Movie reviews


#201

Likewise, so here’s my review.

In the TV show MAS*H, Charles and Hawkeye are doctors that are sometimes at odds with each other due to differences in rank and general outlook on different matters. But in one episde, Charles takes a special interest in Hawkeye’s efforts to deal long-distance with a problem involving his father back in the states. At the end, Hawkeye comments on it and Charles tells a little bit about his own father, wrapping it up with the statement that while he has a father, Hawkeye has a dad.

Fathers play an important role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, with emphasis on the differences between biological parents and the ones that raise you. Sometimes those two are the same person(s). Sometimes they’re different, and when they are, you have the family you are born into and the family you join or make yourself.

At the end of the first movie, Peter’s dad is mentioned, but at that point, all we knew is that Yondu didn’t deliver Peter to his dad years ago like Yondu was hired to do because Peter’s dad was “a jackass”. Vol. 2 reunites Peter with his very much alive dad after a contract to defend some resources on a planet take an unwanted turn. As in, the Guardians honk off the wrong person who decides they’re not going to get away with it.

Both Yondu and Gamora have their hands full dealing with their individual relationships/families. For Yondu, it’s his relationship with the Ravagers under his command. For Gamora, it’s her adoptive sister, Nebula.

The movie does a good job in answering most of the questions posed in the first movie as well as setting up a few new questions for the next movie, which there will be, as evidenced by another “The Guardians of the Galaxy will return” statement in the credits, drawn with a laser like was so often used in the 80s.

Also continuing a technique from the first movie, director James Gunn picked the songs very early that he wanted to be used in the film and several of them are directly a part of the plot, instead of just being mood music: “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac, “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens and “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass. That last one, “Brandy”, is the focus of several scenes between Peter’s dad and mom, and between Peter and his dad.

I really liked spotting Ben Browder (Farscape, Stargate SG-1) in a supporting role and enjoyed looking at the end credits. They’re worth watching for three reasons. The first is the five different “stings” (mid-credit scenes), the fact that if you pay attention, the wording on some of the credits change in real time, and you get to hear a new song written specifically about the characters with David Hasselhoff singing in it. I’ll also throw in that I liked that the credits were made to look like the backs of album covers, complete with worn and faded edges.

So overall, it’s another Marvel movie that I enjoyed. I caught the last matinee along with quite a few other people, so there was the bonus of hearing the audience reacting to the jokes and singing along with a couple of the songs during the credits.


#202

Yeah, this is what I miss out on when I wait and rent. Also why there are some movies that I really try to see in a theater. I occasionally wait too long and have to hit one of the dollar theaters (yes, there more than a buck now, but they’re dollar theaters in my head), but they’re usually nearly empty.


#203

Audience participation was about half the pleasure of watching Range 15.


#204

Kind of like Rocky Horror?


#205

Well, it started before the movie kicked off when the guy who organized the showing at the theater was yelling at us fuckers to shut the fuck up so he could say something. Then he was like, we have a van full of people still on the way so we’ll hold the movie, and we were yelling back, 10 minutes early is 5 minutes late and shit like that.

But there were so many military in jokes it was hilarious. And yeah, like RH there were a few lines that had responses we all knew. Which is funny because it was the premier so it’s not like we knew the movie, but we knew the military.

I think I mentioned it before, but between that movie and the “reunion” last year it really changed my wife’s view of my time in the service, or gave her a window into it.


#206

I VERY much enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. I went and saw it when I had a free afternoon, and there were only a few people in the theater.

I admit, I cried. I don’t shed tears easily at movies, but that one had me pretty choked up in the end. I wanted to be able to rewind it and watch the end again. I highly recommend it – but only if you’ve seen the first one. It’s much more poignant that way.


#207

The Guardians are going to be in Avengers: Infinity War (along with every other primary and secondary character in the MCU whose names don’t rhyme with Bill Molson). That may be the “return” alluded to there. Although writing & pre-pre-production are underway for the next GoTG film.

Dakwife & I caught the matinee yesterday (finally!) and enjoyed it. The final fight got confusing to me, spatially. She pointed out the changing text in the credits (neat gimmick). I liked that they amplified Kraglin’s role this time around, but I found it odd how much more human Nebula & Gamora were. I don’t know if that’s because of the writing or because the actors got more comfortable in their roles.

