Tag Archive: review


“John Wick” review

Keanu Reeves is back in action mode with “John Wick”. Is this movie worthwhile or a misfire?

The Good 

This movie is a blast. Action-lovers will have a lot of fun with the shootouts, and there are plenty. Reeves is in full a@@ kicking mode and there are several set pieces that are some of the best of the year.

There’s a lot of humor in the film as well, which helps keep the film moving along and entertaining. The supporting cast, including Willem Dafoe, Michael Nyqvist, and Adrianne Palicki all do a fine job with their respective roles. And it never takes itself too seriously, which only adds to the film’s enjoyment.

The Bad

Well…realism isn’t exactly this film’s strong suit. And, there are a few confusing choices made with some of the characters that could make a potential sequel a little hard to imagine.

The Final Word

A fun, funny and entertaining ride, “John Wick” is probably my favorite straight-up action film of the year. It’s a blast that is definitely worth checking out.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Michael Bay is back with a new “Transformers” movie. Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci and Kelsey Grammer head the human cast. Is this film the best in the franchise? Or is time for this series to roll out.

The Good

Let’s face it. We know what’s good about a “Transformers” film. There are those money shots that are indeed glorious. But there are also long action scenes involving the humans that aren’t the military. And it’s a breath of fresh air … at first.

Perhaps more surprising is that, even though the film’s run time approaches three hours, it didn’t feel like the longest of the series to me. That may not be high praise, but hey, it’s praise all the same.

There’s way more focus on the human characters this time around … which isn’t always a good thing. But, the characters aren’t nearly as annoying as some of the characters who appeared in past installments. And, Tucci is entertaining throughout while Grammer does his best with his limited character.

The Bad

With the focus so much on the human characters, there’s surprisingly little robot action in this one. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of action scenes. But, never the all out robot vs. robot battle the film was seemingly building up toward. Focusing on story may seem like a step in the right direction … Except when the story is pointless, dumb and with characters who don’t think or act like a rational human being in parts.

Also, none of the characters rank as overly annoying, but they all have their moments. And there are absolute throw away characters who serve almost no purpose in the film (though I’m sure some would make the argument all the human characters in this franchise serve no purpose).

The Final Word

At times, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” seems to bring the franchise into new directions that could be genuinely interesting. At other times, you’re reminded that this franchise has some really bad moments in them. If you’re looking for a lot of action, you won’t be disappointed. But those hoping a new cast meant a new start will be disappointed.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are back for “22 Jump Street”. Is this a rare comedy sequel that outdoes the original or a “Hangover Part II” sized miss?

The Good: Fear not. “22 Jump Street” is very good. Tatum and Hill are dynamite. The chemistry they have on screen is absolutely hilarious and fans of the first film will undoubtedly love them for the second go around. There are a lot of “in” jokes in this one, specifically on movie sequels that do the same thing all over again. It’s quite funny to see them poke fun at that idea, although there’s a few too many of those for my liking.

I really enjoyed Ice Cube in this one. He has a few particularly memorable scenes and easily the best supporting character of the bunch in this film.

Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller already had one hit on their hands in 2014 with “The Lego Movie”. And that irreverent humor shows up again here and once again, they are mostly spot on. They are quickly rising near the top of my list of favorite comedy directors out there, bar none.

The Bad: The film mostly hits its mark, but there are a few moments where the humor seems a little too forced. And some of the supporting characters, while they have their moments, don’t really stand out to me. The villains all seemed, just kind of rushed into the film as a matter of necessity and were missed opportunities to mine for more comedic gold.

The Final Word: I enjoyed “22 Jump Street” a lot. And out of the big comedies so far this summer, this is my favorite ahead of “Neighbors”. Fans of the original will love the sequel. And while it won’t win over any new converts, its target audience will find this film to be an absolute hoot.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Director Bryan Singer returns to the X-Men franchise. Is this the mutant extravaganza audiences are craving for?

