A Few Movie Reviews

Rather than writing critiques of movies everybody has seen recently, I’d like to pick out three, that have, I believe, not had a super-wide audience. In two cases quite rightly so, in one case a few more people should watch it.

Colossal
The positive one, at least in my opinion, is the quite bizarre “Colossal” with Ann Hathaway. She plays a good-for-nothing party-girl with a boyfriend in New York, who throws her out when he can’t stand her good-for-nothing life style anymore. Having no place to go to, she returns to her hometown into the now abandoned house of her former family and runs into a school times friend who offers her a job in his bar. But, when she walks across an old playground, strange things start to happen as 10,000 miles away, in Seoul, a huge monster appears, Gozdilla worthy and tramples things and people under its feet. What the heck? The monster is soon joined by a giant robot and they fight each other in the vein of Godzilla vs. Mozra for example. Uh? Turns out her school friend who has a fancy for her is the robot and she is the monster and there is something magical going on with the playground. The drama unfolds as he makes advances towards her which are unwanted and turns out to be an asshole and on battle the monster and the robot. Sounds bizarre? It is bizarre, but at least it’s not what you see every day and manages to hold your interest (at least mine). Watch it with some popcorn and be puzzled.

Chips
This is apparently based on some 80ties TV series and it’s about bike cops in L.A. and there is nothing special about it, except that one of the main characters who is an ex-professional biker gone cop, is such a wreck physically as well as character wise, it had some entertaining moments. Since I’ve never even heard about the TV series it is based upon, I cannot make any judgements in that department and have zero nostalgia about the piece. Nevertheless I was kinda wondering who the hell gave the producers money to make this movie? If you are into bikes and snotty cops, watch it with a ton of chips and beer, otherwise, no need to bother.

Life
This is a lesser known European science fiction movie and let me call it “Alien” on the ISS. Some probe has brought the first extraterrestrial life form onto the ISS to study it there. I forgot whether the life form comes from an asteroid or Mars, but it does not matter anyway. In essence – the life form evolves and destroys the ISS, kills its crew and is smart enough to infiltrate the only life pod that makes it to Earth and will now happily contaminate our lovely planet. Sounds familiar? It’s Alien retold only set in the near future or present day rather than the far future. While the life form was nicely animated and looked creepy, it was not as creepy as H.R. Giger’s Alien. It had the same traits as the Alien, an aggressive predator without a mind/conscience. The parallels to Alien were exhausting. Here again, why invest tons of money in a movie like that? Why did nobody object to making this movie due to the total lack of new ideas and the parallels to Alien? Luckily I did not spend money on it, watched it on a plane…

More Movie Reviews

Logan
Loved it. The aging superhero whose every joint hurts was a new twist not seen before. I’m a huge Patrick Stewart fan and it was hard to see Xavier go. At times it was a bit of an overkill with all the suffering and hats off to Hugh Jackman for suffering through two hours of movie time 😉 The little girl was wonderfully annoying. So, if there are sequels in demand, here is your new set of x-men and x-girls. It was a mature movie for not only aging super heroes but also the audience who aged with them 😉 Great piece and a long lasting series has come to an end, maybe.

Guardians of the Galaxy II
Hm. It was fun, yes, and I enjoyed it, yes, and I even squeezed out a tear for Yondu, yes, but I kinda had expected more after the hype that the second guardians movie is supposed to be soooooo good. Hm. Yes, it was good, but it wasn’t epoch making. While Kurt Russel was great as the nasty Ego, the appearance of Sylvester Stallone totally threw me out of it. He just doesn’t belong into that universe! Lol. The wicked golden lady was fun though and I hope we will see more of her in the movies to come. Maybe I was also a bit “bored” by Gamora and Nebula reconciling. That made it so normal, so American, somehow, family is our greatest value and all that blah. It felt like: because they had to kill off Star Lords daddy, they needed to confirm the American family values via reconciling Nebula and Gamora. I found them hugging pretty damn lame. I was also annoyed by the pressing on the lacrimal glands for Yondu. The dude is a killer, who just wasted half of his former crew in the most brutal fashion and then they make you cry for him. I didn’t like that manipulative side of the second guardian movie. It was fun, yes, but not as fresh and mean as the first one, being watered down by too many traditional “values”.

