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Well this year has been some bullshit, hasn’t it? As I post this review, it seems the whole world is shut down because of the Coronavirus. But let’s turn this negative into a positive! If it weren’t for the fact that I was locked down at home, I would probably have lots of excuses to never finish this review! …hooraaaaaaay…? Also, I should probably work out a better plan for how to do these reviews in the future. I usually watch as many movies as I can during my holiday vacation and then start writing a review, but now I just keep pushing back the review because I haven’t seen this movie yet, and now this movie is coming to Redbox so I have to wait for that. I finally had to put my foot down and say, “77 is enough damned movies! WRITE THE REVIEW!!” Well I did, so now Me can stop yelling at me. Here are my reviews for:
THE FILMS OF 2019
Escape rooms are popular, so it made sense that they might eventually turn into a horror movie. I turned my nose up at it for a while because it seemed to be just trying to take advantage of a new trend for a quick buck. …Well, it probably is, but it was a solid enough horror movie. Sure, the movie never really lives up to the cleverness of its concept, but it entertains. It is disappointing that the two least likeable people to me are the ones that survive in the room the longest making it so I have to spend longer with the stoner and the stock broker jerk that is somehow super successful and yet still inspired to do this escape room by only $10,000. It’s also a little silly that they decide they’re going to take the fight to the giant, shadowy murder corporation as if two people are going to be able to pull that off, but so many horror movies can be silly when you analyze them too much. I say Escape Room is decent enough for a watch.
When a trailer for John Wick 3 played before I started watching Replicas, I assumed it was essentially the studio saying, “Hey, Keanu Reeves does GOOD movies too! …Now here’s Replicas.” And that was pretty much accurate. I didn’t hate the movie, but I probably liked it better the first time I saw most things from this movie in so many other movies. The guy that’s trying to play God and perfect a way to transfer human consciousness is driving with his family in the rain Doctor Strange style. Yeah, they all die and he transfers their consciousness. Sorry for the spoiler. They do swerve a little because I’m sure everyone was assuming that the clones would be evil without the soul that Keanu doesn’t believe in, but instead the clones are just a little bit off but otherwise fine and the conflict comes from the government. And so the moral of the story is the soul is not real and pretty much there must be no God either because Keanu plays God and pretty much lives happily ever after for the things he did. You can skip this movie.
I was never a big fan of Unbreakable as it seemed others were. I did enjoy Split, but had no real feelings when it turned out that Split was happening in the Unbreakaverse that Shamylan was creating. And then Glass came out. And it was fine. At least for most of the movie. The ending was a weird decision. But the rest of the movie was interesting and enjoyable enough. I particularly liked the use of color for the 3 characters and their families (green for Willis, purple for Jackson, and yellow for McAvoy), but an interesting use of color doesn’t really fix a movie. I would say if you saw and enjoyed Unbreakable and Split, you might as well just finish it up. If not, you’re not gonna miss much.
THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART
It’s still just downright silly that these movies are as good as they are. They made a movie about LEGO! This should be the same quality as…well, as the LEGO Ninjago movie! But it’s not. Instead, it’s legit funny and probably every bit as enjoyable to adults as it is to children. It’s breaks genre as much as it breaks the fourth wall and makes meta jokes, like the song between the Queen and Batman, and the entire Rex Dangervest character. The story also has some surprises I didn’t see coming, and the biggest twist I didn’t see coming was that it would actually be pretty touching, especially to someone like myself who did have an older sibling. But I never played with her because she was lame and didn’t like cool things like LEGO. I wasn’t trying to play with her Ace of Base album. The cast remains great, probably mostly on Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks, but there really wasn’t a weak link there. And visually it’s as beautiful as you could possibly make a movie out of LEGO. It seems like it would be a limitation, but it winds up being more visually appealing than the greater majority of animated movies. Guess I have to make the joke: Everything is still awesome. That’s probably in most of the reviews for this movie, isn’t it…?
The Prodigy is essentially Child’s Play but the kid is alive. Serial killer gunned down by cops jumps his soul into a kid because that is a slightly better option than a doll. This is apparently something ghosts can do and they’ll stay there unless their unfinished business in life is concluded in time. And so this movie becomes the story about how a mother’s love will make her stupid. She loves the kid so much and tells him she would love him no matter what, which I understand is the kind of thing moms are supposed to say, but really there should be a few things they can do to make you stop loving them. I stopped liking this kid when he killed a dog. But this mom finds out that the ghost will probably be appeased by killing his last victim that got away, so she decides she should help him finish that. But will it really appease him though? Is a serial killer’s work ever really finished? If this one was killed, he would probably just want another. I feel no remorse for this family after this, so the stakes were fairly low for me. It’s not a terrible movie, but it’s real samesy and doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. It’s skippable, but it’s fine.
HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U
Both of the Happy Death Day movies are far more enjoyable than was necessary. The first movie was horror Groundhogs Day, and 2U adds in some Back to the Future into the mix, making it a little less horror and a little more science-fiction and comedy. The first movie also got a lot of extra credit for how bad I expected it to be and blowing those expectations out of the water. 2U doesn’t have that surprise factor going for it, but it’s still a solidly enjoyable watch.
ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL
I had never seen the anime that this movie was based on so I didn’t really know what to expect, but it turned out pretty solid. There wasn’t much going on in the story for me, but the visuals were all really cool, the fights were very entertaining, and the acting was pretty great. I have no idea how it compares to the anime, but the people seem to have reviewed it pretty high so I assume it went better than Ghost in the Shell did. It’s worth a watch.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD
About as solid an animated movie as a non-Disney or Pixar studio can produce. I don’t recall feeling strongly one way or the other about the first How to Train Your Dragon movie, and I don’t even think I saw the second one, but I assume the third was a really good conclusion to the series. It’s an enjoyable movie with a very sweet ending and Toothless is very cute. What more do you need?
FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY
I was very surprised to see a movie backed by the WWE was as enjoyable at this one was. Not simply because it’s associated with the WWE was I surprised because I actually do enjoy the WWE, but they don’t have a good track record in making movies from what I’ve seen. I’m also not a particularly big fan of Paige (the wrestler that this movie is based on) but they made it work with a funny script and a great cast with people like Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Vince Vaughn, Stephen Merchant, and Dwayne Johnson. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a wrestling fan, and probably enjoyable even if you’re not.
It seems the audience was really torn on Captain Marvel, but I don’t really know why. I thoroughly enjoyed myself with the movie. Sure, it wasn’t the greatest of Marvel movies, but most of the character origin movies are middle of the road with them. But the movie is fun, has some good action and funny moments we expect from Marvel movies, and the cast is great. I just like a bad-ass lady character. Also there’s a cat, and that’s a plus. Even though the “Just a Girl” scene is a little silly when analyzed afterwards, I still recommend the movie.
I expected to be underwhelmed by Wonder Park, but instead I was just whelmed. It really doesn’t have much to offer adults being forced to watch it with their kids, but kids are typically satisfied that there are colorful and cute things and occasionally some of them get bonked on the head, so I’m sure they’ll be happy with the movie. A Pixar movie would be compelling to both, but this isn’t Pixar. It also doesn’t really stand up to analysis because the whole movie is driven by the fact that the main character loses her imagination because her mom gets sick, not because she died. It would be predictable, but you need to kill that mom to really put the girl down in the dumps, but this movie didn’t have the balls to do that. Pixar would’ve killed that mom.
I constantly feel left out while watching Jordan Peele movies. I feel like I’m missing something. Everyone tells me how great these movies are. Then I watch them and I think they’re just fine. I get that they’re horror movies with a message and that’s great, but that just means that the story is a little bit elevated from typical horror movie fare but the rest of the movie is just pretty standard. I would give credit to the cast though. Pretty much everybody had to play two roles that were very distinct from one another. I also appreciate that two of the 4 main characters were from Black Panther. But while I appreciated Winston Duke as the lame dad, Lupita’s evil voice was really tedious. And she had to talk A LOT in that voice. I also appreciate that huge ass Mbaku was mostly ineffective in dangerous situations, but tiny Lupita was the powerhouse. It was a nice swerve. Otherwise, you could do much worse than Us for a horror outing, but I need people to stop talking about these movies as if they completely changed cinema.
I guess we might as well just get used to the fact that every animated movie is going to get a live-action remake soon enough. It kind of takes most of the magic out of the experience, but I guess I’m not terribly offended by it. If Dumbo live-action is garbage, Dumbo cartoon still exists. Live-action wasn’t garbage, but I still don’t know that it needed to exist. It has a little bit of Tim Burton’s visual flair to it, but it was a lot more toned down than usual. The cast was pretty good, but I did find Michael Keaton’s character a little trying on my nerves. Dumbo was ridiculously cute though, and that’s probably where you should spend most of your focus in a movie named Dumbo. Then just throw some Eva Green in there and tell her to be hot as if she has much choice in the matter and your movie will be thoroughly fine. You can skip it, but it won’t hurt to watch either.
