In the wake of recent successful
biographical films about entertainers, the inevitable production of one of the flamboyant
performers of the past century has finally arrived. The songs of Elton John are
amongst the most prodigious achievements in human history and the artist behind
those mystifying compositions has lived a life worthy of being regaled in cinema.
Needless to say, the fruitification of “Rocketman” seems long overdue. And as
the grandiose showmanship of Elton demands, this film is an extravagant
musical, with an indulgence in melodrama and large choreographed dances.
To be upfront, I am notedly
critical of the biopic genre, particularly those that center around musicians
and performers, primarily because a life’s story does not provide a narrative structure
with an actual plot. When the totality of a career is the crowning achievement of
a life that is being depicted, the guidelines are often too vague to create an
actual cohesive tale about said life. Biopics are the film counterparts to nonfiction
biographies you can find at your local publicly funded library, and if you have
not read one of those since doing a book report in Elementary School, you can
be forgiven. While the material could be fascinating, the medium consists of a recitation
of facts and events, as opposed to an actual story. In my opinion, biographies
translate better into a documentary-style film, rather than a forced narrative out
of a compilation of factually embellished, loosely connected significant moments.
Having said that, it is
to a film’s credit when it tries to be creative with the material it is given,
even as it is simultaneously handicapped by its ill-defined goals. “Rocketman”
attempts to remedy this obstacle by using Elton’s group therapy in rehab as a
framing device, where he recounts his life up until that point. It is not the
most original technique ever utilized, but it does signify an effort to create
an organized story. But ultimately, people do not go to see films like “Rocketman”
to identify if there is a narrative structure or not. Chances are that I am
amongst the few who suck the fun out of an experience by demanding certain
checkmarks that are irrelevant to most. The masses flock to the theaters to see
Elton perform his many hit songs and possibly learn a little something along
the way, and by that measure, “Rocketman” succeeds beyond a shadow of a doubt. This
is a film with exceptional performances and musical displays.
If you are a fan of Elton
John, and I believe that is a safe assumption if you are a viewer of the film,
you shan’t be disappointed with the renditions of most of his greatest hits in
the film. The cast is brilliant with their singing, treating the songs like the
true art they are, often incorporating elements of fantasy into the choreography
that accompanies the lyrics. And to the film’s merit, the songs are actively
used as plot devices to facilitate character development, a technique that can
often be difficult to effectively execute. The entirety of the productions of “Saturday
Night’s Alright (for Fighting)”, “Your Song”, and “Yellow Brick Road” are personal
favorites of mine, as they display the heights of heart and passion within
Lead actor Taron Egerton
deserves an immense amount of praise for his performance in this role. He fully
encapsulates every aspect of Elton, including his display of exceptional vocal
talents and energetic, rhythmic dance moves. On the more personal angles of
Elton’s life, Egerton totally espouses the pain and rage of the loneliness he endured,
whether it be due to him coming to grips with his sexuality or the void left by
the cold-heartedness of his mother and abandonment by his father, as well as
the hedonistic lifestyle Elton embraced as a coping mechanism throughout much
of his life. This role was exceptionally demanding and accompanied with
sky-high expectations, and Egerton was spectacular.
I believe it needs to be addressed that, whether it is fair or not, “Rocketman” likely cannot outrun the comparisons to last year’s 4-time Oscar-winning (I know, it is an absolute abomination) “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Both are biographical films about musical legends who once lived as closeted homosexuals, struggled with substances, and have over-the-top flamboyant personalities. It is a large shadow to attempt to walk out from under, and “Rocketman” does make a few attempts to differentiate itself, mostly by relying on Elton’s music to help facilitate the story with ethereal musical numbers in conjunction with elaborate large-scale dances, instead of simply documenting specific stage performances. However, the stories bear a remarkable similarity, that despite “Rocketman” being about a wholly different individual, there is an inescapable familiarity that comes across as mildly hackneyed. It is no fault of the filmmakers that two separate real-life figures had journeys akin to another, but seeing as though there are already plenty of artistic liberties taken with the facts, I find it disappointing that they seemed to chose to emphasize the same points of their treks of self-discovery and growth, particularly the aspects of both of them having a heartless, manipulative and abusive agent/manager who is also their lover and brings out the worst in their respective focal character.
Despite its flaws, “Rocketman” is wholly enjoyable and thoroughly entertaining. I have little doubt that this movie will be exceptionally popular amongst general audiences and Elton John fans alike.
I would give “Rocketman”
a fanciful 8.0 out of 10
Directed by: Dexter Fletcher Starring: Taron Egerton, Jaime Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gemma Jones, Steven Mackintosh, Tom Bennett, Matthew Illesley, Kit Connor Rated: R Runtime: 2 Hours and 1 Minute
“Brightburn” has been marketed as a blending of the gruesomeness of the horror genre and the classic, but legally distinct from, Superman origin story, captained by the Gunn’s, who have had incredible success with the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films for Marvel. I had high expectations regarding the film’s concept: What would it be like if Superman was a villain? But unfortunately, the film’s potentially deep and new premise is never explored on a philosophical level and all we are left with is a poorly paced movie with not enough gore to fully embrace its R rating.
Comic books have explored this concept before, but it has yet to truly be examined beyond the antagonistic ramblings of Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor in Zack Snyder’s DC films. And I guess that is why this film feels like an underwhelming letdown. Yes, if Superman were evil, he would be threatening and violent, but just choosing to show that aspect of the hypothetical ignores all of the potential morality questions that make this such a thought-provoking topic in the first place. Every superhero learns that with their power, they yield equal responsibility to use their power wisely. If Superman were to act against his usual moral code, it would be far more compelling if he understood the weight of his actions, or at the very least possess a corrupted view of his own morality, than the simple “Oh, now he is bad because… BECAUSE I SAID SO” that we were given. The idea is brimming with potential but “Brightburn” would rather just remind you that Brandon is a threat with slow walks that lead to an inevitable jump scare than to explain why he is acting the way he is.
Perhaps I am unreasonable to expect a film like this to possess anything more than the gore it promised, but even on that end, I felt disappointed. There are about two scenes where the blood and human innards showed holds up its end of the bargain, but for the remainder of the film, it feels really toned down. So, the film fails as a gore-fest and is nowhere near intuitive enough to be a mystery or a thriller. It almost seems like it is just a simple slasher by default while having the untapped makings of something greater.
Brandon Breyer (Jackson A. Dunn) is the Superman-child in the film and it is a low hanging fruit to criticize such a young actor for not being able to handle all the nuances of his role. He does portray a character that is believably not of this world, but the story relies too heavily on his performance and without his eyes glowing red, he does not sell the type of threatening persona he is trying to wear. The progression of his character is not helped by writing either. Brandon is introduced as an unassuming, friendly, and incredibly intelligent 12-year-old boy, and without any real explanation, he abruptly becomes self-obsessed and totally detached from everything he once cared about. As a viewer, you are just left confused as to how this phenomenon could happen without any warning, provocation, or reason.
The true main characters are Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle (David Denman), who are Brandon’s adoptive parents. Their role is simply to be a victim and slowly realize that their baby who fell from the sky, who has never bled, and who has super strength, might not be normal. They both love Brandon like their own son, but there were so many warning signs that he was going to be trouble that it almost seems criminally negligent that the idea Brandon could be dangerous only just crossed their mind 45 minutes into the film’s runtime.
