Friday, July 17, 2015

Movies! (And Ones I Watched) 7/17/15

The "big" movie this week is Marvel's Ant-Man.  (Not just Ant-Man, MARVEL'S Ant-Man.)  This was a troubled production that started almost 10 years ago and lost its original writer/director Edgar Wright along the way when his vision didn't necessarily gel with MARVEL's in part because he started writing the movie before there was a "cinematic universe."  So Marvel went out and hired a yes man as in the director of "Yes Man."

Anyway, it seems like the revised plot is largely using the same one as "Iron Man" and to a lesser extent "The Incredible Hulk."  A guy who's not necessarily a "good guy" gets technology to shrink down and do cool shit and then a bad guy steals that technology to unleash mayhem.  I think if Edgar Wright were still involved I'd be more interested in seeing it because I love "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz."

It's going to have it's work cut out for it to be #1 this weekend as last week "Minions" grossed over $100 million.  Kids movies usually hold over better so "Ant-Man" will need a big weekend to be #1.  Between "Minions" and "Jurassic World" Universal seems poised to take this summer from Disney/Marvel.

Other than that, here's some stuff I watched:

Jurassic World:  This is a "soft reboot" in that it basically ignores "The Lost World" and "Jurassic Park III."  You've probably already seen it so let me just say I thought it was OK but not the greatest movie ever.  With improved CGI and all that from 1993 the dinosaur fights were a lot better.  It's neat how they make you actually root for velociraptors.  The humans, not as much.  I think they should have made Claire finding some real shoes part of the plot, like in "Die Hard" with him going around barefoot all the time.  I'm sure if my brother and I had been lost in a jungle of dinosaurs when we were teenagers we'd have been inside a dino's stomach in about three minutes.  Anyway, this has made a shitload of money so I'm sure there will be a sequel, though I'm not sure how they'll do it since the park is fucked.  Maybe there will be a problem at EuroJurassic World. (2.5/5)

Kingsman The Secret Service:  I know Michael Offutt raved about this movie but I never got a chance to see it in theaters.  It was really good.  Though since it's based on a Mark Millar comic and directed by Matthew Vaughn (the same guys behind the "Kick-Ass" comic book and movie) there is some gratuitous violence.  A couple of big surprise deaths.  My biggest complaint is at the end Sam Jackson's ultimate weapon requires him to have his hand on a table the whole time, which just seemed like a plot device to make it easy to disarm.  I mean couldn't a tech genius just make it so you turn it on with your biometrics and it keeps running? (4/5)

Maggie:  If I told you this movie features Ahh-nold Schwarzenegger and zombies you think it'd be a nonstop action thrill ride, right?  But this is actually a really slow, contemplative movie about the eponymous girl (Abigail Breslin) who is slowly turning into a zombie after being bitten.    Her father (Ahh-nold) stays to see her through her last days, all the while worrying about having to inevitably put her out of her misery.  It occurred to me while watching that the zombie thing is really just a metaphor for the right to die argument.  Arnold takes Maggie from the hospital and cares for her so she can die with dignity, not being shoved into "quarantine" which is like a demolition derby where the infected are all thrown together to either be eaten or put down.  While Arnold is decent in his role (and let's face it the script minimizes how much he really has to do) Abigail Breslin is the one who really makes the movie as she slowly loses her grip on her humanity.  It's hard to believe "Little Miss Sunshine" was 9 years ago, isn't it?  There is a flaw in the ending in that it's not entirely plausible.  (Spoiler) the fall she takes at the end would not be enough to kill her, though that's what we're led to believe. (3.5/5)

Focus:  Finally, a movie about my car!  Wait, it's not?  Actually it's a good movie about a con artist (Will Smith) who schools and falls in love with another con artist (Margot Robbie).  The good thing about this movie is you could never quite figure it out, especially the Big Game con, which was awesome.  When Smith and Robbie meet up in Buenos Aires thanks to a race car team owner I worried it was going to turn into "Duplicity" (which sucked) but fortunately the plot took some other turns to keep me guessing.  After the Big Game scam I found myself checking out a little; I suppose that was such a good climax that after that was a little downer.  One thing that confused me in the previews and early in the movie is the outside of the Superdome has the Roman numerals XVII on it, so I was like, "Wait, Super Bowl 17, that was like in the early 80s."  But everything in the movie was modern day.  Finally I realized it wasn't Super Bowl 17; they didn't get the NFL rights so it was some other made-up league.  I guess the NFL is happy to do movies that are glorified commercials like "Draft Day" and they're happy to sponsor fantasy football, but they're not as happy when you're focusing on the ludicrous gambling that goes on during "The Big Game."  That or Warner Bros was just being cheap.  It's a small imperfection in an otherwise good movie.  BTW, if you like Smith and Robbie in this movie next year they're also in Suicide Squad, also from Warner Bros.  Coincidence?  Maybe. (3/5)

