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Good Boys (2019)
Started great, then went overboard
The worldview of children is always hilarious, especially when they try so hard to be cool and pretend to know everything about exotic things like sex, number of sips of beer, parties and so on. So imagine three kids who go through this adventure in order to learn how to kiss, because they were invited to a "kissing party". The concept is both funny and really sad, considering we are talking about social pressure applied to 12 year old children. Anyway, the movie started great. It was endearing, funny and had a good premise and reasonable actors (and we all know how hard it is to find decent child actors). However after just 20 minutes it went completely off the rails. Instead of surfing the funny vibe, the makers of the film just ramped everything up to 1000%. Smiles became exaggerated, shouts hysterical, skewed childish worldview grotesque and everything unnatural and feeling fake.
Bottom line: after a great start, I just couldn't continue watching it. The attempt to make it all larger and funnier made it creepy.
The Kid Who Would Be King (2019)
Better than it was reasonable to expect from a children's movie
British folklore (Arthur and his pesky knights), family friendly with a good moral, kiddie adolescent protagonists and it feels like the good episodes of Doctor Who. Don't expect something spectacular, but consider the quality of other kids movies, the money grabbing condescending crap that assumes all children are morons. This is not like that. Top marks to Angus Imrie, who played a great kid Merlin and who I don't doubt would make for a good Doctor some day? Reminded me of Richard E. Grant.
Ookami kodomo no Ame to Yuki (2012)
A metaphor for raising children
In a Japan that closely scrutinizes people's behavior and wants to make everyone the same, a woman moves in the countryside to raise her two children. The wolf thing is a metaphor for how different people need to live their lives according to their own beliefs and feelings. The animation is very nice and the story has many great moments, however the pace is very very slow. Other than the mother raising her children by herself and the things the children do, nothing much happens, but it's a beautiful movie.
Stan & Ollie (2018)
A tear jerker
This is the story of the relationship between Laurel and Hardy as seen in their last tour together in 1953-54. They are old now, people are not into their shows anymore and old wounds keep them apprehensive of each other. But they are still going, because what else are they going to do? In the end, their friendship is what matters.
It was a nice, but uneven story. John C. Reilly's Hardy was good, but Steve Coogan shone as Laurel. This movie made me want to see the old films they did such a long time ago. There was this scene where Laurel says that in their movies they only knew each other, not the other people in the sketches, and vice versa. I didn't think about it until that scene, but their comedy was terribly lonely and this film gets to the heart of that.
A very well acted film decrying the undignified finale of the duo that put smiles on the faces of Americans during the Great Depression, yet showing that their strong friendship had always been the point of it all.
Doesn't do anything
Imagine a story about the man who singlehandedly invented Anglo fantasy, who wrote Lord of the Rings, invented at least one language, influenced all fantasy computer games ever made. What would you put in it? The feelings of fellowship to his closest friends? The heart shattering love for a woman that seems more magical and alive than any other? The battles he fought? The evil that seemed to permeate the world and that had to be fought, regardless of consequences? Maybe his thoughts as he wrote his works?
Well, this movie tries to do that, only it doesn't go anywhere. His friendship with his colleagues is the most prominent thing, but without presenting anything that made that friendship strong except getting drunk with his mates and talking geek. Then there is the love for his lodging mate Edith, which he ends up marrying, also episodic and chaste. His children only appear at the end. The war is shown from a fever induced quest in the trenches of the battle of the Somme to find his friend. The film moves from him almost being expelled to him being a university professor in a few scenes. The story ends just as he starts writing The Hobbit, so his writing years are not even in this. The most personal conflict you see in the film is when he punches his friend and immediately apologizes.
It's not that the movie wasn't accurate, I have no idea if it was, but it felt as if Tolkien was a really really boring man and the most exciting part of his life, even dramatized and stitched together was still really boring. There are no bits in the film that made me feel anything for anyone. Capitalizing on the Tolkien name, this movie goes nowhere.
Escape Room (2019)
Escape and don't watch it
The movie is not bad in itself, it's just that everything in it is a cliche. If you didn't think escape rooms are dumb before, you will certainly feel this way now. The thrill of the ordinary guy caught in terrifying circumstances fails to make any impact when you don't have any characterization, when you know it's a game, when you get information as you go along, so you can't feel you're part of it and when you know it's a game inside a movie! And that ending...
Bottom line: couldn't feel a thing for any of the characters except the obvious final girl. They wouldn't let me. The game was rigged.