As a life-long Marvel>DC guy, I find that I don’t mind that DC is finally starting to make enjoyable movies. Wonder Woman was 2/3 great, Aquaman was solid, and now Shazam is a thoroughly enjoyable time. Yes, Marvel still thoroughly trounces them in quality, but it’s a good sign that they’re beginning to hone in on a working formula. And that usually means that their movies tend to be better as they get further away from dark and sad. Shazam is about as far as you can get from dark and sad, even for a movie about orphans. It’s funny and well-acted and isn’t afraid to break the fourth wall with a “Zaptain America” joke. And it introduces the cinematic universe to a big DC character that I hope we get more of in the future. The biggest flaw in this movie is the character saying that Shazam has “bullet immunity.” That annoys me so much! What’s wrong with bulletproof?
First of all, I’m dropping my opinion of this movie 20 points for the spelling. Even though I know it’s spelled wrong, I never remember which parts are wrong and I had a terrible time looking up this movie just now. Also, it’s not very good. It’s not bad, but the original movie was better, and if you’re going to remake a movie the onus is on you to improve on it or it makes you pointless. I did appreciate that they made some changes in how things happened. I didn’t prefer the changes, but without them I would’ve been bored AND know everything that was going to happen. Visually it was fine and there was one particularly brutal foot stabbing scene that was well done and hard to watch, but ultimately the movie is acceptable, but more skippable than anything.
I’ve never been a particularly big fan of the Hellboy comics or the previous Hellboy movies, yet I keep watching them for some reason. At least the first two movies had the weirdness of Guillermo Del Toro in their designs. I guess this one’s biggest selling point is Milla Jovovich…at least when she stops looking like a corpse midway through. Most of the movie is carried by David Harbour, who I love as Hopper but in this he’s…acceptable…maybe…? It’s not that he does a bad job, but most of the lines he delivers fall flat (probably the writer’s fault more than his) and he never really looks right in the makeup. He just looks kind of dumb and confused most of the time, or maybe like his nose is clogged. Kudos to him for the shape he got into though, but I’m not enjoying the movie more because he got a personal trainer for it. And speaking of looking bad, how about that Kitty Man? I assume that was supposed to look badass or something, but it fell pretty short. I don’t think there’s really much reason to watch this movie. Watch Stranger Things instead.
THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA
I did a video review of this movie that you can watch if you want more details, but suffice to say my biggest takeaway was that Llorona sounds like a female doctor that studies Urine. It felt shoe-horned into the Conjuring universe, it was mostly just jump scares, and the ghost lady was shown for too long and too often to keep her mysterious and spooky. She wasn’t even altogether ooky. …Oh wait… My review for Addam’s Family comes later on. Anyway, the Curse of La Llorona is fine, but skippable. Instead of watching this movie, just watch my video review instead. 12 times if you’re trying to kill the same amount of time.
I know I make this joke a lot when it comes to Marvel movies, but do I really even need to write a review for this? Alright, fine! Let’s continue to act like this is a real job and that I have any obligation to do it correctly! This was the most brilliant, fan-servicey movie that ever serviced fans. And guess what? I’m a fan! And I was serviced by this movie. Many times over. And many more times still to come. I’m in a dedicated relationship with this movie and we have to keep the love alive by having regular date nights together. The time-travel in the movie lets them wrap up this saga of the MCU by traipsing through the MCU itself, reminding us of the things we loved like a montage with purpose. It was beautiful. I only had one or two gripes about the entire movie. Some people got really hung up on the lady Avengers Assemble moment. Reading that afterwards, I kinda get it. It doesn’t make sense that all the ladies were just in the same place for no reason and if any boys were going to help on their push they weren’t allowed. But that was afterwards. During the watching of that scene, I thought it was badass because I wasn’t analyzing it. My first problem was when Wong says, “You wanted more?” because yes, I did! You had ALMOST everyone that was important to the MCU in this, but couldn’t we have done better than almost? Get Coulson in a flashback, throw in some Lady Sif, the cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Defenders and the Punisher from Netflix! Just throw them in front of a green screen, have them walk through the portal and then you can lose them in the crowd. The only other complaint was that the movie gave us blue balls (or green balls) building up the Hulk with his inability to transform in Infinity War and we never got a payoff. He was just already Hulk and never even really had a badass smash moment. But those are two minor gripes about an otherwise perfect movie. Maybe not the perfect movie for everyone, but certainly for me.
I would say I didn’t hate The Intruder too much, but I liked it a lot more in the 40 other times I saw movies like it. Home invasion, family fights to survive. They even have the classic “it’s an old house” response to hearing creaking because no one in a horror movie has ever seen a horror movie before. The movie also feels very NRA-ey. The main character hates guns because his brother was killed by one or something, but the movie also feels like it’s trying to make a point about how much easier this whole thing would’ve been if he had a gun to protect himself instead. And of course he must overcome his fear of guns to triumph…and then he shoots an injured, unarmed man lying on the floor even though he didn’t really have to. Sure, the dude was insane and murderey and rapey, but he was subdued. Didn’t make the main character feel super heroic. One redeeming quality of the movie was Dennis Quaid. He did a very good job jumping between kindly but weird old man and evil. Got ripped for the role too. But really, there’s not too much substance or thrills to be had here.
EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE
I enjoyed this movie, but not enough to type the name of it more than I have to. TLDR on that thing! But I did think it was a pretty interesting movie. I’ve never been terribly into true crime beyond listening to the My Favorite Murder podcast, but the Ted Bundy story is pretty interesting anyway, and the movie told it well. I especially liked that through most of the movie, I couldn’t tell whose side it was on. It didn’t really show Ted doing anything so I was beginning to wonder if they were trying to remain impartial or maybe even suggesting that he was innocent, but it was just saving that for the end. I thought the entire cast was fantastic, most specifically Zac Effron in his portrayal of Bundy. I mean, this is the pretty boy from High School Musical, right? And now he’s playing one of the biggest serial killers ever and doing a bang up job of it. And even more importantly than him, James Hetfield of Metallica was in this movie! And they had a Metallica song or two in there! It was impossible for me not to enjoy.
POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU
I think Pokémon Detective Pikachu (or Dick Pik, as I called it) is one of the better video game movies to date. Granted, that’s not really saying much, but it was a very enjoyable watch, especially to a life-long Pokémon fan like myself. Even in the basic watching of the movie, I felt like I had to pay so much more attention to everything in the frame because each scene is littered with so many Pokémon references. Normally, I wouldn’t pay much attention to the random birds hanging out in the background, but this time they weren’t just pigeons, they were Pidgeys. It made me wonder (though certainly not enough to do the research myself) how many Pokémon made it into the film in one way or another. And the greater majority of the Pokémon looked great in their somewhat realistic rendering, particularly Psyduck and Pikachu, who were ridiculously cute. And my favorite Pokémon (Charizard) had a nice, badass moment in there too. I haven’t really mentioned the story because that part is just pretty good and not spectacular, but for a Pokémon fan like me, this is a must see. Everyone else will probably have a good time as well.
Far from a new concept of a movie, The Hustle is about two lady conmen who start to compete with each other. So it’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with vaginas. But not dirty rotten vaginas; both the stars seem lovely. And they work well together. I would like seeing them in something else together. Not knowing this was a remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels because they changed the title, I was mostly put off by the fact that it was almost exactly the same movie. That would be better if I was expecting it. It would also be better if the movie were better. I didn’t hate it, but it never got much more than mildly amusing.
I enjoyed Tolkien, but got the feeling like I may have enjoyed it more if I were a bigger fan of Tolkien or the Silmarillion than I am. From what I was able to pick out, I really enjoyed how they slipped in Lord of the Rings imagery into stuff, particularly in the war scenes with things that looked like Ring Wraiths or the Balrog. I did get the joke about how “it shouldn’t take 6 hours to tell a story about a magic ring.” That was obvious enough for me. But I thought the performances were really solid, it was an interesting telling of Tolkien’s story, and it was artfully delivered. A solid movie, particularly for Tolkien fans.
No, I don’t know why I watched this either. Ever wanted to watch Bring It On but instead of young, fit women it’s grandparents? …No, neither did I. But I watched Poms anyway. But it was…fine, I guess. It wasn’t funny at any point that I recall, but I’m pretty sure they were going for that, so I guess that qualifies as a failing. Old people cheerleading probably would go viral, but probably more in a Tosh.O mocking way and not for their skill and bravery. I mean, they weren’t even good. Their big move was just lifting her hands rapidly, because anything more exciting would’ve taken a hip out. I guess the biggest thing this movie had going for it with me was that Diane Keaton reminded me of my mom. Kind of looked like her, and all of this stuff is exactly what I would expect my mom to do. And I know I took points away from Wonder Park for not having the balls to go with the sad ending, but I kind of resented it here. There’s not much reason to watch this movie.
