Watched four movies last week while off work sick:
Tomorrowland - 7/10
Wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be (based on reviews), and actually quite enjoyed it. I didn't know anything about it other than the single trailer I saw last year. It's a mix of nostalgic futurism and morality tale about the bleak future we face. There's a good scene with Hugh Laurie's character in the final act which could almost have been a direct-to-camera speech about how the world has got so screwed up, and it did make me stop and think. Any film which makes you think, even momentarily, has something going for it. It might be overly simplistic, but it's a family-friendly film, not a TED talk. I thought it did a good job overall.
Fantastic Four (2015) - -2/10
What an absolute turd of a film. I vaguely recall the earlier film with Ioan Grufford, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis, and recall thinking that it was barely passable (and since well surpassed by "modern" superhero storytelling). This entry by Josh Trank, as so many others have opined, has to be one of the worst films ever made. I'm always keen to give the benefit of the doubt, even when reviews are bad, because people can see things differently. But in this case the reviews were right. I can't think of a single good thing about this film, and I feel angry with myself that I watched it all the way through. I think it's because I'm a completist, and if I don't finish watching I'll always wonder if it got better. But it didn't. None of the characters were remotely interesting or redeemable, the plot was boring and pointless, the effects were unremarkable. I felt like demanding that United Video refund me the $1 I paid to rent the film, and then compensate for the lost time and suffering I endured... ;)
R.I.P.D - 1/10
I must be some sort of masochist. Not only did I put myself through FF, I also watched this almost-as-bad film featuring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges. Both are perfectly likeable actors; I actually quite enjoy Ryan Reynolds and have seen plenty of his work, and Jeff Bridges has done some pretty good films too. But R.I.P.D is a piece of rubbish which even Ryan Reynolds managed to make completely humourless. For reference, I think I enjoyed Green Lantern more than this (but not much more...) The plot is a budget ripoff of Men in Black. The characters are paper thin and a waste of space. It has the feel of a studio fulfilling some contract obligation and churning something out to tick a box. The actors look almost pained as they limp through the script which at 95 minutes long is about twice as long as it needs to be. I suspect they needed those 95 minutes for it to qualify as a "feature film."
The Big Short - 7.5/10
I cleansed my soul by watching The Big Short after R.I.P.D, and proving that there are still good films out there. It's a little technical in places, focussing on the financial scam that was the sub-prime mortgages scandal in the US that started the GFC in 2008 (similar in some respects to Margin Call featuring Kevin Spacey and Zachary Quinto). The film had a neat gimmick of breaking the fourth wall every now and then to explain tricky concepts by the judicial application of celebrity asides. So we had Margot Robbie sipping champagne in a bubble bath explaining what a sub-prime mortgage is, and Anthony Bourdain explaining what is a CDO (Collateralised Debt Obligation). I definitely felt more informed after. I also felt appalled and sick about the level of fraud it showed. While I knew the basics of the GFC, it's not something I've ever read a lot about. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign made a lot more sense after watching this (not that it didn't make sense before - it just joined up a few dots). This is a movie, not a documentary, but it managed to balance the information side of things with the entertainment needed to tell the story. The cast was great - Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, and the pacing and timing worked well. It's not the kind of thing I would re-watch, but I'm glad I saw it.
The Big Short.
Quirky, funny and cutting behind the scenes mockumentary focussed on a small group of people who saw the GFC coming, with helpful explanatory cameos by famous people to explain technical terminology.
some quickies ...
captain america civil war; marvel cookie cutter movie 5/10
warcraft ; crap in every way except sound design 2/10
x-men apocalypse; superheroes are passe 4/10
teenage mutant ninja turtles out of the shadows; kill me now 3/10
the shallows; a great low budget treat ! 7/10
Kubo is a stunningly beautiful-looking film, set in historic Japanese times. The IMDB plot summary sums it up well: Kubo lives a quiet, normal life in a small shoreside village until a spirit from the past turns his life upside down by re-igniting an age-old vendetta. This causes all sorts of havoc as gods and monsters chase Kubo who, in order to survive, must locate a magical suit of armor once worn by his late father, a legendary Samurai warrior.
Marvelous stop-motion animation (from the studio that made "Coraline"), and with a wonderful soundtrack to go with it; well worth seeing.
The Bronze - A spoiled and largely forgotten Olympic medalist (Melissa Rauch) takes action when a promising young gymnast (Haley Lu Richardson) threatens her status as a local celebrity.
A damned good funny movie and it is such a contrast to Bernadette ( Big Bang Theory )
Well worth a watch.
Lots of swearing, drug references and sex. Not suitable for the kids.
I know enough to be dangerous
Escape Plan - 5/10
Watched this on Netflix a couple of weeks ago. A brainless Stallone/Schwarzenegger excursion which recycles a fairly well-worn plot device about a person "planted" in a prison who is subsequently "disavowed." Stallone plays an "expert escapologist" who consults on the design of prisons and tests their security by breaking out of them. He gets contracted to test a supposedly unescapable black site used by the CIA for "extraordinary renditions" now that Guantanamo Bay is no longer viable. Shenanigans ensue when he finds that the prearranged safeguards are a sham and he is actually trapped in the prison. He then has to escape (shock, horror!)
