves to Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) who just proposed a new approach to crime for the police. But there must be something behind that surrender and Bruce has to find out.

The Lego Batman Movie is a celebration and parody of all things Batman and more. It’s as funny as it is nonsensical, and yet it manages to say more about the character Batman than more serious adaptations have managed. But at its heart, there is not much behind the jokes.

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Die Hölle [Cold Hell] (2017)

Die Hölle
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Writer: Martin Ambrosch
Cast: Violetta Schurawlow, Tobias Moretti, Robert Palfrader, Sammy Sheik, Friedrich von Thun, Murathan Muslu, Nursel Köse, Verena Altenberger
Seen on: 6.2.2017

Plot:
Özge (Violetta Schurawlow) is a taxi driver with anger management issues. One night she returns home just in time to see a murder  in the appartment building across the street. Unfortunately the killer sees her, too and subsequently turns her life upside down completely. Özge finds an ally, though, in grumpy police officer Christian (Tobias Moretti) who offers her a place to stay almost inspite of himself. But Özge is a fighter and she won’t be playing victim for anybody, not even a killer.

Die Hölle really didn’t work for me, despite a couple of things that I did like. It was one of those films that left me uneasy as I left the cinema and that I disliked more and more with every minute I thought about it.

[SPOILERS]

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xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

xXx: Return of Xander Cage
Director: D.J. Caruso
Writer: F. Scott Frazier
Sequel to: xXx, xXx: State of the Union
Cast: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Ruby Rose, Tony Jaa, Nina Dobrev, Rory McCann, Toni Collette, Samuel L. Jackson, Ice Cube
Seen on: 24.1.2017

Plot:
When a new weapon called Pandora’s Box is used to crash a satellite with enough precision to kill Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) and stolen from CIA headquarters by Xiang (Donnie Yen) and his people, high-ranking CIA operative Jane Marke (Toni Collette) knows she needs extra help. She finds Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) who has been living a quiet life of retirement. After hearing about Gibbons, Cage aggrees to track down Xiang and Pandora’s Box.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage absolutely delivers what it promises: it’s one of the most satisfying, fun action movies in a very long time.

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