Sep 22, 2014

Movie Reviews

Guardians of the Galaxy – I’m not leading the charge here, but this movie is pretty great. I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite Marvel movie besides Avengers. Mostly because it’s just fun. It doesn’t have the best action of the movies, it’s a lot of shooty shooty space planes, which you have to try harder to make awesome. The personal fighting stuff is cool, but not stand out. The fun level, though, absolutely is. I probably laughed more in this than most comedies I’ve seen lately. It hits a really great level of taking it’s own world seriously enough that you give a shit about the outcome, but with enough levity that 1) it’s fun and 2) you aren’t crushed under the weight of an ever increasing scale on the stakes. I’m glad to see Marvel has this under control, because if they are going to continue in to the off-earth side of the universe, they are going to need a sense of humor. I’ve never loved the celestial stuff, it’s too big, which in the comics tends to be a bit goofy. But I like this first foray. What else can I say, the characters are great, there’s only a couple times where the pretense falls a little flat. The soundtrack thing, as much as some are bitching about it, is really fun and smart and oddly natural. The worst part of the movie was the stinger, it was just weird and not funny and I really hope it is inconsequential, they can’t possible consider using that in the future. But anyway, great movie.

42 – This is the Jackie Robinson movie. It’s pretty good. You can’t help but feel like it oversimplifies life. I know that’s always true of a true story, but jeez. A couple of aholes, pretty quickly dealt with. I’m sure it was a lot harder and more complicated than that. You get a glimpse of what that must have been like, which is certainly something I can’t imagine. But it’s pretty well done.

Divergent – It’s fine, I guess. I’m told the movie did away with most of the teenage drama that’s in the books, and I thank it for that. The world kind of annoys me, honestly. I’m all for a dystopia, but I feel like this one is kind of dopey. The setup is just so forced, and arbitrary. It feels like too big a leap for everyone to suddenly fall into such a rigid caste system. If you can get past the setup, which I guess I couldn’t, the movie is fine. Pretty average in terms of fights and suspense and all that. No one has any powers, that’s kind of boring. When the greatest ability you have is to be both kind of smart AND like to run and punch people… kind of lame.

Captain Phillips – Can’t really argue with this movie being good. It tells what is a shockingly dramatic true (mostly) story, that almost can’t help but be good. I don’t know why they fudged what they did – mostly in turning Phillips in to more of a hero than he was. Seems unnecessary, it’s a crazy story without him being a saint, just tell it. I like the movie because it humanizes the bad guys. They could be pure evil, and there is one guy who is kind of that, but the rest are people. People who did bad things and don’t deserve to escape that fact, but people nonetheless. And if I were such a person, born in such a condition, I can’t say I wouldn’t be the same. So I like movie makers being comfortable showing that without feeling like they are excusing it. Also, Tom Hanks is mostly just a fine performance, and then in the last 5 minutes is a fantastic performance, so good on him.

The Lifeguard – Uck. I guess I can’t say why I don’t like this, because it’s not in the description so it’s a surprise? But suffice to say a normal person makes a really horrible choice (or series of choices, I guess). This isn’t an anti-hero, or a charming ruffian, or even a straight up villain protagonist. It is realish person with realish issues who makes a realish choice that is very bad. And there are no consequences, personally, professionally, in the eyes of the movie maker or (by extension) the movie watcher. I find it a bit disturbing that someone would make a movie with that story and think it’s okay. Regardless of the other qualities of the movie (which are otherwise uninteresting anyway), the ick aspect of it makes it bad.

Contracted – Bad movie. The story is some chick gets raped and gets some sort of mega disease. The rest of the movie is her just getting grosser and grosser and freaking out. She’s unlikeable, her reactions seem kind of ridiculous. The goals seems mostly to be very gross, which I guess it is, but it’s mostly just dumb with a lot of screaming.

The Raid 2 – Maaaaaan. The first movie was so good. It had a bit of boring story at the beginning at the end, but it knew what it was. It was a guy beating, stabbing, and shooting the holy shit out of an endless series of dudes until he stabs the final dude to death. And it was fantastic, choreography like I’d never seen before. This movie seems to completely forget about the first one. It is 2.5 (TWO POINT FIVE!) hours long. And fully half of it is completely useless talking. The story is both uninteresting and overly complicated. I give no shits about who betrayed whom or who doesn’t like whom. Just show me punching, christ. The action is decent, they go to some effort to offer alternative environments and constraints on the fights. Some succeed, some don’t. If it was just a solid 60 minutes of that, it still wouldn’t be the original, but it’d be good. With all the bullshit shoved in, it’s kind of bad.

