“El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” stars Aaron Paul, Jesse Plemons, Krysten Ritter, Charles Baker, Matt Jones, Jonathan Banks, Larry Hankin, and Bryan Cranston. Released on October 11, 2019, the film is about a former meth cook who is hunted down by law enforcements.
The film is written and directed by Vince Gilligan, who also wrote screenplays for “Wilder Napalm”, “Home Fries”, and “Hancock”. It is based on the television series, “Breaking Bad”, created by Gilligan. Whenever there’s something that’s been getting great word of mouth, I usually do my part in seeing what all the hubbub is about, especially if that something is the one that is based on an adult-rated show. Today, I’ll be looking at a film from Netflix that’s based on one of the most well-received television shows of all time. Since its debut in 2008, “Breaking Bad” has been beloved by critics and audiences with its thrilling story and riveting characters, leading it to earn numerous awards and spawn a spin-off prequel series, “Better Call Saul, in 2015, two years after the show ended. It is one of the shows that everyone couldn’t stop talking about. Well, everyone except me, of course. I really didn’t get a chance to watch the show despite hearing some great things about it, so feel free to spew some hate on me. But I did watch the “recap” version of the show before I watched the film. That has to count for something. Because of this, I’ll be reviewing it as its own film without comparing it to the show, but don’t worry, I’ll try to keep it as fair as possible for all of you “Breaking Bad” fans that are reading this.
Taking place after the events of the show’s final episode, the film focuses on Jesse Pinkman (Paul), a former partner of Walter White (Cranston) who goes on the run from the authorities. With the help of his closest allies, Jesse will have to stay one step ahead of them and escape his past in order to gain his freedom. The story is best described as an epilogue to “Breaking Bad”, showcasing what Jesse has been up to since the events of the series finale. It also represents some flashbacks that involve him and the people he encountered and befriended before the events of “El Camino”, such as Todd Alquist (Plemons), Mike Ehrmantraut (Banks), and his former partner Walter White. One thing you should know about the film is that it’s definitely made for those who followed the show from start to finish. Fans will have no problem getting attached to the film’s plot and characters, but for those who watch the film without any knowledge of the source material, it can be a bit confusing despite having some small information on the characters. Aside from that, this is a pretty solid "on-the-run" crime drama that’s interestingly more character-driven than thrilling. The pacing can be a bit slow at times and the lack of strong heart-pounding thrills may turn certain people off, but Vince Gilligan was able to make the dramatic elements as engaging and well-crafted as the other character-driven dramas. You can definitely tell that Gilligan wanted to make a proper closure to his beloved series in terms of his direction, his screenplay, the stellar cinematography, and his passion for the characters he created, and it shows. He might not get any awards for all of those qualities, but it’s easy for me to admit that he has a respectable sense of style and substance. Much of the cast from the show reprised their roles for “El Camino”, and they all did a brilliant job with their performances, especially Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman. He absolutely nailed his role as a broken man trying to have a better future for himself. Even though I haven’t watched the show, I can already tell that Jesse has been through a lot just by the look of his face and his actions, which gave me an acceptable reason to care about him. I also have to note that Robert Forster is the second-best part of the film, in my opinion. He reprised his role from the show as Ed Galbraith, an associate who specializes in relocating people and giving them new identities. This was his last film role before he sadly passed away on the day of its release. Rest in peace, good sir.
Overall, as its own film, “El Camino” is an engaging and well-shot character-driven drama that’s powered by strong performances and an interesting plot. As a “Breaking Bad” film, it’s a suitable conclusion to one of the best television shows of all time. A worthy recommendation for fans of the show as well as those who are into well-made character-driven films. I really didn’t have a lot of issues while watching this film, but I do need to watch the show sooner or later in order to fully understand the “Breaking Bad” universe. Again, I apologize to the “Breaking Bad” fans for not watching the show before the film. Blame my curiosity.
“Jexi” stars Adam DeVine, Alexandra Shipp, Michael Peña, and Rose Byrne. Released on October 11, 2019, the film is about a young man whose life is threatened by an A.I. feature on his phone.
