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Utopia Talk / Movie Talk / Movie Reviews 9000++++
pillz
Member
Tue Jul 05 20:56:30
Watched Lone Survivor.
It really wasn't very good. I mean for 4 guys dying in the woods it wasn't that terrible I suppose.

I think it is hilarious how Canada's own Afghan war movie, Hyena Road, shares commonalities with it. Mostly just the Afghan counterpart to xenia and tribal/sectarian violence though. Oh and fairly similar endings. Hyena Road was a more interesting movie though.

I have to ask why this movie was even made... According to Wikipedia, 20-50 Taliban managed to kill 19 Americans; 3 SEALs in combat and 8 more + 8 crew in an RPG attack on a Chinook. Why make a movie about 4 guys who failed their mission, 3 of whom died, and 16 idiots who got blown out of the sky?

Aren't war movies, especially those based on true stories, supposed to be inspiring stories of success? This was a bonafide failure on all levels.

Thats all.
Hot Rod
Revved Up
Tue Jul 05 21:15:24

The liberals are in charge in Hollywood and John Wayne is dead.


You will probably never see another inspiring and/or patriotic war movie in your lifetime.

pillz
Member
Tue Jul 05 21:40:32
Liberals were always in charge of Hollywood. They still made good war movies.

I haven't seen Hurt Locker/Zero Dark Thirty so I can't comment on those, but before Mel was blacklisted we got We Were Soldiers.

Objectively about a failed offensive, it is still less of a pathetic story than Lone Survivor. And tbh the movie was better. Lone Survivor is really just 4 guys in the woods (once you get past the boring setup in the first 20 minutes).

Though, Mel is anything but a liberal or a jew so I guess that speaks to your point....

Tears of the Sun?
I doubt we'll ever see another movie that shows Africans cutting off women's breasts and setting people on fire in tires.
Cherub Cow
Member
Wed Jul 06 18:55:38
[pillz]: "Why make a movie about 4 guys who failed their mission, 3 of whom died, and 16 idiots who got blown out of the sky?"

+1
I thought it was pretty stupid. Aside from the obvious themes of survivor trauma/guilt and war sacrifice, I think it was made to show that operators sometimes try to "do the right thing" even in combat (in this case the "right thing" as not killing those goat herders); in a way it was supposed to inspire the idea that murricans back home can have a certain amount of faith in their soldiers** because their soldiers risk their lives to save even the enemy (so moral!)... but to me it just came off as a poor leadership decision that was followed up by further poor decisions.
** ("soldiers" in the general sense, not the elitist, "soldiers only mean Army!" sense)

There was also that theme of the "CNN effect" where these operators became hyper-critical of their decisions based on how they might be perceived after the fact by anyone who might find out how they behaved, but even that goes right back to the initial poor leadership decision (CNN effect was just a fuel for that poor decision — a cop-out if anything). And the problem I have with the decision to catch and release was just that this unit wasn't imaginative enough to come up with their own solutions without calling command. Strategic small unit operators need to to have internal/independent creativity, but this was a case where it was lacking, so while it might be nice to praise the sacrifice in obligatory patriotic post-9/11 fashion, you can't help but wonder how much of a non-issue this would have been with a more capable leader in the same exact role.

And ignoring that it was based on a real-life event, as a movie it also just wasn't that well done. "Tears of the Sun" definitely did a far better treatment of a similar topic — having director Antoine Fuqua probably helped. In both movies the SEALs could have solved their problem outright and didn't because they wanted to do the right thing despite the trouble it might cause them, but in TotS the decision was at least made for better reasons..

-=-=-=-
"The Purge: Election Year" (aka "Purge 3") (2016)

It was pretty fun, though the first one still had the most going for it.

This one built on the theme presented mainly in the second one: the Purge's political fallout, particularly its being used to empower the ultra-rich by wiping out welfare society (specifically a critique of the 1% who benefit the most). I felt like it had a strange anti-Purge bias (lulz ;p ); it kept trying to get viewers to side with liberal Senator Roan (played by Elizabeth Mitchell of "Lost"), but I really couldn't support anything she said :p .. like she kept saying, 'no! don't kill the New Founding Fathers! It would make them martyrs!" — lol, would it? But maybe so, so I won't contradict that too much. More funny was that the movie shows a shelter filled with pathetic looking homeless people and the audience is supposed to empathize, like, 'oh! Such a horror that the Purge disproportionately targets dirty looking crackheads in wheelchairs!' ... but *is* it a horror? There wasn't anything particularly redeeming in that shelter, so it could easily be seen as further justification for the continuance of a Purge society. The attention they paid to the shopkeeper and the shady insurance company that victimized him was much more effective, but his wanting to get rid of the Purge to save his shop was kind of a missed connection.. like he should have directly targeted the insurance people instead >:D

It could be that the franchise has started to fear its own accidental glorification of a Purge Night, but attempting to dismantle the Purge in this pathos/"bleeding heart" kind of way wasn't particularly captivating. And if it was a representation of the New Founding Fathers as a metaphoric Trump election and Senator Roan (anti-Purge) as a metaphoric Hillary Clinton, it kind of makes me hope that a fictional Trump would win — if only if it mean bringing the Purge back ;D

So! Another movie where I rooted for the villains even though that probably was not the intention of the movie creators. I worry about the future of the franchise if the writing plans to go bland like this, but a Purge Night is such a fun idea that it still works in a lot of ways :D
See if you want to PURGE and cleanse your soul!!
pillz
Member
Wed Jul 06 20:22:07
" I think it was made to show that operators sometimes try to "do the right thing" even in combat (in this case the "right thing" as not killing those goat herders); in a way it was supposed to inspire the idea that murricans back home can have a certain amount of faith in their soldiers** because their soldiers risk their lives to save even the enemy (so moral!)... but to me it just came off as a poor leadership decision that was followed up by further poor decisions.
** ("soldiers" in the general sense, not the elitist, "soldiers only mean Army!" sense) "

Yeah exactly. They tried to elicit pride for their actions, but how can anybody actually say that is what they felt? Certainly the movie did a poor job of relating any sort of higher meaning to it, because like you said it just felt like poor leadership.

And lets be honest - people don't expect soldiers to let Taliban run and alert the enemy just because he wasn't carrying a gun at the time. That is retarded. I hope audiences understand that. Maybe it was just meant to demonstrate how constrictive rules of engagement can be.
Cherub Cow
Member
Thu Jul 07 16:30:31
"Maybe it was just meant to demonstrate how constrictive rules of engagement can be."

That could be all it is (part of that CNN effect), but it still makes you wish they'd just execute those three herders, bury them, and never talk about it again ;p
Hot Rod
Revved Up
Thu Jul 07 17:54:07

Try checking out some of the WWII propaganda films from Hollywood.

They were great.


But, not half as good as the men of actual combat.

"Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?"

~Sergeant Major Daniel Joseph "Dan" Daly - to his men during the Battle of Belleau Wood.





Cherub Cow
Member
Thu Jul 07 18:11:34
[Daly]: "Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?"
[Daly's men]: "Is that an option? Because I'd prefer living forever if that's on the table."
Hot Rod
Revved Up
Thu Jul 07 21:28:17

[Daly's men]: Or at least till tomorrow or the next day.

Cherub Cow
Member
Tue Jul 12 18:39:14
"Our Kind of Traitor" (2016)
...

Trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5k4FBGtbMs

Strange mix of semi-indy direction with a spy/thriller script — not worth the theater price, but it *could* be just barely okay for a rental/streaming watch.

Director Susanna White did strange things with the story that didn't quite reflect the content.. almost like she wasn't even paying attention to the story and just wanted to experiment with postmodern cinematography. In one case she was referencing cinema's frame within a frame technique, but it's difficult for me to say at the moment if it had any purpose within the work — like it may have been entirely stylistic.

To explain, in a particular scene Ewan McGregor and Stellan Skarsgård's characters have a conversation while the French Alps stand in the background. The conversation seems very serene, and the camera zoom slowly pulls back to reveal the frame of a door that's looking out over their figures. The cinematic way to interpret this would be that the director wants to remind the viewer that the camera is only showing one particular perception (the camera, in parallel to the door frame, is its own limited/subjective "framing" apparatus); in this case these characters happen to have a beautiful view, but in another perception or unseen "framing" there is something else. That something else *should* be the impending arrival of a kill squad that the viewer should be aware is on the way, but the movie doesn't really offer other metaphors to align with this alternate perspective. Like, there should probably be a sense of dread built into the background via music that offers some attachment between the director and the characters, but even when the kill squad arrives the movie seems almost anthropological, like the director is just watching these scenes unfold from some detached state of mind that sees little difference between the serene perspective and the kill squad's perspective.

((( SPOILER ahead )))

This detachment runs through most of the movie. McGregor's ("Perry") and Skarsgård's ("Dima") characters have an accidental friendship which probably glued the story together on the script side, but for Susanna White this friendship does not seem to be understood, so she just watches as a fascinated outsider. In a moment that was likely supposed to be the movie's climactic moment, Dima recognizes that a helicopter was put in place specifically to kill him, so he tells Perry to stay behind with his (Dima's) family (aside, this moment ignores that the plot already established that Perry probably should have offered to stay with Dima's family by default rather than offering to go with Dima, given that it was well established that Dima only wanted his family's survival; I think they threw this in specifically to have the switch seem more virtuous and to have Perry see the outcome in person). The audience *should* be aware that this helicopter is about to blow up, but the direction still seems detached despite all the excitement that the characters seem to feel. And even when the helicopter blows up and McGregor's face communicates the shock, it all still seems like it's happening on mute...

((( End Spoiler )))

Anyways, like I mentioned in my second paragraph.. not sure how intentional this kind of treatment was on Susanna White's part (stylistic? purposeful? accident?). This treatment *does* have a particular effect (mostly it can remind viewers that there's always a certain distance between one's empathy for another and the physical and personal distance between that other person's own feelings; like people "feel for" each other, but always there's that Benjamin "unique apparition of a distance"). In the cinematic sense, White *could* be pointing out that any empathy that she might have tried to feel towards these characters would be contrivance given that the camera lens brings people closer than they really are. Connecting that to the plot, Dima and Perry have become "friends" in a sense, but really they were bound by chance and some vague and mediated notions of courtly machismo (the movie references Dima's respect for Perry's protection of women in trouble) — but do they really know each other? ... or, on the other side, she may have just sampled these film techniques and the pieces fell into place accidentally. So I have to see it again eventually to see how much she built this into her storyboards...

Blerg. Regardless of director intentionality, the movie wasn't really a typical spy thriller due to director effects. Even if it was meant to be studied for hidden statements, the movie still had a distance about it that makes the main action less effectual. Very nice cinematography, but it still has that separation... so watch at your own risk! ;p
Cherub Cow
Member
Sun Jul 24 21:21:34
mini-review for meow, but the new Star Trek wasn't too interesting. The first and second of this new timeline were at least mindlessly entertaining, but this one just didn't have anything going on, it seemed... whatever
Hood
Member
Sun Jul 24 21:45:21
Really? I thought it was significantly more "trek"y than the previous 2.
Cherub Cow
Member
Sun Jul 24 21:57:26
Treky in what way?
I think almost any TNG episode would be better. There were some themes on unity and crews working together and such, but the main focus was just setting up quick fights that weren't terribly well done :/
Hood
Member
Sun Jul 24 22:33:26
On the contrary, it seemed to me like the focus was about making due with what was available. There was no super soldier to bail them out against the bigger warship, there was no red matter to black hole the bad guy. Sure, they had the radio frequency to disrupt the swarm, but disrupting communication makes some sense; it isn't a complete cop out to deus ex machina.

