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Stargate Origins (2018)
An Insult to Stargate Fans
I honestly believe someone high up approved just enough support for this low budget, B-rate garbage to be created in the hopes it would murder the franchise. This "prequel" doesn't keep continuity with the Stargate movie or with the Stargate SG1 TV series. Its special effects are so bad, I cringed watching. I pity the actors who signed up in the hopes of being a part of something great & I hate to see this happen to an otherwise amazing franchise. I've seen better work on amateur Youtube channels.
If this is your first experience with Stargate, please watch any other Stargate movie or TV series so you can have an idea of how far removed this is from the level of quality storytelling and adventure of the rest of the franchise.
As for the creators of this -- shame on you.
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Faithful, yet flawed adaptation
For a live action adaptation of a beloved anime, this was very well done. It's amazing we can bring this level of computer generated special effects to the big screen and blend it so well with human actors -- not to mention the quality prosthetic work.
The story is similar to the source work, and the acting is well done. I felt like the pacing was off for the movie, and it didn't really bring anything new to the story. It's great for those that prefer live action to anime -- and a great introduction of the anime story to the masses, but ultimately not a memorable movie in and of itself as it will always be overshadowed by its source material.
Visually entertaining, thought provoking, but something was just missing... I'm not sure what would have made it better, though. perhaps a lighter tone? Maybe more character development?
I'd rank this as better than "Lucy" and way better than "Aeon Flux" or "Ultraviolet"... but... not as good as the first Matrix movie -- which is really the level this should have been able to attain or surpass. So, it's a good movie -- and the disappointment mainly lies in it not being a great movie.
Bait and Switch
While the trailers focus on the comedy aspects, this is really more of a social commentary hidden by satire, and really more drama than comedy.
It's not bad, but it can't decide what it should be. There's no real focus for the movie. It's not about enlightenment, fulfillment, aspiring to a goal... the main character is just drifting. While it wasn't boring, it wasn't memorable, and I can't recommend it unless there's nothing better to watch or do.
I kinda feel like this was a rehash of Honey I Shrunk the Kids with less adventure, less humor, more social commentary, and no focus. The movie itself seems as lost and aimless as its main character. Ultimately, I find it as sad as the social commentary.
The Orville (2017)
First Episode is a worthy ST TOS successor in spirit
Somewhere between ST: TOS and TNG, fleet personnel became high-minded, super-moral, flawless beings... a picture of who we should be when we're at our best, but not a true reflection of who we ARE. And then you remember how human TOS people were -- bickering, flawed, sometimes racist or rude.
The Orville's first episode is funny, but it's not a parody. It puts people with personalities of friends and co-workers you already know and love (or hate) into roles they might actually have aspired to in the future. They're a bit irreverent, unprofessional, perhaps a bit childish with a sense of office humor, drama, and politics. But, it's not over the top.
It's a little bit ST: Atlantis, a little bit Guardians of the Galaxy, a bit of Galaxy Quest, and a LOT of Star Trek. It's not Shakespeare, but it's fun, yet grounded. I've only seen the first episode, so no way to know where it will go. I recall the first episode of ST TNG was pretty rocky, and I think this is off to a better start. Give it a shot!
Still waiting for the funny
Have you ever seen someone tell one of their friends an inside joke that you weren't in on? That's this series for me. Clearly, the absurd characters are meant to be funny caricatures to begin with (especially with the wigs many are wearing), but they also say and do things that they believe are funny and sometimes other characters agree are hilarious. Maybe the joke is that they're idiots who find stupid things funny. I don't know. Maybe the entire series is a giant Andy Kaufman style joke on the viewers for watching and expecting humor.
I get that this was intended to be some sort of parody. Full disclosure, I have not seen the original movie or anything else from this franchise, but I can't imagine that affecting my opinion.
Humor is a subjective thing, so your experience may be different. This isn't a parody in line with Spaceballs, Scary Movie, Hot Shots, Galaxy Quest, Monty Python, or Tropic Thunder. It's not a style of humor like Groundhog Day or National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Best I can tell, it's a sophomoric, awkward grimace, dry, situational humor similar to that found in "The Office" but even less grounded in reality. It's that sort of thing that maybe some laugh at because the situation is so nervous and cringe-worthy. It's a dry humor, but not a witty humor like found in Monty Python and other British works.
There must be an audience for this type of thing. I'm guessing there's some overlap between people who enjoy this and people who watch the USA version of "The Office" and Napoleon Dynamite. Those being hits in the states, there must be those that would love this. Just not me.
I think it's either hit or miss with this style of comedy, and for me, it's a miss.