The film is written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who also directed “21 & Over”, “Bad Moms”, and “A Bad Moms Christmas”. Every so often, we use our cell phones to check the weather, look up social media, make lists, et cetera, et cetera. However, we’ve become so dependent on our phones that we pretty much lost track of what’s happening in the real world, whether they’re good or bad. They’re not as harmful as drugs, but they can affect your social life depending on how long you’re using them. Adam DeVine seems to know what I’m talking about. This latest comedy from “The Hangover” writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore was hoping to draw in a crowd this weekend despite its small marketing campaign and its competition against the other hard-hitting adult-rated content. So far, their track record as directors weren’t too bad, with “Bad Moms” being their most successful in terms of box office and audience reception. Me, personally, I only saw that film and its sequel “A Bad Moms Christmas”, and they were quite enjoyable, in my opinion. Not perfect, but tolerable. So I was pretty interested in seeing if they can deliver another enjoyable comedy in the form of “Jexi”. Will they be able to live up to the task?
The story follows Phil (DeVine), a young man who has a major dependency issue as he couldn’t take his eyes off of his cell phone for one tiny second, pretty much like everyone else who has a cell phone. He then gets a new cell phone that comes equipped with an artificial intelligence feature known as Jexi (voiced by Byrne). The A.I. feature has been giving Phil some helpful advice on how to be less dependable on his phone and more dependable on people around him, including his love interest Cate Finnegan (Shipp). When Phil starts to spend more time with Cate, Jexi starts to grow jealous and vows to make his life a living hell so it can have him all to itself. The only thing from the film that sold me is its concept. In today’s day and age, we usually let our cell phones control our lives and distract us from what’s really important in life: spending time with our friends and loved ones. With Jon Lucas and Scott Moore behind the camera and the script, I was hoping that the film could deliver this relatable message in an entertaining and hilarious way. Turns out, it was easier said than done. They got the “message” part down, but the “entertaining and hilarious” part? Let’s just say it would depend on how much you enjoy cliched characters and forced sex jokes. The writers/directors missed a whole bunch of opportunities to deliver a fun and heartfelt portrayal of our recent technological habit, resulting in an underwhelming and humorless episode of an uninspired unaired sitcom. It’s honestly quite baffling to see that Lucas and Moore went from a fun comedy about raunchy moms to a disastrous schlock about a foul-mouthed phone just like that. I even asked Siri how it all fell apart so quickly and guess what? She’s just as baffled as I am, and she’s supposed to be helpful. So it looks like I’m going to have to answer that question the old-fashioned way. Let’s start off with the execution of the film’s plot. While the story had some interesting directions it could go and did its part in getting the message across, it felt like the directors were restraining themselves from expanding its humorous concept in a way that makes it both bonkers and heartwarming. The heart is there, but the bonkers isn’t, mostly because of their lazy and cliched screenplay. It also has some characters that were either bland or stereotypical. You got the awkward teen in the form of Phil, you got the gorgeous love interest in the form of Cate, you got the angry boss in the form of Phil’s boss Kai (Peña), and you got Jexi, a sassy and rude “phone” that you don’t want to hang out with. If I were to make the story better for me, I would tweak the first act and develop Phil’s character a bit more so that the audience has a better understanding as to why Phil is on his phone all the time. Aside from the flawed characters, the cast was good enough to provide some tolerable performances. Adam DeVine did his best in providing some charm as Phil, although I did feel that he’s playing the same character from his last films. Michael Peña was a bit too over-the-top as Kai, and Rose Byrne was decent as the voice of Jexi. Speaking of which, I’m not a fan of how they develop Jexi in terms of her personality and her sex-related humor. The character quickly got to the point that she became straight-up tiresome and apparently, the film didn’t get that memo at all. Jexi is the type of character that made me want to punch in the face, or in this case, break the phone in half, and not in a fun way. The film’s humor was also something that needs to be improved. Not only was it disappointing, but it was also constantly immature and sour. It didn’t really care that much about telling the story. Instead, the film is made just for the purpose of providing sex joke after sex joke after sex joke after F-bomb after F-bomb and so on and so on. The worse part is that I didn’t find any of them hilarious. Either tone down the sex jokes or make them funny. That’s all I need to say about the humor.