When I say "more treky", I still would only rate this movie about a 5-6/10 in terms of trekiness. But that's still a large boost over the previous two.
Cherub Cow
Member
Sun Jul 24 22:55:12
"it seemed to me like the focus was about making due with what was available"

That theme has been done far better in other movies.. like even "Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol". Here it was an incidental of their situation but not really a major thematic focus; the characters dealt with it, but they didn't really talk about it. The themes of unity on the other hand were constantly brought up by both the villain and the crew in dialogue scenes. Kirk was supposedly dealing with a universe where there's the postmodern understanding of a lack of center (all positions being relative), but his fights weren't really struggles with this concept so much as generic features of an action movie. In a movie like Star Trek Nemesis, on the other hand, Picard really struggles with his ideology *as* he fights (especially the scene where he has his King Arthur / Mordred moment with his clone). So the script may have been there, but the director probably didn't understand the material and didn't know how to treat it. The result was just a mundane movie without much conceptual pull. Kirk's existentialism wasn't much more than teen angst given a quick outlet through friendship tones that weren't even established in this franchise so much as leaned on from TOS history/nostalgia.
hood
Member
Mon Jul 25 08:41:40
Kirk's struggle was never with unity. I think he covered his role within the film fairly nicely when he stated that he joined Starfleet on a dare. He wasn't there for some grand purpose, some unifying mission. He joined up to prove he could. And because of some daddy issues. In seeing that Starfleet was potentially as flawed as he was, through spoilers I won't go into, it reminded him that he might actually fit in where he is; just as long as he's the top rebel. Or rather, he needs a little bit of that generic action struggle to make all of the mundane bullshit of daily life worthwhile. He needed a challenge with real ramifications, not something he can beam out of and write off as an oopsies
Cherub Cow
Member
Mon Jul 25 20:55:46
(( Star Trek SPOILERS ))

"Kirk's struggle was never with unity."

I 100% disagree! The movie constantly covered the concept of unity in dialogues both with the Starfleet crew and the villains. The word "unity" was used many times. The whole idea of a "federation" was also cited constantly in reader scrolls to emphasize the point (remember when the first alien arrived at the space station and the camera panned way too long over a random satellite's federated title? This Federation logo was given direct contradiction against a single ship drifting to the space station, and of course we know that it was a single villain who would sacrifice an entire Starship's crew for her own objectives). The character of Krall self-stated his motivation as being from a disgust of federation 'unity as strength'. He was rebelling specifically against the idea that an individual should suffer for the failings of a galactic directive (hence his hatred for the Federation after his belief that it had abandoned him to isolation — it never recovered him even after he had spent several lifetimes surviving in a hostile system, and all because he had followed the federation's belief system and explored deep space. Unity had failed him).

Krall was meant as a villain reflection of Kirk — someone going through the same unity fallout but who was handling it in a different (more destructive) way. Kirk, as you got at, was having difficulties with mundane living, but the source of that mundane sense was his loss of self to a culture that no longer had a center (Earth and his ego no longer central; specific notes like the blandness of wearing a uniform emphasized in multiple scenes, like his opening his closet and seeing no wardrobe options and his semi-jokingly telling the free-spirited and individualistic Jaylah that unfortunately her joining Starfleet would involve a uniform). He had lost his identity to routine doctrine and a sense of pointlessly exploring infinity (this from his own log entries). The difference between Krall and Kirk was that Kirk was able to rise out of his sense of a lost self by doubling back into Federation doctrine in a more personal way: working with his crew and finding a kind of local unity by adventuring with them (this also stated outright, this time in conversations with Commodore Paris, who in recognizing Kirk's despair told him that he has to establish himself as a center in a decentered universe). That was the whole theme with Kirk and Spock re-upping on their friendship. Spock felt a duty to his people (feeling the need to breed given that so few Vulcans exist in this timeline) but he sacrificed that 'duty to a wider unity' for the sake of his own want to be with Kirk in something more personally satisfying. Kirk similarly sacrificed the bland unity of a political position (a potentially much less personal "crew" of the entire Federation) for the same relationship.

Krall, on the other hand, had a bee-swarm unity behind himself — part of his self-loathing amplified with a weapon that functioned in the way that he perceived Starfleet to function: massing as a mindless swarm. In the end, Krall loses his swarm through its lack of an ability to function individualistically, and through his continued sampling of human lives he transitions back into his former self which makes him remember the meaningful self-centeredness and personal purpose that he had lost. Too late, unfortunately, because he had already committed to destroying Starfleet and was in the middle of a battle with Kirk.

So TLDR: Kirk and Krall suffer for the unity of the Federation, but Krall becomes a villain and has his tragedy by recognizing his ego too late. Kirk avoids tragedy by finding his ego soon enough through his crew (particularly friendship with Spock). This theme further amplified by Kirk's repeated statement that no part of the universe would forever remain hidden — even a Krall (or a Jaylah) would have reason to hope that someone out there would find him and bring him into the fold and make life meaningful despite any long despair or semblant failure of the unity. So yes, very much a theme of unity in Kirk's and everyone's struggle in this movie.
Hood
Member
Mon Jul 25 21:03:12
"Krall was meant as a villain reflection of Kirk"

I will comment on this part. At first, I thought Krall might have been a from-an-alternate-future Kirk.
Cherub Cow
Member
Fri Jul 29 13:44:57
Short review for the new Bourne: was overall good. The script had some potential holes in it and some big stretches to realism and prob wasn't as well thought out as previous stories, but the action sequences were well shot (Paul Greengrass back on board). Def worth seeing in theater, but I can't say it was up to the level of the 2nd or 3rd movies :/ ... And that signalled the end of the major summer blockbusters...
Pillz
Member
Fri Jul 29 20:43:42
Salon reviewed Bourne, and the headline alone makes me sure I'll enjoy it.
Cherub Cow
Member
Fri Jul 29 21:04:37
"The Bourne Masculinity: Matt Damon's Hyper-Aggressive Emotionally Fragile Good Guy with a Gun"
http://www...y_fragile_good_guy_with_a_gun/

lol! That title has so much offense rolled into it that it's fun to unpack ;D
McKobb
Member
Fri Jul 29 22:21:30
That chick is getting too old to act on looks alone.
Cherub Cow
Member
Mon Aug 01 12:50:49
She definitely hasn't improved .. Don't think she's smart enough to see how bad she is :/

And I totally forgot that Suicide Squad is next week, so Bourne wasn't the last Summer blockbuster :D
Cherub Cow
Member
Mon Aug 01 12:51:38
("Next week"=this weekend=Thursday night)
Cherub Cow
Member
Fri Aug 05 03:13:48
Suicide Squad was somewhere between completely horrible and kind of watchable :p
..like, the script was just all kinds of terrible and it definitely had a laundry list of faults, but it was darkly colorful and sometimes good weird. I think it would be a good movie if you just pretend that nothing at all that happens in the movie matters and that it's enough that the characters look cool doing random things. But! If you think at all while watching this movie, then it will fall completely apart... so.. get super drunk beforehand? :D

Also was weird that there was apparently a lot of hype for this movie. Much more crowded than usual for a Thursday premiere late show.. and I guess it crossed over to children because there were some 10-year-olds dressed like Harley Quinn. Probably that will be a painfully common costume this year. Whatever. 'Hype gonna hype'?

I do wish they'd made Harley Quinn less likeable for the masses, though. Like there's a particular scene where she seems to be critiquing Diablo's having killed children, but that would have been a good moment to alienate the audience by having her kind of smile sickly with appreciation or something. Her character was definitely designed to steal the spotlight — even from Will Smith — so I get why they'd keep it light and go for role-model status.. I just wish, like always, that they'd gone R-rating with it. I demand more ultraviolence and immorality!! ;p
Cherub Cow
Member
Fri Aug 05 03:14:18
(specifics tomorrow, sleeps meow)
McKobb
Member
Fri Aug 05 15:11:37
May our Halloween be extra harley!
Cherub Cow
Member
Sat Aug 06 03:50:37
It totes will be! Good excuse for sloppy makeup and fishnets ;)
Palem
Person.
Sun Aug 07 20:53:26
Agree about Suicide Squad. It had all the terrible qualities of most comic movies that I hate.

I don't see why all the comic book people are getting their panties in a twist over Harley Quinn. Yea, they made her sexy/slutty. Get over it. Did they really think they were going to have her in her jester outfit with a "gangster" joker? With the exception of her ass hanging out fit the whole movie, they only really pushed the slutty thing in like two scenes. I thought they did a decent job at making a modern Harley.



And while I'm here, Bad Moms wasn't very good. A few funny moments. A nice message about parenting. Not worth the price of admission.
Cherub Cow
Member
Mon Aug 08 00:31:52
"I thought they did a decent job at making a modern Harley."

Yeah! I really don't have complaints there. Margot Robbie did a good job making it work. They went back and forth with Harley's animated series voice and a regular voice, but they seemed to be balancing character tribute with demands of a relaunch :)

..
"The Mind's Eye" (2015 independent / 2016 cinema release) was fun!
trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSsnep_GxcM

Was very "Scanners" (1981) tribute with its psychokinetics, synths, and stare-down explosions. Was just the right amount of cheesy too; characters behaving in low budget fashion (like staring out of a window instead of actively making plans) but acting very intensely and iconically. The gore and ultraviolence was also a *lot* of fun — buckets of blood and violent back-and-forths. It definitely has to be forgiven for plot issues or character decisions (like running out of a room without grabbing an unconscious character's pistol, for instance) because a lot of that was part of the homage stylings. And that would basically be where this movie works: an homage that 80s/90s horror fans will really like. Glad they put it in theaters! :)
Palem
Person.
Mon Aug 08 08:30:44
Yea, my only real gripe with Harley was that her accent seemed to come and go and since it was so thick it was very noticeable
The Children
Member
Mon Aug 08 08:33:44
not convinced. and im gonna bet that i wwatch this shit in 5-9 months from now 4 free, i will be severely laughin at how bad it is. much like i did with the other 2 xmen and superman.

Cherub Cow
Member
Mon Aug 08 16:00:23
I don't think that anyone is trying to convince you! There doesn't seem to be much excitement from critics or fans. It's a pretty substandard movie. You probably should not waste your money watching it in the theater unless you really want to see CGI explosions on a big screen or you like seeing dark cinematography at the expense of the dumpster fire that surrounds it. Probably it's best to wait to see if there's a director's cut anyways. Otherwise it's just another mediocre summer movie from a mediocre blockbuster summer.

...
"Catacombs" (2007)
Watched this last night — was hilarious :D
Trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d771G1b6WB8
(horror movie where Shannyn Sossamon of "Knight's Tale", "The Order", "Sleep Hollow" TV series, etc. gets trapped in a section of the catacombs of Paris)

Mostly it's just Sossamon running around trying to escape the catacombs, but the ending made up for a lot. It's kind of a shame that stories end when the characters just start to get interesting ;)

(( Catacombs SPOILERS ))

Sossamon's character ends up getting chased by a fictional ghost and loses consciousness when an unexpected police raid occurs. It turns out that her friends arranged the whole thing, and by showing a long flashback montage of relevant footage the director and editor really over-play how much of a "twist" this should be for the audience (it's not that impressive of a plot development), but *after* this "twist" you get to see that Sossamon did in fact kill at least one person (it was definitely one, but Henri is somewhat unclear... like he probably didn't make it after breaking his leg and being hit in the head, but it's just not shown theatrically). This, again, was not really a twist and was pretty expected, so the actual fun part is when Sossamon's on-screen sister, Pink (the singer), calls Sossamon out for the accidental killing and provokes Sossamon's character into murdering the entire group with a pickaxe :D ... so much fun! :D :D I was ready to forget the entire movie until then :p

(( END Catacombs SPOILERS ))

So an otherwise bland horror movie manages a fun ending! :)

...
"Lights Out" (2016)
trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LiKKFZyhRU
Not bad! This was the one that was a short film given the feature film treatment..
The short film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adap4rzlM2I

They decided to give the ghost a backstory where she was super-light sensitive to unnatural levels and was burned to death in an asylum experiment. Most of the movie was an excuse to give variations on the short film's surprise scare method, but they also built in a story of a family that suffered after a parent leaves them — lots of separation anxiety and depression over having not been strong enough to have earned another person's love. That story was a little transparent as an attempt to flesh out the short film's premise, but while it didn't really add much it was at least an understandable choice for a metaphoric frame, since horror movies tend to relate real traumas in metaphor/supernatural ways.