Fun to watch, zero mystery or chemistry
It's a strange movie. The visuals are intense, and there's a decent bit of situational humor mixed with adventure and mystery. Of course, the mystery part is easy to figure out for most people early on, so it's not quite as satisfying waiting for the main characters to catch up.
Laureline and Valerian are almost Bond-style agents working for some human government block in a future with a thousand races working together in harmony... for the most part. They're sent on missions to retrieve priceless things, and meet resistance along the way. Valerian is supposed to be a Bond-style playboy that the ladies swoon over and is constantly trying to win the affections of his partner Laureline. Unfortunately, this on-screen romance doesn't work -- at least not for me. I didn't think the two had any chemistry whatsoever. They felt more like siblings than lovers to me.
Laureline seems the more convincing of the two. She has some of the best lines and a playfulness that was fun to watch. That's not high praise, though since the dialogue wasn't exactly Shakespeare. It wasn't as bad as the Star Wars prequels droning on about the galactic senate, but... lacked the fun, witty banter and flirting of an actual couple courting.
I didn't think it was as good as The Fifth Element, but it was fun to watch. It definitely wasn't a dud. I just really get the feeling it was mis-cast. The director could have chosen any 2 actors for the leads, and the movie would have played out basically the same -- only perhaps with better chemistry and with more seasoned actors who could have ad-libbed some better dialogue. The storyline itself and the plot that drives the entire movie is a bit weak, but the visuals and the variety of aliens help make up for it.
What Happened to Monday (2017)
Noomi is a master of her craft
We've come a long way since Multiplicity and other twin-style movies. The split screen and computer aided work are very convincing. Noomi plays off of her duplicates very well and gives each her own personality and style.
Beyond that, Noomi really shows her ability to rise to the level of a true action star. (As if I had any doubts about the star of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
In the world of the future, a one child only policy is made and all siblings after the first child are sentenced to be frozen in cryostasis in the hopes they can be thawed out in a future that has been made less overpopulated. It's thought that the children might have horrible nightmares that last hundreds of years in their cryonic state.
Because of certain biological contaminations, it's become more common for people to have more than one child at a time, so when seven girls are born -- all identical, instead of subjecting six to cryofreeze, a man sets out a plan for each to take on the identity of one person -- to share a life between the seven.
There are hardships endured in only being able to leave the home one day per week -- and even then, only to play a role of a person that must be consistent from one day to the next as siblings switch out the responsibility of work, shopping, and possibly having a love life. They can not trust anyone to know their secret, so no one can get too close.
One day, things go very bad when one goes missing... and then from very bad to worse. Don't miss out! Watch. And maybe you'll find out what happened to Monday!
The Mummy (2017)
Tom Cruise - Antiquities Thief... oh, and a Mummy
This incarnation of "The Mummy" solicits no sympathy from the audience. She brings the curse upon herself intentionally for selfish reasons. There's no clear explanation as to why that was necessary to obtain her goals, nor the consequences of her not completing a ritual.
Cruise takes up the majority of the screen time, and his character only serves as a target for the Mummy -- though there's no explanation given as to why the Mummy couldn't target someone else or even what exactly the consequences are of her catching or never catching him.
Other characters are brought in to tie into the upcoming Dark Universe movies, but they serve little purpose in the film other than to act as shadowy agents that know about dangers such as the Mummy. They take a page or two out of Hellboy here, but it's just dropping hints of a larger world we'll see in later movies.
Mostly the movie is chase scenes, fight scenes, and poor attempts at humor. There's some semblance of a plan the Mummy has and some hand- waving at plans to prevent her from succeeding, but the movie is mostly action and chase scenes without much tension, horror, or suspense. I didn't even get the sense that there was a time frame for stopping the Mummy or for the Mummy to capture the "hero."
I much prefer the first Brendon Fraser Mummy. He was a cursed star- crossed lover of a princess, rises and steals parts from people to make himself whole, then tries to conjure the spirit of his beloved into the body of another using a book of spells... and there's a real sense of danger, horror, and suspense. There's tension in that time is running out for the heroes to translate a different book of spells to defeat him in time.
This movie was not a BAD film. It was disappointing because it was a missed opportunity, but I did enjoy the film. It was good, but not great... and a remake meant to launch a franchise should be great. This misses the mark, and I think that's why it gets so many harsh reviews.
The Mist (2017)
I wanted to like this -- I really did
I'm a huge Stephen King fan, and I really enjoyed the movie "The Mist," so I assume I'm part of the target market for this show... and so far, it's been pretty disappointing.