Overall, “Jexi” is about as defective as a buggy A.I. feature on someone’s phone. It’s no Siri and it’s no Alexa. It’s best described as the lower form of those two features. It did its job in getting the message out to its audience, but the overall experience was a big technological mess due to its lazy script, uninteresting characters, and the overabundance of humorless sex jokes. This is such a huge waste for the promising directorial duo and the talented cast. If you’re interested in watching it, I would say wait until it’s on television. Otherwise, it’s not worth your time.
“The Addams Family” stars Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Bette Midler, Allison Janney, and Elsie Fisher. Released on October 11, 2019, the film has the Addams Family facing off against the 21st century.
The film is directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, who also directed “Sausage Party”, and it is based on the comic series of the same name by Charles Addams. We all have families that are different or weird like the rest of us, and that’s OK. However, there is one family that’s way more different than the other families: the Addams Family. Since their debut in 1938, “The Addams Family” has been impressing multiple fans with their charm and macabre-loving personalities throughout certain types of media, such as single-panel cartoons, live-action films, and television. Personally, I only know the Addams Family from the live-action films in the 1990s, “The Addams Family” in 1991 and its sequel “Addams Family Values” in 1993. So I pretty much knew what I was getting myself into when it comes to this latest adaptation of the comic series. Based on the marketing, it looked like it will do wonders for those who grew up with the mysterious family, but is it mysterious and spooky enough to impress newcomers as well?
If I were to describe the story based on my own perspective, I would say that it is somehow an origin story on how the Addams Family came to be as well as their first experience with the modern-age society. Like the source material itself, “The Addams Family” is filled with a bunch of macabre-related moments, but it never shies away from inserting plenty of charm and color into its creepy atmosphere, which would make itself perfectly acceptable for young kids. More importantly, the film’s effort in capturing the spirit of the source material will more than likely fill the long-time fans’ heads with nostalgia. Unfortunately, for certain newcomers, that’s the only thing that it’s good at. The film’s story is pretty much what you would expect from an “Addams Family” movie, which is them fitting in with modern society. While it has its own share of simplicity and a relatable family-friendly message about accepting people’s differences, no matter how weird they are, the film’s narrative failed to create that certain spark to save itself from the horrors of genericness. What’s also a bit disappointing is its humor, which is one of the qualities that made the source material so well-known. Even though it did have some chuckle-worthy moments, the humor didn’t really stick with me after the credits roll. It’s filled with plenty of macabre-related jokes and pop culture references that happen to wore thin rather quickly. Considering the fact that it’s directed by the guys who delivered the raunchy animated comedy about talking food, I was hoping that they could’ve done a lot more with its concept. On the plus side, it was able to make itself enjoyable thanks to its voice cast and the animation. Ranging from Oscar Isaac as Gomez to Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester, the voice cast did a fantastic job at delivering the charm and the spookiness to the characters that we know and love since their inception. The animation is best described as a colorful CGI cartoon that’s nicely-rendered and eye-catching. The best part of it has to be the designs of the Addams Family. It perfectly matches the character designs that were shown in the comics. However, I’m not a huge fan of the designs of the human characters as some of them came off as either uninspired or unappealing. There’s just something about the supporting human character designs that kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Are they sure that the Addams are the only weird ones around here?
Overall, “The Addams Family” does serve as a suitable and delightfully spooky treat for the fans, but it unfortunately struggled to fit in with the other animated gems of 2019. Despite its brilliant voice cast and colorful animation, the film wasn’t able to scare any newcomers in a fun way due to its generic plot and forgettable humor. I can see this being enjoyed by little kids throughout the Halloween season, but based on my personal experience with the film, I believe there are way better choices than this when it comes to spooky kids films. If you want a more proper introduction to the Addams Family, I would recommend the 1990s live-action adaptations. Otherwise, it’s worth watching just for the voice cast and the character designs for the Addams and nothing else.
