Garrett and Carson hope this tale of a boy and his space gun isn’t a misfire.
Month: September 2018
Peppermint is another take on the familiar theme of vengeance. There are movies that tell a similar story better than Peppermint does, but there are so many that do it much worse. You could make an entire genre of only revenge movies. Peppermint is somewhere in the middle of all of those. Jennifer Garner is very believable in her “bad-ass” role. This is a much darker version of her Sydney Bristow character in the TV show Alias. It is a good role for her, and she should do more movies like this. Although next time she should find a better director.
The major issues in Peppermint all stem from director Pierre Morel. You could blame a subpar script, but I believe the choices Morel makes in the storytelling is the real problem with this movie. There are weak performances throughout (including a really bad scene from Garner) that seem like they were done in one take and Morel just said, “That’s good enough, let’s just get to the gunfights.” The choppy editing and Morel’s refusal to adhere to movie logic take a movie with real potential to the abyss of middle of the pack.
Peppermint is an action movie for people that will you tell you Taken is just as good as John Wick. Or that they really don’t see the difference between Atomic Blonde and Lucy. It’s not that they’re wrong, but it represents a dilution of these movies to their least common denominator: a hero going bang-bang and bad guys going bye-bye.
It ignores — perhaps willfully — the immense efforts in choreography and camerawork that go into making truly great action scenes. It confuses efficient plot with shallow, shoddy storytelling. It mistakes a complex, yet singularly driven hero with a cardboard character that has no depth or growth.
Peppermint is guilty of everything listed above which makes it a pretty miserable movie overall. Worse, it’s action is of the vanilla, color-by-number shoot ’em up variety which brings nothing new to the action+revenge genre that we haven’t already seen since the late 90’s/early 2000’s. It is the latest in a number of attempts to strike gold with the Taken formula that combines an against type actor with minimal plot and tries to hide its flaws with enough generic action to distract you. And, like the Taken sequels and its knock-offs, it will end up in the same spot: the $5 DVD bin at Wal-Mart.
I thought this was going to be yet another young adult sci-fi entry, and well, I was kinda right… I guess? Most franchises like to start big and develop a fanbase. Then go back via unnecessary prequels and explore all of the nooks and crannies of the story in order to milk the franchise for all its worth. Kin feels like the filmmakers have a 6 movie arc laid out and a whole world built in their head, but they chose to lead with the boring prequel. Chronologically, this may make the most sense, but one doesn’t have to look too far to find examples of a franchise that may have died an early death if it led with its prequels…
The draw of Kin wasn’t a family drama. It was the intrigue of how the sci-fi elements would come into play with those family dynamics. Unfortunately, we just don’t get to see enough of the sci-fi. What is there seems cool and I would like to see more, but the rest of the movie was a color-by-number family relationship that plodded along in ways that weren’t unique. Having said that, I actually think this movie would be better if it dropped all of the sci-fi aspects and just focused on the family and how James Franco’s gangster squad terrorizes them. With a bit more investment into that storyline, the movie could have had a far greater impact.
Kin feels out of place in theaters and I can’t help but feel it would have been a perfect Netflix movie situated right next to the equally bad Bright. While I have no interest in a sequel, I wouldn’t mind hearing more of the Mogwai-produced score. It was easily the best part of the movie.
Even after good reviews started to trickle in for Searching, I had my doubts. It felt like I was going to be in store for another movie that sells me on a gimmick only to give me that gimmick and nothing else. Thankfully, Searching far exceeded my expectations. I can’t speak highly enough about how well crafted this movie is. To tell virtually an entire movie through screens and devices is one thing. To use them in such a way that perfectly captures the very essence of day-to-day life in 2018 is something else entirely. It goes beyond a framing device and into what it truly feels like to live in this day and age. It’s something that we take for granted every day, but seeing it on the screen makes you realize that your entire life can be constructed by the fragments spread across thousands of servers.
Aside from the storytelling device, John Cho really carries the film. Everything is told through his eyes in a solely first-person driven narrative and he delivers. You can feel every emotion as his world starts to slowly unravel. It’s one thing to see someone in a normal movie be frantic. It’s another to see someone go through the EXACT steps you would probably take if you could not find a loved one and in the EXACT manner.
The story is thrilling and never lets the audience get too comfortable with any single direction it is going. Since we are seeing everything through Cho’s eyes, it doesn’t tug on too many threads simultaneously. Instead, the audience has to wait for Cho to see the new thread and then everyone in the theater pulls on that thread as hard as they possibly can. Sometimes this results in just another loose end and despair for Cho and audience alike. Other times, there is a true sense of dread and terror that was palpable in the theater.
All is not perfect for Searching though. Because of the way the story is told, sacrifices needed to be made with the story. Some will find these a bit too convenient or explanatory and they wouldn’t be wrong. But, for me, the journey was thrilling enough that I am ok with the sacrifices made.
Searching is an exhilarating movie with great storytelling and solid acting. Much like Gravity from years ago, I don’t know that the rewatchability factor is high on this. But on the first experience, it’s one of the better films of 2018.
The best thing about Kin is a gruff Dennis Quaid. That guy should be in everything. Zoe Kravitz is a close second. Kin is marketed as a sci-fi action-adventure movie, but what you get is more of a road-trip-bonding movie between two brothers. One of them just happens to have a high-tech/alien/futuristic gun. Once you get past what feels like a bait and switch, Kin is still entertaining. Although, I feel like it missed on what could have been a more emotional connection between the characters which would have benefited this movie greatly.