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Wreck-it Ralph: Ralph Breaks the Internet (6/10)

Oddly enough, the joke in the trailer where the title should have been Ralph "Wrecks" the Internet doesn't come up. Bastards.

Anyway, this film was kinda weird for me to sit through, because I went in with certain expectations as to what I'd like and what I wouldn't. Watching the film, what I ended up liking was the stuff I thought I'd dislike, and vice versa.

So, let's start with what I did like. Basically, pretty much anything that came to the worldbuilding (such as it is), or portrayal of the Internet itself. It's pretty creative in how it visualizes everything, from using a search engine, to pop-ups, to add blockers, to the Dark Web (located in the 'bottom level' of the Internet or thereabouts), to the process of getting from one website to another, to viruses, to likes, to, well, everything. Basically, imagine everything you do on the Internet - chances are it'll be represented in some kind of physical/anthropomorphized form that's relatable to us. While the idea of this isn't new (e.g. the idea of little people in the human body doing human things, an idea that goes at least as far back as the Numbskulls), it's still an idea that's done well.

Another aspect is the idea of brand recognition, or the lack of it. This is where the movie gets kind of weird - in fiction, when you're using the Internet or Internet equivalent, you generally have a choice of using real-world sites/search engines, or making up your own as a stand-in for those sites - Parks and Recreation has a company that's basically Google, but isn't actually called Google for instance). However, the film does both, and there isn't much rhyme or reason to it. So on one hand, it's confirmed that companies like Google, Amazon, McAfree, and YouTube exist in this setting. However, it's also established that search engines like Knowhere (or something similar) exist, along with sites like BuzzTube...yes, "YouTube" and "BuzzTube" both exist. This even extends to the games themselves - as in, this is a setting where real-world game characters like Sonic, Bowser, Zangeif, etc. exist, but also characters not only such as Ralph, but also Slaughter Race (basically an MMO version of Grand Theft Auto combined with Twisted Metal). Like, this isn't good or bad in of itself, but it's kind of puzzling. Granted, it still gets good jokes at times (e.g. people browsing Amazon are seen using digital shopping carts).

Finally, that brings us to the Disney Land that Venellope goes to (basically a Disney website for kids). I expected to hate this section, thinking it was just going to be self-promotion and product placement. Well, it certainly fits the bill of product placement, at least in the sense that there's Disney/Marvel/Star Wars characters on display, but it's actually quite clever. As in, the Stormtroopers are the website's equivalent of anti-virus software (hence why they chase Venellope), and the princesses are self-aware of Disney princess tropes. Trailers kind of gave that away, but it goes beyond that - down to how Ariel sings (and reality shifts to accomodate that, much to Venellope's confusion), to how Merida talks differently from all the other princesses ("she's from the other studio" as one of them points out). I don't doubt that this film is going to increase Disney princess toy sales, but the basis for it is at least a creative one. Although I'd have loved to see characters like Eilonwey or Kira turn up, demanding to be let in as well.

So, that's all well and good then, so why is the score so low? Well, basically, the storytelling and characters. They're not...bad, I guess, but the characters, story, and themes do feel a bit more...junior, then what I'm used to from Disney. Thinking of their more recent theatrical releases I saw, such as Frozen, Moana, and Zootopia, while all three were family films, they at least had 'meat' to them in terms of character and themes. RBtI however, doesn't rise nearly as high. Some of the dialogue between Ralph and Venellope is pretty sacharine. Some of the morality is as well. It also doesn't help that Gal Gadot is basically playing herself as Shank (as in, sounds like Gaddot, looks like Gaddot, so therefore feels like her). Also, while the film is willing to parody Disney princess tropes, it doesn't shy from also embracing those tropes in Venellope's arc. Like, again, the story isn't "bad," but its beats are extremely familiar. Compare that to something like the films I mentioned earlier, which either subvert those tropes (e.g. Frozen), engage in meaningful themes (e.g. Zootopia), or are at least done well enough that the hero's journey feels fresh (e.g. Moana). The film, on the other hand, is content with basically just being a fun adventure film that, as far as I can tell, follows very similar beats to the original when it comes to Ralph and Venellope's arcs.

So, yeah. Ralph-breaks the Internet. Pretty to look at, lots of creativity, but there's not much substance beneath its veneer. Of all the DAC films I've seen, it's somewhere in the middle.

