47 Meters Down
All Eyez On Me
Demetrius Shipp Jr. stars as Tupac Shakur who rose to fame as a rapper/actor in the 1990's before being gunned down in 1996 at th age of 25. He was raised by his single mother, Afeni Shakur (Danai Gurira), and developed a platonic friendship with Jada Pinkett (Kat Graham). Jamal Woolard plays his friend, Biggie Smalls.
All Eyez on Me covers a lot of ground in its lengthy running time of 2 hours and 20 minutes, but it bites off much more than it could chew. Perhaps the screenplay by Jeremy Haft, Steven Bagatourian and Eddie Gonzalez would have benefited by zeroing in more closely at a particular time of Tupac's life rather than trying to cram everything in from his childhood until his death. Opening with an interview from prison in 1992 before flashing back feels like a tacked-on device that wastes time and becomes distrating. Why not simply tell his story without the interview? Unfortunately, you can sense the wheels of the screenplay turning every step of the way because of its rather pedestrian presentation.
Director Benny Boom and the screenwriters fail to allow the audience to get inside of Tupac's head. Demetrius Shipp Jr.'s performance is very mediocre, although he does resemble Tupac physically. Danai Gurira gives a bravura performance, though---she's remiscent of Viola Davis. On top of the uneven performances, there's also another issue that weakens the film: choppy editing with awkward transitions. Too much of the film looks like it's a bad made-for-TV movie. There's not enough humanism or emotional grit to ground it which would have made it the powerful experience that it could have and should have been. Given the potential of its material, All Eyez on Me is disappointingly underwhelming.
Book of Henry
Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) had been the #1 champion of racing until Jackson Storm (voice of Armie Hammer) became the new champion. McQueen remains determined to regain his success. He allows Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), a technician-turned-trainer, to train him. Ramirez had always dreamed of becoming pursuing her dream of becoming a racer herself.
Although the CGI animation looks great and there are few heartfelt as well as thrilling moments, Cars 3, for the most part, falls flat with dullness while being too low on wit and humor. The first act shows some potential with some exciting racing scenes, but the second act loses steam before a slightly more engaging third act that has a pleasant surprise up its sleeve. It doesn't help that anthropomorphizing cars didn't quite work well in Cars and Cars 2; there's something cold about the way they look. That lack of warmth along with a screenplay by Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson, and Mike Rich that fails to generate more than a few laughs makes it easy for lethargy and, eventually, boredom to seep in. If only Cars 3 were to have the invigorating energy that its first and third acts had, it would've been much more fun and exhilarating.
On a positive note, the visual effects look spectacular with many images that look so photorealistic that you might forget that you're watching an animated movie. The musical score by Randy Newman compliments, enhances and even helps to set the film's tone more often than not. Top-notch visuals and use of music can only go so far, though, without a lively, imaginative, and clever screenplay. The best Pixar movies, like Toy Story and Ratatouille felt magical and memorable because of their well-written screenplays which did not have any dull scenes. They entertained both adults and children in different ways. Unfortunately, given that we're in a Golden Age of Animation, none of the films in the Cars series holds a candle to any of those great, classic Pixar movies. Sometimes the third time's the charm, but that's not the case with Cars 3. Please be sure to stay through the end credits for a stinger.
Two politicians, Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall), head of the Democratic Unionist Party of Britain, and his political adversary, Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney), deputy first minister of the Sinn Féin party of Ireland, go on a road trip together to attend a peace conference. Jack (Freddie Highmore) works as their chaffeur and must secretly record them for MI5 agent Harry Patterson (John Hurt) and Tony Blair (Toby Stephens) who hope that Paisley and McGuinness will get along before arriving at the conference so that they can sign the St. Andrews Agreement. The journey becomes longer than expected when the car gets a flat tire.
The witty, wickedly funny and razor sharp screenplay by Colin Bateman blends comedy, politics and drama in a way that's irresistibly entertaining and cerebral at the same time. When's the last time you've seen a modern dramedy that didn't require you to check your brain at the door or that didn't make you feel like you're losing brain cells? It's a lot of fun to watch Paisley and McGuinness exchanging quips and bantering with one another as though they were Oscar and Felix from The Odd Couple. The humor, like most British humor, is quite irreverent, and you have to pay close attention to the dialogue as well as the actors' body language, so perseptive audiences will be rewarded the most. Don't expect much in terms of action; this is the kind of film that's driven by character development. Even though you might easily predict whether or not Paisley and McGuinness will end up warming up to one other in spite of their differences, it's still engaging to watch how their characters evolve so naturally. The surveillance subplot isn't really necessary because there's enough tension and conflict arising between the two men.
The Journey would not have worked without the talents of Timothy Spall and Colm Meaney both of whom are very well cast. They actually have chemistry together, great comedic timing, and are each believable in their roles while exuding charisma. Is The Journey as quotable, smart, and biting as In the Loop? Not quite, but it comes pretty close. Fortunately, the pace moves along briskly and the film doesn't overstay its welcome at a running time of 1 hour and 34 minutes.
Lost in Paris