Friday, January 31, 2020

What to Watch This Weekend: January 31, 2020

In Theaters: Gretel and Hansel
Gretel and Hansel tells a grim, dark fairy tale with a deliberate style and an electronic, otherworldy soundtrack.  For more information, check out our review!

At Redbox: Terminator: Dark Fate
A movie that was critically acclaimed, but a box office flop, Terminator: Dark Fate is a fun return to form for the Terminator franchise, with jaw dropping special effects, tons of nostalgia, and cameos by everyone you would want to see!  For more information, check out our review!

At Redbox: Harriet
Check out this Oscar hopeful, which tells a Hollywood-ized story of the famous historical freedom fighter, fueled by Cynthia Erivo's strong, Oscar-worthy performance.

Streaming (HBO): The Curse of La Llorona
The second attempt to expand the conjuring universe, the Curse of La Llorona is not up to the level of the Conjuring or Annabelle, but it still has enough jump scares to entertain you for a night.  It is by no means a good movie, but if you're looking for something scary, check this out.  

Streaming (Showtime): Green Book
Green Book has strong performances by Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen, good lessons to be learned from this surprising friendship, and an interesting, if safe, take on traveling to the south at a time when a guide had to be published to tell black travelers what establishments were safe to go to.  

Streaming (Amazon): Fighting With My Family
Fighting With My Family gives you a heartwarming story, filled with thoroughly enjoyable characters and action, that takes some creative liberties but still tells a solid tale.  For more information, check out our review!

Review: Gretel and Hansel

Release date: January 31, 2020
Running time: 87 minutes
Starring: Sophia Lillis, Alice Krige, Jessica De Gouw 

Gretel and Hansel is a dark fairy tale--a scary tale.  It is a grim retelling of the classic fairy tale with a darker aesthetic, more mysticism than I remember, and a muted, but still bold style.  Gretel and Hansel are put out at a desperate time.  Cold and hungry, they break into a house in order to steal some food from an overflowing table.  However, when they are discovered, the quirky but seemingly nice old matron of the house takes them in.  But Gretel starts to become uneasy with this arrangement as she learns and feels more about this house and the strange owner. 

Gretel and Hansel has a grim style fitting for a dark fairy tale.  The colors are muted, but also bold.  It is tough to describe, but the overall style is dark but with deliberate splashes of color.  For example, in the forest scene, despite the sky being overcast and the trees being a muted grey, the forest floor is still covered by yellow and orange leaves.  And in a scene involving a white and grey cabin, there is red smoke coming from the chimney.  This style is evident throughout the film, with many of the scenes containing drab, deliberate color choices with the occasional splash of color.  Being a fairy tale, much of the film feels rooted in fantastical concepts.  Not only is this reflected in the visual style and story; it is also reflected in the soundtrack, which has an electronic, otherworldly vibe to it.  Watching a film set in a medieval setting with more modern music is an interesting combination that contributes a lot when it hits. 

The acting and characters are generally good, however some of the characters can get on your nerves.  As with the original fairy tale, there are some very bad decisions made in the story that can be annoying to observe.  And the dialog is generally good, but can have some odd word choices and phrasing.  Despite the short run time of the film, the pace is still very slow.  It is not a good sign when a movie that is a little less than an hour and a half still feels like a long film.  And despite some interesting ideas in the plot, there are many story threads that are unexplained.  Unfortunately, this includes the ending, which is both too abrupt and at the same time unfulfilling.  The movie spends a lot of time setting up the characters, but  ends too quickly and leaves more questions than answers.   

Gretel and Hansel tells a grim, dark fairy tale with a deliberate style and an electronic, otherworldy soundtrack.  

Rent It

Screening: The Traitor

Rated R
Run time: 150 minutes

Cast: Pierfrancesco Favino, Maria Fernanda Candido, Nicola Cali, Luigi Lo Cascio, Fabrizio Ferracane, Fausto Russo Alesi

Director: Marco Bellocchio

THE TRAITOR tells the true story of Tommaso Buscetta, the man who brought down the Cosa Nostra. In the early 1980’s, an all out war rages between Sicilian mafia bosses over the heroin trade. Tommaso Buscetta, a made man, flees to hide out in Brazil. Back home, scores are being settled and Buscetta watches from afar as his sons and brother are killed in Palermo, knowing he may be next. Arrested and extradited to Italy by the Brazilian police, Buscetta makes a decision that will change everything for the Mafia: He decides to meet with Judge Giovanni Falcone and betray the eternal vow he made to the Cosa Nostra.