Black Mirror: Bananasnack 4/10

It's ok. In the same way a "Your choices matter!" game is ok. I "broke" the movie at one point, since I made the wrong choice and it wouldn't move forward until I made the right choice after insisting on the wrong choice 4 times in a row hoping a little something would play differently. I ran into the same problem two more times, but now I knew better so I just chose the right choice. The story of the movie is also kind of dumb, it's all very r/im14andthisisdeep. Not to mention that once I reached one ending of the movie, it was so abrupt it offered me 2 choices. Credits or a "would you like to try again?" option. Another ending was pretty funny, I'll give the movie that, and the third ending I got, it's the only one I was happy with, since it ended in a very Black Mirror-y way. I don't know if I saw every different ending or if there's more than 3 though. I'd put this together with the worst Black Mirror episodes, which is funny because this movie very clearly shows a poster referencing the worst Black Mirror episode imo.

Samtemdo8:

Natemans:

Samtemdo8:

I despise Red Letter Media.

We know.

Its more then that they disliked the Hobbit movies, they just come off as smug and arrogant and cynical.

And I got lectured by a fan in their comment section about how much knowledgeable they are of movies because the main guy apperently had a degree in film school.

I just wanna slap this commenter in the face for such a pretentious, fart sniffing comment.

I disagree with the smugness. Cynical, I agree with, but then again, in this day and age of Hollywood and franchising, understandable.

They are pretty knowledgeable of films though. Pretty much most of their discussions is how they perceive the film, direction, screenwriting, camerawork or editing. Hell, Jay often references many different films whenever they discuss most stuff they do. So wait, you want to slap someone just because they pointed out that one of the RLM guys has a film school degree? Isn't that kinda childish and immature?

I'm fine if you don't like their work, but resorting to wanting to smack someone for pointing out something is pretty immature.

Natemans:

Samtemdo8:

Natemans:

We know.

Its more then that they disliked the Hobbit movies, they just come off as smug and arrogant and cynical.

And I got lectured by a fan in their comment section about how much knowledgeable they are of movies because the main guy apperently had a degree in film school.

I just wanna slap this commenter in the face for such a pretentious, fart sniffing comment.

I disagree with the smugness. Cynical, I agree with, but then again, in this day and age of Hollywood and franchising, understandable.

They are pretty knowledgeable of films though. Pretty much most of their discussions is how they perceive the film, direction, screenwriting, camerawork or editing. Hell, Jay often references many different films whenever they discuss most stuff they do. So wait, you want to slap someone just because they pointed out that one of the RLM guys has a film school degree? Isn't that kinda childish and immature?

I'm fine if you don't like their work, but resorting to wanting to smack someone for pointing out something is pretty immature.

It was years ago, but the tone of the comment was nothing like how you are responding to me which made me agitated.

Bohemian Rhapsody
6/10

I dunno if recreating a concert like that on the silver screen is a good use of the medium. They also twist some history to make it more dramatic. Malek is extremely convincing as Mercury.

The Predator (7/10)

Funny thing with this, I put it on my "best of 2018" list before getting round to reviewing it. What's also funny (sort of) is that I saw it on DVD rather than in cinemas. Anyway, short version is that I consider this to be a "good" film, and the best Predator film since the first one...which isn't a popular opinion I know, as critics eviscerated this film, and even fans were pretty lukewarm (far as I can tell). Looking at the criticisms for the film, I certainly agree with a lot of them (not all), but I think the distinction for me is that while the same flaws exist, they aren't enough to sink the film. But on that note, I'm actually going to start with what the film does wrong before moving on.

Okay, for starters, the film does have plotholes (yes, this is going to involve spoilers). Basically, there's two yautja in this film. The first, it's revealed at the end, was bringing yautja technology to help humanity defend itself against the yautja. It's persued to Earth by another yautja ship (beloinging to the "Ultimate Predator") and crash lands. However, upon crash landing, it apparently finds the time to kill at least one soldier and string him up. The first yautja kills easily over a dozen people before the Ultimate Predator kills him. It's also established that the tech he was bringing was ejected from his ship, and already on Earth, so in a sense, his mission's done. If he really believed in his cause, all he'd have to do was just bug out - humans already know about his crashed ship, his job's done. I kind of suspect that this might have been due to reshoots or something, because while I actually like the first yautja's motives as a concept (more on that later), the execution just doesn't really make sense when you get down to it.