Anyways, this was another case of a mostly forgettable movie doing something hilarious and sort of unexpected in the end (as like Catacombs).

(( Lights Out SPOILERS ))

In the later moments of the movie the characters established a way to "defeat" the near-invulnerable ghost: observe her with the black light so that she couldn't change positions unexpectedly, and then trap her and burn her with white light. The conclusions seemed to move things in this direction, but the unexpected end was sort of a twist on the Fight Club movie's ending.

In Lights Out, the mother (Maria Bello) isn't one and the same with the ghost like Norton was with his Tyler Durden, but the characters realize that the ghost cannot exist without the mother. But while the daughter, Rebecca (played by Teresa Palmer, who was given only a couple of lines in the ultra-homoerotic "Point Break" remake), wants to use the black light to trap the ghost, the mother decides to end things.. by shooting herself in the head :D :D .. very Fight Club, but while in Fight Club the self-shooting was a symbolic killing of the doppelgänger to reestablish influence after learning to live as a fully integrated and free human (Durden was capable of things of which Norton had now become capable), in Lights Out the suicide was symbolic and actual — she totes shot herself, killing the depressive psychosis that she experienced with the loss of a husband and *also* killing herself in the process.

And I think this was a surprising ending not because it hasn't been done before (it has), but because this movie seemed pretty tame and pop culture, yet it still went with an ending that goes against the usual pop mechanism of [Christian?] instruction and moral composure. Instead of saying, "You should all learn to work together to fix your family traumas!" they let a character solve a problem with a rational suicide. It's not usable advice on the immediate level for prole audiences; not many mothers could/[should?] be inspired to kill themselves to fix familial problems. So it was instead an alternate moral choice that breaks the usual mold — something that good horror should probably be doing as part of its hidden challenge to the audience ... still, the movie *did* end on a moral note. A new family has been brought together and the male parent seems committed to staying. Given the horrors caused by a parent leaving, this could be instructing people to avoid those horrors by establishing good family units. And the ghost was part of a damaged person's psychology, so the suicide may even be undone through challenges to Rebecca's own mental toughness. It's sort of left unclear at the end. Rebecca seems strong with her new family, but she hasn't defeated her own metaphoric ghost, so challenging the male parent's committment and leaving Rebecca alone again would probably be a way for this to become a franchise — which many modern producers consider to be their ultimate goal.

(( END Lights Out SPOILERS ))

So! Worth it for a horror fix and with a mostly fun ending, but if they make a sequel then they might clarify/change the ending in a way that makes it worse.
Cherub Cow
Member
Fri Aug 26 03:01:24
"Don't Breathe" (2015/2016) was *really* good!! Definite winner for horror fans: well-directed, continuously tense, wild developments, and it made great use of sound as a function of the blind man's perceptions. It also played some fun games with the idea of *almost* escaping over and over again -- an intentional theme on the backdrop of Detroit and the main character's want to do right in order to escape a dying world (or on a simpler level: trying to get out of one's tiny-minded hometown, specifically with its symptoms of nothing going on, obvious/cliché boy crushes, and limited chances for improvement... Kind of "coming of age" in that way). So yeah! If you like horror then this would be worth seeing.

..I'm really liking these newer Detroit-centric movies too. "Only Lovers Left Alive", "It Follows", and now this. "Suicide Squad" also used Detroit for some of its filming locations, and Suicide Squad *did* at least excel in the dark tone department. Gives a fresh look to the city gothic -- there can be something really nostalgic and lonely about a city in ruins. Reminds me of Calvino's "Invisible Cities", with that sense of abandonment and disregard.. Might have to rewatch "The Crow" soon ;)

Good things!!
McKobb
Member
Fri Aug 26 03:11:38
Probably gonna see that last next week!
The Children
Member
Thu Sep 29 09:37:43
is independence day 2 bad or what. dayum its bad.
Cherub Cow
Member
Thu Sep 29 14:07:34
Def a forgettable movie! Just a producer's excuse to take an old movie name and apply the modern franchise formula to it.. given that they did all that work in ID:2 to expand the alien attack universe into a new trilogy or something..
Cherub Cow
Member
Mon Oct 17 01:24:51
The Girl on the Train (2016)
I wrote a crazy-long review of this last week because I ended up speculating about its feminist messages, but I think I need to read the book before posting that.. so instead the short version is: good movie! :D .. see it for its good alcoholism themes

..
The Accountant (2016)
Saw this yesterday — *really* good! Ben Affleck got to be wicked smaht like Matt Damon, except Affleck's character was autistic and a trained killer too, so he caught up with "Talented Mr. Ripley" and the Bourne series ;p ... Seems like they've set up a franchise formula, but it wasn't obvious like some of these other franchise setups; they did all the work to make it a recurring situation, but the writing was pretty contained to this story (unlike, say, "Maze Runner" where at the end I was like, "dammit! Was this a teen fiction trilogy? They keep opening doors! I'm not seeing any more of these! This was bad enough!" ;D

The relationship between Affleck and Kendrick was a little difficult to digest at first, but I reminded myself that while Anna Kendrick *looks* like a teenager, she's actually 31, so Tanner scale aside the difference to Affleck's 44 isn't that strange. The movie also seemed concerned with upping the bar to John Wick's brutality and gun control, which really made the fight scenes real/intense (it's possible that this movie could have been made without John Wick, it just seems like some of the fights had a similar quality of extreme room management). I also liked that the plot development was less formal than tends to happen; instead of showing all of his past all at once, those moments get broken up throughout the movie, which sort of re-slows the pace and lets things build again to the action events.
Definitely see!
Palem
Person.
Mon Oct 17 17:13:29
I'm glad to hear the accountant is good. Hoping to go see it soon
McKobb
Member
Fri Nov 18 01:22:28
Dr Strange was solid.
hood
Member
Fri Nov 18 15:14:21
Dr strange was indeed solid, although I'd have liked to see more spellcasting and less ninja fights.

Saw the new Ghostbusters recently. I seriously expected Melissa McCarthy to sink the movie because she isn't funny. She actually pulled her weight because she wasn't allowed to fit into the role she normally takes. The movie was alright overall; nothing spectacular, but it wasn't the epic fail many people made it out to be. Kristin/en Wiig might have been the weakest link.

Also saw Warcraft. Eh. Maybe they'll do something interesting with it? Due to the history of the series, this movie really felt like it was nothing more than a building block for future movies. But the plot was full, so maybe it was just my tainted perception.
hood
Member
Fri Nov 18 15:17:39
Oh! In bringing up Melissa McCarthy, I'm remind of an even worse bit actress: rebel Wilson. This girl just isn't funny at all. At least McCarthy has proven that she can be an actress outside of the lame weight jokes, but whatthefuck does rebel Wilson do besides fail at comedy? Why is she forced upon me? Ugh. I'll gladly take more Ghostbusters-mccarthy over that other sack of uselessness any day. Hell, I'll even take the bad McCarthy over Wilson.
Pillz
Member
Wed Feb 08 12:41:44
47 Ronin in was surprisingly not bad.. Not good either though.

13 hours is one of the most boring movies ever. Up there with unstoppable.

Get the Gringo is meh.

Did not particularly like London has fallen.

The November man, also not that great but I enjoyed it about as well as 47 Ronin.

Survivor was not worth the watch.

The equalizer wasn't bad but weak for a Denzel movie.

Watched MI1, 3 and rogue nation. Rogue nation surprisingly OK. Love the scene with the prime minister. MI 1 is actually not that great but I feel that has a lot to do with watching it several times.

Didn't particularly like 3 all that much I suppose.

Uhhhh. That's it for my lazy movie summary review.
Cherub Cow
Member
Mon Feb 13 02:18:30
I've been trying to catch up reviews of the movies I saw over the holidays, but the TLDR for the best ones:

- "Underworld: Blood Wars" was really good! Great job to the director!
- "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter" was sort of disappointing :/ .. really great action sequences, but I think it didn't do enough with the characters.
- "John Wick 2" was great! It delivered on its continuity of being an exceptional shoot 'em up franchise {its practical plot was still fueled by comically ridiculous motivation (that was even referenced in the movie), but wows; the spatial awareness was kewls} :D
Palem
Person.
Fri Feb 17 11:22:20
La La Land - loved it. Great feel good film that's done very, very well. Incredibly nostalgic and a wonderful ending. It was so delightful I went and saw it twice.
Pillz
Member
Sun Feb 19 03:37:19
Siege of Jagotville > Thirteen Hours.

Much less boring. Shorter too. Also more interesting source material.
The Children
Member
Mon Feb 20 08:28:23
"not convinced. and im gonna bet that i wwatch this shit in 5-9 months from now 4 free, i will be severely laughin at how bad it is. much like i did with the other 2 xmen and superman. "

>> thank god for crystal balls.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/suicide_squad_2016/

lol its literally worse than batman v superman ratin LOLOLOL

_____________________

so from shitty superhero movies 2 space, the final frontier. star trek beyond the 3rd movie in the reboot. expected was over the top spammage of what used 2 be epic soundtrack, cept that in star trek it goes overboard and they spam that song in every cheesie scene.

i expected half baked actin and some unrealistic over the top scenes but nottin culd prepare me 4 what is now the most-cheesy, cringeworthy, stupid, retarded scene in science fiction movies 2 date.

not gonna post some spoilers but those who have seen it knows what im talkin about. giant waves of cgi explosion, spammage of epic soundtrack, retarded plothole story and just impossibly cringe stupid scene.

4 out of 10



McKobb
Member
Fri Feb 24 06:23:51
I liked that Kimberly in JW2
The Children
Member
Fri Feb 24 07:02:48
passengers

yea its a feelgood kinda movie. went in with open mind coz u know how good can such movies be. yea although i like action adventure type movies and horror movies, i also enjoy feelgood type movies occasionally, u know. but it was rather pleasant 2 watch.

it was more than just feelgood, it is about explorin, about discovery u know. i like those type of movies. u go in, discover whole new genre and boom, shits lose.

overall i must say it was better than expected.

so 7.5 out of 10

McKobb
Member
Fri Feb 24 07:47:14
*Kimber. Damndabble auto-correct!

http://www...ontent/uploads/2015/09/vT2czv6
The Children
Member
Sun Feb 26 06:49:24
arrival

how did this piece of junk got rated so highly. its trash.

constant flashbacks or flashforwards whatever that makes zero sense untill at the end of the movie, borin actors, borin aliens and borin whole encounters and shit. quite literally the best scenes were probably the first 10 min or so when everyones was scared. and thats it.

a waste of time.

5 out of 10

Cherub Cow
Member
Sun Mar 05 19:03:44
Logan (2017)
...

Pretty good! Not amazing or anything, but it gave fair closure for Huge Actor-Man's moving on from 17 years as Wolverine.

Demographic Theme
The R-Rating was a definite boost; most of the movie was sold by blood violence. That also seemed part of the movie's demographic theme; while the overt plot of the movie was about Wolverine dealing with meaning, trauma, and loss in a waning life, its subtext was very much a message to people who grew up with a Huge Actor-Man franchise. The Marvel writers seemed to be putting aging fans into Wolverine's perspective (a person who only knows the former X-Men in memories which do not receive cinema flashback, emphasizing the nostalgic (non-present) association of those events), saying that X-Men could change [and be less jaded?] in the minds of a younger audience. They showed that theme by surrogating younger audiences into Laura and the other children, notably in the plot surrounding Wolverine being critical of Laura's fascination with the unreality of the X-Men comics but Professor X saying that those comic qualities still matter to children. They also surrogated audiences with the use of the Western "Shane" movie, with an aging killer (aging audiences) talking to a young child (future/young audiences) about what the child's future might hold (and of course that use of Shane was combined with the overt message of the plot).