It has been a while since I felt this let down by a film like this. The concept has such potential and it is regrettable that this film did not capitalize on it. I wish it could at least have been redeemed by excitement, but alas (Yeah, I said “Alas”. Fight me.), I was bored for a majority of the film. There are moments that are frightening, but I just hoped for more than we were given.
I would give “Brightburn” a dimly lit 4.4 out of 10
Directed by: David Yarovesky Starring: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Meredith Hanger, Matt Jones, Jennifer Holland, Gregory Alan Williams Rated: R Runtime: 1 Hour and 30 Minutes
If any of you are like
me, I would like to express my sincere condolences at this moment. But, if you do
share any common characteristics with this overly-opinionated amorphous blob
named Zach, perhaps you can relate to the awkward nerd who puts up metaphoric walls
in high school because they are afraid of others people? (In my defense, people
in high school and middle school are very intimidating.) It is because of those
traits that “Booksmart” connects on a personal level to my experiences, and
likely can connect to all of you as well.
“Booksmart” is a story about being brave, trying new things, keeping an open mind, but not forgetting who you are, all during the most insecure era of your life. Director Olivia Wilde takes a concept that has seen a lot of play in teen comedies before and gives a very modern and intelligent take on the preexisting formula. We follow Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein), two incredibly quirky best friends with a reputation in their school as annoying try-hards, who have spent their entire high school careers studying, at the expense of their social lives, so they could go to elite colleges. When it is revealed to Molly that she attends the single most unrealistically successful high school ever, and all of the “fun” and “popular” kids got into schools of extreme prestige as well, it sets her off on an existential crisis where she insists that she and Amy go to a high school party, and prove that they are fun before they graduate.
Where this film succeeds the most is with its incredibly charismatic and varied gallery of characters and personalities. Aside from the two leads, the other students and teachers that Amy and Molly interact with are all excellent. For example, Gigi (Billie Lourd) is rich druggy who inexplicably can bend the laws of physics to appear at every single party in town seemingly all at once. Having a drug-addicted comic relief character is not new (In fact, I recently got on Seth Rogan’s case for him overplaying this card), however, her timing is fantastic and she seemingly becomes a self-aware cartoon that plays well within the story. There are other characters, like Alan (Austin Crute) and George (Noah Garvin), who are absurdly over-the-top theater students that love to indulge in the melodramatic at every possible situation, and like Theo (Eduardo Franco), who is an aloof hippie who failed the 7th grade twice, somehow scored a job at Google right out of high school, and managed to seduce with his teacher (Jessica Williams) before graduating. It is the totality of the ensemble, which is given ample time to be explored and fleshed out, that really solidifies the quality of the film.
Amy and Molly shoulder
the load of this film. To say their relationship is adorable would be a cruel understatement.
They have a complementary dynamic, where Amy possesses a dry, sarcastic wit and
Molly is loud, charismatic, and controlling. They have phenomenal banter which exhibits
exceptional chemistry between the actresses that I can only hope signifies a
friendship in real life as well. They are genuinely funny together, while
simultaneously balancing problems of typical relationships and the changing
constructs within them.
The lessons of growing up are some that hit close to the chest, especially if you are not far removed from the terrors of high school. As Amy and Molly interact with these people they essentially ignored or looked down on for the past four years, they learn a truth that I wish I had grasped when I was their age: Not everyone is an asshole. People have depth and most of the time, they do want to be your friend, given the chance. Both of them also go on their own quests to get the attention of their respective crushes where they both exhibit an all-too-familiar optimistic naivety that everyone has once felt about their first love. Molly pursues her jock of a student body Vice President, Nick (Mason Gooding), and Amy awkwardly interrogates her crush, Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) to see if she is even interested in girls. They both learn to overcome their own expectations and keep an open mind, and it is this sequence that brilliantly explores that lesson.
Much of the humor stems from the awkward relatability of growing up and the characters pretending like they have any real idea what they are doing. However, there is a lot of referential humor, as well. Amy and Molly are very intelligent young women, and they often site history, current events, and art in their casual conversations. This is essentially anti-Big Bang Theory humor (Finally, someone brave enough to take a swipe at “The Big Bang Theory”). The joke is not the fact that they are referencing something nerdy, but the fact that what they are referencing makes sense despite its obscurity. Credit should be given to the writers here, because there is a precedent for this lazy technique to masquerade about as intelligent humor for nerds, and they avoided the pitfall.
Both Amy and Molly are
outspoken feminists. We know that essentially from the moment they are
introduced to us when we see Amy’s car with a collage of bumper stickers
calling on Elizabeth Warren to be president. It is a major aspect of both of
their characters, and while it is presented as a quasi-satirical trait,
exemplifying the abrasive extremes of steadfast, uncompromising views, I worry
that some viewers will only look at the surface level content and be turned
off. There is no question that the film is a progressive one, putting those
ideals on a pedestal, however, in my opinion, there is some nuance to the
execution if you are willing to examine the film beyond just the dialogue. But
even if it wasn’t executed as such, I think it is ok to have a film with two
female leads who unapologetically support feminism. Our cup overrunneth with
films, especially of this genre, that are all about horny teenage boys getting
laid by cheerleaders and mysterious girls next door. It is far from the end of
the world to explore the other end of the spectrum.
As I write this, “Booksmart”
is reportedly struggling at the box office, and that is a shame. It may seem
that audiences are more willing to shell out their hard-earned legal tender to
watch big-budget Disney remakes, and “Booksmart” is likely a casualty of that.
It is my hope that films that are their own stories, with unique stories and
messages continue to be produced, but as long as our wallets decide they would
rather see what is familiar, original ideals will become a much rarer occurrence
to see on the silver screen. This film is very good and I hope that it ends up
having commercial success to match its quality.
I would give “Booksmart”
an underappreciated 8.5 out of 10
Directed By: Olivia Wilde Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Victoria Ruesga, Mason Gooding, Billie Lourd, Molly Gordon, Diana Silvers, Skyler Gisondo, Eduardo Franco, Austin Crute, Noah Garvin Rated: R Runtime: 1 Hour and 42 Minutes
Seth Rogan is the luckiest
human being on the face of this god-forsaken planet. He gets to co-star
alongside Charlize Theron, one of the single most beautiful and talented human
beings to ever grace cinema, in a romantic comedy where SHE is somehow inexplicably
attracted TO HIM. I know that is obviously the entire premise of the movie but
life is unfairly fortuitous to him for this, and I, a man of equal social awkwardness
and curly hair, am a bit salty. My mom likes to say that Seth Rogan “looks like
he smells bad” and that I am “not a total disappointment all the time”, so I
have to ask, Charlize, what do you see in him?
As I said, the film inexplicably
centers around a MUTUAL attraction between Secretary of State and Presidential hopeful,
Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) and hairy, profane oaf, Fred Flarsky (Seth
Rogan). Fred is an investigative journalist who is absolute and steadfast in
his ideals, and after his newspaper is bought out by Andy Serkis’s Roger Ailes
stand-in, he goes on a viral tirade. Charlotte, who is now a major prominent political
figure in the world and who was Fred’s childhood babysitter and crush, hires
Fred to help write some speeches for her to help her appear funnier to
potential voters. And so, we join them on a charming journey watching them
steadily fall in love with each other while they balance her political aspirations
with his political ideals.
