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A long walk upon a short pier
I rewatched Director Duncan Jones' debut film "Moon" the other night and read the trivia which revealed "Mute". I read somewhere else that his second effort won him praise among sci-fi fans and after just having watched it, can't imagine why. While several aspects of "Mute" meet the technological production standards of film making, the screenplay was much too long and labored. In the end, it wasn't a complicated story but it was difficult to follow with any interest since the Leo character was more or less a movie prop, his girlfriend merely a reference, and the supporting characters the structure upon which the story seems to have been built.
Seemed promising, falls flat after "Directed By"
The opening montage was Marvelesque, the visual style was perfect, and Milla Jovovich is as hot as ever. But that's all I can say about the film in a positive tone.
I don't mind women in kick-butt roles, but there were several action sequences that looked obviously staged. The action editing seemed to lengthen the move sequences unnecessarily. One can tell when Milla begins or ends a move without trying to look for it.
I know Milla and the Director didn't like the studio honcho's stepping in and basically ruining a good role in a potentially good movie by re-imagining the story. But, I'd pass on this one.
A good effort to follow up a grand slam
I'm at a point now where all the movies I see fall into several categories of how they'll play out. Some of that is due to the years and my penchant for science fiction, adventure and action. I think most of it is due to the proliferation of the movie-making industry and an inherent dearth of imagination. We humans like to believe that more is better, but reality suggests there are only so many story types out there.
I was careful not to expect this film to match or exceed its predecessor, and for that I'm glad. If I hadn't, I would have stopped watching my 3-day/$6.35 (w/tax) rental on Amazon by the conclusion of the first act.
The entire production is top-notch and the characters played like there was no break between releases. The special effects were superb, and the off-beat humor was good. But there were times I sat back in my chair and thought that I've seen these plots before.
There is a lot to like in this film, but I think a particular segment or segments of the movie-going (or renting) market will be bowled over by it. The rest will either avoid it, hate it, or, like myself, wish they could say more on its behalf without exaggeration.
I own the first film, but I don't feel the need to purchase this one. I will watch it again before the rental period is over, and perhaps I may like it more. But this is a difficult film to knock because it followed some big footsteps.
It's been a day since I watched "Arrival" and I still don't know how I feel about it. I think the casting was fine, the roles believable, even the premise plausible. But the mood was very depressing.
Amy Adams portrays a grieving but functional and successful mother who loses her daughter to a rare disease. That she is a linguistics professor is her connection to being whisked off by Forrest Whitaker in his role of military importance to be front and center at the meet and greet with aliens who have a very unique language and method of communication.
I liked how the story developed, how the subject of alien contact can kick off a multitude of reactions across humanity, and the Director's avoidance of go-to-the-well plot devices which make all such movies of late seem like the same movie.
Forrest Whitaker, I believe, is perhaps one of the most under-appreciated and under-rated actors in motion pictures today. His performance is a subdued intensity typical of any military movie role, but he pulls it off quite intelligently.
Jeremy Renner is his steady best as a physicist selected to join the team of people brought together by the military to deal with first contact. He seemed at first to be the character who does something outrageous to upset the apple cart, yet delivers an even-toned performance consistent with the cast around him.
Amy Adams does what she can in the role of a character with one mood - morose. I get that she lost her girl and that sort of grief never leaves you, but even in the context of the climax, I felt her role could have been written without so much emphasis on her being sad.
Though star battles, abductions, and laser beams are non-existent in "Arrival" there's a lot to like for anyone in this film, and I admit to being tight with my praise. So don't let MY number dissuade you from watching this movie. If complex stories involving time displacement are your thing, you'll definitely enjoy this film because it "behaves" differently than most others of the genre.
My rating of 5 is due entirely to the lack of intensity and the somber mood from beginning to nearly the end.
Star Trek: Beyond (2016)
Political correctness has killed this franchise
This third installment of the altered timeline of the once-manly Star Trek universe would have had me sleeping by the second reel except for the egregious scene-by-scene opportunism to beat us over the head with their social justice warrior mantra. It's aggravating to pay to see a film that has you coming away feeling like you endured a 122 minute lecture.
