Matt Manfredi

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Ride Along 2 Review

Bad

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following up their lacklustre 2014 action-comedy with a film that's even lazier. While the first one at least had a sense of pacing, with humour that sometimes tipped from idiotic to mildly funny, this movie wastes its cast and premise on a series of witless action sequences, dopey slapstick and contrived relational touches. It's only watchable because Hart is able to make the most undemanding audience members chuckle now and then.

After proving that his video-gaming skills were useful in police work, Ben (Hart) has completed police academy and is working as a rookie, shadowing tough-guy detective James (Cube), whose sister Angela (Tika Sumpter) is marrying Ben in just a week. But before that happens, James and Ben head to Miami to follow a lead in a drug case they're working on. Alongside local tough-girl detective Maya (Olivia Munn), they track down a hacker (Ken Jeong) who has proof that local philanthropist Antonio (Benjamin Bratt) is actually a notorious global black market dealer. To prove that, they have to dive into a series of car and boat chases, plus heists and shootouts that never seem to go the way anyone expects.

The underlying story is exactly the same as the first film: James is trying to prove that Ben is an idiot, while he is actually softening James' rough edges. The difference here is that they know each other a bit better, so are more effective at getting under each others' skin. This means that they're even less likeable than before, and even Hart's non-stop comical chatter is more annoying than it is amusing. There are moments when Hart adds a tiny detail that elicits a smile from viewers, and some of his physical antics are so ridiculous that it's difficult not to giggle, but most of that is simply because it's unbelievable that the filmmakers thought any of this was genuinely funny.

Continue reading: Ride Along 2 Review

Ride Along Review


OK

There's a decent premise to this action-comedy, but the filmmakers can't be bothered to put in the effort to actually make it funny or exciting. Instead, they sit back and hope that the fast-talking Kevin Hart holds our interest. Thankfully, he's quite a lot of fun to watch, creating a likeable character out of an utter moron and generating a few good laughs along the way as he bounces off the other characters.

Hart plays Ben, a videogame addict who wants to spin his career as a school guard into a place at the Atlanta Police Academy. His sexy fiancee Angela (Sumpter) has a brother, James (Cube), who's an undercover detective and wants Ben to prove himself worthy of his sister. So he takes Ben on a ride-along, which he and his partners (Leguizamo and Callen) set up as a series of humiliations. Then Ben inadvertently discovers a few clues in their ongoing case to find mythical arms dealer Omar (Fishburne). And what started as a joke becomes rather a lot more explosive.

Yes, the film is packed with the usual fiery explosions and massive car chases punctuated by Hart's non-stop comedy patter. Ben is the standard cocky, annoying idiot who we know will become someone completely different by the end of the movie (see Beverly Hills Cop, Rush Hour, The Heat, et al). But this allows us to engage with Hart from the beginning, and he finds some sharp humour along the way. Cube, on the other hand, never remotely convinces as a hardened cop; we know he's a big softy. And poor Sumpter, virtually the only female on-screen, struggles to add spice to a thankless role that plays out exactly as the formula demands.

Continue reading: Ride Along Review

R.I.P.D. Review


Bad

The ingredients are all here, but this mash-up of Ghost with Men in Black is a painful misfire, neither funny nor engaging on any level. Even usually fine actors like Bridges and Bacon are left with nothing to do, while Reynolds strains to be the straight guy in a comedy that never raises a smile. And we can feel the filmmakers straining to crank up the wackiness at every turn.

Set in Boston, the story begins when young police detective Nick (Reynolds) refuses to join in a dirty deal proposed by his partner Bobby (Bacon), who then shoots him in cold blood. In the afterlife, Nick is recruited by a manager (Parker) into the Rest In Peace Department, protecting humanity from ghosts who have escaped judgement. His new partner is Wild West sheriff Roy (Bridges), who is reluctant to break the rules when Nick decides to investigate his own death to help protect his widow (Szostak) from Bobby's nefarious plan.

Yes, the plot is so in-grown that it never takes off, circling around a handful of characters even though it involves bringing about the end of humanity. Of course it does. These kinds of movies couldn't have stories that make any sense, and filmmakers can't resist making the ghosts goofy, rubbery cartoons rather than characters who are actually scary or interesting. The excessive use of digital effects makes the whole movie feel desperate as it strains for both laughs and teary emotion, but it gets neither.

Continue reading: R.I.P.D. Review

Clash Of The Titans Review


Good
The studio clearly couldn't resist the chance to digitally revisit the creatures so memorably animated by Ray Harryhausen in the 1981 original. The result is an unnecessary remake that's loud, chaotic and mildly entertaining.

Perseus (Worthington) is a demigod who has been raised by humans and now finds himself at the centre of a war between man and the gods Zeus (Neeson), Hades (Fiennes) and Poseidon (a blink-and-you'll-miss-him Danny Huston). Accompanied by a handful of plucky warriors from Argos (including Mikkelsen, Cunningham, Hoult and Matheson) and his spirit-guide Io (Arterton), he heads off to find the secret to defeat Hades' feared Kraken so he can save Princess Andromeda (Davalos).

Continue reading: Clash Of The Titans Review

Bug (2002) Review


Good
It's a cute little indie, but I feel like I've seen the interlocking-stories-based-on-unintended-consequences bit a few too many times already. In Bug it's played mainly for goofs, as a kid squashes a roach, gets a lecture from a stranger, who gets a parking ticket, and so and and so on. It becomes more absurd as we go along, though its earnestness will make you squirm a bit. The best moments are the little touches, which happen any time Jamie Kennedy is on screen.