The film’s strength is
undoubtedly the relationship between the leads. Charlize and Seth seem to have
actually grown up together, exhibiting chemistry that I could not even replicate
with some of my closest friends, and because of that, you desperately yearn for
their happiness together. They are a sort of odd couple, star-crossed lovers,
but their interactions with each other, from the moment they are seen on screen
together, display a romantic connection that even I, as a very bitter man, definitely
Unfortunately for “Long
Shot”, 50% of the Romantic Comedy genre is Comedy. Most of the dialogue, in
order to secure a cheap and effective laugh, just forces in “F*ck” and “F*cker”
to try to take advantage of that R rating and appear edgy. As for Seth Rogan,
he has earned his reputation as a mainstay in the comedy genre. He has made
many successful films that are rightfully revered, but after seeing it so many
times, his roles start to resemble each other and his humor becomes shtick. This
is a problem, at least for me, when Charlotte makes Fred get her high on Molly
to help her relax. The movie, at that point, was never “wet your pants” funny,
but could always get a consistent chuckle. But then it just turned into a “DRUGS
MAN! AMIRITE?!?” punchline that is just so lazy. Maybe some people can’t get
enough of that type of humor, but it certainly is not for me. And most egregiously,
the final, big joke, is a slapstick routine about Fred rubbing one out and
making a mess on himself. Yeah, really clever…
There is a lot of
political messaging within the film that can be taken either way depending on
your affiliation, but there is one message that I truly appreciate and would
like to discuss. Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), Fred’s obligatory smartass,
supportive best friend, reveals that he is a proud member of the GOP and
creates a dialogue about how Fred’s uncompromising political views are never
meant to work with people who disagree with him, meaning he is just as
intolerant as those he claims to hate. It is a very interesting point, that we,
as a society, do not have the freedom to freely express ourselves because it
could fail to conform to the expectations of others. We need to be more accepting
of those who disagree with us and learn to communicate with them instead of
silencing them and pushing them away. We could all learn something from this,
whether it be about politics or just life in general.
Overall, the film may not
be either actor’s finest work, but it is certainly enjoyable. It is a very
predictable narrative but it has its charm. As a date night flick, it serves
its purpose and everyone will likely be going home feeling some type of way a
I give “Long Shot” a reasonable 7.0 out of 10
Directed by: Jonathan Levine Starring: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogan, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Andy Serkis, June Diane Raphael, Ravi Patel, Bob Odenkirk Rated: R Runtime: 2 Hours and 5 Minutes
“John Wick” is the single
most pro-dog media franchise since the conception of the WeRateDogs Twitter
account, and portrays a mild, toned-down version of what would happen to anyone
if you even laid a finger on my precious dog, Molly. In total seriousness, if
any of you hurt her, every moment you aren’t running, I will only be getting
closer. Chapter 3 of this morally righteous dog-avenging saga depicts our titular
character (Keanu Reeves) on the run and facing consequences for breaking the
rules in his previous films. “Parabellum” is a type of German automatic firearm
and is derived from the Latin phrase para
bellum which translates to “prepare for war” (per Dictionary.com).
Basically, this is a movie specifically aimed at small children. Nothing
traumatizing or difficult to explain to your therapist here.
To use a basketball
reference, I describe the franchise of “John Wick” as Tim Duncan with a bunch
of tattoos. For those of you who do not understand what that means, Tim Duncan
was known as “The Big Fundamental”. He is the greatest Power Forward in NBA
history because he was so mechanically sound. He never tried to do too much,
and in doing so, was seemingly always successful. And “John Wick” is the movie
equivalent of that, albeit with a bit more personality.
It follows a simple story and trusts the audience to be able to follow the narrative into another world without dumping a metric ton of exposition on you. Because the story does take place in a sort of alternative version of reality where there is a society of assassins in the world, you would be excused if you were to believe there would be a requirement to be versed in the lore of the franchise. But neigh. The writers did an exceptional job with the script because they reveal information that that is necessary, but they have faith that you can follow what is going on by relying on context. While Chapter 3 is obviously the third installment in the franchise, viewing the previous two is not totally necessary to understand the events that are transpiring.
What makes this film, and
the franchise as a whole, so exceptional is the action. Jonathan Eusebio is
credited as the stunt coordinator and choreographer on this project, and without
knowing his salary, I can assuredly state that he is criminally underpaid. The physical
combat portrayed in the movie can be compared to one elongated dance that could
appropriately be scored by Electronic Dance Music or classical opera, best
exemplified by Anjelica Huston’s character directing a Belarusian ballet during
an action set piece. There is a visual beauty of the physicality displayed that
calls to the elegance of a graceful waltz meeting the unhinged brutality of a
bare-knuckle boxing match.
There is noticeable
influence by eastern films, particularly martial-arts films and anime. I will
not pretend to be an expert in the subject, but with what little familiarity I
do have, I recognized it early and often. Similar to most anime protagonists, John
is not threatening because of his physicality, rather based on reputation and
willpower, and therefore the coordination of his actions is of the utmost
importance to depict his true power. John fights like the character, Spike,
from my personal favorite anime, “Cowboy Bebop”, who describes his own style as
“fluid like running water” and using his enemies’ force against themselves. John
takes down hordes of adversaries as well as physical Leviathan and real-life
Philadelphia 76er’s 7’3” Center, Boban Marjanovic, despite not seeming nearly
as formidable as those he was opposing. There are even similarities to that
show’s finale and much of the combat of the film, whether it be the use of Japanese
swords versus handgun or the one man realistically taking on an entire army.
Another aspect that this
film, as well as the rest of the franchise, thrives in is world-building. As I
previously mentioned, there is not an abundance of exposition so much of the
storytelling is done through visuals. New York is portrayed as a city in perpetual
rain with an omnipresent neon glow. There is a mix of prominent Eastern
European and Japanese culture at every corner, and we as the viewer, are given
the respect to understand this world without being patronized and stopping the
film every 10 minutes to explain why things are the way they are. This is an area
where the film could have strayed into problems, but thanks to the focus of the
director, stays on point consistently throughout.
Keanu Reeves is never
going to win an Oscar. I am sorry if I just shattered someone’s dreams but it
is just a fact that society needs to come to grips with. But that does not mean
he cannot act, and in fact, John Wick might be a role that no one else could
play as well as he does. The endearing, unassuming awkwardness behind his dialogue
only serves to exacerbate the threatening persona he wears. I would venture as
far as to say that he is more fitting for the role of John than he is of Neo
from “The Matrix”.
The film is perhaps too
simple to be a perfect 10 out of 10, but it achieves every single goal it sets
out to do. For a movie that is completely driven by its action and choreography,
it has a compelling narrative and invites audiences to enjoy the show. If you
are not a fan of action and blood, I can understand why you may pass on this film,
but to everyone else, I can promise you will enjoy this one.
I give “John Wick:
Chapter 3 – Parabellum” a graceful 8.9 out of 10
Directed by: Chad Stahelski Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishbourne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Jerome Flynn, Anjelica Huston, Boban Marjanovic Rated: R Runtime: 2 Hours and 11 Minutes
When I made the list for
Top 10 Film Actresses Right Now, I actually had the idea for a few weeks before
finally conjuring up the guts it takes to complete such an undertaking. But now
that I have finally reached my Super Saiyan form, I might as well strike while
the iron’s hot and do the follow-up list before I get distracted by some new
shiny object. I have the attention span of a squirrel with a low-grade
Whether it be fair or
unfair, there are more films in Hollywood that are led by male actors than
there are those led by females, and regardless of the social implications or
what you may think about that situation, for us right now, that means the pool
of actors from which to make my selections is rather vast. I tried to compose
this list of those who have a combination of a winning track record, recent
success, and overall star power. There is no real quantitative measure to go by
so my gut feelings are the best alternative.
