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Frozen II (2019)
Amazing Visuals, Convoluted Story
The animation in Frozen II is stunning. The level of detail and flow is a triumph. The story, however, is preachy and forced. Anna is annoyingly controlling and overprotective. All of the songs are overwrought and not really memorable, and the characters sing a lot. No need to buy this one, one viewing is enough.
The Dead Don't Die (2019)
Light on action, heavy on preaching
What I was expecting; a little action and clever dialogue all folded into an homage to the zombie genre. What I got was very little action, excruciatingly slow pacing, an out of nowhere and ultimately inconsequential plot twist, finished off by a "woke" epilogue. The make up was good though, I'll give them that.
Watch the trailer, it contains all of the entertaining moments, and save yourself two hours.
The Favourite (2018)
Overhyped, Pretentious Historical Fiction
Here's something that I've learned about myself, and it has a direct bearing on my enjoyment of a movie, and therefore my review; I do not like the current trend of "reimagining" actual, historical people with modern sensibilities. I highly doubt Queen Anne and the people in her court went around liberally dropping f bombs. Then there's the ballroom dance scene that my husband called 18th century "Dancing with the Stars". Actually that made me laugh, so maybe that's what was meant when it was described as a comedy. Call me uptight, call me old fashioned, I don't care. It bothers me.
Basically, Lady Sarah Marlborough, who is an actual ancestor of Sir Winston Churchill and Lady Dianna, was a childhood friend of Queen Anne and a trusted confidant and her personal assistant. She was intelligent, outspoken and did influence the Queen. This is all true. It is also true that her cousin Abigail was a Lady who fell on hard times and was taken in as a servant, and slowly replaced Lady Sarah as the Queens "favorite". I did a little light research on all of this and it is believed that Lady Sarah was pushed out because she was outspoken, domineering and blunt, as opposed to Abigail's softer approach. Serious historians "highly doubt" that any of the women were lesbians or sexually involved. I read that historical movies tell you more about the people that made it than the people and events they portray. Currently the mood in Hollywood is that men are weak and secondary, even when it comes to sex, and it's all about girrl power. That is the perspective this movie takes in telling the story, even though that's not what the reality was for these real people.
I gave the stars that I did based on the strength of the actresses and the elaborate costumes and settings.
Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)
Unbelievably Gullible People
Wow. Just wow. Like everyone else, I was screaming at the TV because of the utter stupidity of this girls parents. I wanted to reach through the screen and slap them silly. I get they were from a small town and naive, but after he kidnapped her, took her to Mexico and married her (she was 12, by the way) you think they would have wised up. And when she was acting distant and strange, did they seek help? Therapy? No. In fact they let him back into their lives. Those parents were dysfunctional and unhealthy and selfish. At the end of the movie the mother said something along the lines she could help but feel it was all her fault, at which point I yelled at the TV "because it is"!
The story is outrageous and disturbing, but I can't help but feel as a documentary it could have been better. So many unanswered questions. More people should have been interviewed to give other perspectives of this bizarre story. What about the guys wife and kids? Why didn't the church excommunicate him after he kinapped her? A psychiatrist could have weighed in. It would have been interesting to hear the opinions other people in the community had about both families. Was everyone under the spell of this guy? They also glossed over that he had molested other girls. There was so much more to explore.
Ultimately, I recommend it just for the sheer train wreck aspect of the whole thing.
A Hot Mess
I'll start out with a compliment. The movie captured the look and feel of a '70's horror movie. I thought the casting was good, and of course Tilda Swintonn is always outstanding. I thought Dakota Johnson was suited for her role.
Now for the rest. There is a lot of attention devoted to art house montages and subplots that amount to nothing, and not enough development of the main story and conflict. There is a character who never utters a word, no one really interacts with her, and then she dies a sudden and gruesome death. Other than the fact she lives at the dance academy we have no idea who she was or why this happened. By the time we get to the final, climatic scene with a big reveal, we see a character who is very important, but we weren't set up with enough information to grasp the meaning of all that was going on. Just a confusing jumble of over the top visual gore. It really could have been a more effective story if things were streamlined and the focus was on building the tension. At the very end there is a set up for a continuation of the story, but based on the numbers, it's unlkely that will happen.
Tin Star (2017)
Not my cup of tea
How do you rate a show with good acting, great cinematography, fairly interesting story, but you hate all of the characters? Hate is a strong word, but all of the people were awful and I couldn't find sympathy for any of them. The female deputy would be the exception, but even then I didn't get why she was so loyal to Roth's character. I stuck with the first season to the end, but I felt like my time would have been better spent elsewhere.