It's passable, and a lot more entertaining than some other films I've seen recently (cough, Fantastic Four, cough), but I couldn't help but wonder about the film's premise. The CIA want to continue their "extraordinary renditions" (a fantastic euphemism) but can't use Guantanamo Bay, so they build an inescapable prison to hold those who can never be released. Leaving aside that the inmates that we're shown look far from being the most villainous prisoners, I wondered "why, if they're not going to ever let them out, they need to put them in a prison? They obviously don't care about due process and justice. If they won't let them out, and they don't care about the rights of the prisoners, why wouldn't they just execute them? Not that I'm advocating such a course of action, but it seems pointless to go to the cost and trouble of building a prison, making it secure, staffing it, feeding the prisoners, when it would be much cheaper and simpler to eliminate them all. Of course, that would leave the film with a bit of a gap in the story...
Eye in the Sky - I'd give it an 8 I think. Enjoyed it after reading the blurb and thinking how good can a movie about a drone strike be?
Went to the preview showing of Sausage Party last Wednesday and I almost feel guilty about thoroughly enjoying it. I haven't laughed that much at a movie in a long time. Certainly wouldn't be for everyone but if you enjoyed Team America you'll most likely enjoy this. 8/10
an old flick that time has not been kind to..
some crazy dude with a magic marker moustache, sean connery in a red nappy, giant floating heads !
hilarious commentary from the director trying to justify this turd.
Jason Bourne - 4/10
I'm a big fan of the first three Bourne films, the Jeremy Renner "spinoff", not so much. So I was quite pleased to see that Matt Damon had decided to come back to the role. Unfortunately, though, there's very little that this film shares with the Bourne Identity/Supremacy/Ultimatum. About the only thing that it managed to conjure up was the vague sense of "internationalism" that made the first three so enjoyable, and the updated version of Moby's "Extreme Ways" at the end. That's it. Even Damon didn't really convey his innate Bourne-ness, and Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons is pretty one-dimensional (not that she was ever a paragon of character development). There's no equivalent of Brian Cox or Chris Cooper here - Tommy Lee Jones, who is normally good value, seemed to just be phoning it in.
But the thing that lost it for me was a throwaway line of background dialogue that came up as a subtitle in the first 10 minutes. Nikcy enters a "hacking den" in Iceland to do some hackery-stuff, and the subtitle flashes up revealing a "hacker" as saying "Use SQL to disrupt them!" Wow, that's some super cool hacker talk there! Later on, a CIA "Cyber" person (did Donald Trump write this script?) types into their computer the words "Run Predictive Algorithm." I nearly sprayed my drink over the people in the seats in front of me. They might as well have typed "run fancy code thingy that finds people!"
These kinds of film aren't meant to be realistic, but I always enjoyed the way the earlier films didn't make Bourne to be some kind of superhuman, and his "spy" skills were more like Macgyver, making use of basic stuff and using his intelligence. The hackneyed hacker stuff ruined it for me, and with Bourne doing little more than being led from one scene to another, he doesn't seem to serve much purpose. It was superficially enjoyable in a very basic kind of way, but it paled in comparison to the taught action-thrillers of the first three Bourne films. I was disappointed, to say the least.
True Grit (the Coen Brothers version) 8/10.
Haven't seen the John Wayne original or if I have I can't remember it. Well up to the normal Coen brothers standard (have they ever made a bad movie?) so the 2 hours or so seemed to last half that time. Jeff Bridges pretty good as Rooster Coburn if slightly indistinct at times.
Kill Your Friends 7/10.
Nicholas Hoult stars as a music business A & R man in London in the 1990's who will do anything including murder to be successful. Was expecting more but some quite good black humor moments. The reviews for this movie were pretty poor but IMO it was much better than they made out.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - 0/10
I'm gonna put it down to the fact that I was home sick as the reason that I even started watching this turd. I'm giving it a zero score which is arguably better than the negative number I gave Fantastic Four, but only because I didn't finish watching TMNT. If I had put myself through that hell, I'm sure it would have been in the same ballpark as FF.
I grew up watching the TMNT cartoon after school. I played the arcade game down at the local bowling alley, I copied drawings of the turtles from comics, and even to this day I can sing most of the words from the original cartoon series. I even rewatched some recently on Youtube and it mostly withstood the battering of time in a way that many things from the 80s didn't (which is not to say it was timeless, merely that it was still entertaining). However, this live action film felt like I had been violated by Michael Bay. Even his take on Transformers (the first film - forget the rest) wasn't that bad, and though different from the 80s cartoon at least had something resembling a storyline. TMNT has no such redeeming features. In a sign of how disgusted I felt (it could have been the stomach bug, but it's probably the film), I switched it off after just 30 mins. I couldn't see any way that the film could get better. It had discarded so much of the original's origin story, it clearly didn't care that it was shown to be a shameless cash-in on another retro toy franchise. I truly grimaced when the turtles confronted April O'Neil (Megan Fox - ugh!) and proclaimed themselves to be "turtles", "but mutants", "we're ninjas!" "and we're also teenagers!" Way to shoehorn in the title and premise...
The fact that they made a sequel only confirms that money trumps all in Hollywood. No merit in this dung heap whatsoever, yet number two (appropriately) rolled off the production line two years later...