I would like to quickly
thank Daniel Day-Lewis for retiring before I constructed this list, therefore
designating him as inactive, and giving me just a little bit more flexibility.
My Honorable Mentions are as follows: Benedict Cumberbatch, Javier Bardem,
Michael B Jordan, Mark Ruffalo, Oscar Isaac, Willem Dafoe, Denzel Washington,
Christoph Waltz, Timothée Chalamet, Gary Oldman, Ryan Gosling, Sam Rockwell,
and Ryan Reynolds. Yeah, I had to make some tough calls, clearly.
10. Idris Elba
There was a time when
Idris Elba was an underrated diamond in the rough. Everyone knew he was a
top-quality actor but it took a little bit for him to be considered A-list.
Perhaps he was the best-kept secret or maybe I just was not looking as closely
as I should have been. Either way, Idris Elba is a hot commodity now and it is
well deserved. While he has been a mainstay as the lead on the BBC Detective
Drama “Luther” for almost a decade, he has now left a remarkably sizeable
footprint on the film industry. He has scored a reoccurring role in the Marvel
Cinematic Universe as Heimdall, major voice acting gigs in major animated
features like “Zootopia”, “The Jungle Book”, and “Finding Dory”, as well as
major roles in blockbuster franchises “Pacific Rim”, “Star Trek”, and “The Fast
and The Furious”. There were even talks for years that he was perhaps the top
choice to take up the mantle of James Bond when Daniel Craig finally moved on.
In my humble opinion,
Idris’s best performance came in the Netflix produced 2015 African War drama,
“Beasts of No Nation”, as the incredibly threatening Commandant. The fact that
he was snubbed for an Oscar nomination that year is an egregious crime against
humanity, as he was my personal choice to win it all that year. This
performance is the greatest showcase of his remarkable acting talents. I am
well aware that not many people have seen this film, so I highly recommend you
log onto Netflix and watch it. It is not like you’re the one paying for the
9. Tom Hardy
There was a point in his
career, after filming the romantic comedy “This Means War” with Chris Pine and
Reese Witherspoon, that Tom Hardy publicly stated that he was done with the genre
and wanted to be taken more seriously as an actor. I would say that Tom has
achieved what he set out to do. He has developed the reputation as an actor
with a fierce dedication that produces very creative takes on ideas that could
have been much simpler and forgettable in the hands of a lesser actor. It now
seems that Tom Hardy is synonymous with both commercial and critical success.
Hardy has made a major
impact in the comic book genre, playing the conniving powerhouse Bane in “The
Dark Knight Rises” as well as an antihero version the title character in
“Venom”, both of which were well received by fans. He was the antagonist to
Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”, where he was screaming about pelts of fur
and managed to steal an Oscar nomination. He has made a turn as notorious
serial killer and wearer of fabulous mustache, Charles Bronson. Furthermore, he
has also grown into the unofficial position as director Christopher Nolan’s
go-to talent, which is certainly the most enviable of positions. Perhaps my
favorite aspect of his acting is his creativity. He always develops a unique
voice for seemingly all of his characters that is far more than just a gimmick.
It makes each performance special, gifted with a unique touch that only Hardy
8. Joaquin Phoenix
Early on in his career,
Joaquin was oft compared to his late older brother, River. After his
unfortunate, early passing, Joaquin was burdened with carrying the legacy and
enormous untapped potential of his brother. It was an unfair hill for him to
have to climb, but he has reached the summit. Joaquin has been amongst the
upper echelon of Hollywood talents since the turn of the century and is still
going strong today. He has excelled so much, in fact, that like the Hardy
before him, he is tasked with following up behind the legendary Heath Ledger’s
performance of the Joker, this time in his own solo Joker origin film. It is a
herculean task, and if you come at the king, you best not miss (Just ask Jared
success is based on more than just the fact that he will be the next Joker,
although that is telling of the faith the industry has in his ability. He has
been stellar in virtually all of the films he has been in, including
“Gladiator”, “Her”, and “Walk the Line”. He has also recently carved out a nice
partnership with one of my favorite directors, Paul Thomas Anderson, by
starring in thrillers “The Master” and “Inherent Vice”. Phoenix reliably
delivers depth with his characters, delivering performances that make you feel,
think, and engage with the material beyond just what the narrative provides for
on the surface.
7. Hugh Jackman
I remember a “Key &
Peele” comedy routine where they said women used to convince their boyfriends
to see “Les Misérables” by telling them it was a movie starring “ya boy
Wolverine”. At the time, it was pretty surprising to see Hugh Jackman star in a
musical, but how unassuming we were. What I, and I am guessing the rest of you
losers also, didn’t realize at the time was that Jackman was an accomplished
stage actor in Australia before coming to America and he was more than
comfortable flexing that skillset on the silver screen. And since then, Jackman
has blossomed into such an accomplished leading man in Hollywood, proving that
not only can he be the perfect Wolverine in the “X-Men” franchise, but he also
has the angelic pipes to carry multiple high profile musicals whose soundtracks
are constantly playing on repeat on my mom’s bathroom speakers (Which is
objectively the most important accomplishment).
The Australian actor is
now one of the surest bets in the industry for a fan of pretty much any genre.
Like I mentioned before, he thrives in musicals, provided one of the top 2
all-time runs as a superhero (Will we see the other on this list?), and has
worked with accomplished directors Christopher Nolan and James Mangold. He has
exhibited comedic range with his public frenemy, Ryan Reynolds, and I really do
hope they do a project together soon because they are adorable. Can I be your
friend, guys? Please…
6. Bradley Cooper
Does everyone remember
when Bradley Cooper played the douchey boyfriend to Rachel McAdams’s Claire in
“Wedding Crashers” and we all foolishly thought he would be pigeonholed into
roles like that forever? Well, Cooper has developed himself and his career into
one of the most versatile actors around, all while still playing those cocky
comedic roles in films like “The Hangover” or one of its totally unnecessary
sequels. Now he just has the freedom to
choose whatever he wants to do.
From 2012 to 2014, Cooper delivered an Oscar-nominated performance each year for “Silver Lining’s Playbook” (2012), “American Hustle” (2013), and “American Sniper” (2014). All of those roles task Cooper with different types of characters, from a realistic portrayal of mental illnesses like bipolar disorder to a sleazy FBI agent, to a veteran sniper coping with PTSD. He has also added his vocal works to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Rocket in “The Guardians of the Galaxy” Franchise. Just last year, he flexed on us by co-starring with Lady Gaga in a remake of “A Star is Born” where he once again proved how talented he was by exhibiting an ability to sing. And since I am piling it all up, you should see how gifted of an impressionist he is too. He does the best Christopher Walken I have ever heard. He is absurdly talented and I think a part of me resents him for it.
5. Josh Brolin
It seems like a sort of sacrilege that goddamn Thanos is only 5th on this list, but thus is the yield of my mighty brain. Do not question me! Josh Brolin is on one of the cleanest hot streaks of uninterrupted gold I have ever witnessed. The streak, which is so hot it is nearing incandescence, goes “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”, “Inherent Vice”, “Sicario”, “Hail Ceasar”, “Avengers: Infinity War”, “Deadpool 2”, “Sicario: Day of the Soldado”, and finally “Avengers: Endgame” … I mean seriously! Save some for everybody else.