Red Dawn – Meh, it’s fine. There was no real reason to remake this. I don’t think it added much of anything. The first one wasn’t very good either, but this doesn’t up the quality. The only thing I like about this movie is showing that terrorism is driven by perspective. The good guys in this movie are terrorists. But they are heroes because they are the rebels against the bad guys. Same tactics, different context –> different characterization. Granted, they make sure that these terrorists only kill bad guys. They don’t target civilians and there’s not a drop of collateral damage. Necessary if your heroes are to be heroes, I suppose. If you show realistic consequences things get less black and white. But still, I like the reminder that a freedom fighter and a terrorist aren’t so far from each other.

Monuments Men – Pretty good movie. This is the one where a bunch of dudes wade into the tail end of WW II and try to rescue art from Germans. Apparently a mostly true story, and it’s pretty cool. The idea of it just appeals so much to me that I can’t help but like it. Plus freaking George Clooney always makes such charming and funny movies. There’s little moments sprinkled throughout that make it pretty enjoyable, in addition to being interesting. Pretty good.

This is 40 – This movie is kind of crazy. It’s just a married couple, with kids and life troubles. Money and sex and parents and kids and all that. It’s pretty over the top, though. I mean, to its credit it doesn’t sugar coat anything and it feels like these arguments come out of real life. On the other hand, every single person in the room is just screaming at the top of their lungs, usually with a healthy amount of fucks thrown in. If that was real life, it’d be freaking exhausting. But it’s pretty funny, if nothing else the craziness makes me laugh.

Homefront – This movie is enjoyable in a vengeance kind of way. It’s a Jason Statham movie, so there’s a bunch of fighting. But honestly with the quality of fight choreography nowadays, Jason Statham movies are looking a bit tame. But still, this time an ex-DEA guy moves to a small town and immediately gets fucked with by a bunch of yokels. You hate the yokels, because they are drug addled assholes. And you can’t wait for him to beat the shit out of them. Then a bunch of other stuff supersedes that with people finding out who he is and coming after him and he has to go kill them instead. But still, it’s very straightforward with very bad bad guys and a good guy who can kill them. Yay.

Perfect Sense – This movie looks super dumb, but it’s actually very cool. It’s centered around a romance (the dumb part), but the context is interesting. Some disease or condition or dunno what starts spreading where people start losing their senses, as in 5 senses. It starts with smell and goes on. It’s kind of a really cool premise and mini examination of how people might cope. The main dude is a chef, so food is the focus for a while. But just the idea of what people do is actually very neat. Nothing really unexpected happens, after 30 minutes you understand what will happen for the next 60, but I still really enjoyed it.

Last Days on Mars – Ppt. I was kind of excited for a survival story of people who get stranded on Mars. Turns out to be some dumb zombie movie, it just happens to be on Mars. It’s not bad exactly, it’s not cheesy, it’s not bad acting. It’s just generic and not super interesting. Oh well.

True Legend – This is a kungfu movie, with all that entails. The story is pretty straightforward: two guys who are like brothers, one goes bad, kills the family, good guy needs revenge, etc. For no apparent reason with 20 minutes left the movie completely switches and the good guy invents drunken style fighting. Dunno why. But in any case the fighting is pretty good. It’s kind of a wire kungfu, which isn’t my preference, but the choreography is generally interesting. There’s a couple weird moments of CGI/funny editing that I also don’t understand. But overall it’s a good kungfu kinda movie.

Hick – Not sure I get the point of this movie. A teenager runs away, gets in a bunch of trouble, meets some shady people, gets away, runs away again, etc. Nothing really interesting about it. It’s not bad, exactly, the acting or writing aren’t noticeably bad. It just doesn’t seem to have much of a point to me.

John Dies at the End – There seems to be no point to this movie except to be surreal. Maybe that was cool in the book, but it seemed pretty dumb in the movie. There’s barely a thruline in this movie, it’s a bunch of weird shit happening. It’s told out of order, but that’s not why it’s confusing, it’s just trying really hard to be weird and I don’t get it. It’s not fun weird, and it’s not awesome weird, it’s just weird. I suppose it’s just not my style and if it was maybe I’d like it. But nope.