The bastard child of F&F and The Expendables
You get the charismatic meat heads, you get the hot lady, you have the geeky scientist and the evil villain that fights against humanity. It's a team up thing, and it occasionally has cars, and there are a lot of punches and things hitting faces and some scenes with Deadpool in them and many red shirt StarTrek guys. It's fun, even when you know it's completely stupid, that physics doesn't work like that, that when you identify with the strong champions of humanity who protect the weak, the makers of the film identify you with the weak, and they are right. Mass media doesn't work like that, weapons don't work like that. Hell, women don't work like that. Viruses don't work like that.
Bottom line: occasionally funny, lots of testosterone, no sense whatsoever, two hours long.
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines (2019)
The origin story in Wonder Woman, but bare bone with stupid villains
It could have been interesting, but it failed by being a clone of all the DC animated technological animations, where everything is badly drawn, computer animated and everybody and their grandmother have some shiny tech that is neither explained nor used to its full potential. If you stop to think about it, with that tech they don't need superheroes at all.
Mugen no jûnin (2017)
An almost perfect movie, from cinematography to story
I had no expectations starting to watch this film. Then it seemed like a sword fighting for revenge (and protecting things, It's a Japanese movie, after all). Then it morphed into something more, where every person involved is a human being, with their own reasons for doing things and their own principles, even the villains. If it weren't for some cringe inducing scenes (the women in this film can't seem to know how to act) it would have been a perfect movie.
Bottom line: came for the swords, stayed for the story.
Halo: The Fall of Reach (2015)
If you ignore the terrible animation, it's fun.
It all felt like someone strung up all the scenes from a game to make a story. I asked myself if it were fan made. The animation wasn't only weak, it was slow. The whole thing's an hour long, but at what I consider normal speed, it's probably more like 45 minutes. I watched at 2x and it was OK. Also there were some scenes that were perfect candidates for eye candy, like the explosions of ships and the fights. They had no budget for those.
Now, about the story, it's an origin story of this character in a game called Halo that I have never played or seen played, so I can only comment on it as an independent thing. Young children are abducted and turned into supersoldiers just in time to fight an aggressive alien species. I don't know why they called it The Fall or Reach, since nothing fell. Just as I was getting invested in the story the film ended.
Bottom line: nothing spectacular, not in terms of production or storyline, but it is an animation probably made using a game engine for a novel written for that game. What did you expect?
Good direction and acting, but it felt a bit off. Plus, a musical.
The story was the bare bone Aladdin: thief and princess fall in love, evil vizier, placeholder sultan, funny monkey and evil parrot. Lots of bling, stupid songs and dance, the end. It must be an American and Indian thing to sing and dance during a movie and think it brings something positive to it. For me it just made it all silly. No depth of story, character, nothing to learn from it, a waste of the talents of the actors and the director, which clearly did a good job. Also, Will Smith must hate blue face paint, because all of his genie routine was really really really bad face CGI.
Doom: Annihilation (2019)
A formulaic plot, but exactly what I was expecting
When I think Doom, I always have in mind Doom 1 and 2, the original games, with the silly pixelated sprite animation and the weird sounds and music. It wasn't so much horror as cheesy action. So when you get another low budget movie called Doom, you can't really expect much. Silly weapons, evil demons, lots of shooting. And that is what you get, with some typical horror plot thrown in of experimentation with alien technology on Phobos, the compulsory arrogant scientist with a British accent, the brave soldier - which in this case is the really cute Amy Manson - and some bad CGI.
Is it scary? Nope. You see everything coming a mile away. Is it funny? No. It takes itself seriously for some reason. It borrows the game elements: the levels, the weaponry, the colored key cards, and uses them in the plot, like they were supposed to make sense. Is the action amazing or the background story captivating? No. Like a blockbuster or a McDonald's burger, It's exactly what you would expect, with absolutely no surprises. The best part of the movie was how cute Amy Manson was.
On its own, average, but coming from Besson, awful
Besson seems to be fixated on this story of the super sexy killer female spy. Anna is the rehash of Nikita, with only minor changes and a lot less style. It's basically the Ocean 11 version of the original, with less realism and cruelty and a higher body count. Just watch the 1990 movie and forget about this. I know everything gets remade after 30 years, but who the hell remakes their own movies?
The acting was good, the action scenes were solid, Sasha Luss was beautiful, but I would have much preferred a Rocky/Rambo style sequel with Anne Parillaud than this crap of a film.
Easy Virtue (2008)
Painfully based on a play, starts well, ends in overdrama
I love most actors in this film. They are all grand and their acting here is top notch, too. And yes, that includes Ben Barnes who showed real talent in The Punisher series. Yet the plot is so obviously based on a play, with all the melodrama and panache that are typical of theater. There is no movie adaptation, it's just a very well acted play on a very expensive set and filmed. And while the setup was grand and showed so much promise, the ending kind of fizzles. Maybe I am spoiled by all the films that build up tension and solve it in the end and it's hard to appreciate something that builds tension then doesn't solve anything at all. No character arc worth mentioning except for maybe Colin Firth's character.
