A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at jason and the Giant Shark a.k.a. “The Meg,” the new Spike Lee joint ”BlacKkKlansman” and the doggie doo of “Dog Days.”
Richard joins CP24 anchor Nick Dixon to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including ”BlacKkKlansman,” the latest film from Spike Lee, the giant shark flick “The Meg” and the doggie stylings of “Dog Days.”
“The Meg” stars Jason Statham. There’s a giant shark. Its tagline is “Pleased to eat you.” There is no need for a review. You know exactly what you’re getting into here but, because I am paid by the word, here we go.
Based on the book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten, “the Meg” sees action-man Statham play Jonas Taylor, a rescue diver who must face his fears to save the crew of a marooned deep-sea submersible from a fate worse than sharknado. Think Quint from “Jaws” without the expressive range. Years before Taylor narrowly escaped being eaten by a 70-foot shark, the Carcharodon megalodon—“Meg” for short—a 100,000 pound, prehistoric great white thought to have been extinct for about 2 million years. Now it appears the giant beast is back and hungry for the crew trapped inside the submersible. Hired by Chinese oceanographer (Winston Chao) Taylor must not only save the stranded sailors but also make sure the Meg doesn’t eat the world… or something. “Man versus Maggie isn’t a fight,” he grunts, “it’s a slaughter.
“The Meg” tries to take all of the thrills of Shark Week and compress them into two hours. It almost gets there but not quite. There are some silly thrills but humungous squids, scientific mumbo jumbo and b-movie dialogue that would make Roger Corman blush buffer the excitements.
“The Meg” is ridiculous. Start to finish. It’s a giant shark story that plays like a watery “Valley of Gwangi.” The key to its ridiculous effervescence is twofold. First, the aforementioned giant shark. Second, Jason Statham, the po-faced hero who, deep down, knows this is silly but is too stoic to admit it to himself or to us. Some people are method actors, relying on past experiences to create their performances. Statham simply glowers. He’s an actor whose dead-eyed stares make up 95% of his method. Running, punching and blowing up sharks comprise the other 5%. Range? He don’t need no stinking range, he just needs to save the world or at least whatever is in peril. A reassuring presence, he’s exactly the same in every movie regardless of the plot. No surprises, just extreme machismo with a side order of sentimentality. Here it works. He’s like a silent movie star, easy to read and fun to watch and without him “The Meg” wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.
“The Meg” has a few scenes that’ll make you chew your popcorn a bit faster and doesn’t skimp on the silly. In fact, there probably won’t be a more hare-brained underwater adventure this year until “Aquaman.”
This weekend one of the most multipurpose and enduring movie stars of the past 30 years returns to the screen. Kevin Spacey? No.
Daniel Day-Lewis? Na’ah. Gary Oldman? Nyet. It’s Keanu Reeves.
Wait! Isn’t he the guy critics love to hate? That Reelviews said was, “an actor of exceptionally limited scope” just as the Daily Mail called his performance in Constantine an “impersonation of a sleep-walking plank”?
Yes, one in the same. He’s The Matrix’s Neo, the Ted of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Point Break’s Johnny Utah.
This weekend he’s the title character in John Wick: Chapter 2, a down-and-dirty noir and follow up to the original 2014 hit.
The actor’s latest incarnation represents another reinvention in a career spent keeping audiences guessing. He’s gone on existential journeys, wooed Diane Keaton and played a peaceful extraterrestrial ambassador but Wicks is something else again.
The Wick movies are set in an alternative world of assassins where hit men and women are paid in special coins, stay in exclusive hotels — with killer views no doubt — and speak in a strangely formal way.
They see themselves as professionals with a civilized code of conduct… except that there is nothing civilized about the work they do. In the first film Wick was an assassin so tough he didn’t bother to take off his gore-soaked shirt when beginning his bloody quest for vengeance.
John Wick, the movies and the character are blunt, über macho instruments, brought to life by Reeves in a performance that cripples the argument Today.com made that he is simply a “reciter of dialogue.” First of all there is very little dialogue.
The opening 15 minutes of the first film is essentially a silent movie kept interesting by Reeves’s action hero charisma.
Unlike Meryl Streep he can’t do accents and he doesn’t have the range of some of his former co-stars like Oldman but what he does have is presence.
At his best Keanu understands how to be on screen. Author Bret Easton Ellis said that Reeves “is always hypnotic to watch,” and what is a movie star if not someone you can’t take your eyes off?
The Wick movies cap a busy and unpredictable time for the actor. After Speed and The Matrix he could have stuck to action films and made a career running, jumping and kicking people. Instead he diversified, jumping from romances like Sweet November to crime dramas like The Watcher to The Replacements, a sports comedy.
From studio movies to indies he is unpredictable in his choices, defying expectations. Take his erotic horror thriller Knock Knock for instance. He plays a man held captive in his own home by three female home invaders. It’s not a remarkable movie — I called it “deeply unpleasant” in my review — but what makes it interesting is Keanu’s character’s complete inability to protect himself. Most A-listers wouldn’t allow themselves to be portrayed as such easy prey, but Keanu relishes the chance to upend our view of him.
For sure Reeves has made some bad movies and even been bad in some movies but that sometimes happens when actors don’t play by the rules.