Slow West:  I had read about this movie but it's one you couldn't really see in theaters except maybe in New York or LA.  It's a Western with Michael Fassbender as a bounty hunter who falls in with a heartsick Scottish kid (Kodie Smit-McPhee) wandering the west in search of his girlfriend.  Except (kinda spoiler) what Fassbender really wants is for the kid to lead him to the girlfriend and then turn her in for a $2,000 reward.  But of course as they wander around they start to get sympathy for each other.  But there is a surprise twist in the ending to help make it not too predictable. Even if you're not a big Western fan (I'm not) it's pretty comparable with the Coen Bros remake of "True Grit."  It's free on Amazon if you have Amazon Prime.  BTW, if you like Fassbender and Smit-McPhee in this movie I think they're both in the next X-Men movie.  Coincidence?  Probably.  (3/5)

A Most Violent Year:  This had a "Godfather II" feel to it although the main character Abel (Oscar Isaac) I don't think was really a criminal.  But like Michael Corleone as he's trying to make a big splash for his business by buying some waterfront property, he's beset by obstacles on all sides that threaten not just him and his business, but his family as well.  Things work out a little better for him than Michael Corleone.  There is some action, but it's not a nonstop action fest, nor is it ever too brooding.  I would have liked to know a little more about Abel's past, but otherwise it was a taut drama.  Plus you get to see Jessica Chastain shoot an injured deer, which is not as awesome as when Geena Davis snapped a deer's neck in "The Long Kiss Goodnight."  I'm just saying. (3.5/5)

The Loft:  When I saw previews of this I thought, "This looks like something to rent on DVD."  And lo and behold at the end of June I rented it from Redbox.  I was a little disappointed.  The movie is about 4 yuppies and 1 screw-up brother who decide to share a fancy loft and turn it into the ultimate man cave.  From this you'd think there would be some decent sex and nudity, but no.  The women pretty much get as naked as Jennifer Aniston--see below.  The mystery is fairly interesting, with a few twists and turns, but it was definitely a rental. (2/5)

Blackhat:  Here's a poll question for you:  Who's a more implausible super computer hacker:  Richard Pryor in "Superman III" or Chris Hemsworth in "Blackhat?" Can anyone really buy the God of Thunder as a computer hacker?  A computer hacker who can go beat up a bunch of dudes?  At least Hugh Jackman in "Swordfish" wasn't slashing people up like Wolverine.  Anyway, if you can get past's pretty boring.  Not that they don't try but still it's hard to care about all this technobabble about IP addresses and RATs and malware.  When you come down to it, low-tech still works better for thrillers. By the end of the movie I'm not even sure who the bad guy was, just some dude who wanted to make some money or something.  Whatever.  (1/5)

American Sniper:  This was the "highest grossing movie of 2014" despite that it made most of its money in January.  I finally got around to watching it and wasn't that impressed.  It got to be kind of boring really.  I guess because everything happens in these little snippets so it became hard to see it as a cohesive narrative.  A lot of the time I didn't know when stuff was happening; one minute 9/11 is happening and the next he's in Iraq shooting a kid.  Then I think for legal reasons they couldn't really go into much about he died since I think that case was ongoing.  (2/5)

Life of Crime:  This was based on an Elmore Leonard novel and probably the last movie he worked on before he died.  Basically some low-level hoods decide to kidnap Jennifer Aniston, the wife of a sleazy slum lord (Tim Robbins).  The problem becomes that Tim Robbins doesn't want his wife back.  Not as much mayhem ensues as you'd think.  It's not nearly as good as say "Get Shorty" or "Out of Sight." And for some reason even though Jennifer Aniston is getting naked at some point we have to change the camera angle to not see anything; if she's that afraid of getting nude, why keep taking roles where she's supposed to strip?  (2/5)