Disappointed there wasn’t a single reference to Yondu’s crew never having tasted Terran.

As for the music, I bought both soundtracks a couple weeks ago and James Gunn put together one hell of a collection - twice! You can just put those albums on repeat all night. Can’t wait to hear what he does next time around.

One thing I don’t understand - why the cameos of Howard the Duck in both GoTG flicks?


#208

Trolling the audience? Either that, or someone wants to do a good Howard the Duck movie, but can’t quite figure out how. It makes sense to mention it in the GotG series, I think, as it’s a less dire and grimdark tone than some of the Earth-centric movies.

We saw the new Pirates of the Carribean this weekend. Not amazing, but entertaining.

One thing I have to mention is I got Action Scene Fatigue during the last half hour. There’s some great action scenes (the early “bank heist”, the fight between two ships that are practically touching, etc.) but the last half hour had a definite feeling that they realized they needed to wrap it up and went for a solution that wasn’t particularly clever or interesting.

I also noted that there’s a bit of the ‘by committee’ effect The Force Awakens was accused of: This is a movie that definitely borrows some story beats from the predecessors. We’re back to spooky ghost/undead pirates as the heavies, a search for a great treasure, and two young leads who really don’t like each other much at first.

Plot-wise, it may be totally ignoring a big part of the wrap-up for the 3rd movie. Also, Barbosa spends time with the ghost pirates as a hostage/partner/ something yet never says something like, “Oh, you’re scary ghost-pirates. Been there, done that, been dead for a while myself.” which would have been very in character.

The effects are good. The main bad guy especially has an animated effect (visible in the trailers) akin to always being underwater so his hair flows around him in a weird way. They’re not really scary in the way a lot of zombies and such are, but have their own distinct charm: The crew does have several unique “personalities” among the crew that are distinctive.

I kind of want to re-watch the entire series to attempt to order them. The first is the best and I acknowledge there’s a dip in 2-4, but I can’t decide quite where the low point is. Maybe 3, as it went perhaps a bit too far in things that should make the franchise a true alternative history, whereas the others were more “our world, but supernatural stuff is rare but does happen.”


#209

It’s been a while since we’ve had a review, so I’ll provide one for a movie I saw not long after it came out. This one’s going to be a little different since I’m going to include what’s happened after the movie came out.

The movie is Wonder Woman and it’s the first mainstream movie for this character since she was created in 1941. She’s appeared in various TV shows including the iconic series starring Lynda Carter and several direct-to-video animated movies, but this is the first live-action film that most people will have seen.

We first met this Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, with a much stronger set of powers than I remember her having, most notibly being so fast that she almost appears to teleport to the new spot. This year’s film provides the explanation of how she got those powers.

The order of a character’s introduction is usually origin movie then team-up movie. In this case, it’s backwards and there will be an even bigger team-up movie coming later this year that adds Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash. They’ll follow the same pattern of getting their origin movie after their premiere in a team-up movie. So those are valid cases where skipping an origin movie because people can get that kind of info from the Internet might not work as well.

The movie shifts the point where Steve Trevor first meets Diana from World War II over to 1918 during World War I. This helps emphasize that she’s a “timeless” character, one that’s been a live for centuries and will for many more.

She’s already been a rule-breaker amongst her people and she breaks another when she rescues Steve after the plane he’s using to escape the Germans manages to get through the protection that hides the island from the rest of the world. The Amazons attack and kill the Germans that are pursuing him with some pretty spectacular combat moves.

 
I’m going to pause for a moment and address this. All of the fighting sequences, from the daily training the Amazons undergo to that fight with the Germans to when Diana is fighting on her own, are almost a ballet. Some are shown in slow-motion so you have time to appreciate and understand what is happening. It becomes believable that these people could be able to do those things.

No small part of that came from the fact that professional athletes were auditioned or specifically picked. There had to be some wire-work and CGI effects, but it’s clear those would have been to enhance the natural talents of the athletes instead of trying to force the audience into thinking it happened. If you watch the scene where the dwarves are tossing the dinner plates around in the first ‘‘Hobbit’’ movie, you get that impression: the dwarves are too good at it to be believable.