Screening Details:

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
6:30 PM

For your chance to win passes, please send an email to with the subject "The Traitor Screening."  Please include your full name in the body of the email.

Be sure to Like and Follow Watch or Pass on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and share with your friends!

As always, screenings are first-come, first-served so please arrive early to ensure you get a seat.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Review: My Spy

Release date: June 26, 2020 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 102 minutes
Starring: Dave Bautista, Kristen Schaal, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Chloe Coleman

Super Soldier JJ (Bautista) was an amazing military man, but is having trouble adjusting to his new covert role as a spy.  After one too many missions end in too many dead bad guys, JJ and his partner Bobbi (Schaal) are given one final chance: monitoring the family of a known criminal.  However, after the family's 9 year old daughter Sophie (Coleman) discovers that a spy is monitoring them, she uses that info to force JJ to spend time with her and teach her the tricks of his trade.

My Spy's main draw is Dave Bautista.  Similar to the Rock and John Cena, Bautista has attempted to bridge the gap between wrestling and acting with much success.  He is amazing in the Marvel universe and he was surprisingly entertaining in Stuber.  Also similar to the Rock and Cena in their children-focused movies, My Spy pits the strong man against a small child to see who will prevail.  This leads to many ridiculous situations, funny lines, and heartwarming moments as the mountain of muscles is forced to ice skate, get ice cream, and go to Sophie's "Parents and Special Friends" event at school.  It is really funny to see Bautista in these situations; he has a good sense of humor and really funny comedic chops.  The humor is helped along by the great acting of Chloe Coleman, who plays the 9 year old.  Her confidence and delivery are perfect and she is a great contrast to the serious Bautista.  The two make a great pair and really are the heart of the movie. 

For those wondering, though, this is definitely NOT a kids movie.  There is some amount of violence, language, and questionable content.  However, My Spy occupies a strange middle ground.  It is not raunchy enough to be considered edgy like Good Boys.  But it is too violent and has too much language to be considered kid-friendly.  In some ways that holds the film back.  It doesn't have the wide appeal of a kids movie but it also doesn't have the utterly shocking situations that made Good Boys so enjoyable.  It is essentially a teen movie in the dressing of a kids film.  

My Spy pits Bautista against his greatest challenge--a 9 year old girl--leading to some hilarious scenarios and heartwarming situations.  

Rent It

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Screening: Birds of Prey

(And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
In theaters February 7
Rated R

Cast: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco and Ewan McGregor
Director: Cathy Yan

You ever hear the one about the cop, the songbird, the psycho and the mafia princess? “Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” is a twisted tale told by Harley herself, as only Harley can tell it. When Gotham’s most nefariously narcissistic villain, Roman Sionis, and his zealous right-hand, Zsasz, put a target on a young girl named Cass, the city is turned upside down looking for her. Harley, Huntress, Black Canary and Renee Montoya’s paths collide, and the unlikely foursome have no choice but to team up to take Roman down.

Screening Details:

Wednesday, February 5
AMC Mazza Gallerie
5300 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to Like and Follow Watch or Pass on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and share with your friends!

As always, screenings are first-come, first-served so please arrive early to ensure you get a seat.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Review: Street Dancer 3D

Release date: January 24, 2020
Running time: 146 minutes
Starring: Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor, Prabhu Deva

Street Dancer 3D is the third movie in an Indian dancing series.  The first two films were released as ABCD: Any Body Can Dance and ABCD 2.  In the third film, the Street Dancers have now successfully created a dance studio but are still dancing on the streets of London.  However, a new, young Pakistani dance group challenges them, leading to a conflict of not just dance styles, but of nationalities.  These groups enter an underground dance competition with a large grand prize, but do either of them have enough to take on the undisputed British champion Royals?  

If the plot sounds ridiculous, well it is.  This is a dance movie, first and foremost, and the plot is simply there to drive the dancing forward.  It provides a loose structure to have intense dance battles, varied locations and costumes, and plenty of slow motion dance moves--sometimes in the rain.  The dance battles themselves are fun to watch.  Although the earlier battles are not the most involved, the battles during the underground competition are the appropriate level of grandiose, with some larger than life moves and effects to move the beat along.  On top of this, each dance battle has a new set of coordinated costumes, great choreography, and plenty of twists and turns (literally and figuratively) to keep the dancing interesting.