You know the deal with Star Trek, everybody gets along on Earth, aboard Federation spacecraft, and colonies unless there needs to be some struggle in order to sell a movie plot. I had enough of that by the time Star Trek III: The Search for Spock debuted. But this was the worst in that regard. We already know George Takei is homosexual. How couldn't we know these days, right? Not satisfied with drilling into our brains his choice of sexual lifestyle, they show his once-manly character as being in a homosexual partnership where they raise a young daughter.
And what is it with women beating up men their size or larger? Woman-on-man violence is just fine, yet men can't so much as say a cross word to a woman. But that's political correctness rearing its ugly head once again. Man, if that's the future we're going to experience, I'm glad I don't live forever.
But enough with the rant.
The picture has some merit. The production values and special effects were top notch. The conceptualization of Yorktown was spectacular. But on the negative side, we had the noisy Kirk getting thrown around by another much stronger adversary, the down-to-the-last-second drama to save Yorktown, non-existent character development for Jaylah and other newbies to the scene. And most certainly the worst aspect, the same sort of destruction experienced by James Kirk's ship in this film as experienced by George Kirk's ship two movies ago.
It's too bad the investment into visualization and production values didn't make its way into the script. But that's what the kids enjoy today. Me? I'll stick to the original series.
Zone Troopers (1985)
I can understand the appeal. I grew up in the 60's watching every 1940's to 1950's b-movie I could on Saturday nights. I love science fiction. I even like bad movies. But this one just doesn't get it right.
I found nothing in the story that made ANY bit of sense. It's like the horror movies of that time (1980's) where stupid characters make stupid decisions despite the dangers around them - all without the slightest nod to any trepidation or common sense.
1) You don't leave a trail of American-brand cigarette butts all over the Italian countryside with Germans on your heels.
2) If your supplies are limited, your fallen countrymen wouldn't mind if you took their spare ammo.
3) When you're holed up in some barn, you don't make a fire which can be seen through a gate that looks like a bunch of third-graders put it together.
4) When you're on the run and hiding from Germans in the area, you don't shout to each other.
5) When you're the Germans and the Americans have their backs to you, don't wait until they are able to turn around and use their recently-acquired alien weapons on you.
I'd also like to know why an alien civilization wouldn't think of their own type of grating rather than resorting to a design that resembles Terran chicken-wire.
Even in my giddiest of moods I would find this movie difficult to watch because of the dreadful lack of regard for common sense in every scene.
Suicide Squad (2016)
Worth a watch, but could have been better executed.
Fresh on the heels of watching "Batman v Superman" (because I must like torture) I decided to go back on my word and actually paid $5 to rent "Suicide Squad" on Amazon.
Before my review gets bloody, I will say this title is somewhat more entertaining that "BvS". I can't say that I cared for any character because the people at Warner Brothers need to learn how to tell stories before they find themselves in productions which have to not only tell its story, but to interface with the story lines of other films in the DC Comics universe.
The only whiff of a story comes as a complete surprise, after what amounts to player introductions at the beginning of the movie. All they needed was a steam generator like they use in football games and the intro music baseball players have their home stadiums play for them to really get cheesy.
It wasn't just doing a poor job of telling too much that hurt the film, it was also the carryover of "too many cooks spoiling the stew" from the "BvS" debacle which sealed its disappointing fate. I didn't expect Shakespeare, but I didn't expect a Michael Bey treatment of a "Lethal Weapon" sequel, with a slight nod to Tim Burton's imagery. A little too over-the-top.
I'm no fan of Will Smith the person, but the man has some acting chops and he did what he could here. Margot Robbie has a lot of fun as Harley Quinn, and Viola Davis is as sanely evil as Hannibal Lecter is insanely evil.
I gave it four stars because it had some entertainment value while wasting soooo much talent on a film with a built-in fanbase which deserves much, much better.
Outpost 11 (2013)
We should be able to rate a movie "0"
Awful doesn't begin to describe the premise of the film, nor its execution. I have seen better films at drive-ins which filled in the time before the main picture. Honestly, there is no plot to speak of except to say someone plotted to make a movie and failed miserably. I didn't mind being held in suspense, but the entire length of the movie hid any semblance of a story or moral dilemma. I also don't need to have things laid out 1,2,3 for me, but there is no cohesion of scenes to get a point across. In other words, the story gets stuck in neutral at the starting line and remains there to the end. The one positive would be if cinematic schools used this one to illustrate how "not" to make a film. Unless your goal is to see every movie ever made, skip this one. This actually makes "Starship Troopers 2" watchable.
