The Films of 2017


I would say I’m sorry for what’s about to happen, but I’m not.  Look, I greatly appreciate anyone who actually reads what’s below this, but as I was killing myself writing this I had an epiphany: you guys just have to read this!  I’m the one who for whatever reason felt that I owed it to anyone who cares to watch 73 movies that released in 2017 and to write mini-reviews about them all.  But still, anyone who does read all of this has my love forever.  I now present to you my reviews for the movies of 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

JANUARY 

UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS

The main reason to watch any of the Underworld series for me has always been because Kate Beckinsale is hot.  That hotness remains in the 5th installment.  The next reason would be because they shoot guns good.  That is also delivered upon.  So if you are like me and those two reasons are typically sufficient to call for a rental of this movie, you will be safe.  If not, then there’s nothing special about this movie to make you change your mind about the series.  It’s fine, but that’s about the best praise I can muster.

MONSTER TRUCKS

Someone definitely thought of this movie and fell in love with themselves.  The concept for the movie is like a discarded Jerry Seinfeld joke.  “What’s the deal with Monster Trucks?  They’re trucks, but they don’t have monsters in them!”  And then the movie just fell into place.  Strangely enough though, I didn’t really hate this movie.  It is a stupid and ridiculous concept with a lot of flaws, but I actually was slightly charmed by it in the end.  As far as problems go, the main character.  This kid has no interest in anything besides cars.  The attractive geeky girl was totally going for him the whole time but he just couldn’t be bothered.  He had a shitty truck to build.  He also calls the kid whose father owns the dealership in town the “luckiest kid in town.”  There’s literally a dude in this town dating Samara Weaving.  Until further studies can be conducted, he’s the luckiest kid.  He could be the luckiest kid himself if he just got his head out of his own tailpipe and realized that Jane Levy is crushing on him pretty hard.  And I’ll take that, even if she spouts out “wisdom” like being thankful to his dad for being so shitty because it made him who he is, and she likes who he is.  But, even with all that, I did feel a little charmed by the movie by the time it finished, and I’m as confused about that as anyone else.

THE BYE BYE MAN

This movie was a whole bag of dicks.  It’s all about a supernatural creature called the Bye Bye Man who makes people kill people by making them hallucinate things that would drive them to such action when you think about him, and you can pass this curse on to someone else by telling them his name.  So what do they do?  They investigate him so that they’re thinking about him constantly.  They type his name into the worst search engine ever that somehow doesn’t bring up any results for “bye bye man,” as if those words wouldn’t bring 50,700,000 results (I just checked), and I’m sure that not all of those are related to this movie.  I mean, people might utter this phrase just saying goodbye to each other.  Also, while trying not to think about it, the main character starts driving to another investigation while playing “Bye Bye Love.”  …Smart.  So obviously, the plot doesn’t make sense.  And to top that off, the acting was really lackluster, the effects were pretty poor, and it wasn’t remotely scary.  So if there is a reason to watch this movie, I didn’t manage to find it in the only viewing I’m willing to give this movie.

SPLIT

I feel like I should come into reviewing this movie by exclaiming, “M. Night Shyamalan is back, baby!” but I feel like that wouldn’t really feel right.  Sure, M. has probably done more garbage at this point to damage the high bar he set for himself with his early movies and this movie is actually really good, but I don’t want to give him all the credit.  And I certainly don’t want to start thinking he’s back so I should definitely rush straight to the theater for all his upcoming After Earth 2’s.  He did a really good job making a super tense and interesting movie here, but I feel like I want to give most of the credit to James McAvoy.  He is incomprehensibly impressive in this movie, playing 23 distinctly different personalities (or at least that’s what they say he had, I didn’t count how many actually made it into the movie).  I give at least 70% of the credit to him for why people should see this movie, but I still think everyone should.  Plus, it sets up a sequel to Unbreakable, which I understand other people enjoyed though I don’t recall being entirely impressed by it.  Still, great movie.

XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE

This movie delivers all that anyone should really expect out of a Vin Diesel movie that allows him to say more than “I am Groot.”  It spends roughly equal time not making sense or offering nothing surprising out of the story but does it’s best to make up for it by having lots of things explode and having people drive motorcycles on the ocean.  Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa do their best to make some of the fights entertaining, but if you’re expecting more than that then you are a silly person.

RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER

Within the first 15 minutes of this movie, I had the thought that it seemed that they weren’t confident enough in their script to let 5 minutes pass without something going “Bang!”  And they were correct.  It’s real dumb and barely even bothers to try to hide that fact.  It basically sets itself up to be the last of the Resident Evil movies (though with the way it ends, it feels questionable that they aren’t leaving it open to continue) and that Milla Jovovich needs to return to where it all started to release an airborne cure for the T-virus and she has 48 hours to do it.  No attempt is ever really made to explain how the artificial intelligence known as the Red Queen knows to the exact second when humanity will perish.  Is Umbrella going to strike and she is privy to that information?  Because they mostly act like it’s the zombies that are going to get them and if that’s the case, how are you able to predict so accurately what exact second they’re going to die?  Zombies don’t work on your schedule.  And it would have to be to the second because of course she saves the day with 30 seconds left, but then they also don’t bother to figure out how this cure that we can visually watch spread fairly slowly is going to manage to cure the world in less than 30 seconds when it clearly isn’t finishing off the zombies around Milla that fast.  But I guess it is pointless to look for logic in this movie.  Things go boom and guns are fired, and you know those guns are so much more gooder because they each have an extra, arbitrary barrel.  Double barreled pistols, triple barreled shotguns, and that one idiot Doc guy who is surrounded by guns but picks a nail gun instead.  This movie is indeed dumb, but exactly the dumb I expected it to be.

 

FEBRUARY

RINGS

It is exactly The Ring again, but worse.  Nothing particularly special in any facet of this movie.  They’re all basically the same: they watch the tape and find out they’re going to die in 7 days so they start to investigate to appease Samara Morgan, who always turns out to be a shit because after they go out of their way to try to do something nice for her, she just continues to be evil anyway and usually kills them.  That happens again.  Pretty basic, not particularly scary because it’s nothing we haven’t really seen before.  No real need to watch it again.

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE

This movie was a little tough on me because (though I enjoyed the LEGO Movie) I didn’t feel particularly inspired to see this.  But I have a friend that is a huge fan of both LEGO and Batman and if I wanted to be his friend any longer, I was told I would need to see this movie.  After weighing my options, I decided to buy it when it came out on DVD several months later.  You ain’t the boss of me, Randy!  But the biggest problem I had going into this movie is how much hype I had heard going in.  It’s sitting at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes right now and Randy would have me believe that this was a funny Citizen Kane.  Well it was funny and it was well-written, both to an extent not necessarily required for generally a kid’s movie, but I’m sure appreciated by any parents that had to see it, but also not quite to the extent I went into the movie expecting.  It was really good and a lot of fun, but maybe not quite THAT much fun.  Still definitely worth watching though.

FIFTY SHADES DARKER

After having sat through Fifty Shades of Grey, even I was hesitant to start watching Fifty Shades Darker.  List be damned, I can’t take another one!  I eventually talked myself into it.  You’re welcome…  Here is the nice thing I have to say about this movie: it is slightly better written than the first one.  If that sounds like it’s not saying much, that’s because it isn’t.  I can only say that about this movie because the first one was so awful that it wasn’t difficult for this one to surpass it, even if only by a little.  There’s still moments where Ana touches Christian’s beard and says, “This is spikey!”  And where he says that his mother died when he was 4 and was an addict and that Ana should fill in the blanks from there.  The 30 to 40 years of blanks, homie.  And moments where he says that she should come to a party and meet his mom…but should do so with steel balls in her vagina.  And then later say, “Now you know what those silver balls do.”  …You put them in your vagina.  What did you think they’d do?  The characters are also very stupid.  Mostly Ana.  She’s so proud that she tears up a $24,000 check.  Heck, I’d probably let this guy do a little rough trade on me for $24,000.  Then, she’s so against his S&M stuff, but is requesting it again on the second date.  She doesn’t want to be submissive, but gives in really quick to it.  She also says that she was more scared by Christian when he uses his dominant powers to subdue the girl that used to be his submissive.  The one who broke into Ana’s apartment, pointed a gun at her, and fired it in the room to prove she meant business.  …She was more scared of him.  Also poorly-written was her boss, who was written by someone that had just had to go through sexual harassment training and just wrote down the opposite.  Even people prone to sexual harass aren’t so blatant.  And then he gets fired and the bosses say, “We need someone to take over for him…  How about his secretary?”  Also, I have never seen anyone over the age of 10 more impressed by fireworks than these 60+ year old adults at the party at the end.  Okay, I have to move on.  But make no mistake; these movies are awful.