Another issue is the editing. As established, this film was subject to reshoots, and from what I can tell, entire sequences and characters were lremoved, and I think the original cut was about 30mins longer. Towards the end, it kind of shows. For instance, we have a kid with Aspergers who acts one way at the start, but towards the end is acting far more normal. I can't really attribute this to character development, but I can attribute it to changes in the story. Likewise, at certain times, it's like I'm watching two different movies cut together. Like, for instance, the character of Beckett is captured and told by Draeger why the yautja are coming more frequently. The next scene we see her in, a grunt's coming to execute her. So apparently the people at Project Stargazer either changed their minds about prisoners within five minutes (without a bridging scene), or their rationale is "yeah, we're going to kill you, but we want to exposit for the audience first." While this feeling isn't as pervasive as many reviews would suggest, it's still noticable if you're paying attention.

There's also other elements that I can get - for instance, there's the complaint that the film's pretty light on horror, and that the Ultimate Predator feels contrived because you're taking what's already a killing machine and applying the philosophy of "make it bigger, and therefore, better." Y'know, the philosophy that led to stuff like the T-X in Terminator. I do understand these complaints, but I don't agree with them myself - the film's free to have its own tone and story structure, and if anything, I welcome the change. Though I will say that the yautja escapes from containment almost embarassingly easily. Like, "damn it you had one job!" And the mercs fail at it. Miserably. Also it's in a dam, so obviously they took notes from Sector 7 and Megatron.

So, with all that said, let's talk about what the film does right. First of all, the formula. Thing is, all three prior Predator movies basically follow the same formula when you get down to it. As in, you start with your character/group of characters. They're in a situation, that's over time revealed to be different from what's initially perceived - even Predators arguably follows this formula, even though "what's wrong" happens at the start of the movie. The movie then basically follows a cat and mouse game between the human(s) and yautja, ending in a more action-packed climax than the slower action that has preceeded it. Predator 2 and Predators both deviated in areas from the original, but still cribbled heavily from the formula (e.g. Predator 2), or cribbled heavily from the setting (e.g. Predators). The Predator isn't without these similarities (e.g. the climax), but its story structure doesn't really follow what's come before. This film is far more of a conventional action-humour-horror movie with a faster pace. Some might lament that, and I get why, but it does help it feel distinct from what's come before.

Furthermore, the story does a good job of contexualizing the Predator mythos, and adding larger stakes to what's going on. I won't spoil it, but as to why they're coming more often, and what their long term plans are...while I'm iffy about some aspects (e.g. the whole genetic engineering thing), most of it...yeah. It's a nice point within the context of the wider mythos. I will say in the other films' defence that it's unfair to suggest that the previous films added nothing to the mythos (Predator 2 established that the yautja have been coming to Earth for centuries, Predators established the game reserve planet and that the yautja hunt other species besides humanity), but The Predator does get a sense of momentum for the plot, and arguably recontextualization for the other films. Some might see this as bad (e..g "less is more,"), but at this point Xenopdia is a multi-media franchise. The whole "less is more" argument went out the window with the EU.

As for the characters, I really like them, and this is where I diverge from many critics of the film. Our main boy, McKenna, is our protagonist, and his 'team', as you will, consists of "the Loonies" - a bunch of veterans with various mental disorders. Some have accused Black of trying to copy the team vibe of the original film and failing. Some have claimed that it's insentive to actual veterans. To the first point I say "no." While the vibe has similarities (as does Predators), it's a very different feel. Arnie's team in the first film was the best of the best - they joked, but the jokes were either a way of alleviating tension, or to parody action movie one liners (e.g. "stick around") before the action movie mentality was subverted. Here, the Loonies joke, but it's a more relaxed, yet simultaniously tragic vibe. Similarly, on the manner of disrespect, again, I disagree. As foul mouthed as some of them are, it does present a sympathetic view on the issue of veteran mental health, and the film notes that it was a bunch of 'rejects' that saved the day, and that no-one is going to remember them for it. The movie allows for some quiet moments with them as well, and not just moments of tension. So while McKenna is no Arnie, I actually like the vibe of the team perhaps more than Predator or Predators, even if it's not going to be as memorable in the long run.

