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Overall the worst movie I have ever seen
I take no pleasure in writing a negative review. I'd much rather rave about a movie that pleasantly surprised me.
In the movie, Tropic Thunder, the term "full retard" became a trendy catch-phrase. I don't want to sound like a whiny, semi-literate malcontent, but while sitting through this absolute bomb of a movie, the one recurring phrase that kept passing through my mind was, "they went full retard."
Chappie, the robot, gains sentience. He can think for himself, though he starts out like a child that must be taught everything. This is the core of the movie. Clearly, the writers meant to create a sweet metaphor about the tribulations of growing up, but what they created was two hours of pure cinematic torture. The acting, plot, and action sequences were often cringe inducing, not to mention laughably illogical and ridiculous. I seriously can't imagine how anyone could enjoy this movie.
Chappie is taught by Johannesburg gangsters, who talk about as authentically as Keanu Reeves accent in Dracula (read: abominably). This was one of the most irritating parts of the movie, but add to this the cartoonish, buffoonish characters and the whole thing was simply a misguided mess.
After one hour I didn't think I could last till the end. I literally couldn't even sit still in my seat, but I toughed it out, hoping something at the end would happen to redeem the movie. Sadly, it did not.
I won't even bother writing about the plot. It's full of holes. The acting is generally so absurd it goes beyond intentional satire. I pity the great actress Sigourney Weaver who somehow got roped into this mess.
But most of all, I pity everyone who sat through this movie.
John Wick (2014)
A rebirth for Keanu Reeves as an actor
Let's be blunt: film snobs, along with many regular movie-going fans, think that Keanu Reeves' acting is, to put it mildly, a bit wooden. For those who thought he was a mediocre actor at best should see John Wick. It's proof Reeves has drastically improved as an actor.
I read a "professional" review in which the film critic still lambasted Reeves' "robotic demeanor". That is absolute nonsense. I was so intrigued when I saw the trailer for this movie. Immediately it struck me that Keavu Reeves seemed to absolutely own this role. But that was just short outtakes. Could he really be that good in the whole movie?
Easy answer: yes.
John Wick is a revenge thriller. He's emotionally wounded from the untimely death of his wife from some undisclosed illness. The son of a Russian crime boss makes the tragic mistake of attacking John Wick and killing his dog. We have no idea up to this point that John Wick is legendary as a killer. Ruthless and skilled, everyone fears him.
No apology is sufficient for what was done to him so he embarks on a mission to kill the crime boss' son. As always happens in movies of this genre, John Wick is always outnumbered by ten to one, and yet he kills everyone in his path to revenge and keeps moving forward.
Although at the end there was some dopiness to the plot, Keanu Reeves was stellar. He was focused, not wooden. He was dynamic, not robotic.
We've seen a younger Keanu Reeves do comedy. He had some great successes. We saw him in Dracula, and wish we hadn't. We've seen him in near-misses like A Walk In The Clouds, that failed in no way due to him (he was excellent) but in cheap, sappy plot points that tried to bring an emotional closure.
Now we see him clearly back in the game. I would love to see Keanu Reeves do something risky now; maybe take a chance on a comedy. It's clear he is up to it. His reputation as an actor should greatly improve after this rock solid performance.
Really hated the main character
Although I am giving this film only four stars, that is based far more on the enjoyment factor of the film, not the writing or directing.
My main problem with this film was Joaquin Phoenix's character. The way he is played is so annoying and hard to identify with. There is a scene where he goes on a date with a woman who seems to be out of his league. He's constantly annoying, poorly dressed; similar to a character Woody Allen might play, but without the mirth and whimsy.
The woman turns out to be a bit of a needy nutcase. When he's not ready to immediately commit to her on the first date, she tells him "You're weird".
BINGO! That's the central problem with this whole movie. Had it been played as someone more suave and normal, instead of some emotionally rocky NYC type, it could have been far more enjoyable. But over two hours of a bunch of emotionally damaged, fairly neurotic people who can't even figure out how to be happy is just too much, sorry.