To summarize, Jessica Biel exudes a wonderful presence, both sensual and grounded, to contrast the fanciful charade of lordly British pretense, but the confrontation only brings forth a few amusing situations and no character development. Imagine taking your new wife to your mother's and them not getting along. That's the whole plot, with some extra flamboyance added to make it seem interesting. Alas, it was not. Too bad of all the good acting: both the adaptation and I dare say the source material were sub par. Oh, and if you feel that my language is ridiculously pretentious, that's how they speak in the movie.
Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)
I was quite dissatisfied with the story. The plot was convoluted, with a lot of personal issues that either went nowhere or went really off-book (can't say much about it without spoiling it, but you'll see). The ending was a bit predictable, then was somewhat invalidated by the end credits scenes. Technically it was great, the acting was top notch - maybe except for the annoying sidekicks that brought nothing to the film, but it felt off. Too technical, perhaps, I just didn't feel it. The jokes fell flat, the action was pointless because there was no back story and the big reveal came after the credits. Seriously, you just have to watch the end credits scenes to understand much of the film.
Bottom line: merely average.
Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)
A slow indie examination of our motivations for living plus a love story
You know that guy who can't live without a woman who can barely acknowledges he existed? What if he killed himself and went to another world, only a duller and even less worth living in? And what if he found himself and also reasons to live, even there? This is a funny little film, with good acting and a lovely script. Attention to details and people clearly loving their work adds to the cool calm feeling of the movie. I recommend watching it, but don't expect anything grand; it's something understated and thoughtful.
The funny part is that the ending seems to be optimistic, but if you think about it a little, our hero is back where he started.
You know when something makes so little sense you just know it has to be magic? That's King of Monsters for you. I know people just want to see monster fights and the hell with everything else, but even there it kind of flopped, since we have all that backstory that makes. no. sense. I mean, can't we just do a lot of CGI, say "Godzilla, king of monsters, in the red corner. Whatever, in the blue corner. Fight!". Really... just... let them fight! Why waste my time with anything else than pure magic: CGI monsters battling each other, with no regard to their shape, characteristics or abilities, just random attacks, like 5 year olds playing MK.
Critters Attack! (2019)
The four stars rating does not mean it's better than a one, it means it isn't even funny, even when drunk with friends. From what I barely remember from Critters it was tongue in cheek and while very gory, also really funny. This movie is none of them: stupid puppets, bad CGI, nothing funny, wooden acting, lame gore, but what is worse than anything: its story is that a good black and white critter comes to save us from the evil toothy ones. How dumb do you need to be to steal wholesale the plot from Gremlins? But what tops it all is that the "savior" is female! Seriously? You managed to destroy the Critters concept, plagiarize Gremlins, make a complete garbage of a movie, but squeeze some feminist agenda in there, just to that you hurt that, too?
Bottom line: this movie is not just bad, it's toxic. It should put people in jail.
Dunn Dunn Dunn Dunn Dunnnn
A movie written by the Dunns in which Jackson A. Dunn is the lead actor portraying an anti-Superman. In a world that has not heard of DC, a family finds an infant alone in the woods next to an alien spacepod and decides to adopt him. Yet, when his alien powers manifest, he is just a weird, frustrated and homicidal kid. The film doesn't really end anything other than kill a bunch of people for no reason and the recipe is classic horror movie: the distraught faces, the dumb ideas, the country town in a flyover state, the "I love you but I fear you" bull, the jump scares.
In short, this film is a classic jump scare horror with absolutely no story and just a basic idea to go on. It could have been one of those "The Haunting of..." things and you wouldn't have known the difference.
Dark Phoenix (2019)
A real failure to capture any feeling of story
The more I think about it, the least I think of this movie. A story about something that is not named merging with Jean Grey, aliens that are not named coming to take control over it - by using sheer number and physical strength, obviously, a government that goes from hailing the X-Men to mutant detention facilities in a day and characters that switch from love to murderous hate in seconds. Nothing makes any sense! The film connects to none of the previous films, has actors in it just for the sake of killing them off or doesn't have them at all, in some cases. It's just a standalone X-men-like film that just doesn't seem to be part of the same thing. It looks like someone tried to make a Mutant-X film and randomly got the rights for the X-Men in the process. Why was this done at all?