The cast of Street Dancer 3D is also enjoyable.  They are diverse, with plenty of dancers and dance styles to keep the film varied.  Many characters from the previous films return, along with some new faces to keep the story fresh.  And the costume design is bright and colorful when needed.  Where the film misses a beat is in its greater social message.  This movie pivots at the start to a movie about the plight of immigrants in Britain and a lesson in haves vs. have nots.  It is a good message, but the film delivers it in a heavy-handed way.  It really tries to tug at your heart strings and ends up feeling very forced.  Again, I like the overall message but it feels like this could have been delivered more subtly.  On top of this, the movie also inserts a certain amount of nationalistic pride in the rivalry of the Indian crew and the Pakistani crew, which is off-putting at first but resolves itself as the film progresses.  And finally, the plot is ridiculous, as you would expect, but that is par for the course in dance movies.  

Street Dancer 3D takes on the world with intense and grandiose dance battles from some immensely talented performers. 

Rent It

Deal: Rent The Farewell for 99 cents

Check out the amazing movie that was snubbed by the Oscars.  It is 98% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and is a heartwarming and heart wrenching look at a family dealing with very terrible news.  It explores differences in cultures and generations and has some wonderful acting.

Right now you can rent the Farewll on Amazon, Vudu, or iTunes for just 99 cents.  However, it is going free with prime on February 12, so if you have Amazon Prime and can hold out two weeks, you can watch it for free.  Thanks to Slickdeals for the original posting about this deal!

Friday, January 24, 2020

What to Watch This Weekend: January 24, 2020

In Theaters: The Gentlemen
The Gentlemen is classic Guy Ritchie: a fantastic cast acting in a complicated crime caper fueled by Ritchie's amazing style and sharp, clever writing.  For more information, check out our review!

In Theaters: Weathering With You
Weathering With You is an absolutely stunning film with amazing animation, incredible weather effects, and moving music that combine to tell a beautiful, heartfelt story.  For more information, check out our review!

At Redbox: Zombieland: Double Tap
The crew is finally back and ready for rental!  Zombieland: Double Tap is a satisfying sequel to the original cult classic, with an all star cast (including fantastic new additions) and laugh out loud comedy.  For more information, check out our review!

Streaming (Starz): Brightburn
The dark, horror inspired Superman origin story is an interesting take that is tense but also fun to watch.  It doesn't quite deliver but it is an original superhero movie that provides a worst case scenario for a super powerful entity.  

Streaming (Amazon): Wonder Park
Wonder Park is an imaginative, enjoyable experience for all ages.  The movie has some memorable characters, an interesting setting, is an enjoyable ride that will not leave you disappointed.  For more information, check out our review!

Streaming (Amazon): Bumblebee
Bumblebee is the origin story that no one asked for but now feels like a perfect part of the world.  It is filled with 80s nostalgia, funny writing, great special effects, and feels more true to the original Transformers source material than any of the other recent movies.  It is a worthy origin story and hopefully a sign of what is to come from this universe.  For more information, check out our review!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Review: The Last Full Measure

Release date: January 24, 2020
Running time: 110 minutes
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Jeremy Irvine 

The Last Full Measure is inspired by the true story of Airman William H. Pitsenbarger, a man who gave his life in Vietnam while helping his fellow soldiers in an ambush.  Pitsenbarger was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor over 30 years after this, and the Last Full Measure tells this tale in a setting where a fictionalized Pentagon Staffer is working to make this award possible.   

I am always wary of movies that are inspired by true events.  When Hollywood gets its hands on a story and twists it to a more pleasing form, it can sometimes help the overall experience but often makes an important story seem manufactured or ridiculous.  The movie does a very accurate job with the battle that Pitsenbarger fought in and the chaos and carnage that ensued.  And the vehicle that the filmmakers chose to tell this story, with a fake staffer and the journey track down evidence for this award, does try to explore some of the effects of battle and the issues that our veterans are going through due to their service.  

However, the framework of the Pentagon staffer tracking down the soldiers that also participated that day takes this inspirational story and pushes it too far into Hollywood.  This is reflected in some of the Hollywood touches that seem to permeate this film.  The dialog is overly dramatic and often hit or miss; sometimes it does not feel natural and does not have a good flow.  The awkward dialog is not helped by some inconsistent performances by the actors, including, surprisingly, Sebastian Stan.  Samuel L. Jackson is solid throughout, but many of the scenes feel like they could have used additional takes.  Additionally, in order to tell the story the staffer travels all throughout the country (and beyond) in the span of a few weeks.  The performances do improve and the overall story gets better as the film progresses, and by the end of the film, the filmmakers succeed in imparting on you an important story about a soldier and the ramifications of war.  However, the Hollywood creation of the fake staffer causes the focus of the movie to largely move away from Pitsenbarger and on this staffer who is learning the story.  And it introduces an odd distrust of bureaucracy from dramatic effect when accounts of the story do not include any sort of malfeasance.  