In short, I think the problem here was interpretation. I can imagine this story in which the main character isn't so much of a headcase. It's hard to get into a movie when you far prefer the "character" of the computer operating system!
The movie at least ends well. The story, in and of itself, is really interesting, but I hated the execution of it all. There was far too much introspection and neurotic people figuring out all sorts of ways why they can't have an enjoyable life and relationships. It was like taking a neurotic New Yorker and putting his neurosis on steroids.
Enough is enough.
P.S. I am always interested if anyone reads these reviews. If you read mine, please indicate if it was helpful to you.
Definitely not a bad way to spend 2 hours
First of all, anyone giving this film one or two stars is being completely unfair, especially to this genre of big spectacle type movies. Certainly one may argue that some of the dialogue is cheesy, some of the plot lines a little too predictable, but this is still an enjoyable action-filled disaster flick packed heavily with visual spectacle.
Did we go to Jurassic Park to hear witty banter? Hell no.
At least four things redeem this movie:
1) The villain, Senator Corvus. He is an absolutely vile, intractable enemy. He's on a par with The Joker against Batman, Lex Luthor against Superman.
2) While I usually don't care about special effects, they were pretty awesome in this movie, though if I see another scene where people try to outrun a tidal wave (which travels at least 100 mph), I will probably throw popcorn at the screen.
3) The acting is really quite good. Few people have even touched upon this. It's not easy acting in these spectacle movies. The dialogue is often on the nose, and there's not a lot of room for artistic interpretation, but the actors were very good in their roles, especially Kit Harington (the Celtic slave), and Kiefer Sutherland, playing Senator Corvus.
4) Originality and historical events: there were some good moments of originality in this story. I enjoyed how Rome was portrayed, not just as a military powerhouse, but also as a den of snakes politically. Along with historical inaccuracy were bits of historical fact, and the mix was quite satisfying.
So if you read that this movie was lame, cheesy, and a waste of time, consider that they missed the virtues of this movie. This is one of the rare movies where the villain really is wholly despicable. The trend nowadays is to show his complex nature, so that the character doesn't come off as cartoonish. But Senator Corvus is played so well by Kiefer Sutherland, and his role so well written, that he comes off splendidly as someone who really is just a despicable human being. I applaud the writers resisting the temptation to show redeeming characteristics as they do in (really lame) movies like The Expendables. If I see thugs writing poetry one more time I'm going to barf.
But nothing in this movie will provoke such a reaction. It's really a good effort. Not perfect, but well worth your time.
Moon 44 (1990)
Embarrassingly bad movie, on almost all levels
Most of the reviews of this movie came around the time it made its debut. Now it's a dozen years later... and this piece of trash sure hasn't aged well.
But even if this were opening day, this absolutely abysmal movie would still rank as one of the worst in history.
It starts out with some of the worst acting I've ever seen, people sitting around a conference table at a major corporation. I swear it looks like the director or producer just decided to cut costs and have his friends and family fill in for real actors. One can really appreciate good acting when one sees the complete opposite.
The worst, most ill-conceived character is the Sergeant aboard the space ship. His dialogue is contradictory nonsense. I couldn't believe my ears. It was stupefying. Maybe standards for movie making were more lax back then, but his was incomprehensible.
All the characters are cartoonish, the acting is horrendous, and the amateurish "plot" is just an embarrassment to anyone who loves good movies. This one insults our intelligence at every turn.
As you probably know, this movie is about the (grim) future when we need to exploit space for raw materials. One massive company is losing all their moon mining operations to pirates. Their cargo shuttles, full of raw materials, go missing. Therefore, they need to find out what's going on, or the company will lose everything.
That could be an interesting premise for a movie, but not the way it was done here. Every lame cliché was put to dutiful use, every cookie cutter character was used. Nothing worthy of our time or attention. This was paint by numbers, and sloppily done.
This is by no means some elitist review. I love movies of all sort. I wasn't looking for some intellectual "art house" film. This review is negative because the entire film, from start to finish, is just a horrid waste of our time.
Case 39 (2009)
Scary, not predictable
Caution: my review also refers to another movie, "Sinister", so there might be spoilers for both movies.
