Movie Review: Aloha

Aloha has a beautifully shot backdrop and a talented cast but the script is so generic and badly executed  that its unremarkable and hollow.

A celebrated military contractor (Bradley Cooper) returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs – the US Space program in Honolulu, Hawaii – and reconnects with a long-ago love (Rachel McAdams) while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watchdog (Emma Stone) assigned to him.

At first, everything seems to be Hollywood business as usual. A story set in an exotic location revolving around a bunch of white people. In fairness Aloha does have redeeming qualities.

The main setting is in a US military camp so its natural for the movie to have haoles in lead roles. The cast is comprised of mainstream Hollywood actors that are actually talented. The movie did made an effort to feature a local – Dennis ‘Bumpy’ Kanahele  – that hints at something more compelling that could be explored later on.

There’s a well known director to steer the ship. After the Garden State 2.0 that is Elizabethtown, maybe Cameron Crowe can return to form that produced Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous.

Thanks to the cinematography by Eric Gautier, the lighting gave every frame a certain glow that is beautiful in motion. There’s some nice local soundtrack too.

Unfortunately as the story progresses, its evident that Aloha is an assembly of disparate pieces haphazardly put together.

It has vaguely defined characters. Gilcrest is the generic cynical ass. Ng is a wound up doll of one note jokes with her quarter Hawaiian heritage as the punch line. Tracy is just there to look pretty and say a few useless lines. Woody is supposed to be taciturn but ends up more like a deaf mute. Fingers is…just fingers. The rest are non-entities. The actors are decent enough, although some doesn’t seem to be having fun at all.

They’re trapped in a hackneyed plot that jumps around different narratives, but never settles enough to develop one.

It starts with a typical redemption story. Gilcrest gets a piecemeal assignment after a near fatal tour in Afghanistan – oversee the blessing of a pedestrian gate – that has an unclear purpose. This narrative doesn’t fully materialize because its vague on what he’s being redeemed from.

The plot then devolves into a typical love triangle. This involves old flame Tracy who still cares about him after 13 years of silent treatment and a potential new love in the form of predictable opposite Ng who is a fighter pilot but doesn’t like weapons in the sky.

While Gilcrest and Ng is trekking around doing stuff and things, the movie also throws in some Hawaiian mythology and loony spirituality in the mix. Its tolerable, until you remember that its a reminder of another dangling narrative thread that Gilcrest is supposed to be Lono.

As if that’s not enough, there’s also something about a satellite that doesn’t make as much sense as the pedestrian gate. In the third act it’s used in a ridiculous supposed climactic moment that ties up other loose threads leading to a Hollywood ending.

The infamous Sony leaks already confirmed that Aloha is crap in advance, but with a big budget already flushed down the drain, the studio still pushed through.

There are flashes of something here that reminds the audience of the talent involved – an amusing silent exchange between Gilcrest and Woody, Alec Baldwin making a small role into a memorable one, and an odd dance party where the characters resemble people.

Overall, Aloha is too much of a mess to amount to anything.

My Rating: 3/10

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