Aeon Flux Review


Good
Music video director Anton Corbijn's video clip for industrial dance band Front 242's "Headhunter" featured a topless woman in a surreal black outfit holding a giant egg and wandering around a desolate industrial park. It's a music video that is absurdly artificial and at the same time engagingly artful.

Aeon Flux, Girlfight director Karyn Kusama's second film, is like a 95-minute remake of that video. It's visually sumptuous for no other reason than to indulge arty gluttons. And that's fine by me. I dig it, arty glutton that I am. Based on the animated short films of Peter Chung, the movie succeeds in translating Chung's fluid and sparse design. While it would be impossible to have an actress bend and slide like the heroine in the original MTV animated series, Charlize Theron is suitably acrobatic and looks great in spandex and black leather. The costumes are futuristic and the landscapes, mostly CGI, are eerily organic takes on mid-century design.

Continue reading: Aeon Flux Review

Aeon Flux Review


Good
Music video director Anton Corbijn's video clip for industrial dance band Front 242's "Headhunter" featured a topless woman in a surreal black outfit holding a giant egg and wandering around a desolate industrial park. It's a music video that is absurdly artificial and at the same time engagingly artful.

Aeon Flux, Girlfight director Karyn Kusama's second film, is like a 95-minute remake of that video. It's visually sumptuous for no other reason than to indulge arty gluttons. And that's fine by me. I dig it, arty glutton that I am. Based on the animated short films of Peter Chung, the movie succeeds in translating Chung's fluid and sparse design. While it would be impossible to have an actress bend and slide like the heroine in the original MTV animated series, Charlize Theron is suitably acrobatic and looks great in spandex and black leather. The costumes are futuristic and the landscapes, mostly CGI, are eerily organic takes on mid-century design.

Continue reading: Aeon Flux Review

Bug Review


Good
It's a cute little indie, but I feel like I've seen the interlocking-stories-based-on-unintended-consequences bit a few too many times already. In Bug it's played mainly for goofs, as a kid squashes a roach, gets a lecture from a stranger, who gets a parking ticket, and so and and so on. It becomes more absurd as we go along, though its earnestness will make you squirm a bit. The best moments are the little touches, which happen any time Jamie Kennedy is on screen.

Crazy/beautiful Review


Good
Just going on the sassy and jangly rock-filled MTV ad campaign for crazy/beautiful, you'd think that this teen flick was just another She's All That-style adolescent love story about the popular kid and the misfit, but this is not just another happy-go-lucky clone. While the writing may be a little too self-indulgent with its message-laden speeches, crazy/beautiful is pretty brave in the subjects it takes on, and does its best to avoid many teen movie conventions.

Nicole (Kirsten Dunst) is the privileged daughter of a congressman (Bruce Davison) who remarried to start a new family after Nicole's mother's suicide. Traumatized and emotionally alone, Nicole is always in trouble, and makes a defiant play for wrong-side-of-the-tracks Carlos (Jay Hernandez from MTV's Undressed soap), a hard-working straight-A Latino who commutes two hours from East Los Angeles to the Nicole's ritzy Pacific Palisades high school.

Continue reading: Crazy/beautiful Review

The Tuxedo Review


Good
As a youngster, I never missed an episode of Inspector Gadget. The loveable, wannabe crime-fighting buffoon always had the necessary tools inside his trench coat to get out of a jam. Like Inspector Gadget, Jackie Chan's character in The Tuxedo has the essential secret weapons inside his formal wear. He has the one thing Gadget could never get however: a sexy super agent partner.

Chan is Jimmy Tong, an unlucky-in-love cabbie who drives his car like a madman through the streets of New York City. His wild driving skills pique the interest of a CSA (think CIA) agent named Steena (Debi Mazar) looking for a new driver for the millionaire secret agent Clark Devlin (Jason Issacs). Tong is hired, and after just a few days on the job, Devlin is maimed in a car bombing. Intrigued by Devlin's debonair lifestyle, Tong begins wearing Devlin's tuxedo and posing as the well-dressed playboy.

Continue reading: The Tuxedo Review

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Matt Manfredi Movies

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Ride Along Movie Review

Ride Along Movie Review

There's a decent premise to this action-comedy, but the filmmakers can't be bothered to put...

R.I.P.D. Movie Review

R.I.P.D. Movie Review

The ingredients are all here, but this mash-up of Ghost with Men in Black is...

Clash Of The Titans Movie Review

Clash Of The Titans Movie Review

The studio clearly couldn't resist the chance to digitally revisit the creatures so memorably animated...

Advertisement
Aeon Flux Movie Review

Aeon Flux Movie Review

Music video director Anton Corbijn's video clip for industrial dance band Front 242's "Headhunter" featured...

Aeon Flux Movie Review

Aeon Flux Movie Review

Music video director Anton Corbijn's video clip for industrial dance band Front 242's "Headhunter" featured...

Crazy/beautiful Movie Review

Crazy/beautiful Movie Review

Just going on the sassy and jangly rock-filled MTV ad campaign for crazy/beautiful, you'd think...

The Tuxedo Movie Review

The Tuxedo Movie Review

As a youngster, I never missed an episode of Inspector Gadget. The loveable, wannabe...

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