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM
John Wick 3 still doesn’t benefit from the surprise of the first movie, but it makes up with it with some over the top and brutal action set pieces. They essentially just sat down in a writer’s room and said, “What’s the most ridiculous way John Wick can kill someone? Let’s do that!” He makes a horse kick someone to death, for crying out loud! But that’s the kind of thing I came to see! If I wanted realism, I wouldn’t go see a movie based on the premise that apparently 90% of people in New York City are professional hitmen. When John Wick gets a price on his head, damn near everyone in town is on it. And New York’s traffic problems are gonna get a lot better now that Wick has killed pretty much all of them. I think it was basically just him and Tina Fey living in New York after this movie finished. And after the death of the dog that set the first movie into motion, it was nice to see that this movie allows the dogs to get their revenge. Overall, this movie is a little ridiculous and a little light on story, but if you were expecting anything else you need to ask who was really being ridiculous there.
I’m not terribly interested in the Disney live-action remakes. I saw Beauty and the Beast mostly because of Emma Watson. I guess I watched Aladdin because the Pink Ranger was playing Jasmine? Nah, it was probably because it was free to watch on a plane and the exact run time of my flight. And it was everything I hoped it would be: exactly long enough to get me from Vegas to Seattle. Beyond that, it was fine as most of the remakes are. They’re cool, but really pale in comparison to the cartoon version. I don’t know how impressive your CG animation or acting needs to be to surpass how impressive it is to make a movie of the quality of the hand-drawn movies, but these remakes haven’t found it yet. But they get to probably make a bunch of cash without really writing a new story, so they’re going to keep happening. The big thing anyone was really talking about was how Will Smith would compare to Robin Williams. Smith did fine as Genie, but I’m sure he (and everyone else) knew better than to ever think you could surpass or even match Williams. Smith is about as good as you’re going to do. So live-action Aladdin is fine, but cartoon Aladdin is better. No surprise here.
I watched Brightburn as a potential review for my October Horrorthon this year, but it didn’t make the cut because it was neither good nor bad enough to warrant a full review. I did enjoy the movie, I just didn’t have that much to say. It’s essentially a movie asking what would happen if Superman happened to be an actual shitty little kid. He’d probably go power mad and start brutally murdering anyone he was mildly peeved with because who could stop him? They even have a nice gag at the end implying that other superheroes have villainous counterparts around the world, which was a nice touch. But the movie is a cool premise with some very well done gore and it’s pretty fun to watch. I recommend it.
GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS
The only rule I had when thinking of a review of Godzilla: King of Monsters is that if I wanted to make any Stranger Things references, I would limit them to eleven. …That was actually the only one I had. There’s not a terribly great story to this movie, but why would you even expect that? Have Godzilla movies ever historically had a great story? Giant monsters destroy stuff. Sometimes other giant monsters stop them. They’ve started adding a little story to these movies, but I don’t really require that. I would say the biggest disappointment for me was that they decided to hold off on bringing Kong into the fold. I was really hoping for the big Avengers-style showdown with Godzilla, Kong, and Mothra against Ghidorah, Rodan, and whatever other kaiju. Maybe that mammoth thing they showed. The death blow on Ghidorah wasn’t nearly as satisfying as when Godzilla killed the Muto in the previous movie, but it was a fun enough experience. And the cover of “Godzilla” by the Blue Oyster Cult at the end was pretty rad. I recommend this movie.
I never really felt like the Harland Williams comedy from 1997 really needed a sequel, but they took this one off in such a different direction I daresay they improved on the original. And they made it seem like it was a completely unrelated movie and about Elton John. And I also daresay that I enjoyed this more than I did Bohemian Rhapsody. I like Queen’s music more than Elton John’s, but not drastically more that it would make the difference, and Rocketman had a much more imaginative and interesting way to portray the story it was telling. I have no real idea (or interest for that matter) in how well it accurately portrayed the artist’s life, but I can at least say it pulled no punches and didn’t always make Elton look like he was the best guy. But it was an entertaining watch with great music. I highly recommend it.
I think I watched Ma around my October Horrorthon, but it didn’t make the cut because it was just meh. I couldn’t think of anything much good or bad to say about it. I suppose it’s fine, but it’s not particularly scary, which should probably be considered a hindrance when it comes to a horror movie. That’s like your one big thing! But Octavia Spencer did a pretty solid job in the movie, so it has that going for it. Not really enough for me to give it a recommendation though.
This is not what I was hoping for when I went to see an X-Men DP movie. Those initials mean something else too… I was really hoping Dark Phoenix could nail this one. Obviously the X-Men movies have been on the decline recently, and since the MCU movies have come around they’ve really raised the bar for other comic book movies. But Dark Phoenix is one of the most memorable arcs in comic books, and this is going to be the last X-Men movie before they are folded into the MCU eventually, so certainly they want to knock this one out of the park, right? Well I’m sure they wanted that, but they didn’t do that. It was just a series of strange choices resulting in a deflating end of a generation. Like why kill Mystique? Why rename the school after Jean? Are they the Grey-Men now? Why can Storm control space weather? But X-Men are where they belong in the hands of the MCU now, so we can assume they have a bright future. It’s just disappointing that a generally solid X-Men franchise had to go out like this.
THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2
I was probably only willing to give these Secret Life of Pets movies a chanced based on Patton Oswalt and Jenny Slate. They’re still the best thing about these movies, but the movies are also charming and pleasant enough kid movies that I can’t really hate on them. Perfectly acceptable for adults, and kids are dumb so they’ll like anything. And that giant tiger Hu is really cute. It’s worth watching if you have kids.
MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL
Men in Black: International is certainly the worst of the Men in Black movies as far as I remember them, but that’s not to say it’s a terrible movie. It’s fine, but I think people were relatively comfortable with how the Men in Black series ended, so if you’re going to add to it, you should do your best to make it worthwhile. And maybe they did do their best, but it still didn’t work out enough to be worth it. They got a solid cast, and Hemsworth and Thompson are great together, but if that’s what’s driving you, you should just watch Thor: Ragnarok instead. They’re together and they’re great and also the rest of the movie is great. In Men in Black, they do their best, but the movie doesn’t give them too much to work with. You can skip it, but if you want to complete the series, it isn’t the worst thing you could watch.
It’s entirely possible that this is the first Shaft movie I’ve ever seen. And also entirely possible it will be the last. It wasn’t terrible, but I certainly didn’t see anything here that made me feel like I gotta get me more of that. It’s just a fish out of water with new Shaft being a nerdy tech guy that needs to discover his inner Shaft-ness by teaming up with his dad, who is old school Shaft-ness and probably more than a little outdated. I would say that what really makes this movie watchable is Samuel L. Jackson. I feel like he’s similar to the Rock in that no matter what quality of movie he’s in, he is entirely enjoyable and elevates the movie around him. They can still show up in bad movies, but they’re better off because of their presence in them. But there are better ways to see Sam Jackson, so I’d say you’re fine without this movie.
THE DEAD DON’T DIE
I was so excited to see the Dead Don’t Die when I first heard about it. My excitement was based mostly on Bill Murray, but the rest of the cast and the movie itself looked like it could be really good and hilarious too. Boy was I ever let down. I just don’t know what to make of this movie. How do you get Bill Murray in a movie and wind up with something so dry and devoid of laughter? It’s very oddly presented. It’s very slow, most of the characters are really weird and/or pointless to the movie in general, and they completely neglect to pay off things that they waste so much time with. Selena Gomez shows up with two other characters and they just die off camera and have no effect on the movie. They also have 3 kids in a mental asylum that we spend a lot of time with and we never see what becomes of them. They also keep breaking the fourth wall and talking about the theme song and the director, but never say anything funny about them. And then there are just aliens for no reason. The movie has a point and a comment to make on consumerism, but instead of folding it into the movie subtly they just have Tom Waits say it in a monologue. They got a ridiculous cast for this movie, but if you can’t give them anything to work with, what’s the point? This movie was a huge let down for me.
It’s no secret that Adam Sandler movies have dropped in quality over the years. Either that or I just really enjoyed them when I was much younger and dumber and they’ve maintained the same level while I’ve outgrown them. Whatever the truth of that matter is, it’s resulted in me mostly not paying his movies much mind recently. Well Murder Mystery was on Netflix and I’m already paying for that, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to watch it. And it didn’t. That’s certainly not saying the movie is great, but it was fine. It wasn’t hilarious, but it had a few moments that were funny enough. And Sandler and Aniston are good together, so that helps. You can certainly find better written mystery movies than this one, but it’s plot was twisty enough for what it was trying for. You could do much worse.