The demographic theme was very much a passing of the torch to new casts and audiences, though the writing did threaten the worth of that theme by maybe saying that Laura could be less violent (i.e., that future X-Men movies could go back to PG-13?) or that actual children would be the subject of future stories (rather than adult actors). Personally, even when I was around Laura's age (the actress is 12), I hated to see children ruin action movies, so hopefully an intent to hire more child actors was not the writer message. The producers did seem cognizant of the problem of children ruining movies, which was likely the reason for not giving Laura any lines until late in the movie (less likely that she could annoy people if she was mute and a rage-filled Wolverine). Still, if this movie was a message to aging fans that this movie and the Deadpool franchise will be the end of the line for violence and adult themes, then Marvel writers get themselves off the hook for the bad writing that has marked the extended Avengers universe. In short, their outright message might be, "Move on, old fans; just let your kids enjoy the garbage that we put out." This movie may be a way to soften that blow; a way to eject one demographic for another that is more profitable and [they presume?] less critical. To be seen! I think the X-Men franchise might remain somewhat safe from the Avengers writing, but producers do love to ruin things with a PG-13.


(( SPOILERS ahead ))

Racial/Immigration Theme?
I'm not quite sure what to make of this movie's decision to have all of the future mutants be the product of former mutant DNA and the DNA of unknown, non-mutant Mexican mothers. It might be nothing more than a bridge theme, like that interracial children (or interracially-minded children) would inherit an old white man's world and heal its injustices. They leave lots of evidence for this narrative, like that an albino (an image of "whiteness") hunted his own people to extinction, that all of the old-order white people were villains, that a benevolent black family was caught in the cross-fire, that "eminent domain" was used against this black family, etc.. but it's interesting that this was put in the background and not really politicized outright. If an addition to the demographic theme, it could also be an extension of white genocide themes that have popped up in recent movies like "The Girl with All the Gifts" (2016) — themes meant to eject the market power of existing viewing demographics or cognitively erode demographics by saying that this particular brand of genocide would be okay for unification purposes. Have to wonder.

Character Subtly
This might be another perk of the R-Rating and the movie expecting an older audience, but I appreciated that they did not outright say that Professor X had killed the X-Men. This was perfectly clear in Wolverine's first conversation with Xavier (the blame in Wolverine's voice and Xavier's mental deterioration were red flags), but rather than saying later, "he killed the X-Men," they subdued the information by only mentioning it on the radio (something about 300 injured and 7 mutants killed) and in Xavier's memory coming back before his death — like "The Notebook" memory recovery for tragic effect or something ;)

Overall
I kind of liked it. Not super-memorable, but likeable. It also wasn't a bad ending to Huge Actor-Man's role as Wolverine. It had a semi-pensive travel tone like it was sampling from "No Country for Old Men", "Road to Perdition", "Shane" (of course), and other sorts of "I'm on my way out" movies, but comparatively it wasn't especially thought-provoking (that is, those movies better convey the feeling). It did make up for a lot by having blood violence (I wouldn't say it achieved the coveted "ultraviolence" ;p ), and so it probably had enough quality visuals to justify a theater viewing.
The Children
Member
Fri Mar 10 07:29:49
hmm can u believe it. inception is 7 years old now.
jeez, we gettin old now.
and drstrange was no inception.

McKobb
Member
Fri Mar 10 14:37:48
Hugh was the best there was at what he did, but what he did best wasn't very nice.
Cherub Cow
Member
Mon Mar 20 01:26:57
"The Belko Experiment" was really good! Fun horror movie with just the right balance of serious/violent and semi-comical — the few jokes made were dark and fit for the atmosphere. It's a really fun idea, and they really could have done it a number of ways and still had it be effective. Kind of reminds me of the Purge in that way, though the third Purge made itself especially comical with its failed political message. Anyhow, might write more later, but that's the gist :)
Cherub Cow
Member
Thu Apr 27 19:14:14
"Ghost in the Shell" (2017)
...

Very soulful and artful, and often beautifully filmed.

Ideas from Neuromancer still persist in this version, particularly that a sense of identity could become increasingly difficult to find in a digitized world which imposes the determinism of a re-writable sensorium (that is: that increasing systematization could threaten a person's ability to think and sense beyond systems.. or that a person's consciousness could be digitally mastered). I'm glad that I haven't seen the cartoon version since maybe 1998, because I imagine that drawing comparisons to it could corrupt a person's ability to see this movie as a stand alone attempt at the story — sort of like how people make elitist comparisons from books while demonstrating a nostalgic inability to process and weigh new experiences and alternate perspectives.

Scarlett Johansson's performances across different movies go back and forth for me (I sometimes hate her script selections and how she portrays characters, and I sometimes think that she finds something unique or real), but I think in this case she was a good casting choice because she managed to draw out the right amount of Turing Test revelations throughout the movie, with initial emotional suppression giving way to emotive micro-expressions and eventually to her over/beyond-human moment (tank scene), showing her character's gradual reclaiming of choice and meaning from her unconscious. The scene with Motoko's mother was particularly effective (action pacing did not overcome this scene's need to be calm and thoughtful), and so was Dr. Ouelet's final scene, which symbolically featured the breaking of reflecting glass (a cinematic trope which in this case showed via the broken fragments the "reflections" of soul, so that this act of violence was not just to kill a body but its mind as well — unrecoverable pieces of a unique human identity that senses its transience and the meaning of its own destruction).

Some credit may have to go to director Rupert Sanders here too, because he, Charlize Theron, and Kristen Stewart worked out a similar effect in "Snow White and the Huntsman". Sanders also seems to have paid attention to "Blade Runner" and other works in the post-human genre, because while the city-scapes could appear to be simple futuristic effects for eye candy, they were framed thoughtfully — even if framed far more optimistically than "Blade Runner". Of this framing, a common cinematic theme throughout the movie was to gaze up at apartments and show them against solitary figures, maybe emphasizing that thousands likewise struggle to reclaim individuality in a world which attempts to efficiently contain bodies within apartment fixtures. And, of course, identity can be ever-difficult to reclaim, with the villain figures desiring stifling predictability for the sake of their own powers.

It was also nice to see that Takeshi Kitano was cast because his presence drew thematic connections to "Johnny Mnemonic" (1995). Even without those connections, he still showed his own gradual overcoming of authority, with his human imperatives always waiting beneath the surface in order to be in place when it is time to undermine the system that he supposedly serves. Still, I think that more development should have been given to the extended Section 9 team, and I have to wonder if they made cuts because of a producer's imperative (PG-13 always throws up that flag by default).

Anyways!
While I wish that it had spent more time on Major's off-meds self-discovery (it had the material for it) and that it had developed peripheral characters more, the central story was well-done. It sort of reminds me of how Data's continuity was handled on TNG — small notes which build to an understanding of what it means to create a human identity, and examples of the meaning and purpose that that identity can give to life.


For a 2017 movie comparison: I'm not sure if I liked this more than the new Underworld (at the moment I think I did, but that could be due to newness — I saw Underworld almost 4 months ago), but this movie and Underworld definitely sit at the top of the list of movies I've seen so far in 2017 (and I've seen a lot more than the ones that I've reviewed, I've just been busy). My short list is Underworld, Ghost, and John Wick 2. Good times! :D
Cherub Cow
Member
Fri Jun 02 05:14:49
"Wonder Woman" (2017)
...

Not particularly good :/ ... kind of an average movie, so it's not really worth seeing in the theater.

Poor Direction
I think the big flaw was in direction. There were a lot of mismanaged scenes. Like in scenes where lots of people were running around, a big event might take place which should completely change the dynamic of surrounding events, but instead it was almost as if no one outside of the immediate action had noticed and everything was somehow contained.


(( Some SPOILERS ahead ))

This happened frequently throughout the movie, but the most glaring example was near the end during the landing zone battles. First, Diana (Gal Gadot) makes a lot of noise attacking a tower, and no one outside of a 30 foot area seems to notice. Next, when Diana fights the main villain, a large chunk of earth is loudly removed from the ground, yet when the camera looks back at the activity of German soldiers nearby, the soldiers seem completely unphased by any of it — just calmly going about their business of loading armaments while two gods fight.

On this direction topic, I'm also kind of on the fence about how Diana's relationship was managed with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). For the most part the relationship was pretty muted or uninteresting (no or little chemistry), but sometimes there were hints of chemistry which greatly improved the movie. A distilled moment might have been their final scene together: super cliché, but still fairly emotional. Yet preceding it (sequentially, not chronologically) is a poorly-directed scene where Diana looks up at the sky at Steve's departing plane while in the middle of a fight. Personally I think they should have had the plane blow up while the fight continued, causing her to pause, rather than using a convenient narrative where she has been paused and just happens to be watching at the correct moment. That moment could have been improved in a few ways, though.. like even accepting the convenience, it would have been better if Ares had made some kind of cynical remark about the explosion..

That fight was also not especially well done. There didn't seem to be much passion behind it, and the gravity of the situation wasn't really distilled well. The written motive was clear: Diana was struggling to find a reason to fight for humans whom she knew had actually chosen to develop these darker natures (that is, with it known that Ares was not fully responsible for human action, she had to make the choice of whether or not to save humanity), but on the practical side of what was shown on screen, the fight cost Diana and Ares very little during the fight in terms of injuries. It takes a lot to communicate the difficulty of a fight when that fight has been shot in front of a giant green screen (rarely seen), but it can be done.. it just wasn't..


PG-13 War
Many scenes were difficult for me to watch simply because this PG-13 version of war doesn't mesh well with more realistic cinematic depictions. I think they could have boosted the subject matter tremendously if they had gone for the R-rating, but with a $149 million budget, I understand the decision, even while not agreeing with it. But, accepting this PG-13 compromise, this movie may have done its best in giving Diana some disillusionment about war.

The scene where she crosses the bridge (symbolic in itself) and starts encountering war traumas was probably one of the more important scenes of the movie, and it really sums up the general theme of where this movie stands in Diana's story: this was supposed to be her awakening from naïveté. I expect that pseudo-feminist interpretations of the movie will focus on Diana's foolishness and be angered that she wasn't immediately intelligent and empowered to the extreme, but the reality is that people don't just wake up like that. She was trained by a warrior culture, but there is a big difference between the theory of training (learned toughness and fighting spirit) and the personal application: the seeing of horrors and the causing of more horror. This was a foundation event in her story, with the more interesting stories [intended] to follow.

That last sentence was yet another thing that likens this to the movie "Captain America: The First Avenger". That is, aside from both movies being about an "original"-type fighter whose start was in the Nazi-enemy era (WWI for Diana and WWII for Bucky) and aside from them both being part of a string of franchise back-stories for a team-up movie, both were kind of mediocre movies. I do think that "Wonder Woman" was *better* than "First Avenger", but that's not saying much ("First Avenger" was almost unwatchable for me). Both, though — bad as they were — were designed to give more gravity to future movies. That will probably be the major accomplishment of this movie: very flawed, but good for Diana's character development.


(( End Spoilers ))

Overall
I don't quite *regret* paying to see this, but I'm already over having watched it. With a better director it could have pulled some things together, but it missed that mark. With how things worked out for "Batman v Superman", there could be a chance that some important scenes were lost to editing and that those will be restored in a director's cut, but until then: meh :p
Cherub Cow
Member
Thu Jun 08 02:52:51
*I randomly just realized that I said, "Bucky", instead of "Steve Rogers" :D
Cherub Cow
Member
Mon Jun 12 06:42:02
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" (2017)
...

This movie had its moments, but it wasn't as energetic or creative as the first three (I'll ignore the fourth for the moment). They seem to be giving themselves an escape for a reboot, which takes away from this one... Basically it means that this one doesn't even need to be seen until the next one comes out.

Director Issues
Gore Verbinski directed the first three Pirates movies, and that had a lot to do with the energy of the series. While the writing kept up with the subject matter into the fourth movie ("On Stranger Tides"), the direction was lacking there — there just wasn't an eye for energy. That issue continued into "Dead Men..", which didn't seem to have a good monitor on the momentum that they could have been using within certain scenes. Do still have to give credit! While there was less energy here than in Verbinski's efforts, this was still high quality.