 
Going back to the movie, Diana realizes that the isolationist stance her people have isn’t the right response to the war Steve tells them about. She’s convinced it’s Ares, the god of war, that has been provoking the nations of the world into war and she’s going to find him, kill him and let peace return once his influence is removed. Hippolyta, Diana’s mother, doesn’t want her to go, but she comes to realize that Diana will anyway and does not prevent her from leaving.

The trip to England gives Diana and Steve time to talk, including some pretty funny (and uncomfortable for some in the audience) discussions about exactly what men are good for.

From there, it’s back to Europe on an unauthorized mission to find Ares and “Doctor Poison”, stop them and the weapons they’ve been making, and even sneak into a gala German High Command has nearby. Diana learns the truth about her past and makes it her mission to protect the world throughout time.

During the trip through the German-controlled territory, Diana learns that as much as she doesn’t want to kill (except for Ares), sometimes it’s necessary in order to save others. If you’ve seen the film Sgt. York, that’s the same dilmemna Alvin York had to reconcile while he was in World War I. This is also what helps her lead a charge through no-man’s land so they could rescue a village.

 
This is a very well-told story and it’s one of the few that I’m willing to go see a second time while it’s in the theaters. I’m going to catch a couple of other new releases first and I’m considering buying this when it comes out on DVD. I kind of stopped doing that for the Marvel movies, but this has me interested again.

There is also an article on Fandom (formerly Wikia, an off-shoot of Wikipedia that hosts over 300,000 wikis) that makes a good case that it’s time for the Academy Awards to stop ignoring comic-book movies. A movie like Wonder Woman is proof that they can be serious contenders for awards of all types. This is coming about due to the fact that both Marvel and DC have much more control over the movies being made from their comics, so they have a better understanding of what needs to be included and what shouldn’t.

Add in having a woman as director for a movie where women are an important and integral part of the story, and you get an even more well-told story. Patty Jenkins was the right choice for the job, and she was the right choice for Monster, which led to three awards for Charlize Theron as the lead.

To see what the Fandom article says, you can read it here.


#210

I’ve got to agree with that review. I thought it was an excellent movie and I’ll definitely be getting the Blu-ray version of it (I tend to buy Blu-rays of the action movies, but DVDs of the others)


#211

Right before The Emoji Movie came out, the reviews started rolling in about how bad the movie was. Some of it was from comparisons with Wreck-It Ralph and Inside Out. I decided to see the movie because it was looking like people weren’t even giving the movie a chance.

That turned out to be the case. It does have some similarities to Wreck-It Ralph, but only in the general concept. The criticism that the movie was essentially just a way of advertising programs like YouTube, Spotify, Instagram and Just Dance is off-base. The movie would have sounded awkward if they tried to make it generic, such as “the video app”, “the music app”, “the picture-sharing app” and “the dancing game app”.

As for comparing it to Inside Out, I guess the idea was that it’s a movie that takes place “inside” a child’s mind and this move takes place “inside” a smartphone, so therefore The Emoji Movie is a weak copy of Inside Out.

The Animated Views website has a review that covers a lot of what I could say. It’s a good movie on it’s own. Don’t compare it to other movies.


#212

The movie isn’t out yet - the trailer just dropped this morning.

I’m disappointed that they actually showed Cap in the trailer. I wanted it to be left at “and get this man a shield” but don’t show him.

But aside from that, I’m loving what Marvel is doing with their trailers of late, taking cues from Guardians of the Galaxy with the colors, pacing and music. The did it with Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and now Infinity War.


#213

I just saw Justice League and I have to honestly say I don’t understand what everyone was complaining about. The movie was fine. I may post a review about it later after I look through the other reviews to remind myself what the objections supposedly were.


#214

So we saw Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (from now on abbreviated to TLJ, or tildge when said out loud) on Friday. Honestly, after the relative disappointment of Episode VII, I have to say that my list of “top three Star Wars” films has, at least temporarily, changed to include it. Sure, it was trope heavy, and the Porgs are just Disney going “hey, can we challenge Minions?”, and the guy playing Poe is still $GenericHanSoloReplacement… but no this has genuinely pleased me.