Assassin’s Creed
Let me say I found this movie watchable. I’ve never played the game and cannot judge whether it represents a fair image of the game. Michael Fassbinder is a cool guy though and managed to pull it off. Jeremy Irons is always lovely, especially as the bad guy. The movie won’t go down in the annals of history, but if you wanna switch off watching some action for two hours and pretty people, it’s fine.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
I apologize to all Star Wars fans, but the movie bores me out of my mind. In my defense, I’m more of a Trekkie than a Star Wars fan. But come on, what was new about this movie? Nothing. It was a replay of “a new hope” kinda with other heroes and bad guys. The space battle was more or less the same that we have seen in previous Star Wars movies. The bad guys were copies of other bad guys from previous movies. I also found it disturbing that the movie was entirely humorless. Further, you knew at every instant what was going to happen next. While I’m interested in the continuation of the Luke Skywalker plot, this was just a complete remix of stuff we have seen before.

Movie Reviews

Arrival
I watched Arrival twice, once on a plane, then in the theater. Arrival is great. A solid, intelligent sci-fi movie with cool space ships, nice mysterious aliens and interesting lead characters. Xenolinguistic is a fascinating topic which is too often neglected. Yes, not all aliens who might visit us in the future will speak English. 😉 The sentences as different circles is a clever and cool idea how to express language and I bet Ted Chiang, the original author, put a lot of effort into the Xenolinguistic aspect of his story. How to remember the future was another well spun aspect of the movie, which worked out logically to an amazing degree. Great movie. A must see for sci-fi fans.

Shin Gojira
We all know that the Japanese love their Godzilla 😉 It was only a question of time until also the Japanese would decide to do a remake of the story.
All in all, I think the Shin Gojira movie is pretty damn good, only one thing was awkward about it. It happens in 2016 kind of and it presumes that nobody ever heard of Godzilla. It’s a bit of a weird decision to deny the 70 years of Godzilla culture and to pretend this is a new invention. But that assumption was kinda necessary for how the film is structured. It’s designed as a documentary, focusing on the actions or non-actions of a fictitious government. Being true to its 1954 original, there are side kicks against the US. That Japan is only a half free state and that the US decides anything for them. What was new was that Godzilla mutated a couple of times. He’s been feeding on nuclear waste dumped into the ocean and comes ashore as a crawling thingy before he goes back into Tokyo bay for a while and mutates some more. Only in the end does he look like the familiar Godzilla. The US wants to solve the problem by dropping a thermonuclear bomb onto lovely Tokyo. The inventive Japanese, surrounding one young politician who organized a “nerd” think tank, however come up last minute with an idea to “freeze” Godzilla with a cooling agent. In the end the frozen giant stands around in town as a new monument.

Ms. Pellegrin’s home for peculiar children
In principle I like Tim Burton films, although his style is very repetitive. My favorite is and remains Beetlejuice and also Sleepy Hollow (solely because of Christopher Walken). While the style of the peculiar children is clearly Tim Burton, the story is a bit more sophisticated than much of his other stuff. I haven’t read the novel it’s based on but it looks like it’s a well done recreation. The abilities of the children are fresh and inventive, setting them nicely apart from super heroes or X-men characteristics, although the X-men abilities come close to what we have here. The bad guys are nicely done, too and Samuel L. Jackson as their leader is a worthy bad guy indeed. Those white glowing eyes are pretty damn scary. If you are into fantasy this is well worth watching, but I can also understand that a movie like this is not everyone’s taste.

Some More Movie Reviews

Manchester by the Sea
At first, I must admit that I was confused. I thought this would happen in England, but I was already wondering, because the British Manchester is not exactly by the sea. It took me a bit to realize that there is a town called Manchester-by-the-sea in the US and that’s where the story happens. It’s a drama about a guy who lost his three children to a fire accident because he was drunk and who cannot forgive himself, who is confronted having to take care of his brother’s son after the brother dies. That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less. The film also has no resolution, at least none that I found satisfactory. Though the main character grows a bit, his grief is not dealt with at the end and he stops taking care of his nephew unable to deal with the situation. Hm. Realistic perhaps, but what’s the point? The acting is fine, but the story left me unsatisfied.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Finally saw that one. Don’t get me wrong, I like Eddie Redmayne and I think he is one fine character actor and he was excellent portraying Stephen Hawking or in the Danish Girl, but for me he is not a lead character that can carry an “action movie” like this. There are some nice J.K. Rowling ideas about fantastic creatures, and the whole world in a suitcase was lovely, but all in all the piece left me quite unaffected and unmoved. I best liked the side kick Kowalski who was very nicely portrayed by Dan Fogler and I rooted more for him than for the main couple.