There's other things in the film. For instance, it points out (twice) that the term "Predator" is a misnomer, and that "Hunter" would be a better name for the yautja. On the other hand, the tech the first yautja delivers...bleh. I really dislike this idea, and if I look at this movie in the context of the wider Xenopedia setting, it makes it even more unpalatable. So while this is certainly a film with flaws, I feel the good easily outweighs them. All in all, really enjoyed it...

...and similar to Mortal Engines, the chances of a sequel are pretty light, because the universe hates me. I don't doubt there'll be another Predator movie in the future, but I doubt it'll directly reference this one. :(

Samtemdo8:

Natemans:

Samtemdo8:

Its more then that they disliked the Hobbit movies, they just come off as smug and arrogant and cynical.

And I got lectured by a fan in their comment section about how much knowledgeable they are of movies because the main guy apperently had a degree in film school.

I just wanna slap this commenter in the face for such a pretentious, fart sniffing comment.

I disagree with the smugness. Cynical, I agree with, but then again, in this day and age of Hollywood and franchising, understandable.

They are pretty knowledgeable of films though. Pretty much most of their discussions is how they perceive the film, direction, screenwriting, camerawork or editing. Hell, Jay often references many different films whenever they discuss most stuff they do. So wait, you want to slap someone just because they pointed out that one of the RLM guys has a film school degree? Isn't that kinda childish and immature?

I'm fine if you don't like their work, but resorting to wanting to smack someone for pointing out something is pretty immature.

It was years ago, but the tone of the comment was nothing like how you are responding to me which made me agitated.

Yeah, I'm sorry about that.

Natemans:

Samtemdo8:

Natemans:

I disagree with the smugness. Cynical, I agree with, but then again, in this day and age of Hollywood and franchising, understandable.

They are pretty knowledgeable of films though. Pretty much most of their discussions is how they perceive the film, direction, screenwriting, camerawork or editing. Hell, Jay often references many different films whenever they discuss most stuff they do. So wait, you want to slap someone just because they pointed out that one of the RLM guys has a film school degree? Isn't that kinda childish and immature?

I'm fine if you don't like their work, but resorting to wanting to smack someone for pointing out something is pretty immature.

It was years ago, but the tone of the comment was nothing like how you are responding to me which made me agitated.

Yeah, I'm sorry about that.

No I mean your comment is reasonable, the other commenter was pretentious and fart sniffing.

Bumblebee - 5/10

It's watchable. That in itself already makes it the best live-action Transformers movie by default. It doesn't reinvent the wheel in any way, but I didn't feel like I was sitting through 2 hours of cringe for some robot vs robot action that amounts to 10 disappointing seconds of scrapheaps slamming into each other.

Mortal Engines 3/10

Derivative crap. {SPOILERS} Plot is a heap of absurd coincidences stacked up so high it should collapse on itself, and frankly the last reveal near the end is a bigger implosion than the purple ray gun doomsday weapon that can't even demolish a dam in two shots. What was Valentine's hurry to fire again so soon?! He had all the time in the world for all he knew! The guy also kills people for no damn reason. "Don't underestimate their air defenses!" Woops! They took it all out with 4 planes! What the fuck fuels those things anyway? Why do the moving cities even exist? A polluted Earth? The dirty water off the ground is safe to drink! And how small is this Earth now? How much time even passes here? These people seem to bump to each other every six hours or so.

The action is terrible. Even in the aircraft sequences you can't tell what's going on. How can they survive those crashes like that? The music is forgettable, but it adds to the manipulative direction. It becomes especially aggravating with Green Terminator, who probably skipped physics in high school because he doesn't obey its laws. Greeninator looks cool, though. The aesthetics of London are also really nice and so are the costumes. The effects are okay. The Big Balloon Port is like three canvas-walled alleys and one restaurant(?). Also flammable.

Also I fucking knew it when I heard the main character's American accent. Fake and not a convincing fake either. The actress is Icelandic, for fuck's sake! Get somebody who can speak American!

edit: more dumb shit
- Hester really needed that doctor, she should be dead from an infection
- I couldn't come up with a deus ex machina as stupid as the locket in this film
- Tom and Hester have less chemistry than J-Mo and Redhead Heard from Aquaman
- You would get more power from a hand-crank than a small rodent... I mean, if he built a small generator he could just get a small flywheel, crank it up, and enjoy his digital postcards
- The handful of jokes in the movie are cringeworthy, even the inkie-joke because it's used as exposition
- A Korean fashion show? Really?
- How did they catch Shrike anyway? Tasers?