Man of Tai Chi – This movie is a decent kung fu movie. It’s a straightforward story – good guy, loses his way, goes bad, gets good again. The action is good. There’s not too much wire-fu, definitely some, but mostly in the flips off the ground and super spins and someone flying backward after a hit. Not so much the prancy floating stuff that I don’t like. The hand/foot work is good. Keanu Reaves is pretty unconvincing as a bad guy, not horrible, but not scary enough. It’s also hard to believe that he can keep up with the good guy, fists-wise. The guy from The Raid was up right before him and was completely wasted, which was really sad. The good guy is also kind of unconvincing. He’s very skilled, but he’s tiny and not very intimidating, which is kind of too bad. But it’s still good choreography and a good ninja movie.

Compliance – This movie makes me pretty angry, mostly because I can’t believe people are that evil or that dumb. It’s apparently based on a true story of some sociopath who called random retail stores and convinced people to do horrible things to other people. In this case, convincing a manager that he’s a cop, an employee is a criminal, and to do terrible terrible things to her. It’s upsetting that that man exists. It’s upsetting that a manager who is so dumb and pathetic as to let the things happen. The movie itself I guess is good? I had a feeling I couldn’t shake that the movie was just exploitive, though. They didn’t choose an ugly girl to have these horrible things done to her. They chose a hot blonde girl who was in her bra and panties for the majority of the movie. Who’s that for? Maybe I’m only upset by the story and that is transferring to the movie, but maybe the movie had shitty motives.

Starship Troopers: Invasion – This is an animated starship troopers sequel. I’m not sure where it happens in the timeline of the sequels, I haven’t seen any of them. It was pretty good, it’s nothing special, but there’s shooting and dead bugs and blood. For some reason there’s more than one animated booby. I feel like I can get a hold of pictures of boobies if I need them, animated or otherwise, I’m not sure why they are in the movie. I guess cuz there were boobies in the original? Anyway, it was fun, makes me want to go watch the original and then watch the two live action sequels.

It Felt Like Love – This one is pretty well done, but pretty sad. It’s just about a young girl, 14 or so, and how that part of life pretty much sucks. She wants to be like her friend who has boyfriends and has sex, but she has no idea. She fakes knowledge and experience to fit in. She tries to get involved with a college guy, makes some pretty bad decisions, because she’s desperate for someone to look at her that way, even though she doesn’t know what it means. It’s pretty well done. But man it does suck to be that age.

Nymphomaniac 1 – Pppppppt. How can a movie so jam packed with sex be so boring? I guess the “appeal” of the movie is that they really aren’t fucking around with the sex. That was a real blowjob. That was a real penis going in to a real vagina. Yikes. The sex is overt and constant. A lot of it is kind of disturbing, which is maybe exciting for some people, not so much for me. The rest of it is sexy, it’s basically porn half the time. But in between the sex is a completely uninteresting story about a girl who has been effed up most of her life and makes some pretty effed up decisions. But jeez it’s mostly just annoying and boring.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengence – The first of the “vengeance” trilogy. Pretty crazy. A not-so-good guy makes a dumb choice to try to help someone he loves. He then makes a very bad choice to try to make up for it. Subsequently, an otherwise-good guy makes an even worse choice (ish) in response. And first guy makes some choices in response too. No one is good, the movie on the one hand is looking at how one might react to horrible circumstances, which is interesting, but on the other hand is gratuitous and violent. It’s good, I suppose, but a bit much.

Oldboy – The second in the trilogy. This one has an american remake (prompting this watching spree). In this case a guy doesn’t absolutely nothing wrong, but gets in the way of a bad person. He is then imprisoned (by a guy, not by the government) for 15 years. When he gets out he tries to figure out why, but that’s just part of the bad guy’s plan. Bad guy imposes a truly awful revenge which, kind of, relates to what the innocent guy did to get in the way. It’s pretty terrible, and you don’t feel good at the end. But it’s a good movie.

Sympathy for Lady Vengence – Third one. Again, someone who was only kind of bad, gets turned mega bad. But the twist is she manages to recruit people in to being mega bad with her, for revenge. It’s kind of interesting, again asking what people would do at the end of grief. All three movies are good enough, though definitely trying to be gross. They are trying to be thought provoking, I guess, and only half succeeding, but that half is good. They are pretty slow paced and deliberate, but can have spurts of extreme violence. The juxtaposition is probably also part of the point. In the end, you feel pretty shitty about humanity.

