recent movies

Some micro-reviews! I'm behind on these because I pretty much don't see movies in theatres any more.

Prometheus: I'm pretty sure I've scraped better science fiction off of my shoe. What a meandering, pointless waste of time. When a movie opens with both the tropes of "Daddy Issues" and "Scientist Who Wears a Cross", you should just turn it off right then.

Avengers: Not bad. Better than Iron Man 2, not as good as Iron Man 1, and let's just pretend that the execrable Thor didn't even exist. (Also this.)

Paul: Surprisingly funny! I really thought this was going to be a shitshow, but it wasn't bad. Far, far less reliance on dick jokes than expected.

Attack the Block: Now this was a shitshow. Every character was despicable. I liked this better when it was called Leprechaun in the Hood.

Chronicle: This was surprisingly good! Teens get superpowers from alien goo and cope with it badly. But it's yet another one of those movies where I spend half the time trying to figure out how nobody has referenced the concept of "superhero" even once, and trying to figure out whether I'm supposed to believe that this is a world just like ours but that doesn't have comic books, or what. See also Alphas.

The Innkeepers: A ghost story where a couple of slackers fancy themselves ghost hunters, but unlike Chronicle they've heard all about ghosts from TV, so their reactions are very believable. They were a couple of dumbasses, but believable dumbasses.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: I enjoyed the first one, but I gave up on this disgrace about 40 minutes in. Complete crap.

Oh, Elementary, the new American Holmes show, is also despicable. I couldn't make it through the first episode. It's just a fucking cop show, and the writing is insultingly bad, e.g., the first non-recurring-character who speaks is the one who did it. Watch the BBC Sherlock instead, because it is fantastic.

Jekyll: I was hearing some "People who liked Sherlock also liked" rumblings about this, but it's dumb. The first few episodes were ok, until I realized that the explanation for everything was going to be "It's magic!" Feh.

Hunger Games: Not bad I guess, but I fail to understand why anyone who hadn't read the book would give a shit about this. Why do they keep writing screenplays this way? "Here's another character with two total minutes of screen time, but the musical cue says that you were supposed to have given a shit about them!" It is actually possible to write a movie based on a book that works for people who haven't read the book, you know. (Haven't read it, don't care to.)

Haywire: Probably the best spy movie I've seen since the first Bourne Identity. The action sequences were fantastic, and mostly shot with a stationary camera and no quick cuts, which is just so refreshing.

Men in Black 3: It was cute. And far, far better than Prometheus, which I watched on the same night.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengance: You know what, this was also better than Prometheus. It made more sense and I gave more of a shit about the characters. We call this "damning with faint praise". But it would have been awesome if they had left off the flame effects and just had Cage in whiteface with glowsticks on his head: 1:58.

John Carter: Ok, finally, here is a movie that was worse than Prometheus. Actually it might have been worse than Wild Wild West, too. Did John Carter include a giant spider? I can't even remember.

Bellflower: Imagine if Bodies, Rest and Motion had less likable characters who were obsessed with muscle cars and flamethrowers, and violent dream sequences. It was interesting, but overall, not that great.

The Whisperer in Darkness: The second movie from the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, this one's a "talkie", done in a very convincing 30s/40s style. Their silent version of The Call of Cthulhu is better -- and is the best Lovecraft adaptation I've ever seen -- but Whisperer is very good, too.

Pickman's Muse: Another low budget Lovecraft adaptation. It's slow. I'd skip it.

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37 Responses:

  1. Patrick says:

    Yeah, I finally got around to watching Prometheus last night, and even braced by how poorly it was reviewed both in the popular and geek press, I wasn't expecting that shitstorm. It just felt like Scott's back and forth on "prequel!" vs. "original movie!" and back to "prequel, sort of!" didn't do it any good. And frankly every single step of the way ended up feeling like it was just hitting the Alien movie beats. Creepy environments, check. Little alien, check. Alien birth, check. Plucky human versus scary monster in a space ship, check. I'm pretty sure I saw that movie before.

    Damn pretty, though. But not enough to save it.

    • pavel_lishin says:

      > just hitting the Alien movie beats

      Exactly my feeling. I watched it on a flight, but missed the last 30 minutes. I'll probably download it and watch it, just to see how it ends, but I'm not exactly excited about it.

      • MattyJ says:

        The very, very end is retarded. I liked it overall but the punctuation mark on the end was beyond stupid. If there's a director's cut I hope they actually cut that part out.

  2. Jon Dowland says:

    I'm considering re-watching (note: watching, not buying) it on blu ray at some point, but I might hold off for if/when a director's cut is released.

    • Jon Dowland says:

      Urgh. clarification: I meant Prometheus.

      Good call re British Sherlock. Before the first series, I resented it for distracting Moffat from Doctor Who. Now I feel entirely the other way around.

