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For fans of: Rampage, the latter Transformers sequels
I really enjoyed the Godzilla from 2014. Gareth Edwards is a great director and he built up suspense and put together scenes carefully and tightly so the whole movie was a very absorbing experience - and the final appearance of Godzilla with his nasty snarling smirk at the end was immensely satisfying. The destruction of the city felt so huge and legitimately terrifying. It wasn't perfect, but an outstanding blockbuster debut and a standout reboot movie.
This sequel is an abomination. Half of this CGI montage is devoted to a lifeless family melodrama that seems to take center stage. Though the daughter is compellingly played by Millie Bobby Brown, her parents are cliche caricatures of real people, motivated in the most asinine way by their emotions about their dead son. The mother "turns bad" and joins an obscure crew of ecoterrorists, the twist clumsily revealed in concert with what seems like a Powerpoint presentation or montage she must have edited herself. The idea is humans are bad, so it's okay for the monsters to kill us all, and this paperthin philosophical choice she makes she regrets almost immediately, when she realizes she only did it... because she was sad.
The father is way worse. Playing the same character he usually does, knock-off George Clooney is a wayward drunk who only wants to reconnect with his family. He ends up taking the lead, intuitively understanding every senseless twist and turn of the movie, ordering around Monarch's top scientists and even the US military - because he is a wolf researcher? What a bunch of bunk.
The monster reveals are definitely cool. But nostalgia-fueled fanboyism must have played a role in how this movie includes them - every single monster on earth comes from nowhere to fight, and almost no meaningful time is devoted to understanding where they came from or what they can do. Only when the plot seems to be spiraling out of control will someone baselessly claim that the monster is, say, clearly the dragon of Oriental lore, or the worshiped beast of a long-lost civlization. This film has no patience at all, and zero devotion to detail. All that matters is that all of them show up.
The fight scenes themselves, again, are sometimes really cool. But each successive visual is interspersed with incoherent sequences of ungrounded, murky shots of these creatures which don't connect to any narrative about who is winning or losing, what the monsters can do, and don't really give justice to the idea that they are much, much larger than the cities they destroy. And they are spliced with aimless scenes of our heroes desperately running around in circles as they effortly evade falling pieces of concrete and hyperlethal levels of radiation - heroes who are, at best, poorly written, and, truly, just extremely annoying cliches.
And the climax of the movie is so flatly handled that I wasn't sure the movie was over until our many monsters have suddenly arrived to swear fealty to our newly badass king lizard Godzilla, after having absorbed nuclear radiation to both heal and... become a thermonuclear weapon? I will never forget the line about Godzilla's "radiation reaching critical mass."
I keep seeing this - "This is what a Godzilla movie is supposed to be." A Godzilla movie shouldn't be bad, is my contention. If you are going to include more than an hour and a half of screen time focused on the human characters, try to give them some kind of depth or realistic motivation so the stakes and the world they live in is worthwhile. I might as well have watched any other corporately produced disaster movie that sucked. Godzilla and the characters from his universe deserve much better.
The Lobster (2015)
I appreciated what they were doing in this movie, I really did. The writing was actually pretty clever and the movie was intriguing.
But I couldn't stand watching this cast of hopeless psychopaths, losers, and loners exchange deadpan dialogue for two hours. Some of the lines were actually pretty funny, but none of it was delivered in a way to arouse emotion.
I also don't mind dark comedy or even black humor, but this movie devolves into outright sadism. It's not funny and it's beyond unpleasant to experience.
If you're willing to spend an evening on the verge of vomiting for the sake of this cheaply ugly satire, have at it. But it's definitely not for everyone.
Peter Jackson, with this new trilogy, which adapts a somewhat long children's fairy tale into a three-part action epic, each movie being three hours long and delving into completely irrelevant stories that are only hinted at in Tolkien's body of work, has really destroyed his reputation as the Tolkien translator. He will always live in the shadow of The Lord of the Rings, which is a sumptuous, beautiful, heartrending, thrilling masterpiece.
I don't know what happened. But Jackson sacrificed tone, realism, characterization, and story when he adapted The Hobbit. It is unrecognizable as work by the same director.
There are so many problems with this trilogy and this movie that is nigh impossible to list them. Nearly every scene is a real travesty, and the whole operation is an affront to the source material and fans of LOTR. The movies make hyper-violent beheadings and mass slaughter into orgies of staged action sequences and dumb gags. The orcs, which are now entirely computer-generated, are no longer compelling or realistic, and they are seemingly significantly more fearsome than in LOTR... It takes what the audience understands about Middle Earth and makes it BIGGER, in a completely childish overextension of the original story, to make things even more epic! Were-worms and enormous bats - these don't exist in the larger and more climactic battle in LOTR, but sure, they existed back then, right? Sure! Jackson also turns characters into absolutely ridiculous flat caricatures. Thranduil, the bourgeois blue-blood riding an elk, Dain, Thorin's cousin, who rests his enormous high- pitched Scottish girth on a wild boar, the she- elf who falls in love with a dwarf... It's stomach churning how Peter Jackson has combined a love for extreme violence and an eye for juvenile gags and unbelievable characters, and in a beloved, classic setting.