Red Cliffs
Directed by John Woo

Essentially its a good fun film that combines the mass of clashing armies as seen in films like The Two Towers, with Wire Fu action. Or for us Gamers: Imagine if Dynasty Warriors had Good Acting throughout.

Set in the early China during its Warring State period in the early AD period, its the story of two kingdoms trying to hold their own against a much larger and imposing kingdom of Wu, and its ambitious leader. Its fun, bout to be a charecter you like, and the big battles and the humor is top notch.

saint of m:
Red Cliffs
Directed by John Woo

Essentially its a good fun film that combines the mass of clashing armies as seen in films like The Two Towers, with Wire Fu action. Or for us Gamers: Imagine if Dynasty Warriors had Good Acting throughout.

Set in the early China during its Warring State period in the early AD period, its the story of two kingdoms trying to hold their own against a much larger and imposing kingdom of Wu, and its ambitious leader. Its fun, bout to be a charecter you like, and the big battles and the humor is top notch.

Thanks for this; never heard of it, but it sounds to be right up my alley. My gf and I were actually just scouring our DVD collection for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero yesterday night; would you saw this film scratches a similar "wire-fu" and "dramaction" itch?

Xprimentyl:

saint of m:
Red Cliffs
Directed by John Woo

Essentially its a good fun film that combines the mass of clashing armies as seen in films like The Two Towers, with Wire Fu action. Or for us Gamers: Imagine if Dynasty Warriors had Good Acting throughout.

Set in the early China during its Warring State period in the early AD period, its the story of two kingdoms trying to hold their own against a much larger and imposing kingdom of Wu, and its ambitious leader. Its fun, bout to be a charecter you like, and the big battles and the humor is top notch.

Thanks for this; never heard of it, but it sounds to be right up my alley. My gf and I were actually just scouring our DVD collection for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero yesterday night; would you saw this film scratches a similar wire-fu and dramaction itch?

Red Cliffs is a big yawn when compared to wuxia tentpoles like the two you mentioned. Lots of bloody violence but it's all bloody pointless too.

Who has a DVD collection these days anyway? :^)

McElroy:
Mortal Engines 3/10

Also I fucking knew it when I heard the main character's American accent. Fake and not a convincing fake either. The actress is Icelandic, for fuck's sake! Get somebody who can speak American!

Not watched the film but is it supposed to be an American accent? America...kind of doesn't exist in the Mortal Engines world (its an irradiated hellhole wasteland usually referred to as a Lost Continent). So if it is an American accent then its a failure on two fronts

Samtemdo8:

CoCage:
Bumblebee - I give it a high full price. Finally, someone that has done a live-action Transformers movie right. I recommend it to any Transformers fan.

More like done wrong.

Once agian a Transformers propertity where the Human cast is given far more attention and charactacter development then the Transformers themselves.

Worse Bumblebee is treated literally not as a character but a doll. Seriously this movie was essentially the Iron Giant, but with Transformers.

Once again it proves Beast Wars is the best Transformers thing ever.

In your opinion. Bumblebee ain't gonna win awards, but I appreciate the smaller-scale action, characters that aern't loud, obnoxious, and screaming every 4-5 minutes. Charlie's family are nitwits, but I found them way more tolerable than Sam's or Cade's families. The Iron Giant comparisons were already clear, but it does not bother me, because Bumblebee does its own thing enough to differentiate itself.

BTW, you're talking to a Beast Wars fan.

saint of m:
Red Cliffs
Directed by John Woo

Essentially its a good fun film that combines the mass of clashing armies as seen in films like The Two Towers, with Wire Fu action. Or for us Gamers: Imagine if Dynasty Warriors had Good Acting throughout.

Set in the early China during its Warring State period in the early AD period, its the story of two kingdoms trying to hold their own against a much larger and imposing kingdom of Wu, and its ambitious leader. Its fun, bout to be a charecter you like, and the big battles and the humor is top notch.

Cao Cao was called Emperor Wu of kingdom Wei, and Red Cliff was against what would become the kingdoms of Wu and Shu. Becuase you can't have too many Wu's.

