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"Why don't you put her in charge?!"
Aliens is James Cameron's best movie. At least the theatrical cut.
While I have soft spots for Terminator and T2, I like the Abyss more than most, Aliens is the best movie he will ever make. The Extended edition isn't really worse per say, but there is a distinct lack of suspense and mystery by the time we arrive at Hadleys Hope.
Not only is this James Cameron's best movie, this could be one of the greatest, if not top tier, of all action science fiction movies ever done. Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, the cast of Marines and even Lance Henrikson have so much personality to carry the story which actually doesn't amount to much. You don't care and you don't have to because the people, not necessarily the Aliens, really do carry this one.
Even with some kind of low budget and an apparently antagonistic film crew could stop this from being awesome. I know there's some admirable things for the first movie. Stylistically, Alien still holds up. While it may not be a cucumber sand which, Alien still does not hold a candle to its sequel. Aliens is suspenseful, supremely constructed kinetic entertainment that never leaves you bored. There really isn't an Alien franchise. There's just Aliens and the other movies. Game over man.
Rogue One (2016)
This is the biggest fan fiction job ever pulled off.
And sometimes it works. I mean, if you're OK for constant self-aware fan jokes and CG people, then this is your movie. Rogue One is wish fulfillment that will carry it for a few weekends at the box office, but will fade more or less as quickly as any of the prequel movies. And let's just say it, if you're going to do a cheezo prequel for Star Wars, this is all you need really. But does it work as it's own movie? Not really. It might as well have been a two hour episode of the Clone Wars TV show.
Aside from the non-stop call outs, the trove of interesting characters and fantastic actors portraying them, are mostly forgotten very quickly in the second half of the movie. We get the perfunctory space and land battle but little else. Wen Jiang and Donnie Yen as the Star Wars Zatoichi were crying for more screen time and I hope someday they get their own deserved movie. While the computer generated actors feel really bad to me, and I cringed every single time they came up on screen, KS the Droid really works. In fact, his physical performance and effervescent humor carry large portions of the film when the actors are going through the motions.
I'm glad if you enjoyed what amounted to two hours of wish fulfillment and curtain calls. But Rogue One was also a missed opportunity for a true Star Wars Gaiden, a side story of it's own.
All Good Things...
Very well made overall and I went in completely unspoiled. The language stuff was highly fascinating because it felt really new and like a genuine exploration of some powerful questions.
This thing has gotta be looked at for being one of the all-time rip offs. By the middle when it became obvious what narrative convention they were using, I actually shouted out "She's Desomond!" in the theater. If you have seen Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "All Good Things..." or its sister episode of Lost "The Constant," you've already seen this movie.
Great performances and pretty solid if you haven't watched science fiction television the past 20 years, but my god, it's a rip off.
Bitchy Resting Face: The Movie
Everybody is Grumpy Cat in this movie. Except without the ensuing laughs. If Lego Movie was about how Everything is Awesome, Dawn of Justice was about how in life, Everything is Awful.
Nothing in the $250 Million and two and a half hours of "movie" moves anything. It's a preposterous act of stasis and inconsequence. The movie was not so much directed as flushed directly to theaters from a mulch of half digested junk food. You can imagine every scene was stitched together with Metallica's Nothing Else Matters playing on loop for the editor's iPod.
The acting is terrible, the writing was terrible and most of all the movie was just boring. There's a lot of people talking about how awesome Wonder Woman was, but that's simply not true. Everybody is bad in this. Gal Gadot did just as bad with her few terrible lines. She was just much more interesting to watch do a bad job than everybody else doing a bad job or maybe because for three seconds, she sort of smiles and we all bask in that small ray of joy.
I mean, nothing works in this thing. The whole concept is flawed. Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne are the exact same archetype of rich orphans but instead of drawing contrasts, Zach Snyder just lays on the redundancy thick. I'm not even mad really, just sad. By the end, I too had caught the bitchy resting face infecting every other character in the movie.
There are probably other things I could say but it's hard to write something more insightful when nothing in the movie mattered at all.
Bond 24 alternate title: Contractual Obligations
The villain in Spectre will be played by Sam Mendes a director I have sort of despised from anything he's ever done. Sure Skyfall was boring, but by the end, you realize Spectre might as well be porridge.
Spectre is the most lifeless action film I have ever seen and it also manages to be a bad Bond film too. If you can find me a sleepier car chase or shoot out, I'll buy you a coke. And that opening song? WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!?!
Somewhere in this movie there is a genuinely worthwhile story of loss and revenge on the part of Bond connecting to casino Royale, but all is wasted. Spectre cares not about entertainment or character development. Spectre doesn't even care about product placement or Aston Martins. To be honest, I don't even know why Spectre exists. From start to finish, the movie is a song continually out of tune and contemptuous of its audience.
Daniel Craig has some mileage left in him and even after all these movies, I really believe Bond has something to say about the world and the current time he exists in. Hopefully the next go-around is more thoughtful. I'm beside myself how omniscient and invisible everything turned out.
Sam Mendes, perhaps apply as a director for an episode of Grey's Anatomy where your "talents" are of more use.
The Hateful Eight (2015)
65mm can also amplify mediocrity
Spoiler Alert: Size of the film negative does not adversely result in better movies!! Plenty of trash was made on 65mm over the years and Hateful Eight is now one of those.
I got the joke pretty quickly. We are watching one of Tarantino-world's western shows. But instead of twenty minutes of tight plotting, it goes on for three hours. Hey look it's bad TV! But we used HUGE cameras this time!!!!
And the "twist" ain't there. There isn't one folks. You sort of figuratively lean in for three hours waiting for the final denouement but there isn't one.