A Dog's Way Home (2019)
If you love animals, you can't not enjoy the movie, but it's cliche after cliche
A dog is rescued by animals lovers, then separated from them by heartless bureaucrats and then has to make her way home while chased by coyotes, helped by her cat family and having to deal with crazy homeless captain Adama. It's a heart warming, bad CGI formulaic cliche, but if you like dogs, you will like the movie. I only saw it because it was available on the plane, though.
American Kaiju movie
Just like the 1998 American Godzilla that wasn't a Godzilla movie, this is not a King Kong movie, yet it features a nice giant gorilla that fights mindlessly aggressive monsters to save people, tons of special effects... and The Rock! How can you possibly miss on that? Does it make any sense? No. Does US Army weaponry hold a candle to taking a large piece of something and hitting someone on the head with it? Of course not! Is there a psychopath CEO ready to sacrifice the world for profit? Yup! Does Dwayne Johnson save the day? I don't want to spoil the review, but... of course he does! He's the non white equivalent of Superman, after all.
Bottom line: not good enough to wow, not bad enough to cringe, yet entertaining enough to have a good time watching it. Alcohol would probably help, also.
Red Sonja (1985)
Conan without Conan
This is a movie I never knew existed and only recently heard of in a Conan retrospective. Chronologically, it would be the third movie set in the Conan universe, only the main character is Red Sonja, a woman sword fighter that seeks revenge for the death of her family. A female Conan, in other words, and with the action happening in the same lands. Then, surprise: Arnold Schwarzenegger appears! He acts exactly as Conan, only he is named Kalidor. In fact, I would say Kalidor is even more Arnie than Conan, mostly because of how he treats women.
The film is not good. It is fun to watch, but it's a very low budget clone of Conan the Barbarian. If you are nostalgic for Conan and you've decided to watch the movies in sequence, you should watch this as Conan III, but otherwise there is nothing worthwhile in it.
The most disappointing part of it all is that it had a lot of potential that was misused. Young Brigitte Nielsen looks amazing, yet she is never put in a sexual or even sensual position. Her kisses with Arnie are a joke! Then Kalidor saves her ass all the time, but the battles themselves, even with a huge body count, are so badly choreographed that they fall into ridicule. And finally the supporting cast is not bad at all! Paul L. Smith (Baron Harkonnen) is great, Ernie Reyes does a great job as a child actor with amazing martial skills, even Sandahl Bergman is passable in the role of the villain, even if she was obviously not a good actress. With a competent director, even this ridiculous script could have been made to shine. With just a little bit more budget the fights would have contained actual red dye instead of swords cutting the air in front of the stuntmen. I am pretty sure someone could resurrect this movie just by editing it correctly and adding minimal CGI, yet the plot in hardly salvageable.
Bottom line: Hard to compare the new Conan movies with this one. This one is really bad, but it's entertaining, at least.
An obvious rip-off after The Dead, only Australian... and boring
In 2010 they made a movie called The Dead, where a guy was trying to outrun a zombie outbreak in Africa. It was original, albeit not extremely exciting, and the story of the making of the film is very interesting as well. The starring man was Rob Freeman. Now we get Cargo, a guy is trying to outrun a zombie outbreak in Australia and he is played by Martin Freeman. I can't wait for the Morgan Freeman version, somewhere in Brasil!
I watched Cargo because I like Martin Freeman and I've heard his performance is great in the film. And it's not bad at all. However the rest of the film is completely pointless: his dumb wife, his dumb character, the dumb people he meets along the way, the dumb ending. This film is dumb from top to bottom. So much potential wasted on a "slow burn" plot that ultimately says nothing. And the sorry part is that this shouldn't have been a zombie movie (zombies are rare and far between anyway), it could have been any contagion. In fact, if this would have been something like Ebola, the film would have had much more power. Is the zombie apocalypse causing the tragedy of Martin Freeman's character? No, if he and his dumb wife would have behaved the same and this would have been an ordinary highly contagious virus they would have died sooner!
Bottom line: can't sympathize with people who "do everything for their child" when they start the movie doing almost everything they can to get all of them infected. And it's boring.
Secretul lui Bachus (1984)
Typical Romanian production: over the top acting, real story, horrid sound
Some of the best actors in the "great generation" play in this film. The story is incredibly ironic, since it exposes chronic corruption, endemic during (and after) the Romanian revolution, but then switches to the police forces capturing all involved at the last moment. A so thinly veiled attack at the pre 1989 Romanian society that it's amazing the film was ever allowed to exist. As Romanian films go, this is not bad. Compared to today's standards of production, though, it's pretty hard to watch. I guess it remains one of those movies that will only appeal to people living under systemic corruption... which should be a lot.