Archive for the 'Movie Reviews' Category

07
Jan
18

The Last Jedi – A Few Thoughts

I finally caved and gave Disney another chance to hurt me inside. They did not disappoint.

There’s plenty of complaints regarding the story, and in most instances I agree with them, but I’m not going to cover that, here; for one, I’m trying to be nice with my spoilers and for another, everyone’s already ranted about them at length, typically since about 3 AM on the 15th of December.

But there are some definite problems with the film in terms of its basic structure and concepts, and that’s what I’m going to discuss here.

First, for the sake of all that is holy, stop trying to be funny! I mean it. There are moments in the original trilogy (and even a couple in the prequel trilogy and Rogue One) that were genuinely funny. Typically they were of the dry sort, natural sounding snark (the best example I can think of is K2S0 asking “Did you know that wasn’t me?” after Jyn blasts some random Imperial droid), but flowed naturally from the character’s natures and the situation. The Last Jedi is full of forced attempts at humor, and what’s worse, they don’t even tend to be that funny if you take them as just jokes rather than part of the narrative. There’s exactly one of those moments that made me laugh, and I was angry at it for making me do it because it was so against the grain of the character as presented thus far and the scene in general. (For those wondering, it’s Hux’s “Do you think you got him?” comment.)

Second, there are so many plot holes and gaps in the logic used that you might as well just watch the pretty lights and ignore anything that’s going on. That’s before you get to the issues with the overall story itself, mind. Just the setup and execution is awful if you stop to think about it, let alone what it’s trying to sell you.

Third, much like Revenge of the Sith, it feels like a whole lot of buildup for things that should be bloody awesome, and just fall flat. It’s not quite on the scale of Obi-Wan vs. Sithbot turning into a lame bike race and ending in blaster fire, but despite plenty of opportunities for epic lightsaber duels or awesome displays of Force witchery, we get one battle royale that feels slow, forced and honestly dull (it makes the fight scene in the arena during Attack of the Clones look awesome in comparison), and some more whinging from Emo Ren and that’s about it.

Last, there’s the Leia problem. Now, admittedly, she died after they were done shooting from my understanding, so perhaps they didn’t see a way to patch this one over… but given their insistence that they will not be using any kind of stock footage or CGI wizardry to have Leia appear in Episode IX, I have to wonder what they think they’re going to do about her. Just kill her off-screen, perhaps mentioned in the title crawl? Have her vanish into Force ghostiness without comment? There are at least two points in Last Jedi where they could have done a quick pickup reshoot and give her a proper sendoff that wouldn’t leave the only remaining option to be “Leia fell into a plothole and isn’t coming back.”

I may not be the audience Star Wars is aiming at anymore. I can accept that. But I still had a small sliver of hope. The Force Awakens, while not amazing in my eyes, was still the best thing to come out of Star Wars since Return of the Jedi.

I kind of agree with Luke’s line from the trailer, here. “It’s time for the Jedi to end.”

30
Jul
16

Film Review: They’re Watching

Was casting the net about on Netflix, looking for something interesting to watch, when the suggestions coughed up a little flick called They’re Watching; from the description, it sounded like a sort of updated Blair Witch; camera crew heads out and finds more than they bargained for, this footage being their last testament to the world.

Sounded alright, so I clicked. One thing to note, it’s rather long. Just a hair over two hours, I believe. Which is pretty lengthy for a horror flick, especially one that is essentially the work of unknowns. Not an instant “Nope,” but something that bears mentioning, as usually 90 minutes is about as long of a welcome as this sort of material has with most folks.

For the first hour and 45 minutes, I was actually reasonably entertained. The camera work is done well, and because the crew – in this case, employees of a network producing a reality show about worldwide house-hunters and renovators – seem to actually know how to use their toys, we’re treated to far less of the “shaky cam” that usually permeates such fare. When it does happen, it’s because something interesting or exciting is happening, so it actually accentuates the film instead of just leaving you nauseated the entire time. The cast and characters, while being a little stereotypical, are all well done and fit nicely into their roles, and the mystery of just what’s going on is doled out in properly suspenseful nuggets. Perhaps a little slowly – the viewer will likely get to the punchline long before the characters do – but all in all it was done well. It had humor, suspense and a dash of mystery without beating you over the head with any of it.