The Good: There’s a lot to like in DOFP. From the opening sequence, the action scenes are the best in the series. And it is nice to see Ian McKellen (Magneto), Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman), Halle Berry (Storm) and more reprise their roles. James McAvoy (Young Charles), Michael Fassbender (Young Erik), Nicholas Hoult (Young Beast) and Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique)  are the standouts from the “First Class” cast.

The real joy here is Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters. He’s easily the most memorable new character and is a blast to watch. By now, if you’ve seen any of the trailers, you know the basic plot revolving around Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). And seeing the sentinels in action is fantastic, though at least one of the designs looks and acts very similar to the robot from “Thor”. The film is a slick, fun thrill ride and a blast to watch.

The Bad: Honestly, with so many mutants, some characters were going to get the short end of the stick in terms of screen time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Many of the mutants serve as nods for fans, but I wish Page got more screen time. I understand why she didn’t given the size of the cast, but she’s such a strong actress, it would have been nice.

No plot spoilers here, but given the story they went with, it does raise some questions, given there are six other X-Men films in the universe. But, it’s not too big of a deal.

Speaking of the plot, Peter Dinklage is, unfortunately, the weak link of the new characters introduced. He’s not terrible, but he gets a little lost in the film and the script doesn’t give him a lot to do.

The Final Word: It’s a fun, and at times thrilling, mutant adventure. This just may be my favorite X-Men film yet and breathes new life into the franchise.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Godzilla is back! Does his latest film return him to the top of the movie monster universe or is this another misstep in the legendary creature’s history?

The Good: Let’s get this out of the way. The money shots in “Godzilla” are amazing. It’s everything you expected and with some especially brutal fight moves, Godzilla has his moments to shine. Also, after “Pacific Rim”, which took a much more light-hearted summer approach to its tone, it was nice to see “Godzilla” take a more serious, darker approach. Bryan Cranston is solid in a limited role.

The Bad: Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to love this film, it falls flat in a lot of areas. First, while Godzilla does shine in moments, he barely gets more than those moments on screen. If you thought it was odd to only see Batman for a fraction of the runtime of “The Dark Knight Rises”, it’s far worse here. In fact, Godzilla barely makes an appearance for the first half of this film. It’s a cardinal sin to have the the character a movie is named after be reduced to what feels like an extended cameo in my book.

The human characters are the film’s real weak points. With actors like Cranston, Aaron Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, and David Strathairn anchoring the cast, you have great talent here. But frankly, we’re given very little character development, some cliche movie tropes and even less reason to care about these characters. That wouldn’t be a huge problem for me in a summer blockbuster, but once the decision was made to put these characters front and center, the movie suffers greatly.

There’s also quite a lot of … questionable logic used by numerous characters. And I mean questionable by summer movie standards.

Frankly, I was bored by this movie. Being forced to watch characters we care nothing about all the while talking about Godzilla without actually showing him makes this movie a chore to get through in parts.

The Final Word: What looked like the breakout hit of the summer after its marketing campaign is a dull summer misfire. While Godzilla does have his moments to shine they are so few and far between it can’t compensate for weakly written characters making silly decisions.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

So it’s been a while since I’ve updated this. But, I’m back! Let’s kick this off with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”. It’s been two years since the needless reboot of the Spidey franchise. Does this sequel kick the series into a new level?  Or is franchise fatigue setting in?

The Good: Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey make this movie go. Their chemistry is undeniable and almost all of the film’s best lines come from the two characters’ banter. I came away especially impressed with Garfield. He’s really settled into this role nicely and, frankly, I think he’s becoming a better Spider-Man/Peter Parker than Toby Maguire was. Also, Dane DeHaan is the best of the new actors to the series. He walks the line perfectly between creepy, yet strangely charming as Harry Osborn and, much like Garfield, I actually greatly prefer his portrayal to James Franco’s from the original trilogy.

