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Monday, June 27, 2016

Money Monster

Don’t invest.
Lee Gates (George Clooney) is one of those loud financial TV show hosts you can find on cable on Friday nights and producer Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) is his Holly Hunter. The story begins when an irate investor takes the entire crew hostage —while on air. It’s a classic thriller premise with the intrigue of the financial world as a bonus. Except that it’s zero parts Die Hard, zero parts The Big Short and all parts ridiculous.

During the course of the hostage situation, a massive Wall Street breach (that had never been discovered previously) is unearthed and proven over phone conversations between the producer/hostage and a VP at the financial institution in question. It would be hard to find a plot this stupid on TV.

At the end of the film, the American public somehow has an outpouring of common man sympathy to the gunman. This is the terrorist who they just learned about within that very same hour. I think it was supposed to be a statement about Wall Street versus humanity, but I just cheered because the overlong 98-minute movie was finally ending.

I don’t know why Clooney and Roberts signed up for this contrived script, except that the first half reads like a play. I blame the rest on the lackluster directing talents of Jodi Foster (Little Man Tate, Home for the Holidays, The Beaver).

Simply put: Don’t invest your time or money in this; it’s a bear.

Award potential: None.

The ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks.

Monday, June 13, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse

Over X-tended. Mildly X-citing.

X-Men: First Class (2011) winningly reset the Marvel hero franchise in 1962, as college friends Charles (Professor X) and Erik (Magneto) began to learn about their mutant powers — and how the world views them. James McAvoy (X) and Michael Fassbender (Magneto) elevated each of their roles to create an excellent hero film that neither X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) nor this year’s X-Men: Apocalypse have been able to improve upon.

What we get from director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, The original X-Men series, Superman Returns) is X-cessive new characters, X-hausting backstory layers and X-tensive FX. We could have done without any of those extras, but at least we get a compelling 1980’s cold war story. One that finds enough new threads in the familiar save-the-world story to pass the time.

A joke within the movie, as the young mutants leave a 1983 showing of Return of Jedi, is that the “third one is always the worst.” I’m not sure if this was a self-deprecating joke or a swipe at the unwatchable X-men: The Last Stand (2006). However, both apply.

This is not a great film, but it’s not Batman v. Superman either. McAvoy, Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence (Raven) and a surprise guest make this film entertaining enough for a trip to the theater for some popcorn and a few disposable thrills. I had hoped for more.

Simply put: A third-tier, third installment with just enough fun to keep me invested in the series. And the Quicksilver bit is getting old — fast.

Award potential: None.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks (barely).