Imagine a female James Bond in the 1980’s and you have Atomic Blonde. I’m giving it a C+.
Lorraine Broughton (played by Charlize Theron) is a MI-6 agent who was sent undercover to Berlin during the 1980’s, in the days before the wall comes down. Her task is to recover a secret list of agents before they fall into the wrong hands. Working with the deep undercover agent, David Percival (played by James McAvoy), she’s not sure who to trust as a secret double agent named Satchel plays both sides.
Based on the graphic novel “The Coldest City” by Antony Johnston, who along with Charlize Theron serve as one of the dozen or so executive producers. Atomic Blonde is a violent movie. Between the car crashes and fists flying, not too many people survive. But the plot has more twists and turns as each spy seems to be against everyone else. It leaves you guessing until the very end as to the identity of Satchel.
Charlize Theron kicks butt in this movie as she fights with her fists, guns and even a hot plate. I knew high heeled shoes were dangerous but as a weapon… yep! She’s always drinking vodka and ice, as well as chain smoking. If that doesn’t kill her, the KGB will. After playing a bad guy in the 8th Fast and Furious movie, she’s stepping up the action in Atomic Blonde, willing to use anything in her arsenal to get the information.
However, even with Charlize and James in starring roles as a support role of John Goodman, the movie feels much like the rest of the spy movies. Just switch out Charlize for Keanu Reeves or Tom Cruise and you have pretty much the same movie, except for one scene where the fighting actually looks like they are very tired. In the other spy movies, we never see the hero at the end of their rope.
Atomic Blonde features nudity, two-girl action and a lot of violence. It’s probably not the movie to bring your parents to, nor the younger viewers. Although for us 80’s babies, the music will take us back! Wonderful songs! I would recommend that you wait to see it on DVD (more private and you can pause to see if you catch the clues) unless you are a big fan—then see it during the cheap viewing.
History comes alive in Dunkrik. I’m giving it a B+.
Based on the actual battle where 400,000 British, Belgium, and French troops were trapped on a beach in France, Dunkirk takes a look at the moment from three different perspectives, soldier, pilots and savior. During this pivotal battle, the soldiers were unable to escape due to the German’s picking off the ships in the harbor. As many as 200 boats were lost. However, due to the efforts of small sailing ships, 330,000 troops were able to be evacuated.
The movie shows three different characters who come at the events from different points. One is a British soldier (played by Fionn Whitehead) who only wants to get off the beach and return home. He faces death over and over again, first on the beach and then on two different ships which go down. The pilot’s point of view (played by Tom Hardy) shows how these brave men flew until they were almost out of fuel in order to protect the men on the beach, but it wasn’t enough. They often gave their lives as 145 planes were lost during Dunkirk’s evacuation. The final perspective is from the owner of a private boat (played by Mark Rylance). He puts his life on the line to help the soldiers escape.
The events of that period were used as a basis for this movie but the movie is a work of fiction. The characters were based on first person accounts and historical records but Christopher Nolan took license with them. The movie lacks a cohesiveness as he shows the three perspectives, sometimes out of sequence. We see the ship being destroyed then see the plane and then see the soldier’s experience all from the same event. There is often overlap which can be confusing since it’s not a linear retelling.
Viewers also don’t get any back-story on the characters which leads to a feeling of disconnect with them. We can’t really care if they live or die, if we don’t know them or aren’t invested in them. The movie views like a documentary rather than a true story since we don’t get to see one character’s emotional journey. Amazingly, Harry Styles formerly of One Direction does a nice job as Alex during this, his first, real acting role.
The events of Dunkirk are powerful and show how some people are willing to risk all for others. It also showed some of the harshness of war as soldiers fight for who gets to get on the boats or off. Every man for himself. Fans of war movies will enjoy this retelling of a significant battle. Otherwise, you may want to wait until it’s on DVD to catch it.
Wrapping up the new trilogy, War dovetails nicely into the old Apes movies, I’m giving it an A.
