Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Movie review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ rivals original

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (PG-13) 

The quirkiest antiheroes in the universe are back and funnier than ever in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” a sequel that often times matches the greatness of the original if not exceeds it.

The whole crew — Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) — are back, this time to encounter Star-Lord’s long-lost father, Ego (Kurt Russell).

LISTEN: Tim reviews “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” on “The KQ 92 Morning Show” with Tom Barnard.

While writer-director James Gunn’s film gets serious at times as it confronts family issues in and outside of the core group, Bautista and Cooper are laugh-out funny throughout, and easily keep the film from being dragged into the doldrums. “Vol. 2” has it all: The special effects are beyond compare, the action is engaging and most important of all, some big twists make the film unexpectedly poignant.

Like the first “Guardians” film, “Vol. 2” is loaded with nostalgic songs from the 1970s, which once again sets the perfect tone during the entire picture. Be sure to stick around at the very end as there are not one or two, but five post-credits scenes. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is already in the works, and it can’t come soon enough.

Lammometer: 8 (out of 10)

Movie reviews: ‘Free Fire’ falls flat; ‘The Promise’ compels

“Free Fire” (R)

The shoot-em ‘up movie genre gets a welcome unique spin that unfortunately falls flat too soon with “Free Fire.” Set in 1978, “Free Fire” stars Oscar-winner Brie Larson and Cillian Murphy (“Batman Begins”) as part of a group of criminals who meet a gang of arms dealers in abandoned warehouse to make what should be a simple exchange of cash for a cache of high-powered weapons.

But when a fight breaks out between opposing gang members, the fisticuffs escalate into a shoot-out with bullets flying from every which way.

As a dark comedy, we discover in “Free Fire” most everybody involved is a terrible shot, resulting mostly in flesh wounds as the bumbling criminals crawl around the ware

house trying to figure out a way to exit.

It’s an amusing take on the genre at first, but the idea quickly wears thin, making the movie feel way too long, even with a 90-minute run time. Armie Hammer and Sharlto Copley (“District 9”) also star.

Lammometer 5.5 (out of 10)

Listen to Tim’s reviews of “Free Fall” and “The Promise” with Tom Barnard and Michele Tafoya on “The KQ Morning.”

“The Promise” (PG-13)

Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale and Charlotte Le Bon deliver stellar performances in “The Promise,” a heartbreaking historical drama that chronicles the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Turks before the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

The always-great Isaac (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) plays a medical student in Constantinople in 1915, just before the Turks begin to round up Armenian Christians for systematic execution.

Bale is terrific as usual, this time as Associated Press journalist reporting on the horrors of the genocide to the West, while Le Bon is a French-Armenian teacher caught in a love triangle in-between them.

The film is a compelling tale that brings to light a forgotten part of history that the Turkish government still fails to recognize today.

Lammometer: 8 (out of 10)

Movie review: ‘The Fate of the Furious’ way too serious

“The Fate of the Furious” (PG-13)

While it’s not a total spinout, “The Fate of the Furious” – the eighth film in the seemingly endless “Fast and Furious” franchise – seems to have lost its way following the blockbuster worldwide success of “Furious 7.” After an entertaining 10-minute race scene to kick off the film, “The Fate of the Furious” quickly loses the type of self-aware sense of humor that made the last film such a joy; and remains stuck in neutral with a formulaic action movie plot until it miraculously pulls itself out a funk for the third act of the movie.

Diesel is back for his sixth “Furious” film as Dominic Toretto, the cocksure street racer who has evolved over the film ser

ies into the leader of a band of international mercenaries whose jobs often find them trying to save the world from disaster. But when Dom is coerced by notorious super hacker Cipher (Theron) to go rogue, he’s forced to turn against his crew in order to secure an EMP device that has the power to shut down a major city and turn the scene into complete chaos. And that’s not all …

Convinced that Dom is taking commands against his will, the crew (including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Michelle Rodriguez – whose Letty is now married to Dominic) takes up an offer from government shade Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and his new right hand, dubbed “Little Nobody” (Scott Eastwood, who appears to be filling the void left by late Paul Walker) to recover the EMP and other potential weapons of mass destruction to clean their crime-riddled slates.

While its far inferior to “Furious 7,” “The Fate of the Furious” isn’t a bad movie – the action in the final third alone will give audience members what they’re looking for with subplot that involved a Russian nuclear submarine. Thankfully stars like Johnson, Jason Statham, Russell and Helen Mirren (who sadly appears for about 5 minutes in a pair of scenes) didn’t wait that long to let you know they’re in the joke.

On the flip side, Vin Diesel and the film’s new villain, played by Charlize Theron, are trying to play it straight throughout  the film; proving that even Oscar winners can’t act their way out of horrific dialogue.


Listen to Tim’s review of “The Fate of the Furious” with Tom Barnard on “The KQ Morning Show.”

A little sense of humor clearly would have gone a long way, and while Diesel attempts to charm his way through the opening scene, playing it straight for most of the way exposes all of the actor’s weaknesses (mainly, that he only knows how to play one type of character – a wiseass tough guy) and he hits a low point as he barely squeezes out a couple crocodile tears.

Theron’s turn is almost more painful to watch, though, as her over-the-top madwoman questing world domination borders on a mustache-twitching villain that revels in evil. Theron, like everybody else in “Furious 7” should have been reveling in the ridiculousness of what the franchise it has become. It’s too bad, because Theron has proven otherwise that she’s an extremely talented actress.

True, no amount of criticism will stop “The Fate of the Furious” from being another worldwide blockbuster (“Furious 7” grossed $1.5 billion worldwide two years ago) out of the gate, but the shift in gears to a semi-serious film (“The Fate of the Serious”?) will no doubt be a drag on the long term prospects of the box office and the films that come after it.

Lammometer: 6 (out of 10)

Movie review: Screen icons bring class to ‘Going in Style’

“Going in Style” (PG-13)

Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin appear together on the big screen for the very first time in “Going in Style,” a funny and poignant remake of the 1979 comedy heist film of the same name starring George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strassberg.

The Oscar-winning film luminaries play lifelong friends who have toiled for decades at a steel mill, and upon retirement, they’re shocked to learn their pensions have been dissolved.

All virtually broke and with foreclosure pending for one of them, the trio hatches a plan to rob the bank that’s involved in the pension fiasco to recoup what would be coming to them if they hadn’t been swindled by their company.

Of course, the whole idea of three guys pushing 80 pulling off a heist in “Going in Style” is ridiculous and a lot of the comedy comes from that scenario.

And while the film is predictable, you can’t help but love seeing the actors (including screen icon Ann-Margret) together in one space – especially when you consider how many more opportunities we’ll get to see them in film. Caine’s 84, Arkin is 83 and Freeman will turn 80 in a couple months, so they needed to strike when the iron when it was hot before they make that sad decision that their time in Hollywood is over.

Interview: Ann-Margret talks ‘Going in Style’
LINK: See Tim Lammers’ archived video and audio interviews, including Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck, Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Hugh Jackman, Francis Ford Coppola and more on his new YouTube channel.

The best thing about “Going in Style” is that director Zach Braff (“Scrubs”) didn’t use the actors as punch lines because they’re up in their years. Yes, comedy does arise because of their age, but Braff never loses sight of the very real situation retirees face in today’s volatile financial climate. Overall, it’s a wonderful combination of real characters in outlandish situations that manages to make you laugh without being exploitative.

Lammometer: 7 (out of 10)

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