What Movie Have You Seen Today?


#41

IT (2017)
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Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfard
dir. Andy Muschietti

After garnering rave reviews and a boatload of money at the box office, I was expecting great things from IT, the latest Stephen King adaptation to come our way this past year. Those expectations are most likely what led to a sense of disappointment while watching what is still a pretty good film.

First and foremost, it was always going to be a challenge to bring King’s 1,000+ page novel to the big screen. There’s a lot of weird stuff in there that audiences would have a hard time buying into had they actually tried to adapt it (the magical turtle, as an example). Even still, it often feels as though the film is simply glossing over parts of the story and not spending much time in allowing them to breathe. Going back to the Tim Curry miniseries in the early 1990s, the Losers’ Club’s’ initial encounters with Pennywise were given a bit of time to develop and flesh themselves. There felt like there was a purpose to those encounters that would pay off later. In this 2017 edition, the encounters begin and are over with in a matter of, sometimes, seconds. No chance for buildup or any real suspense, and it also doesn’t give the audience much of a chance to get to know the new Pennywise before he’s already out taking on his other forms in order to scare the children of Derry. These encounters come off almost as a checklist, where you can almost hear the director going: “And cut. Check that one off, Ben met Pennywise. Who’se next?”

That’s not to say that IT is a terrible film. It’s not by any stretch. It’s actually a rather enjoyable film, but it works best when it’s dealing with its coming-of-age elements in which we find the Loser’s Club hanging out together, enjoying the summer, and banding together against the bullies who torment them. Those moments are the real standouts in IT, with the exception of the oddly scored and directed scenes that include the rock fight in the quarry being turned into a punk-rock music video of sorts to Beverley having her friend cleanup a room of blood that the others may or may not actually be able to see.

Ultimately, even though the film already clocks in at over 2 hours, a longer film might have been stronger than what we currently have. A bit more from Pennywise would have been nice, but also more time spent with the kids just being together is a must, especially considering that two characters from the story are almost completely sidelined in this version.

All-in-all, though, IT is a good time for sure and one of the better films I’ve seen from the 2017 releases. But, at the same time, it could have been so much more.


#42

I agree - it´s entertaining and it works. Still, I was left unimpressed. Maybe I’m overfamiliar with the book so nothing really could surprise me. And yes, a longer form could have been a better choice. I’m interested, however, how the second part will turn out. And maybe they then will cut both films together in the future.


#43

Overall, I was still impressed with it to a large degree, and at times found myself thinking that it was a pretty well made film. It just seems to move far too fast for its own good. Part of that, I suppose, could be a compliment to the director, as the film certainly never dragged and I found myself wanting more by the end, but at the same time, a lot of what ultimately happened in the film felt very much glossed over, as though another 30-60 minutes could have benefited IT quite significantly.


#44

The Dark Tower (2017)
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Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey
dir. Nikolaj Arcel

With 2017 serving as the official renaissance of Stephen King, with such great projects like IT and GERALD’S GAME entertaining audiences, it’s also brought us one of the worst films of the decade in the form of THE DARK TOWER.

All you need to know is that the filmmakers, who have been trying to get an overly ambitious cinema/TV crossover adaptation of King’s series for years, decided to take a series that spans eight novels and 4,250 pages and reduce it down to a 90-minute film. The result is an unwatchable mess of a film that, quite literally, does nothing well. Even the performances are lazy, especially that of McConaughey, which is a huge disappointment because he should have been the ideal choice to portray King’s The Man in Black.

Nothing else really needs to be said about this turkey. Quite simply just one of the worst films I’ve seen in a good long while, and it’s hard to understand why, after all the time this spent in development, that this version is the one they felt satisfied enough with to go with.


#45

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
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Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson
dir. Matt Reeves

The new rebooted PLANET OF THE APES trilogy ends with just as much of a whimper as it began. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES mirrors the trilogies debut RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES by taking an interesting concept and doing absolutely nothing of interest with it and instead tries to become a pseudo-psychological examination of human behavior through the eyes of Caesar, who I will say has been brilliantly portrayed by Andy Serkis in this series.

I was very much looking forward to WAR after Reeves’ absolutely brilliant DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, a film that should have served as a watershed moment for the APES franchise and should have kicked off a long run of exciting and thought-provoking blockbusters featuring Caesar and company confronting the remains of the human race. Unfortunately, after a nearly flawless film in DAWN, Reeves has followed it up with a film that really is a case of false advertising in the title of the film.

WAR is a dud on just about every level. Without much of an explanation aside from a clumsily put-together opening bit of reading that the viewer is forced into, there’s no explanation for why we are where we are in this rebooted APES universe. In DAWN, the humans had their backs up against the wall and had just sprung an all-out war with the apes. Now, seemingly, that war is basically over, and the two sides have switched places. The humans have the apes near extinction with reinforcements on the way that, we’re constantly told, are set to wipe out the remaining apes.