Xprimentyl:

Thanks for this; never heard of it, but it sounds to be right up my alley. My gf and I were actually just scouring our DVD collection for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero yesterday night; would you saw this film scratches a similar ?wire-fu? and ?dramaction? itch?

It has way more political intrigue than Crouching Tiger or Hero. To it's detriment. And, contradicting what I just stated, doesn't really set up the backstory of the whole conflict. It assumes you know that Three Kingdoms somewhat and how dominant Wei was, and why Wu and Shu would join. And it's very long. I think it was 4 hours. Otherwise, I liked it.

Last film I watched was Robocop, the original one. I'd never properly seen it, only small scenes as a kid, so I've been using Netflix and similar services to educate myself and finally see the old films I've not seen before (Indiana Jones, Dirty Harry, shit like that).

I rather liked it, overall. It's very 80s, of course, but it has a nice arc to it.
Judging from the description on Wikipedia the streaming service I used actually shows the original, too-violent-for-an-R-rating version, which explains why a couple of the scenes (the boardroom killing involving ED-209, Robocop's first "death") felt way too drawn out and over the top.

Also, ED-209's stop motion is rather jerky, reminding me of the original Terminator film, but hey, it's a product of the times. I ain't holding that against it. If I can tolerate the Tauntauns and AT-ATs in Empire Strikes Back, I can tolerate that.
Why does ED-209 roar like a tiger, though? That's just silly.

I guess I'd give it a rating of about 8/10 overall. Fun and enjoyable, didn't bore me, kept me watching. I can see how it's an 80s classic.

Palindromemordnilap:

McElroy:
Mortal Engines 3/10

Also I fucking knew it when I heard the main character's American accent. Fake and not a convincing fake either. The actress is Icelandic, for fuck's sake! Get somebody who can speak American!

Not watched the film but is it supposed to be an American accent? America...kind of doesn't exist in the Mortal Engines world (its an irradiated hellhole wasteland usually referred to as a Lost Continent). So if it is an American accent then its a failure on two fronts

The Shaws lived by the sea digging up the American "salt flats" or something. Of course, accents like what we have nowadays probably shouldn't be a thing after a thousand years of whatever-the-hell, but I believe it is meant to be taken as an American accent to contrast Tom's Londonese. The cast is otherwise fine, Hera Hilmar is the weakest link, and during some moments you can tell the director didn't get what they wanted out of her.

McElroy:

Red Cliffs is a big yawn when compared to wuxia tentpoles like the two you mentioned. Lots of bloody violence but it's all bloody pointless too.

Who has a DVD collection these days anyway? :^)

Lol, WE have a DVD and Blu-Ray collection and proud of it! We're right at the age where we're young enough to recognize and appreciate the convenience of digital services, but also old enough to be leery and skeptical of that convenience, i.e. our hard copies ensure we're prepared for the inevitable moment we wake up to find our digital services have skipped town and taken all our movies AND the money cunningly stashed under the mattress.

trunkage:

It has way more political intrigue than Crouching Tiger or Hero. To it's detriment. And, contradicting what I just stated, doesn't really set up the backstory of the whole conflict. It assumes you know that Three Kingdoms somewhat and how dominant Wei was, and why Wu and Shu would join. And it's very long. I think it was 4 hours. Otherwise, I liked it.

Meh, ok; between yours and McElroy's feedback, it doesn't sound like something that'd hold our attention; that 4 hour timestamp is a REAL killer if the movie is heavy on the political stuff to boot. Maybe if we can find it for cheap somewhere, we might give it a chance, she for the drama, me for the spectacle, but I'm much less intrigued now.

Xprimentyl:

McElroy:

Red Cliffs is a big yawn when compared to wuxia tentpoles like the two you mentioned. Lots of bloody violence but it's all bloody pointless too.

Who has a DVD collection these days anyway? :^)

Lol, WE have a DVD and Blu-Ray collection and proud of it! We?re right at the age where we?re young enough to recognize and appreciate the convenience of digital services, but also old enough to be leery and skeptical of that convenience, i.e. our hard copies ensure we?re prepared for the inevitable moment we wake up to find our digital services have skipped town and taken all our movies AND the money cunningly stashed under the mattress.

My former classmate has way over a thousand movies and series seasons stacked in his living room. In shelves, neatly. Now that I don't see him that often anymore I've become sensitized to it again... Talking about his collection gives me chills.