      • captain18 says:

        This. I enjoyed Moffat's work when he was only writing for DW and not producing it. Then my wife showed me Sherlock, and my takeaway was pretty much, "Oh, I see now. His concept for Doctor Who as producer seems to pretty much be "Sherlock in Space".

    • jwz says:

      Because you think it will be better if it is longer?

      • The longer version will presumably contain the scenes where the Universe's Worst Scientists determine that the Engineers are angry with us because we crucified Space Jesus. No, I am not kidding.

        Someone needs to stop Ridley Scott before he carries through on his threat to make a sequel.

  3. aerique says:

    Man, I feel like I'm the only one in the world who liked John Carter. Maybe because I was expecting total shit.

    Definitely more entertaining than Prometheus. What a disappointment that was. I had been looking forwards to that movie for months.

  4. Eric TF Bat says:

    Thank you for placing yourself in front of the crazed Hollywood gunman and taking the shitty movie bullet for us so we can live. You are a hero to the common man.

  5. Wibble says:

    Re: really well done action, you might like The Raid: Redemption. Brutal, but very entertaining.

  6. mica says:

    check out "looper"

    i liked it

  7. Elusis says:

    I'm surprised you hated "Attack the Block." I adored it, and left the theatre exhilarated that someone could make an action/horror movie that I didn't find terminally irritating and boring. If nothing else, I liked its politics (and I did like other parts of it) which I can rarely say about a film.

    In direct contrast to the pilot of "Revolution" which I watched on Hulu last night at a friend's suggestion, during which I predicted actual lines of dialogue and "Major Plot Twists" with such uncanny accuracy that he questioned whether I'd read about the show in advance. Which I hadn't.

    I also really liked Jeckyll as long as I looked at it as a guilty pleasure for when I want some serious scenery-chewing done by proper actors.

    • wkrick says:

      Have you seen Cabin in the Woods? Not really traditional horror, but I found it incredibly enjoyable.

      • Elusis says:

        I don't do horror-horror. I'm too jumpy and I have nightmares.

        • jwz says:

          Cabin is fantastic -- it's essentially a very long Buffy episode.

          I've been watching Revolution and it's predictable but I don't hate it yet. The "READ.ME.FIRST" file embedded in the scramble-suit kinda won me over.

        • jwz says:

          Oh wait, nevermind -- I was thinking of Continuum (Canadian Time-Cop show), not Revolution (Lost 2.0).

          Revolution is some bullshit.

          They both have forgettable names, though.

          • Elusis says:

            Citizens are forbidden to own guns, owning the American flag is punishable by death.... who the hell wrote this thing, the TEa Party? Oy. I gave it 3 episodes and I'm done.

  8. You might like Dredd 3D and Looper.

    I'm quite disappointed that Dredd isn't doing better because I really, really want them to do the other two sequels they promised involving the Dead Judges.

    The only problem with Looper is that the Bruce Willis makeup on JGL is really distracting and weird.

    • Ben says:

      Why did they call it Dredd? It had no reason to be the same character as the prior movie, it could have just been another cop in another town in the same universe. And Dredd obviously isn't the main character, so naming the movie after him is odd.

    • MattyJ says:

      I was able to get over the makeup pretty quickly. Really liked Looper, too. Need to see it again and pay more attention.

      Agree on Haywire. Underrated. Acting not always great but very well done overall. I'd let Gina Carano kick me in the face.

      I'd also recommend:

      Goon, not just for hockey fans. Low-key but hugely entertaining.
      End of Watch, surprisingly effective if not over-the-top and slightly ridiculous.
      Searching for Sugarman, the story is better than the movie itself, but overall still an engaging documentary.
      Dredd 3D, basically like watching a video game, but fun to watch the wall-to-wall mayhem.

      I liked Prometheus more than most people. I haven't seen any of the Aliens in ages. I didn't find it too stupid. It's a technical marvel, though. One of the best 3D productions I've ever seen. I can't imagine it'll look or sound half as good on a TV.

      • jwz says:

        I've not heard of Goon or Sugarman, but: fuck 3d. The last 3d movie that was any good was, in fact, the first feature-length 3d movie, House of Wax. Did you know that the director of that movie had only one eye? And he did it best. That should tell you everything you need to know about 3d. Fuck 3d.

        • MattyJ says:

          I'd argue that Coraline and Pina 3D were great 3D movies, but yeah, for the most part 3D isn't enhancing the moviegoing experience.

        • I loathe 3D as well, and I couldn't avoid it for Dredd as none of the decent theatres were playing it non-3D, but they made decent use of it at least, better than I was expecting.

  9. Tony Finch says:

    Thanks for recommending Haywire! I like the understated style - spare dialogue, not to overproduced fight scenes, funky soundtrack.

  10. Ben Brockert says:

    Thanks for Haywire, I watched it tonight. Some of the acting was bad, but it was definitely a nice change of pace form most action movies.