In John Wick, the character not the incredibly violent movies that bear his name, Keanu Reeves has found the pure essence of, for lack of a better word, Keanuness. Reeves has never been the most expressive actor, his appeal is physical and metaphysical. He can run, jump, shoot and punch with the best of them—that’s the physical part—but at the crux of his performances is a certain otherworldliness that makes him seem slightly detached from it all. He found the right balance in “the Matrix” and again in “John Wick: Chapter 2.”
The Wick movies are set an alternative world of assassins where hit men and women are paid in special coins, stay in exclusive hotels—with killer views no doubt—and speak in a strangely formal way. They see themselves as professionals with a civilized code of conduct… except that there is nothing civilized about the work they do. In the first film Wick was an assassin so tough he didn’t bother to take off his gore-soaked shirt when beginning his bloody quest for vengeance.
The new film picks up shortly after the events of the first. Wick wants a simpler life, away from the violence that has been his business. His retirement plan is disrupted when a former colleague, Santino (Riccardo Scamarcio), asks a favour. Actually, it’s more than a favour, it’s a marker, a promise to repay a debt, and Santino takes it very seriously. Santino’s request is an insidious one; kill my sister so I can take her place on the crime High Table.
“I’m not that guy anymore,” says John. “You are always that guy,” sneers Santino.
Rebuffed, Santino blows up John’s house. To put an end to the impending war Wick agrees to the job. His home a smoldering pile of ash, Wick re-enters his old world. A visit to the gun sommelier—“Can you suggest something big and bold for the end of the night?” he asks.—to a tailor who makes suits lined with tactical fabric and he is ready to square his debt.
(MILD SPOILER) Wick’s plan to return to a quiet life after the job is thwarted by a single phone call. “What kind of man would I be if I didn’t avenge my sister’s murder?” asks Santino. Cue a showdown with bad people with a seemingly endless amount of henchmen for John Wick to kill.
“John Wicks” created a wild world for its characters to inhabit that is unlike anything that came before. The second visit is almost as engaging. Much humour is found between the gunfights as these ruthless killers behave in a courtly way when not trying to bash one another’s brains out. It’s funny, but know this, it also very violent. Wick is a sentimental guy—this whole journey began when someone did something terrible to his beloved dog—but that doesn’t stop him from offing upwards of 140 people in the two hour running time. Much of the violence is goofy but tinged with hardcore Old Testament wrath.
As the man so mysterious he doesn’t even give his new dog a name, Reeves is in his element. It’s pure Keanu, a physical performance with very little dialogue. Think of him as a silent movie action star, an actor who transcends dialogue with sheer charisma. Like him or not, the guy understands how to be on camera, especially when he’s in motion, causing carnage.
Populating Wick’s world are a host of colourful characters brought to vivid life by Laurence Fishburne as the underworld boss of lower Manhattan, Ian McShane as Winston, the man who enforces the rules in the assassin’s twisted world, Common as a gin sipping security boss and Ruby Rose as a deadly and deaf killer.
As a sequel “John Wick: Chapter 2” hits all the right notes. It’s a tad too long but fans of the original will be reminded of why they fell in love with John Wick in the first place.
Since 2002 Milla Jovovich has played a genetically altered zombie fighter with telekinetic powers in six Resident Evil films.
Like the undead fleshbags who populate these based-on-a-videogame movies, you can’t seem to kill this franchise, although the title of this weekend’s Resident Evil: The Final Chapter seems to indicate the end is near.
But just because the Resident Evil movies aren’t Shakespeare doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from them. Here’s what I took away from Jovovich and Company in the last 13 years:
1. The undead have really, really bad aim.
2. No matter what stunt she has just performed, whether it’s plummeting 19 stories down an abandoned mine shaft, or battling legions of bad guys, Mila’s hair will, at most, only look slightly tousled, as if Vidal Sassoon had just finished running his magic fingers through her locks.
3. The amount of rainfall in the future makes Vancouver look arid.
4. To act in one of these movies you must perfect one of two facial expressions: a. steely determination, or b. uncontrolled rage (which can be alternated with a sadistic smile if necessary).
5. Characters will say, “What the hell is going on here?” when it is quite clear what the heck is going on.
6. Most of the people to survive the deadly plague that destroyed most of humanity look like Abercrombie & Fitch pinups.
7. Why take the stairs when you can drive a Rolls Royce down an escalator?
So there you have it — lessons learned.
Despite legendary director Jean-Luc Godard’s claim that, “All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl,” both of which are amply on display in the Resident Evil movies, they still feel more like a videogame projected on a big screen than a movie.
But who cares what I or other film critics think? These movies have been phenomenally successful and for over a decade have proven to be critic-proof. Roger Ebert placed Resident Evil on his most hated films list in 2005 and called its sequel, “an utterly meaningless waste of time,” adding, “Parents: If you encounter teenagers who say they liked this movie, do not let them date your children.”
Leonard Maltin added to the pile on calling Resident Evil: Apocalypse “tiresome” while Dark Horizons said the third movie, Afterlife was, “perhaps the first 3D motion picture to simulate the experience of watching paint dry,” and yet the splatter flick went on to gross $300 million worldwide.
Critics aside, others in the film biz love the movies. Avatar director James Cameron called Resident Evil his biggest guilty pleasure and the Ontario Media Development Corporation acknowledged the Toronto-shot Afterlife as the most successful production in Canadian feature film history.
Bottom line is that in total, the series has grossed almost $1 billion — a feat recognized by the Guinness World Records Gamers’ Edition who called the Resident Evil films “the most successful movie series to be based on a video game,” awarding them with the record for Most Live-Action Film Adaptations of a Video Game.