“Gemini Man” stars Will Smith, Clive Owen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Benedict Wong. Released on October 11, 2019, the film is about an assassin who fights a younger version of himself.
The film is directed by Ang Lee, who also directed films such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Hulk”, “Brokeback Mountain”, and “Life of Pi”. A lot of people usually face their own pasts in order to grow, but in some cases, they face their past selves in order to survive. Since 2012, director Ang Lee has been utilizing 3-D technology to immerse the audience into his cinematic art, starting with the film adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel, “Life of Pi”. He even took his art of cinematic experiences to the next level by using the high frame rate of 120 frames per second for the war drama, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”. While the former received critical praise and went on to win four Oscars at the 85th Academy Awards, including Best Visual Effects, the latter earned mixed reviews and was a box office failure, proving that lightning doesn’t strike twice. This year, Ang Lee is once again utilizing this type of technology for something that’s a bit more action-packed. I’m one of the group of people who appreciate Lee’s use of 3-D and cinematic technology to enhance his storytelling. I thought “Life of Pi” was visually gorgeous and deeply engaging. As for “Billy Lynn”, all I could really say about it is that it looked nice, cinematography-wise, but that’s really about it. So now we have the latest film from Ang Lee that showcases a thrilling matchup between Will Smith and his younger “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” self in state-of-the-art high frame rate 3-D. The film had been in development for at least two decades with numerous directors and actors signing on and signing off time after time leading up to Lee and Smith confirming to tackle the project for Paramount and Skydance Media. Now that it finally made its way to the screen, does it live up to its expectations? Let’s find out.
The story follows Henry Brogan (Smith), an aging assassin who decided to retire from his career. He later finds out that his target from his last mission was innocent, leading him to realize that his former agency is deceiving him. What’s even worse is that he’s targeted by Clay Varris (Owen), the head of a top-secret black ops unit who created a younger version of Henry to eliminate him. With his life on the line, Henry will have to use his skills once more in order to survive. The premise of having a character face off against a younger version of one’s self isn’t entirely new as it has been represented in other types of media before “Gemini Man”, such as Rian Johnson’s sci-fi thriller, “Looper”, so you might find yourself stuck in a “been there, done that” scenario while watching this film. Despite that, however, it did its part in providing an entertaining action thriller that literally puts two Will Smiths against one another. Like his last two films, Ang Lee puts his cinematic tools to good use as he envisioned each and every scene with absolute care and sharp detail, especially the action scenes. Seeing how extremely well they were shot without the cheap editing that most action films rely on made me realize that Ang Lee and “John Wick” director Chad Stahelski should make an action film together. Just imagine the possibilities with these two behind the camera. Another main selling point for the film is Will Smith himself. He pulled double duty with flawless results as both Henry and Junior, a younger version of Henry. It’s far from Oscar-worthy, but his performance proves that he still has some charm left in him when it comes to the action genre. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was also decent in her role as Danny Zakarweski, another former agent who is also targeted by the agency. I also thought that Benedict Wong was surprisingly enjoyable as Baron, Henry’s colleague. I’m not kidding, he had a couple of moments that I thought were actually more humorous than Smith's moments. As for Clive Owen as Clay, his performance was pretty tolerable despite his character being a mediocre villain. The film’s visuals were quite convincing, especially the de-aging effect for Smith’s character Junior, which was completely spot on from top to bottom. It just goes to show that the process of this type of technology is still going strong, which means we could be seeing more of this in other films in the future. As for its flaws, the film did suffer a bit from its by-the-numbers screenplay. “Gemini Man” deals with the aspect of cloning someone as well as facing the demons of one’s past. The effort that was put into displaying these types of themes were almost completely overshadowed by its predictable and simplistic script, but that doesn’t mean the story didn’t catch my interest. Yes, the story doesn’t offer anything new to the genre, but it does deliver on the entertainment value and to me, that’s all that matters. The film also had some pacing issues during a couple of scenes. Nothing too drastic or anything like that. Just don’t expect it to be as fast-paced as a Michael Bay film.