Oldboy (2013) – Josh Brolin remake of the Korean movie. In the end, it brings absolutely nothing to the table except being in English. There is literally nothing about this movie that is better than the original, except that I don’t have to read the words. Where this movie is good, the original was better. And I JUST saw the original, so I’m not being hipster nostalgic here, I have no allegiance to the Korean version. This one just comes off as a copy. The one thing of significance it changes would only have been effective on someone who hadn’t seen the original, so I can’t judge that. It’s probably a worthwhile change in terms of misdirecting the audience, but I can’t say for sure. The one-take fight scene isn’t one-take here, and it’s also not as good. Josh Brolin is too much of a badass. The cool thing about the fight the first time around, besides being one take, is how clumsy it was. It was confined, and awkward, and the guy barely makes it through. That made it much cooler than brolin just being people up. If you really refuse to read subtitles, see this one over the original, but there’s no other reason.

Detention – Ugh. This movie is trying to be a new Scream, I guess. Very self-aware, trying to mock the teen/slasher genre. Apparently we are far enough from the 90s that we can be nostalgic about the 90s now. I mean, the movie doesn’t take anything seriously enough to take its nostalgia serious, but serious or not it talks a lot about the 90s. Mostly it’s just dumb, not clever, not funny, so just dumb.

Last House on the Left – I thought this was a horror movie, which is not to say that I had high hopes. Instead it’s a terrible people do terrible things to innocent people movie. The kind of movie that kind of preys on people’s fear of strangers or criminals wandering the woods waiting to kill you. The movie is pretty slimy. It spends a solid 2 minutes just staring at a (supposedly) underage girl. No pretense, no point, just the camera panning up and down her body as she puts on her clothes after a shower. Then they do horrible things that make you feel bad for watching. Then I guess you are supposed to feel happy about bad things happening to the bad people. But not really, it’s just gross.

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane – Ppt, another teen slasher. Doesn’t bring anything interesting to the table, focuses an awful lot on how hot Amber Heard is. To be fair, she is pretty hot, but I’m not sure that that justifies a 90 minute movie. The movie tries to be clever in the end, but it’s kind of  “so what” clever. Then it tries to double back on its cleverness, but at that point I super don’t care.

Escape from Planet Earth – Random netflix play, but it was actually fun. It’s just a cartoon about some aliens. It doesn’t ask much of you, and it gives enough in return. It’s cute and made me laugh (probably more than This is 40 did) and was a good way to spend an evening.

360 – This movie is mostly about a bunch of people in crappy relationships who make some crappy decisions. That’s not everyone, to be fair, there are a couple of legitimately interesting characters. Specifically the recently released convict and the older guy. The con especially, who is a sex offender and is trying to deal with the temptation of real life. That was actually interesting. But the rest of it is just boring. It tries to do the Crash thing where everyone intertwines, but it really just feels like a bunch of forced connections that don’t have any subtler meaning.

Coriolanus – This movie didn’t get a fair shake from me. It’s a modern retelling of a Shakespeare story that I’ve never known about. It is set in modern day Italy, but the language is all old timey still. I think it’s probably pretty good. I didn’t have the patience for it, I had to wiki the story to even follow it, and I insisted on playing a game while it was on. It seems to be that Ralph Fiennes was staggeringly good. Just something about a british guy doing that shakespeare stuff full force like that is hard to ignore.

District 13: Ultimatum – The first D13 was kind of a 2 hour parkour session loosely strung together with a story. This movie drops a bunch of the parkour for more fighting, which is too bad. Not that the fighting is bad, but I can see that anywhere. The parkour was why it was so cool the first time, it’s too bad there’s less of it. The story is a story, fine, it doesn’t get in the way too much. But the movie drops to a kind of average action movie.

Silent Hill: Revelation – I don’t know if I’m drunk, but I actually enjoyed this! If I am to believe the entirety of the internet, it should be deep fried crap on a stick. But I didn’t think it was bad! I mean, it’s not wonderful, but it’s one of the better horror movies I’ve seen lately. That’s not saying much, but still, I thought it told a silent hill story just fine. It’s nothing like the game still, I don’t know that a movie (where you have no control and just follow) can ever be like a game (when you have full control yet still feel helpless). But I thought it was fine.

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