There was just the right amount of trope. It genuinely felt in-universe, whereas the previous one seemed more hollow echo of Episode IV. Hamill’s performance was simply superb, he threw just the right amount of weight into Luke. Fisher was, Fisher was sad. I don’t mean that her acting was bad or anything of the sort, she was on point throughout, but all the way through for every moment she was on screen my hindbrain was wailing “but she’s deeeeaaaad” and to be totally honest that detracted somewhat sharply on her scenes for me, but I eagerly look forward to future screenings where I’ve passed the seventh step.

I … didn’t loathe the Porgs. Sure, they’re Minioncashins™ now with FestiveTieIn™ technology (sorry, there were way too many adverts ahead of the film, at least in our Vue cinema, and my mind was wandering) but they’re not terrible. Their inclusion made sense, and their interactions with Chewie were more or less our only interactions with Chewie, which is a crime unto itself (I mean, is his dad Itchy even still alive? How does Mala cope with Chewie being away so much? Is that mouldy old coot still working as a trader? Is Bea Arthur’s Ackmena still a canon character, damnit!?) man these parentheses are out of control!

The main plot: meh, average with Plot Twist #47 and a smattering of Generic Sub Plot D. Thoroughly enjoyable to both the Average Fan (myself) and the Brought Along Child And/Or Spouse demographic due to the pitch perfect melodrama and to be honest it was mostly the character performances that brought the film together. They played the Learning To Hear The Force sequence well and the plot point where Luke is all “you’re drawn straight to the Dark!” was a nice touch to make it more unique to the relationship, and overall character building.

Subplots: sub-par, unfortunately. Again, it’s the cinematic experience itself that carries them; the actors put so much effort to believe in their story that they can carry off acting in a green screen as well as they can on full sets. This isn’t to say the acting is all good, there are moments where things get a bit tired or plain, even dull; but it was most definitely an improvement over the previous instalment.

Overall: recommended. It feels more like a Star Wars film ought to. Err on the side of caution if you, like me, still can’t quite believe that Fisher is gone. There is a 12 rating here in the UK, but I wouldn’t feel like a bad uncle for bringing my 6yo nephew to see it, there’s not too much to scare him and the apparent romantic tension we were supposed to interpret between Finn and Side Character #18 was so tame I don’t think even the most devout Bible Belter would object. Lets just hope this isn’t the best of the trilogy and that Episode IX follows this home run and knocks it out of the ball park.

9/10 Jawas agree.


#215

I liked TLJ a lot myself. $Wife liked it, and she’s not a sci-fi person in general. Porgs were just about right to me. They’re a clever solution (real-life filming on the island was complicated by endangered puffins the production crew wasn’t allowed to touch. So they were replaced by Porgs) and I found them a fun mix of a nuisance and a running gag.a

A couple comments from podcasts were interesting. Paraphrased and spoiler-iffic:

This is a story about losing Everybody loses. The good guys lose. The bad guys lose. Rey loses. Kylo Ren loses. Luke arguably loses less, but his big loss is ultimately a formative act for this entire trilogy. Yoda explains this with something that translates as “Everyone loses, but the real test is how you deal with it.” and that is very critical here. The last 15 minutes is basically Luke saying, “I screwed up” and making amends in various ways.

Luke Explains the Plot So much of what he says in early scenes ends up totally describing what happens, but not in the way you’d expect. It’s almost, but not quite, as blatant as is done in Shaun of the Dead.

Bridging movie Or, “Middle of a Trilogy” and it shows. I’m really curious how this will look when I get episodes 7-9 and have a weekend to watch them all. This is definitely following the 80s trilogy model of putting the heroes in a tight spot so the third movie will have more impact.

There’s some bits I agree are rough, mainly due to the plot being a little uneven. If anything, I wish this had turned into two movies, with one focusing (but probably not exclusively) on Rey’s training, and a second movie on the fleet plot. Amusingly for a movie that used the word “Breath…” as trailer narration, the movie lacks time to breath (a problem I feel the new Star Wars movies have, including the kind-of silly end of Rogue One that cements that it’s literally minutes of lead-in to A New Hope, making Leia’s attempted deception sound really silly, for no real reason. I think I’ve decided that Star Wars needs to assume there’s a week between scenes semi-randomly to help it make sense.