Midnight Special (2016)
An evenly-paced, emotional sci-fi road film
I like to be pleasantly surprised by a movie. Too often have I regretted spending money to see one, and the law of averages being what it is, I thought something has to give.
Renting this title on Amazon was $4.99 well spent. It tells the journey of a boy, his father and his father's boyhood friend starting off as a seemingly run-of-the-mill kidnapping. We are led to believe the men were dangerous but the slow reveal is they had reason to be.
The performances were steady, the action reserved and believable, the suspense palpable, and no sex or profanity to be found. The steady pace of the story is a tribute to Director Jeff Nichols and all the actors delivered believable performances. Aside from the science fiction elements, the entire story is plausible.
A very, very good job by all.
Too much time, too little story
We're far along enough now that we don't need to be told what happened to Bruce Wayne's parents to understand his motivation to become Batman. I mean other films don't need to detail the area surrounding Santa's home at the North Pole to set the scene of his home, his wife and the elves.
So, when this film cut to the funeral procession toward the Wayne family crypt I thought "Oh good, no unnecessary details, and at 151 minutes, there must be a lot of story to be told". Then it all went flat due partly to TWO run-throughs of that tragic night in a boys' life.
Also, I'm one of those people who feel if you're going to show favoritism to (in this case) liberal media outlets, then you should be instructed to include a representative range of media outlets or, none at all. It's far better to make up a fictional news outlet than to show your colors. That always turns me off to any movie. I really wish movies had no hidden messages regarding political issues. If you want to say something - say it. Don't hide within a story. I'm not liberal or conservative so I'm not takings sides (although the media is leftist-heavy).
First of all, the casting. I'm no fan of Ben Affleck. He doesn't project a presence. A tree has more emotional range than he does. But when he tries to do a tough guy role, he's a fish out of water. And then there's Jesse Eisenberg. I'm sure he's a fine actor, but he just didn't fit the role of Lex Luthor in any way - even after his head was shaved. His characterization was too rambling and distracted - annoying, even.
Then there's the...(ahem)...story. This film has all the signs of the 'concept-by-committee' method of film making because it comes off as a series of vignettes stitched together by people working in separate cities. A lot of time was spent on dreams, flashbacks, Amy Adams just standing there - poised to deliver her lines, a hallucination, Henry Cavill moping about his reputation, Ben Affleck exercising, and hardly any time on Wonder Woman. Where there should have been story-telling, we got filler. When they told a story, it was so very brief. I don't feel it was intentional, just a lack of vision and craft.
Too many cooks spoiled the stew. A better concept, director and one or two writers could have pulled off a better movie in 105 minutes.
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
A schizophrenic thriller...
It isn't much of a movie if I can figure out how it will end before the second act is over. Even then the only surprise was an open ended ending. My first utterance was "Yup. Sequel." when our dashing heroine took off for Houston.
I don't know if it's because I've seen over 1,600 movies or that Hollywood plays to sixteen-year-old minds, but its been a long time since I've been surprised by any movie since "The Sixth Sense".
This film begins with an abandoning woman who wakes up to find herself post-triage and cuffed to a bunker wall. Most of the movie tries to spin a web of mystery regarding the real reason why she and two other characters are locked into a shelter.
John Goodman tries to deliver a wheezing, on-the-edge doomsday enthusiast who got what he wanted. Yet at some point, this film distracts us with the "is he really a savior or is he a child molester" conundrum. I had to wonder what that had to do with the story (and a weak one at that). The ambivalent background of the main character is better suited for a murder mystery. Here, it would have been far better if he had purposely driven Michelle's car off the road in order to save her with no bad intentions.
All that made the character Emmett unnecessary and understandably expendable (which made his check-out scene a necessary evil by that point in the story). I know that sounds mean, but he gave nothing to a story in sore need of something.
Finally, a large carnivorous alien travels to Earth from who-knows-where, does a pretty good job of exterminating humans, yet finds itself the victim of a Molotov cocktail. And what about the poisonous gas it dispersed? All our heroine had to do was have her mask on as it spread all over her, but a few seconds later she removes it with no side effects.
That's right up there with "mutating neutrinos", Anne Heche suspended less than a yard over right-out-of-the-oven lava yet not one hair is singed, and Ben Affleck using a cell phone immediately after a nuclear blast.
