You know what I never thought I would need? Another buddy-cop movie. You know what I want now? More buddy-cop movies! THE NICE GUYS is the new film from Shane Black starring Academy Award winner Russell Crowe and Academy Award nominee Ryan Gosling and maybe you already guessed that they’re cop buddies. Sort of. I mean, not really. Like, they’re not actually buddies, and they’re not technically cops, but… Anyway, they’re private investigators who go on a mission to find a young girl who got caught up in the dangerous 1970 porn industry. Hilarity ensues.

This movie was just fun. It’s not ground breaking and likely won’t become a classic of the genre, but I enjoyed it from start to finish. Most of that was due to the incredible on-screen chemistry from Gosling (March) and Crowe (Healy). Their bickering and fighting felt completely genuine and worked perfectly. Neither of them are necessarily likable characters (Healy beats people up for a living and March is a scamming alcoholic), but they play together so well that you can’t help but love them. Yet they continue to surprise you as well. I wouldn’t have been able to accurately predict the arcs of each character, but by the end it occurred to me that where they ended was very natural. They’re also aided in their investigation by March’s intelligent and charming 13 year old daughter who added a significant amount of whit to the character’s interactions. In fact, all of the supporting cast was on top of their game and stood toe-to-toe with their juggernaut costars. However, it was upsetting that Matt Bomer’s character was relegated to nothing more than a villain with a gun. That was probably my main gripe with the movie. There were plenty of bad guys to go around, but none of them stood out. They were all easily defeated and none of them ever felt like a serious threat.

That being said, it was apparent that The Nice Guys was a sincere throwback to the action films of the 1970s. All of the tropes and stereotypes were present; they were just displayed in a modern and more playful light. So, it’s forgivable that the villains are one sided and the mystery is solved with more than a few conveniences. But I did catch a couple of loose ends that should have been tied up. The investigation itself is clever and enjoyable to try to keep ahead of. More than once I was thrown off the trail and found myself surprised with the turns it took. I think the movie is more about the relationship between Healy and March and the wild situations they find themselves in, but it’s nice to see a movie like this where the story still holds a prominent position. It’s unlikely that I’ll forget it anytime soon.

To put it simply, The Nice Guys is fun, exciting, and sexy. That’s all you need. It will undoubtedly hold your interest while putting a smile on your face. That’s right! I completely forgot to mention how funny this movie is! For once, the trailer didn’t have all of the funny moments. I couldn’t stop laughing. There were a few jokes that missed the mark, but the majority of this movie was absolutely hysterical. Easily the funniest movie I’ve seen in months and definitely worth the price of your ticket.

3 ½ out of 5 Stars

THE NICE GUYS (R) – Dir. Shane Black

Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Matt Bomer

Run Time: 1h 56min

I went to CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR for Spider-Man. I left very satisfied.

In the newest installment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Avengers find themselves toe to toe against one another. And if you don’t know more about the plot than that, you’ve clearly been living in the DC Universe and have no desire to see this movie, so I’ll get right into what I liked and didn’t like about it.

If you’re on the way to the theater right now, go. It’s a very fun movie and you will enjoy it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its fair share of flaws (all of the MCU movies do), but it succeeds in being a fun night out at the movies. As you may have already read, CIVIL WAR kind of plays out like an excellent episode of a TV show. This is very accurate and makes perfect sense considering the MCU has become an intertwining TV series of its own. Unfortunately, this newest episode fails to wrap up and conclude even a single issue it creates. Gosh darn it! I guess we’ll just have to see the next one.

My other main complaint is the weak main villain. In a film called CIVIL WAR, you wouldn’t think there would need to be a stereotypical bad guy. After all, they should just be fighting each other. But for some reason, the filmmakers felt it was necessary to shoehorn in another bad guy to put everyone against each other. It didn’t feel natural and it was definitely unnecessary. He was easily the weakest part of the movie. Along with that, the movie takes quite some time to get going. At a runtime of just under 2 and a half hours this movie goes into some sections that felt much too long and dragged out. I kept asking myself when people were going to start beating each other up. Politics, conversations, and drama kept getting in the way. That’s not what I want! I want Captain America beating up Iron Man! AND I WANT SPIDER-MAN!

