Tag Archives: Dave Franco

The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE

Directors: Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher
Writers: Bob Logan (screenplay by), Paul Fisher (screenplay by)
Stars: Jackie Chan, Dave Franco, Fred Armisen

Plot: Shunned by everyone for being the son of an evil warlord, a teenager seeks to defeat him with the help of his fellow ninjas.

Running Time: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 55%    Audiences 46%

Why I Watched It: Two main reasons, it was on sale at itunes for .99 cents and my oldest daughter(who’s 8) wanted to see it.

Random Thoughts: So Lego movies are their own thing now, I do like that every Lego Movie has to have Movie in the title.  So this one started as a TV show but to be honest I hadn’t heard of it but since the Lego Movie and Lego Batman did well I guess they’re looking for more big screen material.

What I Liked: To be fair this seems like a lesser title, or I guess it feels a little slight. Ninjago seems less ambitious than their Movie or Batman and seems aimed at a much younger crowd more of a kid’s movie.  I’m alright with that, you take a movie at their level and for me I had fun with it.  The set up was fine, I liked the big theme of the father is the bad guy and the son is on a team that fights him and both really want to connect with the other.  Not subtle but you see where they’re going with this and the humour works pretty well.

The standout n the voice cast is Justin Theroux, he makes a different bad guy but he’s the funniest character and he really milks the laughs.  The character itself is a good comedy character and I think a better character than in the Lego Movie.

The animation is good not as good as the other Lego movies but I did like the colors and also the locations they use again I think the film is just silly fun and the animation worked at that level.

What I Didn’t Like: The characters are a little thin and even more so they’re pretty stock, the Jackie Chan character is so stock he’s boring, again they just did what they needed they weren’t aiming for the stars this left like a B-Movie.

The film is way too long at 1 hour 41 minutes they just didn’t have the story to fill the time and with that the story does drag, this movie is aimed at kids and they should have trimmed it down and made it much tighter of a story.

I think they missed an opportunity to do more with the Ninja team they pretty much just focused on the Dave Franco character, the other members really don’t standout, which is too bad cause they had some good voices to work with but they didn’t flesh them out enough, frankly they weren’t needed.

The Wraparound live action scenes they did in the film was also a little boring and they didn’t work as well as the Lego Movie, I kind of wished they didn’t do they same thing, do something different so this stands on it’s own.

Final Thoughts: I liked it, it’s not great but I had fun with it now both my daughters didn’t like it, my 8 year old thought it was boring and my 6 year old stopped watching it about a third of the way in.

Rating: 6/10

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The Disaster Artist (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

THE DISASTER ARTIST

Director: James Franco
Writers: Scott Neustadter (screenplay by), Michael H. Weber (screenplay by)
Stars: James Franco, Dave Franco, Ari Graynor

When Greg Sestero (Dave Franco), an aspiring film actor, meets the weird and mysterious Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) in an acting class, they form a unique friendship and travel to Hollywood to make their dreams come true.

When “The Disaster Artist” hit the cinema last month a few critics and fans alike said to get a lot of the references in this movie you would have to view Wiseau’s “The Room”. Set around the early 2000’s Sestero and Wiseau develop a relationship for their love of film and acting. Greg’s biggest problem is being comfortable performing his abilities in front of an audience. Having witnessed Tommy perform at an audition in what can only be described as “expressing” himself. Greg is in awe on how much Tommy is liberated on stage and shows no signs of fear. This is the basis of their adventure to Hollywood and the big time….or so they thought.

I haven’t watched “The Room” and to be honest it didn’t stop me enjoying this movie. I ranked this my third best film of 2017 in our Movie Burner Podcast (Episode Twelve) and over the course of this review I will explain why.

The basis for “The Disaster Artist” is working around what lead Tommy Wiseau to make what is arguably one of the worst movies ever made. I can’t comment on “The Room” but there is something magical about the experience of “The Disaster Artist” the blend of naivety, humour and characters is what entertained and intrigued me. Tommy Wiseau is such an interesting guy in the sense you don’t know what’s coming next with him.

There were a lot of questions about him in this film that have been also asked in real life. Where is that accent from? He claims it’s a New Orleans accent. Where did he find the cash to have another home in LA and finance a film that came in at $6 Million? Does it really matter? In fact no it doesn’t.

