Category: Movies

Giant swimming smurfs and Jesus – my hot take on the new Avatar movie

Overall, Avatar: The Way of Water was a solid movie, worth a see and definitely worth a trip to the theater.

As befits its heritage, it was stunning visually. It had a look different from the original but you still believed that it was based on the same planet, good bit of world building.

The quality of the 3D experience was much improved from back in the day. I recommend springing for the 4DX experience if your local theater supports it. Moving seats, sprinkling water, shooting air and scents makes it a blend of move and amusement park ride. We paid a premium, but this movie made good use of its capabilities.

2 tips for 4DX:

  1. As this movie had a lot of action, the fans were blowing air at you all the time making a cold theater even colder – bring a jacket!
  2. The seats move around a fair bit and it’s really easy to end up with your food in your lap, even if you are holding it in your hands the whole time. I am a little surprised there wasn’t more of a disclaimer from the theater to be careful but I guess they make more money off of the food than it costs them to clean up afterwards

The plot was fine, if not well worn – this is territory that several movies have covered including the original (more on that later). The cast grew – they introduced 5 new main characters and did a reasonable job giving us enough visual and personality cues to tell them apart. Whether enough was done for us to actually care about all of them is a different matter. Part of what helped tho, is that the movie is looong, clocking in at over 3 hours.

Before I get into more nitpicky plot stuff… I will start out with an obligatory spoiler alert warning if you haven’t yet seen the movie…

Continue reading

Mediocre action movie marathon

The family was away this weekend which means I watched a lot of bad movies – you know, the ones which you know are going to be terrible but you want to see anyways. In what is impressive slothfullness for even myself, I saw 4 movies in the span of 24 hours… Tomb Raider, The Wandering Earth, The Meg and Transformers: The Last Knight.

Unintentionally all 4 ended up being sci-fi/action movies from the last year or 2, and as such, suffered from very common themes: a) they were massively overstuffed – too many characters (most of which you just didn’t care about), too many silly plot twists (making them too long) and b) generally lacked a soul focusing more on spectacle, big explosions and effects, rather than character development or plot.

Some thoughts… roughly in the order from best to worst… or really, from least worst to most worst.
Continue reading

“Take a bite, and feel all right” – Burt Reynolds’s White Lightning

My DVD of Deliverance has a preview for White Lightning which I have been meaning to check out. The recent passing of Burt Reynolds plus a little free time over the holidays has given me good excuse to do exactly that and if I had to sum it up in one sentence – this has GOT to be the most redneck movie I have ever seen in my entire life!

This movie had everything that a self-respecting redneck could ever possibly want. Continue reading

Skyscraper, a tower of… confusion

I really did want to like Skyscraper. The Towering Inferno and Die Hard were classics from their day and the prospect of them getting together and having a baby was exciting. Moreover, I like the Rock, he’s personable, has good comic timing and is damn believable as an action hero. All the pieces were there for a fun blockbuster romp so the fact that I walked out of that experience distracted with trivialities and not enjoying the smell of what the Rock is cooking was very disappointing.
Continue reading

Summer Movie Roundup – some quick thoughts starting from “terrible” progressing to “not bad”

Ready Player One PosterReady Player One
It’s The Matrix if you replaced all of the characters with teenagers. Frankly, I can’t think of anything that is improved by replacing experienced professionals with teenagers.

Actually after seeing RP1, I re-watched all 3 Matrix movies and despite the fact that they are almost 20(!) years old, they have aged remarkably well. Surprisingly, the Animatrix has not aged well.

Rampage PosterRampage
It’s a movie based on a video game which was based on more movies. It’s so tired and derivative that the Rock looked like the only presence in the theater who was having any fun, and that included all the other actors, the CGI monsters and the audience.

Solo PosterSolo was underrated. Was it the best Star Wars movie? No, not even close – but it was still a good enjoyable movie and definitely worth a see.

Mission Impossible PosterMission Impossible – Fallout
What is it with Tom Cruise and running? All of his movies have extended scenes of him running and this one does not disappoint either. No jumping, no dodging, no weaving left to right… just running as fast as he possibly can… in a straight line… alone. Is he perchance spending the rest of his life compensating for losing out on a part in Chariots of Fire?