Spoilers may lie ahead!
Here's what I was looking for in a TV-series adaptation: Danger, suspense, backstory on where The Mist comes from, how it came to be released, lots and lots of big creatures (spiders! flies! crab-like things, tentacles!), people learning how to fight with the creatures, maybe a few gung-ho idiots that die quickly and a few gung-ho idiots that succeed in some missions through the mist, smart people who make survivalist plans, crazy people who think it's the end times, a bit of mob-mentality from people scared out of their minds, and hopefully some new twists to keep the show going -- like... maybe missions to Arrowhead to plug the leak, maybe some Pacific Rim style fighting the alien invasion, maybe the US military retaliating against the mist, maybe even some MIB agents or some mythical tale about how the mist had come before and what we need to do to stop it.
Here's what we've got so far up through episode 4: Teenagers dealing with gender issues, rape, underage drinking, marital issues, people casually playing games and chatting while waiting out the mist in a mall (even though they've seen the mist murder people just outside the doors), a few people dying from random things we either can't see or do see for a blip and then are gone with no explanation or exploration, and apparently THIS version of the mist has some sort of magic and consciousness as it "knows people," can conjure up dead people to taunt you, and gets thicker and thinner at times... oh, and the creatures are like... moths, roaches, and smoke-monsters.
I kid you not, 4 episodes in and people are tossing a football in the mall as if people hadn't died outside and squabbling over petty issues. A mother just saw her daughter die, yet she's calm enough to go sit on a pillow and chat about other things. She barely tried to open a door to go after her kid before a monster got her. For some reason, the mist itself IS the monster in a sense b/c people are scared to open a door to let it in... instead of it being just a fog to hide and/or sustain the monsters within it. The show is like "Under the Dome" meets "The Walking Dead" only with less suspense and less horror.
On the plus side, we do have a pastor who thinks it's the end times, a hippie who worships nature that thinks the creatures are manifestations of God, some soldiers who may know more about the Arrowhead project, and we have a girl who for some reason survived a smoke-monster attack. There are still plenty of people to use as fodder, and there's at least one working vehicle to use to explore. All the right notes are there to build something great on, so it's possible they could turn this around.
Maybe it takes 4 episodes to build some exposition... but, I doubt it. It's as if the writer/director thinks the show should be about feelings, deep societal issues, and growing pains instead of -- MONSTERS & people reacting to the END OF THE WORLD as they know it.
I was really hoping for more of a 12 Monkeys style adaptation. Take a movie concept, add in a lot of back-story, create several long story arcs that go beyond the original movie's premise into exciting new territory with new, fun, dangerous things to figure out & new bad-guys, plot twists, and adventures to explore.
Nah, this went all lifetime movie with some deadly fog. So sad.
The Shannara Chronicles (2016)
LOTR for Twilight fans
I haven't read the books, but the premise sounded interesting. I watched the first 2 episodes, but skipped through the next few hoping it would improve. It didn't.
It's not unwatchable, and I'm sure it is a hit with teenage girls. There was just no magic in it for me. The low budget coupled with some wooden acting here and there really pulled me out of the fantasy.
There isn't much suspense. The dialogue is slow as is the pacing... and the shots are almost always of 1 or 2 people zoomed in to their faces so there's no background -- no sense of world-building... no scenery at all except some fuzzy background trees with one or two people's faces taking up 70% of the screen. It's as if to say "Hey... look at this person's pretty face and be amazed at their soap-opera style dialogue! Forget the rich world this character is supposed to be in at the moment! We couldn't afford to build a nice set to show off!" I swear, it's enough to make one uncomfortable looking up the nose of the actors.
This isn't Game of Thrones or even Lord of the Rings level of scene building, and that's OK -- but, I've seen better work with Hercules and Zena when it came to sets, shots, and acting.
From the reviews, it seems really hit or miss. I'm definitely not impressed, but if you're into the most boring parts of LOTR and really dig Twilight... maybe you should give it a shot.
Trash Fire (2016)
Very Dark, emotionally wrenching
It's hard to rate and review this film. It wants to be a dark comedy, but then tries to be something much more serious and emotionally disturbing as it dives into horror, yet springs back again here and there... and even some of the horror elements are quite funny.
I'd have to say this is much more of a dark comedy drama with a lot of tension and negativity. This is not a Romance/Comedy or even your typical Horror comedy. The comedy is much more situational and mostly stems from the interaction of emotionally disturbed people who loathe one another.
