Jason Bourne- Overall, the Bourne series is very good. I liked the last one with Jeremy Renner. After Matt Damon backed away, I think they came up with a smart angle for Legacy to keep the franchise going without him. This is the 5th movie in the series and it brings back Damon and director Paul Greengrass. I love spy movies and this one is built more or less around closure for Jason. It’s a simple plot but effective. Bring in some returning characters, sprinkle in some new ones and sandwich all those people between elaborate action set pieces. So that’s all good. But again, Paul Greengrass. His style drives me nuts. Hyper kinetic, jarring direction. Fast zooms to establish where something is taking place followed immediately by a camera jerk to the left or right as a character enters. He adores moving the camera with punches as if that adds to the impact of hits. It doesn’t. It robs fight choreography and stunt men of their hard work to sell the action. If you can’t see the results, it doesn’t matter what happened before it. It ends up looking like they had no prep or filming time for the fights and had to cover up rushed work. Thankfully the vehicle chase scenes aren’t marred by such stupid filming decisions (the motorcycle bit at the beginning is largely fantastic as is the final car chase). That said, it’s left open for more movies and so am I.
Independence Day: Resurgence– Hmm. It’s pretty much what I expected. The original movie was fun when it came out 20 years ago and is really stupid. This is exactly the same, just 20 years later with different special effects techniques. I was 15 when the first one came out and I think anyone who is 15 for this one will dig it as much as I liked the first. Then time passes and you go, “Oh, no.” ID:R is popcorn filmmaking at its most cookie cutter presentation. It’s a sequel, so everything has to be bigger. Those massive ships that invaded 20 years ago? Nothing by what rolls up in this one. More destruction, bigger explosions. More stupidity. It’s just dumb. Horrible one liners delivered so ham fisted that everyone behind the camera while filming must have winced. References to the first movie to remind you that yes, this is a sequel. Characters who show up exactly where they need to be at exactly the right time almost every scene. The coincidences are out of control. Groups of characters able to communicate with the thinnest of technological explanation that boils down to “just go with it.” Child actors put in for absolutely no reason. It is what it is, not a good alien invasion movie. I will say, the special effects are often exceptional. At least you can see where most of the money went.
Rogue One– As a casual Star Wars fan, this RO is a fun watch. But just like The Force Awakens, one viewing is going to be enough for me. This movie tries, at every frame to be in the Star Wars movie. It sometimes feels like the production was so concentrated on that goal, that it was never allowed to do anything new. There are new characters (who tend to mumble in the beginning for some reason), new places to visit with a prequel story that most people know the ending to. Sure, the journey takes up 99% of the film so that ultimately works. The special effects also work. There’s some gorgeous stuff from start to finish that establishes the galaxy in believable ways. I also liked how this story embraced the “war” aspect of Star Wars. While we’ve seen a lot of space battles in the series (and RO matches that bar) the on the ground fighting gets greatly expanded. That felt new. As mentioned there are a lot of new characters and many of them are great. But it’s fleeting. You don’t get to spend much time with them so there’s little character building. For a universe so well established, many of those important to the story is just a blip in time. I guess we can expect spin off comics and merch for many but that feels lame to me. As strong as the last act is in terms of action (the ultimate being Darth Vader’s hallway slam poetry session) there is a stupid amount of stupid hoops they had to jump through. We need to get this thing that’s really hard to get to! *work to get to it* Ah, it’s behind all this stuff and we gotta get it manually with this claw machine game! *gets it* Now we gotta go up! *go up* Now put it in! And it doesn’t work! Is the power on? Oh, it’s telling me the somaflange isn’t aligned right. We have to align that, I guess. I hope the guys in space are doing their thing for us to finish this at the very last moment. Even the last bit with Vader is contrived. He could have got what he wanted with a force grab and be done with it. I don’t know, maybe I’m turning into a fuddy duddy.
The Accountant– This turned out to be a surprise for me. I don’t remember this Ben Affleck led thriller even coming out in theatres. The easiest way to explain this is that it’s Affleck’s Jason Bourne. Christian Wolff has a completely different background and has a day job to cover up his side work. Good story (seems like it could have started as a book but I didn’t think it did) that Affleck sells well. The action is fantastic and unlike a certain director, you can see what’s going on at all times. My only problem is when the movie comes to a screeching halt for a massive exposition section. Like, all of Wolff’s backstory comes out in this section and then the story starts back up for the third act. There had to have been a better way to do it. Not enough to ruin the movie for me as I’m still going to recommend it. I’d be down for another one. I like the character a lot and I think a sequel could turn out to be much better.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping– This movie is so stupid it’s great. Conner is a former boy band member who’s about to release his sophomore solo album. When it tanks, he does everything he can to keep his career alive. The Lonely Island guys are behind this so the songs are obnoxiously terrific. It parodies what pop music has become (more or less the nonsense lyrics that passes for rap now) perfectly and highlights how the tide of popularity can swing in an instant. Being famous can come at a high price. There are tons of cameos and while I laughed throughout, the limo scene is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. It’s worth watching just for that.