Writing Issues
On the writer's side, they decided to make Jack Sparrow's character less intelligent in this one — possibly a ploy to make Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) seem more intelligent by comparison. Jack also starts as a dysfunctional alcoholic as opposed to a whimsical alcoholic, which made his portions less enjoyable and which put more pressure on the new leads (Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites) to perform. These new leads were not particularly likeable, and their chemistry was just matter-of-fact for me. I understand that their chemistry was supposed to be based around how each of them were well-studied and had missing father figures, but between Thwaites' doe-eyes and Scodelario's cynical undercurrents, there just wasn't much romance there.

It was also an interesting decision for the writers to jump the story forward *19* years (or more, potentially) from the end of "At World's End" (or just 9 years if including the 10-year jump shown after the credits of "At World's End"). This had the positive effect of avoiding child actors, but it had the negative effect of removing Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley from the main story. The decision was probably done to revitalize the franchise (add younger actors — actors from Young Adult novel movie adaptations who thus had carry-over followings), but if so it's funny that a 32-year-old Knightley and a 40-year-old Bloom would be considered too old for audiences. Disney similarly decided to make a young Johnny Depp by doing the same sort of weird CGI treatment that was done for Carrie Fisher in "Rogue One". While Disney could be understood on a financial level for making this demographic decision, the result is that the aging demographics that liked the first three movies will probably be ejected by this movie. Still, there's a silver lining..


(( SPOILER ahead ))

Bonus Scene
After the credits there was some indication that a Flying Dutchman crew-member had entered Will and Elizabeth's bedroom, with the more practical conclusion being that it was Davy Jones. Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) fell into the whirlpool during the climax sequence of "At World's End" (his heart having been stabbed by Will), but the series has put emphasis on the Dutchman being necessary for the ferrying of souls. That is, with Will back on land it would make sense for the Dutchman to call for a captain, and that likely includes Davy Jones being resurrected in order to reclaim the ship (by killing Will, the current captain?).

Anyways, the more pertinent message from that bonus scene is that Will and Elizabeth may become a part of the story again, which I think would improve story options. Then again, Disney may look at which demographics attended "Dead Men...", and if they decide that old fans have moved on then they'll just kill Will (and Elizabeth?) and give Henry and Carina a vengeance story (that is, they would give completely the story to the young adult fans). It's kind of unfortunate to see those kinds of demographic decisions being made within a single franchise, especially from the side of the ejected demographic. One of few consolation prizes may be sitting through bad movies that throw in sexual innuendo for the sake of the parents who had to chaperone their children (in this it was most prominently with the "stern" and "bow" discussions), but that sort of consolation prize might feel a bit patronizing coming from a studio that disregards its aging actors as much as its aging fans. This is Disney, though, so it's not like I'm saying that I'm surprised; they write stories for children, like "Cinderella" and "Rogue One".


Overall
Mostly skippable. It had three moments in particular that I liked ("treasure", the starry landscape, and Will and Elizabeth reuniting), but this movie was made primarily for people within an age-range of about 12-20years. If the next one sticks with the release schedule of former movies (a 3-year delay makes sense), then Disney may be even more motivated to sell to that younger demographic. Still, Disney seems to have a similar plan for the next two as they had for "Dead Man's Chest" (2006) and "At World's End" (2007) — back-to-back filming of a two-part story. If they intend to close off the franchise with the next two before re-booting, then they may give a little more of the story to older demographics. All of that depends on some producer's Excel spreadsheet ;)
Cherub Cow
Member
Mon Jun 12 06:50:30
I used "reboot"/"re-boot" twice but with two different meanings, so for posterity:
— When I said, "They seem to be giving themselves an escape for a reboot", I mean that they may be rebooting within the current franchise (this moving being analogous to "The Curse of the Black Pearl"; a new "Will" and "Elizabeth" given their start via Henry and Carina's story; same continuity, but younger actors substituted)
— And for "If they intend to close off the franchise with the next two before re-booting", I meant an actual continuity re-boot.. like all new cast, generic cameos from the former franchise's actors, etc.
Cherub Cow
Member
Tue Jun 20 03:37:16
Megan Leavey (2017)
...

Really good! Would recommend for an emotional movie :)

It may have been slightly obscured by blockbuster season, so here's the trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGGcFbW__XI


Limited Production Budget and Military Inaccuracies
Currently the budget for this movie is unlisted (it's blank on Wiki and a couple of aggregators), but given that this movie was projected to make only about $3 million on its opening weekend, the budget couldn't have been too far off from that number (I would guess $4 or $5 million, in which case the studio (LD Entertainment) was okay risking a loss with the movie — however, at a current $8.4 million box office, they seem to be in the clear).

The restricted budget (whatever the true number happens to be) was pretty clear in how many of the scenes were handled. For instance, Leavey's enlistment and training montage had pretty restricted extras quantities (maybe 50 people?). Lots of narrow shots had to be used to confine the extent of a group's size, the graduation scene was done on a smaller parade area (booking the main parade area for filming was likely too expensive/intrusive), and the rifle range was also not a full sized range (targets were close and were stationary rather than part of a pulled-pit area). There were also apparent filming schedule limitations, like when Leavey is reunited with Max: Kate Mara did very well in the take that they used, but the dog was just sitting still and looking away, almost like Max's dog handler was giving instructions just off screen. A bigger budget might have hidden the seems there, like by paying Mara to actually train the dog herself so that it would be looking to her for commands and would have flipped out for real upon seeing her again.

They also probably did not have a military consultant throughout production, because while Leavey graduated boot camp in 2003, much of the military equipment was from more recent years (e.g., blood type printed on sleeve pocket, camouflaged blouses with a cotton/spandex chest area (these were released to general units only after gaining popularity with special operators), scopes on rifles at the rifle range (this wasn't allowed en masse until maybe 2013 or 2014), etc.. Big budget military movies also can afford to put their actors through a kind of mini boot camp in order to familiarize actors with realistic mannerisms, but I do not think that was used for this movie.

Still! I don't think that these budget limitations took away from the story in any significant way. The main focus was, again, Leavey — not the dog, and not even the military.


Thematic Material
I think it did a great job dealing with disenfranchisement, isolation, and purposelessness, particularly because those issues weren't solved with some patriotic groupthink or something — it was more personal and realistic. The focus was also less on the dog than on Leavey's interactions with him (and without him), hence the title's focus on her, not "Leavey and Max", "Max", or something. I think that focus sets it apart from normal "dog movie" setups; the dog was still a catalyst which is true of dog movies, but the emotion comes from Kate Mara's performance and from her coping with struggles that would have been relatable even without the dog.

On the "disenfranchisement" side, the plot wades first into Leavey's (Kate Mara) disconnected home life. In a few moments it's clear that she's unwanted at home, has no major career paths ahead (she wasn't put on that artificial path by a high school guidance counselor), and with her only major high school friend having died, she doesn't have anyone holding her in place. This may sound like a sociological novelty or a pitiable sob story for people who have been shepherded their whole lives under the myth of "genius" (that highly cultivated path that grants a person a certain kind of megalomania), but in the movie it is a personal experience. And the heartache already comes through — having so little tying one in place that it's possible to do something as extreme as joining the US Marine Corps without anyone even needing to know (Leavey arrives at Parris Island Recruit Depot apparently without even having told her mother that she had enlisted).

Leavey's individualism also comes through early, because after the boot camp graduation ceremony scene she simply smiles like, "that was fun," and she walks away — no drawn out goodbyes for some three-month camaraderie. Although it's possible that this scene was done like this for filming convenience (maybe lingering there would be too much screen time and would slow the pacing), the movie supports that people who are used to being treated as unexceptional tend to drift through exceptional moments without crediting themselves much for their accomplishments. Adding to this disconnect, Leavey's mother and apparent step-father arrive late — having missed the ceremony — and begin making diminishing "compliments" on her appearance (e.g., "toy soldier"). With Leavey's mother asking a little too indelicately about her death gratuity benefits (that is, where money would go should Leavey die while in service), Leavey also gets to see how the few people who show up for her still do not have her best interests in mind and may even want to benefit financially from her new-found positive direction. This immediately returns her to her isolation; "home" or some nostalgic point of reference continually evaporates, leaving her with herself alone.

Leavey's difficulty connecting with people is improved via Max, with whom she gradually does connect. This also gives a twist on the usual military narrative, because while people from broken homes may find themselves creating surrogate parents in strong authority figures (e.g., 2003's "The Recruit"), that aspect was only partially explored via Common's role as Gunny Martin (Common, as usual, doing great work) and from the general guidance of various trainers in Leavey's unit. With her connection not being parental, its value is more essential: Leavey's relationship with Max becomes a matter of experiencing the kind of love that she maybe didn't have in childhood. For her, once that bond was opened, it became indispensable. The trauma of a combat experience seals this further, but in the pacing of the movie the two get separated right when they should be closest.

Lastly, the increased separation and loss of purpose. Being in the military and getting things done with Max was part of a purposeful identity, but the movie shows life beyond enlistment, where certainty and intense bonds distort into cycles of despair, hyper-vigilance, and a new kind of isolation born from the loss of some crucial passion that feels impossible to recover. Some effective scenes take place here, like a PTSD scene and particularly the support group scene where Leavey recognizes that she did actually have a bond that changed her for the better. And luckily for Leavey she is motivated to take action that will make specific change (getting Max released for adoption), though the movie seems to gloss over a reality here: while the movie mentions that Max died in December 2012, the movie does not mention (or I don't think it did) that Max was released to Leavey only around April 2012. Having only a few months reunited makes things further despressing, but it's understandable that the movie was trying to be slightly more positive.


Overall
Really great acting by Kate Mara — a lot of this could not have been sold if they had cast a less effective actress. Also lots of credit to director Gabriela Cowperthwaite for making this subject work with an [apparently] small budget. This has to be one of the most emotional movies I've seen in a while (maybe since 2015's "The Age of Adaline"?), so it's in my 2017 list :)


2017 Favorites so far:
Underworld
Megan Leavey
Ghost in the Shell
John Wick 2
Cherub Cow
Member
Tue Jun 20 05:04:49
*"A bigger budget might have hidden the [seams]"

I'll do another review so I won't waste the comment count in this thread with a typo fix ;D


The Mummy (2017)
...

Yep.. pretty bad! No need to see it in theater.

Before seeing this I had mostly just been hearing people comparing it to Rachel Weisz's and Brendan Fraser's "Mummy" franchise, but comparing franchises tends not to be a healthy comparison to make (it's almost as problematic as people who insist on comparing movies to their books — elitism disguised as legitimate critique). And do these people forget that the 1999 "Mummy" was widely panned when it was released? A common complaint was that people were not expecting it to be a comedy. And do people forget the terrible CGI in some scenes? The ridiculous continuity decisions between sequels (e.g., Weisz's character re-written as a resurrected Egyptian, or the mummy's eternal love deciding that she's just not *that* into him)? I'm not saying the former "Mummy" franchise was *awful* — I liked it well enough and enjoyed the humor — but it was campy; it was bad but "fuck it, this is what they're making." In other words: if people want to make the mistake of making those comparisons, then at least those comparisons should be kept in perspective.

Anyways, I went into the theater ready for a new thing, whatever that may be. I like Tom Cruise so I wasn't worried about that.


Over-writing for the "Dark Universe"
I think that the central problem of this movie was that Universal over-incorporated it with the "Dark Universe". This movie was written by producers, not story-writers. It was very apparent that they'd seen the Marvel "Avengers" cash grabs and had seen DC opening their "Justice League" cash grabs and they decided, "we could do that!" So rather then telling a story focusing on the title character, they burned a lot of time making sure that audiences were familiar with future continuity events (Dracula, Bride of Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll, etc.). And during the Jekyll fight scene, the "Book of the Dead" from the former franchise was used to hit Jekyll in the face, so no telling if they also have plans to incorporate some continuity from the former franchise, further diluting the story.

Basically this movie was a case of "too much too soon." At the very least they could have introduced Dr. Jekyll near the end or else introduced him as a side character whose powers would only be *foreshadowed* by this movie, rather than having him transform and fight for very little constructive plot development. It ended up that time spent on "Dark Universe"-building took away from the pacing of the mummy story, which, if separated from all those distractions, was overly-simplistic.


