Jumanji: The Next Level

What can I say, it’s a sequel to an entertaining film. It tries to up the ante and add more characters and change the location a bit, but it basically is a second round of the game and there is not much to add to that.

So here is a brief description of the updates that worked to make this feel a bit more unique. First, the elderly characters that have been added strain the story a bit. Danny DeVito is fine before they get to the game, but his persona as played by Dwayne Johnson is not quite as fun as it should be. The character is passive at first, slowly becoming more aggressive as he discovers his abilities, but that change is a little inconsistent. Danny Glover’s character is a cliche that basically robs Kevin Hart of the ability to be as funny as he is capable of being.

Second, there are some new elements of the game that are fun. The characters encounter a mysterious water body that when they enter, their switch avatars. It is introduced in a side encounter and then completely discarded until later in the movie. When it does come back, we end up with the character assignments that worked so well in the first film and there is suddenly a lot more energy in the film. The concept that a player can take on the avatar of an animal is a fun one, and it does get the script out of a morose side story that was introduced for almost no reason.

Changing the local of the action from a jungle to the desert is not a bad choice. We still get a wild sequence with killer Mandrills and that felt a little out of place, but bouncing between scenarios of a video game probably is pretty standard stuff for players. I also liked that the game avatar moved from a jeep to a plane to deliver the original game plan for the crew. Suddenly it felt like an Indiana Jones rip off even more than it did originally. I enjoyed a couple of the pop song choices for this film. Having seen Chris Isaak just a couple of days ago, when “Wicked Game” started playing, my smile got a little bigger. I also enjoyed the call back of the character “Nora” and the casting choice there. I don’t know if others will notice it, but I did.

I have to say pretty much the same thing for “The Next Level” that I did for “Welcome to the Jungle“,  it’s a perfectly acceptable family film that will entertain you for it’s running time. It is not trying to be anything other than that, so it hits it target. I think I enjoyed it a little less than the previous entry, but like a lot of confections, the second helping is never as great as the first.

Hobbs and Shaw

Remember how much backlash there was to the last Pierce Brosnan Bond film?  You know the one with the surfing and parasailing ski sequence and let’s not forget the invisible car. People moaned so much about those elements that they dumped Pierce, rebooted the whole 007 series and went back to basics as much as possible. Now imagine that the producers had ignored fan grousing and only paid attention to the box office, after all “Die Another Day” was a huge success. The result would have been a series of films that got more outlandish and cartoon like  and the series would simply be a mechanical assembly of parts to pick our pockets every few years. That’s basically what happened with the “Fast and Furious” series. “Hobbs and Shaw” is a road runner cartoon without the plot.

Both Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson are charismatic action stars who remain able to open a movie on their own. This team up is a spin off of the “Fast and Furious” films where their characters have basically established a tenuous working relationship but a terrible personal relationship. In other words, they were ripe for a bickering buddy comedy, so hear it is. This film could have been quite successful just putting the two of them in a car, plane or locked room together and let them verbally and physically battle it out. That however would be too subtle for this series. When you are making a deep fried Twinkie, you might as well dip it in chocolate, dust it with powdered sugar, add some sprinkles and then provide some whipped cream to dip it in as you are consuming it. There is nothing that is off the table in these movies and if you are in the mood to over indulge in CGI mayhem, hokey plot twists and some scenery chewing performances, then this is a movie for you.

The chase scene through London in the early part of the film is a good example of this excess. The Maclaren that our duo are using to escape the bad guys is instantaneously able to turn without skidding, hit the perfect speed in a bit of cross traffic and generally out perform the Batmobile on city streets. It is pursed by a magic motorcycle that can levitate, defy the concept of inertia and survive collisions that would disable a military vehicle weighting a hundred times as much. Later in the movie there is a vehicle that does a 360 degree rotation in mid-air. Even though the Bond film ruined their stunt with a pipe whistle effect, you could see that it was real and impressive. In this film, it is simply one more CGI moment to stack on the pyre. By the time the climax shows up, we are already overstuffed with these visual confections and the resolution means much less. You have to suspend disbelief and common sense to enjoy this stuff. If you are willing, then go for it.