The action has been stepped up from the first film, although that’s not saying much. But there are a few set pieces that look great and are fun to watch.

One of the greatest weaknesses of the first film was a story that just seemed too much of a retread from what we had already seen. That’s not quite as much the case in the sequel. The film goes down a couple of interesting paths and there’s a couple moments that have some genuine emotion attached to them. It was refreshing to see a comic book film take something you assume is going to happen and turn it on its head a little bit.

The Bad: Unfortunately, while this film is unquestionably better than its predecessor, it still has a long ways to go to join the genre’s best. The action may be better, but it’s also entirely too short…a big sin in a summer action movie.  Jamie Foxx is forgettable as Electro. I understand what they were going for with his character but, they take it way too far and his character seems way too cartoonish…even in a comic book movie. He also has some of the dumbest lines of dialogue I’ve heard this year.

There’s no villain overload in this film. But, I was particularly disappointed that Paul Giamatti has a glorified cameo and Harry Osborn really should have had a bigger role in this one and, for all the build up about the secret of Peter Parker’s parents…well…I’m not sure it was worth the wait.

The Final Word: This film may not compare to the genre’s best, but “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is a fun, energetic and surprisingly emotional movie and a good way to kick off the summer. It’s a step up from the first film and does just enough to keep you invested into the film’s universe.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Gru (Steve Carrell) is back in “Despicable Me 2”. Does this one live up to the original? Or is this a big disappointment?

The Good

Universal played it relatively safe with this sequel. Not that it’s a big problem. The minions are back in full force, which have become icons in pop culture already, so if you love the minions, you won’t be disappointed. They play a big role this time with some hilarious nods to classic films.  I did wonder while I was watching how the supposed minions movie will hold up. You can only take so much minion mayhem right? There are some clever moments here, especially in the beginning as the plot is getting set up and the new additions to the voice cast, mainly Kristen Wiig and Benjamin Bratt, are a hoot. And, Gru’s relationship with the girls tries to pull on your heart strings.

The Bad

Unfortunately, The end of “Despicable Me” meant Gru is a far less interesting character in this film than before. He’s the most boring character on screen, never a good thing when he’s your main character. For every great line of dialogue, there’s some ones that don’t work. This is a very unevenly paced film and, frankly, this film fails to equal the original in almost every department.

The Final Word

This isn’t a bad film. But it’s a completely unnecessary one that fails to match the first film in every regard. You could do worse, but this one is a big disappointment in my book, despite some positives.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Superman’s back and better than ever. Or is he? Zack Snyder’s latest is now in theaters. Is this the Superman film we’ve been waiting for?

The Good

When “Man of Steel” is at its best, it’s absolutely fantastic. The opening sequence is intense, emotional and visually beautiful to watch.

The real stars here are the supporting characters. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Clark Kent’s adoptive parents and Russell Crowe as Superman’s birth father really shine here. They all give powerful, emotional performances. Costner’s performance was my favorite of the entire film. I also like what Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan tried to do with the story. The most interesting parts in the film are the flashbacks to Kent’s childhood when he deals with abilities that no other child has and is struggling with finding his identity and having to hide who he truly is all the time.

In fact, the time spent on Krypton and in Kent’s childhood I feel like would have made compelling stand alone films as it is. Still, though short in span, these sequences are spectacular in their own ways.

The final battle between Superman and General Zod was very fun to watch. There’s a surprising amount of lens flare here (Snyder must have taken notes from J.J. Abrams) and the action can be a little hard to follow. But seeing two superhuman beings go at it is the type of action that Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns” sorely lacked. Laurence Fishburne was very solid as well, though his screen time was way too limited.

The Bad 

There are glimpses of a truly great film here. Unfortunately, the film also has its fair share of missteps. Most noticeably is Henry Cavill. Like Brandon Routh before him, he looks the part. But, and this isn’t all his fault since he has surprisingly limited dialogue, but he comes off as a little wooden. Also, the plot gets a little convoluted. The codex is never really fully explained and as the movie goes on, it seems as though elements are just added as they go.