Nick Morton as an Immortal
Making Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) immortal and explaining why he was still alive so early in the movie took away any tension that this movie might have had. It was clear *early* that Nick would be invulnerable until the mummy, "Ahmanet", had assembled the dagger and stabbed him in the chest, so no audience should have any concern over his well-being until those conditions were met... but they were not met until the very end of the movie.

• A writer, in realizing this, might have decided to put more tension on the mortality of Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), necessitating that Nick fight for her life as he might fight for his own, but this also was not done constructively/purposefully until the end.
• Another writer might say that Ahmanet should assemble the dagger quickly, removing this immortality situation.
• Another might say that Nick himself would try to find the dagger's stone, so that he would be a kind of villain that Jenny would have to overcome for his own good.

None of those writers were present, or none of those writers were able to oppose the producers. Instead, almost all of the events between the plane crash and the underwater crypt scene could be discarded completely as pointless theatrics. Worse still, even if Nick was *not* immortal, when the subordinate creatures were attacking (like in the car sequence near Ahmanet and the church), there was no substance to them — Nick and Jenny were basically just getting stuck to them when they'd punch them. There was no clear threat of being sliced or hit, just inconvenienced. And again, this trope did not change until the underwater crypt scene, when the mummy knights managed to kill actual humans. Otherwise Ahmanet was the only one given any threatening power. They really should have spent more time developing potential threats...


Inconsistent Humor
When I saw that Jake Johnson was in this, I was worried (his comedic gimmick has some definite limits), but he wasn't even the problem. Instead it was an inconsistency between whether this was supposed to be comedy or horror. It's not like a movie can't be both, but this movie just couldn't decide how to manage the balance. In one scene Nick or Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) would make a little joke, and then it would be 10 or so minutes of horror-building, then a random joke. That made the jokes seem strangely out of place, like when Dr. Jekyll suggested they kill Nick, Nick says, "what?" and Dr. Jekyll comically responds, "what?" in kind. That joke might work in a movie where a lightness had been cultivated throughout, but here it was like, "oh, that was supposed to be funny...". It may also have been the *style* of the jokes; the frequency may have been fine if the jokes had been more fitting to the scene..

They also tried to sample "An American Werewolf in London" (1981) by having Chris following Nick around as an undead and rotting sidekick (as Jack followed and sometimes appeared to David), but the comedy/serious management was off in those scenes too, whereas in "London" Griffin Dunne (Jack) was really good at mixing gallows humor with serious suggestions that David should kill himself ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLs-Oreo_bk ).


Overall
So yeahs... just goes on and on with mismanagement. This movie could have been fine if they'd stuck with one story and left a cliffhanger, but they couldn't resist getting a jump start on the entire franchise.

One possible positive: with so many movies having adopted this over-saturated formula (too much in one movie), it has at least become clear that subsequent releases improve the look of these former mistakes simply by audiences becoming familiar with those mistakes. I've said this before, but looking at "Captain America: The First Avenger": it was awful, but the Steve Rogers character became more palatable in the sequels and cross-overs (not that I think those other movies were much to aspire to either — they were just better). That same thing *could* happen for Universal now that they've gotten this disaster out of their system. They've done the setup, so the producers may be able to back off now and give writers some liberty within their individual projects.
McKobb
Member
Tue Jun 20 06:13:27
I might try Megan Leavey today (5 dollar tics all day).
Cherub Cow
Member
Tue Jun 20 15:55:43
Kewl! Hope you like it :D ..Or if you don't, sorry for hyping it, ;D
Cherub Cow
Member
Wed Jul 19 04:04:55
Steam is currently promoting "Oats Studios" short films. Their "Zygote" short film by "District 9" director Neill Blomkamp was kind of neat. It sampled creature effects from "The Thing" but made it different enough that it was interesting. Worth watching at least for the production value and gore effects.

Seems that Blomkamp directed a series of these short films: "Rakka", "Firebase", "God: Serengeti", "Cooking with Bill", and "Lima". Five of them apparently free on Steam (not "Lima"?).
The Children
Member
Thu Jul 20 07:32:15
i can agree with logan, was decent entertainment, one of better xmen movies. but not da best yo.

good 2 see the franchise take a more realistic darker tone though.

a sad end 2 the francvhise, no happy endings here, just last of us stuff.

beware of the lights.
pillz
Member
Fri Aug 18 23:23:43
The Defenders is shit so far.
pillz
Member
Sat Aug 19 00:15:41
Wrong thread =\ delete plz nazi mods
Pillz
Member
Sun Aug 20 17:26:33
Watch the great wall or the wall or whatever, with Matt Damon.

Do yourselves a favor and don't.
The Children
Member
Mon Aug 21 04:05:55
the wall is shit

Pillz
Member
Tue Sep 19 18:00:52
Colombiana was garbage. Not a single redeeming thing about the movie.
hood
Member
Sun Jan 14 23:50:00
Just watched Life. Not sure why I wasn't expecting a movie with Jake Gyllenhaal to just be really dumb. Entire movie could be summed up as "hey, we can't really make anything interesting unless we make the characters stupid, so we're going to go ahead and do things that would literally never happen to progress this movie beyond 'black dude dies, alien contained.'"

The entire movie. I just kept thinking "no astronaut would break quarantine. Nobody would be on the ISS if they even thought about breaking quarantine. None of this is believable after that."
Cherub Cow
Member
Mon Jan 15 00:13:28
+1
Another issue was that they built up how smart the alien was supposed to be getting, but the alien kind of maxed out at chasing and attacking people.. not much cleverness about it.
The Children
Member
Sat Jan 27 12:53:46
yea life was shit.

McKobb
Member
Sun Mar 11 18:04:31
The Shape of Water

Basically some producers bet a dollah that they could win best picture if they remade Splash into an ethnic/gay/musical/drama.
Cherub Cow
Member
Tue Mar 13 23:57:07
That's how it looked! I'm liking Guillermo del Toro less and less, so I'm not sure that I'll get around to seeing that one :/

-=-=-
Death Wish (2018)
...

Good movie! Eli Roth seems to be giving more control to his love of ultraviolence so that in this one it happens in select fun moments. I'm not going to compare this to the originals because I haven't seen that series in a long time, but as a standalone it was a good vengeance and discontent movie.

I *do* think that Roth could have better framed Bruce Willis' fall into a disgust for criminal activity (like maybe more montages of seeing common street crime and not seeing any justice served) or that Willis could have expanded his range for the movie by being angrier about injustice before he went to the gun store.. but as is they did have full on-screen support for a calm and collected surgeon making a fully conscious decision to become a vigilante (things like the commentary of increasing Chicago crime, seeing all of the open case descriptions, a police force that couldn't solve cases due to a withholding public, a lack of forward progress on his own case, and the continued traumas of his daughter's condition).. so a controlled and subdued passion did fit here.

It was also a fun writer's decision that a surgeon (rather than the original's architect) would make the decision to be a violent vigilante. A particular reason I think so is that it's become a popular trope on social media for medical responders to post blood-filled but empty ambulances and trauma rooms with some pathos argument attached wherein they don't care what it would take to stop gun violence — they just wish it would stop so that they don't have to see the results of it. There's a particular weak-willed subtext to that where this particular brand of practitioners is done with violence, but this movie could be seen as a challenge to that social media group's fallacy of authority because there do in fact exist plenty of people (e.g., other practitioners) who can cope with trauma and even willfully combat that trauma with direct action.

More fun was that apparently this movie is doing poorly on the critic's side of rotten tomatoes because it "suffers from spectacularly bad timing" — i.e., too soon after a school shooting. That's the kind of hilarious commentary that's resulted in that anti-gun review of the latest Bourne movie or the anti-gun PSA episodes of "Fear the Walking Dead" — misguided "flowers in gun barrel" people who seem not to realize that "life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on life" or that "the universe is hostile, so impersonal, devour to survive so it is, so it's always been". Violence is survival, and "one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star". Bourgeois critics who wish that violence would dwindle into some archaic past must themselves want to blink as nihilists while staring at their own meaningless oblivion, so if they dislike it then the movie is already a destiny.

Other than that, Camila Morrone (Bruce Willis' onscreen daughter) cannot act, and she seems far more interested in appearing attractive for the camera than in portraying a traumatized individual, so hopefully she'll be replaced or her character written off if any sequels get plotted. She was a bad move by the casting department.

In short! Fun vigilante movie. The body count may not be as impressive as "John Wick", but the body count was replaced in favor of a larger attempt at realism or a look at how vigilantism might appear in today's more surveilled and socially mediated times. I think it was worth seeing in the theater (vs waiting for DVD/streaming), but the scale was only tipped a little bit to theater for me, so I expect most peeps would wait. I hope this gets sequels like the original did, but while that door was clearly left open by the script, with the movie not currently breaking even (budget of 30 million USD and a return so far of 24 million USD), it would be a toss up if the producers think it's profitable and Eli Roth may just sign over the project to someone else. Maybe it'll just end up in the bin like that Paul W.S. Anderson Three Musketeers franchise that stopped at the first (2011) movie :/
Cherub Cow
Member
Wed Mar 21 02:19:19
Flatliners (2017)
...

Not too bad. Netflix thought that I would hate it, so it was at least a step up from there :p

My major complaint is that attempts at science were mostly abandoned or spoken over, the most funny instance being this:

[Ray]: "There is a scientific explanation for all of this."
[Marlo]: "We're way beyond explanations."

lol, really? :D
This was kind of sad because they really could have explained it without even getting into complicated scientific language: hallucinations, sure, but also the brain trying to find pathways through a trauma moment/memory. All of the flatlined characters were dwelling on critical moments of their lives and were unable to move past them despite flatlining opening up productive neural pathways. Their hallucinations occurred around blocked pathways — actions which were inconsistent with their perceived senses of right and wrong. Flatlining was opening their entire brain, but they had to address these blocked pathways to incorporate the expanded sense of identity. But, instead of the movie attempting even that much of an explanation, they decided to add words like "sin", "forgiveness", and "demons" to the movie vocabulary, which just seemed like a way to keep religious audiences satisfied or a way to make the horror seem more elusive. I don't think that language was necessary.

(( SPOILER ahead ))

One thing I liked which was a change from the original was the writer's decision to misdirect with the main character. Ellen Page was introduced as the central figure, but she died fairly early (before the final act) and ended up being the only one to die... kind of a pleasant surprise that reminds me of "The Place Beyond the Pines" when the movie split itself in two by changing main characters or "The Other Guys" when the cliché cops died in the first few minutes :D .. in Flatliners the remaining characters then had to pick up the pieces around this new trauma — a nice way to change the flow of the movie.

(( end spoiler ))

Otherwise.. I think this movie suffered from its PG-13 rating. Every PG-13 movie probably does... and they probably could have twisted things a little at the end (as is, it was too hopeful). A good watch overall, though :)

Anyways, I'll be re-watching the 1990 version soon, which Netflix thinks I'll like much more (this was guessed at something like 2.8/5 stars, whereas the old one was guessed at 4.2/5 stars) ;p

-=-=-=-

"The Strangers: Prey at Night" (2018)
...

Nice :D
I think this movie will be mediocre for most people, but they did something fun here: a re-write of the prey/victim dynamic of these "isolated in the woods" movies. This was also another good one by director Johannes Roberts, whose 2017 "47 Metres Down" was actually a really good horror movie. This makes me want to look at his other movies... Also really nice atmospheric cinematography. They took their time on shots of misty wooded areas with apocalyptic-looking swing sets and stuff. A lot of this could be captured as stills and make good posters :D

(( SPOILERS ))

They did a few things I like with their kill list: like Flatliners, they took out the top-billed name first, and unlike a lot of horror movies, they were willing to kill the stalkers as the writing supported. It's unusual in stalker movies for people to get the drop on the stalkers, but it seems more realistic this way. Killing the stalkers also did some fun things, like made me wonder if the franchise writers wanted to completely destroy their franchise and say, "Fuck you," to the producers (pretty likely?), and on a concept level they may have realized that niche audiences have started identifying more with the malevolent killers and thus decided to attack those niche audiences by having **no one** be safe — not killers nor the usual victims (identifying with a typically "safe" character thus does nothing). A potential negative of this decision to kill the stalkers could arrive if the movie were trying to put an end to kill fascinations via the culture industry's circulation mechanics, but because two of the stalkers were killed by gunfire, I don't think they were attempting something *that* overtly L.A.-political. Lastly of their kill list, they *could* have been simply changing the direction of the franchise by making the survivors of this movie so affected by the strangers that they themselves become the killers in the future. It would be difficult to verify that without talking to the writers themselves, however, because (if a sequel were made) a sequel could be made simply for more money and that means of creating continuity (victims becoming killers) would just become a matter of writer convenience.