Do not read any farther if you don't want to know anything about "Sinister".
I am often amused at how many people proudly boast that a movie was "predictable". I want to pat them on their smug little heads and say, "You're such a clever little thing, aren't you?" :-) If anyone wants to claim this movie was predictable, they must be psychic... or psychotic.
Unlike Sinister, which in my mind "cheats" the audience with a completely implausible set of circumstances, and the final explanation, Case 39 leads you down a path then suddenly takes a left turn. Wham! You thought you were seeing a movie like Halle Berry's "The Call", and then you realize you're in something far more.... sinister.
The basic plot of the movie is this: Renée Zellweger (who is absolutely fantastic in this role) plays a social worker, burdened down with 38 cases.... until her boss further burdens her with (you guessed it!).... Case 39, which is about a little girl whose parents seem to be (at least psychologically) abusing her.
There's not reason to give away too much of the surprise. We assume her parents are true monsters who literally try to bake her in the oven. Later we find out they are not crazy.
Why do I mention a similar movie, "Sinister"? Because these are two takes on essentially the same basic story. Sinister was a remarkably WELL MADE movie. Technically it gets high marks in many areas. But the basic premise and many plot points are just absurd, and defy logic. But Case 39 is plausible throughout. We don't have to make any effort to suspend our disbelief.
Case 39 is scary, and keeps the tension high. We truly feel that Renée Zellweger is in danger, even though she is being tormented by (what looks like) a harmless little girl.
This is the type of movie you could see in the theatre and come out feeling great you didn't wait for it to come out on video, which regrettably was my case. I was in Europe when this movie premiered and never saw it in the theatres. So if the movie made a great impact on the small screen, it must be amazing in the theatres.
Really regret not having seen it there.
Identity Thief (2013)
A witty, charming comedy that isn't a tired re-tread
First of all, I'm SHOCKED at the negative reviews from some people. I'm tough on comedies because I hate forced humour. I despise movies that practically beg us to laugh along with them, or have to resort to disgusting, juvenile stunts to elicit even a snicker.
In myt mind, this movie is similar in tone to The Hangover, which most people loved. Therefore, I can't imagine why so many people gave this movie a bad review, especially since Melissa McCarthy's performance is one of the most remarkably hilarious in film history. She could be another Lucille Ball.
Identity Thief isn't a desperate comedy. It doesn't need the actors to "yuck it up" for us. The plot is funny enough to carry the movie, and Melissa McCarthy is absolutely stellar in her role. When Academy Award time comes, I would hope there's enough sense to nominate her for Best Actress.
Identify Thief is about a man whose identity is stolen and the myriad problems it causes him. What makes this movie so engaging is that his nemesis, although seemingly without a conscience at first, does indeed have a heart.
The movie never lags. It never resorted to any lame subplot to make up for lack of material. The story was rock solid, and so were the performances. I can honestly say I enjoyed this movie more than the mega-budget, blockbuster Iron Man III.
Movies like this give Hollywood a bad name!
If you see this movie you are either desperate to get out of the house, or you're a fool. (if I had known what I do now, I would never have gone)
Let me be frank: so many movies are just desperate attempts to catch the public's attention, and if they can accomplish that, actually having a decent movie is completely secondary. Independence Day suckered in tens of millions of people with a flashy trailer. Of course, the trailer was the best part of the movie.
What's wrong with "Mama"? It's such a tired re-tread of so many other movies, and one that just doesn't ring true as an "authentic" story, one you could actually believe. It's so much like "The Grudge" or "The Eye". The (over)-use of moths to represent evil was done just last year in the abominable movie, "The Possession" (to the disgrace of Sam Raime).
Another problem: we know very quickly what is happening so there is little real suspense, except for who will live and who will die. But since we can't buy into the story anyway, it doesn't matter very much.
Too many movies act like if they add enough feathers, they can turn a sickly duck into a swan. In "Mama" the only way to keep our interest is to use CGI... to death. Let's be honest: we know that CGI is CGI. It's not novel. It's not clever. It's desperation. It's fine when you want to show an army of 10,000. Then it can actually work well. But not in something like this where we know we are seeing lame computer animation. Enough already! Stop insulting the viewer's intelligence and sophistication. If this were 1960 you could get away with it. Not now.