James Franco continues to surprise me with his acting abilities and some of his recent projects he has worked on. Taking the Directors chair for this movie as well as taking the lead role shows Franco’s commitment to the film and his ability to impersonate or should that be embody the essence of Wiseau is stunning. His mannerisms and timings is what keeps you focused on the character and the actor deserves a lot of praise for this and his ability to laugh at (or with) Wiseau but sympathise with him also.

Dave Franco is also terrific as Greg Sestero. I previously reviewed both “Now You See Me” films and the movie “Nerve” and if I’m totally honest, neither of these performances from Dave stood out for me. In “The Disaster Artist” it’s a different story. Although Wiseau dominates the screen it would be ignorant not to recognise Dave Franco’s presence throughout this story. There appears to be a bit of guilt put on Sestero’s shoulders by Wiseau in the final third of the film. Tommy brought Greg out of his shell, he also took him to LA to stay in his house and have a strong role in his movie that he was financing.

Dave Franco displays this well in frustration and disappointment as a chance to appear as a “lumberjack” in “Malcolm in the Middle” after a chance meeting with Bryan Cranston is thwarted by Wiseau not allowing Greg to keep his beard (job requirement for a lumberjack by all accounts) as his final scenes in “The Room” required a clean shaven Greg for his grand entrance. You could be forgiven for thinking that wasn’t the real reason Tommy put a block on this as he comes across jealous and petty at this point.

Overall “The Disaster Artist” is a terrific film, directed well by James Franco. Both brothers just slot right into their characters and although I haven’t seen “The Room” I don’t think has hindered my viewing pleasure in any way. Neither do I feel the urge to go and watch “The Room” out of curiosity as my viewing of “The Disaster Artist” was fulfilling and satisfactory. Highly Recommend.

Nerve (2016) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

NERVE.png

Directors: Henry Joost,  Ariel Schulman
Writers: Jeanne Ryan (novel),  Jessica Sharzer (screenplay)
Stars: Emma Roberts,  Dave Franco,  Emily Meade

Vee (Emma Roberts) finds herself immersed in a Online Game called “Nerve” which is basically a digital version of the game “Truth or Dare” in today’s society where we are constantly pushing the social media boundaries where posting on to blogs etc seem dated with the introduction of live streaming from outlets such as Facebook Live, YouTube Live and Periscope. It seems everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame and if you can earn some money on the way then all the better.

“Nerve” is primarily that. Vee signs up to the platform after an incident where her “best friend” embarrasses her and Vee realises that Sydney (Emily Meade) is the outgoing one who takes the chances in life and lives her life to the full and it’s totally immersed in the game. Sydney thrives on gaining more “Watchers” (which she says Vee is in real life, wilting in the corner) and hoping to make it to the top of the Nerve League.

The premise of this movie I suppose was interesting enough for me to actually sit down and watch it. Don’t get me wrong it appears that the writers understand where we appear to be going with the access we have to broadcast to the world and the novel by Jeanne Ryan (which I can’t comment on because I haven’t read the book) really pushes the story along on how far we will go morally and ethically.

I have to say though that I felt the acting was a little flat in most scenes and the climatic finale was a little disappointing to say the least.

Emma Roberts as Vee was okay and wasn’t the most offensive two dimensional character in the movie. What probably helped this character was a slight hint of tragedy in her life losing her brother, which isn’t heavily explained but gives you an indication on why Vee is a slight social misfit and a bit introverted. Another addition and weight to this character is to have Juliette Lewis (Nancy) play your mother. Lewis is the biggest star Joost and Schulman managed to cast in what turns out to be cameos in probably three scenes and unfortunately Nancy is written as a Mother who has no clue what her daughter gets up to.

Opposite Vee is Ian played by Dave Franco. You know what you are getting with Franco (although I can’t forgive him for butchering one of my favourite Roy Orbison songs) and I felt he did a great job in the Now You See Me franchise. In “Nerve” he portrays another player whose character is very hard to read (and I’m not so sure this was deliberate) Ian like all players wants to earn as much money as possible in the game and teaming up with Vee appears to characterise him as a bit of a user and just when you are coming round to the character you realise he is setting things up with Vee as part of the “Dare” and again I didn’t like or trust him. In fact Ian only manages to redeem himself in the final scenes (which I’ll get to in a moment)

Actress Emily Meade portrays Sydney as best friend to Vee. To me there wasn’t any good aspects to this character who was bratty, driven by money and attention. What did Vee see in this loser? To be fair to Meade she did a good job in convincing me what a despicable human being Sydney was and just like Ian is redeemed in the final scenes.

