The Official Review Thread of 2018

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:25 am

Question: Is A Quiet Place a good movie?
Answer: Has Michael Bay ever made a good movie?

No, Hollywood's crappiest successful filmmaker didn't direct it, but he produced it. John Krasinksi directed it from a script by a couple of guys from the MTV school of writing.

Krasinski's direction of wife Emily Blunt and some very talented kids as well as himself is strong, but the sript is not only illogical, it is absurd from the get-go.

SPOILER information follows, so if you haven't seen it you may want to stop reading even though the sequence I describe occurs before the film's title flashes across the screen.

In the opening sequence filmed in silence with people using sign language to communicate, the family of mother, father and three children is seen in a pharmacy three months into a post-apocalyptic world in which the mother miraculously finds the medicine her middle child, a boy, needs to cure whatever is wrong with him. The youngest child finds a toy airplane but his father takes it away from him for fear its noise would draw the unexplained monsters. He removes the batteries but leaves them in reach of the boy. The father with the sick child in his arms and the mother exit the pharmacy. The oldest child, a girl, and the younger boy linger behind. The girl gives the boy the toy airplance with the battereis removed, turns and exits the pharmacy. The boy grabs the batteries and puts them in his pocket. The family continues down the road, with the girl catching up to the others. They cross a bridge with the littlest boy yards, maybe as much as a quater of a mile, behind. The boy has inserted the batteries back into the toy airplance and turned it on. The father hears it, gives the sick boy to the mother and runs back to the little boy but is too late.

What responsible parent, under any circumstance, let alone one living in such a frightening world, would walk so far ahead of a young child without even turning around to be sure that he is following safely? The answer is none.

The rest of the film is like that, one stupid thing after another until it comes to a conclusion that leaves too many questions unanswered. Since a sequel is planned, we may get answers to some of them, but I wouldn't count on it. It will be, after all, another Michael Bay film.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:55 am

ANT MAN AND THE WASP
Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfieffer, Michael Pena, Laurence Fishburne, Walton Goggins, Hannah John-Kamen, Randall Park, Abby Ryder Forston, David Dastmalchian, Tip "T.I." Harris, Judy Greer, Bobby Cannavale.
Dir: Peyton Reed.

In the sequel to Ant Man, we find out what happened to Scott Lang/Ant-Man before and during the events of Avengers: Infinity War: He's trying to help bring back Janet Van Dyne from the quantum realm but they must elude a super villain, a bunch of bad guys and the authorities to do it. Is this the best Marvel movie? No. Is it better than the first Ant-Man movie? I think so, yes. It is often very funny with a lot of really great and inventive action sequences. Plus Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfieffer giving the film a little bit of heft and gravitas in their serious moments. It's pure pop entertainment and the good kind. If you don't like the MCU, don't bother. This will not change your mind.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects is a strong possibility.

Grade: B+

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Sabin » Sat Jun 30, 2018 5:47 pm

The older I get, the more I become a cheap date for comedies with strong pacing and visual innovation. Game Night starts off on such a sunny note with Max and Annie's winning meet cute that I never quite came down. It might be silly, inconsequential fluff but that doesn't mean it's lazy. There is a stamp of exuberance goofiness that nerd-directors John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein inject into every scene, transitioning from shot to shot using fake sets and model landscapes. It's more a goof than a satire of David Fincher films. Ultimately, they're not interested in saying anything substantive about these comfortable thirty/fortysomethings plunged into a world of their dreams and fears, but I was smiling so much I didn't really mind. It's just about not being afraid to grow up while never suggesting that this gang needs to stop gathering together to play charades.

It's a lot of fun. I can't defend the third act outside the fact that I didn't want to stop watching the cast, especially Rachel McAdams (who is as funny here as she is generic in almost every other role), Jesse Plemons, and his Westie.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 30, 2018 6:45 am

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO
Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Matthew Modine, Catherine Keener, Jeffrey Donovan, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Shea Whigham, Elijah Rodriguez.
Dir: Stefano Solima.

