FrameRate Reviews

Because you don't have time…and neither do I!

War for the Planet of the Apes

It's been some time since a franchise ended in such a satisfactory way like War for the Planet of the Apes, a film which satisfies blockbuster thrills yet still packs an emotional punch. As with the previous two films, Andy Serkis as Caesar is nuanced and stirring, calculating one minute and heartbreaking the next, yet all the supporting cast both mo-capped and live action prove they can hold their own. Matt Reeves and his crew have shots that are not only visually stunning and cool, but also at times personal and reinforce the actors' performances, complimenting a somber script which doesn't forget to provide us with levity when necessary. All in all, the Apes prequel series ends perfectly, proving to us how a CGI-filled popcorn flick can ascend beyond the normal fare—character first.

Baby Driver

This is a movie that satisfies the critic in me and that person who sometimes just wants to zone out and have a good time. Impeccably and cleverly directed as always by Edgar Wright, Baby Driver is a movie that’ll give you the thrills of a summer blockbuster without sacrificing craft or character. The ensemble cast helps bring the script to stunning life, making you believe this world, and the different antagonists and obstacles standing in the way of our relatable-yet-flawed main character transcends the usual “hero-villain” ho-hum. And if by some strange stretch of the imagination it doesn’t entertain you, at least the soundtrack will keep you satisfied. 


Spider-Man: Homecoming

It’s the poster boy for reboots, but one cannot deny the insatiable charm and appeal that Spider-Man: Homecoming has from beginning to end, a thrilling, funny, great popcorn flick. Whereas so many Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are aimed at all audiences 8 to 58, resulting in generic results, Homecoming is very definitely a YA movie, resulting in an overall different feel to the movie. The film’s highest praise, above the snappy dialogue or even the improved (but not there yet) Marvel villain has to be Tom Holland’s charming, bumbling, wonderful performance of Peter Parker, capturing the character perfectly. Still, there’s some of the same Marvel generic elements like stale direction and bog standard score, but the film’s greatest sin is the complete omission of Uncle Ben—not mentioned even once!—taking away a quintessential part to the Spider-Man character. 


Wonder Woman

Although I rather liked Batman v. Superman (an opinion I find myself defending often ha) I do believe Wonder Woman brings that franchise in a much better direction, giving us elements wholly distinct and different from the good-yet-tiring fare Marvel provides us, offering interesting perspectives and views on humanity, yet not being dour, depressing, but instead very fun and funny. Gal Gadot as Diana is the highest achievement of the film, bringing the young heroine to life as if she stepped right out of a panel, young, hopeful and naive, but always strong and powerful both in her mind, heart and fists. Patty Jenkins and co. provide a slick, well paced film that looks distinctly different from Snyder’s work, yet fits snugly in that universe with ease, even though like Snyder their love for slow motion is abundant, redundant and garish (guys please, let’s chill on the slo-mo.) What prevents me from saying I loved the movie (I liked it, don’t get me wrong. Liked it a lot) were some eyeroll inducing moments of cheesiness even super hero films should be above, and villains that are not only cartoonish, one-dimensional, and cardboard, but stand in direct opposition of the film’s message that ideas on good and evil are much more complex than Diana thinks, making the central theme fall flat in what is otherwise an inspiring, exciting and hopefully first entry in the Wonder Woman series of films.


Alien Covenant

If you’re going purely for the thrills and chills, you’ll probably be more than satisfied; the film proves to be the franchise’s most visceral and harrowing film since the first. Added to that, even at its weakest the actors of the film bring their A game, Crudup, Waterson and McBride noteable of praise, and Fassbender stealing the show with his double role. But while a fun thrill ride, Alien Covenant falls apart quite quickly with even the merest of inspection, from weak and dumb characters, to overexposure of the Xenomorph, and worst of all, poor narrative choices not only as an individual film but in the larger scope of the franchise. Overall, the experience is frustrating to say the least, with greatness always a few inches out of reach, held back by plot holes aplenty which will nag hardcore fans (like me), but may not deter those merely seeking a chill on a hot summers day. 


Ip Man 3

Going forward, there’ll be a bit of a change in FrameRate. Although brevity is key, I find myself giving proper english a gut punch by making run-on sentences as I try to cram in every aspect of the film I want to talk about. There’s even moments where I skip over important things to fit the three sentence format. With that in mind, I’m going to add another sentence to the limit, and hope you’ll not find yourself running late reading that additional line ;P. Please share and enjoy!
There are fewer examples which exemplify the frustration of diminishing returns better than the Ip Man series of films. Sure, Donnie is great as always, whether he be acting or fighting–which, by the way, all look and are filmed with massive skill. But just like the first and second films, the villain is cartoonish, Ip Man himself is blandly spotless and blameless, and the plot is bare bones. The film achieves some successs in iteration by focusing more on Ip Man’s family life and relationship with his wife, but even then one wonders if a franchise can survive by serving up the same thing-both the good and bad-time and time again.


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

In some ways better than the original, in others weaker, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was able to placate this growing Marvel cynic, convincing me the machine still has some life to it yet. Whereas I feel each Marvel movie is starting to look and feel the same, Vol. 2 cranks up Gunn’s signature humor to eleven and gives him free reign, feeling unrestricted and totally unique from the rest of the MCU, even more than the first film (which I honestly didn’t find as unique as others did, just saying). The villain doesn’t suffer the same fate as the rest of Marvel’s fare but could use some work, and although the plot was totally predictable complete with world-ending threat, it felt more constrained and character focused, culminating in a hilarious, heartwarming, and fun-filled movie. 


The Shallows

The Shallows is a competently made entertainment piece, elevated to slightly above average with a harrowing performance by Blake Lively and a simple yet effective script approach. The shark is played much like in Jaws (but never directly apes the superior film) a growing and tense force of nature, rarely seen yet always felt, which gives the film some fantastic tension. Probably the greatest flaw was the flashy and overdone camera work, abundant splashes of tedious slow motion and overly long glances at Lively’s body in a swimsuit (seriously guys, I get it, she’s well built but *my goodness*), making the whole thing look like a music video starring sharks, dampening but thankfully not fully diminishing this great choice for a movie get-together after a long day. 


Last Action Hero

Derided in its day, Last Action Hero is a surprisingly entertaining, if only moderately successful, pastiche parody of the action film genre. The film has so many hits, with relentless gags and jabs at the overdone, explosion-filled movies of that day, all directed expertly by John McTiernan whether it be a joke or a genuinely cool bit of action. But soon after the hour-twenty mark, the jokes get exhaustive and old, and when the film does give that eventual flip, the “deconstruction” of the genre isn’t as effective or interesting as it could be, leaving one feeling entertained but not fully satisfied. 


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