On a side note, like many other films of the last few years, there are a number of sequences that take place over the credits, mid-credits and at the end of the credits.  People, if you are holding your bladders to get through something in the middle of this film without missing anything, you are defeating your purpose when you leave your trash in the aisle and rush out of the theater with the commencement of the closing music.  You won’t be missing anything essential, but you would not have missed anything essential an hour earlier if you visited the loo then. There are some very amusing moments in those last minute appearances of our characters, why skip a good joke? To get to the parking lot five minutes earlier? It makes no sense. Maybe a dozen people out of the couple hundred in the theater stuck it out for those bits. People, you paid for this and you are leaving product on the plate uneaten. Shame on you.

You could rightly describe the first “Fast and Furious” as “Point Break” with cars. “Hobbs and Shaw” is “Lethal Weapon, 2, 3 and 4” with spies instead of cops. If it’s hot where you live and the local cinema has good air conditioning, this is perfectly satisfactory. Maybe the best part however is next winter, when you are channel surfing and this is on, you can watch it again and it will feel like a new experience because there was nothing notable about it the first time around.

Skyscraper

Do you all remember when action films were being described as a variation of “Die Hard”? You know, “Speed is “Die Hard” on a bus, and “Under Siege” is “Die Hard” on a boat, or the ultimate variation, “Die Hard” on Air Force One. Well it would be redundant to describe this as “Die Hard” in a building, that’s what “Die Hard” was all by itself. Instead, lets call this “Die Hard” in the “Towering Inferno” because that is a lot more specific. Don’t think that the film makers didn’t realize what they were doing either, because they clearly intended us to call back to those other films.

So do you see any resemblance in the marketing of these films?  The key art folks who created the posters certainly did.

This is a bone rattling, eye popping, eardrum shattering popcorn film that should meet the needs of all the adrenaline junkies looking for their next fix.   It is a well put together piece of nonsense that doesn’t have to make any sense, it just has to fulfill the expectations for this genre of film. In case you are wondering, here is a partial list of tropes that make this sort of film a “Die Hard” experience:

1. Right Man in the Wrong Place

2. A Family endangered

3. A Violent Crime occurring during the disaster

4. A Loathsome Villain

5. Duplicitous Character

6. Skeptical Police

7. Over the Top Action Sequences

8. A satisfying comeuppance for the bad guys

9. Faith Restored in the Hero

When you have Dwayne Johnson in your film, you are pretty certain to have the right man. “The Rock” as he continues to be referred to, delivers the charisma in big chunks and he gets to be a better actor with each film he makes. When that brief cameo of Arnold showed up in “The Rundown”, it really did serve as a passing of the torch to a new generation of action hero. The Rock has lived up to his part of the bargain, choosing roles that fit him for the most part, with occasional comedy misfires like “Baywatch“. I’ve not yet seen this years “Rampage”, with the giant animals, but I suspect it fits into the same category as this.

The endangered family include Neve Campbell. I don’t think I’ve seen her in anything since “Scream 4”, although I’m sure she works regularly somewhere. I thought she was a nice fit as Johnson’s wife, a Doctor with a military background. She doesn’t have to do too much that would require her background include SEAL training, for the most part she is a competent mother. caring for her kids in a desperate situation. The kids have a little personality but they are not an annoying focal point as you see too often in these film,s.

The fire in the building is created as a way to get access to a macguffin, which turns out to be a flash drive with important information on it [It doesn’t matter so don’t worry what it is].  The building itself is described more than it is shown in the lead up to the events that form the spine of the story. We get enough to be impressed with the imagination and engineering, but it might have been more interesting to get a tour of more of the building before disaster arrives.

The bad guy is less satisfying than he ought to be. That is not the fault of the actor Roland Moller. He has one scene where he can inject a little bit of performance, but mostly he has to snarl through the film. There is not any trading of quips as if he is Hans Gruber, he is just another Germanic thug with an agenda. We also get two characters who are not what they seem. You will not have any trouble spotting them early on. The telltale hesitations and the insistent advise they provide gives away their secret agenda to the audience without much work on our part.

The cops in this Asian city are like cops in NY or LA. They are quick to make assumptions, and late to the party. They also require the assistance of both the hero and his spouse.

There are plenty of action scenes in the movie, including a solid fight sequence and some car chases. The criminals shoot everyone, so obviously there is violence but the amount of blood is sparse. What is not hard to come by in this movie is fire. Johnson has so many scenes running through, jumping over and being chased by fire and explosions, that he is lucky he did not singe his beard to go with the shaved head. The highlight is of course the leap from a crane, into the burning title character. While it is visually spectacular, they over do some of the fingertip moments so that they lose a little tension sometimes.