Also, while the sequences on Krypton and in Kent’s childhood are the highlights of the film, they feel rushed, as do a lot of things in this film. It’s a longer movie, for a summer blockbuster, but there’s just too much stuff, so we get the cliff notes version and only scratching the surface of what could be deep, rich tales. I also didn’t care for Amy Adams’ performance. She wasn’t terrible, but hers, and pretty much everyone else besides Kent’s, character development were pretty much non-existent and some of the best actors in the film get short changed on time because they have to fit so much in this movie. And, I realize the movie is going for a darker tone, but there’s very little humor in this movie, which I think works against it.

The final fight is good. Initially I was impressed with the action. But the more I thought about it, the rest of the film lacked any real awe-inspiring set pieces.

The Final Word

No, this isn’t a perfect Superman movie. But when “Man of Steel” works, it soars. It’s just too bad there’s a few elements that bring it back down to earth.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

They’re back. Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson and company are back for “Fast and Furious 6”, this time facing off against Luke Evans. Does this film compare to “Fast Five” or is Justin Lin’s latest running out of gas?

The Good 

This movie, like “Fast Five” is so much fun. The action is crazy and raised to a new level. The flip car driven by Evans is kick-ass in action. And yes, the set pieces do get ridiculous. But scenes with a tank driving down a highway and the plane sequence might discard any form of realism, but they’re hugely entertaining. Evans is clearly having fun as the villain and the fight scenes, most notably Rodriguez vs. Gina Carano are very well staged. There are some funny wise cracks and, stay tuned during the credits for a tease to “Fast and Furious 7”, because it should get action movie fans very, very excited.

The Bad

Diesel at times seems to be phoning in his performance. Not that I’m expecting Oscar worthy performances, but at times he seemed a little bored and just going through the motions. Also, the humor doesn’t always work in the film. And let’s face it, if you’re not a fan of “Fast Five”, you’re not going to be a fan of this film as the action gets more ridiculous.

The Final Word 

An Oscar winner this ain’t. But “Fast and Furious 6” is a fantastically enjoyable action film. The action is relentless, fun and entertaining and it seems the franchise is taking off. For those looking for an exciting summer action film, look no further than this one.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

J.J. Abrams is back with the highly anticipated sequel “Star Trek Into Darkness” starring Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban and more. Does this one live up to the hype? Or do we have the first major misfire of the summer?

The Good

For those of you who enjoyed 2009’s “Star Trek”, “Star Trek Into Darkness” is bigger and better. From the opening to moments to the end, the film is filled with some great action scenes, of course, great special effects and some surprisingly effective emotional moments. Kirk and Spock’s relationship takes center stage in this film and it works really well. Of course, the humor is back but the biggest improvement for the sequel is Cumberbatch. Eric Bana just didn’t make a very interesting or menacing villain in the first Trek. That’s not the case here with Cumberbatch playing a cold, calculated and brilliant villain. The story is also very engaging and, at parts, very emotional, which is always a nice surprise for a summer blockbuster. And there’s a few reveals here that will please fans, but is accessible enough for non Trekkies.

The Bad

“Star Trek Into Darkness” may be one of my favorite Trek films, but it’s not without its flaws. The first is the story, while emotional and engaging, doesn’t really break any new ground. There a few surprises here and there, but for the most part fairly predictable. That’s not a huge deal, but part of what makes Star Trek so great to many fans is its willingness to try new things. I didn’t see anything new here. I also didn’t care for Alice Eve’s character. I understand why she was in the film, I just didn’t think she added much to the film emotionally, or was that important to be frank.

The Final Word 

It’s still really early, but “Star Trek Into Darkness” is my favorite film of the summer so far. It’s exciting, emotional and a lot of fun. It may not go where no movie has gone before, but it’s still an enjoyable film.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.