I spent $5.49 to see this on Verizon and while happy I didn't have to fork over $10 to see it in theaters, I still spent $3.00 too much.
War of the Worlds (2005)
If you haven't seen this by now.....DON'T
Here we are, eleven years after its release and I'm writing a review. No, it isn't because I've seen it for my first time, that occurred in theaters. I just caught the last half (when plane crashes next to house) on commercial television. It might be due to the dozen (I kid you not - twelve) ads during each break, or the fact that this film all but insults the original that has me in a froth, but I did rate this movie some years ago with a one and today I feel I was being too generous.
The one thing I've detested for years is that a lot of movies go with the split-family premise and the kids act like smart-asses toward adults. Just once I'd love to see some twelve-year-old get his nose busted by his Dad for as much as calling him by his first name. That damned Robbie was almost as detrimental to the survival of the Farrier trio as Ogilvy was. The kid was so unnecessarily obnoxious, selfish and short-sighted that it seemed as if that was the real subject of the film, ergo "The War of the Words Between Robbie and Ray" could have been a better title.
And why was harvesting humans so integral to the story line if eradicating them was all the invaders seemed to care about? Okay, it could be the Hollywood sci-fi "logic" that it was necessary in order to marsaform our gem of a planet to make it more homely for the Martians, but we are all one biology. In other words, why not just get rid of the humans to tip the scales and harvest the cows, horses, bears, whatever? Sorry, my decades of using science and common sense sometimes gets the best of me...
The Spielberg influence is all over this film, which isn't a bad thing, but the camera movements were typical Jurassic Park and if a viewer can be reminded of another film, it speaks volumes of the lack of creativity.
Don't get me wrong folks, I don't mind modern retellings of classic movies as an idea. Its just that this film and "The Day The Earth Stood Still" were overly-messaged, overly-modern, overly-clichéd, and underwhelmingly substantive. They have done nothing to supplant both of those classics as my two favorite sci-fi films.
The only good thing about this one was the performance of Dakota Fanning - even if her character was a brat. She portrayed the fear of any child in a very believable way.
Punisher: War Zone (2008)
Too many cooks spoiled the stew
I didn't expect Shakespearean quality in this picture. I knew I was watching someones interpretation of a comic book story. I get the lack of common sense and I try not to invoke too much plausibility because a story cannot be without some characters poor choices.
For about the first half hour, I thought the movie flowed well and the cinematography was perfect. However, as it played on, the film devolved to the point of a third-rate feature at some long-forgotten drive-in of my youth. You know, the kind you didn't mind taking a break from in order to visit the snack shack.
This film has its fans of course and I can understand the appeal. But I grew tired of gore after enduring much of it during the 80's because it just doesn't carry any shock value, nor does it tell us anything we can't already imagine.
While Ray Stevenson depicts Frank Castle much better that Thomas Jane or Dolph Lundgren, and his interaction with the daughter of the FBI agent he killed is bittersweet, there wasn't much else to the entire production to elicit more than a rating of 2.
I believe that the film was lost behind the scenes after I read the trivia section. There were the usual machinations that occur on every film production, but unfortunately for "Punisher: War Zone" they were insurmountable and it shows.
I was there when this whole franchise started. Ate it up. Saw what is now titled Episode IV a total of 26 times (12 in theater, 14 on VHS). I've stopped expecting a sequel worthy of Episode V after Episode VI disappointed die-hard fans like myself. To maintain the quality and popularity is an almost impossible task, but I don't expect much. Don't go for the familiar, just use familiar characters in new circumstances.
There is so much I could dig into here, but I'll hit on just a few things. The biggest disappointment came in the form of a mere cameo of Luke Skywalker at the end of the film. He's the lynch pin of the Star Wars universe, but here he's treated (in his character's words) as the point farthest from it. Mark Hamill looked the part very well, but c'mon, what were they thinking?
They killed off my favorite character. Why not C-3PO? Okay, they have BB-8 to kick around with, so why not off R2-D2? I can't understand a word he ever said anyway...
The major reason why Episode VII fell flat for me was not only the story, but how it was all handled. I know these days the motto is "more is more", but if ever there were an example of that being diametrically opposite (as in "less is more"), no need to look past this movie.
I liked the diversity angle, but John Boyega was too animated in contrast to Daisy Ridley's cardboard effort. There was not one humorous attempt that made me so much as smirk. I certainly didn't care for any of the characters because there was no compelling reason to - even with the original characters.