We of course are spoiler free on this site, so I won’t do anything with the resolution except say that it is not a surprise, and it minimally meets our wants for this kind of film. This movie will probably not end up a go to film for anyone, but it won’t be something you turn off if you run across it on your TV or cable channel. As for streaming, it’s had to say what demand there will be for it, but if you are a fan of “The Rock”, it will sit nicely between “San Andreas” and any of the “Fast and Furious” movies.

 

Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle

I hear people in the blogging community complaining about this film as if it is besmirching a classic film to do another version. Get off it people. The 1995 version was a perfectly acceptable piece of family entertainment for it’s time. It featured elaborate early CGI and Robin Williams. There is a warm family story buried in the action adventure plot and all the good guys win and the villains are vanquished. Guess what, that is exactly the same scenario of this film, just take out Robin Williams and insert Dwayne Johnson, and you have the same outcome.

 

This concept is updated to reflect more modern sensibilities, so the board game is a computer game, and a transgendered Jack Black makes penis jokes, but none that can’t keep the movie it’s PG-13 rating. Basically the “Breakfast Club” travels to a different dimension and in addition to playing the game, they try to resolve social problems that they have in their “real” life as well. There are no big surprises here. Nothing shows up that you could not anticipate, but it is all carried off in an entertaining manner with a lot of humor and good old fashioned adventure story.

Two things that did standout a bit, and add a little something to the mix. The film is very self-aware when it comes to the sexual stereotyping that exists in a video game. It plays with that a little but not enough to be a polemic on the subject. I also appreciated that the teachers and Principal of the High School that the kids all attend, are not comic book figures for ridicule. They all have reasonable demands that they are making of their students and they are really trying to help the kids, even if the kids can’t see it.

The cast here is all game for the film. “The Rock” continues to be a reliable presence in almost all films he appears in, even the bad ones. In this movie he gently mocks himself as a character but also plays the hero role well. Jack Black is hit or miss these days and a little goes a long way. I think he was well used as the avatar of the most self centered girl in the school, he is the complete visual opposite but manages to convey her personality in his performance. Maybe Karen Gillian works in the movie because she has done the video-game thing herself in earlier work. I have only known her from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” but she is apparently a Dr. Who video game fixture. This is a second pairing of Kevin Hart with Johnson, I think they should go ahead and repeat the tag line for “Central Intelligence” for this film. It would work.

So the movie will not win over any converts, but those with an open mind will find some entertainment. If you and your family end up in a theater seeing this, you won’t hate yourselves but you won’t get much more than some entertainment out of it. That seems like a perfectly acceptable objective, and it is a perfectly acceptable film.

F8 of the Furious

OK, it’s time to fill your tank, strap yourself in and forget everything you learned in science class. We have another entry in “The Fast and the Furious” franchise to watch.This logic defying, cheesy dialogue spewing, CGI mismash, is what I like to refer to as “Craptacular”. It doesn’t need to make any sense, it just needs to entertain us for a couple hours on a sunny weekend afternoon after we’ve had a nice lunch and we are looking for some air conditioned silliness. “F8 of the Furious” as I insist it should be spelled, has a lot of things going for it despite the cockamamie story telling, paper thin characterization and 1000 yard stare machismo. I don’t anticipate these films like some people do, In fact I was not even sure I would see this one. But when the history of my life is written, I won’t hate myself for having enjoyed these movies a bit. They feel like summer.

From where I sit, the best things about this series are it’s most recent additions. I missed the film where Dwayne Johnson first showed up as a character in these, but he is a guy that oozes charisma. Jason Statham is in his third one of these movies, having a brief cameo in 6 and then being the main bad guy in 7. Whatever they are paying these guys it is worth it because they inject the most energy into the movies of any of the actors. Kurt Russell shows up in a suit and tie for a few scenes, and his swaggering smarminess as a spook with no name, brings a smile to my face. If only Scott Eastwood were as much fun as the intern version of Russell’s character.