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2

I think if anything hurt the second John Wick movie, it was the fact that it was the second John Wick movie.  I had nothing to expect going into a Keanu Reeves movie with a boring name like John Wick back when the first one came out, but that movie kicked all the ass in such epic fashion that it blew expectations out of the water.  John Wick 2 met expectations that had been restructured based on the quality of the first movie.  It was still very excellent and had tons of great action, but it is slightly hindered by the fact that it wasn’t also surprising in its awesomeness.  Still definitely worth checking out though.

THE GREAT WALL

Unlike John Wick, The Great Wall actually benefited because of my expectations.  Who didn’t think this movie would be a whole bag of dicks when they first saw it?  A great wall movie starring a white man, like the Last Samurai but with monsters.  (I know that China and Japan are different places, by the way)  But it was better than I expected.  Not much better than I expected, and I did expect it to be painfully bad, but it was better than that.  There’s absolutely no real reason to watch this movie that I can recall, but it won’t hurt you very much to do so.

GET OUT

And the hat trick of movies affected by expectations, Get Out was way overhyped.  It had so much steam that, even though I really had no interest in seeing this movie, I saw its 99% on Rotten Tomatoes and combined that with recommendations from the media and my friends and then capped it off with the fact that it was written by the hilarious and talented Jordan Peele and decided I should see it.  When I left, I didn’t hate the movie, but I certainly didn’t see what all the hype was about.  It was good.  My mind wasn’t blown and it didn’t change my life at all, but it was good.  Maybe it’s mostly because I’m not afraid of the racism this movie is talking about.  Not because I’m white, but because I’m racist.  But it also probably didn’t speak to me as much because racism isn’t really something I have to deal with or see that often, and the racism in this movie isn’t always relatable.  The minor racist things, sure, but I don’t hear too many stories of white people trying to brain swap with black folk so I assume it’s not a big issue.

 

MARCH

LOGAN

My favorite comic book movie changes so often that I don’t even know what my list looks like anymore.  One thing I do know for sure is that Logan is at the very least top 3, if not number one.  In the past, one big sticking point I’ve had with Wolverine movies (and even other comic book movies) is that the first thing they like to do to create a problem for the hero to solve is remove everything we like about them by taking their powers away so they can overcome.  They do that here too, but here it works because Wolverine is getting old and dying and that plays such a large part of a story that is not just the hero overcoming a temporary limitation, but getting older and weaker and having the thing that once made him nigh unstoppable now killing him slowly from the inside.  Then you have the dying father figure in Professor X and the new unexpected (but entirely badass) child in X-23.  And yes, you have a lot of gore and blood and violence for a superhero movie, but that could all be gone and this movie would not suffer in the slightest, though it certainly makes you sit up and pay attention right from the opening of the movie.  I cried multiple times in this movie.  MULTIPLE.  TIMES!  IN A COMIC BOOK MOVIE!!  And not just from awesomeness making my eyes explode, but from deeply emotional and poignant moments.  That cross to an X thing?  Are you kidding me!?  You’re dead inside if that doesn’t get you.  Watch this damned movie if you haven’t already!

KONG: SKULL ISLAND

I feel like I heard a lot of people beating up on Kong: Skull Island and I have no idea why.  Sure, it doesn’t really break any new ground, but it’s exactly what I wanted: a giant monkey movie.  Kong is a total badass and smashes a lot of stuff.  Good!  That’s what I came to see!  It looks great and is super fun.  It has a story, but it doesn’t really waste too much time with stuff it doesn’t have to.  Maybe the John C. Reilly stuff wasn’t really pivotal to the plot and could’ve then been removed because he wasn’t a giant ape smashing helicopters or giant lizards, but it was a nice emotional section of the movie with a good pay off at the end I wasn’t expecting.  This is a fun movie.  You should check it out.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Technically speaking this movie had no reason to exist.  It is almost exactly the animated Disney movie but some of the people in this one are real.  And they apparently added a song that was fairly lackluster and I don’t remember anymore.  That being said, Beauty and the Beast is so ingrained in my DNA that I got goosebumps every time I saw the trailer and it started with the light piano music and the picture of the castle.  Before my brain even figured out what it was, my body decided we were going, and let me know by having hairs on my arm stand up.  And then I saw that Emma Watson is in it, a better representation of beauty and brains I cannot fathom.  Also, Luke Evans and Josh Gad were delightful.  So, will you gain anything new seeing this version of the movie?  No.  But it’s a lovely way to see that movie again, but slightly differently.

POWER RANGERS

This is an odd moment when my expectations of a movie helped it adversely.  Power Rangers was not a great movie, but I think my deep seeded love of Power Rangers made me fight every contradictory though that might make me realize that.  Not that I wound up thinking it was great by a long shot, but I found it acceptable.  It’s been too long since there was something Power Rangers related that I’ve seen that at least seemed watchable to me as an adult.  It wasn’t quite the dark, gritty Power Rangers that the online video that seemed to spark this reimagining was, but it was a nice middle ground between that too-dark-for-Power-Rangers video and the campy, probably-wouldn’t-like-it-if-I-saw-it-today Power Rangers of my youth.  Fights could’ve been better, some dumbness could be removed, they could allow Elizabeth Banks to just be the hot she is without all the prosthetic makeup, but it was fine.  I certainly hope they give it another go and try a little harder next time.

LIFE

I feel like space movies probably have an easier time conveying tension in thriller/horror movies because it’s already a claustrophobic environment and you know while watching that there’s barely anything you can do to escape any problems you have to deal with.  Life benefits from that, but also benefits from good direction and good visuals added to some top-notch acting.  The biggest problem that the movie had for me was that I had a hard time taking the murderous little alien creature seriously when people kept referring to it as “Calvin.”  Beyond that, Life was an enjoyable movie, and pretty well worth renting.

CHIPS

CHiPS definitely had some flaws, but I found it to be much funnier than I expected to be.  Granted, a lot of that humor was pretty lowbrow and involved a lot of poop, slapstick, and sex humor, but sometimes that’s good enough.  Or at least I hope it’s enough or my channel is going to be in some trouble.  Either way, CHiPS isn’t the greatest thing ever, but it’s a comedy and I laughed a few times while watching it.  Seems like that counts as “successful” to me.

GHOST IN THE SHELL

Ghost in the Shell got beaten up a lot even before it released because of the alleged whitewashing of the main character that was turned into a white lady.  I personally don’t know what the problem is in turning a robot into another robot, but a lot of the internet seemed to take issue with the original protagonist’s sticker having been turned from “Made in Japan” to “Made in America” but I didn’t.  I also didn’t take any issue with how this movie compares to the original anime because, though I own it, I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet.  Going in with nothing to compare it to and no self-righteous, social justice warrior anger, I thought the movie was fine.  Visually pretty cool and with some action and good performance from Scarlet Johansson.  It just didn’t seem particularly special to me, so it was just fine.  Now if ScarJo had been ACTUALLY naked and not just looked ALMOST naked, maybe that would be a different story…

BOSS BABY

Honestly, the only reason this movie even gets to this list is because it was on Netflix.  My tolerance level is so much more forgiving when it’s essentially free to me.  The idea of Boss Baby turned me off when I first heard about it, but I decided to give it a shot anyway.  I was surprised to find that I wound up finding the movie fairly charming.  The idea of the movie involving a boss baby showing up to try to stop a plot to make the world find puppies cuter than babies is certainly a wacky concept, and being able to accept the movie does take a while, but eventually I found that they were able to make it work.  Baldwin mostly carries the film, but additions of Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, and Lisa Kudrow in smaller parts do well to spice up the movie, and they’re able to pull off some cute, and even sometimes funny, moments.  Problematically, I don’t really know who this movie is for.  Parents and adults might be able to find the movie cute as I did, but it doesn’t really seem like concepts that children would be too intrigued by.  I guess they have enough slapstick and fart humor for kids, but it’s otherwise a kind of middle ground where there are much better movies for both kids and parents so Boss Baby can’t quite match the draw of its competition.

 

APRIL

SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE

Some of the movies on my list (and you can probably guess which ones) I watched specifically hoping to get movies for my worst of list.  Sadly, Smurfs: The Lost Village let me down on that front.  Not that it was good; it just wasn’t bad enough to need to be there.  It was exactly what it should’ve been: a kid’s movie.  Not particularly smart, clever, or funny, but it’s colorful and cute and things fall down, which is all kids really need to enjoy a movie.  It also had some things in it that would be enjoyable to parents and might even get a laugh or two.  Can’t really ask for more than that.  At least not out of a kid’s movie not made by Pixar.

COLOSSAL

I have no recollection of how I heard about Colossal, but I did, so why don’t you get off my back?  It’s a very interesting and unique concept where a giant monster appears in Seoul and starts destroying stuff and it turns out this monster only appears when Anne Hathaway enters a specific playground in her hometown, and then it exactly mimics her movements.  Along the way, you’ll also get a fair serving of emotional resonance and comedy, with some great performances by Hathaway and Sudeikis, though I would say I prefer my Jason Sudeikis much more likeable than he is in this movie.  Very enjoyable and interesting movie, and I definitely recommend you take a gander.