I will say tho, my inner “internet nerd” was very excited to see this movie just to experience the other side of Mustachegate. For those not caught up on this little side show… just prior to the filming of Mission Impossible, Henry Cavill had finished filming in Fox’s Justice League as the clean shaven Superman. Subsequently, Justice League went through a director change and new leadership desired additional footage and had to call the actors back. Well, filming on MI was in full swing at this point and MI’s studio Paramount wouldn’t let Cavill shave the mustache that he grew for MI so Fox shot the new JL scenes with a hirsute Cavill and then had the mustache digitally removed. The CGI was pretty poorly done and it resulted in some pretty creepy “uncanny valley” scenes (you know, when the CGI is good, but not good enough for you to know it isn’t fake).

At least Cavill was a good sport about it.

Anyways, back to the original point, Mission Impossible was not a perfect movie – the helicopter scene at the end was a touch long and not having seen the previous couple of MI movies, there were a few too many characters who you didn’t know exactly where they fit in but overall it was solidly entertaining summer blockbuster fair.

I just saw Cars 3, A.K.A. Pixar does Rocky

My son is a huuge fan of the Cars movies. He doesn’t leave the house unless he is wearing Lightning McQueen and owns more than his fair share of Cars toys. As such, it was a foregone conclusion that we would be seeing Cars 3 on opening weekend. Having just returned from this, I was initially struck by the incredbile similarity with the single most awesome Rocky movie ever, Rocky IV. However, upon further examination, I am realizing more and more similarities with the significantly more terrible (but still oh, so awesome) Rocky III.

Let’s delve into this in a little more detail…

Theme from Cars 3 Rocky III Rocky IV Notes
Bad guy’s name is an obvious play on the good guy’s name Come on, Lightning/Storm, Rocky/Clubber
Hero is motivated by the death of a coach Rocky sure had a lot of coaches die. Seriously, the worst job in the world is a redshirt on the USS Enterprise and second is being a trainer for Rocky
Bad guy making inappropriate advances to the hero’s lady partner Well, as inappropriate as can get in a Pixar movie
Hero has to recover confidence after being soundly defeated by a black man
Training montage Honestly, Rocky 3 may have had one, but the montage in 4 really sets the bar for all time
Bad guy is a product of technology while the hero is all heart
Bad guy trains in a super modern facility while hero roughs it
Running on the beach as training
Babe who leers menacingly at the hero Granted the statician babe car is no Bridgette Fonda, but you get the idea
Hero finally beating his trainer proving he’s ready to finally do battle with the bad guy Nice play on this in Cars
Conquering age to be the champ again Fine, this didn’t actually happen in either of these Rockys. However, considering they made at least 3 more Rocky movies (Rocky V, Rocky Balboa and Creed) after Stallone turned 80, I have to think that this theme must have been touched on at some point
Competition at the end between coach and student with outcome uncertain

Verdict: Clearly, the more memorable Rocky IV should not overshadow the influence that the terrible (but oh so awesome) Rocky III had on this movie.

Avengers II

We saw the new Avengers movie last weekend. While I get that it is really hard to make a movie with that many main characters and not get muddled, this one was really a step down from the first. More galling was the fact that it struck me as the exact same movie as the first one, just more vague.

In both movies:

  • Apparently, fighting bad guys is not enough, so for some reason, 2-3 of the Avengers fight amongst themselves
  • After that, everyone goes to a home place to hang out and talk amongst themselves, for some reason. Some boring “character development”/exposition happens
  • The Avengers start arguing amongst themselves
  • One of the big strong guys just leaves/disappears
  • The bad guy who wants to conquer/destroy the world, for some vague unspecified reason, starts his plan which ends in an invasion
  • The big strong guy who ran away earlier, reappears just in time
  • All the Avengers fight an army
  • Iron man makes a grand gesture, seemingly sacrificing himself but doesn’t, proving he is not a self absorbed, narcissistic asshole, even tho he spends the entire movie showing that he is

Bad Movies – part 3 of 3

Finally, a movie that was so bad, that, well it was just so bad: Plan 9 From Outer Space

This movie pissed me off. This is supposed to be one of those classic great “bad” movie and after the previous two unintended great “bad” movies, I was looking forward to this one.

From the beginning it became clear to me that dialog this bad does not happen by accident, it was clearly intentional. And the special effects… it is one thing to take a cheesy paper cutout of a flying saucer and suspend it from a string, but to be so lazy as to not even some sort of fishing line which at least tries to be clear made it apparent to me that this wasn’t a great movie made badly or even a bad movie made badly… this was a movie which tried to be funny by being bad, but only succeeded at being bad.

The best hallmark of how much this movie sucked was that despite repeated attempts, I couldn’t get past more than the first half an hour or so.