I could fill a duffel bag with my discs too, but they're almost all for sale. I want to keep maybe 10. (Funny enough, Hero is one of them.)

The Incredibles 2

Pretty fun, not as good as the first one but a pleasant enough watch nevertheless. For most of its runtime it feels a bit like two different movies: an Elastigirl solo movie and a superhero family sitcom following the crazy shenanigans Mr. Incredible and his three children get up to. It's pretty good at both of these, mind you, but it doesn't feel as focused as the first one. The climax has a lot of pretty neat stuff, mostly involving some pretty rad fight scenes between various heroes. Really, it's the direction that kept the movie going. Brad Bird is just about the most talented person working for Disney and where the script of the movie wasn't super strong the presentation was slick and dynamic enough to make for a really fun movie. I love Birds obsession with 50s/early 60s design sensibilities, the cars, the devices, the architecture... everything's just looked better back then.

Definitely a movie worth checking out, especially if you liked the first one. Nothing groundbreaking (which the first one, at least for its time, kinda was) but still a fun time.

PsychedelicDiamond:
Nothing groundbreaking (which the first one, at least for its time, kinda was)

Um...how?

Whatever one's feelings are on the Incredibles, I can't think of anything it really does new in the genre, and it certainly didn't set any trends.

Venom
5/10

I can't buy Tom Hardy as a serious reporter, but he's good as a broken guy going absolutely nuts. The bloodless action sucks. Venom is a fucking monster but all the carnage happens out of frame. The villain is so damn uninteresting. I think the worst part is that he and the Life Foundation are *already* completely villainous when the movie begins. That wasn't necessary at all.

McElroy:
Venom
5/10

I can't buy Tom Hardy as a serious reporter, but he's good as a broken guy going absolutely nuts. The bloodless action sucks. Venom is a fucking monster but all the carnage happens out of frame. The villain is so damn uninteresting. I think the worst part is that he and the Life Foundation are *already* completely villainous when the movie begins. That wasn't necessary at all.

Agreed. The Going through his Fiance's files without her permission and how he handled his interview Jerkish and holding the idiot Ball. While I liked Venom's look, Riot was basically a grey carnage in abilities. The plot seemed to be grim and gritty for the sake of it, and was trying desperately to be an R rated film trapped in a PG-13 body (Venom bites too people's heads off and its about as bloodless as an episode of Car Bears.

saint of m:
Venom bites too people's heads off and its about as bloodless as an episode of Car Bears.

That just sounds a heck more terrifying.

The Favourite (4/10)

Well, first film I saw in 2019, and we're already off to a bad start. Calling it now, it's going to end up in my "worst of" list at the end of the year. If it doesn't, then we're in for a truly dismal year. I could also make a joke about how it's called "The Favourite," and it's about as far away from being my favourite anything as it's possible to get, but that's probably too on the nose. So with that said, let's get into the actual film.

Actually, before we do that, I suggest you look up the film's trailer - you can probably make a few inferences about the film based on that. Those inferences will probably involve terms like "fun" or "raunchy." Now, imagine those moments existing as they do, separated by long, tedious sequences where we use style over substance. The film is certainly "raunchy," in as much that it wants to make everyone as debased as possible, but without any actual real depth - the whole 'shock value' approach to storytelling. There's long, drawn out cuts in the film where nothing is really happening when you get down to it. You might be able to label it as "artistic" (certainly it doesn't use a traditional three act structure, and it makes no secret that it isn't), but the three act structure is used for a reason - because it usually works. And while the structure in of itself isn't bad, the stuff that's within said structure isn't worth the price of admission.

Also, minor point, but if you're not up to date with your British history, you're probably going to be lost for a fair portion of the film. I hesitate to call this a problem per se, but speaking personally, I was lost as to who these people were, or what was going on for a fair portion of the film. I know that Britain is at war with France (which in of itself doesn't tell me much about the time period), and for a good while, that's about it. It's revealed that we're dealing with "Queen Anne," but while my knowledge of British history is enough to know that a Queen Anne did exist, I wouldn't be able to tell you anything about the time period or the context off the top of my head. Maybe that says more about me than the film, but I think those who are familiar with the historical and cultural context will get more out of the film than those who aren't.

But even that aside, the film's still tedious and aggravating, and what fun there is is consumed by the malaise that grips this film. So, no. The Favourite isn't my favourite.