There are things to like. The imagery is top-notch and the battle scenes were done better than in any of it's predecessor's. The sun as a backdrop to T.I.E. fighters was so welcome, and BB-8's voice was much more comfortable than R2-D2's alto chirps.
Although it may have taken a lot to put this picture on screens, it still comes across as a pedestrian effort.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
A good successor to the previous Mad Max films
I thought of renting "Mad Max: Fury Road" On Demand after reading the speculation about the Academy Awards this year. I figured if Theron and Hardy were part of the project it would be worth seeing once.
I was floored (pun intended).
This film does "The Road Warrior" proud and in some ways, surpasses my favorite of the franchise. At some point during the story I became emotionally invested in the destinies of the characters being pursued by the baddies.
The visuals were beautiful and the scenes along the trek had an ethereal beauty to them - something I don't expect in (or require of) a smash-'em-up story of a post-apocalyptic world.
There were a few spots that were over-the-top but they related mostly to the Citadel scenes. I've got a soft spot for The Road Warrior and this release is a welcome addition to the family of Mad Max stories.
Well done all!
Not for men of a certain age (I suppose)
I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I wasn't bowled over by this film. Was it well done? Absolutely. Were the actors up to the task? Yes. Will I watch it again? No. Perhaps a lot of it has to do with my lack of interest in a shrinkable superhero who can maintain the same strength of his normal sized self, yet still manage to ride bugback. The physics just aren't viable in my idea of allowable laws in fantasy. I know one must suspend their disbelief for sci-fi (and I do) but Ant-Man isn't the first superhero the child in me would choose to be on Hallowe'en.
The one attribute that seemed to get in the way of this film was that it seemed like a comedy with some superhero stuff thrown in, while the others (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America) were drama-driven with humor thrown in to ease the tension. I rented "Ant-Man" by way of On-Demand for $4.99 to see something different and on a technical basis I thought the movie was well done. But there are other Marvel offerings that are better. Do they all beat "Ant-Man"? Absolutely not, but if you were to consider the debut films for each character that have thus been released, this film beats only the Ed Norton version of "The Hulk". The others are much better.
The Flying Fleet (1929)
A lesson in good film making
I love the silents because the story relies as much on motion, lighting, and mannerism as they do dialogue panels. This movie was excellent. Now the special effects get a pass because of the times but that is no reason to not spend about 100 minutes of your life enjoying this little gem. You are treated to the camaraderie of a group of cadets about to graduate from the United States Naval Academy, follow their career development through training in Florida and California, and witness two friends vie for the affection of a beautiful water skier. I found myself caring about the characters and in wonderment at a short visual history lesson on military technology of the time. I wish more movies were made this way.
Die Another Day (2002)
I agree with Brosnan...
...this is his worst Bond outing. In fact, it's the worst of the whole franchise. The execution of stunts was especially glaring. The cheesy lines weren't worthy of being called goat's milk. And don't get me started about Madonna. The best thing about watching this junk was seeing "The End".
Maybe I've seen too many Bond films (well, I have seen all of them) to be surprised by what happens next. The story was entirely predictable by the time Bond placed two sticks of C4 explosive into a briefcase full of diamonds. The film as a whole came across as a third-rate exercise in how to waste a lot of money beginning when the same sticks of C4 went off like an M80.
Just a terrible, terrible film. Long live Sean Connery.
Terminator Genisys (2015)
Just like the last two films - pointless
The quality of these Terminator movies degrades with each successive release - not unlike what the Terminators themselves endure in each film. I simply don't get why producers put their money behind such a project only to hire people who do a feeble job of carrying it out. Can't they get A-List writers and directors with Armold attached to a movie?
The only redeeming thing about "Terminator: Genisys" is that it was better than "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines". It felt like a trip down memory lane that took a wrong turn onto Rehash Lane.
I sensed no originality at all, just modifications of the same old themes of time travel, battling the odds against powerful enemies all the while having fun with the Terminator persona.
Jurassic World (2015)
Just another run-of-the-mill Spielberg cash-grab
If you are a young family with kids who aren't past their early teens then I suggest you go with your wits and see the film (or not) without reading my review. I am a singular viewer with concern only for quality which seems to be almost extinct as the species in "Jurassic World".