A Hologram for the King
That movie surely wasn’t a big box office hit, I never heard of it before it showed up on the plane’s choice of movies. I have very mixed feelings about it. It’s set in a supposed Saudi Arabia and mid-life-crisis American business man played by Tom Hanks travels there to close a business deal with the ruling family involving holographic projections.
Modern day Saudi Arabia is rarely featured in movies, but I strongly wonder how much of the movie depicted reality over there and how much of it was fiction. I think a movie like that does have a certain responsibility towards reality despite being fiction, since its sole reason for bearing any kind of fascination is the portrayal of that hidden world.
The love story with the female Saudi doctor was very cheesy and the portrayal of the hard-partying foreigners in the country also too black and white for my taste. Because the world portrayed is so far away from what we westerners know, it kept my interest, but I really wanted to know how much here was fiction and how much was supposed to be “documentary”, showing us the life in a country so hard to imagine for someone who has never been there.

Some Movie Reviews

Moonlight
Much acclaimed Moonlight was nice to watch, if a bit slow for my taste.
It’s an interesting decision to have the main character portrayed as a child, a teenager and a grown man and of course by different actors. The concept was good, but I fond it a bit difficult to thus identify with the main character, since as soon as you got used to him, another actor took over. What I did like though was that there were no white people around. A thoughtful piece with well “underplayed” emotions. Another interesting story decision was to have such an introverted character be in the lead.

Toni Erdmann
The German runner up for the best foreign language film at the Oscars this year was a marathon of nearly three hours. Very slow too and definitely too long but it still somehow managed to keep my attention, firstly because of the well portrayed and delicate grown daughter – elderly father relationship and secondly because of the business woman the daughter is, which reminded me a little bit of my own job, if mine is a lot better. I know plenty of colleagues though who forget to live and do only work. Another thing that made me grin was that Germans ask the big questions, sometimes, at least in this movie, and seriously speak about the meaning of life, which frankly, I haven’t heard talked of much in Japan. The naked party was a bit too strange though and if the fathers giant fur costume had any meaning then it was lost on me. Some of my colleagues should watch the movie though and be reminded that there is more to life than career and work, where alpha animals have regular pissing contests.

Passengers
A nice piece of science fiction with a very pretty ship and very pretty actors. The story is simple enough, 5000 people board a ship and go into cryosleep for the 120 years of the journey. Trouble is, the ship gets bombarded while flying through an asteroid field and malfunctions, waking one of the passengers 30 years into the journey. With 90 years ahead of him alone, the guy almost goes mad and almost commits suicide, but then decides to wake one of the other passengers, his dream woman. After a period of happiness, she finds out he woke her up and is understandably mightily pissed at him. But they find back to each other as more and more failures hit the ship caused by that asteroid field two years earlier. Even though they find a possibility to put one of them back to sleep, they decide not to, which is a bit Hollywood cheesy. They stop the story after the duo saved the ship and lived forever happily after. You could make a nice movie out of them hating each other after twenty years together??? Lol. All in all I’ve seen worse SciFi movies and Passengers is an entertaining piece.

Kimi no Na wa – Your Name
This anime movie is a big hit in Japan and has almost if not quite broken the more than ten year old viewer record of “Spirited Away” and rightly so, it’s a pretty damn good story. After a meteorite comes close to earth, a boy in Tokyo and a country girl in Gifu prefecture, both 17 years old, switch bodies for a while, causing all sorts of messy situations with their friends and family. They finally get what’s going on and leave each other messages on their smart phones or on good old pieces of paper or even their skins. At first they hate each other and how the other messes up their lives, but then they slowly start to like each other and the boy is shocked when the body switch suddenly stops. It keeps bugging him and he goes looking for the girl to find that the meteorite destroyed the girl’s town and everyone died three years ago. They do find each other again in the end, but I won’t reveal how. The animation is done with incredible detail and the story is quite unique and fresh and way better than half of what comes out of Hollywood. Very well worth watching, even if you are not an anime fan (like me). I highly recommend this piece.