Friday, July 14, 2017

Speed Reviews: Life, A Dog's Purpose, CHIPS & The Belko Experiment

     Well, this seemed to work well with my Stash Or Trash: Spider-Man Films (2002-2014) video so let’s give it a go here.  I’ve been getting caught up on a bunch of movies that I needed to watch and due to time restraints, I won’t have a chance to give each one an individual review so we’re gonna lump ‘em together for some speed reviews.  Each movie will have about a paragraph or two devoted to it so this post isn’t a mile long.  Let’s get started!

      Life stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ariyon Bakare and is about the crew of a space station studying a new life form that they have discovered only to have it turn hostile towards them.  The best way I can describe this movie is imagine if you put Alien, Evolution (sans the humor, for the most part) and Gravity in a blender.  There’s a great sense of claustrophobia to this movie as if you’re trapped in the narrow corridors of this station with the crew and it’s good that the movie actually spends time showing them off and getting you invested in them before it starts to throw them into danger.  When you watch the creature grow larger and smarter, your sense of hope gradually diminishes until you get to a point where you tell yourself, “They’re so screwed.”  My only complaints are that some of the dialogue gets really cheesy about an hour in and I called the ending a little earlier than I would’ve liked to admit.  I wouldn’t consider this movie a horror film like I do with Alien but Life is a really intense thriller with a nail-biting score, pretty believable creature effects and investing performances all around, even if Ryan Reynolds’ character is just a caricature of himself and I’m giving Life an Excellent.

"EXCELLENT!" *guitar peel*  

     A Dog’s Purpose is based on the W. Bruce Cameron book of the same name and tells the story of a dog (voiced by Josh Gad) as he experiences life as 5 different dogs and tries to understand why he is here in this world.  Now a premise like that sounds either cheesy or like a tear-jerker and having watched it, there was only one part that made my eyes water (mostly because it brought back painful memories) but it does feel kinda sappy all around.  The cast is…fine, really but some of Josh Gad’s line reading does sound a little phoned in, to be honest.  The biggest gripe I have with this movie is that the first 30 minutes of this movie drags and it doesn’t feel like anything is really happening.  After that, the movie rushes through Gad’s lives as these other dogs that comes to a satisfying enough conclusion.  It was neat to see from a dog’s perspective how they can/do perceive human behavior and habits but it didn’t pull me in enough.  This movie was filmed entirely in the province of Manitoba (where I live) and I must say that it is a strange feeling when you see a street in your old hometown CG’d to look like the 80s and you say, “Hey, I just drove down that literally the other day!”  A Dog’s Purpose is a totally serviceable movie, it probably won’t change your life one way or another and I’m giving it an Indifferent.

"Yeah, that happened..."

     Alright, full disclaimer: I never watched the original show that CHIPS is based off of because that was before my time and I don’t think it was a big enough deal with my parents that they would’ve wanted to show my brothers and I the reruns on TV so I’m approaching this one just as a movie.  Dax Shepard wrote, directed and starred in the movie as a failed X-Games athlete joining the California Highway Patrol to try and save his marriage and he is paired with Michael Pena who plays a sex addicted FBI agent going undercover to find a ring of crooked cops on the force.  The best things that I can say about this movie is that the catalogue of licensed songs that the movie uses is actually pretty good and on Pena’s first day on the force, the captain accidentally calls him “Officer Pantera,” which made me think of Phil, Dime, Rex and Vinnie as highway patrolmen and that would’ve made a much better film because CHIPS is awful.  The film doesn’t even try to have an element of mystery to it, choosing instead to reveal the villain very early on in the movie (Vincent D’Onofrio, what a surprise) so it can unload a plethora of unamusing dick jokes at the audience.  Seriously, this movie is 100 minutes long and I didn’t laugh once and if your movie is supposed to actually make people laugh, you’re doing something wrong.  There is no chemistry between the two leads, the humor goes raunchy for an attempt at a cheap laugh, it thinks loud equals funny, said unamusing jokes go on for way too long, when these two talked I found myself muttering, “Oh, shut the fuck up.”  I was annoyed 25 minutes in, pissed off by the hour mark and I’m giving CHIPS a Throwaway.

"Get the fuck outta here..."

     As much as CHIPS pissed me off, I do think The Belko Experiment is the worse film.  Even if done horribly, at least CHIPS had a story to tell whereas The Belko Experiment has more of a vapid gorno vibe to it which is disappointing because James Gunn wrote the script so you’d think I would’ve given something of a shit about the characters, right?  NOPE!  The story is these office workers are locked in their building and the only way they can get out is to kill each other and it’s as flavorless as it sounds.  The profanity and violence serve as nothing more than noise and spectacle, it's too...simple to be social commentary, the protagonists aren’t remotely likeable and no one else in the cast can salvage this.  I was ready for the movie to be over 45 minutes into the 90 minute runtime and that is never a good sign.  I would say at least the movie is mercifully short but the pacing of it makes it feel more like a 2 hour film and while it’s dangerously close to a Shoot Her, I am giving The Belko Experiment a Throwaway.

"Get the fuck outta here..."
      Before anyone asks, no, these two movies are not worse than A Cure For Wellness.  Just wanna put that out there.  Hopefully the next movie I review will better *cough*Apes*cough*.

     -The Cynic