Ultimately what this new franchise should be remembered for is being the one where all of the interesting stuff happens off screen. In RISE, we see the buildup to the release of the Simian Virus that wipes out most of humanity and gives rise to the Planet of the Apes, but we never actually see that part of the story itself. DAWN begins after the virus has already done its dirty work and, of course, goes on to be the great film that it is, leading up to the war between the apes and humans. Then that’s glossed over to some point at the end of that struggle to focus on Caesar’s personal vendetta with a Colonel of a fringe faction of the human military. This part could have been interesting and promised to be at least entertaining thanks to the casting of Woody Harrelson as the Colonel, but none of that ultimately comes to pass. It’s just disappointment at virtually every turn in WAR that even some of the film’s good points are hard to enjoy.


#46

Last night, I watched “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” on Blu-Ray. Lots of fun. A favorite from my childhood. One of three favorite movies with Caroline Munro, the others being “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Dracula: AD1972”.


#47

Wow, you’re very brutal here. I liked the film and thought the creative choices were interesting and uncompromising. However, I did not enjoy the film because it was in every respect so downbeat and sinister. Maybe I’m just in the mood for something more playful and fun.

In any event, this film was a fitting closer - and I hope they will not add another pre-/sequel. The series now is complete.


#48

I’d actually be up for a film that takes place between DAWN and “WAR”, given that we as an audience were promised a film about the war between the humans and the apes, given the title of the third film.

I just find it odd that a series would deliberately leave its two most interesting and consequential periods of time on the cutting room floor. Seeing the Simian Flu outbreak would have been more interesting than anything we saw in RISE and Woody Harrelson’s The Colonel could have used some fleshing out. Maybe his character does what he does within the war between the two sides and then WAR could have been the fourth film, focusing on Caesar seeking his revenge.


#49

THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX

Well…

The surprise release on NETFLIX was either a clever nod to the future of movies being distributed via streaming services - or a way to bury a dud without risking a huge flop in the cinemas.

The reviews for this new CLOVERFIELD installment were brutal.

I loved the first CLOVERFIELD and liked the second one, so I was very curious to see a space station thriller linked with that “universe”.

Was it as bad as the reviewers want us to believe? Not at all. Is it a great movie? Not at all. Is ist a movie I would expect on a streaming service? Yes.

It´s entertaining. It´s paced very well, it almost breathlessly drives the story forward to its “surprise” conclusion. The actors are fine, the cinematography (contrary to the THR review) is competent, the score is wonderful.

And yet, it remains a film that is very by the numbers. There are surprises that made me sit up, definitely, but the whole story is constructed with ideas every sci-fi fan has seen countless times.

Some of the yawn-inducing clichés are also thrown in (i.e. the mother-who-does-everything-for-her-children, the joker among the crew, the warning by a guy who is not taken seriously).

But if you love this type of picture you will have a decent time with it.

I just wonder how many CLOVERFIELD pictures will still try to milk the central idea. The film that gets set up at the end might be fun - but if the next movie will not address that and go off on another side road it will be deeply frustrating.

J.J. Abrams would be well-advised to go back to the original and do a real sequel to that one.


#50

Watched IT. I’m from the camp that has not read the book or watched the miniseries. The film was well-executed with plenty of scares and good performances from Bill Skarsgard and most of the kids. I am sure a lot was left out from the previous adaptation to give the all the characters merit, like the Jewish kid whom I felt he was severely underused. I noticed in the third act how the filmmakers relied too heavily on jump scares, it seemed to take away some of the dread of the Pennywise character. It seems to be a repetitious trend in horror films presently, and it works like in THE CONJURING. It played out more mindlessly here, but it’s a minor complaint on a film I very much enjoyed.


#51

HOLLOW IN THE LAND (2017)
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Dianna Agron, Shawn Ashmore
dir. Scooter Corkle

We’ve seen films like HOLLOW IN THE LAND countless times over the years, films in which a family falls into disarray and out of favor with a small, tight-knight community only to be further ostracized when a crime points squarely in their direction.

In that regard, there’s not much new here in Scooter Corkle’s HOLLOW IN THE LAND. It pretty much hits all of the boxes there that you would expect it to hit. Taking place in a small town in rural Canada, HOLLOW IN THE LAND follows Alison Miller (Dianna Agron) as she tries to raise her younger brother in the absence of her absentee mother and incarcerated father. The film opens with the brother being arrested for what we’re led to believe is not the first time. Later, when a murderr is committed and it’s discovered that the brother was at the scene of the crime, Alison decides to fight back and prove her brother’s innocence, no small feat considering he goes into hiding.

Where HOLLOW IN THE LAND excels is in its cinematography and it’s acting. The film’s aesthetic gives it that small-town, rural feel that really makes you feel like you’re in a small, backwoods setting where this film takes place. The color palette is very much drab and dull, bit it fits both the mood and the setting of the film quite well. Agron is also excellent as the film’s lead, showing a fierce determination to clear her brother’s name while also being just vulnerable enough at times to let the viewer in and allow them to get on her side of things.

Big picture, HOLLOW IN THE LAND is not a film that’s going to go out and earn any awards. It’s a solid film, one that can make for a solid Sunday afternoon viewing, and quite frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that.