Two new additions for this film are the ladies that figure heavily in the plot. Charlize Theron steps in as the villain for this edition of the story. She has tightly weaved hair extensions and a badass attitude. It looks like she was saving all her action chops for “Atomic Blonde” later this summer, because in her role as Cipher, she primarily barks orders and frantically types. In another of the mindless film sequences over the years, cyber hackers attack, block and outwit each other as we see who can really reach 70 words a minute on their laptop. Maybe if we edit it together tightly enough and inject some screen shots of computer graphics, it will feel like an action piece. [No it doesn’t]. After giving us a dozen reasons to hate her and be ready to cheer for the comeuppance that we have been waiting for, there is an unsatisfactory close to her story. In all probability, we will see the same plot twist that has happened in every one of these films happen in the next one. Also stepping in in a brief scene is Dame Helen Mirren. She doesn’t get to do much but she can act everyone else in the film right off the screen just by sitting there.

For thirteen years people have piled on Pierce Brosnon’s last outing as 007, for some of the same reasons that they have embraced this franchise. CGI cars that defy gravity, preposterous super villains with all powerful knowledge, stunts that induce as much laughter as excitement, and jokes that don’t produce either laughter or much character. With the exception of Statham’s sequence on a plane, the humor here largely falls flat. Since I am at heart a sentimentalist, I sometimes find myself being drawn into the “Family” motif that strings these films together. Who doesn’t like a hardy laugh as you celebrate your victory of a new bad guy by breaking bread and forming an alliance with the last bad guy. As I said earlier, it doesn’t make a lot of sense but cracking the whip on a movie like this is a little like kicking a puppy. It ties so hard to please you that it is just wrong to punish it when it drops a turd on your carpet. fate_of_the_furious_ver3

If you think you can take a giant grain of salt and choke it down, than you will almost certainly enjoy a car chase with a submarine, or a parachute jump that would make D.B. Cooper proud. You probably won’t care that a convoluted double cross is arranged without any explanation or that people leaping out of cars traveling well in excess of the speed limit results in no physical consequences. “The Rock” doesn’t need the force to levitate his opponents off the ground, Statham doesn’t need gravity to interfere with a good fight or foot chase, and Vin Diesel doesn’t need to act to star in a movie. All of these things are still more believable than finding enough clear road to chase on in New York City on a weekday afternoon.

Moana

 

Back in 1991, I took my two small children, 3 and 5 at the time, to see “Beauty and the Beast“. It was one of my favorite memories of their childhood and my fatherhood. They loved the movie and my oldest was so passionately involved that she cried out to warn Belle and the Beast when the villagers are led by Gaston in an attack on the castle. Three years ago, I saw “Frozen” and I imagined that little girls would love it much as my kids had responded to the ’91 film, and it seems they did. My youngest daughter, 26 at the time was unimpressed, and while I thought it was a fine film, it did not have the same impact on me as the early film did. Today I saw a movie that reminded me so much of that late November 1991 experience, I wished I had two small children to share it with. Nostalgia, not being what it once was, leaves me to respond to this movie mostly on my own. “Moana” is great.

Pins a got as a Premiere Stubbs Card Holder at The AMC Theater Today

I don’t think I even saw a teaser for the movie before we went today. I’d listened to a podcast or two where it had been discussed, and since I mostly avoid reading reviews until after I have seen a movie, this was really more surprise than I had anticipated. The look of the animation is marvelous. The characters are designed to accurately depict south sea island people and the characters of “Moana”, her father and grandmother but especially “Maui” are spectacularly authentic and beautiful. The opening sequence with Moana as a toddler, being called to the ocean is charming as all get out. Even the animated water tentacle that reminded me so much of the early CGI work in “The Abyss” had personality to it. The island home is lush and the people, songs and way of life are the sorts of things that drab landlubbers are going to dream of when they imagine escaping to a deserted island and retiring to the good life.

There are some of the same patterns of defiance, growth and independence by a young girl that I saw in the story of Belle 25 years ago. There is also a character song like in so many of these films, where the heroine sings of her dreams and obligations and the burden that she feels. So it might seem that the story is conventional Disney Princess territory. I think that’s going to be a cliche that gets used anytime a young girl is the featured character in a Disney story and I think it’s a little unfair. “Moana” is very different, especially in one of the most important ways. Unlike Ariel, Belle, Mulan, Rapunzel and the rest, there is no love story here. Romance is not part of this equation, unless you count the love that Moana has for her island home and people. This is a very straightforward quest film with high adventure and a lot of humor built in, but there is no subplot about marriage or choosing the one you feel the most for. The writers of the story seem to have drawn heavily from Polynesian mythology, but almost certainly there are the usual Disney variations to keep the story on track and simplify the points being made. I thought it was a unique perspective and made the peoples of the area so interesting to me. There were some similar themes in “Whale Rider” from 2002.

