Category: Bryan’s Reviews

Deepwater Horizon Review

By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 8 out of 10

deepwater_horizon_ver8

After releasing Hancock, who knew that Peter Berg was a fantastic filmmaker? Lone Survivor was an incredibly tense and emotional story surrounding Operation Red Wings’ failed mission in Afghanistan, and with Patriot’s Day on the horizon, it’s time to take a look back to the second movie of Berg’s “American Trilogy”, Deepwater Horizon. Focusing on the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, Deepwater Horizon feels real from beginning to end, anchored by a phenomenal performance by Mark Wahlberg and incredible third act that will stick with you long after departing the cinema.

(more…)

Assassin’s Creed Review

By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 5 out of 10

assassins_creed_ver3Video game movies have been a maligned genre since the 1990’s, when Bob Hoskins, Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo headlined a dreadful reimagination of Super Mario Bros. Earlier this year, Warcraft made its big picture debut in a beautiful, but muddled mess, and the hopes of all video game fans turned to Assassin’s Creed to see if Hollywood could right the ship. Despite having the talents of Michael Fassbender front and center, and all the resources of the video game canon, Assassin’s Creed falls flat with a confusing and disjointed story, a lack of action and a failed attempt to create a new branch in the long-standing series.

(more…)

Rogue One Review

By: Bryan Montgomery

Rating: 9 out of 10

rogue_one_a_star_wars_story_ver5When Disney announced the acquisition of Lucasfilm, Star Wars fans were not only excited about the impending episodic entries, but also the universe-expanding spinoff films. Akin to any initial embarkation, Rogue One has been a target of immense anticipation, scrutiny and anxiety since its initial announcement. Rogue One delivers one of the best Star Wars movies ever with an emotional story, incredible action and enough fan service to satisfy anyone looking for a two-hour trip to a galaxy far, far away.

(more…)

Ant-Man Review

By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 8 out of 10

ant_man_ver3The next step in the ever-evolving Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man is the first MCU film to deal with the repercussions from Avengers: Age of Ultron, doing so with a marginalized story mixing a crime caper with superhero powers. Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas shine in this surprisingly successful installment in the MCU, mixing enough humor and action to allow viewers to forgive its missteps and welcome yet another superhero to the long list of MCU tent poles.

(more…)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 9 out of 10

star_wars_episode_vii__the_force_awakens_ver3Note: I will do my best to ensure that this is a non-spoiler review, but read at your own risk in case you can analyze between the lines.

Taking our seats in the theater roughly an hour before the 7:40 p.m. showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I spent some time thinking about every first showing of a Star Wars movie that I’ve experienced. The wonder of seeing A New Hope for the first time on a big screen in 1997, my first exposure to a galaxy far, far away. Watching The Phantom Menace when I was nine and covering my eyes because I knew something bad was about to happen to my favorite character in the movie, Qui-Gon Jinn.

Three years later, sitting in the same seats at Rome Cinema 8 for Attack of the Clones and watching as one of my best friends saw his favorite character, Jango Fett, not make it through the final battle scene. Being engrossed in Revenge of the Sith from beginning to end. All of those emotions and experiences came back as the minutes ticked away until the beginning of The Force Awakens.

When the Lucasfilm logo shined across the screen, the crowd in the packed theater at Cinemark 17 and IMAX in North Dallas started to cheer. When the first note of John Williams’ famous score echoed across the speakers, a smile came to my face, a smile that didn’t leave until well after the credits rolled.

Star Wars is back, and The Force Awakens is a dynamite resurgence to the franchise. J.J. Abrams has quelled the doubters and delivered the best Star Wars movie since 1983, returning the feel of the original while debuting a slew of new characters that steal the show and can carry the franchise to new heights for years to come.

(more…)

Retro Review: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 7 out of 10

star_wars_episode_two_attack_of_the_clones_ver2A victim of the most forced love story in recent memory, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones had one simple mission; be better than The Phantom Menace. In that regard, it succeeded. On any other level, Attack of the Clones is another massive failure by George Lucas, and throws its hat into serious consideration for the worst film in the series.

Taking place 10 years after the conclusion of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones finds Anakin Skywalker as a Padawan under the teachings of Obi-Wan Kenobi, who has ascended to the rank of Jedi Master. After a series of failed assassination attempts on Senator Padme Amidala, the Jedi Council has assigned Anakin Skywalker as her protection detail with an important senate vote on the horizon. A series of events leads Skywalker and Kenobi to the origins of the Clone Wars, a clone army set in motion by a secretive enemy, while Anakin comes closer to his destiny.

Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen were supposed to be the driving force of Attack of the Clones, but they end up being its biggest shortfall. Not only does their love story come off as forced, but the absolute nonsense spouted between the two is enough to make any Star Wars fan weep for more awkward interaction between Luke and Leia.