The Last Full Measure tells an important story of courage and sacrifice, but does so through a Hollywood lens that adds some important lessons within its overly dramatic dialog.

Rent It

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Review: Weathering With You

Release date: January 17, 2020
Running time: 114 minutes
Starring: Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, Shun Oguri 

From the creators of the critically acclaimed Your Name comes another beautiful, heartfelt animated journey.  Hodaka Morishima (Daigo) has run away from home to Tokyo.  Struggling to survive, he befriends Hina Amano (Mori), a girl with a special power.  Together, the two struggling teenagers survive and thrive in a Tokyo covered by perpetual rain.  

As you would expect from the team that brought you Your Name, Weathering With You is absolutely gorgeous.  The animation is crisp and beautiful, with a clean style that really helps to tell the story.  The film is mostly set in Tokyo, and from what I remember, it looks just like it.  Many of the buildings are recognizable and even some of the minor details like alleyways and housing evoke that special city.  Also what you would expect from a movie called Weathering With You, it has stunning weather.  From beautiful rays of sunshine to some torrential downpours and slow motion rain shots, the weather is as important to this story as the main characters are and is as beautifully animated as well. 

On top of the amazing animation, the music of Weathering With You contributes just as much to the story.  The lyrical songs are wonderful and fit what is going on in that specific scene.  However, there are sections of piano music that are beautiful and understated, yet come in at exactly the right time to set the mood and contribute to the moving story.  And the story itself, although a little quirky and dramatic, is a wonderful story about children maturing and finding their place in this world.  The characters and their struggles tell a beautiful, heartfelt story that will stick with you well after the movie's credits.

Weathering With You is an absolutely stunning film with amazing animation, incredible weather effects, and moving music that combine to tell a beautiful, heartfelt story.

Watch It

Friday, January 17, 2020

What to Watch This Weekend: January 17, 2020

In Theaters: Bad Boys For Life
Bad Boys For Life brings the iconic duo back for another ride with enough nostalgia to please fans of the first films and enough humor, action, and new characters to start a new franchise. For more information, check out our review!

At Redbox: Gemini Man
Gemini Man is a beautiful action movie with some amazing CG, but unfortunately the rest of the film fails to entertain after the explosions have cooled.  For more information, check out our review!

Streaming (Disney+): Aladdin
Aladdin is a fine remake of the animated classic.  It is not as good as the original movie, but Disney did a good job re-imagining the film and Will Smith's genie, though not as good as Robin William's portrayal, still has a lot to love about his character.  Smith makes the role his own, and has a fresh take on the character that is fun to see.     

Streaming (Netflix): Bad Boys
Prepare for Bad Boys for Life by going back to the classics.  Bad Boys was an entertaining film that took two charismatic leads at the top of their game and added a ton of Michael Bay explosions into the mix.  Plus, Bad Boys for Life has a lot of nostalgia so seeing the originals will help prepare you for those references.

Streaming (Netflix): Bad Boys II
The follow up to Bad Boys, Bad Boys II went bigger in pretty much every way.  Keeping the same amazing chemistry, Michael Bay went for bigger explosions in this perfect summer action fest.  Though not critically acclaimed, audiences loved the sequel and again, seeing it will help remind you of the nostalgia references in Bad Boys for Life.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Review: Dolittle

Release date: January 17, 2020
Running time: 106 minutes
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen 

Dolittle tells the tale of a brilliant, eccentric doctor who has the rare ability to talk to animals.  However, because of past events, he has since become a recluse, preferring the company of his animal companions to the human world.  Dolittle is less of an origin movie and more of a rebirth film.  The movie starts with an animated history of Dr. Dolittle and explains why he has shunned the human world.  Then it opens after the man has already become somewhat of a recluse.  But an unexpected visitor or two lead Dolittle and his animal companions on an epic journey. 

Dolittle is accompanied on his journey by his young apprentice Stubbins (Harry Collett) and an all-star cast of voice talent including John Cena, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, and Tom Holland to name a few.  The sheer number of characters and the chaos that their animal actions cause is much funnier than I expected.  There are some silly moments for kids but also some genuinely funny moments for adults to enjoy.  