The central problems are redundancy and imitation. We know "mama" is this bad, evil spirit. We know she will strike. But since "mama" is a ridiculous CGI projection, we yawn. Imitation is the biggest culprit here. How many movies have we seen where a wrong was committed in the past and now the only way for the spirit to rest is for that wrong to be righted?
This movie fails on so many levels. It's just so derivative or dozens of other movies that there is no point in watching.
I gave this 2 stars. Looking back, I gave "The Possession" 3. Probably should switch those ratings. Of the two, "The Possession" was even lamer.
The Possession (2012)
Tired, unimaginative, and sometimes laughable
Let me start with the laughable part: sorry if this sounds politically incorrect or religiously biased but... I couldn't take a hasidic Jew as an "exorcist" seriously at all. At least in movies where the exorcist was a Catholic priest, there seemed to be some semblance of strength behind the ceremony. But a man with curled locks who appears about as dangerous and forceful as a florist just is ridiculous. No offense to anyone of the Jewish faith.
The movie starts off slow. The entire plot revolves around the mysterious box, which somehow I found to be a total dud. The box.... seemed like a box. I never for one minute could imagine it as a repository for a demon soul, or anything else.
All the desperate attempts to create tension were so hackneyed. I found hardly anything original about the plot. Strangely enough, as I'm watching the movie, one thought kept racing through my mind: Ghost House Pictures probably had 1,000 screenplays they could have filmed. THIS was what they considered to be a "winner"?
You probably already know the plot: a girl buys a box that has an evil force inside it. Great... now what? That is the question they should have asked before filming. There simply was nothing compelling about the plot. It certainly didn't provide many scares. It didn't create a realistic place we could believe in. It was very one dimensional.
Exiting the theater I couldn't help but wonder: why film this junk? Did they think it was safe? Did they think it was close enough to "Paranormal Activity" that they'd cash in?
P.S. If you read this review, please let me know with a thumbs up or down. I'm just curious how many people read these.
Blast from the Past (1999)
The epitome of what Hollywood does better than anyone
Five and a half years ago I moved from Chicago to Europe. Europeans have a different taste in movies. To be blunt, they have a BS Meter that reads off the chart. When something doesn't ring true, when it's contrived and phony, they react harshly.
Europeans also despise American "heart warming" anything... They simply aren't as optimistic as we are, and hence don't believe in so many happy endings.
Now, despite all this, Blast From The Past, a movie that is immersed in charm, style and wit, without ever resorting to bathroom humor, passed with flying colors. This is a movie whose charm cannot be overstated. It is a triumph of film making.
You probably know the general story: Brendan Fraser's parents hid in their backyard fallout shelter when they feared the Cuban missile crisis was about to explode (bad pun). Thirty five years later, Brendan is sent out in the world to bring back supplies. He is told the world will be full of death, decay, misery, and probably mutants.
Whoops. Guess not.
Brendan starts out like a lost puppy dog, but thanks to a skillful screenplay, great acting and directing, he never becomes an object of ridicule. He is simply inexperienced and pure of heart. After all, he's been living apart from society his whole life. We have to give him a break.
What sets this movie apart is how it doesn't run scared from "what if" scenarios. For example, in lesser hands this might have degenerated into some sappy, forgettable comedy. But everyone involved seems to have been on the top of their game. It's like a jigsaw puzzle and all the pieces fit together flawlessly. This movie doesn't coldly and calculatingly create warmth and charm; it simply possesses it...in abundance, like a priceless work of art that seems more discovered than created.
I have never met anyone who didn't like this movie. I am really surprised the overall rating isn't higher. Under no circumstances could I imagine giving this movie less than an 8.
My rating is a 10, because 11 is off the scale.
I wish more Hollywood movies were like this.
P.S. If you read this review, let me know with Helpful or Not Helpful vote. Thanks. I am interested in how many people really read these reviews.