Forget "racial" context or social commentary. There isn't any. Don't give QT that much credit. Saying Hateful Eight is a commentary on the Civil War is like saying Transformers is a comment on the Civil War. This thing is a complete mess in many ways and if it was merely 90 minutes, there COULD be a movie to almost laugh off. But no, there's nothing here. All they do is beat the living sh** out of Jennifer Jason Leigh for three hours and then the credits roll.
The real twist is, QT got you to pay for it. Not falling for that one again...
The Revenant (2015)
"it's real but it's not interesting"
You will hear a lot about how difficult the filmmaking process (though it was not shot on film, but digital) was in The Revenant. You will hear a lot about the length the actors, director and crew went to make things real. But to quote Jack Nicholson quote Stanley Kubrick:
"Jack, it's real but it's not interesting."
There's a lot of good work from every member of the cast and crew of the show here. I commend them all on their fine work. But I did not identify with anybody except Arthur Redcloud's Hikuc, and even then, his appearance is all too brief. This movie would be easier to review if there was more wrong with it, but I cannot offer some academic or faux intellectual retort. My personal criticism is just that, personal. And my personal opinion was I simply did not feel invested in any of the characters in the movie or what they went through.
Instead of a journey, surviving to the predictable end feels like a slog. And when it was all over. I really didn't feel anything for anybody. Maybe it's just me. I'll accept that.
Iñnaritu is a master of despair, but he isn't a dramatist and Revenant hasn't advanced his craft.
If you are interested in films about the trials of survival or snowy mindscapes, try "Touching the Void." The tonally similar, and far more contrived, "The Gray" is another one I would rather watch. I just found myself far more invested in watching Liam Neeson face off with a wolf than Leo sleep in a horse carcass.
Unnecessary, but comes with a few slices of power
Let's get this out of the way.
Kobayashi's hard hitting "Harakiri" is a masterpiece. It's one of the great pieces of not only Japanese cinema, but also one of the best movies of the 20th century. While I'm disappointed the film was remade at all, and surprised it came from Miike, there are still good things to be found here. To my surprise, for the most part, this is a good movie and in very small quantities, there are some true moments of greatness. Even if they are very short.
A good deal of the original film's grit is lost for most of this go around. The cinematography is over-lit and the pacing falls into lulls. But survive to the end and you will be rewarded as the final irony is quite powerful. I mean, no spoilers from me, but even with the cheesy fake snow, I have to say, Ebizô Ichikawa's powerful presence won me over and he truly wins the day when the time calls for it.
I was never too crazy about all the Kurosawa remakes of the 60s and 70s. Fistful of Dollars always felt like a cheap knock-off, because it is. The Magnificent Seven was sort of a tolerable chuckle. Kurosawa's films were so human, almost populist, because of their themes, his work was ripe for remake, reboot or even plagiarism. Only Star Wars seemed to get the joke and succeed in being something different than a pure Hidden Fortress copy. Kobayashi's Harakiri seemed to escape the trend for so long because of the subject matter - even the title! But here we are. There is still something not right about this "remake," but MIike gets it right in the end, even if never needed to be done in the first place.
Gone Girl (2014)
Presumed Fatal Bound Innocent Attraction.
The book was terrible and the movie is just as bad.
How such a blatant and amateurish rip from Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent and even a dash of Agatha Christie's Endless Night ever found an audience, is beyond me.
Look even if the story is drivel and the plot is a giant gaping hole of "no F****ng way!" the real problem with this heap is the actors. I never believed for one second Pike and Affleck. Not only do they lack any chemistry dramatically, I'm wondering if Fincher ever bothered to do second takes. Every freaking scene in this "thriller" plays so flat. The movie looks flat, it is acted flat and even when you're laughing at how plot holes make the Death Star look like Science Fact, you're falling asleep.
So yes, it's trash. It's a massive rip off of a genuinely good mystery/legal boiler novel. But yeah, I just didn't believe any of it. Fincher was on auto pilot. Pike was annoying and Affleck looks like a CGI puppet for two and a half hours.
Even if you're fascinated by what drives infidelity, this movie has nothing real to say on the subject other than women are plotting, bloodletting liars and men are philandering victims. There's far better trash out there to eat two hours and some popcorn than this steamer. Gone girl should stay gone.
Fincher gave up years ago. After four consecutive duds, I'm not touching anything with his name on it again.
Inherent Vice (2014)
Promise of Vice. Inherent boredom.
Watching people do drugs is never interesting.
Paul Thomas Anderson is in love with words, but while the man may have an ear, he has no timing at all. Much like The Master, a better film is in here somewhere, but this isn't quite it. Paul Thomas Anderson's stab at a Cohen Brother and David Lynch movie doesn't pay off, the laughs don't come and only Josh Brolin looks like he's having any fun.
As much as the twisted, and ultimately disposable "plot," zigs and zags I wished I had taken a nap half way through. By the end, I wouldn't have missed a thing. In fact, once you've passed the brothel and we wake up in the desert, there's not much left to see. Except maybe Martin Short.
Juaquin Phoenix inhabits what seems to be of Hunter Thompson's lost Doppelgängers in the form of PI "Doc," in search of all sorts of stuff. There's Owen Wilson eating pizza and Brolin eating weed and boy does this movie want to be funny, but most of the time it isn't.
The camera lingers far too long just like most of those terrible Family Guy jokes. Phoenix is quite good most of the time - as is just about everybody - but despite the Inherent Zaniness, the movie just can't connect. Nothing really digs in to you. As far as seedy LA, subversive Valley yarns it's all here by name. The drugs, the violence, the sex. But you never feel it.
Vice has never been so boring