The famous “sand is course” scene has become the bannister for everything wrong with the prequel trilogy, but there are several more painful iterations of their mishandled relationship, including Padme’s omission of love for Anakin before the Battle of Geonosis or their rolling around the grasses of Naboo, either way there is nothing positively memorable about their interaction, and breaks the film at its core before it can ever actually gain momentum.

Attack of the Clones was also the first time that we were subjected to Christensen, and any pre-conceived notions of a good Anakin Skywalker impression was cast to the wayside. The attack on the Tuscan Raiders is arguably the most critical piece of Attack of the Clones, and Anakin’s shift from peace-loving Jedi to a genocidal psycho happens so quickly that it simply just seems forced for a near 2 ½-hour movie. For such an important scene in the prequel trilogy, it is glossed over and mostly forgotten by the time that the credits start to roll.

Although the relationship between Anakin and Padme is the worst part of this film, everything else happening around the couple is actually quality Star Wars canon. Kenobi uncovering the mystery at Kamino is interesting, except for the part when Jango Fett leaves his Mandalorian armor in plain sight, leading Obi-Wan directly to the next plot line.

Seeing the development of Boba Fett and the development of the clone army was an interesting aspect of the movie, and honestly is one of the biggest momentum shifting moments of the Star Wars saga.

In several ways, this movie is completely a victim of circumstance. There are so many coincidences in the movie that lead the major players from one plot point to another, and there is zero chance that Darth SIdious and the other antagonists could have laid a plan that caught this many lucky bounces. Not even to consider the inability of the Jedi to realize that the brooding Lord of the Sith was sitting seven or eight feet away from them, which is ludicrous.

The Battle of Geonosis set in motion the positive aspects of the prequel trilogy, delivering the special effects on a level never seen before. For every glorious shot in Attack of the Clones there is an equally disappointing visually altered shot in the Jedi temple, but the final 20 minutes is absolute insanity, only fortified by the fight between Obi-Wan, Anakin and Count Dooku.

Holding off on showcasing the main villain of the film until the end of the second act was a bold move and one that truly didn’t pay off as filmmakers intended. Dooku is viewed as a holdover Sith apprentice until Anakin filled the seat in Episode III, and it is mainly due to the handling of Darth Tyrannus in Episode II. Those that spend a great deal of time in the expanded universe understand the impact of Dooku, but for the more casual fan, Dooku is often an afterthought.

In 2002, the biggest piece of the film, rightfully so, was Yoda’s combat debut. Without a doubt, if this occurred in the modern age, Yoda’s lightsaber fight would either be revealed in a TV commercial or trailer, but upon release of the movie, Yoda’s fighting abilities were easily the highlight of the film and the best surprise of the prequel trilogy.

Attack of the Clones is an improvement over The Phantom Menace, but a small improvement does not a great film make. Still rife with thematic and developmental flaws, the largest strike against Episode II is the forced chemistry between Padme and Anakin, which as the focal point of the prequel installment derails the film quickly. A strong final 25 minutes does not save the two hours that came before it, and unfortunately, the lasting legacy of Attack of the Clones will be its spot near the bottom when fans rank the Star Wars installments.

MONTY’S GRIPES

  • So…Jar-Jar Binks started the clone wars, right? That’s pretty much what we got from Episode II. Seriously. Padme would not have provided Palpatine emergency powers under the current circumstances, at least not in the time frame that Jar-Jar did, resulting in the clone wars never taking place. So in a way, Jar-Jar is responsible for everything in the prequel trilogy. Good job, yousa.
  • A land-locked, lizard/bug style race developed the Death Star. Just chew on that for a second.
  • This film came out with I was a whopping 12 years old, and still embodies one of my favorite movie memories. Going to the theater on release weekend with my close friend who was, and I’m guessing still is a massive Jango Fett fan. The look on his face when Jango met his untimely end will always register on my face; it was the look of pure defeat.
  • Whenever Anakin makes an angry face it looks like he just found a piece of bone in his chicken nugget from McDonald’s.
  • If you watch the Geonosian foundry scene through the Battle of Geonosis without C-3PO’s transformation into a battle droid, it’s arguably the best battle scene of the series, let alone the prequel trilogy.
  • Sand really is course. And it does get everywhere. But if you’re attempting to woo a lady, you should probably move in a different direction.

Retro Review: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

star_wars_episode_one_the_phantom_menace_ver2Let’s take a trip back to 1998. Moviegoers filing in and out of theaters merely 15 minutes after a film’s supposed show time, returning to the same theater several times, buying a ticket, then leaving the theater after the previews ran. Was it because they didn’t want to enjoy the Will Smith classic Wild Wild West? Was it due to a last minute errand or chore?

Possibly, but the phenomenon that took over the world in late 1998 to mid-1999 was the premiere of the trailer for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. George Lucas’ return to the director chair was one of the most anticipated movies in history, but the end result unfortunately falls far short of expectations, especially as the film nears its 16-year anniversary.

(more…)