After the battle between the two groups of apes (Koba and Caesar) has decimated the number of apes left alive. Caesar would like nothing but to live in peace. However, he has become the poster boy for all the problems the humans’ faced. The Simian Flu has wiped out much of the human population. Now the virus is mutating and changing humanity forever. But a military Colonel (played by Woody Harrelson) has been training some of the humans left for war against the apes.
Featuring many of the same actors and apes from the previous two movies the CGI giving the apes human expressions is outstanding. As we gaze into Caesar’s eyes, we see fear, anger and overwhelming sadness. Koba’s allies are now siding with the Colonel and serving as ‘donkeys’ (named after Donkey Kong but also because they serve as pack animals). These traitors to Caesar’s side will stop at nothing to get back at the one ape who defeated them. We get to meet a unique ape- Bad Ape, who is an escapee from a zoo and has been hiding out on his own so long, he’s not quite all right in the head.
There are many heavy messages in this installment. The horror of war is only one piece but we are also given an uplifting message of love and compassion, family and strength. A small girl is found by the apes. She’s not able to speak but quickly becomes fluent in sign language and embodies hope in this movie. Most interesting is the message of what can happen when you hold hate in your heart. Revenge moved Koba, it moves the Colonel and at times takes over Caesar. This hate only leads to heartache rather than the search for hope.
For fans of the original 1960’s movies, there are many nods in this movie, from the introduction of Caesar’s young son, Cornelius to the orangutan’s name-Maurice (the original movie was played by an actor named Maurice), and while the director states that the Nova from this movie can’t be the Nova in the original, it does bring everything full circle.
Overall, this movie is emotionally moving, meant to leave you thinking but with a great deal of violence and death, it’s not suitable for the younger audience. And plans have already begun for the next installment…I’m excited to see how close it will take us to the original.
Spiderman, Spiderman does whatever a spider can… I’m giving it an A.
In this incarnation of the Spiderman story, Peter Parker (played by Tom Holland) is a 15-year-old sophomore in a special math/science school in Queens. After being bit by a radioactive spider, he developed special powers which brought him to the attention of Tony Stark (Ironman) who enlists his help in the Avengers conflict and changes the young man’s life forever. After developing a taste of superhero business, it’s a challenge for Peter to juggle being an ordinary student and Spiderman.
Peter is to report to Happy but life is dull in Queens until special weapons get in the hands of criminals. Now Spiderman is on to something big but Tony nor Happy wants to hear about it. Add to that, hiding your special abilities, snagging a date for the school’s homecoming and keeping up with schoolwork. Honor rules Peter’s beliefs and even when he’s asked to walk away from the danger, he can’t.
I gave up after the first of the previous Spiderman movies. Like the Hulk, it appeared as if multiple people were pulling the character in different directions. Jon Watt’s direction of this movie is refreshing. Peter is a typical teenager, sarcastic and a little lost. He doesn’t even know how to drive!
Marissa Tomi as Aunt May wears the highest number of high-waisted mom pants as any I have ever seen. This movie doesn’t share the story about why Peter is living with her but he does have a caring relationship with her and doesn’t want to worry her.
But Michael Keaton as the Vulture, steals the movie. From someone who has played a superhero in a few movies, he understands how important the anti-hero is. He’s got his own moral code and the viewers are able to understand them even if they don’t agree with them.
This movie dovetails with both the comics and the Avengers/Marvel world. As some of the Avengers are teased, mentioned and even show up. Robert Downey, Jr as Tony Stark is self-centered and spoiled. We see how only uses Peter for his own agenda then pays him off with the suit but tells him to go away. But there is a fantastic moment at the end of the movie where Tony gives Peter a choice and we see a little hint at what Tony has been up to.
I also really enjoyed the cameos of Captain America as a public service announcer, sharing everything from the importance of physical activity to the changes of a teenager’s body.
Now with the success of Spiderman: Homecoming, Sony has announced they are planning for the next movie and have even decided on the new bad guy. But first Spiderman shows up in the next Avengers’ movie.
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