Overall, “Gemini Man” isn’t quite as deep as its themes, but it’s an entertaining and well-shot action thriller that represents Ang Lee’s cinematic style. With a suitable cast, sharp cinematography, solid visuals, and some engaging action sequences, the film is a minor improvement over “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”. However, it’s nowhere near as groundbreaking as “Life of Pi”. I can see that it’s not going to be beloved by everybody when it comes to its subpar screenplay, but I don’t think it’s as disappointing as most people are saying it was. It’s one of those movies that I wouldn’t mind watching again just for the sake of being entertained. I’m still serious about Ang Lee and Chad Stahelski doing a movie together, by the way.
“Judy” stars Renée Zellweger, Finn Wittrock, Jessie Buckley, Rufus Sewell, and Michael Gambon. Released on September 27, 2019, the film chronicles Judy Garland and her five-week concert tour.
The film is directed by Rupert Goold, who also directed “True Story”, and it is an adaptation of the stageplay “End of the Rainbow” by Peter Quilter. It’s times like this where at first, you’re at the top of your game and then all of a sudden, you get bombarded by the likes of drugs, alcohol, and depression. It just goes to show that being a star isn’t always full of sunshine and rainbows. The next film I’ll be looking at today is yet another biographical drama that centers on a popular celebrity. This time, it’s based on the final days of Judy Garland, an actress/singer who is widely known for appearing in films like “The Wizard of Oz”, “Meet Me in St. Louis”, and the 1954 version of “A Star Is Born”. In addition to starring in films, she also made concert appearances and recorded several songs that have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. But alas, her stardom came at a price as it affected her both physically and mentally. During her adulthood, she was plagued by her addiction to drugs and alcohol until 1969 when she tragically died from an accidental barbiturate overdose. This is why we keep telling our kids to stay away from that kind of stuff. These things are downright deadly. I only knew this actress from “The Wizard of Oz” (which is still one of the best films from my childhood), and I actually didn’t realize that she was also a full-time singer until I saw the trailer for this film. I guess I should have realized this sooner when I saw her sing in “The Wizard of Oz”. The film already premiered last weekend and has so far gained positive reviews, with most critics praising Zellweger’s performance as Judy Garland, and this weekend, it finally made its way to my closest cinema. So if you’re wondering why it took me that long to review this film, there’s your answer. So without further ado, let’s see if this trip over the rainbow is worth taking.
The story depicts Judy Garland (Zellweger) in her 40s as she’s performing a series of sell-out concert performances in London while struggling with her personal issues, such as substance abuse and her family. Not only that, but it occasionally showcases Garland as a 14-year-old star via flashbacks. Using the familiar biopic formula, the film clearly examines how her stardom is affecting her own personal life as well as her health during the final days of her career. As expected, the film offered an interesting and suitable look at Judy Garland’s struggles, although it didn’t do anything else to make this performance as special as the character herself. It’s far from a disappointment since it had plenty of good moments to keep me engaged, but when it comes to its topic, it’s definitely far from a masterpiece. Renée Zellweger did wonders in delivering a near-perfect portrayal of the title character. Not only that, but she also has a pretty good singing voice. The other actors were also good in their roles, including Finn Wittrock and Michael Gambon as Mickey Deans and Bernard Delfont, respectively. While the dramatic elements weren’t able to dig even deeper into the film’s themes, the concert sequences made up for those mistakes thanks to Rupert Goold’s direction and its glamouring sense of ecstatic and color. It definitely felt like I was actually watching some of her concert performances in the late 60s, so major props to the filmmakers for creating that feeling.
Overall, “Judy” didn’t shine as bright as the character herself, but it has enough glamour and charm to carry this concert performance forward with ease. Despite its familiar formula and its weak exploration of its topic, the film is bolstered by Zellweger’s performance and its concert sequences. Not fantastic, but not overly disappointing either. If you’re wondering why this review is so short and straight to the point, it’s because I really don’t have that much to say about it. Plus, I saw this film after “Joker” and my mind was set on that film rather than this one. Hope this review helps either way.