#52

The Fate of the Furious. Stupid, bombastic, silly, fun. Everything that I want my fast and furious movies to be. Not great cinema, just 2 hours of enjoyment.


#53

JUSTICE LEAGUE

I’ve said it many times before: I am a total Superman fan.

I also loved BATMAN V SUPERMAN when I first saw the film and thought all the criticism was undeserved.

But when I watched the movie again I was so unbelievably bored that I must take back all my praise for that disaster. I believe Snyder sucked all the fun out of Superman and miscast Batman with Ben Affleck.

I did like Wonder Woman but was not totally thrilled by it, only by the way the innocence of that character was portrayed, leaving all the cynicism that accompanied DC films since the Nolan era behind.

When JUSTICE LEAGUE was reported as being changed and re-shot by Whedon my first reaction was: great, he will bring levity to it. My second reaction was, obviously: the movie must have been so Snyder-ized that it will end up being a hodgepodge that no one will like.

This turned out to be true. I waited for a streaming rental on this one, and I must say the film was doomed from the start.

Because Snyder started BvS with an extremely bad idea: build everything around the “death of Superman”-conceit. Much too early, at that point, since the re-boot had only had one film yet. And in BvS Superman already was treated as if he was a dead weight that had to be carried along.

In JL, however, it quickly becomes apparent that having no Superman around for most of the film is what sinks the whole endeavor. Of course, we all know that Superman will come back. So where’s the suspense? It´s all about biding your time until he finally comes back. And he, in fact, is the best thing about JL, and Whedon has the right approach for him, making him fun and optimistic again. The Flash also is fun in this film, but a very one-note hero. Aquaman fares better, with Momoa amping up his charisma and also getting some funny lines.

While Cyborg was unknown to me before and mainly comes across as a bad-tempered Six-Million-Dollar-Man / good terminator, the two remaining heroes should have fared much better but also come across as bland: Wonder Woman and Batman. Affleck even is shot very unflatteringly, looking bloated.

The big villain, Steppenwolf, is a ridiculous CGI creation, and all the action is as interesting as your nephew´s new videogame.

The rumoured bigger arc envisioned by Snyder with JL2 thankfully was nixed because this whole endeavor was a catastrophe. It´s as if Snyder & Co did not learn anything from Marvel and just pushed forward with a flawed concept.

I sincerely hope Cavill will get a great, fun second Superman film because he really is great in this role. But maybe he will show what he can do in the new M:I film. He definitely is someone who was wasted by the DC films and should have gotten the chance to be Bond.


#54

I also just saw JUSTICE LEAGUE the other day and was about to post my review of it. I will say, though, that we have two extremely different views of the film.

First off, to get it out of the way, JUSTICE LEAGUE is not a great film. That said, it’s not the outright disaster I was expecting considering that the director was replaced midway through filming (and rumored to have actually been fired, regardless of the official story) and that critics and fans alike were slamming this film as though it were an affront to the human race itself. Given all of that negativity, perhaps I was able to enjoy it on some level simply due to the massively low expectations I had going into the film.

For me, JUSTICE LEAGUE works when it’s focused on Batman and Wonder Woman. I did also like Cyborg, much more than I thought I would, but Affleck and Gadot are the ones that drive this film. For my money, Affleck has been quite good as the DCEU’s take on an aging, disillusioned Batman, and I hope he continues on in the role. Gadot has been nothing short of a revelation as Wonder Woman in the two films I’ve seen her take the part on (Batman v Superman and Justice League; I have the WONDER WOMAN standalone film sitting in my Netflix queue).

While I thought that MAN OF STEEL was fine, I’ve never been much of a Superman fan and Cavill’s take on the character has done little to nothing to change that for me, so I was perfectly content with the film focusing on Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince working to bring the team together without Superman there to overshadow them. In reality, at least within the confines of this film, the team is really rather pointless if Superman is alive, so the longer he’s not on screen in this film, the better as far as I’m concerned.

Hopefully the bosses over at DC and Warner will get this whole thing back on track and put someone in charge of running the DCEU who can get this thing up and running where it needs to be. I really can’t wait to see what Matt Reeves has cooked up for THE BATMAN (even though I’m still disappointed a bit that Affleck won’t be directing it), but hopefully he’ll return as Batman/Bruce Wayne and continue on with what he’s done in the role so far. Between that and WONDER WOMAN 2, I think they stand a decent chance of getting things back on track here in the next 2 years.


#55

Interesting, thank you for your review!


#56

Tomb Raider. Much better than I expected. A far better video game adaptation than most and Alicia Vikander is excellent. Would love to see her opposite James Bond at some point.


#57

I kept putting off seeing “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” but finally watched it - my goodness what a great movie. Highly recommended…


#58

Has anyone seen Ready Player One? I saw it last week (great film btw) and there was definitely a Bond reference near the start, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. Can anyone help? It’s causing me to bang my head against the wall in frustration :frowning:


#59

There’s a reference to Goldeneye being Hallyday’s favorite video game;
is that what you’re thinking of?


#60

I watched the two “Lady Snowblood” movies tonight;
been a long, long time since I’ve seen them
The first one definitely holds up tho.