Auli’i Cravalho is a nice discovery as the voice of “Moana”. I loved the line readings she gives as she practices the speech she plans on giving to Maui when she tracks him down. The greatest treasure in the film however is the presence of a man who might have at one time been a punchline in the film business, but today stands astride the movie world as a major star and an ambassador of goodwill from film makers everywhere. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has charisma oozing out of his whole body, and it fills the screen here, even though he does not appear on the screen and only his voice is used to act his character. The animators do their job to make Maui fun and interesting. He is a bit of a goat to begin with, but a very confident demi-god and able to ignore his own transgression, up to a point. His performance of the Lin-Manuel Miranda song, “You’re Welcome”, is right up there with “Gaston” and “Prince Ali” as odes to characters that are self inflated and hysterical at the same time. The use of tribal tattoos on his body to tell his backstory and his faults is a brilliant story telling trick that works very well for an animated feature. It’s one of the many things that reminded me of that soon to be live action film, just as the film makers in Beauty and the Beast found a way to make the story sing with the anthropomorphic furniture, the drawing on Maui’s body let us know more about the character without having to leave the main plot.

There are at least two very entertaining sequences where Maui and Moana have to work together to overcome adversaries. The Kakamora warrior attack will remind you of every Mad Max film. The chase across the ocean looks like something right out of “Fury Road”. While I was less impressed with the fight against Tamatoa, the jewel encrusted crab monster, it still had a number of clever bits to it and again, it shows the creativity of the film from a number of different points. There were times in which I felt I was watching something a little more strange than is expected from a Disney film. The Ocean voyage was sometimes reminiscent of a Japanese Anime film. There were some meta jokes about the whole “Princess” concept, and the focus on the two main characters was much more involved than the usual pack of side kicks and comic relief.

moana_ver4

 

This has been a particularly good year for animated features.

For once , Pixar is unlikely to be the favorite at Oscar Time. I might still give the edge to “Kubo and the Two Strings”, but “Moana” is a worthy entry and I thought it was very much more fulfilling than even some of the most financially successful animated films this year. If you have kids, take them and make it a special holiday excursion. Get them some popcorn, go Christmas shopping afterwards, and laugh with them over the jokes in this movie. I think you will be making a memory for them which will be something they can treasure decades from now. I wish I had grand kids that I could have taken to see this movie, but if you go because of anything I wrote here, it will be a little bit like I was there, taking you to see it. Merry Christmas memories to you.

Central Intelligence

 

Let’s start with a little critical thinking lesson. Sign reasoning is the basic concept that is easily explained by the old phrase, “If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, and it walks like a duck… than it’s probably a duck.”  Now here is where the critical thinking comes in, how certain is the relationship between the signs and the conclusion?  Today’s movie offers us several signs that it is a problem, before a single moment of the film runs. First, it’s a mismatched buddy film featuring a C.I.A. plot. Second, the trailer features a cheap CGI joke about a fat kid singing in the shower getting bullied. Third, it stars Kevin Hart, a comedian and actor that I have rarely found to be funny. You put those things together and the conclusion is that this film is a piece of crap. To test the validity of the conclusion we might look for other signs that would reinforce the original point. For a guy like me, who grew up in the golden ages of poster art, the visual image on the poster, with the bright yellow background screams “Turd”.

Now, let’s point out the weakness of this conclusion using the other tests of sign reasoning, are there any contradictory signs?  Before seeing a frame of the movie, I can say there are two signs that might undermine the conclusion above. First, Kevin Hart is balanced out by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Maybe you haven’t noticed yet but “The Rock” has become a legitimate movie star and he exudes charisma in everything he’s been in.  [As a caveat to the argument, he has been in a lot of crappy pictures, but they were not bad because of him.] Second, the marketing team has had one great idea to sell this film with, a pun based on the names of the two stars. It’s not much but I’m a Dad and everyone knows that Dad’s like bad puns. In one of my classes this last quarter, I had a student take it upon himself to keep a tally of all the bad puns I made in class. He had me over 150, which for a class that meets twice a week averages almost 4 bad puns an hour, and by the way, more than 40% of class time is taken up by student performance, so if we calculate based on my speaking time the average is well over ten an hour. Which explains why I appreciated the “Little Hart/Big Johnson” tag line, despite it’s low brow approach.