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS

…It’s another Fast and Furious movie…  The end…

Okay, I’ll say more than that.  This definitely is another Fast and Furious movie.  It’s big, dumb, and flashy.  You’ll find that out in the first five minutes when Dom gets into a race to stop a guy from taking his friend’s car and, in the course of said race, sets his friend’s car on fire and throws it into the ocean.  And then a few minutes later, he tells Charlize Theron what’s wrong with her car just by the sound of it…when it’s off and she’s under the hood looking at it and not trying to start it at the moment…  But, on the other hand, there’s nothing in the world I can think of sexier than Charlize Theron wearing a Metallica shirt, even with that ridiculous, sort-of-cornrows hair she had at the time.  Also, the fights with the Rock and the Statham are plain awesome.  I assume people that care about cars and car chases will also enjoy those scenes.

THE LOST CITY OF Z

Spider-Man, King Arthur, and Edward Cullen all in the same movie?!  What could go wrong!?  Well nothing really, but it probably won’t impress much either.  Lost City of Z is kind of a boring, walking around in the jungle drama movie.  Then going back to England and yelling in court about wanting to go back.  Then going back and walking around the jungle some more.  And they find some stuff the end.  There’s nothing really wrong with it, but also nothing particularly right with it.  It just is.  Watch it if you want.

THE CIRCLE

I wasn’t expecting much from this movie, and I got it.  The Circle is a perfectly acceptable movie with an impressive cast and vaguely interesting premise exploring the pros and cons of a connected world without privacy, but it never really seems like it picks a side in its own debate.  Bad stuff happens because of this technology (such as Emma Watson’s friend Mercer dying because people were trying to hunt him down to test the technology), but the movie also seems like it blames the technology when it was really Mercer’s stupidity.  I grant that it would be super annoying to have a bunch of people show up at your house trying to get a picture of you, but they weren’t trying to break in or something!  No reason to run out the door and drive off like an idiot and not pay attention to the road and drive yourself off a cliff.  That’s on you, homie!  You could also just answer the door and say, “Hey, you found me.  Congratulations.  Now kindly fuck off.”  But they also make interesting points about how people would probably behave better if they were always being watched, but then try to act like it’s also a bad thing and maybe side with it being a bad thing, but I don’t know.  Maybe I just got bored and stopped paying attention.  Kind of like I would in the movie if I found out Emma Watson’s character had a livestream of her entire life for people to watch.  I’d maybe give it a day and then realize I’d never see her naked and realize what a waste of time it was.

 

MAY

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2

No one is really curious about whether or not I liked this movie.  Of course I did.  I think the real question comes from which I liked better between Guardians of the Galaxy 1 or 2.  My answer to that is: …I don’t know.  It’s a difficult comparison.  The first movie was tons of fun and its quality may even have been amplified by the surprise of loving a movie about these characters I barely knew.  This one didn’t have as much surprise, but it supplanted it some real emotional moments surrounded Star-Lord and his father, and Star-Lord and his father figure.  When a comic book movie can get you to cry, that movie is more than just a comic book movie.  It’s just an amazing movie.

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD

I don’t really know what this movie was going for, but I’m assuming it missed the mark a little.  I come into a movie like this predisposed to enjoy it because I enjoy Arthurian legend, but it turns out they were looking to vaguely base this movie off of Arthurian legend, but feel more like A Knight’s Tale with anachronistic MMA movies in a medieval battle and quick, annoying editing cuts.  And also some chick like Ursula from the Little Mermaid and her little octodaughters whispering all the time, making me try to pay more attention to a movie I wasn’t interested in to hear what they were saying.  And then also have a mage lady that speaks as though she finds it extremely difficult to do so.  There are some decent parts to this movie, but mostly I found it annoying and off-putting.

SNATCHED

I can’t say I expected too much from this movie going in.  I enjoy Amy Schumer a great deal, but have no particular affection for Goldie Hawn, and nothing in the trailers really drew me in.  But a cheap rental from a RedBox will make me a lot more willing, so I rented it.  It was okay.  The people involved would probably lead you to expect more than the movie is able to deliver though.  People like Schumer, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, Christopher Meloni, and Randall Park made me think this movie had a lot more in store for me in the comedy department, but ultimately I found Joan Cusack’s character to be the funniest.  Not really a necessary watch, but you could do worse.

ALIEN: COVENANT

In comparison to Prometheus, at least Alien: Covenant feels like it took a big step towards actually being an Alien movie.  And not just by including it in the title.  And having a Xenomorph in it.  Unfortunately, a lot of those moments felt more like rehashed moments from other Alien movies, which is technically fine, but you’re not elevating this movie to the level of its predecessors that way.  It maybe progresses the lore of the Alien franchise a little bit, but at this point the timeline is so confusing I have a hard time figuring out which film happens when.  Overall, the movie is fine.  Worth watching, especially if you’re a fan of the franchise, but you’ll survive without it.

BAYWATCH

I can’t imagine too many people were expecting much from Baywatch.  I know I certainly wasn’t.  But after watching it, I feel like critics were overly critical to it.  I even saw some comparing it negatively to the TV show it was based on, acting like it didn’t live up to the high bar that show left for it.  High bar?  The only thing I remember about that show is that it was stupid but there were hot ladies and people running in slow motion!  This movie delivers that, but also has a pretty good amount of funny moments.  Personally, I think The Rock can make anything better with his mere presence, and Zac Efron and Alexandra Daddario also hold up their end.  So it has everything I remember about the TV show (ridiculously hot chicks and slow motion), but also adds hot dudes in The Rock and Efron, and some funny moments.  I would surprisingly say this movie is a perfectly acceptable watch.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES

The Pirates of the Caribbean movies can vary pretty drastically.  The first two were good, the third one was made solid by some epic sea battles, the fourth one was garbage, and then the fifth one comes out and is actually pretty good.  It still has some epic moments, some pretty funny moments, a solid emotional story between Kaya Scodelario and Geoffrey Rush, and some good performances, especially by Javier Bardem.  I didn’t have much negative to say after seeing it besides maybe that they spent a little too much time with the new, almost lead character in this movie played by Brenton Thwaites.  When seeing the Pirates movies, I’m mostly interested in Capt. Jack and Barbossa, sometimes a little of Will Turner and Elizabeth Turner, but it was okay.  If this is indeed the way they intend to go out with these movies, it feels like a perfectly acceptable bow on a solid franchise.  If they’re doing more, this movie certainly didn’t talk me out of going to them.

 

JUNE

WONDER WOMAN

Marvel movies tend to be in a rough place because so many of them are so good that each new movie they release is inevitably going to be compared to the other movies in the universe that we expect so much from.  Wonder Woman has the benefit of being the only good DC movie since Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies.  I would say Wonder Woman isn’t perfect, but the first two acts of the movie are about as close as you can get.  Gal Gadot is wonderful, strong, and charismatic.  I would slap down anyone that criticized her before the movie released, saying the woman who served 2 years in the Israel Defense Force was too skinny and pretty to be a convincing Wonder Woman, and after seeing what she could do I would get especially violent with anyone who said that.  If this movie was just the No Man’s Land scene, it could’ve been the greatest comic book movie of all time, exemplifying exactly what I think Wonder Woman is.  Unfortunately, the movie loses a little of its steam in Act 3 because they still feel the need to end with a big CG supervillain instead of just being about how shitty man is, but it’s not so bad that this isn’t still an excellent movie.

THE MUMMY

I’m a little confused about The Mummy, and not just from wondering how exactly it’s beneficial to the mummy to have 2 sets of pupils.  I know I saw it, and I’m pretty sure I even bought it on Blu-Ray, but everyone on the internet seems to hate it.  I don’t recall hating it.  Granted, I don’t recall much about it at all, and maybe that’s the main problem with it.  It’s entirely forgettable.  I was interested in this movie because it was supposed to be setting up a cinematic universe for the Universal monsters, but I suppose that’s off the table now.  I don’t really know why.  DC keeps making movies for their universe even though no one has liked them, and eventually they made it to Wonder Woman.  Maybe the Dark Universe could too.  So I didn’t hate this movie, but I don’t remember anything about it, so I’m assuming it’s not special at all.

IT COMES AT NIGHT

I, probably like many of you, did not know about It Comes at Night.  I saw it on the list of movies released this year and assumed it must’ve been bad or I’d have heard about it, but then noticed that it actually got pretty good critical reception, so decided to check it out.  It’s certainly an interesting movie, very claustrophobic and builds a lot of tension, and all of the actors involved in the movie do a very good job.  It’s kind of a zombie apocalypse/disease outbreak movie, but you don’t really deal with the infected too much and rarely see any of them.  It’s more about the people in the house meeting and taking in new people and the trust that quickly fails and how they deal with that.  Certainly an interesting movie, but what kind of lost me was that it really didn’t seem to have an ending.  A character gets sick and then it ends.  No resolution of conflict really.  So it’s certainly a decent watch, but don’t expect them to have decided how to close their movie out.