If his aforementioned
streak didn’t tip you off, Brolin is an amazing actor and a bankable presence
in the movie industry. Outrageously, that streak doesn’t even include some of
his finest performances. Working closely with the Coen Brothers, he plays the
hero Llewelyn Moss in the truly spectacular “No Country for Old Men” and Tom
Cheney in “True Grit”, as well as prominent political figures George W. “Dubya”
Bush in Oliver Stone’s “W.” and Dan White in the acclaimed biopic “Milk”. If
you don’t get it by now, I really can’t help you. The man is an acting
force-to-be-reckoned-with. He also sometimes broadcasts on social media from
his toilet and I respect the Hell out of him for it.
4. Mahershala Ali
After getting his big
break on the Netflix political drama “House of Cards”, Mahershala Ali has
spring-boarded himself into the conversation of being one of the best actors
right now. He owns the unique distinction of being the only actor to accumulate
multiple Academy Awards in the past 3 years, and it now seems as though
everything he touches will prosper. And even though I refused to see “Alita:
Battle Angel” out of principle (I am a confusing, stubborn anomaly of a
person), I have read that it may have been the only successful live-action
adaptation of an anime ever. I imagine him starring in it may have had
something to do with it.
Ali’s best turn is
undoubtedly as Juan in Barry Jenkins’s Oscar-winning “Moonlight”. In the film,
he plays a paternal drug dealer with a heart of gold. He is a layered character
that is a positive, guiding force to young Chiron, a neglected Miami boy who
struggles with his identity, bullying, and whose mother is addicted to the junk
Juan sells. Juan struggles with the consequences of his actions and how it
affects the boy he is trying to help. This is Ali’s best character to date but
there is more assuredly to come. And even though I have roasted “Green Book”,
Ali did a great job in the film as well. It is no coincidence that Mahershala
has been a star in 2 of the last 3 Oscar Winners for Best Picture.
3. Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. is
synonymous with Tony Stark. He is Iron Man. In my most humble of opinions, RDJ
has produced the greatest run as a superhero in film history, and in doing so,
has created something beyond the character itself. When he took up the role of
Iron Man in 2008, Downey launched the single most successful movie franchise we
have ever seen, to which he has been dubbed the godfather for the essential
role he has played. Our culture itself has single-handedly been altered due to
the work of this man. I cannot understate how momentous his acting has been on
But he is not just a one trick pony! Downey is a master of dialects, even starring as legendary British detective Sherlock Holmes. Considering RDJ is American and there are literally thousands of actual British actors who could have fit the part too, that is telling. In “Natural Born Killers”, he shows off by doing a flawless Australian accent. And perhaps the strangest thing, he was nominated for an Oscar in 2008 for a role in the comedy, “Tropic Thunder”. No, the weird part is not that a Ben Stiller movie was nominated for an Oscar (although that boggles the mind to think about), but the fact that he was in blackface for the entire movie. I guess it is ok because he did it to parody method actors taking their jobs too far and so there was a point to it… Maybe? You know what, defending blackface is not the hill I want to die on. Either way, he is an extraordinarily talented actor who has already accomplished so much and now has more freedom to do more varied projects, and that can only be a good thing for movie-goers.
2. Leonardo DiCaprio
When I started putting
together this list, I was positive Leo would be in my top spot. It is not that
he isn’t deserving, it is just that the frequency of his projects has lessened
in recent years, and you cannot win the MVP if you do not play every game. But
Leo has earned the right to be overly selective about which roles he takes. He
has already solidified himself as one of the best to ever grace the silver
screen, and reasonably, he views his time and effort as a valuable commodity
that shouldn’t be wasted on just anything. Thankfully, he will be starring in
the upcoming Quentin Tarantino film “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” later this
year, which will be his first film in four years.
Leo finally won his first
Oscar in 2015 for “The Revenant” when director Alejandro Iñárritu essentially
just dumped him into the Arctic and filmed him surviving for his life. It is an
intense film that is just brutal (I mean that in a good way). But he has played
so many iconic characters throughout his career, including a disabled child,
Arnie Grape, back in 1993, for which he was nominated for his first Oscar as a
teenager. He has also played the lead in “Titanic”, “The Aviator”, “Blood
Diamond”, “The Departed”, Shutter Island”, “Gangs of New York”, “Inception”,
“The Great Gatsby”, and “The Wolf of Wall Street” among others. But who could
forget his despicable turn as the charismatic slave owner, Calvin Candie, in
“Django Unchained”, where Leo actually sliced his hand open during filming and
rubbed his actual blood on an unassuming Kerry Washington’s face? I live for
creepy stories like that. It is hard to pick a favorite role of his, but as
long as he is still making films, Leo has to be considered in the conversation
for best actor right now.
1. Christian Bale
Christian Bale is a
bonafide lunatic (That must be read in Stephen A. Smith’s voice). There is
method acting and then there is whatever Bale does. I am not an expert in
psychology but I assume the height of mental illness is when the brain sheds
itself of the instinct for self-preservation, and if Bale isn’t trying to kill
himself, he certainly doesn’t fear the prospect of death. Anyone who sheds all
that weight to play Trevor Reznik in “The Machinist”, just to bulk up to play
Batman a few months later, maybe is flying too close to the Sun. It’s crazy
enough to think he also played Dick “Oh, it’s just a small cardiac arrest this
time” Cheney just this past year in “Vice”. His organs must hate him or he
hates his organs. Either way, he is not a well man.
But his acting prowess is second to none. He is a master at using dialects, often confusing fans when he speaks in his rarely used native Welch inflection in interviews. At this point, he is widely regarded as the best live-action Batman incarnation we have ever seen. He has played a drug-addicted boxing coach, a mentally unstable competitive illusionist, an overweight con man, a socially awkward financial genius, an insomniac who is on the verge of death, a Wall Street executive with a fetish for murder, and the most controversial Vice President in modern history. Along the way, he has accumulated 4 Oscar nominations in this decade and a win. Whatever the role, you can be sure Bale is going to commit one hundred percent. The man is dedicated to his craft, at great cost to his own well-being, but he consistently puts out phenomenal performances and is undoubtedly deserving of the title of the Best Film Actor Right Now.
After about a month of intense, hardcore procrastination, I have finally worked up the strength and determination to create this list! Hazzahs are in order, I should say. I am actually rather excited about this list because there are a plethora of outstanding, versatile actresses gracing us with their talents in Hollywood nowadays, and this list gives me, someone of obvious acclaim and respect in the field, a chance to rate them as if they are simple jesters put on this Earth for my amusement. To be in my good graces is not a privilege one should take lightly, as my approval is currently more valuable than the Canadian dollar.
To be clear, these actresses have more talent, charisma, likability, and any other remotely positive traits than I could ever realistically hope to have. But the world is damn chaotic and I am mentally ill, so only quantitative rankings can help me make sense of the bedlam that enshrouds my insignificant existence.
I also plan on making this a sort of series, where I rank the best in the game right now. So, if you’re smart, assume “Top 10 Film Actors Right Now” is on the periphery lurking somewhere, menacingly, just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.
For this list, I tried to base my rankings off of star power, versatility, sheer ability, and recent track record. All of those are obviously objective qualities so I am sure everyone will agree with my rankings 100%. Before I begin, let me give honorable mentions to Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Kate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, and Melissa McCarthy. If those are the actresses that just missed the cut, just imagine the talent of the actresses that placed.
