Tag Archives: Keegan-Michael Key

Dolemite is My Name (2019) Review

Time: 117 minutes
Cast:
Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore
Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Lady Reed
Keegan-Michael Key as Jerry Jones
Mike Epps as Jimmy Lynch
Craig Robinson as Ben Taylor
Tituss Burgess as Theodore Toney
Wesley Snipes as D’Urville Martin
Director: Lulu Wang

Eddie Murphy portrays real-life legend Rudy Ray Moore, a comedy and rap pioneer who proved naysayers wrong when his hilarious, obscene, kung-fu fighting alter ego, Dolemite, became a 1970s Blaxploitation phenomenon.

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I heard a lot about Dolemite is My Name more recently, with it receiving a lot of praise, especially for Eddie Murphy in the lead role. However I hadn’t heard much about what the movie was about, and I hadn’t even heard of Dolemite or Rudy Ray Moore beforehand, so I really didn’t know what I was getting into. Even going in completely blind, I was thoroughly impressive with Dolemite is My Name.

One of the biggest strengths of Dolemite is My Name was the writing. The script is fantastically written, with some great and witty dialogue and some genuine heart throughout. The first half is pretty good, it’s fun and it establishes Rudy Ray Moore and his rise in popularity and success with his character of Dolemite, and seeing people rise up is generally a nice thing to see in movie. However it is when the plot gets to him and others making the Dolemite movie where it really picks up. Any movie about people making a film is always going to be fun to me, but it also does it well here. Many of the people working on the Dolemite movie clearly didn’t know how to make a movie but they had a lot of fun doing it, and that was nice to see. Dolemite is My Name has been compared to Ed Wood and The Disaster Artist, but while those movies were about films that entertained people in the wrong way, Dolemite is My Name is about a movie that became a success and was celebrated by people who genuinely love it for what it is. Not to mention that throughout the movie, you can clearly feel the love for Moore and his work, so you can really tell that there was a strong desire to tell his story in a respectful and truthful way, and it comes across constantly. The only fault that I could really find with the movie isn’t really a problem as much as it was a missed opportunity. I do wish there was a little more depth when it came to Rudy, maybe explore who he is as a person more. Now that’s not to say that I want a full on dramedy or drama, after all I thoroughly enjoy it as a comedy, there’s nothing in the movie I’d remove. But at least a couple more scenes somewhat exploring Rudy as a person would’ve made this movie even better, it’s honestly the only thing that’s missing.

Now keep in mind I haven’t seen Eddie Murphy in a ton of movies, but many have said that his acting as Rudy Ray Moore is a career best performance from him. Watching the movie, I’d be really surprised if this wasn’t the case. Murphy absolutely owns this role, you might not know who Rudy Ray Moore is beforehand, but he seems to have embodied him perfectly. It’s Murphy’s show, but at the same time the movie also has a great and likable supporting cast, with Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson all providing some really good work, and adding quite a bit to the movie. A stand out among the supporting cast was also Wesley Snipes, and this is the best I’ve seen him in a while. There’s even some surprise appearances from the likes of Snoop Dogg, Chris Rock and more, which was nice to see.

I haven’t seen anything that Craig Brewer has directed till now, but he did a good job with this movie. They seemed to have captured the time period and setting quite well, the costumes were also a standout, especially the outfits that Rudy Ray Moore would often wear as Dolemite.

Dolemite is My Name was one of the most surprising and entertaining movies of the year. It’s very well written, consistently entertaining, hilarious, and the cast is great, especially a fantastic Eddie Murphy. It’s definitely worth watching, even if you have no idea what it’s about, you’re more than likely going to have a great time with it. So check it out on Netflix when you get the chance.

Toy Story 4 (2019) Review

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating:
Cast:
Tom Hanks as Woody
Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear
Annie Potts as Bo Peep
Tony Hale as Forky
Keegan-Michael Key as Ducky
Jordan Peele as Bunny
Madeleine McGraw as Bonnie
Christina Hendricks as Gabby Gabby
Keanu Reeves as Duke Caboom
Ally Maki as Giggle McDimples
Jay Hernandez as Bonnie’s dad
Lori Alan as Bonnie’s mom
Joan Cusack as Jessie
Director: Josh Cooley

Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang embark on a road trip with Bonnie and a new toy named Forky. The adventurous journey turns into an unexpected reunion as Woody’s slight detour leads him to his long-lost friend Bo Peep. As Woody and Bo discuss the old days, they soon start to realize that they’re worlds apart when it comes to what they want from life as a toy.