This production is understandably targeted for kids who saw "Jurassic Park" and went on to have families of their own. That they get to be there when the little one's discover the franchise for the first time is heart-warming.
For a brief moment there, I thought it was nice to see something different as there was an intact family. I was disappointed to see them fall back on the typical Hollywood cliché' of "fracturing family brought closer together thanks to a catastrophe brought upon humanity by it's own hubris".
Perhaps I've seen too many Spielberg offerings and have grown tired of grandiose scores, sweeping vistas and improbable stunts. But nothing grinds my gears as much as scientific inaccuracy. I can accept the premise of resurrecting extinct dinosaurs in fiction, but that doesn't mean that pterodactyl's were capable of liftoff. Not all scientists agree they weren't limited to gliding.
On the positive side, the actors weren't over-the-top in their portrayals of believable characters. In fact, the character played by Chris Pratt seemed to have less leading-man time than would seem normal. All the main characters seemed to suffer from a dearth of development but I've come to expect that in action extravaganza's.
I did appreciate the great special effects for they did not appear cartoon like as say some television productions with smaller budgets. They looked the best I've ever seen even if some shots did appear to be artificial for brief moments.
I rated "Jurassic World" three stars for myself. You decide for yourself. I'm just glad I paid around $4 to watch it via On Demand. What they charge today is obscene. Not for the reason of inflation, but because the entertainment doesn't justify the cost 99% of the time.
The Flash (2014)
Deserves more credit than it's been given
I just read about 20 reviews here and I thought I should throw my two cents in to try to add some balance to the negativity I've read.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a stickler for high quality entertainment. But entertainment isn't the same for everyone. Over the years I've found it better to park my scientist's smock at the door before I watch anything sci-fi if I want to enjoy what I'm watching. I mean what's the sense in watching something I can pick apart faster than a school of piranhas? I'm more a Marvel fan than DC but Batman was my favorite growing up in the 60's. But I did occasionally browse through a Flash comic or two and the character was more fascinating to me than a lot more of the DC characters. I just binge-watched the 23 episodes "The Flash" over the course of about 5 days and I was quite impressed with it.
I've read reviews in which their author would say this or that couldn't happen or this and that could have happened. In the words of one of my nieces - "Well...DUH!" - its a sci-fi show. It's based on a fictional character, in a fictional world played out in the pages of comic books.
Other reviewers have pointed out things they didn't like about the actors, the writing, the characters and other things. I don't expect a Shakespearean play, "Citizen Kane", or a PBS documentary when I watch a show like "The Flash" because science fiction is fantasy - an opportunity to step into a world of imagination. For that, this series nailed it.
The target audience is probably preteen to twenty years of age and it is written thusly. The acting gets better as the season progresses culminating in an emotionally-impactive season finale that almost had me in tears. I appreciated the complete lack of tongue-swapping love scenes, drawn-out car chases and the over-dependence on guns to solve all problems. (I'm an NRA supporter who owns guns, BTW).
However, not all is perfect in Central City for this viewer. I get that Cisko and Snow are geniuses but they come up with new tech a little too reliably for me. Its just a minor thing and I know that without their contraptions, the show is dead in the water. But once in a while I'd like to see someone forget the battery or get the wires crossed or something.
Finally, the one thing I can really do without is the promotion of homosexuality in the mainstream. This is a sensitive issue and a hot topic for sure. Everyone has an opinion about it and nobody can be wrong as long as they don't mean to harm anyone. But it's not normal and I find it objectionable to expose children to homosexual relations (albeit non-graphic) like the police chief has with his boyfriend. That's social conditioning and it is wrong. Such activism has no place in entertainment. But that's just me.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
I want to say something good but the movie gives me no ammo
(I know, not a great summary.) First off, I grew up reading Marvel comic books in the 60's and have always been a fan of Thor and Iron Man (among a few others not shown in this film). Secondly, I absolutely enjoyed this film's predecessor. So don't assume I have something against superhero movies. Third, I like the works of Joss Whedon and consider him one of the better directors of his time. Fourth, despite the review that follows, I don't feel that any of the actors cheated us out of a good film.
But "Avengers: Age of Ultron" just fell flat for me. I failed to catch it during it's theater run so I pre-ordered it on Amazon. Perhaps the success of "The Avengers" was too good to be matched. Perhaps there was too much story to cram into this latest offering. I might even be guilty of excitedly expecting too much. Still, the acting was believable even if the dialogue was corny. It just wasn't enough.