A Most Wanted Man:  This was one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's last roles, and as such it would have been nice if it had been a good movie.  It really wasn't.  It's supposed to be an espionage thriller, but it was not that thrilling.  It's the kind of movie where eventually I got more interested in reading my Twitter and Facebook.  The plot involves German spies and radical Muslims in and around Hamburg with Robin Wright as the ugly American who interferes with everything.  It's really too slow to develop; maybe they should have thrown in a car chase or something to wake viewers up. (2/5)

Black Snake Moan:  Pop quiz:  if you find the town whore lying beaten up on a dirt road would you A) Take her to a hospital B) Call the Police or C) Take her to your shack, dump her on the couch to go buy stuff at the pharmacy (and beat up a guy in a pool hall) and then chain her to a radiator in your shack?  C is what Samuel L Jackson does, which makes no sense because as far as I could tell he wasn't supposed to be a weird evil stalker type.  Even in the rural South they still have telephones and ambulances, right?  So why go to all that trouble?  Makes no sense to me. (1/5)

Walk of Shame:  I guess the moral of this story is that just because a hot blond is wearing a tiny dress and heels doesn't mean she's a slut.  Basically the plot of the movie is that this female reporter (Elizabeth Banks) dressed in a tiny yellow dress and heels after a night of drinking has her car towed and is locked out of the apartment she was screwing James Marsden in thanks to a cat so she ends up wandering around LA all night and most of the next day while everyone she meets thinks she's a hooker or crack whore.  The movie features some crude humor and while being misogynistic, also has negative portrayals of black people and Elizabeth Banks does a racist impersonation of an Asian masseuse.  It's not nearly as good as similar movies like "Adventures in Babysitting" or "Trojan War" which feature a character on a similar urban odyssey but are more funny and less crude.  Just saying. (1.5/5)

Loser:  Starring Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari and with music by Everclear, Blink-182, Fastball, etc. this movie is like a time capsule of the year 2000.  It's by the same director as "Clueless" but is far less funny or memorable as Jason Biggs is the small town kid who goes to New York and finds everyone is a bunch of assholes, except eventually Mena Suvari comes around.  I guess the idea was it was supposed to be like a Woody Allen movie for the Gen X set.  But the name of the movie sums it up pretty well. (2/5)

Deadbeat:  This is a series exclusive to Hulu that I watched during a preview of Hulu.  Basically a fat slacker named Kevin (Tyler Labine of "Reaper" and "Tucker & Dale vs. Evil") can see dead people.  His drug dealer friend Roofie (Brandon T. Jackson) helps him to set up a medium business in an old newsstand where people come to ask him to help ghosts cross over to the afterlife.  He frequently crosses paths with a hot fake medium named Camomile White who somehow manages to convince people Kevin is the fake not her.  Meanwhile her assistant Sue (Lucy DeVito, whose father has a guest appearance in one episode) falls in love with Kevin but there's just one problem as (spoiler) she dies and becomes a ghost at the end of season 1.  Overall the show was pretty funny if you like crude slacker humor involving sex and drugs.  I totally do so I enjoyed it.  Sometimes it could have used better production values and actors, but oh well.  If you have Hulu you should check it out. I do wonder though what the show's obsession with James McAvoy is; every time they need to reference a celebrity they reference James McAvoy.  Makes me wonder if someone on the show really likes him or really hates him or knows him but in Season 3 it would be awesome for him to have a cameo.  (3/5)

American Movie:  This is a documentary about a mulleted guy in Wisconsin back in the mid-90s who wants to make his magna opus called "Northwestern" but since this is before Kickstarter he decides to raise money by making a short horror movie called "Coven" that he pronounces as "Coh-ven" not "Cuh-ven"  I thought it was supposed to be a mockumentary and the guy's goofy "Napoleon Dynamite"-esque appearance would lend itself to that but really it's just a regular documentary that isn't terribly interesting.  Long story short the guy eventually finishes the short but I have no idea if he finished his magna opus or if "Coh-ven" sold any copies.  I could probably find out if I cared, which I don't. (1/5)


  1. Sigh, you're just reminding me of how far behind I am on all my movie watching. :-/

  2. I saw Ant Man last night and I frickin loved it. Going again tonight. The movie is just awesome. I think Disney outdoes itself on every Marvel superhero outing. Pat, you should go see it.

  3. I also want to add that Ant Man is better than Avengers: Age of Ultron (as in I liked it more).

  4. It amazes me that people are still interested in Jurassic movies. I's all going to come down to people from dinosaurs over and over again.



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