Drawing inferences from the above issues, I think it is safe to say I probably would stay away from a film like this for the most part. So how, you might ask, did I end up seeing it?  Now it’s time for a little cause-effect reasoning. It’s hot here this weekend, and the theater is cold. Also, “Finding Dory” is off limits until my daughter can go with us. Finally, a little disjunctive deductive reasoning, my alternatives for the time we had were “Warcraft” “X-Men Apocalypse” “Now You See Me 2” and “Me Without You”. I barely escaped the wheelchair love story, and everything else looked worse.

Having rationalized my way into the film, “How was it?” The answer is, …not as bad as you might think. Although Kevin Hart did not do much for me, he did not undermine the film and there were a couple of places where he delivered a pretty fair line or two. I could have done without the string of dialogue he throws out when describing his character as being scarred “S***less”, but maybe his audience likes that kind of humor. Johnson on the other hand seems to be having a ball, and he actually conveys a series of convincing emotions, which are supposed to be contradictory because we are not really supposed to understand his real character. It’s all very convoluted and not important except to say that once again, the man once known as “The Rock” is worth every penny he was paid to be a part of this film.

The movie trades on cliches in some deliberate ways, but it also repeats some cliches without the irony that would make them less likely to choke us. There are two surprise cameo appearances and both actors add a little something to the film that it needed to avoid being dreck. I was pleasantly surprised by last year’s “Spy” which covers some of the same territory. This is not quite as satisfying and I can’t recommend it highly, but if you have no air conditioning, and you want a couple of laughs, this film will kill two hours and not too many brain cells.

San Andreas

I understand the commerce behind a film like this. Big action, a big star, and over the top visual sequences make money. Look, I put down my twelve bucks so I guess I should not complain too much, except what does it say about me and the rest of humanity when we watch disaster porn? Are we confronting our fears and our own mortality or are we revealing in the destruction and enjoying watching millions of people die? I just can’t answer. I feel a little dirty but it is also such a stupid movie that I feel silly for feeling guilty, talk about mixed emotions.

Southern California is the only home I have ever known, and I know that we are all going to be very unhappy when the “Big One” does show up. I rode out the 1971 quake in Sylmar, the 87 Whittier Narrows Quake that killed my hometown theater, and the 94 Northridge quake which made the area sit up and beg. Every once in a while we get a good sized movement of the earth that reminds us that stuff is happening below our feet. This movie wants to bitch slap you into alertness and then make you care about five people while the whole west coast is going to hell in a handbasket. If anyone is better prepared as a result of seeing this, that would be a good thing. The problem is that this movie suggests that we are all pretty much screwed unless we have a helicopter, a plane and a boat at our disposal. Also, pack Dwayne Johnson in your EQ kit because mere mortals are not going to survive without this kind of hero.

The former “Rock” has been a movie star for fifteen years now. He is in one of the biggest franchises in Hollywood, and he gets better as an actor each time out while keeping the charisma that made him a star wrestler before he moved over to the silver screen. He loads this unbelievably derivative story on his broad shoulders and powers though it as if it were Shakespeare. He does not play it camp and he does a credible job playing the hero that everyone will need in a disaster. If Liam Neeson and others are the Old Guy fantasy of competence, Johnson is right there with them, assuming the old guys look like Arnold Schwarzenegger reborn.

Take three parts “Earthquake”, one part “The Towering Inferno”, one part “The Poseidon Adventure”, throw in a dash of “2012” and “The Day After” and you have this movie. Match it with state of the art visual effects to depress the hell out of anyone who remembers 9/11 and you will see what I mean. This movie is cheesy as hell but also sadly familiar. I spent hours watching tsunami videos after the Japanese disaster a few years ago, and I felt like a gawker at the scene of a car accident, but still not able to look away. The dramatic action scenes in this movie still manage to involve you because the main characters are likable and we have followed them through the whole story, but look around and there are a hundred other stories that end in tragedy every time our leads make it thorough ( which they would never do it this was real.)

Paul Giamatti is credible as a Cal Tech scientist, and he adds a little gravitas to the proceedings but the whole scenario is so over the top that in the long run it does not matter. If you can swallow your self loathing and just load up on popcorn, you will be moderately entertained. If you are at all conflicted about the idea, then maybe you should wait for the next comic book movie, where it is easier to laugh off the ludicrous amount of destruction as just being a movie.