John Wick Chapter 3 / Aladdin Reviews

I am not a movie critic the following is just one man’s opinion. There are spoilers below.

Wick:

I saw the first two Wick movies and enjoyed them, although I liked the first one best. It’s a perfect role for Keanu Reeves – he’s relentlessly pursued and/or is relentlessly pursuing someone else, so he’s not called on to act.

In the first two movies he tried to get out of the hit man business, but something or someone kept pulling him back. The movies reside in an alternate universe where our real world overlays the tentacles of a world-wide crime syndicate that lurks everywhere and operates by its own rules.

What made the first two movies work for me was not Reeve’s leaden performances, it was the heartbreaking situations the writers forced him into, the creativity of the alternate Wick-world, vivid acting by the supporting cast, the urgency of the plot and the quick pacing of the director and editor.

In the third installment almost all of the above is present. Reeves does a lot of fighting but doesn’t act much, the pacing is just as rapid. But … there is no bad guy. How can you have a good vs. evil movie without a bad guy?

The movie is a chase scene stretched out to two hours. It’s repetitive (how many attacks on people’s groins can one movie hold? Does any movie need more than one scene where the hero is burned with a poker?), it’s pointless (He suffers, he asks a big-wig for forgiveness, he rebels anyway. Why not just rebel to begin with?), and not one of the fight scenes is against anyone important.

Not only are all his opponents no-name henchmen, but most of them have their faces obscured by scarves, helmets or armor. They are literally faceless. It’s like watching two-hours of a power ranger fighting putties (If you had a kid born in the 90’s you’ll get that reference).

The fight scenes are very well done but get boring after awhile since he’s not fighting anyone important.

The movie has overwhelmingly good reviews, so don’t just take my word for it. But I would rather have watched John Wick 3 on TV.

Aladdin:

Aladdin got mixed reviews by the professional critics. Some thought it still had charm despite significant flaws. Some thought it didn’t.

I thought the two actors who played Jasmine and Aladdin were excellent. They were attractive, they acted well enough, had good singing voices and looked like they performed their own stunts (I’m not sure if they did in reality, but I never suspected a stunt person was subbing for them.)

The problem for me was the actors who played the genie and Jafar. It’s impossible to avoid comparison with two brilliant performances by Robin Williams and Jonathan Freeman and unfortunately Will Smith and Marwan Kenzari fall short, in my opinion.

I think Will Smith is an enormously charismatic, funny and talented actor and singer. But this is just a bad pairing of actor and role. There are a number of issues (some not his fault, the CGI applied to him pales in comparison to animation) but the primary one is his speech. He sounds too modern and too casual. In other words, he sounds like himself rather than the character.

Kenzari fails both because he’s not the Jafar that Freeman is and because he wouldn’t have been sufficiently menacing, crafty and loonie enough for the role even if there never was a Freeman performance. The role is wrong for him.

This isn’t really a criticism but it’s emblematic of the type of choices made by Disney in this film: they were handed a gift by Gilbert Gottfried. He turned a minor role into one of the many highlights of the animated movie. Disney tossed that gift in the trash. The Iago character exists in the new movie but his performance, sense of humor and IQ have been dialed down by about 90%. A waste.

I don’t like Disney’s entire concept: making a live action version of a hit animation movie just because they can. No aspect of this new Aladdin improves on the original so what was the point, other than milking more money out of an existing asset.

Aladdin is doing very well at the box office so like my review of John Wick 3, don’t take my word for it.

 

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