This is the largely unnecessary sequel to Sicario which focuses more on the sicario himself as well as his morally grey government handler. This time, after a devastating terrorist attack partially responsible by the drug cartel, they kidnap the daughter of a big-time drug lord in an effort to incite a drug war. I liked the first film quite a bit. I didn't need a sequel and after seeing it, yeah, it doesn't need it. It's still a solid thriller but it's sorely missing the original's humanity and nuance which made it a tenser film. This film has some good moments. Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro are excellent as always. But it does tackle some troubling themes which, in the current atmosphere of U.S. politics, seem ill-timed or perfectly timed, depending on your point of view.

Oscar Prospects: Sound Mixing and Sound Editing are possible.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:49 am

HEREDITARY
Cast: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Mallory Bechtdel.
Dir: Ari Aster.

A matriarch of a family dies. Then strange, disturbing and horrific things start happening. That's all I'm gonna say. To say anything more would be spoiling it and yes, once again, part of what makes this film so effective is the fact that you really have no idea where it's going until it plays its cards. I was sitting uncomfortably all throughout, squirming in my seat. It's a slow-burn film, no jump scares. It's not really a thrill ride. It is true horror in its classic sense. At its heart, it's still a very human story despite the supernatural twists and turns it makes. The performances are great. Yes, Toni Collette is outstanding but I also want to cite how great Alex Wolff is in this one. I never thought about him as an actor much but he is a revelation here. It is definitely one of the better horror films of the decade and one of the best movies of the year. I'll be thinking about this one for a while.

Oscar Prospects: Horror films USUALLY don't do well. But Toni Collette is absolutely deserving of a Best Actress nomination. Also deserving of a nomination is Alex Wolff, who's kind of a co-lead but they'll probably push him for Supporting.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby dws1982 » Thu Jun 21, 2018 6:22 pm

dws1982 wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:By the way, the hidden headline for me here is that you haven't see the film. You passed on an Eastwood movie? That rocks the foundation of my world.

I'm sure I'll get to it eventually, but I just couldn't bring myself to it after the reviews were so overwhelmingly negative.

I posted this in the morning, and what did I do this afternoon?

Went to see Gotti, of course.

Its 0% on Rotten Tomatoes makes The 15:17 to Paris seem well-received in comparison, so all I can really say is that curiosity got the best of me. Let's be honest, this is not good (any time you see over forty credited producers listed in the opening credits, beware), but it's also not bad in any unique or interesting way. (Well, one exception maybe, which I'll discuss later.) It mostly just suffers from a baseline incompetence and half-assedness. Lots of little, stupid things that take you out of the movie every time: The dialogue will mention a character who's present, for example, "That guy's name is Sammy Gravano. They call him The Bull", and then it cuts to him, with text on the screen labelling him "Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano". It does this with several characters, and with dates as well (which veer between oddly specific and maddeningly unclear).

Early in the film it shows a sick-and-dying Gotti meeting with his son John Jr. in prison. (Credit where it's due, Travolta's makeup in this sequence is pretty good, and there are some times where he does look generally like Gotti.) It then cuts back to Gotti in prison when he was in his thirties--his wife and four children (two boys, two girls and the boys look to be between the ages of 8 and 10) are visiting him. So, logically, you would assume that one of those boys is John Jr.. But then, a few scenes later, John Jr. appears, and it's the same actor from the meeting with dying Gotti. And, although this scene is set over 20 years before, the actor doesn't appear to be one day younger. He goes from roughly 15 to 45 over the course of the film, and never looks any older than mid-20's (which the actor--who isn't bad, all things considered--actually is). John Jr. also has basically the same exact shaved-on-sides, long-on-top hairstyle for the entire film, except for one blink and you miss it scene. Soon after John Jr. appears, one of the actors playing one of Gotti's younger sons completely disappears from the narrative. So I was thinking that maybe the second boy in the prison scene was just a neighbor or something, not a son. But then, after the death of Gotti's son Frank, he tells his wife that she "still has four kids", which means the kid was apparently still there, just out of the family narrative. Maybe the child actor was suddenly not available. It's just a lot of things like that through the whole movie. It feels like there was a longer movie that was either left on the cutting-room floor, or never filmed because they wanted to cut it the story down to its essence. I'm not sure that movie would've been a lot better, but it might've at least made more sense. So many storylines seems to come out of nowhere: Aniello Dellacroce's character announces he has cancer as abruptly and nonchalantly as that character in The Room; a mob war breaks out and ends so quickly that it's hard to figure out who's shooting at who; the Paul Castellano murder--Gotti's giant power grab--is woefully underdeveloped. (It's hurt by the fact that Paul Castellano only appears once before he's assassinated, and I don't remember him having any dialogue.) Sammy Gravano barely has any screen time before he takes the stand against--there's no sense of the betrayal that Gravano's testimony must have been for Gotti. Also some crazy use of music--who hasn't wanted to see a mob hit carried out to "Silent Night", or a funeral procession to "House of the Rising Sun", or Gotti walking out of court (after one of his acquittals) to "Walk Like and Egyptian"?

So maybe the one interesting thing about its badness is a really questionable moral stance it takes, but also doesn't develop very much: It uses what i assume is genuine newsreel footage from the time of Gotti's conviction and funeral, where people are arguing for Gotti as everything from a modern-day Robin Hood to some kind of secular saint. The movie never totally develops this idea fully--there's one scene of Gotti throwing a neighborhood block party, but nothing else really. If the people truly did love John Gotti, it might have been interesting to show why they loved him. It also bends over backwards to whitewash John Jr. (Not surprising, given that he was a consultant on the set) as a victim of government persecution. Ummm...not quite...He's believed to be responsible for something like eight murders, although the movie only links him to one (which it pawns off as a fistfight gone wrong). I don't know the merits of the racketeering cases, exactly, but it's pretty well-established that even in the 2009 trial, Gotti was trying to intimidate witnesses in the courtroom.

I've probably given this more thoughts and more words than it merits, so I'll stop.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby dws1982 » Thu Jun 21, 2018 9:11 am

Mister Tee wrote:By the way, the hidden headline for me here is that you haven't see the film. You passed on an Eastwood movie? That rocks the foundation of my world.

I'm sure I'll get to it eventually, but I just couldn't bring myself to it after the reviews were so overwhelmingly negative. Even the Eastwood auteurists over on Letterboxd weren't too convincing, despite their 4 and 5 star reviews. It might actually make an interesting companion to The Rider--another movie where much of the cast plays a semi-fictionalized version of themselves--but I can't say I'll go in with high expectations.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby OscarGuy » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:28 pm

I don't think they were trying to hide Screenslaver's identity...if they were, they did a terrible job of it. It was a pretty easy guess.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:11 pm

Anonymous, perhaps you should white out the spoiler section of your post? Just a quick cursory glance at your post easily reveals what you’re intending to hide, without giving anyone a chance to avert their eyes when seeing SPOILER.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:44 pm

The Original BJ wrote:. And the plot is a bit undercooked -- did ANYONE get much kick out of the reveal of Screenslaver's identity?


I predicted who it was almost right away. What I did find amusing about it is....SPOILER....this is the second movie Catherine Keener played a villain that uses hypnosis. :lol:
Last edited by anonymous1980 on Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:28 pm

I found it pretty harmless. It was certainly a lot better than the other film I reviewed at the same time.

Here's what I had to say in my 5/29 DVD review:

The 15:17 to Paris may be minor Clint Eastwood but it’s the 86-year-old director doing what he does best, bringing contemporary real-life heroes into a film world largely filled with movies about imaginary superheroes.

Ever since 2006’s back-to-back Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, Eastwood has primarily focused on bringing real-life characters to the screen. His most recent films prior to this one, American Sniper and Sully, were like The 5:17 to Paris, about more recent real-life heroes.

Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler, who play themselves in the film based on their book, are ordinary, unpretentious guys who seized a moment and saved hundreds of lives one fateful afternoon in 2015 aboard the 15:17 from Amsterdam to Paris. The film takes its time getting there, with the first section of the film an examination of the childhood of the three misfits who have been friends since the age of 8. The middle section plays like a travelogue with the boys, one of them now a soldier, one a marine, and the other working for a private company, having come together for a European vacation. The film has been so laid back up to this point that once it gets on the train it grabs you with its startling intensity and doesn’t let go until the train has pulled into the station, the terrorist taken into custody, the wounded given medical attention, and our heroes have been awarded the French Legion of Honor medal before going home to Sacramento and a ticker tape parade in their honor.

Fellow passengers Mark and Isabelle Moogalian also play themselves while Judy Geer and Jenna Fischer play Stone and Skarlatos’ mothers.

Most critics were tough on the film, giving it less than stellar ratings chronicled on the Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic websites. Contrast that with the absurdly high ratings many of the same critics gave Game Night, an incredibly stupid movie about stupid people doing stupid things that reduces the talents of usually competent actors to the level of chimpanzees mugging for the camera. Ironically, both films have been released by Warner Brothers on Blu-ray and standard DVD on the same day. Sadly, I suspect most audiences will ignore The 15:17 to Paris and yuck it up with Game Night.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Jun 20, 2018 4:20 pm

dws1982 wrote:
Mister Tee wrote: There's also the tired "teachers want to medicate our boys; they don't understand they're just boisterous" hokum that right-wingers like to promote.

Uhhh...over-medication is actually a very serious problem facing adolescents (mostly boys) today. Haven't seen the movie, and don't know how it portrays the issue (in my experience teachers generally don't encourage medication, for ethical and liability reasons, although maybe it was different in the 90's when these protagonists were in school), but over-medication is a huge issue with negative side effects (both in the short term, and in the long term) that I see all the time in my job and out of it with friends/family members.


I don't at all mean to dismiss the issues of over-medication, but, as portrayed in the film, the boys' teacher doesn't pay a lick of attention to anything either mother says; she's bound and determined to get them medicated to ease her load. That, I think, is the rightist propaganda I've seen on the issue. (It's right up there with assuming women have abortions with no more regret than getting a manicure.) This portrayal of the teacher, by the way, is of a piece with how teachers are portrayed throughout that opening half-hour or so -- we're shown the boys are utterly blameless in all situations, but their teachers don't even deign to ask their side. I'd think you, as a teacher, would find this pretty offensive.

By the way, the hidden headline for me here is that you haven't see the film. You passed on an Eastwood movie? That rocks the foundation of my world.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Sabin » Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:09 pm

The Original BJ wrote
It's interesting how different a movie environment Incredibles 2 is entering than its predecessor.

Another way in which Incredibles 2 is in a different movie environment has less to do with superhero films and more to do with PIXAR. In 2004, PIXAR was in the middle of a fairly unprecedented run of quality and success. To go see a PIXAR movie was to watch something truly special. Today, that run is plainly over. This decade has brought more sequels than original stories. Had Incredibles 2 been released in, oh say, 2011 or 2012, I think I would be more disappointed. But I think it looks strong in comparison to Cars 3, Finding Dory, and Monsters University. I know what you're thinking: "That's a low bar." Welcome to 2018.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:22 pm

A few thoughts on some recent releases:

I agree with Sabin that A Quiet Place is effectively mounted, and generates suspense in some smart ways -- the concept of creatures only being able to identify victims through sound feels fresh and leads to some very nerve-wracking sequences, the use of silence and sound throughout is extraordinary, and the film gets plenty of mileage out of classic tension generators (like that damn nail). The film also has a more solid than usual emotional core for this type of project -- I was pretty shocked just how swiftly the film went into dramatic territory within its opening moments. All of that said, I thought it had some derivative elements too. The look of the monsters wasn't all that inventive (they were basically a variation on the demagorgon from Stranger Things), the milieu had an obvious antecedent in Signs (aliens invade a farmhouse, complete with cornfield set pieces), and even the climax was basically lifted from Signs as well. So for me, this was a solid genre piece, but certainly not one that amounted to anything more than that.

I DID think Hereditary, for much of its running time at least, offered something a bit more complex and imaginative than your standard haunted house fare. (Go figure that it nabbed that D+ Cinemascore.) From the opening sequences, as the central family deals with the death of its matriarch, it explores some fairly interesting territory surrounding grief and how its characters process it, particularly in a situation where the deceased's relationship to the family she left behind was strained, at best. Then the film moves into pretty demented territory, as things just keep getting more horrifying for this family, and I found this easily the most compelling section of the story -- the supernatural elements are obviously present, but the plot is so grounded in emotionally charged, real-world familial dynamics that I was able to take even the more outrageous story beats fully seriously. (It also helps that the film knows just when to inject black humor into the proceedings, leaning into its more overly preposterous moments with a wink). And it must be said that the presence of Toni Collette is a gift to this movie -- she's terrific, in certainly her best film performance in ages, if not ever, in a role that provides her numerous meaty scenes to make a thoughtful, emotional impact. (Ann Dowd, though in a less challenging role, is of course always a gift to any movie in which she appears as well). And yet despite liking the film for much of its running time, I thought things went a bit south in the last reel, or rather, it turned into a much more typical horror film, a more stylish Paranormal Activity, if you will. It was here that whatever balance the film had between grounded drama and scares dissipated, and it became an affair that, however effectively chilling, became much more difficult for me to take seriously. It is, I think, very much a film worth checking out -- though with a warning to the squeamish -- even if I think it's not as completely successful as its best parts.

It's interesting how different a movie environment Incredibles 2 is entering than its predecessor. When the original opened in 2004, superhero movies were pretty rare -- a couple Spider-Man and X-Men movies over the previous years, with Batman basically on ice (no pun intended) after its last movie debacle. I hope I'd still find the original film a zippy, imaginative entertainment today, but I imagine part of what made it such a kick was that it felt like something fresh (even compared to the previous Pixar efforts). As Sabin says, Incredibles 2 doesn't lack for eye-popping animation, and I found it a pleasant enough watch, with some solid laughs (most of which involve Mr. Incredible trying to be a dad, and anything involving Baby Jack-Jack). But there's a degree to which this movie now feels like yet another cog in the superhero franchise machine -- the climactic action sequence, for instance, felt like something that could have just been lifted from your average Marvel movie. And the plot is a bit undercooked -- did ANYONE get much kick out of the reveal of Screenslaver's identity? The film is also strangely unemotional -- although the first Incredibles didn't have any rip-your-heart-out moments like in Up/Toy Story 3/Coco, the core family dynamic had some dramatic heft to it. This sequel feels more disposable -- not down there with a Cars sequel, but not achieving the increasingly moving heights of the Toy Story installments.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2018

Postby Sabin » Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:18 am

I have very little to say about The Incredibles 2, there is something entirely... not incredible about it. Part of it stems from the decision to launch this sequel immediately after the first one, but it can't help but come across as episodic. Fourteen years is a long time for something to feel like the next issue/episode of The Incredibles. It's an entirely entertaining couple of hours that I recommend on two fronts: 1) the animation is just superb. I could watch Brad Bird's vision of post-war America for hours, and his action scenes are a huge step up from last time. And 2) Bob being exhausted. Mr. Incredible has never been the most interesting character in this world. I found the scenes of Bob being overtired from being a stay at home parent to be endlessly funny, the joke of course being that here's a guy who is invincibly strong... and being a parent just wipes him out to the point of losing his sanity. Easy joke, very funny.

Preceding the film was an interview from the cast basically apologizing for why it took fourteen years to make the next film. Why apologize for making something special and not immediately cannibalize the legacy? I'm resigned to a new Incredibles film every few years now. The good news is, I believe they can be better than this one.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver


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