10. Emma Stone
We begin with Emma Stone. Stone began her career primarily in teen comedies, such as “Superbad”, “Zombieland”, and “Easy A” but has since evolved into one of the most accomplished and layered actresses of this generation. Possessing a natural charisma about her, she is able to seamlessly join any production and seemingly steal the show. She has the ability to keep eyes on her throughout her performances, due to her wit and beauty, not to mention the fact that she has iconic piercing eyes that can only be matched by Amanda Seyfried and Gollum.
she has been in a few flops and misfires over the past decade or so, such as
the notoriously whitewashed “Aloha” and the subpar “The Amazing Spider-Man”
movies, one would be a fool to think she is on anything less than an absurd hot
streak in Hollywood. She has garnered 3 Academy Award Nominations since 2015,
including a win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for 2017’s
“La La Land”, where she was, in my humble opinion, the only character with
personality and the only one who could sing in the musical, outside of John
Legend. Stone has the range to play comedic roles, musical roles, and dramatic
roles, doing so with a great deal of success throughout her career. If there is
a project tied to her name, you would be safe in betting that at the very least,
she will deliver a quality performance.
9. Viola Davis
Viola Davis, who has conjured a legacy as an absolute powerhouse, is perhaps one of films most commanding presences ever. In just the past few years, she has starred in dramas, such as “Doubt”, “The Help” and “Fences”, comic book films like “Suicide Squad” (Which didn’t suck because of her. She was a perfect Amanda Waller), and thrillers like “Widows”. Along the way, she has accumulated 3 Oscar nominations and 1 win to go along with near-universal praise for her performances on the critically acclaimed TV show “How to Get Away with Murder”. For an actress that has owns a filmography around 80 total professional projects, it is truly astounding to think that she is only just now hitting her Hollywood stride.
Davis thrives in roles of authority or integrity, where she can really express herself with her natural gift for powerful inflections and leadership. When she has something to say, you have no choice but to listen. She can tug at your heartstrings as she breaks down in front of you or she could make you fear for your own well being as she flexes her power and bends you to her will. She simply has that sort of gravity and versatility about her. There are very few actresses ever who can fill the roles that Viola has with anywhere close to an equal impact.
8. Brie Larson
If the last two actresses I mentioned were in the midst of a hot streak, then Brie Larson has just ignited her own fuse. Larson is quickly becoming one of the biggest players in the movie industry, thanks in no small part to being the first female to lead her own film in the ever popular and profitable Marvel Cinematic Universe. Her turn as Captain Marvel, in the film of the same name, solidified her star power in the mainstream, because despite a concerted effort to foil her and pump in artificial negative reactions to her film, it still grossed well over $1 billion to go along with critical success. She took trolls head-on and still won. With the future of the MCU shrouded in mystery, one of the only reliable predictions is that Larson will play a major role in the franchise going forward.
Larson started as a child actor on TV and integrated into film with many comedic roles. Her ability to perform within a great deal of genres, ranging from science fiction to teen comedies to comic book films to indie dramas, is without equal. In 2015, she basically swept all of the major awards for her performance in “Room” where she plays a kidnap victim and mother who doesn’t leave her prison. It is an intimate and powerful performance truly worthy of all the praise it has earned her. One of the surest bets around is that Brie is not going away anytime soon.
7. Charlize Theron
Charlize is definitely a personal favorite of mine (And I hear she is single and looking for someone special… All I am saying is I am here if you’re interested, Charlize). The South African actress can literally do anything and I would be there to support her. As far as versatility goes, she is without question in the elite discussion. She has provided the voice of Mother in 2016’s animated fantasy adventure “Kubo and the Two Strings”, while also being the villain, Cipher, in “The Fate of the Furious”. And those are not even her most well-recognized roles! Let’s talk about “Atomic Blonde” and “Mad Max: Fury Road”, shall we? Furiosa is undoubtedly one of the most badass characters ever conceived and is really the star of the show over Tom Hardy’s Max. And as Lorraine in “Atomic Blonde”, she is a modern female James Bond-type. And now, she is diving into the world of romantic comedies by starring in “Long Shot” alongside the incredibly lucky Seth Rogan.
All of those performances are noteworthy, but as I have mentioned in my Top 10 Acting Performances of All-Time list, Charlize puts together a legendary performance in 2003’s “Monster” as serial killer/street prostitute, Aileen. Although that performance took place in the early part of the century, the fact that she is still going strong at the moment keeps it relevant. Theron is a juggernaut in the industry, and seemingly will always be.
6. Natalie Portman
It is no secret that I love Natalie Portman and everything that she stands for. She is currently my most frequently reviewed star and that is because she has been consistently putting out thoroughly enjoyable films since the very genesis of her career. I consider her a very cerebral actress, often thriving in roles that are aimed towards the thinking fan. She has shown an invaluable ability to carry entire films on her acting alone, while simultaneously being able to thrive in a complementary role. Simply adding Portman to your cast automatically makes it a film worth seeing.
The only time you could argue she is not at the very top of her game is when she is forced into a role that is given subpar writing for her to work with, such as her roles in “Thor: The Dark World” and the Star Wars Prequel trilogy. I think we could all agree she did the best with what she was given there. But her low points are few and far between. She won the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in 2011, along with seemingly every other award under the sun, for her dark and twisted turn as Nina in “Black Swan”, and has since continued to show why she is an absolute force to be reckoned with. She also has starred in personal favorites “V for Vendetta” and “Léon: The Professional” in the decades before, proving that not only does she have staying power, but she is already an actress with a living legacy.
5. Octavia Spencer
I am just going to start this one off by saying “HAVE YOU SEEN THE TRAILER FOR ‘MA’?” Octavia Spencer is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished actresses in the game today, but she really is mostly known for roles that are Oscar-bait dramas where she plays a supporting role as a woman of integrity with a sharp wit of some sort. She fills a niche with extraordinary reliability, but now, based on the trailer alone, we can see that Spencer has the range to take on roles no one would have ever dreamed to associate her with before. It is not that I doubted her ability to do different roles, I just never thought I would see it from her. But now I eagerly anticipate her turn as a horror antagonist when “Ma” releases at the end of May!
But even without considering her upcoming films, her recent filmography is full of absolute bangers! “The Shape of Water”, “Hidden Figures”, “Zootopia”, and “The Help” headline the extensive list of movies that have taken home Oscar gold in just the past decade that she has starred in, even winning the Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role award in 2011. There was a stretch for a few years that seemingly any film that had her in the cast was all but guaranteed to win big at award season, and I honestly do not see that trend coming to an end anytime soon.
4. Amy Adams
With one obvious exception, and trust me, we will be getting to that, Amy Adams is perhaps the best actress of this generation. She might be only number 4 on my list, but do not think that means she is only average (You’d have absurdly high standards if that were the case). Amy Adams, in her career, has been nominated for SIX GODDAMN OSCARS. I really shouldn’t have to say more but you people are so needy. It is a very unattractive quality.
She has flourished in supporting roles in ensemble casts, taken control in lead roles of science fiction and fantasy movies, and thrived as a pseudo-lead in the dark comedy biopic “Vice” as Former Second Lady, Lynne Cheney. Adams has worked exceptionally well with directors David O. Russell and Adam McKay and had the difficult task of sharing the screen with perennial powerhouses Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper in those films. Her performances in those films just prove her to be their equal, if not them her equal. She has a transformative quality about her that allows her to handle movies of a variety of tones and genres and produce consistent polished results. Amy Adams is the epitome of “A sure thing” in Hollywood.
