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April/May Movie Rundown

Courtesy of Flo Rida.

Monkey Man:

It feels very fitting that Jordan Peele played a massive role in getting this film made because what Jordan Peele did for the horror genre, Dev Patel is going to do for the action genre. Monkey Man is a post-John Wick-era action cinema at its finest. It’s a grimy, raw, visceral revenge thriller packed with inventive camera work.

Monkey Man follows a professional fighter who dons a gorilla mask using the rage forged by his childhood trauma to wage war against India’s corrupt elite. Dev Patel stars, directs and produces this film. Patel is most known for his role in 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire. The film also stars Sobhita Dhulipala and Sikander Kher. 

Patel pours his absolute heart and soul into every aspect of this film, bringing all the high-powered intensity the film required for his directorial debut. The fight choreography was top-notch, capturing all the action in medium-wide shots to show the audience everything. But, with added ferocity, the film feels angrier than your typical action flick. 

The film’s cinematography is stunning, popping with colors while capturing every environment at its most authentic: from the slums to the dens of high society. The film also infuses Indian culture, Hinduism and mythology in such a meaningful and impactful way. It serves the story while allowing Monkey Man to stand out amongst any other films like it. 

Despite all of its remarkable highs, some of the film’s lows hold it back from being an absolute classic. Its pacing felt uneven. Long setups would lead to long action scenes without any breakups. This in turn felt very formulaic in the subgenre of revenge films. Some of the film’s color grading missed the mark as well, even though the film’s use of colors is an overall positive.

But none of those negatives should deter you from catching Monkey Man in theaters, whether you like gritty action movies like this or not. Monkey Man stands alone as not just a great action film, but a very meaningful and unique film in general. 

 Civil War:

A24 has proven that they can make everything and now they’ve entered uncharted territory—action blockbusters. Civil War is a cautionary tale packed into a gut-punch of an expansive and frighteningly realistic war epic, brought to us by a director who’s never been afraid to push boundaries. 

Civil War follows journalists (Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura and Caliee Spaney) in a dystopian, future America. The group travels to Washington D.C to interview the president (Nick Offerman) before the country’s civil war comes to a close. The film is directed by Alex Garland, who’s best known for 2014’s Ex Machina. It also stars Jesse Plemons and Stephen McKinely. 

Different generations and attitudes towards war journalism are explored through each character, while each scenario places them in intense moral dilemmas. Dunst plays a jaded cynic, yet experienced and poised veteran journalist perfectly. Which is a perfect contrast to Spaney’s wide-eyed, fresh perspective of the job. Their dynamic fuels the movie and drives the emotion of the film. 

Plemons continues to be the “oh crap!” actor of our generation. When you see him, you just know that stuff is about to go down. He’s bone-chilling in this film. 

Civil War may seem like a rousing, epic action movie made to appeal to the masses. But in actuality, it captures the horror and pain of war better than just about any film I’ve ever come across. The gunshots make your heart jump, the explosions take your breath away and seeing people get shot only through the lens of a camera places you in the action like none other. You don’t feel like an audience member, you feel like you’re in the heat of battle with the journalists. 

Civil War gives us a glimpse as to what a modern American Civil War would actually look like, devoid of any real-life politics. It’s a gripping and devastating look at humanity and morality. 

The Fall Guy:

It feels impossible to not give The Fall Guy two thumbs up, for a thumbs-up stuntman. Riding the success of his 2022 action-comedy Bullet Train, director David Leitch goes back to his roots as a stuntman to create this love letter to the unsung heroes of action cinema. Filled with amazing stunt work (fittingly) and a killer soundtrack full of classic rock anthems, The Fall Guy is easily one of the year’s most fun blockbusters. 

The Fall Guy’s plot surrounds a fearless stuntman, Ryan Gosling, who returns to his job on his ex-girlfriend, Emily Blunt’s, directorial debut. finds himself trapped in a conspiracy to find the lead actor of the film, Aaron Taylor-Johnson. The film also stars Winston Duke, Hannah Waddingham, and Stephanie Hsu. 

Gosling and Blunt carry over the Barbenhemier chemistry to create a fun dynamic. Their banter is dynamite and they both crush very throwback action hero roles. Their love story could have felt a bit more authentic and less artificial, I just couldn’t help but feel that something was missing—even if I can’t pinpoint exactly what that is. 

Aaron Taylor-Johnson crushes the role of a douchebag movie star. There’s a scene where he talks like Matthew McConaughey and it just couldn’t be more perfect. Winston Duke is also an absolute tank. 

It’s also great to see original stories flourishing on the big screen, even if the story is very by-the-numbers. The Fall Guy just has that ‘80s energy of crazy practical stunts that I just couldn’t help but love. There is an overdose of charisma that makes it impossible for you to take your eyes off the screen. It’s one of those movies that gets people to the theater while serving as a reminder that cinema is very much alive. 

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