This movie, once again, extends Legolas past human bounds, past elven bounds, past the bounds of Newtonian physics, as he sprints, newly cyan eyes shining, on falling bricks and hangs from bats. We get to watch dwarfs behead seiging armies of orcs, who are impotent to the blows of the tiny Olympians. Again, oh no!, Middle Earth is doomed, the age of men is over, (cue slow-motion shots of Gandalf looking stricken, Thorin killing orcs with Sparta kicks)... The feel, the script, the look is all taken from LOTR and rehashed with this cast of cardboard characters, in a badly rendered world of excess and fancy.
I expected mature film-making for thoughtful audiences expecting real characters living in a real world with a compelling story, but obviously that was too much to expect.
If one of the important themes of The Hobbit is the rejection of greed, as we can see personified by Thorin, then is it hypocritical that Hollywood has churned out three abominably shallow and violent films out of The Hobbit for the public's consumption? I think so. I hate what these films represent, and what they could have done.
James Cameron was correct when he said Gravity is "the best space film ever made" (with a close second for 2001: A Space Odyssey). The special effects are magnificent and seamless, the cinematography and choreography are breathtaking, and the thematic elements are not reduced by the simple concept of the story.
This film is beautiful to watch. If you watch it for nothing else, just enjoy the enthralling scenes of debris tearing through shuttles and space stations, or the amazing shots of Earth from space. Cuarón's signature long cuts contribute to the palpable tension and realism of the movie.
The special effects are astounding. The zero-gravity environment is completely believable and precisely created. It is astounding to think that this film could not be made so seamlessly without actually filming in Earth orbit.
Sandra Bullock is excellent, and though George Clooney's role is relatively minor, Clooney is also great. Some of Gravity's criticism has been toward the supposed weak characterization and synthetic banter between the two characters, but this was not evident to me, and is really a footnote on a nearly flawless film.
The story is somewhat weak and simple, but completely original and mostly accurate. The only inaccuracy is the proximity of space stations and debris orbits, but, again, this is a minor detail. Cuarón makes the most of this story with some beautiful and simple messages.
We march toward death as surely as gravity draws falling objects toward Earth. But it's one hell of a ride. If you haven't seen Gravity, watch it as soon as you can.
Cloverfield is definitely something new and interesting. It is a lot like Children of Men in that it completely immerses you in the world the director creates. The camcorder is an interesting lens through which to view New York City and the main characters.
The characters were all realistic and varied, and the whole thing was very believable. The acting was very good, and the special effects were flawless, especially considering the format.
The only complaint I have is that there is no real story, and there is no real exposition about the monster that attacks the city. The movie is immersing, and at times pretty scary, but by the time the movie ends, you will be left with no more information about the monster than you had at the beginning. Altogether, it is a good viewing experience but an inadequate film overall.
Children of Men (2006)
There is no praise too lofty for this masterpiece from Alfonso Cuarón. Every aspect of this movie is flawless and absorbing. I can't say a single negative thing about this movie - it is perfect and brilliant.
The atmosphere and tension of the world Cuarón creates is captivating. Every setting is carefully adorned with hints at the past of the world and realistically given a feel of wear and age. From the chaotic battlefield city to Jasper's house, every set is painstakingly crafted. This believability is compounded by the long takes (spliced, yes, I know. They are nonetheless amazing to watch), which make the tension and horror of the events palpable and visceral. Every ping of a bullet, cry of a dying soldier, bark of a dog is perfectly mixed to create a thorough and captivating atmosphere.
The acting and characterization are wonderful. Michael Cane (once you get past the fact that it is Michael Caine) is fantastic as the Zen- loving, pot-smoking jokester Jasper. Clive Owen is also wonderful. The rest of the cast are all great, playing multifaceted and realistic characters.
The story is heavily changed from the original novel, which I have not read. Cuarón's version is not uplifting, or not overtly so, and is not typical of most movies. But this to me, is a very good thing. To finally get a dose of the world as it usually is, a world that is entropic and cruel, is refreshing and is all the more captivating as it reflects the world we live in. This plot is not the synthetic, traditional, too-good- to-be-true plot so typical of Hollywood movies, particularly sci-fis. It makes fascinating references to the Nativity Story without being overtly devoted to Biblical events, it provokes thought on war, motherhood, immigration, government, and heroism. Some complain about how it is depressing, but this is because it is drawing attention to some of the more terrible aspects of human nature and history. It references the Holocaust, the time of the Black Plague, terrorism, and war that is not unlike the recent wars of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Overall, this film is a thrilling and thoughtful adventure. It is harsh and dark, but captivating and wonderfully rendered. 10/10, one of the best films ever made.
