Saturday, December 31, 2016

Movie Reviews : Presidential Apocalypse Edition

Greetings, imaginary readers.  Long time no et cetera.  Shall we?

So I'm pretty sure Adora and I only saw one movie in 2016.  I think that's the lowest count since... ever.  And who do I blame?  Society.  Also: Donald Trump.  [Deep breath.] TRUUUUUUMMMP!!!!

Moving on...

The one movie we did see in theaters this year was a good one.  So let's talk about it.

Rogue One : * * * *

I also gave The Force Awakens four stars, which in retrospect feels a little generous.  I'm not going full South Park on this or anything, but most of what I really loved about that movie was that I was basically watching Star Wars again.  Rogue One, despite the fact that it is essentially a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead-style behind-the-scenes story that runs parallel to the original Star Wars, is vastly more original.

This is not to say that Rogue One doesn't lean heavily on  the source material.  As astute critics have pointed out, RO completely depends on you having seen SW-- it never attempts to explain things like the Force, and the ending would be deeply unsatisfying if you didn't already know that this is not the end.

But, whatever, I have seen Star Wars, so I do know that the Rebels succeed in blowing up the Death Star. (Oops!  Spoilers!)  So to me this was a wonderful companion piece that took nothing away from the original and filled in some holes-- even some that I never really thought about before.  (Like: Why isn't there a big old Rebel fleet at Yavin 4 when the death star shows up at the end of Star Wars?)

There is definitely some of the usual Hollywood baloney in that the film often makes the choice to show a big cool explosion instead of having people (on either side) do something smart.  But this is the nature of the medium-- movies are more explodier and less smartier than books.  I had a great time, as did HRH.


5. Finding good ways to use previously unused footage of Red Leader and Gold Leader from the original trilogy.  Very cool.  This is the kind of recycling I can really get behind.

4. Warwick Davis playing a little alien dude with a BFG.  I wanted more of this guy.

3. The sarcastic killbot and the we're-not-jedi monks.  Make this a TV show, in the vein of Kung Fu or Scooby-doo.  Throw in Warwick Davis.  To hell with continuity.

2. Darth Effing Vader striding down a dark and smoky corridor, cutting down rebel after rebel.

1. Five year old in the movie theater behind me asking aloud, "Are they dead?" during the final scene when our heroine and hero are nuked into radioactive vapor.  Hilarious.


5. Zombie Leia.  Her lines were good, but I just couldn't stop wondering if she was a cartoon or a Cylon skinjob or what.

4. No Bothans.  And, yes, the internet did remind me that the Bothans died to get the plans for the second death star-- not the first one.  And, no, I do not care.  This movie should have killed a Bothan every three minutes.  Two, maybe.

3. Zombie Tarkin. Shudder!  Seriously uncannied my valley. Definitely knocked off a half star for this.  Maybe a whole star.

2. Forrest Whittaker dying for absolutely no reason at all, other than he didn't want to jog down to the spaceship. Lame.  I mean, I would definitely die in that scene for the same reason, but I go to the movies for an escape.

1. Tarkin and Leia.  So terrible.  I can't stress this enough.

Anyway, thanks, J.J. Abrams for a great Star Wars movie.  It was tons of fun.  And I look forward to handing over my money to see the next standalone Star Wars flick: OLYMPUS MON: THE MOTHMA STORY (coming in 2018).


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Movie reviews: 2015, the year in review edition

Okay, so it hasn't been quite a year since the last movie reviews post, but I'm going to go ahead and jump in anyway.

Why? Because my lady is at the grocery store and the boys are asleep. And I don't have anything else to do. Apparently.

Ant-Man : * * * * 1/2

Soooooo fun. The science is completely inconsistent and silly even for a comic book movie, but I enjoyed the heck out of this flick. The Thomas the Tank Engine sequence perfectly encapsulates everything that makes this movie tick: thrilling action, light-hearted comedy, believable characters, and a blithe disregard for the immutable laws of physics.

For the first ten minutes of the movie, I wasn't sure about Paul Rudd. He reminded me of Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern in all the wrong ways. But I ended liking his Scott Lang almost as much as his Brian Fantana or Bobby Newport. The real scene stealer, though, was Michael Peña as Luis. Hilarious!  Every line he delivered was pure gold.

Bottom line: Even though both the last episode of Lost and the last 200 hours or so of The Hobbit greatly depleted my reservoir of like for Evangeline Lilly, I still can't wait to see Ant-Man and the Wasp.

The Martian : * * * 1/2

Not nearly as good as the book, but still very good. And Matt Damon was much better than I expected. I completely believed him (and liked him) as an astronaut. Not so much Jessica Chastain. Removing her from this movie entirely would bump it up at least a half star. Maybe a whole star. The same for the execrable two minute epilogue at the end. Blecch.

Hey and Michael Peña again! And he was great! Boy am I ready to see everything else that guy is in. Hollywood, take note.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens : * * * *

Yeah, this is pretty much a remake of the original in lots of ways, but who cares. It's a pastiche, an homage, and it comes from a place of love (and fanboi squee).  So yay Han and Chewie flying the Millenium Falcon!  Yay tough old Grandma Princess Leia! Yay emo Kylo Ren!  Yay Finn and Rey and BB-8!  Yay stormtrooper Daniel Craig! Yay Star Wars!

But just to prove I am not just enraptured to be reliving my childhood, booooo pretty much all the CGI aliens. Especially that refugee from the Hobbit heptalogy Maz Kanata. Booooo. In addition to looking awful, Yoda she is not. And booooooooo Supreme Leader Snoke. Seriously, that is the worst villain name in the history of the universe.

Anyway, that's all for now. Until next time, my imaginary readers, feel free to form your own opinions about movies.

I will correct you later if you are wrong.