TOY STORY 4
It often surprises people when I say I don’t really love the Toy Story movies. Most everyone else does, but for whatever reason they don’t connect with me on the same level. Which is not to say I hate them; I just don’t love them as much as the rest of the world. It’s roughly the same situation here. I felt like Toy Story 3 was a solid way for the franchise to end, so I was skeptical when they made another, but it wound up being also a solid way to end the franchise. They had some funny running gags like Buzz’s inner voice thing, I found Forky really annoying for a while but warmed up to him, and they had some real feels in the movie too, like Gabby Gabby and the little girl that wasn’t interested in her, but that worked out very nicely later on. I was also very shocked that they decided to break up the gang, but it seemed to work out well for everyone. I think Toy Story 4 was a good movie, but now that they’ve accomplished 2 solid ways to end the series back to back, I hope they quit while they’re ahead. Any more and it’s going to start diluting things.
I’ve already done a video review for this movie if you want all my thoughts on it, but suffice to say I thought was fine. I even said I preferred it to the original Child’s Play based mostly on the fact that it was visually improved and they had more creative murders, and the fact that I didn’t see the original until right after I watched this one so I had no nostalgia to boost it up. The one big failure of this movie was that Chucky himself looks much worse than the original, but otherwise this was a perfectly fine horror movie.
ANNABELLE COMES HOME
I remember seeing Annabelle Comes Home, but I’m struggling to remember much more than that. I remember liking it just fine, but not being overly impressed by it. As far as Conjuring movies go, it’s better that La Llorona and benefits from the fact that it actually felt like it fit into the Conjuring universe with more than a character briefly mentioning something from the universe. As far as a solid but obviously forgettable horror movie goes, this one’s pretty okay. …I think…
I liked the idea of Yesterday much more than I liked the movie, though I did enjoy the movie well enough. It’s just that all it’s troubles didn’t seem so far away. I’ve had thoughts that could lead to this movie in the past. I sometimes would wonder what I would do if I went back in time but remembered everything and thought that I could potentially write every popular song or movie that hadn’t come out yet and go down as one of the greatest creators of the time. This is essentially that but the guy gets hit by a car and wakes up to a world where no one had ever heard of the Beatles. It’s a cool premise, but they could’ve gone a bit further with the whole thing, maybe having Paul and Ringo show up, but maybe they wouldn’t do the movie. I also wish they had explained what connection there was to all the other things that went missing when he woke up (Coca Cola, cigarettes, Harry Potter, the band Oasis). They were gone too, but I was lost. Did those things have anything to do with the Beatles? I’m pretty sure at least cigarettes existed before the Beatles, and if not, I doubt they were inspired by the Beatles. I also kept finding myself annoyed at the main character because he has this super cute manager lady who could not have been more obvious about wanting him, but he just friend zones her? She’s super cute and loves him and believes in his music from the start, and it’s not like he’s batting off tail left and right, so what’s the deal, man? But really Yesterday is a perfectly good movie with a strong premise, but isn’t substantial enough to survive without the Beatles songs keeping you interested.
SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME
Now, this was a Marvel movie so it’s pretty obvious that I liked it, but I would say that I was a little disappointed with Spider-Man: Far From Home. There really wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the movie, but I couldn’t figure out why I was underwhelmed for a while afterwards. But then it kind of struck me: this movie was following up Avengers Endgame. How do you even do that? Best you can do is push that out of your mind and just make the movie you want to make. With some separation, this was a great Spider-Man movie. Still one of the better ones, still better than both Garfield ones and at least one McGuire one, but probably not as good as the first Holland one. Maybe one of the things that made it a little less surprising to me was that I found that some people were surprised to see Gyllenhaal go bad guy, but I was well aware of what Mysterio was. Neither of his big reveals were that much of a shock to me, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well his abilities worked within the MCU without seeming silly.
I don’t know what to say about this Ari Aster’s movies. I just don’t like them. They’re too weird and not scary enough for my taste. Unsettling has always been the word I used to describe Hereditary, and it fits with Midsommar as well. It’s weird and unsettling and entirely watchable, but not really my cup of tea. There was some pretty well-done gore in it, but not very much. It was more about the atmosphere it was creating. If Hereditary was your jam, then Midsommar will work for you as well. Everyone else can probably skip.
They definitely thought of the name for the movie Stuber and then wrote a movie to fit it, didn’t they? Maybe someone stuttered when saying Uber and then there was a movie. It’s not as bad as that makes it seem, but the movie mostly survives on the chemistry between Bautista and Nanjiani, and even still never really surpasses mildly amusing. I don’t recall being bored watching it, but I also don’t recall actually laughing. And I guess for a comedy, that’s not really a win. You can skip it.
I feel like I kept not paying attention to this movie because of the title. Like I kept thinking, “I have no interest in seeing that movie about earthworms, but I kinda wanna see that alligator movie Sam Raimi produced.” I don’t know if Crawl means something when relating to alligators, but it doesn’t to me. I think it was just because they were stuck in a crawlspace, but it’s not like claustrophobia was their biggest concern. Anyway, that’s my review of their title. 4/10. Do not recommend. The movie itself was pretty enjoyable though, so at least they have that going for them. And in some ways, that’s even more important. I feel like the stakes of the movie were a little low for me because I didn’t really care about the main character or her dad. I mean, if you drive into the middle of a hurricane, I’m not gonna lose any sleep over your deaths. However, if you kill that dog, we gonna scrap, movie. But the movie and I did not scrap. Instead, it was a pretty tense and enjoyable thriller throughout. Maybe it ended a little abruptly for me, but if you’re a thriller and you ran out of thrills and couldn’t think of a good way to wrap it up, just let it be over and move on. I’ll recommend this movie.
The Farewell isn’t generally the type of movie I go for. Unless that farewell is something you say to a villain before you blow him up with C4. Or unless those Asian people are going to be fighting each other with kung fu. But I watched it anyway, and actually enjoyed it a lot. It had a lot of charming moments and some sad moments and was also pretty interesting to find out about this formerly unknown to me aspect of their culture. A lot of the performances were really great as well. I didn’t expect Awkwafina to be able to act as well as she did, especially since she insists on going by “Awkwafina.” Also, the lady that played the grandmother was great. I was also pleasantly surprised by the ending and how it didn’t go the way I expected it to. Very good movie.
THE LION KING
Okay Disney, now you’ve gone too far. You’re doing live-action remakes where probably next to nothing in the movie but the backgrounds are live-action? What is the point? Are you doing Cars live-action next? It’s certainly not a terrible movie and it’s visually pretty great, but the only reason this movie could qualify as good is that it reminds me of the original Lion King, and that movie still exists last I checked so I could just watch my DVD of that. It feels pretty much exactly the same anyway. Any lines they may have changed they probably changed for the worse. Maybe the exception being the lines probably improvised by John Oliver, Seth Rogen, and Billy Eichner. The rest of the cast did fine, I suppose. I like Donald Glover, but if I were him, I wouldn’t have taken the role of Simba. He’s a decent enough singer in his solo song, but his weaknesses as a singer are on display when doing a duet with Beyoncé. Overall, I recommend this movie. But I recommend the original, cartoon one. And I think this one was pretty pointless, unless you can’t find the other one somehow.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
In the early part of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, I found myself getting angry. Not at the movie, but just at the fact that Margot Robbie has no right to be that gorgeous. The movie was fantastic. I can’t really bring myself to say this is Tarantino’s best movie, but I would have to spend a lot more time than I’m willing trying to figure out which of his movies is my favorite. I’d probably wind up at the first Kill Bill or Pulp Fiction…but then there’s Django too…NO! I’m not doing it! Obviously Tarantino has a knack for making an interesting movie. I was surprised at how little violence there was in this one given his track record, but the violence that did happen was very satisfying. It’s really just a love letter to Hollywood. And of course, as it’s a love letter, you would probably not include anything horrible in the history of it, which is why the twist at the end makes it so much better. I spent the whole movie enjoying looking at Margot Robbie, but feeling very tense knowing how her story was meant to end up. Especially since we start seeing the Manson Family and visiting Spahn Ranch. It’s a Tarantino movie, so you can expect the cast to be excellent as well, and I loved picking out the more surprising appearances, like all the daughters he cast (Uma Thurman’s daughter, Bruce Willis’ daughter, Kevin Smith’s daughter). If there was one thing I felt like I left wanting out of this movie, it was more information about Brad Pitt’s wife. People mention that he killed his wife, but it doesn’t really seem like something his character would’ve done. I wish we got more information about what really happened there. But that’s a minor issue for an awesome movie. Check it out.
FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW
Yup. They’re still making these movies. I’m not entirely surprised as I’m sure they just print money, but they never seem to get any better. They’re just ridiculous action followed by the same, with the flimsiest of story to tie them together. That is usually my type of movie, but I’m not that into cars so the Fast and Furious movies don’t impress me too much. But I thought that Hobbs & Shaw might be more my cup of tea because the Rock and Statham do some great fight scenes, and have even done them in previous Fast and Furious movies. But for a movie whose draw is probably exclusively fight scenes, the ones in this movie just weren’t that impressive. It’s certainly over the top though. I mean, their enemy is a robot essentially. A very confused robot that calls himself Black Superman. Superman is an alien, not a robot. You’re Black Cyborg…which is just Cyborg. The cast is fun though, and they have some nice surprising cameos like Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Hart, and Roman Reigns, who got to do both of the wrestling moves he has in this movie. Hobbs & Shaw is fine and will probably please fans of the series, but the fights weren’t nearly enough for me.
DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD
I don’t really know why I watched this either. I guess it’s the same reason some people climb Mount Everest: because it’s there. And watching Dora is almost as daunting. Or at least that’s what I expected going in. It really wasn’t that bad, but it certainly wasn’t meant for a thirty-something guy who did not grow up with Dora the Explorer. Especially one who generally dislikes people that are too cheerful, like Dora is to a sickening degree. They had a couple good jokes, like people reacting to her looking into the camera and asking the audience a question, but they went back to that joke like 3 times in 10 minutes and beat it into the ground. I also really like Michael Pena, but he wasn’t around enough to make me enjoy the movie. The people that might have interest in this type of movie know who they are and everyone else can skip it.
It’s like a mob movie, but they’re ladies instead! There’s the pitch for the movie. The story is pretty standard for what that pitch would indicate too. Just mob stuff, but they’re ladies so some mob people don’t like it, but they overcome ‘cause they strong ladies. The best I could say about this is that the 3 leads do a pretty good job, and that’s especially impressive from McCarthy and Haddish because I don’t really know them for dramatic acting, but I’m sure they could find a more interesting script to bring that to someday. Not a bad movie, but not really worth hunting down either.
SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK
I don’t recall having any connection to these books growing up. I never really enjoyed reading, but this movie tells me that you don’t read these books, but they read you. I feel like that sentence feels like it makes sense until you scrutinize it more. I’m not really sure who the audience is for this movie though. It’s maybe too scary for kids, but certainly not scary enough for adults. The creature designs are pretty creepy and well done as you would expect in a movie that involves Guillermo del Toro, but they’re a somewhat watered down awful from his other creatures. I also felt that the ending was a little weak and unsatisfying. If you’re making a movie like this, either kill everyone or bring the friends back at the end. I guess the movie is good enough for a watch just out of curiosity, but certainly not a must see.
THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON
Generally speaking, I find Shia LaBeouf exhausting. Most of his antics later in life make me think he’s got his head so far up his ass because he’s such an artist that I just can’t bother with him. So when I heard about Peanut Butter Falcon, I saw this artsy artist in an arthouse indie movie and said no thank you. But my friend Jordan raved about it so, though I am not prone to taking his recommendations because I don’t respect his opinions, I decided to give it a shot. It actually worked out fairly well for me this time. It’s a pleasant story and well-executed. I wasn’t in love with the movie the way Jordan seemed to be, but there was nothing not to like about the movie. The cast was great even though I don’t really like Shia and Dakota Johnson reminds me of those other movies that I sat through. But on the other hand, Jake Roberts and Mick Foley were in it. So I guess I’ll say that I totally recommend this movie.
THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE 2
I was concerned going into the Angry Birds sequel that I would be confused because I didn’t see the first one. That was going to be a joke at first, but it turns out it actually did reference the events of the first movie a pretty good amount and I didn’t know what it was talking about. Who knew that the Angry Birds Movie was going to have something the games they’re based on never really did: story? Not that it was a great story, but it had one. Most of the comedy in this movie was basically slapstick humor, and a lot of the jokes fell flat to me. I guess it takes that stuff from the games as well. But that stuff is all probably good enough for children, and I can’t imagine they intended this movie to be for anyone else. So this movie isn’t so bad if your kids want to watch it, but hopefully they won’t make you watch it with them.
I find myself getting really suspicious when I hear too much about a new comedy. Any movie in general, really. Too much build leads to too much let down, I find. But it will at least make me give the movie a chance to disappoint me, and I guess Good Boys didn’t really disappoint. It didn’t really impress either, but it was a solid coming of age comedy with some funny stuff and a good couple of solid laugh moments. I particularly enjoyed how thwarted the kids were by child-proof medicine caps. The cast was also pretty good. I’d say I recommend this movie, just not as extremely as it seemed to be recommended to me.
47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED
I’ve already forgotten most everything about 47 Meters Down, but I recall it being fairly interesting and pretty tense. Then they went and made a sequel for some reason that doesn’t really have anything to do with the first movie besides sharks. I don’t even think they spent very much time 47 meters under the surface. But this time they don’t have a cage and they’re in some old underwater ruins with sharks, so you’d think it’d be more tense, right? …Nah. It was pretty boring for a “thriller” with sharks. And I don’t know what they were really going for with the girl with the white bikini (none of the characters were important enough for me to remember their names). She’s the cause of all their troubles. It was her idea to go in the first place, she wouldn’t leave the fish alone that scared her and caused her to knock over a pillar, and she ruins their best chance to get out by stepping on her friends face to get to use the ascender first. She’s their friend and wasn’t necessarily a bad person, but I wasn’t sad to see her get killed finally. Either way, it’s a boring thriller, so that means it has nothing enough going for it that I think you should watch it.
READY OR NOT
I feel like Samara Weaving wants nothing more out of life than to be covered in fake blood. Like some kind of corn syrup fetish. She’s a pretty girl and a good actress with a famous father so I’m sure she can do whatever she wants, but I almost exclusively encounter her covered in blood. In this movie, she plays a lady trying to marry a guy with a weird family that made a pact with a demon to obey a box, and when it tells them to play hide and seek, it’s a deadly version. I don’t much appreciate the premises like this of just taking a wholesome kid game and making it deadly, but this movie seems to know what it is and leans into it to make it work. It’s a fun movie with good gore, so what more can you really ask for out of a horror movie? I recommend it.
ANGEL HAS FALLEN
As weird as I find it that they’re still making Fast and Furious movies, I’m even more shocked that they’re still making these movies. This is the third Fallen movie! And I don’t think any of them have been particularly good. This one is the same, but now the President has fallen, and since the President is Morgan Freeman and not our real President, that’s a bummer. But Mission Impossible-style, they decide it was probably the super loyal best friend of the President Gerard Butler on very flimsy speculation until the President wakes up and says, “Him? I’d suspect my wife of trying to kill me before that guy!” And then it’s a pretty standard and not spectacular action movie, but you probably want a little more spectacular in your action movie when your writing is so weak. Not a bad way to spend 2 hours, but there are better ways too.
IT CHAPTER TWO
I wrote a full review for this movie if you want the whole thing, but suffice to say I enjoyed it, but less so than the first chapter. The story was It, the visuals were as terrible as they were trying to be, both the old and new cast were great. …That’s it. I mean It. You should watch it. And now that this movie is done, I won’t have to use that It joke anymore.
I’m not entirely sure how this movie got as many accolades as it did. It’s okay, but it’s just a movie about a bunch of strippers that start conning people. I think it was even based on true events, so how much love can the writers truly get? And J’Lo got a lot of love too, but her performance was just good to me. Her stripping maybe deserves an award, but I don’t think they typically give out awards for hottest striptease. At least not Golden Globes, though she really does have a golden set of globes. Because let me tell you, if you aren’t into J’Lo in this movie, you must be Gay’Lo. But beyond that, I say this movie was fine. Story was fine, performances were fine, J’Lo was fine. But that’s it.
I tend to like a good space movie. Ad Astra reminded me in some ways of 2001: A Space Odyssey, though it probably wasn’t nearly as good as that. Made a lot more sense, though. But this was a very interesting movie and fun to watch. The space setting gives you a nice wide range of super soothing calm while in space and then tense excitement when stuff starts going bad, and this movie delivers that stuff very well. I really like what Brad Pitt did with his performance too. It was meant to be super low key because his character barely had a pulse and that level of calm made him such a good astronaut, but I imagine the minimalism of the performance won’t get it many accolades. I really enjoyed the movie though. Give it a watch.