While we are on the topic of bad movies, I started thinking of the other type of bad film… the one which aspires for greatness – it has the budget, the star cast and the promotional muscle behind it to be the next big mega mega blockbuster. However, some combination of fatal flaws causes it to enter the realm of something that can be referred to as Worst… Movie… Ever…!

In no particular order, here are a couple that come to mind. Let me know of others…

  • Waterworld – The start of Kevin Costner’s long decent into hell…
  • Battlefield Earth – I really thought that this had the potential to be one of the “so bad it’s funny” types… it wasn’t. Sometimes when everybody tells you to avoid a movie, listen to them!!!
  • Robocop 3 – The first movie in this trilogy was probably one of the most awesome ever. Compared to that, it’s not surprising that the second didn’t live up. But the third… let me just say while Japanese ninja robots wearing suits and cowboy boots may sound awesome… they weren’t… and they certainly weren’t enough to save this utter train wreck of a film
  • A Night At the Roxbury – I dragged a bunch of friends to this when it was in the theater and it has caused irreparable harm to said friendship… one of them even tried to have me killed at his wedding…

Bad Movies – part 2 of 3

Moving on to bad movie number two – for completely different reasons, this is another movie which was so terrible, yet so totally enjoyable…

The 1966 version of Batman, starring Adam West

This movie was freaking awesome… on one hand, it was actually a little self-aware in how over the top cheesy it was… from the obvious fact that all the main characters were dudes in weird costumes to the overly dramatic acting to the overly complicated (to the point of non-sensical) technical jargon… “dehydrated pirates re-hydrated with our heavy water that we use to recharge the atomic pile so were in a highly unstable condition which reduced then to anti-matter when struck” made it clear that this movie didn’t take itself too seriously (I just love the fact that the Bat-Coptor’s standard equipment includes Barracuda Repellent, Whale Repellent, Manta-Ray Repellent and Shark Repellent).

Yet for so many more unintended reasons, even more cheese oozes throughout this movie.

Why do Batman and Robin have to run everywhere they go??

So much of the behavior seems so totally anachronistic today…

  • The general complete deference and unquestioning of authority
  • The sense that the United Nations is our only true hope for world peace
  • The sense that if the problems of the world could just be handled by the scientists and smart people, then everything would be ok

Sigh, it actually wouldn’t be such a bad thing if these were a little more prevalent…

And then there was Adam West. On top of all the cheese, he tried so hard to be suave and sophisticated as well but combined with the Shatner-esque stilted speaking manner just came off as completely corny.

There was a good mix of cheesy dialog, bad effects (the rubber shark stuck to Batman’s leg – did I mention the shark repellent?), action (“POW”) and moments of ridiculous logic that it kept it interesting till the end.

Speaking of which… during the credits I noticed… the Penguin was Burgess Meredith? Wasn’t that the yelling old guy from Rocky??

Quite possible the 2 best "bad" moves ever (and the worst "bad" movie ever) – Part 1 of 3

There are 2 types of really bad movies, 1) movies that are so bad that they make you want to walk out of the theater on a good day and claw out your eyeballs with an electric toothbrush on a bad one and 2) movies that are so bad that they are funny.

I saw 3 movies recently which were really bad. The first 2 were so bad they were funny and the third was, well, just bad. Let’s start with the good…

The made-for-TV movie, The Pirates of Silicon Valley

This dramatization of the rise of Microsoft and Apple through the 80s and 90s contained enough geek references to entertain the nerds, enough references to familiar products to appeal to the normals and enough ridiculous drama to be make it a hoot to watch. It didn’t try to be all self-important like the Social Network. There was no sense that it was trying to be an accurate representation of the conflict – it was the epitome of an overdone made for TV drama.

The characters were just hilarious,

    • Steve Jobs as the self-absorbed, LSD tripping new age hippy asshole
  • Steve Balmer as the beer drinking, porn loving, strip-club going frat-boy
  • Bill Gates as the lying, evil little nerdy guy – ok, actually this one was played probably not too far from what most people assume is reality

While the characterizations were over the top, the characters developed as the movie progressed and made you care about the outcome. This is the hallmark of a good “bad” movie, it is terrible, but you still want to watch it.

Adding to the funniness of the movie was how times have changed since this. In 1999, Apple sold 1 machine for every gazillion that had Windows on it. Apple’s market cap was a drop of bird poo on Microsoft’s Stretch Suburban. Apple didn’t even have a mobile OS, (while Microsoft was rockin’ Windows CE 2.0). There was no “i” anything.

The Pirates of Silicon Valley 2 is going to be a *veeery* different movie.