Movie Catch-Up Time

With summer coming to an end, there’s plenty of time to catch-up (wink wink) on some of the recent releases still making more money than Solo. Here’s a shotgun spree of a few titles that will last as long as the hot weather midway through September.

The Meg

The-Meg-Movie-Poster

A washed up (no pun intended) rescue diver (Jason Stathman) is called to a marine research center for an abyss evacuation. It’s there he finds the creature that ruined his career: the megalodon. A giant prehistoric shark though to be extinct long ago.

Despite the constant homages to Jaws, this is based on its own book by Steve Allen. All the dumb fun it has with the stressed characters (there’s a marine biologist who can’t swim) brought many epiphanies on the second viewing. Revisiting Back to the Future Part 2 also refreshes the memory that the mechanical shark has soured opinion on the Spielberg trendsetter. Not a problem anymore thanks to years of technological improvements. The creature itself never gets old, but it’s the shots beneath the waves that bring the most tension. Humans don’t have a shark’s senses when the only oxygen to be found underwater is H20. Just like in space, no one can hear you scream. But something about the concept of a isolated swimming garbage can being unleashed on modern society feels a bit underutilized. Having to compete with many imitators involving Samuel L. Jackson and even a tornado, it’s biggest fault is not going all out in untamed craziness or down to earth reality. As good or bad as the get, they’re memorable in one way or another. The only difference here is changing the setting from American soil to beaches in China.

The Meg could’ve been an improvement to the high standard based on Peter Benchley’s novel. The cast is likeable and the story doesn’t waste time with tired clichés. But by not fully sticking to one extreme some of it does comes off as wasted potential. As it is, there’s still a lot of dumb fun to be had, and if comparing to the rest of the year it’s miles more entertaining than the pointless cash grab that is Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. If you want a fully committed creature feature, either check out The Shallows for the realistic approach or the 2010 remake of Piranha for the cheesiest self-aware party. Or take this as a consolation somewhere beyond the sea.

7/10

Alpha/A-X-L

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AXL

These two are grouped together on both premise and execution. Take away A-X-L’s robotic updates and they would recreate the Marx Brothers mirror scene upon comparison. Human and canine need each other in order to get though life’s ups and downs whether finding food or hanging out racing on the hills in the middle of nowhere.

In addition to the tech, A-X-L also has a stock girlfriend who’s given a little more background but none the less is just a support pawn. Alpha on the other hand gets more tourist cinematography from the grassy plateaus to the light blue snowy tundras. Aside from that, it’s a boy and his dog 101 past, present and future.

The newcomers give it all they got, but it’s all for a rinse and repeat script for a good majority of the time. Both Alpha and A-X-L play it safe with the familiar premise other than the eye candy. If this is your cup of tea, go back in time or enjoy the present with all the available gadgets and gizmos at the touch of an iPhone. Otherwise a certain toothless dragon is about to conclude his trilogy next year with flying colors.

6/10

Papillon (2017)

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A remake of 1973 Steve McQueen-Dustin Hoffman vehicle detailing the escape of framed Henri Charrière (Charlie Hunnam). Going from rags to riches in one night, he forms a deal with counter fitter turned Smee, Louis Dega (Rami Malek) a life time vacation away from his wrong sentencing at French Guiana.

Not knowing the existence of the original until after the credits, this is a decent remake. Though The Shawshank Redemption never leaves the mind even if this is more grounded in history, the leads make the story work even when there’s no surprises. Though knife fights in the showers and solitary confinement, they carry the whole film through and through for better or worse. Those who have seen the original might argue that not adding new characteristics to the prisoners, guards or warden in the same way last year’s Beauty and the Beast makes this pale in comparison as much as Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho. Fair argument. Especially for film buffs who are stuck reviewing the present more often than visiting the past more often.

Not being attached to original to compare with, Papillon gives a good spin on a diamond in the rough. It does run a little long to keep up with after r, but the two leads never let up in showing the growth of their friendship. And speaking of the original it’s surprising that the it hasn’t gotten a re-release with the growing trend of showing older films in theaters again. It be perfect considering today’s industry that’s heavily dependent on sequels, remakes and reboots. But until then, this is a satisfying substitute.

7/10

Operation Finale

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Out of the ashes of World War 2 several Nazis including Hitler’s right hand, Adolph Eichmann (Ben Kingsley) scatter across the globe to avoid answering for their crimes against humanity. From the Mossad organization, Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) heads a covert mission to catch the man living a quiet life in order to bring him to justice for his sister and her child who perished along with the six million others during the holocaust.

Kingsley, after his role in Schindler’s List, takes a 180 in the best way possible as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but doesn’t go full Wolfenstein with his character. Oscar Isaac is a great actor for his character elevated with the flashbacks of his sister. Not to bring up today’s climate, but families that disassociate each other over certain alliances can easily relate to every scene where the two interact with each other: an unstoppable force meeting an unmovable object, yet civil with words and actions. But a little more time showing both halves of Eichmann’s personality would’ve gone a long way during the flashbacks.

Ben Kingsley and Oscar Isaac carry Operation Finale along with the supporting cast. But a subject with such importance to learn not to do again needs more focus on the length and pacing which stumbles in delivering the suspenseful covert mission. Thank goodness the ending is satisfyingly historically accurate saving it from being a complete disappointment. Far from the worst of the year, which will be covered later down the road. Just don’t expect something on the level of The Pianist.

6/10

This is TheCinematicBandicoot and none of these movies were either good or bad enough to make the best or worst of the year. Coming off a season where the Disney monopoly grows bigger every month, the beginning of the fall season wanted to be more original even if it meant being a clone rather than a reboot. Kind of like when students get the summer off before college takes over 90 percent of their lives in studies and loans. Let’s hope it doesn’t get too drunk and suffer the January curse too early.

What did you think of The Meg, A-X-L, Alpha, Papillon or Operation Finale? Comment and discuss with others!

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