Dolittle's journey takes him to a couple of interesting places with their own animals and humans for the group to interact with.  However, the journey does feel drawn out.  The movie is an hour and forty five minutes, probably about the limit for a kids film, and it definitely feels like it.  You do visit some interesting places, but it feels like the movie lingers in those places for far too long.  It drags around the middle part and the end gets slightly ridiculous.  The ending does continue the theme of the film but the climactic encounter feels like its jumping the shark (unfortunately without a talking shark).  

Dolittle takes its all star cast and sends them on a journey with plenty of heart and funny animal and human moments. 

Rent It

Review: The Gentlemen

Release date: January 24, 2020
Running time: 113 minutes
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Hugh Grant

From the wild mind of Guy Ritchie comes a new complicated crime tale featuring a unique cast and plenty of twists and turns.  Marijuana king pin Mickey Pearson (McConaughey) is on top of his game and thinking of getting out.  However, as soon as he starts to look for options, everything goes wrong.  Be it potential rivals (Henry Golding) or clever journalists looking to make some money (Hugh Grant), Mickey and his right hand man Ray (Hunnam) will have to use all of their wits to stay kings of jungle.  

This movie has plenty of Guy Ritchie's trademark look.  From the very noticeable and perfectly done costumes, to the choice of shooting locations, and the great camera shots, this film oozes style.  The Gentlemen gangsters all dress and act impeccably, with crisp suits and calm words.  The interloping gangsters are less put together, but equally fitting.  And Colin Farrell's character has such an outlandish but perfect style that just endears you to him and his boys.  And I absolutely love scumbag Hugh Grant; scumbag Hugh Grant might possibly be my favorite Hugh Grant.  His character acts as a narrator to the film and he is such a breath of fresh air.  This style is also helped by a fantastic soundtrack that sets the mood.  The opening song sets a wonderful tone, one that is continued throughout.  

And the story is classic Guy Ritchie: it starts with a little nibble of information and weaves new characters, plots, and sub plots in as you take this incredible journey.  It is an interesting caper that has plenty of twists and turns and keeps drip feeding information that will have you wondering what will happen next.  And all of this is fueled by Ritchie's incredible and irreverent dialogue.  It is sharp, serious, and when it needs to be very clever.  Listen to every word because they're all important for the story.

The Gentlemen is classic Guy Ritchie: a fantastic cast acting in a complicated crime caper fueled by Ritchie's amazing style and sharp, clever writing.  Dignify yourself and don't miss this one.  

Watch It

BONUS: Check out this special Q&A featuring Guy Ritchie, Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Hugh Grant, and Henry Golding that played after the screening at Alamo Drafthouse!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Review: Bad Boys For Life

Release date: January 17, 2020
Running time: 123 minutes
Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Alexander Ludwig, Vanessa Hudgens

They're finally back!  After a 17 year hiatus, Mike (Smith) and Marcus (Lawrence) return to play their iconic roles for one last ride.  However both Mike and Marcus are much older than their earlier, shoot first ask questions later selves, and must deal with the realities of their age, moving on from their past, but also confronting issues from it.  

The best thing about Bad Boys For Life is the chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.  This was a draw of the original movies; the two personalities complemented each other and made for a fun dynamic duo.  And although we haven't seen them together in a very long time, and they are still natural as partners.  The two play off each other perfectly, Mike with his invincible, hot-headed demeanor and Marcus with his more cautious, humorous personality.  As with the original two movies, this levity helps break up tense scenes; Marcus has a knack for cracking a joke even when the gunfire erupts.  However, this time it is not just Marcus and Mike taking on the world.  They have the help of a new team at Miami PD who use the latest advances in technology to solve cases, rather than old school, brute force detective work.  It is a fun dynamic to see; Marcus and Mike are already dealing with growing older and having this young, crack team thrown in just amplifies this.  

And like the original films, Bad Boys For Life has plenty of humor.  The movie is genuinely funny.  Lawrence is the central focus of this, but other characters definitely add to the humor.  There are several legitimate laugh out loud moments that really help to break up some of the action scenes.  But those action scenes are quite good.  From the gun play to the intense chase scenes, this movie has enough action to keep you entertained.  And as you would expect from a sequel, the Bad Boys For LIfe is full of nostalgia.  From characters from the original films making appearances, to old songs and nostalgic shots, the film has plenty of throw backs to the original Bad Boys movies.  But, the best part of Bad Boys For Life is that the film also stands on its own.  It uses the nostalgia and plays off of it, but the movie itself is a wildly entertaining ride.  It is Bad Boys x Gemini Man x NCIS x Fast and Furious.  If that sounds appealing to you, you should definitely watch this new adventure.