Now I realize it's a comic-book movie and that glib utterings will abound, but the lines here had no weight. They were basically a plagiarization of the first film - making silly little jokes of pointless things that distracted from the plot. It felt like the cast and crew were just having a good time on our dime. Sort of like everybody was trying to be Robert Downey, Jr. when trying to be funny.
There was too much reach (or scope), too little substance, too many characters. I understand how Marvel wants to introduce new characters but this might have been a case of reach exceeding grasp. It's not a bad movie, just a disappointing continuance of a very good one. It happens. I'll watch the next two. I wish Marvel and everyone involved the best of success, but scale it back just a tad and I think it'll be golden next time.
A piece of ultra-leftist propaganda
Please excuse me for delving into our political and cultural conditions to review this film. I know my hands are sort of tied that way as Hollywood can't help itself in using their neo-blockbuster movies to beat the rest of us over the head with their misapplied feng shui idealism.
You know how they go - fractured family realizes they belong together thanks to some unlikely disaster to befall humankind, the President waxing philosophical of their predicament as it relates to the issues of our day, humans are bad and need to die so that the rest of the bad humans who lived can move on while forgetting the lessons of the film, visual metaphors to underscore the moral of the story and lastly, not one iota of common sense throughout the movie.
What makes this one especially bad is that it catered to children. Not that child entertainment is a bad thing, but imprinting the fertile minds of young movie-goers with the supposed 2012 end of days tripe. They (who come up with such ideas for films) think they're smart enough to tell everyone else how to live while ignoring what they already should have learned.
The scientist in me would love to know how planes can take off of ground surfaces which are falling into the sea, then be seen trying to navigate newly-formed canyons in a state of flux themselves. And what is wrong with trying to fly OVER falling buildings? Another thing, why does everybody have to wait until the last minute (much less stand and stare at an erupting volcano) to evacuate? I never understood that.
Finally, the thing I most disliked about this movie is how it suggests that the United States has the market cornered on being bad even if the general theme was that all of humanity needed a reboot. Every country has a dark underbelly (its the cost of dealing with other countries which have the darkest of underbellies) and ours is no worse than any before it. I didn't appreciate the scene of an aircraft carrier taking out the President and the White House. I'll never understand how people can take such shots at a country they make a good chunk of change in. I think they should be banned from ever entering the borders, but that's just me.
I'm not religious, but the symbolic imagery of the crack forming between God and man on the Vatican ceiling didn't get by me. I get it Hollywood, the Catholic God is the only bad one. When you go after other religions I won't think of you as soft opportunistic bullies who've hijacked the freedom of expression to advance your political agenda against the nation which makes it possible.
Movies like this make me sick - even when I view them for free.
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
All things being equal, this is still a good film
I understand why people pan this film and frankly, I think they're too used to the usual fare. There was something refreshing about this story even if it used a lot of CGI to the point of being difficult to decipher the action in some parts. Technically speaking this film is a visual beauty and the concepts were breath-taking for even this jaded eye. The outstanding feature of "Jupiter Ascending" was the story in and of itself. Not so much the parts that took place on Earth but when the arc took us to outer space. There was something all so unfamiliar about the story and for me, that was extremely refreshing.
The main actors - Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum - delivered believable characters in a largely fictional setting. But as much as I adore Mila, I think hers was a bit less deserving of praise because there were points during the closing scenes in the refinery which appeared to be lacking in the necessary urgency illustrated in an actors body language. Perhaps that is due to her inexperience with action films but nonetheless, she gave an emotionally plausible performance given the genre and setting.
The film isn't as reliant upon the visuals to tell the story - a virtue not found often in contemporary science fiction films. They serve as a beautiful stage for a magnificent tale of good versus evil.
You can't always go back home
I'm usually very forgiving when it comes to sci-fi, but sometimes there's nothing to build that forgiveness upon. When a franchise returns to its roots, the film risks self-plagiarism and comes off as lazy and tapped out of ideas. This was simply a remake of "Pitch Black" and it fell limp as a dead fish. There was no flow to the story and the plot was simply a hole the entire production should have been buried in.
When "The Chronicles of Riddick" was panned, I thought the critics were crazy. When they did so again for this film, I thought that I was going to like it. About fifteen minutes in I knew it was going to be a bore-fest. I highly DON'T recommend this movie.