ROUGH NIGHT

The only note I took about Rough Night was summed up in two words: “Somewhat funny.”  I’ll try to expand on that a little, but you can probably move on with the totality of this review already laid out for you.  There were some talented and funny people in this movie and a couple of funny moments, but it wasn’t typically laugh out loud funny.  It probably got a couple smiles out of me and maybe a chuckle or two.  The premise of the movie is pretty basic, and you’ll probably be able to get a good idea of how it’s all going to work out around midway through the movie, but along the way you may smile and may chuckle once or twice.  So, basically, “somewhat funny.”

47 METERS DOWN

I found myself nitpicking this movie pretty early on.  First off, the setup for the movie is pretty dumb.  Mandy Moore goes on vacation because her boyfriend left her because she was boring, so she goes on a trip to show him how fun she can be when he’s in another country and unable to see how fun she is.  Then, they decide to get in a cage to see some sharks close up, and they sell it by saying, “It’s like going to the zoo but you’re in the cage!”  …Who’s ever gone to a zoo and said they wish they were in the cages?  Especially with the dangerous animals.  Except all the little kids that want to play with the gorillas, polar bears, and tigers, I guess.  Maybe it’d be better to describe it as an underwater safari.  Also, the boat is called the “Sea Esta,” which is just an awful joke.  But the movie picks up a little when they get into the cages and it gets pretty tense and looks pretty good and the actors all do a pretty good job of it.  Not a movie that requires viewing, but not terrible either.

TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT

Yup!  They’re still making Transformers movies.  And they’re still roughly as good as any of the other ones.  The story is dumb, but they look pretty and you can see metal things smashing into metal things and things blowing up.  This Transformers movie was sold to me with all the trailers relying heavily on the fact that, for some reason, the heroic leader of the Autobots Optimus Prime goes rogue and fights the other Autobots.  That does happen in this movie, but the trailers lead me to believe it was almost the entire movie, and not that they used the entire movie to occasionally cut back to Optimus being turned and then have him show up and fight them for 5 minutes and then turn good again.  So the fifth installment of Transformers is stupid, but shiny.  You can go and jingle some keys in front of your face for roughly the same effect, but it’s not the worst way to spend 2 hours if you shut your brain off.

THE BIG SICK

I have been a very big fan of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon for many years and had already heard them tell their story many times by the time I heard that they were turning it into a movie.  When I finally saw this movie, I was expecting I would enjoy it but that knowing how it turned out would probably diminish my enjoyment a little.  I was very wrong.  Even knowing how it turns out, I was in it every minute of the movie, and even super nervous at the end to see how the story would wrap up.  It wrapped up as I expected (and roughly how it had happened in real life), but what I wasn’t expecting was to spend the entire third act of the movie with tears in my eyes.  Kumail Nanjiani killed it in this movie, both in his acting and in the writing of the movie, which was equal parts emotionally riveting and hilarious, and Zoe Kazan (as the stand in for Nanjiani’s real life wife Emily) will make you fall in love with her even faster than Kumail did.  Also props to the comedians Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant, and Kurt Braunohler, Emily’s parents Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, and pretty much every other person involved in this movie.  This movie is perfect, and I straight up demand you find a way to watch it.

BABY DRIVER

I think the only time I’ve been disappointed with Edgar Wright is in comparing one of his movies to another of his movies.  Sure, Shaun of the Dead was way better than The World’s End, but without that comparison, The World’s End is still a really fun movie.  Baby Driver wasn’t better written than Shaun of the Dead to me, but it excelled in other ways.  The story of Baby Driver is fairly unique and lots of fun, but what was most impressive is the way they used music, editing the movie so that the action matched the beats of the song.  Bullets were fired when snare drums were struck, things happening on screen matched up with lyrics, characters walked past signs and graffiti with the lyrics on them right as they happened in the song.  It was ingenious and, as an editor myself, a task I could never imagine pulling off successfully.  All of this mixed with great performances and appearances (both brief and supporting) from people like Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, and Flea, and you have yet another great movie Edgar Wright can happily put on his resume.

THE HOUSE

I wasn’t too disappointed in The House because I managed to keep my expectations low.  I can definitely see how some people might not have been able to though.  This movie has a fantastic comedic starring and supporting cast including Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas, Nick Kroll, Michaela Watkins, Rob Huebel, Cedric Yarbrough, and Andrea Savage, some people I have loved for their comedic outings in the past.  The problem with The House is that it has all these brilliant people and even has a decent premise for a comedy movie and the movie still only gets to kind of funny.  You could’ve done much more with these ingredients, but the product was still edible.

 

JULY

A GHOST STORY

Generally this sort of artsy fartsy drama movie doesn’t interest me, but something about the trailer intrigued me.  It was probably wondering how they would make this movie not seem silly with the protagonist walking around with a sheet over himself like a cheap Halloween costume.  Well it did not seem silly, but I didn’t find it as emotionally impactful as it seemed to want to be.  It was an interesting exploration of life, love, and loss, but it also spent a lot of time right on the border of boring.  They had 2 good actors heading up the movie, but their performances were really quiet and subdued.  Casey Affleck couldn’t do much by way of performance because he was under a sheet for the whole movie, and the most impressive thing Rooney Mara did was eating an entire pie in one sitting.  Which isn’t a slight on her performance; that’s just plain impressive, but did we need to watch it all?  Also, how are you going to have Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara in a movie but the majority of the dialogue is either delivered in Spanish or by a hipster farmer dude?  Either way, this movie was fine to me, but I imagine some people more interested in such movies may find it very moving.

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

I had often felt that the Spider-Man movies were a bit lacking.  Tobey was a great Peter Parker but not always a good Spider-Man.  Garfield was a pretty good Spider-Man but not a very good Peter.  Now Tom Holland shows up and shows them both how to do it, and even better, does so in well-written movie that remains fun from start to finish.  Along with Holland, Keaton is fantastic.  He’s a villain but with a clear motivation that makes him sympathetic, and the way he figures out Peter is Spider-Man was very well done.  Besides Holland and Keaton, there were also a great deal of wonderful supporting characters, like Robert Downey Jr, Jon Favreau, Donald Glover, Marisa Tomei, Chris Evans, Hannibal Buress, Martin Starr, and especially Zendaya, who nailed a joke in almost every scene she was in.  The only joke she didn’t land is the one where she said people should call her MJ.  I will not be doing that, and I hope future movies don’t attempt to convince me that she’s Mary Jane Watson.  But besides that minor snafu, this was a fantastic movie.

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

The Planet of the Apes movies are the odd series that seem to either improve or remain at the same level of quality as they add movies.  It’s also odd to watch a movie and side with the thing that is at war with the humans, but we are pretty shitty to the monkeys in these.  They seem pretty content in living in the woods, but we still have to go kill the kid of their leader.  Typical us.  Then we just continue to give them more and more reason to kick our asses until they do.  Serkis continues to prove why he’s the man you call when you need top-notch motion capture acting, and the human side of Woody Harrelson also delivers.  What might hold these movies back for me is that, while they’re all of good quality, they’re not particularly fun, though it’s not really what they’re aiming for with a post-apocalyptic movie.  Still a really good movie though.

DUNKIRK

I liked a lot about Dunkirk, but it feels like I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as most people seemed to.  It was very good, extremely well directed, and very interesting as well as being a story I didn’t know about beforehand, but it accomplished these things while being a mostly slow and measured movie that didn’t keep my attention some of the time.  It may be more my problem than the movie’s, but it was still my reaction.  Another part of my issue was that there were a few main characters typically surrounded by a huge amount of people that looked very similar, so besides Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, and Kenneth Branagh, I tended to lose track of whose story I was following.  All that being said, Dunkirk is an inarguably quality movie that just didn’t interest me as much as it did others.  I still recommend it as I feel I’m in the minority on this.

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS

Visually, I have always been impressed by the films of Luc Besson when he goes to a fantasy realm.  Of course, that may not be saying too much because I’ve only seen 3 of his films that fit that description: The Fifth Element, Lucy, and Valerian.  His movies do tend to be more interesting from a story standpoint when they’re in the real world, like Leon the Professional and Taken.  None of this changes after watching Valerian.  Visually, it’s delightful and imaginative with a few good scenes of interesting and new action.  Beyond that, there’s not much to offer in this movie.  The story is fairly basic, as if they were worried that the imagination of the world visually would be too much if they also had a story more than solve a mystery, save a species.  Both main characters also seem to be trying too hard and coming up short.  People keep telling us how handsome and manly Dane DeHaan’s character is supposed to be, which is good because one wouldn’t reach that conclusion on their own.  Cara Delevigne’s direction seemed to be, “Constantly remind the audience that you are a strong, independent woman.  Listen to Beyoncé before every scene if you have to.”  In the end, the movie is very pretty to look upon, but there’s not much else.  Except maybe for Rihanna.  She was okay, but her intro scene was pretty interesting to watch.  Of course, you can save time by just watching that on YouTube instead of sitting through the whole movie.