The Grinch (2018)
Why reinvent the wheel?
The updated Grinch isn't horrible, but it isnt great. This is a kinder, gentler Grinch. The magic of the classic is the voice work of Boris Karloff. Benedict Cumberbatch and narrator Pharrell Williams just don't have the same wicked tone. I'll stick with the original.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
Dark comedy ends up just dark
Six separate stories of life in the old west, all visually stunning, well written and acted, some more enjoyable than others. The first story, about the namesake Buster Scruggs, is by far the best. Fast, clever dialog, funny and pays homage to classic Westerns. It easily could have been expanded into a full movie. The second story, which is very short, is full of irony and quite good. The next three stories take a bleak and depressing turn, lose the humor and go on much too long. Another reviewer said it best that although they are well done, it's hard to connect to the characters or stories, and ultimately are boring. I hung on hoping some of the dark wit would return, but it never did.
Ruined a Classic Villan
Hated it. Absolutely hated it. What should have been an origin story turned into a total watering down and "reimagining" of the Sleeping Beauty story. The writers took Maleficent and turned a powerful sorcerous into a watered down fairy who was betrayed and bitter. She puts the curse on Aurora as revenge, but ends up being a silent guardian of the child? Developed a motherly love for her? That is not the story! I know true loves kiss from a handsome prince is not in vogue right now, that it's all about girl power and the power of love between "sisters", but that's not what this fairy tale is supposed to be about.
Maleficent is supposed to be bad. And what is wrong with being a villain? It certainly is a more interesting and memorable character to play. Disney needs to redo this with better writers who can give the character the treatment she deserves.
The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
Outstanding Beginning, Disappointing Finish
Creepy, gothic, atmospheric drama/horror story about a family who briefly lived in a haunted house and the far reaching effects it has on each of their lives.
There are a lot of really great elements to this show. The casting is excellent. The women all look like family to the point it takes a few episodes to keep them straight, The casting of Timothy Hutton as the elder Hugh was inspired. He easily passed as an older version of Henry Thomas . The acting was good and the character development was outstanding. Everyone was multidimensional and believable as real people. The story telling style of jumping between past and present is used very effectively and keeps you on your toes.
There are several very well placed jump scares, but the majority of the horror comes from the building of anticipation and dread . I watched more than one scene with my hands covering my face and peeking through my fingers. The writers also liberally employed the use of fleeting images that you aren't quite sure you saw, but add to the overall atmosphere,
This all hollds up rather well for the first eight episodes. Then the whole thing gets a little shakey, and finally collapses under the weight of itself in the final episode. Every character has a drawn out melodramatic monologue. The former restraint is abandoned and after 9 hours of detailed character development and story telling, all the storylines are neatly and happily wrapped up in the last 15 minutes.
The series is absolutely worth watching, but for me the ending is what keeps it from being a perfect 10.
Could have been much better
I am pretty easy to scare, and while I'm not a fan of slasher movies, I do enjoy the more moody, atmospheric, psychological thriller type of horror. Hereditary seemed to fit the bill, and it did start of very promising. First, the funeral, and then a disturbing turn of events. Then things slowed way down. The director relied heavily on music to set the mood. So much so that for a good portion of the scenes, if the music had been different it could have been a drama about a family trying to come to terms in the aftermath of tragedy. I turned to my husband at one point and said that woman needs to get herself into therapy.
As the movie was slowly building up to the climax, most of the things that happened were unsettling and disturbing, but not outright scary. Then in the last 10 or 15 minutes all hell breaks loose. Things escalate and the twist is revealed and all of this information comes fast and out of nowhere. Other reviewers felt the story was not scary, but I disagree. I thought about it a lot over the next few days, and It could have been much more so if the build up was more intense. We should have discovered more clues about the grandmothers secrets in the middle of the movie. I believe another reviewer described the story as undercooked.
The cinematography, special effects and acting were all good. It is worth a rental.
Black Panther (2018)
Overhyped? Yes, but certainty not a 1
What is with all of these 1 star reviews? Have these people actually seen a truly terrible movie? Based on production values alone it deserves a minimun of a 5 or 6, and then go from there.
I don't often take the time to write reviews, but after reading some of the 1 stars I had to take a moment to say it's entertaining, and frankly no different than all the other Marvrel movies. It's too long and dragged in some spots? They all do. Unbelievable premise? You have a hard time accepting a technologically advanced kingdom hidden in Africa but no problem accepting a Norse God from a distant planet coming to Earth to save the day? Fight scenes use heavy CGI? No duh. Bad acting? Strongly disagree.
It's just like any other Marvel movie, Give it a try.