RAMBO: LAST BLOOD
Going into this movie, my mom had told me that she had heard that the newest Rambo movie was “problematically Trump-y” and felt really racist. I don’t know that I got that from the movie. I mean, Mexican people were the bad guys in this movie, but it wasn’t ALL Mexican people being bad. And the Rambo movies have hit a lot of races up for the bad guys. They’ve done Asian, Middle Eastern, but they also started with white dudes as the bad guys. Unfortunately, the one with the white dude was the best one and they’ve gone downhill in quality pretty much ever since. The only thing that really improves is their gore, which is pretty top notch, even if it does damage the character a little. I mean, pinning a bad guy to a wall with arrows is one thing, but carving his chest and ripping out his heart with your bare hands? That’s a bit overkill. Like revenge stopped a little bit before that. But Last Blood is a decent enough action movie. Just don’t go in expecting to be too impressed.
Abominable was not exactly what I’d consider a new story. Someone finds something that the government is searching for but it’s cute so they try to get it home. It’s like E.T. or Monster Trucks; the two most popular and classic examples of the format. So innovation isn’t Abominable’s strong point, but everything else in the movie is so well done that it overcomes. It’s charming and at times even pretty funny, particularly the Wooping Snakes, which may have been my favorite thing in the movie. They became a running gag through the movie but timed them out so well that you kind of forget about them and then it happens again and feels brand new. Also, Everest the yeti is so adorable. He’s best giant puppers. The Asian violin music that’s a big part of the story is also excellent. I recommend this movie, especially if you have kids to entertain.
I’m not really sure why I decided to watch Judy. I was only tangentially ever informed about Judy Garland because my mom was obsessed with the Wizard of Oz. But I felt that the movie was a nice story and, more importantly, a very human look at someone that was always just such an icon to me viewed through the prism of my mom. I only knew her as Dorothy and Liza Minelli’s mom, but this movie takes you into her later life dealing with drug and money problems and intercutting it with memories of her difficult life in the early years that made her the way she was. But even more notable than the story of the movie is Renee Zellweger, who is scarcely recognizable as herself anymore in the role. Definitely a story and a performance worth watching, especially for fans of Garland.
I had heard that Joker was a fairly polarizing movie, but the response generally leaned towards positive. Happily, I found myself amongst the happier number. I loved this movie! I was concerned going into this movie about trying to add an origin story to Joker. The character has existed for 80 years and famously has not been given a definitive origin because who can get a straight answer from the Joker? Not even the Joker himself. And as I was watching the movie, I was beginning to get used to the fact that this story is the most common origin that we’ve seen shades of and I guess the mystery is just going to be gone and this will be it. And then they start adding things-like his relation to the Wayne family-that I was not a fan of. But it handles it so well for the same reason that Joker’s origin has always been in question: he’s an unreliable narrator. The movie is set up as if Arthur is telling this story to a psychiatrist and there’s no telling what (if anything) that we just watched was real. Also notable was the performances, most specifically Joaquin Phoenix who is amazing in the role. Best Joker ever? …I don’t know. That’s a tough one. Mark Hamill and Heath Ledger are so good. I’m just gonna call it a tie until someone puts a gun to my head. Robert De Niro was great casting as well, I assume in some reference to his role in King of Comedy, but I’ve never seen that so I can’t compare. I would say if I were to have criticism for the movie, it’s of the pacing. I felt myself getting bored in the early part of the movie and just hoping that they would get to the Jokerin’ already. It works out eventually as you need this slow build to the crescendo at the end, but I could also see people checking out if they weren’t invested enough. But I was, and I made it to the end and I loved it. I recommend this movie.
Modern day Will Smith takes on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. That’s basically what this movie is. Except they’re both super soldiers, I guess. The Fresh Prince had that, but modern day Will doesn’t. And I guess they’re only the best super soldiers around when it comes to fighting themselves, because somehow Clive Owen’s character who is not a super soldier was able to go toe to toe with them. The story isn’t anything special, but I guess the action was pretty solid most of the time to keep the movie fun, and the effect of young Will Smith worked pretty well. The performances are pretty good, but Will Smith is usually enjoyable and now there are at least two of him. It’s a solid enough action movie for me to recommend for some dumb fun.
THE ADDAMS FAMILY
I don’t really know why we’re still making Addams Family movies. They’re fine and they’re not hurting anybody, but I wonder if they’re still a draw like they may have once been. The original comic strips were probably big for a generation of people. For me, it was the Raul Julia movies. I enjoyed them, and they probably started my life-long crush on Christina Ricci that still remains to this day, but when this movie came out my old love for those movies didn’t drive me to make a trip to the theaters. I watched this on RedBox and thought it was fine, but definitely didn’t feel like I lost anything by not going to the theaters. It’s quirky and it’s well-animated, but it’s mostly just what you’d expect from an Addams Family movie. The cast is impressive, but I often wonder why we bother getting big name people to do voices in movies when we know them from their faces in movies and not from their voices. I guess I’d say this movie is fine to watch, but not really significant enough to need to watch.
JAY AND SILENT BOB REBOOT
I don’t really know how much weight you can put behind my opinion of a Kevin Smith movie because I tend to lean towards loving his movies. I even liked that walrus movie. In my defense, I wasn’t a big fan of Yoga Hosers, so I don’t automatically like everything he does. You can take all that into consideration when I say that I legitimately loved Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. I would say it’s hands down one of Smith’s best movies. I still give the lead to Dogma, but this one is up there. This isn’t his funniest movie, per se, but I feel like it might be the one with the most heart. And that’s not to say that there aren’t some great jokes in here, like the “Hall of Justice” joke and the Affleck “Martha” joke and the Jason Lee “Squeakuel” joke. All were laugh out loud moments for me. And they got a fantastic cast in this movie too, which Smith attributed to the fact that he almost died. I feel like Reboot would be a fantastic way to tie up the Askewniverse, though I do hope he’s not done with them quite yet.
MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL
Maleficent is probably my favorite Disney character (straight Disney, not including Star Wars and Marvel). I loved her in her original appearance in Sleeping Beauty, and I even very much enjoyed the first Maleficent movie that gave the character a little more depth than the “evil just because” character she had been. Mistress of Evil doesn’t really add much to the character, but it doesn’t take away from it either, and I had fun watching it. We perhaps spent a little bit too much time with Aurora (who I am not terribly interested in) and not enough time with Maleficent, but Jolie tended to make her moments count. And the addition of Michelle Pfeiffer was a great one. Jolie and Pfeiffer make great adversaries, and Pfeiffer makes a regular human character hold her own again the powerful Fey. I am certainly biased towards enjoying a movie about my favorite Disney character, but I wouldn’t think anyone else could find the movie terrible to watch. It’s not the greatest movie, but it’s fun enough and visually pretty great.
ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP
I really enjoyed the first Zombieland movie for a fresh new feel they brought to the zombie genre. Double Tap certainly wasn’t fresh and new because it was a lot of the same from the first movie, but it was still pretty enjoyable. As far as zombie movies with Bill Murray go this year, this is the best one by far. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was great or even better than the original, but it’s a fun time. I enjoy the cast too, but I did resent Emma Stone in parts for getting upset with Eisenberg for finding a new lady. You ditched out on him for a month! You can be surprised that he found a new girl in the zombie apocalypse so fast, but not mad! This is on you!
Jojo Rabbit probably wouldn’t be the type of movie I would generally be interested in watching were it not for Taika Waititi’s involvement. He can generally be counted on to make things that are hilarious and interesting. Jojo Rabbit was a very good movie. It wasn’t as funny as I was hoping for it to be, but I guess the setting of Nazi Germany was always going to have some sad moments in it. And boy, were there some sad moments. It starts very upbeat and cheerful even as we follow a little boy who’s in love with Hitler, but then we watch him start doubting this decision as he comes to meet a Jew. And we get to watch his wonderful relationship with his mom, which makes later events so much more heartbreaking. I wish Jojo was happier and funnier than it was, but it was great either way.
With movies like the Lighthouse, I sometimes wonder if I just don’t get it because they intentionally made it confusing because “art” or if I just don’t get it because I’m not deep enough to get it, maaaaan! But even though I didn’t entirely understand this movie or what I was meant to take away from it, I wouldn’t say it was bad by any stretch. It was definitely watchable and creepy, but I feel like most of the compelling nature of the movie comes from how it was shot and the fantastic performances from both Pattinson and Dafoe. Watching them both slowly come unhinged was outstanding. I definitely don’t feel like this is a movie for everybody. Hell, I don’t even think it’s a movie for me, but I recognize it as a very well-made movie nonetheless.