Then the last fifteen minutes happen, and pretty much crap all over the rest of the movie. It felt like an art-focused director or writer had come to a studio, hat in hand, with an almost finished movie that was pretty good, and asked for some help getting it out there, and the studio execs smiled and nodded and told our little artists that they had a fine movie, one everyone should see… But there’s just this one, really tiny, change they’d like to make. Kay? Then they hired Michael Bay and Paul W.S. Anderson to scribble in an ending to appeal to the mass market and cackled while the original artists recoiled in terror at the abomination that was the result.

I prefer to believe that. It makes it easier. Otherwise I have to think that the same folks who made the first 7/8ths of the movie, the well-done and amusing hour and forty-five minutes that was set to a slow burn with a dramatic reveal that would probably leave all our characters dead and nothing but a black screen to show for it, actually intended for fifteen minutes of massive, badly CG’d explosions of gore that kept making me think of Mortal Kombat fatalities. That those same people who had done such an interesting job with the scene of the stupid Americans defiling a somber funeral, who had perfectly conveyed a party-gone-wrong when the Americans almost bond with the natives and then spoil it by throwing around the wrong word at just the wrong (or right?) time, who had managed to keep a delicious twist properly hinted at and yet not completely blasted out or spoiled before the final reveal, had actually intended for this low-rent, ill-fitting and utterly retarded ending to their masterpiece.

Yeah. I want to believe outside meddling and a second crew tacked that on at the last minute. Because it hurts too much inside otherwise.

Had the movie gone it’s course as the majority of the film seemed to be setting up, I’d easily give it three, edging into four stars. As it is, leaving such a nasty taste in my mouth, it gets two. Barely. And that mainly on the strengths of the first portion, a bitter nostalgia for the film we could have had.

The real thing to consider: Is it worth watching? Well, that depends. How good are you at pausing, pretending something else happened, and skipping the last fifteen minutes? If that’s something you feel you can do in good conscience, then by all means, give it a watch. When the power goes out, just assume our villain dispatches the remainder of the crew while the camera sits on the floor records it all, then snap to black or our villain’s face as they heft the device and cackle into it. You’ll be satisfied.

For those of us who had to be exposed to the telportation, lightning bolts, dudes getting turned into acid-spewing piles of frogs and all the rest, however… No. A million “nopes.” Do not engage.

What about you folks? Have you seen it? What did you think? Let us know in the box below!

24
Jul
16

Film Review: Lights Out

It’s out! It’s out! Hooray!

But first, watch this:


Pretty freaky, eh? Well, if you enjoy that and enjoy something resembling “purer” horror, that goes back to the plain old fear of what may be lurking in the dark, you might want to give Lights Out a try. The plot bay bludgeon you over the head with simplicity, and the acting won’t be winning any awards, but the straightforward simplicity and easy-to-grasp presentation makes it quite a joy to watch. The fact that it’s mostly done via practical effects instead of digital while still looking suitably disturbing is just a bonus.

Overall high points? Diana is creepy. The actors are, while a little bland, doing at least a passable job, and the interrelationships between them work well enough. The ghost has rules and abides properly by them at all times with no noticeable “But how come it worked that time moments?” that I could detect.

The downsides? The plot is sometimes a little heavy handed. The characters are just plain stupid at certain points. (Notably regarding the absence of a father figure and the use of a UV lamp.) At least one character (we’ll call her Cop #2) falls into a plot hole and never returns. There were a lot of unanswered questions at the end (though, to be fair, that sort of may be the point.) And I want more. I would love to see a prequel centered around Diana and Sophie’s interactions as children. A sequel’s not out of the question, though I don’t know how one would do it without violating some of the rules set forth in this film. Still, I’d probably go see it anyway.

Final word? Best horror film I’ve seen come up in a while. Really the first I’ve been able to enjoy since the Poltergeist reboot. Infinitely better than It Follows, which showed such promise. So go check it out, if horror is your thing. Let me know what you think about it down below.

Until next time, kids.




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