I was excited to see this movie. It won 5 Oscars, it has supposedly great acting, and is apparently very exciting and inspiring to many of the people who have seen it.
However, I tried to watch this movie and was so repelled by Mel Gibson's flat, bland, pathetic performance and the pretentious and simplistic plot that I could not finish it. Mel Gibson is absolutely terrible in this film. His character is completely one-dimensional and his romance is absolutely unbelievable. He looks completely ridiculous with 3 foot long hair and he is very conspicuously miscast. The camera lingers on his epic feats and heroic poses and I wondered sometimes if the movie was more a Mel Gibson montage or a biopic (which it really isn't anyway).
From what I have heard, this movie completely butchered history. It is known to be one of the most inaccurate biopics ever created. And if this is true, then how on earth can it be "inspiring," "breathtaking," even good?!
This is truly an insult to cinema and history. 1/10
I will start with the positive aspects of this film, of witch there are few. Mel Gibson is believable, if only because all he had to do was look slightly downcast and beyond that be emotionless. The movie is slightly frightening at times and the scenes in the corn are legitimately scary.
Aside from these small redemptions, this movie is ridiculous. Although the aliens can travel across the universe and make themselves invisible, they are completely incapable of protecting themselves from their weakness, water (?), which covers most of the surface of the planet they are attacking, is the most common part of the beings they plan to harvest, they cannot escape from rooms if they are boarded up, they cannot fight or exert any strength on anything... The list goes on.
Near the end, an alien that is left behind in the house grabs the boy, who is suffering from asthma. Then, in the least effective scene I have seen in any movie, the family all stares in horror at the alien. The father has a religious realization while he is staring... Meanwhile, the alien continues to stand there, not moving, apparently equally appalled as the humans. He makes no attempt to escape, does not harm the boy, and waits a full five minutes, waits until the family realizes that they could hurt the alien with a baseball bat (genius!) to use his poison spray. Why not attack the alien earlier? Why not take the boy and escape? Why didn't the family take the medicine down with them? Why didn't they have weapons with them? Why is this movie so terrible?!?!
The theme of the movie is religious. I can accept that, except that it is badly contrived and makes a ridiculous connection between religion and coincidence. The bizarre tendency for the little girl to leave cups of water out is a blatant setup for the ending, when water is exposed as the aliens' weakness. The boy's asthma was also obviously set up for the poison gas the alien sprays in his nose. And it is apparently miraculous that the main character's wife told him to tell Merril to keep playing baseball. Because she obviously meant that only he, great baseball player that he was, could possibly use a baseball bat to kill an alien. And because they had all of their own bizarre problems or talents (the ability to swing a baseball bat, for example), this means that some divine being is looking out for them. A completely immature and nonsensical interpretation of religion. A clumsy and pathetic attempt to convey this theme. God-awful.
Do not ever watch this movie. It is an insult to science fiction, to movies, to writers, to the audience.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Unremarkable. Why the Oscars?
I've always wanted to see Silence of the Lambs and finally got to today. I thought that Hannibal Lector sounded like a really cool character and of course I anticipated excellent film-making with the sort of praise it has received.
I saw it, and I would say that as far as movies like this go, it is excellent. But for cinema in general, Silence is unremarkable and, really, given the hype and awards, ultimately disappointing.
Jodie Foster was good, but she is haunted by the slaughter of a lamb from her childhood? Ridiculous. Anthony Hopkins was great. I think he deserved his award, though his performance is overrated. Not exactly a very complex or hard to portray character...
The story was not particularly exciting. It was fairly clumsy and failed to capture my attention. I was repelled by Buffalo Bill but not interested in his character whatsoever. I watched the movie for the rare encounters with Hannibal Lector, and the search for Buffalo Bill was an uninteresting but necessary backdrop. Also, how on Earth would the FBI bring a SWAT team to a house that is a false tip, that is hundreds of miles away from the killings...? It makes no sense - they completely ignored the evidence and conclusions they had already made. And so, when the so-called thrilling doorbell scene took place, I was not surprised. Of course he's not in Chicago. Ridiculous.
I can honestly say I enjoyed Lector's escape. It was clever and suspenseful (if a bit illogical) and to some degree makes the movie.
And is this movie scary, as has been said? No. Definitely not. The serial killer is creepy, not terrifying. Hannibal is intriguing, but not too scary. I've heard of people not sleeping for days, others having horrific nightmares... I don't understand it.
This movie is worth watching if you like thrillers/serial killer/ kind of movies, but if you go into this film expecting a great piece of cinema, some groundbreaking technique or idea, or a thrilling scene or two as I did, you will be disappointed. A good movie, yes. 23rd on IMDb Top 250? Absolutely not. An 8.7 on IMDb? No.