TERMINATOR: DARK FATE
The Terminator series has hit the highest of highs and the lowest of lows over the years, but happily and against all odds Dark Fate has come out smelling like roses. It sits solidly in the middle of the pack as far as Terminator movies go. 1 and 2 are still better, but this one is probably better than all the other ones. It’s hard to say as I don’t really remember much about those ones, but that’s probably not a good sign for them. I don’t even know if those movies are considered canon anymore because I thought one of them ended with John Connor locked in a bunker as Skynet took over, but since he was killed in the beginning of this movie, I guess the one where Christian Bale plays him also doesn’t matter anymore. With all the time-travel, who knows what’s canon in these movies anymore? But if you ignore the convoluted time-travel stuff (as you really need to in any time-travel movie) the story works. Plus we got Linda Hamilton and Arnold back to kick some ass, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Definitely worth a watch.
I felt obligated to watch the new Charlie’s Angels movie before finishing this review because I had heard so much about how bad it was. After watching it, I’m not really sure what they were on about. It wasn’t a great movie, but it wasn’t bad either. I would actually go so far as to say I enjoyed it, even with my personal bias against Kristen Stewart. It’s much like I would expect a Charlie’s Angels movie to be from watching the previous two. It opens with a credit sequence like a tampon commercial of a bunch of random ladies doing all the things their new tampon lets them do, shows a bunch of pictures of previous Angels for a little pop, and then it just goes into somewhat back-to-back action set pieces, tied together by montages of getting prepared for action set pieces. I guess as a guy I could be bothered that almost every man in the movie is either evil or stupid or both except for the lab tech guy who was barely featured, but we fellas probably have that coming. My biggest bother of this movie was all times the hero Angels seemed so cavalier about killing civilians. One Angel puts a random civilian guy to sleep to steal his ID badge and laughingly says that he may not wake up. And the security guard guy that was just doing his job gets either killed or severely brain damaged and everyone just says not to worry about it. These are supposed to be our heroes so I’d like them to feel at least a little remorse about that. But the cast was all pretty good, and Kristen Stewart was very hot and did not bother me for a change. I also really liked all the Angel training cameos in the credits at the end. Overall this movie was fine. I’d even recommend it.
Frozen may have defrosted a little since the first movie (get it?! See what I did there?!?!) but I still enjoyed Frozen 2. Elsa gets a sign that she needs to summon Captain Planet by finding the 4 elements (one of which is a ridiculously cute fire lizard and another is a rad water horse) and then realizing that she is Heart. Go Planet! It’s a decent enough story and beautifully animated and has a couple decent songs as well. Though it was overplayed, Let it Go is the jams. This movie made some new songs and the Let it Go equivalent was Into the Unknown. Let it Go is a much better song, but Into the Unknown is solid, and Adele Tazlim still knocks it out of the park. And her version is much better than the Panic! At the Disco version. Olaf is still pretty cute and somewhat funny. Most of the humor would probably only get laughs out of children, but it got some smirks out of me. One interesting surprise is there was actually some decent action in this movie with Elsa acting like Lady Iceman from the X-Men.
JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL
When Welcome to the Jungle came out, there was no way it could work, but it still did. When The Next Level came out, there was no way it could work again, but it did. The story is pretty much the same by design. People get sucked into a game and have to do something to get out. Along the way, they probably learn a little something about themselves and become new friends. They just changed the setting this similar story was in. What changes this movie up from the previous one is that most of the kids playing the game were sucked into different characters, meaning Kevin Hart would spend most of the movie doing a very funny impression of Danny Glover and the Rock would be doing Danny DeVito, though sometimes he seemed to be doing Joe Pesci. Jack Black, however, was now Fridge (the black dude) which meant that Jack had to walk a very fine line in his impersonation this time around. I don’t feel like I heard too many people acting offended by it, so he must’ve been okay. Karen Gillan got to remain the same, but she did get to switch it up and be Fridge herself for a bit, and that was very funny. The cast really carries both of these movies, but they carry them well.
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
I was fairly disappointed by The Last Jedi, but I had high hopes when going into The Rise of Skywalker. Middle movies in a trilogy have a tough time. The first one was so strong, but whatever they do in the second one you know they have to leave the finale for the third, so you’re stuck in a middle ground where you can’t do too much. Thankfully, I felt like The Rise of Skywalker was for the most part exactly what I wanted it to be. They made a few odd decisions. I was confused that they set up so many things and just left them unsolved, especially when it comes to relationships between the characters. There was so much shipping going into this movie and no real conclusion. Rey was commonly shipped with Kylo and Finn, Finn was shipped with Rose and Poe and even the new character in this movie that is just female Finn, Poe was shipped with Rey and Finn and BB-8. But besides a fairly confusing kiss with Kylo that doesn’t and willn’t go anywhere, they kind of just backed away from it and left it open. But really, I wasn’t one of the people going into this movie with any hopes of love stories. It gave me all the fan service I was looking for, most notably the “I know” moment between Kylo and Han. And I loved the finale. I 100% absolutely knew that other ships were going to arrive to help the Resistance, but somehow it still brought tears to my eyes when it happened. So Rise of Skywalker isn’t the greatest Star Wars movie, but it’s up there. Chewy finally got his medal after all these years, so that alone makes this movie great to me.
Well no surprises here, but this movie was trash. I saw the play a very long time ago and remember enjoying it, but not really understanding it. I’m not really sure it’s meant to be understood though. It’s a play from a collection of poems that is now turned into a movie. It’s essentially just a cat shows up and another cat tells her that someone’s going to get chosen to get a new life, the cat that gets to choose gets kidnapped and then almost immediately brought back, and then a decision is made. The movie could be done in 10 minutes but every new cat needs a song to be sung about them. I was also under the assumption that they spent a lot of money on this movie and yet it looked like garbage. I know technology is advanced enough to pull off what they were going for, but it failed here. Faces felt like they were pasted on to CG bodies in times, worst of all during the cockroach part. The cast was great, but did awful things. James Corden and Rebel Wilson did their best to make funny moments happen, but with slapstick comedy that made me think they really believed children would be watching this movie because no one else would think it funny. They made Sir Ian McKellen “meow” for crying out loud… That’s Magneto! Francesca Hayward also walked around the movie with a look that made it seem like she was fascinated and aroused by every other character in the movie, and she stuck with that one expression for the rest of the movie. I almost fell asleep in this movie because I was so bored and confused the entire time. If there is a positive thing to say about this movie, it’s that the songs are mostly good. Of course, that’s a positive thing you would be saying about the play. I guess the positive thing I could say about this movie then is that they didn’t mess up the songs from the play…except Rum Tum Tugger. Derulo’s version was not good. But Memories was fantastic and Jennifer Hudson belted the shit out of that song. If you can ignore the tear she constantly has running down her face that looks like a line of snot, you can enjoy that song. But not much else.
…Did someone actually make it here?! I’M SO PROUD OF YOU! You must be in lockdown too! Now go do something productive, like watching all my videos on YouTube and waiting for me to make my selections of the Best and Worst Films from this list!
It’s Not What I’m Doing … It’s What I’ve Done.
You could say that my sister has a bad habit of picking the worst game from my Christmas list to get me as a present. I prefer to think that she has a gift for it, and that the bad habit is my naiveté for assuming I’ll like so many games. If you’re up to date with my reviews, you’ll know that two years in a row my sister has given me a game that made it into my worst games of the year. Last year was Twisted Metal, but this year she got me Injustice: Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition, developed by NetherRealm Studios, published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and starring the voices of George Newbern, Kevin Conroy, Adam Baldwin, Susan Eisenberg, Richard Epcar, Phil LaMarr, Neal McDonough, Joey Naber, Khary Payton, Mark Rolston, Tara Strong, Alan Tudyk, Stephen Amell, Troy Baker, Grey DeLisle, Jennifer Hale, J.G. Hertzler, Nolan North, and Fred Tatasciore.
In an alternate reality, the Joker (Richard Epcar) tricks Superman (George Newbern) into killing Lois Lane and destroying Metropolis, sending Superman off the handle to the point where he kills the Joker and establishes a new world order as the High Councilor. In our reality, the Joker’s plan did not succeed, but did send the heroes from our world over to the other one, where they must join Batman’s (Kevin Conroy) insurgency and try to take down Superman’s regime.
There must be some sort of mistake. I seem to not have taken any notes on the story of this game. Of a fighting game! They’re always so story-driven! This game didn’t have a bad story (especially when you compare it to other fighting games), but it was fairly forgettable. I guess I didn’t take any notes about it because it didn’t really make any impact on me one way or another. It didn’t impress me as being particularly well-written, and I didn’t think of jokes to tear its shittiness apart. It was roughly as good as any of those straight to DVD DC or Marvel movies. Take that for what it is.