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Toy Story 4 was a movie I think everyone wasn’t sure how to feel about when it was announced years ago. 9 years ago, we had a perfect conclusion to the series and so it’s difficult to think of a way it could’ve possibly been ended any better. It didn’t help that everything from the trailer just looked like a generic, random and pointless adventure with the familiar characters. So outside of the positive reviews, I wasn’t expecting much going into the movie. To my surprise however, they actually managed to pull it off.

From the trailer Toy Story 4 just looked like a simple adventure, and it is that but it’s pretty entertaining. It doesn’t have a scene even coming close to the incinerator scene in 3 in terms of intensity or emotion. 4 overall feels more like a quieter epilogue taking place after the large scale and epic third act with 3. It has pretty much all that you’d expect from a Toy Story movie, it’s genuinely funny and emotional, and once again works for both children and adults, while not dumbing things down for kids at all. It even has some parts that adults will only pick up, both in terms of story and comedy. They even somehow managed to sneak in a music cue reference to The Shining. It also has a surprisingly fitting end, even more so than Toy Story 3. There’s always ways of bringing back movies for the series, but the way it ends makes it feel like it is final, and it I can’t think of a better way of the series to end.

Much of the main toys that we are familiar with are sidelined, only Woody and Buzz get substantial amounts of screentime. Woody (Tom Hanks) as a character is one of the best parts of each of the Toy Story movies and the 4th movie is no exception. It really focuses on him being sort of a father figure to the character of Forky, and it really shows how far he’s come since the first movie. I’m not exactly on board with what they did with Buzz (Tim Allen) in this movie. He became much less smart, and it wouldn’t be so bad if it was after the first Toy Story, but Toy Story 2 and 3 have established him as a smart leader (even in the first film when he believe he was a space ranger he was smarter than he was here). So it was a step backward for him as a character when he just really didn’t know what he was doing a lot of the time. Bo Peep (Annie Potts) in Toy Story 1 and 2 was just sort of there at the beginning and end of the movies and didn’t get to do anything, in 3 she was completely absent. However in 4, she plays a major role and gets far more to do here. Other than those 3 characters, the newer characters are highlighted more as well. Tony Hale plays Forky, the movie completely surrounds him. In seeing the trailers, I really feel like I wouldn’t like him at all, he seemed like he could’ve been easily annoying. However he surprisingly worked really well, and was certainly something fresh, we’ve seen new toys introduced but not one that was just created. I will say though that it feels like he’s reduced to a plot device in the second half of the movie. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele play a couple of plushies and their great comedic duo extends to animation form as well, they were among the funniest characters of the movie. Keanu Reeves voices Duke Caboom, a Canadian stunt driver toy and is about as great as you’d expect it to be. Christina Hendricks as Gabby Gabby who plays the closest thing to a villain in this movie, and some things happen with her character that you might not initially expect.

With every Toy Story movie, the quality of the animation increases immensely, and 4 is no exception. As an example, you might remember from Toy Story 3 that there was a flashback scene of Lotso that involved the rain, it looked incredibly realistic. Toy Story 4 opens with scene in the rain, and it looks borderline photorealistic. It’s an absolutely stunning looking movie from beginning to end. A lot of the familiar music heard in the series also reappear here, once again done by Randy Newman.

Toy Story 4 isn’t among the best in the series but it’s still surprisingly good and works as a final conclusion. Everything from the characters (for the most part), the animation, to the writing, the comedy and more is here. If you liked the other Toy Story movies, you should definitely check it out, even if you’re sceptical about it.

The Predator (2018) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, sexual references & offensive language
Cast:
Boyd Holbrook as Quinn McKenna
Trevante Rhodes as Nebraska Williams
Jacob Tremblay as Rory McKenna
Olivia Munn as Casey Bracket
Sterling K. Brown as Will Traeger
Keegan-Michael Key as Coyle
Thomas Jane as Baxley
Alfie Allen as Lynch
Augusto Aguilera as Nettles
Yvonne Strahovski as Emily McKenna
Director: Shane Black

From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home. The universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species. When a boy (Jacob Tremblay) accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and an evolutionary biologist (Olivia Munn) can prevent the end of the human race.

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The Predator, the fourth film in the franchise, was on my most anticipated films of 2018 list. With a cast that included Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Thomas Jane and more, and on top of that, original Predator cast member Shane Black (who directed The Nice Guys, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3) being the writer and director of the movie, everything looked like it could be something great. With that said, I had some concerns in the lead up to its release. It looked way too comical, and I wasn’t really sure that would work for a Predator movie. The news about the large amount of reshoots and cuts didn’t make it any better (not to mention the controversy with a real predator originally being in the film, thankfully that was dealt with quickly). While I can understand a lot of the mixed reactions, I surprisingly found The Predator to be quite enjoyable. No, it’s not as good as the original, it’s not one of Shane Black’s best and yes it has some issues, but it also has some really good elements to it.

