Tag Archives: Dave Bautista

Stuber

Stu is an uber driver and a retail schlep who’s madly and secretly in love with his best friend, a woman totally oblivious as she dates asshole after asshole. Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) is spending yet another night driving in order to make extra money to fund his best friend’s dreams and get her to notice him, once and for all. Unfortunately, it’s officer Vic who notices him, and his night’s about to get a whole lot worse.

Vic (Dave Bautista) is a police officer with a weird back story: 1. his partner was killed on a drug bust and he’s been obsessed with getting revenge ever since 2. he recently had lasik eye surgery. So, thanks to that convenient little plot detail, Vic is practically blind when the biggest drug deal of the year is about to go down, and for some reason he MUST act on it, independently of the police force of course, and he commandeers poor Stu and his silent but deadly electric car for a whole night’s worth of mayhem. Even tougher to digest: Stu is so obsessed with 5-star ratings that he goes along with it. So preoccupied with his uber rating that he’ll risk life and livelihood to follow Vic into situations where even Vic should not be. And Vic is the kind of prick who continually threatens a poor rating to coerce an unarmed civilian to provide back-up on an unsanctioned mission.

I’m not the biggest Dave Bautista fan, or indeed a fan of anyone coming out of the Dwayne Johnson School of Acting, though I’ll take Bautista over Cena any day (but ideally neither, ever). Bautista does little to make the material work but I’m not even sure I can blame him for the movie’s many problems. He and Nanjiani actually have some pretty decent chemistry, in the old buddy tradition of opposites attract. Nanjiani is, of course, the reason to see this movie. All the movie’s laughs, and there are a surprising number, are because of him. He works even harder than his overworked character Stu to deliver us a pleasant film-going experience, and while I’m glad I didn’t pay to see this in theatres, I think it’s a decent at-home watch if you’re in the mood for a mindless comedy. And I do insist on the mindless part because no, that plot don’t make no sense. But if you’re in the mood for a violent, R-rated comedy that makes John Woo AND and Johnny Cash references (and really, who’s not?), then boy have I got a film to fill that very narrow niche.

Hotel Artemis

Picture it: Los Angeles, 2018. The city is in its third day of violent riots. The people are demanding access to clean water. The power is flickering, a curfew is in effect, rich people are sending servants to deposit “lootable” goods at the bank. Which means there’s all the more for a bank robber (Sterling K. Brown) with an entrepreneurial spirit to steal. Unfortunately he and his gang of merry men escape with both bullet wounds and an accidental $18M in diamonds that ruthless mob boss Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum) is definitely going to come searching for.

But first things first: with his own brother bleeding in his arms, our intrepid bank robber checks in at the Hotel Artemis, a “dark room”, or a high-security, members-only hospital for the criminal underground. I believe they’ve ripped this idea directly from the John Wick movies, but it’s a good one. There, the doctor, who is called Nurse (Jodie Foster) is guided by a very strict set of rules:

1. While on the premises, no fighting with or killing other patients.

2. No disrespectful words or actions allowed against Hotel Artemis staff.

3. No guns or any type of weapon permitted through the gates.

4. Membership must be paid for, full and in advance.

5. Prior but lapsed members will not be admitted

6. No photography or video allowed.

7. No outside food or drink.

8. Absolutely no visitors.

9. If member is found to have compromised, or led to compromise of location, membership will be revoked.

10. Hotel Artemis rules are final and non-negotiable.

Tonight, with both the police, the rioters, and the Wolf King’s men bearing down on them, the brimming with injured criminals, no-vacancy hospital will come under siege, its only protector a dedicated health care practitioner named Everest (Dave Bautista), and every one of these rules will be broken.

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With such a potent premise and an A-list cast, Sean was curious as to why he was only hearing about this now. Usually, there’s only one answer: it’s no good. But actually, it’s not bad. Maybe not good, but it depends what you’re looking for. At times it reminded of Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise with all these people stuck in a building that’s starting to resemble hell. But Hotel Artemis has more modest ambitions, and if you start to get an inkling of an allegory, well, it’ll be dashed soon enough so don’t expend too much brain power on it. Sit back and enjoy the villainous Jeff Goldblum (which is THE BEST Jeff Goldblum, isn’t it?) and the kick-ass Sofia Boutella and Jodie Foster in an actual role, an actual meaty, outside-the-box role (her first since Elysium!). Of course, the downside to a cast like this is that we don’t spend oodles of time with any of them (the movie has a trim 94 minute run-time) but when Bautista calmly unclips his hospital badge from its prominent breast-pocket display and pockets it, oh hell, you know you’re in for some fireworks and it doesn’t matter if we’ve gotten to know all the players because they’re about to become hunks of meat only suitable for stewing.

