The Movie Guru: “Gunpowder Milkshake” and the new “Space Jam” offer different kinds of fun
Gunpowder Milkshake (Netflix)
There’s a lot to like about “Gunpowder Milkshake.”
The action movie delivers a wonderfully healthy dose of excellent actresses causing an incredible amount of mayhem. There’s also some excellent stylized violence, run through with a sneaky sense of humor that shines through at the most entertaining moments. And, of course, I’m always happy to see Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, and Carla Gugino in just about anything.
The movie follows Karen Gillan, an assassin who killed the wrong mobster’s son as part of an assignment for a large, shady organization called the Firm. When she saves a child rather than stolen money on her next assignment, both she and the kid are targeted for elimination by the firm. In order to stay alive, she’s going to have to re-connect with the one person she never wants to see again – her mother, an assassin who disappeared when she was a teenager.
Gillan makes a convincing action lead, and she has good, low-key chemistry with Chloe Coleman as the girl in trouble. Lena Headey oozes chemistry, like always, and Basset, Yeoh and Gugino are all fantastic when they’re allowed onscreen. Paul Giametti is, once again, the perfect low-key sleaze.
Sadly, there are some fairly big missteps that keep the movie from living up to its full potential. The opening feels too much like a retread of “John Wick,” or any of the dozens of action movies where a tough guy suddenly finds themselves in charge of a kid in danger. The ending is also a misstep, lacking any of the satisfying punch the movie had promised up to that point.
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Still, that leaves a lot of action-fueled fun to be had. If they can brush up on their endings, I’d enjoy another outing with these ladies.
Grade: Two and a half stars
Space Jam: A New Legacy (Theaters and HBO Max)
There’s one question everyone wants to know about the new “Space Jam” – is it as good as the original?
That’s a complicated question. The movie, which premieres in theaters and on HBO Max this Friday, does have a slightly more coherent plot than the original. It also has a much stronger emotional element, with LeBron James trying to restore his emotional relationship with his son in addition to winning the basketball game. Also, the Looney Tunes are still entertaining, which is the reason a lot of people watch “Space Jam” in the first place.
Unfortunately, it takes almost a full half hour for our favorite cartoon characters to show up, which feels like about a hundred years in movie time. Also, they have to share the screen with every single other movie and television property Warner Brothers owns, which is such an obvious shameless commercial grab it’s hard not to wince at some points. The Looney Tunes really try to help make it go down easy, putting the characters in referential parody scenes that are all extremely entertaining, but they can’t redeem it completely.
All together, it’s not the same “Space Jam” you remember. But it’s still pretty entertaining.
Grade: Two and a half stars
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.