I should clarify that I’ve only seen the original Predator, so I can’t compare The Predator to the 2nd and 3rd movies (Predator 2 and Predators). However I didn’t feel lost so I feel like anyone who’s seen only the first movie could jump right into The Predator. Shane Black is a great writer, who wrote Lethal Weapon 1 and 2, The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight as well as the films he’s directed (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys). Unfortunately his writing for The Predator is a very mixed bag. With regards to certain things like the dialogue, it feels like a B grade Shane Black was writing it and not Shane Black at the top of his game. You can definitely at times feel like it is his writing, but it’s not as strong. One thing I will say that Shane Black does do better with The Predator than the original Predator is that there is some attempt to have some emotional moments and depth with the characters. It almost always doesn’t work but I appreciate the genuine attempts. As good as the original Predator movie was, there was really nothing to these characters. On top of that, it does try some things different with the story, with a large amount of it being set in a suburbia (though we also get some sequences in the forest) and also being a much more comedic sort of movie. Now that doesn’t guarantee that the movie will be great but the best thing that each instalment can do is try different things. At the same time there are some problems with the movie. Some plot elements really don’t work well, such as Jacob Tremblay’s character who has Asperger’s and plays a big role in the movie, that plotline is a little too silly and doesn’t fit in with the movie. Shane Black has directed some very funny movies, his 3 previous movies all hit very hard whenever the comedy was present. With The Predator on the other hand, the comedy didn’t always work. It wasn’t painfully cringe worthy or anything like that, but a lot of it doesn’t work. I’m not sure if the comedic tone really works for the movie, but as I said before at least it is trying something different. There are some callbacks to the original Predator, and while I only picked up two, both of them were painful and hamfisted callbacks. To give an example of what I mean, one guy has a line “Get to the choppa” (that’s not a typo, he says choppa like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the original movie). The Predator is yet another movie that has been the victim of studio interference and cuts (by Fox Studios of course). Now its nowhere like what they did with Fant4stic, but you can definitely feel that something is off about it. This is especially prevalent in the third act, which feels like a more conventional movie and seems to lack a lot of the Shane Black writing from the two acts and feels really simplified. Also the way it ends with the Predator in the end feels underwhelming. The last scene in particular is going to be very divisive especially to long time fans of the Predator lore. It is sort of sequel bait and it’s really weird and I’m not even sure what to think about it. It really has to be seen to be believed.

The cast generally do quite well. Boyd Holbrook is the lead of the movie and he does quite well in his role, however he’s a rather simple and conventional protagonist, really just a passable character. The group that Holbrook’s character teams up with, ‘The Loonies’, fair much better in comparison. They consist of Trevante Rhodes, Keegan Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen and Augusto Aguilera and they do well in their roles. Some are better than others, and you don’t necessarily care a great deal for the actual characters. but they all play off each other really well. Trevante Rhodes stands out as being particularly great. Olivia Munn works well in the movie for the most part (the scientist part to her character is a little hard to buy). Sterling K. Brown plays a 2 dimensional human villain and thankfully he plays up the role to being borderline cartoonish because the character is really generic and doesn’t have much to it. There were a lot of problems with Jacob Tremblay’s character but he plays his role well enough. Yvonne Strahovski really does play a really minor role, and really isn’t used to a fifth of her potential, her character could’ve been played by literally anyone and it wouldn’t have mattered.

Shane Black’s overall direction is pretty good. Larry Fong’s cinematography as always looks good. The action was for the most part was really good and entertaining, I like how it fully embraced its R rating and goes all out with violence. The effects for the most part worked really well, but other times it can look not so good. The CGI blood in particular looks absolutely terrible. I liked how they portrayed the Predators in this movie, being really big, intimidating and threatening. However the second Predator, much bigger than the first one, uses a lot of visual effects, and at times it can look really fake, particularly in the last act. The score by Henry Jackman is very reminiscent of the original Predator and it actually really worked for the movie.

The Predator clearly has some issues. It is a little disappointing and it doesn’t live up to the talent of the involvement of Shane Black, the cast and the name of the Predator franchise. Some of the weak humour, story points and other elements does hold back the movie from being anywhere close to being at the same level of the original. Still, there is some good stuff to be found in the movie. Some of Shane Black’s additions were good (even if it felt like B grade Shane Black most of the time), the cast worked well in their roles and it was quite entertaining generally. If you liked the original Predator, check it out knowing that it is filled with a lot of silly things and go into it expecting a somewhat entertaining movie. Again, wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be but wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be.