Bad Boys For Life brings the iconic duo back for another ride with enough nostalgia to please fans of the first films and enough humor, action, and new characters to start a new franchise.  

Watch It

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Review: Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior

Release date: January 10, 2020
Running time: 131 minutes
Starring: Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan, Kajol

Tanhaji: the Unsung Warrior tells the tale of Tanhaji (Devgn), a 17th century Maratha military leader.  He is a great warrior, leader of men, and family man; basically your typical Hindi action star.  Tanhaji volunteers to defend his kingdom against an invading force led by Udaybhan Rathod (Khan), who is hoping to conquer all of India for Emperor Aurangzeb.  

As mentioned, Tanhaji features a larger than life protagonist that personifies your typical Hindi action star.  He is a fearless warrior, general on the battlefield, devoted father, and also puts his country first.  It is a trope, but it can be effective at times.  Devgn is great as Tanhaji, pulling off this man with an understated strength and conviction.  Khan is likewise great as Rathod, a cunning, ruthless, conniving warrior leading the invading forces.  Again, another Hindi movie trope, where Tanhaji is wholesome and pure, Rathod is heartless and evil.  His only motivation seems to be killing and the enjoyment he gets from it.  And these two larger than life personalities meet in some grandiose battles.  Although not as epic as some war movies, the fights are complicated and have many facets to them.  And the build up to the final fight is surprisingly tense as you wonder whether all the moving parts will come together. 

So overall, enjoyable characters and action.  But, the large battles were distracting at times due to some less than believable CG.  From some of the battle wounds, to the battle animals, to the landscape that is being fought on, the poor CG pulls you out of the experience whenever it becomes noticeable, which unfortunately is pretty frequent.  Additionally, as already alluded to, the movie has a very black and white tone.  The good guys are pure, wonderful, and care about country over anything else.  The bad guys are unpredictable, backstabbers, and murder without care or concern.  It goes beyond their personas as well.  The Maratha's are all cloaked in white and bright colors, whereas the invaders only wear black or dark colors.  It is a little too polarized for my taste, as many of these historical stories have shades of gray in them. 

Tanhaji pits two larger than life warriors in an epic battle that culminates in a tense final encounter.

Rent It

Monday, January 13, 2020

Review: Ip Man 4: The Finale

Release date: December 20, 2019
Running time: 106 minutes
Starring: Donnie Yen, Scott Adkins, Kwok-Kwan Chan

As its name implies, Ip Man 4: The Finale concludes the saga of Ip Man, the Wing Chun martial arts master and teacher of Bruce Lee.  In it, Master Ip Man (Yen) travels to America in order to find a foreign school for his son.  But he encounters an entrenched Chinese population in San Francisco dealing with the problems and prejudices of being an immigrant population in America in the 60s.  On top of this, Master Ip Man has his own problems to deal with while he hunts for a new life for his son.   

First and foremost, this movie should have good martial arts.  And thankfully, this is definitely a strong suit of the film.  Donnie Yen is up to the challenge and this movie has some pretty fantastic fight choreography with a variety of styles.  Yen is joined by some very talented martial artists to create some beautiful and brutal fight sequences.  However, what is also apparent from this film is that it is a love letter to classic martial arts movies.  From the yellow tint to the film, to the exaggerated dialog where even the English lines sometimes sound like bad English dubs, to the way that most problems can be resolved by one epic fight, this film invokes everything you loved about classic martial arts movies.

And don't get me wrong, I loved this movie and I especially love Donnie Yen's quiet, confident master.  However, there is a lot of overt racism in this film against Chinese and against white Americans.  I don't know how bad it was in the 1960s, so maybe this is all an accurate representation, but a lot of it seemed exaggerated for dramatic effect.  It definitely feels like a film where American culture is depicted in an overly exaggerated stereotypical fashion.  And, the underlying message of the film, that many disputes can be solved by a simple fight, seems like an outdated idea.  Again, I want to caveat that I loved this film and if this is a throwback to old martial arts films, it is a well done one.  However, if this is meant to teach lessons, then this might not be the best exemplar for life. 

Ip Man 4 finishes the epic story of Master Ip Man, with a wonderful love letter to classic martial arts film, with the exaggerated scenarios and amazing fights that you would expect from the Wing Chun master.

Watch It