That said, this wasn't a B-rate production. There are some very talented actors with very believable characters and some enjoyable moments with the dark humor. It's quite twisted, but well-made. So, I give it a 6 because it never bored me and though I cringed a lot, it was enjoyable enough to deserve a positive rating. However, I doubt it has much replay value.
I wouldn't recommend this as a must-see to anyone, but if you love dark comedies and/or twisted horror and have some time to kill, I think this would entertain.
Not worthy of being called an anthology
I love horror anthologies. This was a poor attempt.
There are 4 "stories" -- though I wouldn't call them stories. Stories tend to have a beginning, middle, and end. These are more like... attempts at beginning a story.
There are no explanations. Often, there's no real drama to resolve.
I felt I was sitting... waiting... watching... hoping something would happen. Just when I get involved enough to care to ask a question, the segment would be over and on to the next.
The 2nd story about a birthday -- I was so bored I could barely pay attention. I still don't understand why it was worthy of so much time. It started nowhere and ended nowhere.
It's a shame I can't rate the stories individually on IMDb I'd give them something like this:
The Box 4/10; The Birthday Party 1/10; Don't Fall 5/10; Her Only Living Son 3/10
Tedious, boring, humorless, repetitive, insulting to the intellect
I've never read the source material, and don't recall watching all of the movie of the same name, so perhaps those that enjoyed those might enjoy the nostalgia, but I slogged through it hoping to find something of value and never did.
The adults are beyond silly. In this universe, adults make poor decisions while explaining the very details that make the decision a poor one, and this passes as humor. Adults can't see through simple disguises even with main characters they've seen before -- even when they make up stupid names for their undercover character and slip up on lines that reveal who they truly are. Yet, the children know immediately. Many of the characters are one-dimensional as either villains or flawed heroes fixated on one subject or another.
The contrived dangers largely revolve around harming one of the children, and the situation is absurd, the evil plan is absurd, the children's solution is absurd, and I have to fight the urge to argue with the screen about the plot holes and better solutions.
I had truly hoped that Neil Patrick Harris could pull off some magic with this one. He largely falls flat as a mostly one-dimensional character himself. He has very little range of emotion or depth, little backstory, and while he's too silly to be feared as a villain, he's too flat of a character to evoke any other emotion either.
The children rattle off their lines like they're reading directly from the script - with little emotion or inflection. There's no sense of danger or horror even as lives are threatened and people are killed.
The show can't decide what it's supposed to be, but clearly there are attempts at humor. There's some situational irony and a few laughs, though they are few and far between.
I'd say unless you're a fan of the source material, there's not much to enjoy in this other than seeing NPH being silly and some cameos of various celebs.
Phantasm: Ravager (2016)
I'm a fan of the series. I had hoped for more insight into the Tall Man, the orbs, their plan, etc. I'd hoped for a resolution to the "fight" or at least more of a progression and a better idea of what we're fighting against. Ultimately, this movie accomplishes nothing. It's not even funny or scary.
It doesn't add any new info to the series or progress any story arc in any way. Imagine if another series like say... Evil Dead had another movie added that did nothing new and had no real resolution. Ultimately boring. At least its predecessor, Phantasm IV, though flawed introduced new information about the villain.
I could (and likely will) dream up a more satisfying story line and adventure for the series than what was presented.
Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
So bad a 5 year old could have written a better script, though the concept was good
Good concept, poor execution, terrible dialogue, poor choice of "main" characters. The return of the original cast members was completely wasted, and the new characters have no emotional depth. The plot jerks around from location to location and character to character with no cohesiveness. Will Smith could not have saved this movie.
Also, blatantly manufactured to do well in China. Features a well known Chinese actor, has people speaking in Mandarin, I guess? (Since Chinese isn't a language)... and lots of explosions with poor dialogue intended to be one-liners... which sadly fell flat.
Don't waste your money. It'll probably do well overseas on the CGI and explosions alone, so maybe they'll beat the dead horse again and squeak out the third they planned to make.
Movie feels more like a Saturday morning cartoon from the 80s than a thrilling sci-fi movie. I never felt any sense of empathy for the characters or any real sense of danger from the destruction. 'twas a re-hash of the old, but gave us nothing exciting and new to engross us in the experience.
400 Days (2015)
*spoilers* Movie about nothing
You will regret ever wasting your time on this movie. It starts nowhere and ends nowhere.
I've seen decent movies about a group of people locked in isolation for months on end -- this was not one of them.
I've seen decent TV series shows and movies where people thought they were in simulations, but weren't... and the reverse. This is not one of them.
The movie begins promisingly enough with good actors and a decent premise -- a mission to simulate manned space flight for 400 days. The "astronauts" climb into a bunker underground. They're told not to come out early or their commander will ensure their careers are over.