ATOMIC BLONDE

Atomic Blonde balances itself entirely on the appeal of having Charlize Theron kick much ass and at one point have sex with a woman.  That’s what the trailers told me I’d be watching and that’s what it delivered.  Beyond that, there is a little style and flair to this movie and a fairly basic spy plot.  It’s sad to me that this movie wasn’t that impressive all around because I would totally like to see this version of Charlize Theron in a movie more like one of the better written Daniel Craig Bond movies.

THE EMOJI MOVIE

Obviously, I sometimes only watch a movie because I also do a bottom 5 list when I do a top 5.  Being a person who does not particularly like or use emojis in his life and also being a somewhat sane person who realizes that a movie written about emojis is starting itself off on the wrong foot, I of course decided this movie would be a solid candidate for one of the worst movies of the year.  I was only wrong in my assumption of how bad it would be.  It wasn’t as bad as I expected.  Still pretty bad, but it’s intended to be a kids movie so the fact that that its favorite joke is just saying poop different ways while a poop emoji is walking around seems vaguely acceptable.  Beyond that, the movie feels like it wants to be Wreck It Ralph and Inside Out while having nothing that made either of those two movies enjoyable.  It also spends a lot of its time making fun of everything wrong with the internet while ignoring the fact that it doesn’t exist without what it’s trying to mock.  I think the saddest thing about this movie is how many people I enjoy and respect were unable to make this movie anything worth existing.  Skip it.

 

AUGUST

THE DARK TOWER

I’m not exactly sure why the Dark Tower got beaten up as much as it did.  It wasn’t fantastic or anything, but it didn’t hurt my feelings either and that’s how the internet seemed to react.  Maybe they had some deep love for the books that this was based on, but I’d never really heard of them and don’t really care how they match up.  All I know is that Stephen King has a thing about little white boys psychically calling for help from older black men.  Based on just the movie, there’s not much to it, but it had they did some cool things with guns and reloading that made it interesting enough.  It’s just shocking that all these gun fights are happening as they did without white doves flying out of everything.  I didn’t really like the main kid in the movie too.  Something about his face, I think.  He kind of looked like a male Alicia Vikander.  On the other hand, I felt like Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey did serviceable jobs.  So maybe I’m alone in this, but I didn’t hate it.

KIDNAP

Kidnap feels like they were trying to make female Taken but instead of ass-whoopery, the main character is trained in stunt car driving.  So Halle Berry’s kid is kidnapped for unknown purposes by two hicks and she decides she needs to take the law into her own hands because the police suck.  Well turns out everyone in this movie sucks except the children and Halle Berry because the whole movie could’ve been stopped by the asshole in the beginning that completely ignores the hysterical woman screaming, “They have my son!” and could’ve helped by just turning his car slightly and blocking the ramp.  The hicks in the movie aren’t just evil abductors of children, but they’re also real stupid.  Halle Berry gets the upper hand on the fat white hick lady, puts on her jacket, and waves out the window at her partner, who somehow can’t see through the windshield or what color her hand is and mistakes Halle Berry for his fat white accomplice.  And the biggest issue is I think any criminal with even a fraction of a brain would’ve gotten rid of the kid 10 minutes or so into the chase.  This mom is NOT giving up and this kid is more trouble than he’s worth.  Either kill him or let him go.  Otherwise she may end up killing you with a minivan.  And that’s not a joke.  She does that.  So obviously, there were problems with the story and the logic in this movie, but it is pretty fast paced and reasonably thrilling, and Halle Berry really puts herself through a workout.  An acceptable movie, but one you can skip too.

ANNABELLE: CREATION

I’ve already done a video review for this movie, and I’ve also mostly forgotten it, so I’ll keep it brief.  If I remember correctly, I enjoyed it.  Pretty creepy without relying too much on gore and jump scares.  Good performances too.  If you want more detail, you should watch the video.  That guy in the video remembers it way better than I do.  Probably had some good jokes too.

THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is far from a ground-breaking action-comedy, but why should someone assume it needs to be.  I certainly don’t.  I expected some good action.  Check.  I expected some funny moments.  Check.  What I didn’t expect is Selma Hayek and Gary Oldman (because I didn’t look into the movie much and didn’t know they were in it), but they’re typically good and were here as well.  What I also didn’t expect is Reynolds and Jackson to have such good chemistry.  They were really fun together.  And the movie, though not mind-blowing, should suffice as an enjoyable experience.

LOGAN LUCKY

I’m no expert on the work of Steven Soderbergh.  I’ve seen a couple of his movies but not very many, and I’ve never found myself entirely impressed with them.  Critics apparently love him though, so that’s good, I guess.  For me personally, I thought Logan Lucky was a perfectly fine little heist movie with a great cast and a few laughs.  It didn’t strike me as much more than that though.

BIRTH OF THE DRAGON

Normally, seeing WWE Studios attached to a movie is what lets me know I don’t need to watch it.  This movie was different.  Not because I saw the trailers and thought it would be amazing, but because it was about Bruce Lee and probably had some decent fights in it, which would hopefully make up for lack of quality.  I wrote that sentence before I started watching the movie, which only proves that I can predict the future.  That’s exactly what happened.  It was a vaguely interesting movie about a fight between Bruce and Wong Jack Man, grandfather of Hugh Jackman.  Well, it’s KIND OF about that fight.  This movie actually takes the interesting (and ill-advised) approach of making that fight (and even those characters) kind of background noise, instead preferring to focus its attention on some fictional white guy student of Bruce’s that falls in love with a waitress he needs to save from the triads.  So that was pretty dumb, but it leads to a pretty good fight at the end.  And that’s all this movie was to me: some bullshit separating some solid fights.  And that’s good enough sometimes.

 

SEPTEMBER

IT

There is a video for this movie you can watch for detailed description and jokes long forgotten.  I made a pretty excellent Photoshop image for it though.  My thoughts of the movie have not changed.  I still thought it was entirely solid as a horror movie.  One thing that has changed since then is that I have a new respect for the occasionally annoying comic relief Richie, played by the best name in Hollywood Finn Wolfhard, because I have since seen Stranger Things, which is amazing.  Certainly better than this movie, but this movie is still good.  Go watch the video.

AMERICAN ASSASSIN

It’s like the Hitman’s Bodyguard, but boring and with no comedy.  A guy’s girlfriend gets killed by terrorists and he just can’t let it go so he spends the rest of his life infiltrating and trying to kill terrorists until the government decides to give him a paycheck for it.  Then Batman trains him and the guy that ruined Gambit shows up trying to do bad things and then they explode a bomb in the ocean.  The end.  Watch Hitman’s Bodyguard instead.  Much more fun.

MOTHER!

I’ve never really been a fan of Darren Aronofsky movies.  Too dark and confusing and full of themselves and up their own ass with how important they think they are.  And then comes mother!, which I apparently have to type like that but hopefully never will again.  I expected I would hate this movie, but I didn’t.  I didn’t like it because it was dark and gross and pretentious, but I would have to give it credit for being somewhat thought-provoking and artistically delivered, though also being filled with characters that were super annoying and did not act like humans.  Ed Harris and Javier Bardem, for instance.  Harris is Bardem’s biggest fan who apparently stalks him and finds where he lives, so you invite him into your house against the wishes of your wife, he gets to spend the night, invites his wife who also spends the night, they break your most cherished possession, get scolded, and then walk into the next room to have sex.  It gets worse from there.  The people were so unrealistic that the movie played more like a black comedy to me as things get more and more ridiculous.  It also becomes pretty clear that this is all a metaphor for God and religion and whatnot.  It keeps itself subtle for the first two thirds of the movie, but closes by going really heavy-handed with their metaphor.  In the end, I didn’t hate it, I didn’t like it, but it was at least interesting.

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

I found the first Kingsman movie to be surprisingly fun.  I would say roughly the same about the sequel without the surprise.  I like that both movies really don’t try to take themselves seriously, but do have a solid action movie mixed in with that.  Then they made a sequel and tried (as sequels often do) to give you more of the things they can manage to try to balance the lack of surprise, but surprise can get you a lot of points.  So, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is fine.

THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE

If the Lego Ninjago movie had come out before Lego Batman, I would say they’ve already lost their touch.  The Lego Movie was great.  Lego Batman was slightly less great, but still great in its own right.  Lego Ninjago is cute at best.  It all starts with a scene stolen right out of another Jackie Chan movie called The Forbidden Kingdom where a kid wanders into a Chinese antique store and is regaled with the ancient Chinese legend … of Lego Ninjago … Then they go into the CG stuff which is all about the Green Ranger or whatever whose dad is the bad guy and they fight with their giant, loud, robotic Megazords in true ninja fashion.  The story isn’t really that good, but there are some solid laughs along the way, most of which are delivered by Jackie Chan.  They also have a pretty impressive cast in the movie.  On the bad side, it wasn’t very impressive as a movie, especially when compared to the other Lego movies.  Also, something about the animation just didn’t seem right.  In video game parlance, it seemed like the frame rate was too low.  Of course, as the second Lego movie released this year, they may have just spent more time on the good one and rushed this out for a quick buck.  It’s not terrible, but just watch Lego Batman or The Lego Movie instead.

FLATLINERS

A bunch of doctors decide to temporarily kill themselves because it gives them special brain powers.  How do you think I felt about it?  This movie probably should’ve just been what the trailers made it look like to me: as if briefly killing themselves made their brain work better, but having touched the other side made them able to see dead people, which causes horror movie.  Instead it seemed like their special brain powers had the side-effect of making your guilt seem real and try to kill you unless you got it off your chest.  And it’s not good enough to just tell anyone, you have to get some repercussions for it.  When Marlo tells Ray that she screwed up once and killed someone while on call at the hospital, all that’s going to lead to is the two of you having sex…for some reason…  You have to actually tell the head of the hospital and get fired.  This movie had potential, but fell pretty short of it.

 

OCTOBER

HAPPY DEATH DAY

I realized after watching this movie that I can think of 3 genres that the Groundhog Day formula has fit itself into.  Comedy, obviously.  Then later, Sci-Fi/Action with Edge of Tomorrow, and now even into the Horror genre.  From the trailers, I thought this movie was going to be the worst, but was happy to find that it was actually pretty good.  I’ve already succinctly summed up the concept of the movie by saying Horror Groundhog Day, but they were able to make that work.  I was worried near the end that they were going to go for a really boring revelation of who the killer was, but then they were able to sneak a nice twist in instead.  Jessica Rothe performed her role well, but she certainly wasn’t likeable for most of the movie.  She was a rude little wench until she started getting killed a couple times.  I had a couple questions about her though.  First of all, why does someone who doesn’t want people to know it’s her birthday have a really annoying “It’s your birthday!” ringer on their phone?  And why is your ringer about your birthday?  Do you just change it to that ringtone for that day or is it always that ringtone?  Also, how are you going to start noticeably falling in love with a guy because you find out he DIDN’T date rape you after you woke up in his bed?  That’s supposed to be par, not the sign of a sweet guy.  You shouldn’t be impressed by his self-control.  And then questions in general: what kind of college chooses an ugly creepy football baby as their school mascot?  And how does the killer plan for every eventuality?  She goes under the bridge?  He’s there.  Next time stays in her room.  He’s there too.  Goes to the hospital and guess what?  He went to In N’ Out instead.  …Oh wait no, he’s killing you.  Regardless of those minor questions I had, this movie was surprisingly enjoyable.  Check it out.

THE FOREIGNER

Most of what I say about a Jackie Chan movie can be taken with a grain of salt because I’m going to have automatic affection for them.  I’ve loved Jackie Chan for years and don’t currently recall any movie I’ve seen of his bad enough to change that.  The Foreigner didn’t either.  It was actually fairly good, though admittedly not as good as I hoped it would be.  Jackie Chan’s daughter, Cho Chang, returns from Hogwarts (it really is Katie Leung.  I was so excited) and gets caught in a terrorist bombing.  After grieving, Jackie goes after the bomber to get revenge but essentially becomes a terrorist himself to exclusively Pierce Brosnan to try to get the names of the bombers from him, even though he only seems to have a slim connection and a gut feeling to decide Brosnan might know who did it.  The story was somewhat basic, but did have some characters whose motivations you stay questioning.  The movie did have some action and some fighting, but nowhere near as much as Chan’s movies typically would have, which I found a little disappointing.  Chan’s style of fighting in movies typically doesn’t lend itself to him being a highly trained badass.  He more seems to kick a bunch of people’s asses by accident in his movies, but it ends up working pretty well when it happens in this movie.  I think the thing people might find most impressive in this movie is that Jackie Chan gets to bust out some acting chops to go along with those karate chops, proving himself very competent in a dramatic role too.  I recommend this movie for a watch.

GEOSTORM

I have a particular fondness for epic disaster movies and have been known to watch my entire collection of them about once a year, so obviously I was going to see Geostorm when I heard about it.  One does not go into such a movie expecting a smart movie.  Just spectacle.  That’s all you need.  No one’s even going to watch this movie and find it remotely believable because we all know climate change is fake news.  Not terribly long into the movie though, you realize that it’s actually not really a disaster movie as we come to expect.  A disaster movie is when the Earth itself is trying to kill us.  This movie is more White House Down than 2012.  It’s something like the 3rd guy in line for President hacks the satellite system designed to stop mega-storms and starts using it to cause mega-storms, I guess hoping he’ll kill the President and VP in the process.  I don’t know how that’s going to work out for Ed Harris to cause a geostorm that lays waste to the world, but that’s what he wants.  So it’s dumb, the dialogue is extremely lackluster, and the performances range from mediocre to Gerard Butler looking amazed when he gets onto the space station even though he built it.  By no means required viewing, but decent enough dumb spectacle.

LEATHERFACE

I hate slasher movies.  They’re meant to be horror movies but the best they can ever muster or even bother to attempt is jump scares unless you have some deep-seeded phobia for red-colored corn syrup.  Besides buckets of corn syrup, all this movie has is a vague attempt to be interesting by providing an unnecessary origin story to Leatherface no one was really asking for, and some average performances from Iron Fist Finn Jones and the dude that played young Hodor.  Feel free to skip this movie.

AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING

You know when you watch a horror movie and wonder how these people don’t have at least a general idea how to react, as if they’ve never seen a horror movie before, but you have to guess that maybe in this universe they never had these movies?  What if you were watching an Amityville movie and they didn’t know this house was bad news and then they also reference (and even watch them in this movie) the 30 other Amityville movies?  Well then those people are dumb.  And they are!  With Bella Thorne spouting logic about her bedridden brother, “He’s my twin.  I can feel he’s gone!”  That’s just good science.  Also, she somehow gets blamed-and blames herself-for her brother being bedridden when he got injured trying to fight a guy that spread pictures of her?  That was his choice and she wasn’t even there.  She was just the inspiration for it.  She’s also a Goth chick that apparently decides it’s best to do her homework and walk around her house in her lacy pink panties, not that I’m complaining about seeing it, just that it doesn’t seem to fit the character.  She also sees a window raise up on its own and a ghost girl slam against it, and then immediately after scolds her little sister for startling her because she’s standing in the next room over quietly watching her?  I guess you could say that shitty parenting is the reason she grew up like she did.  Her mom was a real shitbag.  The only person she likes in this movie (or her family) is the bedridden brother and is pretty shitty to everyone else.  This movie is not scary, boring, most of the characters are unlikeable and not particularly well-performed, and it barely bothers to try.  As they say in this movie, “Remakes totally blow.”

 

NOVEMBER

THOR: RAGNAROK

Two easy things to say about Thor: Ragnarok are: 1) By far the best Thor movie to date, and 2) Most likely the most consistently funny Marvel Cinematic Universe movie (Deadpool being in the battle for funniest comic book movie ever may put up a fight though).  Wonderfully and hilariously written, well-directed, great performances, Cate Blanchett was hella hot as … whatever her character’s name was, and an overall fantastic and fun time at the movies.  I would say if there is some minor thing to say negatively about this movie, is that I was one of the people who found it odd that Thor was the way he was in all the other movies and yet in this movie he’s suddenly a really funny dude that doesn’t take these situations seriously.  Previously, he was only really delivering comedy as the butt of the joke with things like not understanding human society, but not actively making jokes himself.  But I accept that unexplained change in character because I was laughing and enjoying myself.  Great movie.

MAYHEM

This movie is essentially a comedic business world interpretation of 28 Days Later.  An infection breaks out in an office building of a disease that causes people to lose their inhibitions and become extremely violent.  Steven Yeun had just been wrongly terminated but had not left the building yet when the building gets quarantined so he makes friends with Samara Weaving and together they work their way up to the top for justice.  Pretty funny, very violent, and drenched in blood.  Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving are great, but at the time I had only seen her in this and Ash vs. the Evil Dead, so I’m pretty sure this gorgeous lady has a fetish for being covered in fake blood.  Not much to say about this movie besides it was pretty enjoyable for a movie I had no expectations for.  A good RedBox pick if you come across it.