This appears to be the common theme in this movie in tying everything up in a pretty bow at the end. I felt the writing for the third act was lazy and convenient into making sure this movie lasted just over 90 minutes. The final act is a stand off between the league leaders in a truth or dare shootout scenario where the watchers vote whether or not one of the players shoots one of the other players. What? Really? Is this where this movie ends up going? In a finale that reminds me of the incorrect morally social cautiousness that appeared in The Running Man (1987) where “ordinary” people suddenly have a thirst for blood and encourage murder this is where I feel this movie falls flat.

Visually the movie is slick and glossy and uses clever graphics for us to understand how the game operates and highlights the players with clever title effect shots hovering over each character at certain points. The motorcycle sequence was actually quite thrilling and although not on the same level as “The Matrix Reloaded” added a bit of action to a rather poorly written movie.

“Nerve” last just over an hour and a half and although it isn’t the worst movie I have ever watched it certainly isn’t one I will be going back to in a hurry.

Now You See Me (2013) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin

NOW YOU SEE ME

Director: Louis Leterrier 
Writers: Ed Solomon (screenplay), Boaz Yakin (screenplay) 
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine 

Now You See Me is about four magicians brought together by a mysterious hooded figure to perform the ultimate trick.

Each of the four magicians (Eisenberg, Harrelson, Fisher and Franco) are drafted in for their individual talents however these aren’t really highlighted or explored during the film in any great detail, although each are shown glimpses of what they can do in their introductions.

As for the story, the concept is original and the cast is jam packed with all stars giving good credible performances. The only issue I have is the lack of character development.

We don’t get any background information on any of the magicians (apart from Atlas and Henley who used to work together) That’s not to say that there is any lack of interesting characters, each of the “Four Horsemen” bring a very unique style to the movie and the sheer amount of talent present in each scene guarantees that you will be entertained.

As for the visuals, in the early part of the film has our street magicians working their magic while engaging in fast, and smart, patter.

The camera work in the early moments are irritating (moving, spinning, and swirling) and thankfully, this is short lived and dissipates as the movie moves on.

Eisenberg as J. Daniel Atlas has a real knack for playing arrogant, self assured characters (Social Network, Batman v Superman) Harrelson (Merrit McKinney) never disappoints in anything he does regardless of the quality of film (looking forward to seeing him in the Han Solo movie) Along with a solid performance by Fisher (Henley Reeves) and Franco as Jack Wilder playing a lesser role to the other three but who performs a great fight scene with Ruffalo in the last 3rd of the movie. (Like a Gambit v Hulk face off)

What appears at first is Ruffalo’s Character Dylan Rhodes (FBI) reminding me of Tommy Lee Jones’ Sam Gerrard from The Fugitive (1993) hunting the magicians down, but always a frustrating 3 steps behind them.

Rhodes is accompanied by Interpol’s Alma Dray played by the excellent French actress Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds (2009) who I feel keeps calm and grounded against Ruffalo’s character who appears to be losing it at times pursuing the magicians.

The Now You See Me supporting cast of Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine (reunited a year after The Dark Knight Trilogy concluded) are used sparingly but are still used when it matters. Freeman is Thaddeus Bradley a “magic debunker” pursuing the four to expose their intentions and their magic for profit and fame, whilst Caine is Arthur Tressler who is the benefactor and founder of the show hosted by the magicians and is annoyed at Bradley’s meddling.

There is a twist at the end which I felt was a little predictable but I won’t go into that and if you haven’t viewed this movie from 2013 yet, I will let you work it out for yourselves.

Now You See Me is an okay entertaining film, which is worth a viewing. If you are a fan of heist or magic films you’ll enjoy it and may go back for multiple viewings. The pacing is consistent and the actors do a great job at delivering their lines. But to be honest I didn’t think Now You See Me warranted a sequel……or did it?