The Fleet plot was ultimately kind of a dud. I like the new character, Rose, and I thought the Casino Planet stuff was interesting, but didn’t pay off. The central point of it: There’s wealthy who commit evil acts every day despite not being the Empire, First Order, or whatever. I liked it, but it doesn’t pay off.

A final point I gleaned from podcasts and thought was relevant:

The Force is no longer a Mark of Nobility The original movies and some EU material is big on the Force as a sort of noble blood concept. You’re either Force Sensitive or a Force Peasant. Amusingly, this movie worked with the Star Wars RPG concept, in which Jedi and such may have more blatant Force powers, but everyone can use it (instinctively, perhaps) for occasional luck when really needed.The philosophy in this movie is big on the idea that anyone can and should step up and be a hero, instead of waiting for a blessed warrior-monk to do the job.

(As an example, in many SW RPGs every character gets Force Points as a way of smoothing out dice luck or RNG swing. The woman who kicks a ladder to make a controller fall? She spent a force point or two to make that work, in RPG terms. IN my mind, at least.)


#216

Just curious, which podcasts? I binged all but one of the podcasts that appeared on the The Incomparable Star Wars feed and when it was over…I’d had enough Star Wars for a while.


#217

I listened to about a half dozen podcasts (three from the Incomparable) on TLJ, but thinking about it I think it might have been a blog post linked from Metafilter I read before even seeing the movie.

Still true, though. TLJ kind of reminded me of the last episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer (one of less than a half dozen I’ve ever watched) where the slayer power goes from one lucky woman to countless.


#218

Ok, not really a review, because I’m not expecting anything good out of a movie like Seal Team New Orleans or whatever the actual name is.

Anyway, if you are doing a “military” zombie movie there are some things you should get right.

  1. Secret Service agents don’t wander off by themselves when on a VP detail to investigate something in a bush 50 yards from your locked down building.
  2. SS agents don’t stand on pedestals on public buildings and scan the horizon with drawn pistols when something happens.
  3. When Seal Team Movie Heroes is called in the middle of the night to go get the president, they don’t get orders to leave machine guns and grenades behind, with a wink and a nod order to “do what it takes” as your ROE.
  4. and this is the one that got me. If you are going to subtitle the time and distance to your objective on the bottom of the screen… Don’t measure it in “clicks”. “10 clicks from New Orleans” took me out of the mood faster than hell.
  5. Seal Team Heroes also wouldn’t be deployed like that and watch civilians get eaten on the streets.

I could go on day, but the fun part is New Orleans is in the name, but it’s in Baton Rouge so far. But it’s got Random Agent talking to Random Commander giving him the real story about what’s going on. And no one will turn a damn light on. And not only is the VP there, they now have to find Random Scientist. Random Commander has now activated “All Military Assets in Louisiana” Which is apparently a couple five tons, some helicopters, and an aircraft carrier. They are going to lock down the whole city, three days after the infection started, and Random Reporter is talking to her cameraman and just offered to take his camera and stay.Oh, and Random Medical Personnel just dabbed some water on a bite wound and pulled her white shirt down over it, no one will notice that.

This is just a train wreck.

Edit 1:Oh, and the dustoff helicopter is 15 minutes away when they rescue the VP. As if that damn thing wouldn’t be right there to begin with.

Edit 2:Vehicles don’t tend to squeal their tires going in a straight line at a constant speed.

I’m doing housework as I’m watching this and it’s just too awesome.

Edit 3: The I’ll get us home speech from Married New Guy… within seconds he’s bit. After gunning down dozens of zombies he tries to talk one down.

Edit 4: You don’t do 21 gun salutes for American soldiers with black anodized AK 47s.


#219

This is a personal bugbear from almost every movie and tv show. Tires don’t squeal nearly as often as is portrayed. Unless your car is set up extremely badly, you actually have to make quite an effort to get the tires to squeal. They do not squeal because you pull away from the curb, nor because you pull up to the curb, and they most certainly do not squeal on gravel roads.


#220

I love hearing how often firearms do the “clack-clack” of the slide being cycled… even though they’ve just been fired, or are ready to be… and no wasted rounds are ejected.
The Hero or Heroine isn’t really ready for gunplay unless the slides been racked… again.