JUSTICE LEAGUE

The best I can say about DC at this point is that they at least seem to be starting to figure out what they need to do.  They’re moving in the right direction, just not as fast as I would like them to.  Justice League suffers from coming out the same year as Wonder Woman, when fans looked at themselves and said, “Hey!  I guess they finally found the formula!  No more Suicide Squads and Batman v. Superman’s for these guys!”  The other thing it suffers from is characters.  Aquaman feels all wrong in performance though perfectly acceptable to me in appearance.  All you need to do is grab Momoa and say, “Be Khal Drogo but you can speak English and also talk to fish.”  Cyborg was a little bland and not very fun.  Batman was way too jokey, Wonder Woman didn’t have the same magic she did in her own movie, and the Flash.  Oh boy the Flash!  I’m not even a fan of the Flash and I know he’s all wrong.  Joking around and not being funny, talking about how he doesn’t know how to fight, and the worst affront: he doesn’t know how to run!  Flash, you had one job!  I know it would be a little weird in the audition process to say, “Okay, you have everything we want performance-wise, but can we go ahead and get you up on this treadmill real quick so we can make sure you don’t run like a goof?”  One positive note (besides being better than most DCEU movies by a little bit) is that they nailed them some Superman.  He was finally not a mopey bitch and was all truth, justice, American way, Boy Scout style Superman.  The negative side of that is that I hate Superman for reasons that this movie illustrates brilliantly.  The Justice League can’t beat their awful-looking, CGI baddie-du-jour and then Supes shows up as comic book Jesus and whips him.  All-powerful heroes are not interesting to me, and it makes the rest of the team look weak.  Still, I’d implore DC to not do anything rash like feeling you need to reboot everyone.  Everyone but Ezra Miller was fine, and can do well if you write them better in the future.  Even Ezra could be fine if you write him better and get him a physical trainer to teach him how to run.

COCO

I was not interested in seeing this movie.  Typically, Disney Pixar movies pique my interest, but I hadn’t heard anything about this movie to drive me to it.  Plus, I thought it was all about a dog because I misread their posters.  But, a friend of mine wanted to see it and, let’s face it; I don’t do anything important in my free time and had no excuse not to go.  Added bonus was that this friend is a Mexican and I could not pass up the opportunity to see the movie with a Mexican so I could turn to him every five minutes and ask, “What’s an ‘abuela’?”  And afterwards I could condescendingly explain to him that I understand his plight as a Mexican now that I’ve seen this movie.  Should I talk about the movie itself now?  Okay, it was pretty good.  I found myself really bored for the first half of the movie.  I wasn’t entirely sure what was causing that, but part of me blames the 7 hour Frozen movie I sat through right before this movie.  Eventually, I got on board with the movie and ended feeling that I enjoyed it.  And the end?  Heart-wrenching.  I cried like a bitch, and I’m not ashamed to say it.  Coco is pretty good and the ending is wonderfully touching.  I would also say that technically speaking there’s nothing wrong with the Frozen “short” that came before it, but it was way too long and not very impressive and got Coco started on the wrong foot.  Separately on the DVD release, probably fine.

 

DECEMBER

THE DISASTER ARTIST

Do you want to know how good this movie is?  If the answer’s no, why are you here?  For the yes crowd: this movie is so good that it inspired me to read a book!  I never read books!  …Okay, technically this time I didn’t read a book either, but I did listen to one on Audible.  (I recommend the Disaster Artist book too)  This was such a great movie.  It’s a real study and recounting of the process involved in the making of one of the worst movies of all time: The Room.  James Franco does a perfect Tommy Wiseau, his brother Dave does a good Greg Sestero (though admittedly he looks nothing like him and that beard was pretty unconvincing), and every character supports and delivers on all of the comedy and surprising occasional emotional moments.  And the cast is crazy.  I would say go look it up on Wikipedia or IMDb to see who’s in this, but why waste time with that when I’m just going to tell you to watch this movie instead?  The only caveat I feel I need to add is that I really have no idea what this movie will do to someone who has not seen The Room beforehand.  I have seen The Room (at least as it was presented as riffed by the great people at RiffTrax) and I can no longer access the brain of someone whose brain functions have not been permanently altered by watching that movie.  My assumption is that everyone will love this movie, but the people who watch The Room first will love it so much more.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

Because I was impatient, I saw this movie alone.  A week later, I saw it again because I felt bad that I abandoned my friend Chris the first time.  Another inspiration for seeing it a second time was because I enjoyed myself the first time, but when I got home the internet seemed to be up in arms against this movie, even going so far as to create a petition to force them to remake the movie the way they wanted it to be.  But as I said, I enjoyed myself with this movie so I didn’t sign that petition.  Also, I’m not a moron.  It wasn’t perfect and there were things that didn’t go the way I wanted, but it was still a fun ride and exactly the movie you would make when you’re mostly trying to progress the story a little and get people coming back for the final episode in the trilogy.  Now, if you somehow haven’t seen it yet you can stop here because I’ve told you my thoughts and now I’m getting into spoilers.  The thing I didn’t agree with was that they didn’t really give us anything about Rey’s parentage.  If she indeed comes from nowhere special it seems like a kind of boring and lackluster way to go, but acceptable.  Not every Jedi must be the child of someone special.  I was hoping she would be Luke’s child, but I think the nail’s in that coffin because he definitely didn’t treat her like she was his daughter at any point.  Luke was the next sticking point.  I don’t mind that Luke was uncharacteristically funny.  Nothing wrong with that to me.  Didn’t hurt Thor, won’t hurt Luke.  What I didn’t like is that they killed him, or at least how they killed him.  Obviously we all know that Carrie Fisher is dead and they had the perfect time to let her character pass in an emotional way, but then they pulled it back and she survived.  Since she’s dead in real life, wouldn’t it make more sense to let her die in the movie and replace her with Luke or Laura Dern instead of killing both of them and letting her survive?  Though Dern’s death was epic and emotional and I would hate to lose it.  Maybe they already have all her scenes shot and it will work out.  The next problem is HOW Luke died.  If you were going to kill him in the fight with Kylo anyway, why not just have him go down there in person and actually fight Kylo and then get Obi-Wan’ed at the end?  It takes away his badass points for surviving the barrage of blasts from the assault walkers and kind of makes him look like a bitch for hiding on a different planet instead of actually facing him.  But that’s the way they wanted to go and I didn’t hate them for it.  It’s just not the way I would’ve gone.  Of course, if I want a movie to turn out exactly as I want it, I should probably make a movie instead of just complaining about it on the internet.

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

Everyone should do me a favor and feel real stupid right now.  We all saw they were rebooting Jumanji, and a lot of people on the internet pitched a fit about it.  “It’s in a video game now?!  Bullshit!”  …Yeah.  People don’t play board games anymore unless they have a YouTube channel and aren’t allowed to play video games on it.  Personally, I saw they were making this movie and was skeptical.  Then I saw that it had The Rock, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan in it and said, “They may have something here.”  …Fine, I’ll give credit to Kevin Hart too.  I’m not a big fan of his, but he was good in this.  This movie was very funny and charming, and all carried effortlessly on the backs of their main cast, Jack Black in particular.  Jack Black and The Rock got to really show off here by playing characters they don’t typically get cast in.  The Rock is a nerdy high school student who wakes up as The Rock, and Jack Black has an even tougher time playing a self-obsessed high school girl who wakes up in Jack Black’s body.  I feel like Karen Gillan probably knows what it’s like to grow up a vaguely nerdy girl before she became super gorgeous, so she doesn’t get the same props, but watching her get taught how to seduce men by Jack Black and being so awful at it was hilarious, as was almost any moment involving Jack Black in this movie.  When he figures out how to use his new penis?  Priceless.  The only big negative I had to this movie was that the villain didn’t impress me, but the rest of the cast more than made up for it.  Stop being so in love with the original and go enjoy this one.

PITCH PERFECT 3

People might know already that I am a fan of the Pitch Perfect franchise though since it doesn’t seem like it makes sense they might constantly delete it from their brains.  I agree; it doesn’t really make sense that I enjoy these movies, but I do.  For me it’s about the songs (which are typically great), the comedy (which is typically solid, but not mind-blowing), and the cast (who are all great, though it’s also quite a bit about how hot some of them are).  Nothing has really changed for Pitch Perfect 3.  I don’t really care about the story as it’s all supposed to be set up for the other stuff.  The songs are still really good with the Riff-Off being my favorite in this movie (yes, I bought the soundtrack), although I did feel like I wanted more of them and that they took it a little easier on this film and didn’t do as many mash up songs that I like, instead just doing one song at a time beyond the Riff-Off.  There’s still a lot of comedy and very funny moments, some ridiculous and over the top that they somehow made work, like how are the Bellas performing on an exploding boat in the beginning?  They explain it!  And the cast is all still wonderful and are as hot as they ever were, sadly losing one of their hottest in Alexis Knapp, who was out with pregnancy early in the movie.  This movie is not the most spectacular and the other two are probably better, but I still enjoyed myself.  The biggest negative about this movie will be if they actually follow through on what the posters seem to be claiming and they make this the final one.  How is Fast and the Furious and Transformers going to continue ad nauseam till the end of time but there’s no room in this world for Pitch Perfect?!

