“G.I. Joe: Retaliation”
What do you do when your action franchise sucks or gets predictable? Bring in Dwayne Johnson. Just look at “The Mummy” films or “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” or “The Fast and the Furious” franchise. But can The Rock’s je-ne-sais-quoi fix every piece-of-shit script he touches? No, but it’s good for wrestling fans and the ladies. It’s no secret, “G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra” was terrible, so add a dash of Bruce Willis in for good measure. Even then, this could go in either direction. And after hiring Jon Chu, the guy who directed the classics “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” and the “Step Up” movies, it seemed like this sequel may be dancing direct to video. The results are not quite that horrible. It manages to be better than the previous film. The action sequences are tightly choreographed scenes. But all the other parts are flat and dully plotted. You can watch it for some senseless action if you want, but we say, “No Joe!” Give it a pass.
Since Jackie Robinson first portrayed himself in the 1950 feature film, “The Jackie Robinson Story,” there have been six actors to play the baseball icon – including David Allen Grier in an ’80s Broadway musical. Spike Lee tried to make a Robinson biopic with Denzel Washington back in the ’90s, but it never happened. So who ends up telling this inspiring tale in the new millennia? Why writer/director Brian Helgeland of course, a guy who’s written as many bad movies as good and hasn’t directed a movie in 10 years. And what big name actor is going to play Robinson? Everyone knows the man for the job is relatively unknown Chadwick Boseman. Truth is, none of these actors blast fireworks with their performances, not even Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers executive who broke baseball’s color barrier. But the film looks authentic, sounds authentic, and nothing gets in the way of telling this important story – worth a watch.
This is not your ordinary remake of some ’80s horror movie. The “Evil Dead” trilogy films are classics in the horror canon. In 1981, director Sam Raimi mixed a recipe of jump scares, gore, humor and action to make movies that stood as incomparable in the genre. But now they’re aged, and Raimi took a producer’s chair in this reboot/sequel. Presumably to reduce control issues, he selected first-time feature director, Fede Alvarez. Jane Levy from TV’s “Suburgatory” was chosen as the female replacement for the iconic Ash, played by Bruce Campbell in the original. It’s pretty much a modernizing of the original film, without the humor. That’s the shame of it. The weird comedy set the original apart from the flood of other horror films made in the ’80s. But there’s enough Raimi, and homage to Raimi, to make this an enjoyable film. And Levy is fun to watch, once she gets going. As long as you let go of the past and live in the now, it’s worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge