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Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
I renounce my wish to see this movie
After the success of the first Wonder Woman, Warner Brothers entrusted director Patty Jenkins with too much creative freedom. Wonder Woman 1984 suffers from obvious villains, cliché dialogue, a predictable plot, a moralistic theme, and heavy-handed political pandering: Apparently Reagan's one wish was to nuke the world. Never mind that he signed missile reduction agreements with the Soviet Union.
Unless you are watching it on HBO Max with a little kid who adores Wonder Woman, pass on it.
The Tree of Life (2011)
Unique Christian Experimental Drama
The Tree of Life is a unique experimental drama of a family wrestling with the death of a child and searching for religious and philosophical answers to the problem of evil.
The first scene introduces the way of nature and the way of grace: Nature is the survival of the fittest, whereas grace is love and forgiveness. The strict father represents the way of nature, and the loving mother represents the way of grace.
The mother hears her youngest child has died at age eighteen, and she asks God, "Where were you?" As if to answer her question, there is a breathtaking flashback to the creation of the universe and the origin of life on earth.
Meanwhile, her eldest son, Jack, now a middle-aged man, confronts the reality of his younger brother's death. Wandering through a city, lost in the modern world, Jack remembers growing up with his brothers and losing his innocence in a series of impressionistic flashbacks.
Torn between the way of nature and the way of grace, he sees a vision of the afterlife where the dead unite with lost loved ones and understand all things in the fullness of time.
The Tree of Life is not narrative cinema; it is avant-garde experimental cinema. While it is incomprehensible to some, it is visually breathtaking to all.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is a sprawling Western epic set in the civil war.
A bounty hunter and a bandit join forces against an assassin in a race to find a fortune in gold buried beneath a war grave in a remote cemetary. The script is full of shootouts, double-crossings, and witty banter.
Watch. the theatrical version, not the extended version. The theatrical version is already quite long. Other than the length, the only flaw is that the musical score is repetitive.
Mindless Slasher Porn
Somehow, Wolverine and Professor Xavier wound up washed up and defeated,
although the story never explains how or why. They needlessly cause the death of an innocent family. Why is the audience supposed to root for them again? Also, in this universe, comic books predict the future and yet that is not what the whole movie is about.
To make matters worse, the screenwriters are not even subtle about their biases: A villain named Donald hunts illegal immigrant children across America.
For all the blood and gore, this is the most boring movie I have ever seen.
Dark Detective Story with Unexpected Twists
Chinatown is a mesmerizing a detective story. The stakes start small and grow bigger with each new revelation. The film is a perfectly paced study of human evil where morality is quite literally as slippery as water.
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Intricate Detective Drama
L.A. Confidential examines the corruption at the heart of the apparent paradise of 1950s Los Angeles through the eyes of three detectives -- the idealist Ed Exley, the brutal Bud White, and the sleazy Jack Vincennes. The intricate plot, well-written dialogue, and Oscar-worthy acting combine to create a mesmerizing neo-noir masterpiece.
A Thriller Made on a Dime
Following is Christopher Nolan's debut film, which he shot in black and white on a $3,000 budget. The finished product is a fast 70 minute thriller with multiple surprising plot twists. Following is film noir at its finest.
Captivating Police Drama
"A good cop can't sleep 'cuz there's a piece of the puzzle missing; a bad cop can't sleep 'cuz his conscience won't let him."
Based on a Norwegian movie of the same title, Insomnia is the only film that Christopher Nolan directed without also writing the script. It is not a whodunnit but a police drama about a detective who has lost his way.
Epic World War II Film
Dunkirk is a war epic that portrays the evacuation of 400,000 British troops out of Dunkirk, France from three perspectives: land (one week of action), sea (one day of action), and air (one hour of action). Director Christopher Nolan shot the film on location in IMAX with real World War II planes, boats, and submarines.
For the background story, watch Darkest Hour, which was released the same year.
The Invention of Lying (2009)
The Death of Comedy
The Invention of Lying is a terrible movie with a terrible script full of cringe-worthy offensive jokes and in-your-face social commentary. The only lie is that the movie is a comedy.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Godless Socialist Propaganda
There Will Be Blood is a loose adaptation of notorious twentieth century socialist Upton Sinclaire's "Oil."
The movie is self-consciously anti-capitalist and anti-Christian, which is the only reason that critics love it: Oil prospectors who fuel economic growth and religious ministers who give meaning to life are the scourge of society.
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Failed TV Pilot
Mulholland Dr. Is a failed TV pilot made into a movie. The plot is mostly a dream, which means little of it matters other than the opening scene and the last half hour or so, which is part dream and part reality. A surrealist dreamscape should at least be consistently surrealist. This is not.
The Matrix (1999)
I am unsure what is most implausible:
1. A futuristic dystopian society still uses flip phones and Windows 95; 2. Secret agents wear sunglasses at night to let everyone know that they are secret agents; 3. Secret agents wiretap a phone call and hear a revolutionary tell the hero to meet at a bridge but are not waiting for him when he arrives; or 4. The hero dies and comes back to life through the power of love.
The idea that reality is an illusion is the premise of several other movies, such as Dark City, which came out a year before The Matrix. There is nothing new except slow-motion bullets.
This is the most hauntingly beautiful film that I have ever seen. It is a thrilling detective story and a tragic love story, a tale of mistaken identity and obsession.
The cinematography is spellbinding. When a detective with a fear of heights climbs a bell tower, the lens zooms in as the camera pulls out, creating a disorienting perspective. The camerawork mirrors the detective's own vertigo.
Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light
The only movie to ever move me to tears, Interstellar turns theoretical physicist Kip Thorne's physics equations into mind-blowing visual effects in a heart-wrenching epic drama about interstellar travel, the survival of the human race, and a father-daughter relationship that transcends spacetime.
Aladdin was my favorite movie as a kid. I was a fan of the original, the direct-to-video sequels, and the animated series. I even dressed up as Aladdin for Halloween three or four years in a row. My expectations were low, but I was pleasantly surprised. Nasin Pedrad killed it as Nadia. She was easily the best part of the movie.
Serial Killer of the Week
The serial killer -- a religious fundamentalist who chooses his victims based on the seven deadly sins -- kills a pregnant woman not because of a sin that she committed but because of a sin that he committed. Then he lets the victim who represents wrath live. It is so out of character.
IMDB should not call this a "mystery." It is not a whodunit. This is hardly even the greatest film in the serial killer genre, and it is unworthy of its position in the IMDB top 250.
Wonder Woman (2017)
Epic Super Hero Story
Wonder Woman is a funny, suspenseful, and thrilling super hero origin story. Diana is a bad ass and a fish out of water with a satisfying character arc.
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Singing' in the Rain is a fun and energetic musical and a memorable depiction of the transition from silent movies to talking pictures. If you like musicals, I would recommend it, although only one song is original to the movie: "Moses Supposes." Nothing is more joyous to behold than Gene Kelly dancing in the rain.
Attack of the Clones is underrated. If you accept the melodramatic romantic dialogue and the unlikable main character, you can appreciate the suspenseful and poignant story and the epic fight scenes. An assassination plot on a senator's life sets in motion a detective story cross-cut with a forbidden love story in the wake of an imminent civil war. The story is full of shocking revelations, abduction, mass murder, and political intrigue.
An Epic Tragedy
Revenge of the Sith is an epic tragedy a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Anakin Skywalker, who saw nightmares of his mother in pain before she died in his arms, sees nightmares of his wife Padme dying in childbirth and makes a deal with the devil, which destroys the galaxy. Ian Mcdiarmid's portrayal of Palpatine sends shivers down my spine. The battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan on Mustafar is the best choreographed and most emotionally compelling swordfight in cinematic history. John Williams' score is unsurpassed.
The Princess Bride (1987)
Funny, exciting, and endlessly quotable, The Princess Bride is a classic.
THINGS I DISLIKE
In the opening scene, a Resistance pilot prank calls the First Order, an idiotic strategy that works.
Hux, the menacing fascist general from The Force Awakens, is suddenly a comic relief character.
Leia flies through the vacuum of space like Mary Poppins and is in a coma until she wakes up when it is convenient for the plot.
Luke Skywalker milks alien sea cow udders.
Vice Admiral Holdo's purple hair and prom dress are distracting.
In a scene stolen out of Spaceballs, Finn and Rose are arrested for illegal parking at a casino where they are on a quest to find a master hacker. A different hacker breaks them out of jail. They free abused animals and ride them on a stampede into the casino.
When Rose crashes into Finn to stop him from sacrificing himself to save the day, she says the nonsensical line, "This is how we win: Not by fighting what we hate but by saving what we love." Never mind that Finn was trying to sacrifice himself to save his loved ones.
THINGS I LIKE
Some of the jokes are funny.
The cinematography and visual effects are fantastic.
The multiple conflicting flashbacks of Ben Solo's fall to the dark side were a nice homage to Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon.
In Star Wars, the audience meets Luke when he sees a projection of Leia asking for help and watches the twin suns set. In The Last Jedi, Luke sends an astral projection of himself to help Leia and fades into the Force as he watches the twin suns set.
Unoriginal Soft Reboot
The Force Awakens is about as original as Jurassic World. The characters, worlds, and plot are ripoffs of the original Star Wars. The only difference is that the writing is worse. Whereas in A New Hope Han talks down to Luke ("Who's gonna fly it, kid? You?"), in The Force Awakens Rey one-ups Han at fixing his own ship. When a new character one-ups a legacy character, it is a sign of poor writing.
Rey is an expert pilot who speaks every language, uses the Force without training, and wins a duel the first time she picks up a lightsaber. Her character is a cardboard cutout without any weaknesses or growth.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
I Walked Out of the Theater
I walked out of the theater not because of the profanity but because the characters were unsympathetic and the story was boring.