(( End Spoilers ))

I also really liked small moments in the movie, like how they kept asking the strangers "Why?!" and how Dollface eventually responded, "Why not?" — that reminded me both of the Skold vs. KMFDM track "Why me?" ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbPeKidYF20 ) and also how in "The Hitcher" (2007's in particular) they explained that sometimes people don't need some kind of conceptual or material-based reason for violence.. sometimes it's cathartic, a matter of control, André Gide immoralist, or maybe even nihilistic (the latter might be the case for the Strangers: violence as no different in their lives than non-violence.. or just something entertaining to do). The way the Strangers move is also a real treat.. like when Pin-Up Girl was in full sprint or when the Man in the Mask got into an occupied truck like he was catching a ride.

So! I really want to see this again in the theater, but I wouldn't recommend it for others unless you really like horror already :D
McKobb
Member
Thu Mar 22 10:28:02
Three Billboards was surprisingly good. Maybe a little too much grit but enjoyable despite itself.
Cherub Cow
Member
Sun Apr 01 21:34:52
Might have to check it out! Maybe tomorrow or Tuesday, actually..

..
(for posterity: it's 2018-04-01)
Just watched 2013's "How I Live Now" .. was really beautiful!

Non-Spoilery about: WWIII breaks out, causing a bourgeois city girl to see the world from another angle.

Reminded me a lot of my favorite romance movie, "Still Breathing" — wow.. I just went to Google this forum to find the "favorite movies" thread to see into which category I placed "Still Breathing", and, while I didn't find that thread, instead I found the TNG thread where I basically phrased a sentence almost exactly like the preceding one:
[Me of Geordi's relationship with Leah]: "their romance reminds me of one of my favorite movies, "Still Breathing,""

..I know I recycle a lot of my own language and phrasing, but that was years ago :D .. anyways...

In *this* case "How I Live Now" reminded me of "Still Breathing" because the cinematography paid a lot of attention to trees and gazing up at canopies. It also [seemed to have?] borrowed a pretty specific element from "Still Breathing" that almost makes me wonder if this movie specifically had "Still" in mind when its story was converted to screenplay.. (( SPOILER ahead, though I'll be vague )). In "Still" there were scenes where both Roz and Fletcher had visions/memories of a time that they both shared (but had not actually/physically shared) where as children one of them scraped a knee and the other took a piece of shirt/cloth and pressed it over the blood. Later in the movie, Roz scraped her knee for real and Fletcher presses his shirt over the blood... so... in "How I Live Now", Daisy cuts her finger and Eddie puts her finger in his mouth to stop the pain and clean the blood.. later in the movie she does the same for him. In both movies there's a romantic recognition in these moments, and together with the canopy cinematography and the love of green.. kind of have to wonder if director Kevin Macdonald had "Still Breathing" in mind... seems like yet another question that could only be answered by the director himself, but I think it's too similar to be coincidence :p (( END SPOILER ))

The touches of realism in this were also very nice. Things like the sudden eruption of gunfire, the dramatic sense of a bomb in the distance, or situations not being plot-constructed so much as proceeding from consequence. There were also moments like a failed/unlaunched heroism opportunity, and seeing war like people really tend to see it: in fragments that people desperately try to assemble after the fact — evidence of happenings, clues, stories related only in parts... It had a very thoughtful plot in that way.. because war isn't one simple narrative of troop movement and battle victories and losses, it's something big that affects the lives of a multitude. In reality, many people never find out what happened to loved ones. In this it was almost a surprise that some answers did come (and maybe those answers were the only ones that mattered), though all the same there still were big gaps in the wider WWIII narrative which were only answered peripherally via radio broadcasts. That rings more true because in reality the "screen" of one's perception doesn't flip to give the backstory of some random woodsmen.. people just see their own subjective and often temporary connections, their own parts...

Other misc things: great sets and great attention to small details, very humanist (also making it like "Still Breathing"), and great textures. Enjoyable also just to watch in that way. You could complain that Daisy's roots never come through despite a lot of time passing or that there's some evidence that this was part of the young adult book-to-movie craze ;D .. but I'm kind of reaching since I liked it too much to hate on it :p

Def recommended!
Cherub Cow
Member
Thu Apr 05 23:27:17
A Quiet Place (2018)
...

Don't bother.
This one had great set designs, good creature concept, and a fun launch point, but it gradually became formulaic and lacked any edge. PG-13 was of course a major barrier, but with this subject matter they could have gotten past that with some better writing decisions.. instead it went "movie of the week" style with some too safe conclusions and a world-breaking action-flick decision.

(( SPOILERS ))

The beginning made me smile. A dumb kid gets his comeuppance for being a dumb kid. I love that type of stuff :D .. There was intentionally little to no music in the movie (a plus given the subject matter); and good attention was paid to this family taking steps to minimize noise, like sand placed over walkways, painted spots where boards had been confirmed not to make creaking sounds, and a sound-proofed area to prepare for the arrival of a newborn. It was also nice to see how traumatized they had become about sound and how fearful they were of making it. Lots of good attention to detail.

But then it started giving itself a retarded sort of "Signs" (2002) vibe, with little foreshadowing notes about how a deaf child's earpiece would eventually "work" in a big way ("Merrell, swing away" — oh my gods.. after writing that, I just rewatched that "Signs" scene... just as fucking stupid as I remember) and how family would struggle to overcome. Super lame shit.

The story had also limited itself by saying that this was a world-wide problem that had brought down countries, yet they made the huge mistake of saying that a shotgun head shot could kill one of the creatures — as though in this scenario there would never be a time that a creature would be shot in the head while listening for sound. They attempted to save this by saying that a disruptive frequency would make the creature vulnerable to a head shot, but that is still too thin. To avoid that plot hole they could have just left it at this specific frequency killing the creature and a shotgun remaining useless — problem solved right there.. but they decided on the shotgun because it was more theatrical and (stupidly) satisfying for (stupid) audiences. This lead to the equally stupid closing scene of Emily Blunt pumping the shotgun like she's about to have loads of fun despite having just lost her husband.

So the fixes: it needed an R-Rating, that plot hole needed to be closed, the ending should have been more depressing (maybe the family is slaughtered and the earpiece kills one creature that accidentally turns it on after eating everyone?), or at the very least that final scene shouldn't have become so comedic. None of these dark choices were made, so it was just an average movie with a wasted concept. "Signs" all over again. Whatever.

(( End Spoilers ))

Anyways.. when deciding to see this, I looked past the PG-13 rating for some reason.. and I should not have done so. I don't even think it would be worth seeing this on DVD or via streaming.

-=-=-=-
-=-=-=-
Unsane (2018)
...

Definitely see! Lots of fun.. kind of difficult to talk about it without spoiling things, so just don't watch and previews and see it :p
Cherub Cow
Member
Tue May 08 20:35:44
Just noticed that "Still Breathing" is now on Amazon Prime (instant streaming) and is free there, so that's pretty cool :)
McKobb
Member
Fri May 18 01:03:43
DP2 not as good as the first but worth watching for few good laughs.
The Children
Member
Mon Jun 04 12:13:18
deadpool 2 sucked donkey ass.

so did avengers infinity kiddy wars.

bladerunner 2049, thats the real shit yo.

a quiet place, dayum shit is so boring i fell asleep in da first 5 min...theres hardly any conversation coz they dunt talk.

its lame
Cherub Cow
Member
Tue Jul 31 04:20:07
Quick reviews:

Upgrade (2018)
...

Not bad!
This had an interesting collection of sci-fi ideas mixed into one. They took the "Looper" (2012) recognition that the future wouldn't be all flying cars and high-tech stuff but would instead be a mix of high-tech and low-tech — so classic gas cars mixed with upgraded robo-cars and nano-chips, and who has what is of course based on economics. They also borrowed heavily from "Blade Runner" (1982) by attempting some cinematic shots of tech-infused underbellies, by using a lot of blue tones and neon advertising, by mixing high and low architecture (particularly the billionaire's home), and by having an evil/quirky genius [accidentally? inevitably?] at the head of a cyborg revolution. And its fight scenes also borrowed from "Hardcore Henry" (2015) by incorporating some first person views and some machine-like motion into the attacks. Unfortunately, a lot of this borrowing also meant that the movie felt like an Australian tribute to sci-fi, which made the plot decisions feel second-hand instead of deeply felt by writer/director Leigh Whannell. On the other hand, this second-handedness might make it seem like this was an alternate story within a Blade Runner universe (not a perfect fit, of course, but similar enough that it feels like fan fiction).

Beyond tribute, it had some definite pluses: the R-rating made the violence more visceral, and the ending scene (which I won't spoil with specifics) did not let the characters redeem themselves. The ending was meant to be a dystopic horror and a true fit for the stakes. Good stuff that made me smile :D

-=-=-=-=-=-

The First Purge (2018)
...

Awful.
This franchise has been watered down more and more into a dumb propaganda game. In the first movie it was an actual horror/survival story, the second still held onto that though it amplified the theme of rich vs. poor, but the third went into a shit-show of Clinton vs. Trump politics where they all but said, "If you vote for Trump you are literally voting for a Purge Night" (do the two have to align? Can't America have a Purge Night without Trump?). With this fourth one they've continued that narrative by continuing to say that a Purge would be an artificial murdering of the lower class — and for this one: specifically a murdering along racial grounds. So people of color have been systematically targeted by white people and the government for a cleansing, and only super-insane crackheads would ever possibly *want* to purge for catharsis (purge for the sake of catharsis being a major theme of the first and a partial theme of the second). It basically dips into the thinking of CNN alarmists and red vs. blue binary-coded idiots. It's boring, unoriginal, and fails to capture political gradation or small-scale problem-solving.

(( SPOILER ahead ))

And even if the political side weren't annoying, it fails at basic writing issues. Here's one: not a single main character dies (what — is this a fucking Marvel movie?). Marisa Tomei was the closest thing to a main character that they had die, but she was peripheral to the action and almost as irrelevant as the lead shock trooper in the apartment battle. The crackhead also dies, but is that a surprise? They seriously needed to challenge their writer preferences by killing one of the sympathetic characters, but they didn't have the stomach to dirty their narrative. Weak.

Another issue: It was all garbage AfterEffects violence. Pretty much every blood splatter looked like a stock smoke or blood splatter effect that had been added-on in post-production. Some of it didn't even make sense, like blood would splatter in the wrong direction. Sometimes it didn't even look like they had bothered using guns with blanks: just post gunshot effects. Fucking sad.

Then there were hilarious story issues, like that the champion of the movie was a drug lord who had been redeemed because he killed the right people. Never mind that he had apparently been destroying his own community, employing prostitutes full-time, and had successfully eliminated his competition during the Purge thus securing greater drug sales after the Purge. The writer hope here was apparently that even a drug dealer can reform and become a hero to the community, but this again fails at gradation/nuance by not showing that people would at least be ambivalent around such a violent criminal who could easily still be their enemy.

So bad political writing, bad continuity writing (things didn't happen realistically — people survived who should not have survived), and bad effects. This franchise officially died.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)
...

Good things!
The action didn't quite have Denis Villeneuve's sense of realism (he directed the first movie), but Stefano Sollima still kept things dark and dirty. And within that darkness they also added in some pensive or unexpected moments, like when Benicio Del Toro encounters a deaf family and gets to examine his own back story in relation to the daughter of a cartel lord that he hates.

