Baby Driver (2017)

Capsule Summary (minor plot spoilers):

Baby Driver is the latest film by Edgar Wright.  It follows Baby (Ansel Elgort) who is a wheelman for crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey). Baby suffers from Tinnitus, and listens to music to drown it out. He owes a debt to Doc, and has almost paid it off.

A full, talented cast rounds out this movie, and there’s a lot of music and choreography of the getaways that elevates this film above others. Recommended.


Standard Review (contains plot spoilers):

Baby is off in his own world. He was orphaned as a child, and lives with his then-caregiver Joseph (CJ Jones). Joseph is older now, mute and confined to a wheelchair, so the tables have turned and Baby is taking care of him, instead. Joseph is aware that Baby is committing crimes and disapproves, but can’t convince him to stop.

Doc plans all the crimes, and hires different people to commit them, and rarely uses the same crew repeatedly, so they don’t get too comfortable. Griff (Jon Berenthal) is wary of Baby, and is convinced he’s autistic. Buddy and Darling (Jon Hamm and Eliza González) are a couple who share their love of crimes, and Bats (Jamie Foxx) is the trigger happy felon who doesn’t trust anyone. They’re mixed and matched together, along with some others for the various robberies, while Baby gets them safely away.

The escapes are what elevate this movie above the standard fare you see on screen, these days. Baby uses music to center himself, and the editing of the film puts it in sync with the action. There’s a wide variety of musical selections, from rock and roll from the 50s to modern classics, as well. It’s all over the map, appealing to a wider audience than one age group. The editing puts the beats in time with the action, including the gunfire and crashes. It’s quite clever.

Baby does have a love interest, Debora (Lily James) but to me, it’s more like she’s the one who happens to be there and show interest in him because he needs to be humanized. She’s almost a prop, at times, but she gets involved as things fall apart. They do have good chemistry on screen, so perhaps I’m overstating my complaints.

Overall, I did enjoy the film. The acting is quite solid, especially from Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, and Jamie Foxx.

Rough Night (2017)

Capsule Summary (minor plot spoilers):

Rough Night is a comedy about a bachelor party gone wrong. Scarlett Johansson stars as Jess, who reunites with her college girlfriends for the big party, in Miami. Alice (Jillian Bell), Blair (Zoë Kravitz), and Frankie (Ilana Glazer) have that big blowout before the wedding, and things don’t turn out the way you’d want them to.

There are hints of the truly dark comedy Very Bad Things here, but it really isn’t. It struggles to find its voice, but without saying more, it does come to a reasonable conclusion. There is a post-credits scene that answers a question left open.

Standard Review (contains plot spoilers):

I’m not sure I can say too much without spoiling the film. As I mentioned, it struggles for some laughs along the way, trying to walk the line between a traditional comedy and a black comedy.

This isn’t a film you must see in the theater, so I’d recommend waiting for its streaming or disk release.

Wonder Woman (2017)

Capsule Summary (Minor plot spoilers):

Wonder Woman is the first big screen adaptation of this DC Comics Superhero, and it is very good. It tells a proper and complete story without any contrivances, unlike last year’s Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice , which I did enjoy, but had some issues. There is a good balance between action, drama, and comedy that is hard to sustain, but here, it works. The casting is good and the movie is without any real disappointments unlike other DC films of late.

Definitely recommended. See it in a theater for the full experience. The movie is available in 2D and 3D, but it’s perfectly fine in 2D.

There is no post-credits sequence.


Standard Review (contains plot spoilers):

Diana/Wonder Woman (Gal Godot) was born and raised on the island of Themyscira, home of the Amazons. Her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielson) has ordained a life of preparation. All Amazonian woman were created by Zeus, to bring order and peace to a chaotic world, corrupted by the god Ares. They are fierce, in the truest sense of the word, all trained for combat by Hippolyta’s sister Antiope (Robin Wright), but Diana has been spared this. She is the only child, but over time, grows to adulthood and secretly trains with Antiope.

One day, a pilot crashes his plane near the shores of Themyscira. It is Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). He is a spy who escaped his would-be captors, and is trying to get back to England with the information he stole. The Amazonians distrust him, and the other men who’ve chased him. Steve tells of the war going on, outside of their peaceful realm, and Diana is convinced who is behind it. She and Steve sail off to find the truth.

I’ve been on the fence with the last two DC movies that’ve come out. The first I mentioned, which I liked, but, as I said, felt contrived a bit much, though the inclusion of Wonder Woman in the story felt like it belonged there. Last year’s Suicide Squad was good, but the inclusion of The Joker into the story was really unnecessary, and distracted from the main story. The best parts of that film revolved around Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and DeadShot (Will Smith), and they should have focused on them without the distraction of the Joker (Jared Leto).

Here there is only one focus, and that’s on Diana. They play up on her naiveté early on, for laughs, but it becomes a key issue later in the plot (why aren’t we doing “this”?). You do get to see a bit of a transformation as Diana becomes the person she is supposed to be, and it seems evolutionary instead of contrived and necessary for the story to continue.

I was really pleased by the story, and I’m glad DC shifted gears to make this properly.

My only beef with the film was the final song over the credits. It’s a perfectly good song, sung by Sia, but it didn’t fit the tone of the movie. It was a little jarring in comparison to the rest of the movie.