Long story short, they leave early - to find a desolate world inhabited by crazy people... or maybe they're aliens... or hallucinations. We don't know. I bet neither do the writers.
I've seen worse
The highlight of the movie is watching Sidney Leeder's character flirt, tease, and taunt other crew. She's one of the few characters that has some depth, motivation, and sense of fun.
Jason Momoa wasn't bad as a menacing AI, but he wasn't a character to empathize with - or even to love to hate. He ultimately had the 2 dimensional motivation of an AI following his programming, but with a maniacal murder streak. Without a truly 3 dimensional villain, he may as well be a glitchy computer or one with a loose wire. He seems to want to kill and torture... just because. Senseless violence is boring.
Some CGI was really entertaining. The best parts being those that blend into the scenes - like e-mail in their heads up displays. Parts of the ship were well done. The exterior shots were very well done.
Honestly, I think I'd have enjoyed the movie more without the killer AI - just fleshing out the prisoner characters' backgrounds and interactions more and their frustrations with the limitations of their freedoms. The movie is like a bad episode of Outer Limits where we get little exposition and narrative followed by mindless violence / action sequences meant perhaps to visually impress, but utterly lacking substance. Just having Momoa on a monitor talking was more menacing and entertaining than the whole opening sequence of the movie.
David Hewlett is one of my favorite actors. I applaud his effort in writing and directing a full length film. It's better than many made- for-TV Syfy channel craptastic flicks of the month. I think with some work, we could see this again in another form with more well rounded characters and a better story arc for the "heroes" and villain.
I wouldn't recommend the movie, but there are worse ways to spend your time. I'd describe it as having elements of Cube, Jason X, and Hackers. I'm hoping this was a proof of concept flick to show that David Hewlett is ready to take the helm of something larger.
A jumbled mess - but, that's the intent
Warning that spoilers may be below:
This is one of those movies you truly need to watch twice to get the full meaning and impact -- not because there is a twist or it's especially hard to get, but because as things are revealed, you can find parallels between the real world and the dream world. It's not until the final scene when all the jumbled pieces come together that one can see and understand all the metaphors hidden throughout the journey of a dying man with dementia (caused at least in part by multiple strokes) and mental illness coming to terms with his life and struggling desperately to hold on to his most precious memories and the ones he loves.
There are, of course, hints everywhere along the way. But, the way the story is presented is disjointed -- memories from random time frames, surreal dreamscapes with metaphors abound and flashes to the present reality all mixed together along the way. Then, there's the musical scenes which often seem forced, but at least they mostly take place in the dreamland -- which I can forgive as a dying musician is likely to have dreams and nightmares including musicals.
The lead character is suffering from a condition that causes confusion about when and where he is -- and suffers from random gaps in memory that come and go. This mirrors the style of the movie, writings within the movie, the construction of a roller coaster within the dreamland, and the journey the lead character makes. Tom is a man with deep regret. He is scared of losing his memory, and especially concerned with his relationship with his estranged daughter whom he distanced himself from to protect her -- from himself. He had a troubled history with his own father who suffered from mental illness like himself -- and must come to terms with that as well.
The visuals and special effects were very well done - some quite impressively stunning. I'm not a Nightwish fan, but I did enjoy some of the music - especially a few piano melodies. Some have complained about the acting, but I find it believable given the strained relationships and mental states of the characters.
The movie is the video equivalent of a surreal painting -- a work of art with beauty and flaws. Not everyone will understand it, and even those that do may not appreciate it. It's not a blockbuster meant to constantly entertain. There aren't any real heroes or villains - or even much of a plot other than the characters' internal struggles. It isn't a true horror or fantasy adventure so much as a heartbreaking story of a troubled, dying man's love for his daughter and her discovery of the depth of that love. I don't expect everyone to get it, but as someone who has lost estranged loved ones that suffered from dementia and Alzheimer's, this one hit home to me.
I have to say there aren't many dramas about the inner struggles of the dying mentally ill with settings in horror/fantasy dreamworlds and musical scores that include piano and metal. Love it or hate it, it's unique and I applaud the effort. I can't say whether others will enjoy it or not, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I was touched by its message.
My favorite part is the realization that Tom, a musician who loved creating music, named his daughter Gem. He plays the piano and talks many times about wanting to hear the chords again -- trying to remember them and specifically mentions E minor a few times. At the end, he describes the most beautiful melody ever created by man - the change from G to E minor. G to Em -- GEM... his daughter. It was sort of a Mr. Holland's Opus moment where you realize she was the music of his life.