The thing that really makes or breaks a fighting game is the gameplay. The problem with that when it comes to me reviewing them is I don’t really like fighting games. I was interested enough to complete the story and beat the game with a couple of the individual characters to see their specific endings, but as with all other fighting games, once I hit that wall of boredom I hit it hard. When I reach boredom with a fighting game, there’s no taking a break and coming back to it; I’m out. Returning to the game is extremely painful at that point. This game controls like most of the newer Mortal Kombat games. There’re some punches and some kicks, a few special movies, and a super move for each character. Nothing revolutionary. I do like the fighting games that allow you to transition between different sections of the same level by knocking your opponent off of an edge, and this game does that as well. Of course, once you’ve seen it once you can pretty much put a check mark behind that ‘cause it’s just going to be the same thing over and over. There were a couple of notable changes to the fighting game mechanics that I noticed. The first was the health bar system. Unlike most fighting games that give each character a full health bar for each round, you’re given two from the beginning but do not get full health when you knock out one of the enemies’ health bars. I actually liked this because it inspires you to do good all the way through as opposed to getting a fresh start because you just got KO’ed. The other thing I noticed was the Wager system, which I hated. It basically just gives the opponent the chance to prolong the battle by sacrificing their super bar. They’re about to die, so they’re not going to need it, but you may have if you were trying to finish the game spectacularly with a super move. Instead, they wager their entire super bar every time and you have the choice to either sacrifice your ability to do your super move or let them win, damaging you or healing them. It just seemed like an unnecessary annoyance.
The characters were pretty good in the game. It’s basically every notable character from DC comics, at least as far as I know. I’ve never been that big of a fan of DC, but I certainly couldn’t think of anyone else from that universe that I would care to see in the game. That basically means that Batman is in the game. But I also resented Batman because they changed his default costume and made it look lame. Thankfully, that could be repaired with alternate costumes, but you couldn’t fix how lame his super move was. He basically just jumps up into the air and hits the opponent with the batmobile. This is Batman we’re talking about! Stupid ass Aquaman stabs the guy with a trident, hits them with a giant wave, and gets them eaten by a giant shark! Wonder Woman’s super also sucks because it makes her seem like she needs help because she basically gets her Amazons to come in and beat your opponents ass. It would’ve been less lame to involve that stupid invisible airplane she used to have. But there were lots of characters to choose from, and even more because I got the Ultimate Edition. That means I had even more characters to not care about. Like Zatanna. …Yay…
Injustice: Gods Among Us was a decent enough game for those who like fighting games, especially the Mortal Kombat games. Unfortunately for it, this review was written by me. I’m not that big of a fan of DC and I’m not that big of a fan of fighting games. Kind of makes you wonder why I asked for this game in the first place, doesn’t it? Well I am a complicated individual, but I will not complicate my review any more than I need to. If you like DC and fighting games, buy it. Otherwise, skip it. Injustice Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition gets “There is no justice!” out of “You could feel the love, right?”
And … Here … We … Go!
Having already seen Batman Begins, I figured the sequel would at least be good. Christopher Nolan’s new vision for the Batman universe struck me as mostly realistic, but totally awesome. When the sequel was on its way, you could assume that the quality might diminish as with the greater majority of sequels. But my hopes were fairly high regardless. What my hopes were low about was the villain. I was definitely amongst the group of people that thought it would be completely impossible for anyone to surpass Jack Nicholson in the role. I was sure the actor they picked would do a fine job and, from what I had seen, he looked fantastic in the role, but come on! It’s Jack Nicholson! Well, what happened? Let’s all be not surprised by the results of me reviewing The Dark Knight, story by David S. Goyer, written by Jonathan Nolan, co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Chin Han, Eric Roberts, Ritchie Coster, Michael Jai White, Ron Dean, Monique Curnen, Nestor Carbonell, Colin McFarlane, Nydia Rodriguez Terracina, and William Fichtner.
A make up wearing criminal known only as The Joker (Heath Ledger) is robbing mob-owned banks in Gotham City and, though he loves to show his face on camera, continuously evades Batman (Christian Bale) and Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman). In reaction, a Chinese accountant named Lau (Chin Han) hides the money for the mob bosses – Sal Maroni (Eric Roberts), The Chechen (Ritchie Coster), and Gambol (Michael Jai White) – until the Joker shows up and tells them they are avoiding the problem. What they really need to do is kill the Batman, which the Joker claims he can do, but he demands half of their money to do it. If you’re good at something, never do it for free. Out of the desperation of the mob bosses, the Joker is unleashed on Gotham.
I always remember that I like the Dark Knight before I decide to rewatch it, but it still blows my mind with how good it is. I’ve said it before with two other movies, but this movie stands a very good chance of being my favorite comic book movie. Avengers was easily the most fun, Watchmen is a fantastic movie as well, but the Dark Knight is an amazing movie. So exciting, so dark, so smart, and so so good. It’s an extremely well-written story with action, chaos, and loss. And the darkness and realism that I liked so much about the previous movie returns for this movie. That would, of course, mean that the Joker wouldn’t be using the toys you’d typically find him using – things like guns that pop flags with “Bang” written on them or Jack in the Box’s that explode – that Joker purists may miss, but it wouldn’t fit the atmosphere. What you get instead is a super dark and demented insane genius that actually has his shit together while still being completely off his rocker. We all knew the Joker was coming, though. They hinted at it at the end of the last movie. But when I was going into this movie, I started wondering why they didn’t hint at the villains from the next movie. But I think I found one. It seems like there was a very good chance that, when Bruce asks Lucius how his new suit will do against dogs and Lucius said, “It should be fine against cats,” it may have been a hint that I never caught before. As much as I loved the movie, I took issue with a few smaller things in the story. The first was that I never understood what happened with the rescues of Rachael and Harvey. Batman tells the cops that he’s going after Rachael as he’s leaving the police station, but then he shows up to rescue Harvey. Did the Joker lie to Batman and he actually intended to rescue Rachael, or did he change his mind off camera and tell the cops to go after Rachael? It’s always kind of bugged me. The second was the cell phone echolocation machine that Bruce had built. He spends all this money and all this time researching and perfecting this technology to find one man one time, and then he blows it all up. I grant that it worked, but it just seems so wasteful. The third part I had a problem with was towards the end of the movie, when someone was going to punish someone else by having him choose between his wife, daughter, and son which one he loved most. How shitty do the wife and daughter feel?
The action in this movie was spectacular, made even better by the fact that the greater majority of it was done practically and involved minimal computer graphics. As good as computer graphics have gotten over the years, you can usually tell when it’s fake. Most of the Dark Knight is not fake, as best as I could tell. There were plenty of highlights amongst the visuals, but I’ll focus on three. Two of them were in the same fantastic action scene: when the Joker was trying to destroy the SWAT vehicle with Harvey in it. It was freakin’ amazing when the Tumbler drove into the garbage truck that was following the SWAT vehicle, smashing the top of the garbage truck into the ceiling of the underground road. Thinking that couldn’t be topped, slightly later they make a semi do a front flip. Later on, they even actually blow up a building to simulate Gotham Hospital. Suck it, Avatar! You can take your blue people with hair dicks back to Pandora and sit on Home Tree.
Credits be damned. Even amongst the stellar performances in this movie, I think we all know who the real star of this movie is: Maggie Gyllenhaal. I don’t know how they didn’t incorporate it into the story that, much like Harvey Dent, Rachael must’ve endured some serious trauma and third-degree burns in between the first and second movie, and all in the face region. In fact, the moment I realized that the Joker was truly insane was when he referred to this new Rachel as “beautiful”. Okay, in truth I don’t think Maggie Gyllenhaal is as ugly as all of the things I say about her indicate, but she’s certainly not great looking. And the real star of the movie is actually Heath Ledger. This mother fucker disappears into the role of the Joker, and easily (and surprisingly) blows Jack Nicholson’s take on the character right out of the water. I believe that, had I gone into this movie unaware of the Joker’s true identity, I may not even have recognized Ledger in this movie. He’s that fucking good. I said it after I first saw the movie and it’s as true today as it was then, but everything else in this movie could’ve been complete horse shit and his performance alone would’ve made it worth seeing. It truly was the performance of a lifetime, and a gundamned shame that it was the last performance in his lifetime. The only non-Gyllenhaal performance I took issue with in this movie was Melinda McGraw as Commissioner Gordon’s wife. All of her reactions to bad news in this movie were a little over the top and never convincing.
The Dark Knight is an amazing movie. The story is great, the action is fantastic, and the performances are all terrific. There’s not a lot of bad things to be found in this movie, but even if there were, the movie would be worth the watch for Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker alone. The fact that the rest of the movie is also amazing is just icing on the cake. I don’t know that I’d be comfortable calling the Dark Knight my favorite comic book movie of all time, but it would certainly be considered. This movie should not only be owned; it should be watched at least once per month. Put it on your calendars. The Dark Knight gets “A little fight in you. I like that” out of “Harvey Dent. Can he be trusted?”
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