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Review: Bad Boys For Life

“Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do…?” Gonna make a movie and a sequel or two.

It all began in 1995, with Bad Boys, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as two Miami narcotics detectives who live by the motto, “Ride together. Die together.” Then came Bad Boys II in 2003, with more of the same. And now, there’s Bad Boys For Life, more of the same – again – with a slightly twistier twist than its immediate predecessor. In other words, you know what you’re in for with this franchise: Two longtime friends who drive each other crazy also have each others’ backs through a barrage of violence, comedy, drama, car chases, motorcycle chases, helicopter chases, bloodshed, bromance, and collateral damage.

Review: Aladdin (2019)

I must confess I went into Disney’s live-action Aladdin with the lowest of expectations and a great deal of skepticism. I’m an ardent fan of the 1992 animated classic and couldn’t imagine anyone other than Robin Williams – in human or animated form – playing the big blue wisecracking “Genie.” I still think Williams set an unattainable bar for Will Smith – or anyone else who dares to step into Genie’s shoes. And yet… Aladdin 2.0 is quite good, especially if you’re into family-friendly movie musicals (Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, The Greatest Showman, etc.). It pays homage to the old while bringing something new to our “whole new world.”

Collateral Beauty

Collateral Beauty is a bittersweet drama that could be either a tough watch, or cathartic, for anyone feeling the pain of loss during the holiday season. If I had to pick a target demographic, I’d go with fans of A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, or (to allude to something more current) the television drama This Is Us. It’s about finding the good – the collateral beauty – when life hurls a few ugly curveballs.

Suicide Squad

I’m a pretty big fan of superhero movies. I even liked Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. So I went into Suicide Squad with an open mind, despite the fact that I wasn’t familiar with the ‘Squad’ until the pop culture explosion of the past few months, and I’d never read the DC Comics that introduced this bizarre group of anti-heroes to the world. Unfortunately, an open mind wasn’t enough. I didn’t hate the movie. But I also didn’t like it. I was surprisingly bored and more than a tad confused about the motivations of the characters, and the plot. On top of that, I just don’t see the purpose of diluting an already over-saturated market of superhero movies with a flick that features characters that you’re sort of supposed to root for, even though they’ve done some really bad things, because they go into battle against people (or creatures) who’ve done much worse things. It’s like the “Axis of Evil” being called upon to fight ISIL. When you’ve got Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, or even Deadpool, why in the world would you put the fate of the world in the hands of a bunch of killers who’ve been offered clemency in exchange for their “cooperation” in covert government ops?

Focus

Focus is a weak heist movie. But it benefits from sharing an opening weekend with the likes of The Lazarus Effect, because the latter makes the former look like Oscar-worthy material. Focus stars Will Smith as Nicky, a seasoned con artist who teaches a novice con artist named (Margot Robbie) the tricks of the trade. The two become entangled romantically, but then Nicky abruptly ditches her. Fast forward three years and they meet again when he is called upon to pull some master con at a high-stakes car race, and she is dating one of the drivers.

Men in Black 3

The third MIB is definitely not the charm. It’s the weakest of the bunch, mostly because it’s not particularly funny, dramatic or cool – elements that helped make the original premise so engaging, entertaining and quirky. MIB3 has a few funny lines, but overall, it’s kind of a downer.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones basically phone it in as they reprise their roles as Agents J (Smith) and K (Jones), partners in a government agency that monitors alien activity on Earth. Agent J is the hip one; K is the surly one. And in MIB3, we learn why K is such a dour dude.