On the story side, things reminded me of the movie "Spartan" (2004), where the general idea was that one plan would fail and immediately roll into a new plan which also failed. Their initial plan was to start a war between drug kingpins, but their line that "there are no secrets in Mexico" seemed to hold true because the cartels seemed to know that it was the CIA/FBI/DEA that was orchestrating a war and were thus able to attack the CIA directly. Then peeps scrambled to pick up the pieces... this made it a good continuity story where people were affected by their actual situations and not given plot armor (as was the case in the latest Purge). The major exception was del Toro's fate in the movie. That moment seemed like a producer's idea.. like their way to manufacture a big dramatic irony reveal in the next movie, since they do seem to have strong plans for this to be a franchise that they can milk. That's probably the major weakness here. The first movie should have been left a strong concept one-off, but by expanding it to a franchise they'll continue to compromise realism for the sake of surviving favorite characters. Forgetting that for the moment, it was worth admission, though I wouldn't have minded waiting for streaming/DVD.

-=-=-=-=-=-

The Equalizer 2 (2018)
...

I'm sure that I say this every time I review one of his new movies, but ever since "The Replacement Killers" Antoine Fuqua has been my favorite action director :D

This one departs a little from the makeup of the first one, but it still has Denzel Washington expertly dismantling people. The early scenes were particularly effective, and it was nice to see that Fuqua was able to include scenes that show how quickly he can produce connections with his characters. One scene in particular showed the tragedy of an old man within about 30 seconds without making it some obvious plot reveal — it just felt true to life. Washington's character (Robert McCall) also forms a mentor relationship with a local boy, and it comes across that this might be a relationship that Antoine Fuqua had that put him on a track to becoming a director. Maybe not, though, because Fuqua doesn't take a writing credit for this one. Hmm. Either way, it was nice to see.

On the negative side, some of the structure of the movie fell apart as things went along. Once McCall's enemies had been reduced to a group of 5 people with one major leader, it seemed like further plot decisions were just a way to funnel things into a shoot-out rather than the story dealing with Washington's need to navigate a bit of international intrigue. That is, there was no intrigue, just everyone revealed and then off in two vehicles to go after McCall. Accepting that, their ending sequence was a better setting than the Home Depot decision of the first movie, though the high winds were somewhat under-utilized once the fist fight started.

Still! While the Equalizer movies may not be Fuqua's best, they still have a lot of good stuff going for them. This would probably be fine to skip in theater, but it's still a fun one :)


-=-=-=-=-=-


Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)
...

Cool stuff!
Not much to go into for a blockbuster this big, so I'll just say it was fun and that particularly good was that they did not green screen major scenes. Lots of scenes they were very clear to show that they were actually at these locations doing these stunts — and more often than not, it was Tom Cruise doing them himself. Most of the major chase scenes were done in Paris, Norway, and New Zealand, though Abu Dhabi was also listed as a filming location (maybe just the indoor scenes?). This gave plenty of nice shots. Very cool to see.

Of course, it *is* a blockbuster, so there wasn't too much substance. Most of the substance that it did have came from this movie examining how much Ethan Hunt will fight for his team rather than sacrifice them for the calculated, "greater good" choice. It also pulls heavily from the previous movie continuities, so they do expect that people know the characters and don't need much additional explanation. I think that was a good decision :p

Anyways, definitely made for the big screen. No ragrets.


Pillz
Member
Tue Jul 31 20:51:15
They didn't know it was the CIA behind the kidnapping AFAIK. It seemed that, predictably, Mexican police were corrupt and an attempt was made to kidnap the girl by a rival cartel. They never did say who ambushed them.

The plan fell apart because DOD didn't have the balls to follow through due to the dead police and subsequent press coverage.

And ya del Toro should have died
Cherub Cow
Member
Wed Aug 01 04:24:10
Yeah. He either should have killed his way off the bus or just died in the desert..

"They never did say who ambushed them."

True. I may have just guessed that it was the cartels attacking the CIA because they knew the CIA's plan to turn them against each other.. but in reality, they didn't really say for sure, yeah. I thought I'd rewatch it to see if there were more hints.

..
"The plan fell apart because DOD didn't have the balls to follow through due to the dead police and subsequent press coverage."

There were all sorts of failures along the way, though. Their initial plan fell apart when they were attacked by the police, but also Brolin's plan to extract Del Toro fell apart (that part being because DoD pulled the plug), Del Toro's plans with the coyotes fell apart, and Brolin changed the plan to clean house by saving the cartel boss' daughter at the end... I think the idea was that they were adapting and changing pretty rapidly. That might just be good story-writing, though: each new situation changes the next.
Cherub Cow
Member
Tue Aug 07 23:26:49
Skyscraper (2018)
...

A green-screen-of-the-week movie. Most of the scenes looked super washed-out by the green screen glow — those horrible sort of effects that Marvel has normalized where it's all on some giant sound stage and nothing looks at all real.. like everyone was badly-photoshopped into a location. I kind of figured that going in, but I was hoping it would be a "so bad it's good" sort of movie... not really.

It was just a mash-up of stolen tropes. Die Hard's setting was an obvious borrow, but also borrowed was the "Die Hard with a Vengeance" static, ultra-violent, and remorseless female killer (something repeated in part for "Live Free or Die Hard") and the "Hi, I'm the guy who was on the ground helping this whole time" scene from "Die Hard" which makes zero fucking sense here because the Rock never knew this rando cop. Then they threw in "Made for Idiots" tropes like over-pushing the idea of family as a sacred cow, the "wounded soldier (here a Marine) who returns home but has a moment of redemption by successfully re-facing a trauma" trope, and "Everyone is watching this moment as also the theater audience is watching" lame hype-up cut-aways. Super fucking stupid. It was a script-writing by the numbers movie. Everything was predictable. Like when the female villain is obviously going to kill the geeky hacker, or even when the Rock has just broken into the Penthouse vault and the camera shot is obviously setting up for a pistol to be pointed at the back of his head (i.e., even the cinematography was recycled). Horrible editing too. They frequently cut moments within scenes too short — probably because a frame made a character look unattractive for half a second and they wanted to hide that (badly).

I cannot imagine that this movie could be enjoyed by anyone who doesn't have Cheeto bits forever stuck underneath their fingernails. I imagine that their viewing demographic was composed of overweight nuclear families of the working class who want to be heroic despite their terminal flaws. The characters' legit backstories dethroned (that is, removing their military histories), one could see a father having some decade-old knee injury or back injury that he constantly groans about when he's expected to get off the couch and accomplish simple tasks (someone you might hear say, "Could you do this? My old knee injury is acting up today"), an overweight potato wife who took a self-defense class once and thinks that that could help her disarm a trained soldier if she needed to, and some children who think that they too could step up to the occasion despite themselves having become hopelessly debilitated by convenient bouts of "asthma" (which we should really read as, "Too fat to run for more than 10 seconds").

This was all zero edge bullshit. A PG-13 shit show. Was it too much to hope that the movie would make fun of how shitty it was? Nope. Not even that. And the most absurd thing is that they left room for a fucking sequel. Can you imagine them thinking that they had a recipe for more than one of these fucking things? And fuck, maybe they'll do it: so far the box office has brought them $280kk USD for a $125kk USD budget, so yeah, maybe the next one will milk more formula from "Die Hard" by filming at an airport. I can't believe I just funded cinema terrorism.
Cherub Cow
Member
Mon Aug 13 23:48:03
The Meg (2018)
...

I hoped that this would be like.. Sharknado bad.. but it was an actual attempt at a movie that just didn't do much. There were lots of obvious, kid-style jokes; lots of obvious scare attempts; and worst of all, its PG-13 rating meant that even with a giant shark eating people, there was like, zero gore.

One highlight was a moment that was reminiscent of the "Executive Decision" (1996) airlock scene. In that, it's Steven Seagal caught in an airlock between a stealth and a jumbo jet and the airlock is about to collapse, and Kurt Russell says, "We're not gonna make it!" and Seagal says, "*You* will!" and then closes the airlock, so Seagal dies and the jumbo jet peeps make it... in "The Meg", the same thing happens underwater. I forget which character says, "We're not gonna make it!" when the airlock is about to collapse, but it's the same setup of the people above surviving while a person sacrifices himself on the lower part of the airlock. The only real difference was that the sacrifice didn't *verbally* say, "You will!" ...

Another highlight was when the Meg started chewing up a populated beach. I smiled through that scene... but then the highlight faded, because they didn't really capitalize on the situation. Some peeps were eaten, but again: zero gore. Not even people flailing in the shark's mouth. Nothing. It was all off-screen deaths like a Greek play or something.

So yeah. Poor jokes, obvious plot developments, zero gore, low body count, over-glossed and poorly-textured CGI, and to top it off there wasn't even a hint of water fear. Watching a movie like "Jaws" (1975) or the more recent "47 Meters Down" (2017) there's a lot of water fear, like, "Where is it? Is the water ever safe?" but this had none. The reason was that it was obvious who was safe and who was just there to get chewed up. Even in Statham's risky scenes, viewers can pretty much guess that he's totally okay and there's nothing to fear. They didn't pull a "Deep Blue Sea" (1999) where supposedly safe characters were killed (oh, and that was an R-rated movie... "interesting" that good decisions like that rarely happen in PG-13.. hmm.. :| ). Instead, you know that when *certain* characters touch the water that they in particular will be eaten... it amounts to boring, Marvel-like writing.

Anyways don't bother.
Pillz
Member
Tue Aug 14 21:05:49
I rewatched Pandorum. It's a good concept but a bad movie.
McKobb
Member
Thu Sep 13 14:10:11
Searching (2018) is both a suspense of a fathers desperate search for the fate of his missing child but also a cautionary tale of "Little Brother" in which the film is viewed from. Best of all it gives us a break from all the 'woman are badasses too!' like Pepperment.
McKobb
Member
Thu Sep 13 14:13:40
As an aside, Searching reminded me of the James Kim tragedy in 2004 where technology collided to both send Kim to his death and save his wife and kids.
Cherub Cow
Member
Mon Sep 17 19:38:39
"The Predator" was bad. I kept thinking "dumpster fire", but that might be because that phrase made me laugh recently. "Bad" for sure, though.

It didn't somehow rise above the trailer: Olivia Munn cannot act (she has still continued to ride the exposure of "Attack of the Show!", which granted her the fandom of 12-year-old gamer boys who have aged into a marketable demographic for her — please stop hiring this box office poison); Keegan-Michael Key should not have been cast and was part of a larger problem where the movie was trying to nonchalantly say, "Fuck it," and make the movie into a semi-meta predator comedy ("Get to the choppers"? Fuck that shallow humor); the CGI was outright awful in many scenes (in particular I'm thinking of one scene where the large predator screamed down from a tree canopy) and their less presentable CGI was further obscured with bad lighting (the predator dog CGI was bad enough that most of their scenes were very darkly lit). Then add the annoyances of plot armor, where any main cast character was subjected to blunt stun hits rather than the bladed attacks experienced by any nameless character. Then add the plot holes of later revelations, like that a rogue predator who wants to help humanity would earlier have no problem massacring a facility full of humans. "To escape, retrieve the predator-killer, and give it to humanity!" a supportive fan might say, but as per the plot armor issue, the predator seems to be able to control whether it mutilates or stuns, so the mutilation was a choice inconsistent with the rogue predator's savior goal. There was also the plot hole of the larger predator itself: would it really be better to have a bigger predator? Would this not interrupt stealth, make it difficult for the predator to interact with equipment, and make it difficult for it to enter confined areas? Definitely, but like the producers probably thought, "Bigger would be cooler, wouldn't it?" No. Better creature design would be cooler than simply increasing production scale.

With all of the jokes falling flat, the actors being substandard, the CGI being bad, and the circumstantial plot details being thrown together for the sake of immediate spectacle, pretty much the only redeemable quality of the movie would be the predator's kills — things like cutting people in half, ripping faces off, and various fun moments like that... it made the movie slightly watchable. Still, that silver lining was not enough; director Shane Black may have given it a go, but I regret paying money to see this and am hopeful that the producers barely break even in the box office. Ugh.
swordtail
Anarchist Prime
Wed Sep 19 13:56:20
oh wells
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