So maybe it’s disposable. Fuck it. You’re not watching for the depth of the satire, are you? No, you’re watching it because someone’s about to get PAPER-JAMMED TO DEATH (wait for it) and goddamn if you can’t look away from that.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Nominated for Visual Effects and Makeup and Hairstyling Oscars, Guardians of the Galaxy was the third highest grossing movie of 2014. So, when I talk about GOTG, I’m going to assume you know what movie I’m talking about and won’t waste any of your time describing the plot. Which is just fine with me because I’m not sure I followed it all.

I don’t watch these kinds of movies all that often- ones where I am introduced to multiple alien Guardians makeupraces so I’m not used to having to keep track of sci-fi mythologies. This one felt particularly complicated to me and I found it especially hard to keep Thanos and Ronan straight. By the end, I was surprised by how little that wound up mattering. I got it without really getting it.

The five Guardians of the Galaxy are easy enough to tell apart: Christ Pratt, a green woman, a grey guy, a raccoon, and a tree. These five were a blast to watch especially when they were all Guardians visual effectstogether. They were different enough from each other- in looks, in personality, in worldview, in fighting styles- that their unlikely alliance was almost always funny to watch. Their banter helped give me engaged through chase scenes that I found otherwise hard to follow and made me forget problems- mainly that I wasn’t always clear what was at stake here- that would have been unforgivable had the movie insisted on being taken more seriously.

The fact that director James Gunn was having so much fun with these characters helped make the necessary plot-advancing scenes so much less dull than, say, The Avengers. In fact, give me these characters over The Avengers any day. This whole project had so much more life and creativity than 2012’s Avengers film and I am as excited for a GOTG sequel as I am indifferent to this summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

On a final note, I’ve rooted for Chris Pratt ever since I started watching Parks and Recreation and I thought his charm in this was a big part of what made this film work. But is it just me or does Star-Lord (well, his mom really) have terrible taste in music?

For another asshole’s opinion, read Sean’s review here.

Guardians of the Galaxy

GOTG-posterSince the DVD release for Guardians of the Galaxy is next week, it’s the second best time to review the movie (and I missed the first best because this site didn’t exist in August).  If you read my Frozen review you already have a hint at how much I love this movie and I wanted to share that with you.

Judging by the fact that this movie is the highest grossing one of 2014, I’m guessing a lot of you have already seen it.  If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?  It’s fantastic.  It’s big and loud and mostly dumb, but it’s also funny and charming and heartwarming, with a lot of standout performances.  Chris Pratt is awesome but to me the best part of the movie was Groot, and Vin Diesel deserves a ton of credit for his performance.  He only had one line (basically) to say, and yet he really does make it mean so much more than I expected, he does somehow convey something along with it.  So I was able to believe without question that Rocket really could understand what Groot was saying, because it seemed that the words “I am Groot” weren’t really as important as the sentiment that was attached.  Going in, I knew the basics of the characters (though never read that comic) and was skeptical of the concept, but coming out I was satisfied.  It totally worked and that has to be because of Vin Diesel.  And having that character be a REAL character, not just CGI, helped me invest in the movie.  Get ready to laugh out loud at Groot’s little smile after he impales about 30 bad guy foot soldiers at once, and feel a little sniffly at the climax when Groot’s words change just enough to sum up the evolution of these five outcasts from Groot and four selfish assholes/criminals to one kick-ass superhero team that can overcome anything (spoiler alert: they win in the end).

At this point comic adaptions are pretty played out (with a ton more to come) but this is one of the best there is and I wish I didn’t have to wait three years for a sequel (and I’m sure Marvel wishes it was coming out sooner too, but this movie was in no way a surefire hit).  It’s a nice changeup from the superhero team movies we’ve already seen in that it doesn’t take an hour to get started (I’m looking at you, Avengers), takes a tongue in cheek approach that matches the characters perfectly, and is such a fun journey, and it fully deserves its rating of 21 space guns out of 10.