Thankfully I got all of those things, and they were amazing. When Team Iron Man and Team Captain America finally square off, it’s pure bliss. Honestly, it was the most fun action scene I’ve seen in years. There were so many superheroes running around, doing fun things, it was difficult not to forgive the movie for all of its faults. Spider-Man was everything 6 year old me could have asked for. He was so much fun and hysterical. He wasn’t whiny or a total rehash of previous Spider-Man incarnations. He felt new and unique and actually made me excited for SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING. The same is true for Black Panther. He was revealed in a very uncharacteristic way, but quickly became one of the most intriguing aspects of the film. However (and this is where the whole TV show argument comes in), we learn almost nothing about this character. We know who he is and why he’s upset, but if you want to know more show up to your theater in 2018! And of course, everyone else was as much fun as always. Ant-Man was better here than he was in his own movie, Scarlett Witch is starting to prove she’s the most powerful Avenger, and we even get a surprise return from a “classic” Avenger. But Tony Stark was more unlikable than ever. This harkens back to the fact that they had a weak and unnecessary villain. It felt like they were trying to make up for that and decided to have Stark be the source of some much-needed tension. I won’t go into further detail, but it’s very clear whose side the filmmakers expect you to be on.

So, all in all, CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is an incredibly fun film that fails to resolve anything whatsoever. It introduces characters, young and old, that will bring a smile to your face but no peace to your mind. Spider-Man was everything I could have asked for and Black Panther was everything I never knew I wanted. If anything, the Civil War is pretty one-sided in regards to who is right and who is wrong, but really you’re just there to watch all of them beat each other up and boy is that fun.

4 out of 5 Stars

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR – Dir. The Russo Brothers

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johannson,

Run Time: 2h 27m

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL seemingly premiered under everyone’s radar. I hadn’t seen many ads or trailers about it and basically bought my ticket on a whim. Jeff Nichols, the writer and director, has been a name popping up on a wide array of lists for a few years now. I’ve only seen his second most recent film, MUD (which I highly recommend), but I’ve heard amazing things about his other two films as well. To put it plainly, the guy has talent and I can assure you we will be seeing more of him in the near future. His newest feature, and his fourth collaboration with the outstanding actor Michael Shannon, is a new and refreshing spin on the science fiction genre. Like I mentioned, I walked into this movie without knowing much of anything about it, so after 20 minutes or so of no science fiction to be seen, I was a little thrown off when the little boy starts shooting white beams from his eyes. It’s maybe the most grounded in reality sci-fi story I’ve experienced since reading Arthur C. Clark’s CHILDHOOD’S END.

Alton is an 8-year-old boy who has been “kidnapped” by his biological father (played by Shannon) and taken away from their cult-like ranch in rural Texas. Their only objective is to make it to the secret coordinates by the end of the week without being caught by the other cult members and the United States government. Things quickly get out of hand as Alton is revealed to have supernatural powers beyond anyone’s understanding. Along the way they encounter obstacles ranging from the local police force, to satellites falling from the sky. Everyone wants the boy, but all he wants is to go home.

The story really sits on the father and son relationship between Alton and Roy and the mystery surrounding Alton’s powers and where exactly he comes from. We are only teased with what he is capable of and the knowledge he holds, but it is very apparent that his powers are great and only growing stronger. That was my favorite aspect of the film. By all accounts it’s a superhero movie. What sets it apart is that the characters don’t know they’re in a superhero movie. It feels genuine and real. Alton is just a boy and Roy is just a father trying to protect his son. They aren’t trying to save the world or defeat any antagonist. The cult wants him for their religious beliefs and the government wants him because they believe he is a weapon. It doesn’t matter and our protagonists are the only one’s who understand that.

I can’t get over how surprisingly deep this movie is. It hits several different dramatic themes about parenthood, loss, and innocence. It could have easily been a straight up drama without sci-fi elements, but the magic and mystery add to the metaphorical meaning. It’s also very unpredictable. There’s a scene that, in any other movie, would have led to an epic car chase down the interstate. What we get instead is a slow (in a good way) and incredibly visual series of events that came out of nowhere. It’s well paced, the characters connect with you, the cast is stacked (seriously, along with Michael Shannon are Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Sam Shepard, and Adam Driver), and the music is absolutely amazing. It’s rare that a science fiction movie… excuse me… it’s rare that an independently produced science fiction movie feels so real and grand all at the same time.

To reiterate, Jeff Nichols is going to do great things. In fact, he already has. The proof is in Midnight Special.

4 out of 5 stars

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL – Dir. Jeff Nichols

Starring: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver

Run Time: 1h 52min

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