BRIGHT

A pretty unspectacular movie with all the ingredients of a very spectacular movie.  A concept of a real world cop movie, but also there are Orcs and Elves and magic and shit is a pretty interesting premise.  A cast so impressive that it doesn’t even make sense, especially for a Netflix movie.  They have Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, and a bunch of other smaller roles but recognizable people.  And watching the movie, it certainly seems more expensive than a Netflix movie should be, with pretty good CG and makeup effects and lots of wanton destruction.  But ultimately they got all the right ingredients and then undercooked the soufflé.  Smith spends most of the movie being bitchy about his partner, who he doesn’t like because he’s an orc and because he didn’t keep him from getting shot in the beginning even though the guy walked out of a building and shot him immediately and Smith himself didn’t even have enough time to try to react so how the hell was he supposed to?  The bad guys are occasionally interesting to watch, but then do stupid things like hiding in the armory as the two cops they’re hunting come in and load up on weapons and bombs and then they decide to attack right after they’re fully loaded for battle.  This movie wasn’t awful though.  It’s surprisingly impressive and ambitious and has an interesting premise and tries to go for a note of social commentary with how blatantly racist everyone seems to be about anyone that’s not your race.  It’s just also not very good.  Netflix actually says that their “best guess” for my opinion of this movie is 4.9 out of 5.  Really, Netflix?  Does this maybe have something to do with the fact that you made this movie, or have I just been drunk every time I’ve rated a movie on your site?  I’ll be generous and give you a 2.5 or 3 instead.

 

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Underworld (2003)


A Full-Grown Man Bit You?

I recently found myself on a trip from work, and mostly superbly bored.  Thankfully, there was a movie theater within walking distance of the hotel I was staying at.  I was saved!  During the course of this week, I managed to fit in two movies.  Today’s movie is not one of them.  Now, before you go crazy about that long introduction to nothing, it does relate to today’s movie.  The movie I saw in the theater was the fourth part of this series.  But, before I reviewed the newest one, I felt like I needed to review the previous three.  Today, we get started with the movie Underworld, written by Danny McBride (not THAT Danny McBride) and Kevin Grevioux, directed by Len Wiseman, and starring Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Erwin Leder, Sophia Myles, Kevin Grevioux, Zita Gorog, and Wentworth Miller.

As we all know, vampires and werewolves do not get along.  We join this fray as two of the vampire’s elite soldiers, the Death Dealers, are tracking a group of werewolves, here called Lycans, who are themselves tracking a guy named Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman).  This situation devolves into a fight between the Death Dealers and the Lycans, and only the Death Dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale), the Lycan Raze (Kevin Grevioux), and Corvin walk away in tact.  Selene determines that the Lycans were hunting Corvin, but doesn’t know why.  I’ll tell you, Selene!  It’s because their leader, Lucian (Michael Sheen), is trying to create a hybrid of the vampires and the Lycans, and Michael Corvin is the last remaining descendant of the original immortal, Alexander Corvinus, and the only one likely to survive taking on the vampire and Lycan diseases simultaneously.  Selene is also not having fun times at home because Kraven (Shane Brolly), the guy currently running the household, is trying to tap that and she’s having none of it.  She wants to wake up her father-figure, Viktor (Bill Nighy), to help her fix a few issues, like the Michael situation and the fact that only Kraven asked her to the prom, and he’s so totally lame.

I remembered this movie being better than it turned out to be.  After having just recently watched the fourth movie, I expected this movie to be heavy on the action and light on the story, but this movie felt a little like the opposite.  The story is pretty good and interesting, but it definitely could’ve used more action, in my opinion.  The story is vaguely a mystery, but it’s never really kept all that mysterious to the audience.  We pretty much know what’s going down.  The characters in the movie remain oblivious to it much longer.  After that, it’s not a whole lot more than your average vampire/werewolf movie.  But, in a world where vampires go into the sunlight and become gay sparklefarts, this movie gets a little more love from me.  There were a couple of good lines in the movie as well, like when Michael was asking Selene what they do with the bullets after they interrogate the Lycans and she said “We put the bullets back in.”  They also did a good job hiding the big betrayal at the end of the movie.  But, on this watching, I found myself a little let down by the amount of action.  It was mostly cool and stylized when it happened, but it was pretty spread out here.  They probably assumed their story was a lot more compelling than I actually found it, but they should’ve given us a little more, and probably a little better action.  First of all, these bitches in this movie couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn from three feet away.  98% of the bullets fired in this movie hit everything around their mark, but never the mark itself.  The only time I can presently remember anyone hitting what they aimed for was when Selene decided the best method for retreating was to point her guns at the ground and spin in a circle, effectively cutting a hole in the ground for her to fall through and then run off.  And speaking of falling: the director apparently loves to watch Beckinsale drop from high places.  We watch her jump from high locations and drop lightly to the ground about 10 times in this movie.  It’s not particularly interesting visually, so I’m not sure why I was watching it so much.  It seemed like the director was thinking that we may have forgotten that she was a vampire, so they better do something that other people couldn’t, like drop from 6 stories up and walk it off.  But I was with you, Wiseman, you don’t have to keep showing gravity’s money shots all the time.  The werewolves in the movie could’ve looked better, most of them being fairly reminiscent of Tokka from the second Ninja Turtles movie.  Sometimes they were entirely CG, but not all that convincing.  Other times they were kind of animatronic but they didn’t move very fluidly.  The vampires had a much easier day in the makeup chair, just having to be pasty white and wear a pair of contacts.  It also occurred to me during this movie that wearing vampire teeth apparently gives most people what I called “kissy face”, but I don’t feel like defining what I mean by that.  YOU FIGURE IT OUT!  Their transformation is also nowhere near as impressive.  The transformations of the Lycans, from humans to werewolves, was actually pretty well done.  Their bones shift in a way that makes your skin crawl, and they pop out hair as if they were Ron Jeremy or something.  The vampires?  Their teeth get a little longer and they hiss at people a lot.  I did like the whole process involved with waking Viktor up, involving an elaborate mechanism to bring his coffin out of storage, then the blood has to be focused or else his performance when he wakes up will be really quirky, and then you attach some blood bags to his back for a couple of hours.

The performances in this movie were surprisingly solid.  Kate Beckinsale’s main goal in this movie seemed to be to wear skin tight leather and be ridiculously hot, and she knocks that part right the hell out of the park.  She also acted the part really well.  But at one point Kraven slaps her and, though she does that typical thing where she just looks right back at him defiantly, it made me wonder why the fuck this bad ass Death Dealer would let some asshole she hates already slap her in the face.  There was one weird scene where she, I guess, just took a shower and wrote the name “Viktor” in the fog on the mirror, then wiped it off.  I have no idea why this happened at all.  Thanks for wasting a minute of my life, movie!  Scott Speedman didn’t really do anything for me in this movie.  I was neither for nor against him.  I was hoping there would be a little more awesomeness out of him when he turned hybrid, but he was actually fairly ineffectual.  When he finally turns into a hybrid, his first big movie is to shove Bill Nighy like they were fifth graders on a schoolyard.  Granted, that shove put him through a wall and down a story or two, but it was a shove nonetheless.  Speaking of Bill Nighy, his quirky performance really works for the character here.  He was supposed to have fragmented memories, so his little weird mannerisms worked really well for it.  He was pretty bad in the fight scenes though.  He’s an old man, so I can’t blame him, but they maybe should’ve gone stunt double a little more than they did.  The first time I had seen this movie, I had no idea who Michael Sheen was, so I didn’t think much of him.  But having added Tron: Evolution and 30 Rock to my memories, I paid a lot more attention.  And he was really good.  He’s actually a funny, charming guy from what I’ve seen in interviews, but he can be a badass if he wants.  Shane Brolly is a very unlikeable character, but that’s what he’s going for.  It did bother me that he had this hot chick hounding after his nuts for probably centuries, but didn’t really catch on until the events of this movie.  That begs the question: How many Kravens does it take to screw in a hot blonde?  14, of course.

I remembered Underworld being much more awesome than it turned out being, but it was still enjoyable.  The story was good, but nothing really special.  The action was okay when it happened, but it should have happened much more.  And the look was pretty good, but they probably didn’t have very much money for special effects at this point.  We’ll see if that improves for the next movie.  But, for now, I still think Underworld is worth a watch.  I own it on DVD, and I don’t feel very bad about that.  So check it out if you haven’t already.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll be saying that the fourth Underworld is awesome, but you really need to catch up on the story to understand it.  Either way, Underworld gets “I want to stay with you…” out of “Your incompetence is becoming most … taxing.”

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