3. Lupita Nyong’o
Nyong’o’s entire film career has been elite. Undoubtedly the most
underappreciated aspect of Lupita’s rise to superstardom is the fact that she
only began acting in films in 2011. Oh yeah, and she won an Academy Award in
her debut film, too. No big deal. And, as it currently stands, she has
delivered my personal choice for best performance by an actress in 2019 for “Us”.
There are no peaks-and-valleys when you quite literally only produce gold.
Besides her glorious turn in the horror genre this year and her Oscar-winning performance in “12 Years a Slave”, Lupita has starring roles in the new Star Wars trilogy and in the Black Panther series within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as a voiceover role in the highly successful “Jungle Book” remake for Disney. Her meteoric rise seemingly came out of nowhere and now she is tied to virtually all of the most successful projects that Hollywood is procuring. Considering she is still a relative newcomer to Hollywood; I can only imagine what she will accomplish when her filmography exceeds the just 24 total projects she has acted in as of now.
2. Margot Robbie
I will be honest with you guys, before I created this list and did some research into the actresses that I would be writing about, I really had no idea Margot Robbie was Australian. That might seem like nothing more than a fun-fact you would see on a Snapple cap, but to me, that just proves how effective on an actor she is. I have seen Margot in many motion pictures and never once had even the slightest inkling that she was not speaking in a native accent. In fact, she has been known to incorporate a plethora of different dialects in her performances, proving that she has mastered the incredibly challenging art of modulating her voice, thus being able to succeed in all sorts of roles. I challenge you to find an actress working today who can match her skill in this art.
She was nominated for an Oscar for her turn as a sympathetic and abused Tonya Harding, in “I, Tonya” while also having provided one of the few bright spots in “Suicide Squad” for her violent and unexpectedly layered Harley Quinn. She has shown the world that she can salvage something out of the direst of productions as well as carry a film to the heights of Hollywood success. And with her upcoming starring role in “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” compounded with her performance in “The Wolf of Wall Street”, she is now seemingly the go-to female lead for big-time directors Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese. We are merely at the dawn of Margot Robbie’s acting career.
1. Meryl Streep
“The Deer Hunter”; “Kramer vs. Kramer”; “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”; “Sophie’s Choice”; “Silkwood”; “Out of Africa”; “Ironweed”; “Evil Angels”; “Postcards from the Edge”; “The Bridges of Madison County”; “One True Thing”; “Music of the Heart”; “Adaptation.”; “The Devil Wears Prada”; “Doubt”; “Julie and Julia”; “ The Iron Lady”; “August: Osage County”; “Into the Woods”; “Florence Foster Jenkins”; “The Post”. For those of you that lost count, that is 21. 21 Oscar nominations in her career. There is actually so much I could say about her that none of it is necessary. She is the best, most versatile and committed actress of all time.
Some of you might be saying “She might be the best ever but is she still at the top of her game?”. You pure, innocent, naïve people. Let me tell you that she has been nominated for 6 Oscars in just this decade alone, which is not so surprisingly, more than anyone else. As long as she is still making movies, she is the undisputed Queen. The Iron Lady on the Iron Throne.
Movies based on videogames have a dubious track record. In fact, if you do not count movies that are of such poor quality, they are unintendedly comical geniuses, like “Super Mario Bros.” or “Mortal Kombat”, the genre is essentially a waste of everyone’s time and money. Needless to say, that despite recruiting the star power of Ryan Reynolds, who can seemingly do no wrong in the past decade or so, simply attempting a “Detective Pikachu” movie was spitting into the wind.
said all of that, I am delighted to say that we finally have a competent movie
in the genre. And perhaps more stunningly than anything is that it was Pokémon,
a franchise that thrives on turn-based strategy gameplay over storytelling, that
actually was the first to break through. What a time to be alive, I say.
The movie is about Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), a publicly known 21-year-old loser that works a stable job in insurance and doesn’t play with Pokémon. After getting a call from the Ryme City Police Department that his father has died in a car crash while working an investigation, Tim goes to his estranged father’s apartment to get closure, only to find a Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds), who Tim can actually communicate with, rummaging through Tim’s father’s belongings. For those of you who do not know, Pokémon can only communicate by either saying their own names or via primal growls, so having a Pikachu that speaks perfect English is essentially an abomination unto the Lord. Pikachu is suffering from a nasty case of plot convenience, I mean amnesia, and he convinces Tim that they need to team up to solve the mystery of what happened to his father and why Pikachu doesn’t remember anything.
For fans of the Pokémon franchise, you will absolutely love this film for nothing more than the fact that the world is overflowing with beautifully rendered, realistic versions of all of your favorite pocket monsters. There are so many references and callbacks to other media in the franchise in creative ways that you truly see how much care and respect the filmmakers had for the source material the film was based off. The most impactful reference being a recognition of “Pokémon The First Movie”, the animated origin film of Mewtwo, actually taking place in the same continuity as “Detective Pikachu”. If you are not a long-time fan of Pokémon, the film may be a little difficult to latch onto. However, considering the sheer magnitude of content and jargon that could be outlandish to the unacquainted, there is enough charm and simplicity that it could be understood without an encyclopedic knowledge of Pokémon. “Detective Pikachu” could have been the mess that “Hellboy” was, but instead creates a much more approachable world that I believe anyone with an imagination would be eager to return to.
far as storytelling goes, we are not exactly dealing with the next “Citizen
Kane” here. But it is a movie targeted towards children so I hope no one was
expecting the 2020 winner for the Academy Award for Best Picture. The mystery
is not as big of a point as it should be. No one really ever solves anything,
rather they just go from place to place, click a “Show Exposition” button, and
have a high-quality detailed hologram show them everything they are looking for.
The idea of the mystery is simply a plot device to get the main characters to go
one place to the next and show off more Pokémon, not that you will hear anyone
complain about that. The plot is serviceable, just not exceptional.
truly surprising aspect of the film was Justice Smith’s performance. I am not
very familiar with his previous filmography and I had the idea in my head from
the trailers that he would simply be playing the typical reluctant protagonist
who is swept up in an adventure that he has zero aptitude for, despite being
called needlessly special. But I was pleasantly caught off guard by his
character. He began by dragging his feet, but really came around to embrace the
role, all while portraying a considerable amount of emotional depth. One scene
in particular stands out: when he talks to Pikachu about how he never gave his
father a fair chance to reconnect and he is holding back his tears until he can
no longer do so. I was genuinely impressed with his performance and I look
forward to seeing more from Smith in the future.
Ryan Reynolds is as good as ever. The movie could be
completely devoid of plot and everyone in the audience would just be having an
absolute pisser laughing at him as an adorable electric mouse with a tiny hat
doing his usual Ryan Reynolds schtick. It is a working formula with a proven
track record that holds up, once again.
As for the rest of the human cast… Nothing to write
home about. You almost feel like the actors were told it was a Pokémon movie
and decided they needed to be cartoonish caricatures. It is a shame because Tim
seems like an actual person and the most realistic characters he appears next
to are computer generated superpowered monsters. I am sure younger viewers may
not be as critical of the rest of the characters I am, because hopefully they
are not as cynical and jaded as a 23-year-old with depression.
