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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Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Star Trek Beyond
Director: Justin Lin
Writer: Simon PeggDoug JungRoberto OrciPatrick McKayJohn D. Payne
Based on: Gene Roddenberry‘s TV show
Sequel to: Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon PeggJohn Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris ElbaSofia BoutellaJoe TaslimLydia WilsonDanny PudiGreg GrunbergShea Whigham
Seen on: 26.7.2016

Plot:
The Enterprise is about halfway through their five year mission of exploring uncharted space. But five years is a long time and Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) starts wondering about other career options. Before things get very far, though, they all land at Starbase Yorketown. The base has recently rescued Kalara (Lydia Wilson), a scientist whose ship was attacked. The Enterprise is sent off to rescue the rest of Kalara’s crew, but things don’t go as planned: instead the Enterprise is destroyed and the crew is stranded on the planet Altamid.

Star Trek Beyond was an entertaining film again and – to a non-Trekkie like me – it felt like the trekkiest of the new films so far. There are still a whole lot of plot holes and not everything worked flawlessly for me, but I had fun watching it.

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Knight of Cups (2015)

Knight of Cups
Director: Terrence Malick
Writer: Terrence Malick
Cast: Christian Bale, Wes Bentley, Cate Blanchett, Imogen Poots, Natalie Portman, Jason Clarke, Teresa Palmer, Joe Manganiello, Isabel Lucas, Nick Offerman, Joel Kinnaman, Nicky WhelanAntonio BanderasFreida PintoKatia WinterMichael WincottThomas LennonClifton Collins Jr.Shea WhighamNick KrollRyan O’NealKevin CorriganBrian DennehyJoe Lo Truglio, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Ben Kingsley
Seen on: 15.9.2015

Plot:
Rick (Christian Bale) is a screenwriter living in LA. He moves from party to party, woman to woman. He seems to be looking for something, but who knows for what?
[Actually the first note I wrote down for this film is: “I don’t think I could write a plot description for this film”, so you’ll have to live with that little bit.]

I don’t like Terrence Malick movies. I decided to watch this one anyway because Cate Blanchett! Christian Bale! Natalie Portman! And so many other actors I love. But it turns out that Knight of Cups is everything I hate about Malick movies turned up to 11, while nothing I used to still like about them works for me anymore.

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Non-Stop (2014)

Non-Stop
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: John W. Richardson, Christopher Roach, Ryan Engle
Cast: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, Corey Stoll, Lupita Nyong’o, Shea Whigham

Plot:
Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is an air marshal with a host of problems, not the least of which is that he drinks too much. But all of those things take a back seat, when Bill starts receiving text messages mid-air threatening the plane and to kill its passengers if they don’t receive a whole lot of money. And despite Bill’s vigilance and the fact that the plane is flying, people start dying.

Non-Stop suffers from many things but mostly from a plot that doesn’t make a lick of sense and some serious lengths in the second half. At least there is the wonderful female cast.

non-stop

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American Hustle (2013)

American Hustle
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell, Eric Warren Singer
Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C.K., Jack Huston, Michael Peña, Shea WhighamAlessandro Nivola, Saïd Taghmaoui

Plot:
Irving (Christian Bale) is a con man who finds a new partner in all things in Sydney (Amy Adams), despite being married to Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence). But then police man Richie (Bradley Cooper) catches them in the act and decides to use them to convict the mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) of corruption. But things keep on spiraling out of control.

I can imagine that American Hustle would have been a good film if somebody other than David O. Russell had made it. Or if Russell had found a consistent tone in which to tell his story. But as is the movie was just a mess.

american-hustle

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The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

The Wolf of Wall Street
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Terence Winter
Based on: Jordan Belfort‘s book
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Shea Whigham

Plot:
Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) dreams of making a whole lot of money on Wall Street. At first this seems rather impossible, especially since the stock markets crash right when Jordan gets his broker’s license. But then Jordan finds a way to make it big, even if it’s not entirely legal. He enjoys the money way too much to care about that. Even when the FBI gets involved, he can’t stop.

The Wolf of Wall Street was one of the most uncomfortable movie experiences I had in recent times. It was not only the content, but also the length and the audience that had me cringing.

wolfofwallstreet

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Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Fast & Furious 6
Director: Justin Lin
Writer: Chris Morgan
Sequel to: The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul WalkerDwayne Johnson, Jordana BrewsterMichelle RodriguezGina Carano, Tyrese GibsonLudacris, Matt Schulze, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang, Joaquim de AlmeidaElsa Pataky, Luke Evans, Shea Whigham, John Ortiz, [SPOILER] Jason Statham [/SPOILER]

Plot:
After the events of Fast Five, Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian’s (Paul Walker) group have scattered around the globe. Dom and Elena (Elsa Pataky), Brian and Mia (Jordana Brewster) have settled down in paradise but it doesn’t feel like home to them. So when Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) tracks them down and offers them pardons in exchange for hunting down Shaw (Luke Evans), plus shows them pictures of a clearly still alive Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) working with Shaw, they jump at the chance and reassemble their team.

Fast & Furious 6 is fun. I do think it might have the dumbest script of them all, but maybe just because of that it’s extremely entertaining.

fast-furious-6

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Fast & Furious (2009)

Fast & Furious
Director: Justin Lin
Writer: Chris Morgan
Sequel to: The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso, Gal Gadot, Shea Whigham, Sung Kang

Plot:
Dom (Vin Diesel) has been on the run outside of the US for a while when he gets the message from his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) that his girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) has been shot and killed. So he returns to the US to track down the killer. Which brings him directly into the investigation of by now FBI-agent Brian (Paul Walker) as they both try to infiltrate the organisation of drug dealer Braga.

After the utter drag that was Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious was fun again. It wasn’t great and it wasn’t perfect, but it was fun.

fast_and_furious

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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell
Based on: Matthew Quick‘s novel
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, John Ortiz, Julia Stiles, Shea Whigham

Plot:
Pat (Bradley Cooper) was just released from a psychiatric hospital where he got committed after a violent episode and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. His mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) takes him home, where his fahter Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) carefully tries to reconnect with him. Pat is obsessed with winning his ex-wife Nikki back. So when he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), the sister of his best friend’s (John Ortiz) wife (Julia Stiles) who is still in touch with Nikki, all Pat sees in Tiffany is another chance to contact Nikki. But Tiffany who is just getting over her husband’s death brings her own set of problems. Among them a dance competition she doesn’t have a partner for. So she and Pat come up with a deal: Pat dances with her and Tiffany will deliver a message to Nikki.

On the surface, Silver Linings Playbook is pretty much your standard RomCom. But underneath that, it’s one of the most realistic and smartest films about mental illness Hollywood ever produced. I loved it.

silver-linings-playbook

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Savages (2012)

Savages
Director: Oliver Stone
Writer: Shane Salerno, Don Winslow, Oliver Stone
Based on: Don Winslow’s novel
Cast: Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta, Emile Hirsch, Shea Whigham

Plot:
Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Johnson) are best friends and successful drug dealers. They live with O (Blake Lively), the girlfriend of them both. They just received an off for a take-over/partnership from Elena (Salma Hayek), a drug baron from Mexico who is struggling a bit in her position of power. When Chon and Ben don’t plan on taking her up on the offer, Elena has her henchman Lado (Benicio Del Toro) kidnap O. And Ben and Chon will do anything to get her back.

Savages is one of the dumbest movies I have ever seen. And I really do mean ever, fully aware that I have seen Troll 2. It squanders a cast that is not that bad on a script written by people who should be forbidden from so much as looking at a pen or keyboard ever again in the future.

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