Where this film succeeds most is world building and comedy. Ryme City is a location brimming with culture and vivid creatures that just beg viewers to explore every corner. The chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith is fantastic, with enough subtle adult humor thrown in for everyone to enjoy. It is not a flawless movie but it is certainly an objective success, which treads on uncharted territory for the genre, and I would certainly be interested in a sequel.
would give “Detective Pikachu” a fair 7.9 out of 10
Directed by: Rob Letterman Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy Rated: PG Runtime: 1 Hour and 44 Minutes
I have been personally
asked many a time to explain those Matthew McConaughey Lincoln commercials, and
even though they’ve been parodied beyond belief for a few years now, apparently
you simpletons still don’t get what they are all about. And so, you come
crawling to me, desperately seeking what you can’t find on your own.
McConaughey is an artist. No, actually, screw that! McConaughey is ART! We should be counting ourselves amongst the blessed that a smooth southern bastard like him would even fancy an American automobile. Do you want to know the reason you don’t understand those commercials? It is because you are COWARDS! Afraid to acknowledge that there is a being above humanity, and he walks amongst us. We have been transcended and you can not reconcile your purpose on this blue rock.
Oh, you don’t know what he is talking about when he has a stare down with a bull in the middle of a prairie dirt road? Or what he is thinking when he hits a pool shot at his house party and drives away, leaving his invited guests unattended? Well you need to GROW UP. McConaughey is giving us gold and you go and sully it by not comprehending the prophetic edicts of the almighty!
close personal friend of mine (No, it’s not Tom Skerritt) recently tweeted out
that “We will never beat the 80s as a decade. I am convinced of it”. If
anything portrayed in “American Psycho” is close to accurate, then I would say
that tweet was a gross understatement. I am not a go-go commie-punching 80s
Reaganaut myself so I have been forced to rely on others to describe this
glorious era of Safety Dances and big hair to me, and “American Psycho” has
certainly helped add to that vivid image in my head.
film is a satirical hyper-violent slasher flick following the escapades of
Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), a Wall Street executive in the 1980s. Through
the lens of this character, we witness the hedonistic lifestyle of the cocaine-fueled
big financial players of the decade, specifically how Patrick’s obsessions with
fitting in and simultaneously besting those around him eventually drive him to
develop a blood lust that never gets satisfied.
the moment we first are introduced to this character, you can hear something in
his voice that shows he is talking down to everyone, and that is because
Patrick is very self-aware of how vain he and everyone he associates with is. He
is out to dinner with his ‘friends’, each one sporting one of those cliché blue
button downs with white colors and cuffs, along with more hair gel than the
last, and they are just ordering ridiculous expensive orders as if it is
nothing. Via a voiceover montage, we are given an in-depth look at Patrick’s
morning routine, which consists of numerous skin care products and exercises
along with a message that there is no real person underneath the entity that is
Patrick Bateman. Patrick reveals that his fiancé (Reese Witherspoon) is having
an affair with his friend (Justin Theroux) but he does not care because he is
having an affair with the fiancé (Samantha Mathis) of a different friend (Matt
Ross), in essence proving that not a single person he interacts with genuinely
cares about any relationship they form. In fact, most of them have a lot of
trouble discerning Patrick from any of his counterparts. Everyone dresses the
same, gets their hair cut the same, and are obsessed with dinner reservations.
what first sets Patrick over the edge and on his homicidal rampage is when one
of his coworkers, Paul Allen (Jared Leto), one-ups him by having a better
business card. This scene is important because while all of the coworkers are
comparing cards as if they are their members, we as the audience can see that there
is virtually zero difference between the designs on any of their cards. But it
is the subtle difference that lights Bateman’s fuse. From there, the story is
about Patrick’s addiction to murder and the different ways he goes about
getting his fix, all the while Detective Kimball (Willem Dafoe) tries to piece
together what happened to Paul Allen.
At its crux, this film is a piece of satire, commenting on the apathetic extravagance of 80s Wall Street as well as a man acting on all of his baser instincts all the time. Patrick does virtually whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He acts on every animalistic impulse he has and rarely if ever cares about the consequences. In fact, we never actually see him or anyone he works with doing any real work at any point in the movie. He is fueled by rage, greed and other selfish tendencies, yet hides it all behind a well-groomed façade. Patrick essentially lives a life that is out of the reach of any realistic dream for most people (hopefully). The most humorous aspects of the film come from the fact that there is virtually no difference between Patrick and any other male character in the film, except the fact that he seems aware of his place; the breakdown of his mental stability is the result of said awareness. It is unclear if his actions come from a desire to escape or a desire simply to feel because at no point does he ever tell us if he wishes things were different. Hell, by the end of the film, he cannot even confirm he really did what we all saw him do. The only thing we are truly sure of is that nothing will change as a result of what he went through.
Unfortunately, while this is the strongest aspect of the film, it also could be considered the biggest failure as well. Similar to the film “The Wolf of Wall Street” that came out in 2013, the movie depicts the lifestyle of the main character in a “cool” way. Obviously, Patrick’s mental breakdown is not the aspect I am referring to, rather the elitist, hedonistic behavior. Perhaps it is because society has become jaded, but we look at a character flexing his muscles and staring at himself in the mirror during a three-way and don’t see a psychotic self-obsessed murderer. Instead, we see a character that is cool, and like Jordan Belfort from “The Wolf of Wall Street”, people fetishize the cool factor, thus negating the satirical commentary about the lifestyle you set out to produce in the first place. Patrick Bateman, like Jordan Belfort, is a character that generations of rich frat boys can yearn to be because of how much he revels in the materialistic world they too seek to join. If viewers leave the movie being more turned on to the aspects of society you were trying to criticize, did your film succeed? Fortunately, that last aspect is subjective to the eye of the beholder. Some of us may look at Patrick’s behavior in disgust and hope to never become what he is.
those viewers who chose to watch this film for the gore, you shan’t be disappointed.
There is plenty of blood and severed heads to go around. Most of the violence
is also accompanied by charismatic, sarcastic rants about mainstream 80s music,
which is always fun to see from real-life crazy person, Christian Bale. (You
also get to see the man who plays the best incarnation of Batman kill the man
who plays the worst incarnation of the Joker, which was unintended but still
is tremendous in the film. The events that transpire are solely about him and
he dominates every scene that he is. You can see how unhinged and obsessed he
is in every frame, which all culminates to a truly noteworthy monologue where
he confesses to his abominable acts to his lawyer’s answering machine. One of
the more subtle touches of his performance is how often he openly confesses his
crimes to indifferent listeners and the growing frustration that is burgeoning out
of him. Patrick almost craves consequences more than anything, yet that seems
to be the one thing that eludes him.
message of the film is clear and, unsurprisingly, still has merit today. I can
recall a prominent figure of our time, who was mentioned on multiple occasions in
the film by name, claim they could “shoot someone on 5th Avenue” and
still be beloved. It is actually incredible that a story that was supposed to
express a gross exaggeration might represent a literal truth as well. The idea
behind satire is to use fallacies to create an extreme example in order to make
audiences ponder the implications, and while it is unreasonable to assume one
piece of fiction can change society’s way of thinking, perhaps it is time that
we revisit this film again.
I give “American Psycho” a
respectable 8.0 out of 10
Directed by: Mary Harron Starring: Christian Bale, Reese Witherspoon, Willem Dafoe, Cara Seymour, Jared Leto, Justin Theroux, Matt Ross, Chloë Sevigny, Josh Lucas, Bill Sage Rated: R Runtime: 1 Hour and 41 Minutes