Hawki:
It's revealed that we're dealing with "Queen Anne," but while my knowledge of British history is enough to know that a Queen Anne did exist, I wouldn't be able to tell you anything about the time period or the context off the top of my head.

In case you care, though judging by your low opinion of the movie I'm guessing it's not exactly left you curious, Queen Anne reigned in the early 1700s and was the last of the Stuart monarchs. She died childless despite many attempts and the throne passed to a distant relative who would be crowned George I and start the Hanoverian age. I'm guessing the film is about two women trying to vie for a place as Anne's substitute daughter and maybe heir?

Love Exposure

Probably the most well known work of prolific director and professional Quirky Japanese Man Sion Sono. It's an almost 4 hour long epic about... well, mostly but not exclusively, religion and sex. Starts off following the son of a catholic priest in a japanese city in his various misadventures in trying to commit sins he can confess to his father and quickly evolves into a love story involving sinister cults, parental abuse, martial arts, the porn industry and whatever else came to Sion Sono's mind. It's quite a rollercoaster ride of a movie, narratively and emotionally, but in its generous runtime it's rarely ever boring. What does stick out is that for a movie with such a hyperactive plot and tone the production values are obviously not quite high enough to depict a world that's as weird as the things that happen in it. Which is a shame, because Sono obviously has an eye for effective and visually pleasing shot composition and mise en scene. Still, there is a certain charm all on its own to see all the movies insanity happen in those rather mundane locations and shot in such a matter of fact way.

Love Exposure is, if nothing else, undeniably punk, never shying away from vulgarity, violence and all sorts of bad taste. It has no shortage of sex, violence and sexual violence but I think behind all of its madness there's still a pretty effective emotional core. Its central characters are well developed enough to all be quite sympathetic where they could have easily been as cartoony as the story they go through. It's love for freaks and perverts and its indulgence in unapologetic camp might bring to mind the movies of John Waters or Richard o'Brian for a western viewer, but Sion Sono's style is one that's undeniably his own. Love Exposure is one of those charming little pieces of overly ambitious, countercultural weirdness that'll either win you over or leave you questioning what the point of it all was, both of these sides will probably agree, though, that there's nothing else quite like it.

Hawki:

PsychedelicDiamond:
Nothing groundbreaking (which the first one, at least for its time, kinda was)

Um...how?

Whatever one's feelings are on the Incredibles, I can't think of anything it really does new in the genre, and it certainly didn't set any trends.

In terms of 3D animation it did a lot for the the design and movement of human characters. Mostly by adapting certain character design philosophies of 2D animation succesfully to 3D. Compare the way human characters look in in the first two Toy Story movies or, if we look at a different studio, the first Shrek and compare them to the designs in Incredibles and all subsequent Pixar movies.

Bird Box (6/10)

Ok, I watched Bird Box. Its fine. Its interesting. It at least keeps the mystery, until they show the "monsters" and explain what's going on in the sequel "Bird Box 2: Repackaging" or whatever they call it. And no, it shouldn't ever get a sequel that would do that. But it was popular enough to get a fake viral "challenge" going so of course they'll tack a pointless sequel on to it. But until all that happens, its fine. I just don't understand why its getting all the coverage instead of...

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (8/10)

If you have a device compatible with Netflix interactive this is worth a look. For the novelty of it if nothing else. Or if you are with someone and are trying to define "meta" to them. As far as storytelling quality... the gimmick hurts the pacing. It makes traditional story structure difficult and the whole thing feels very disjointed. And it wouldn't be up there with the best episodes of Black Mirror. But it does its job and really makes the most out of the "interactive" presentation. Your choices end up having more AND, somehow, less bearing on the outcome than your average Telltale game... depending on the choices you make. I had a good time, even though I had to watch it on my phone because I use Win 10 Netflix and it isn't interactive compatible.

Vice - 6/10.

Great acting, bad editing.

The movie really likes to cut between events in a semi-nonsensical way. There's too much real life footage used, and the editing feels mocking and exploitative like a Michael Moore documentary without really having much to say. It feels like a movie that was made for people who already know the story and just wanted some nudges and winks to reassure themselves that they're right.

I really wish the actors had more to work with.

I will give the movie credit for one brilliant bit of editing though. I've always wanted to have a mid-credits scene in the middle of the movie and then have the other half of the movie be after the credits roll. Someone was finally brave enough to do that.

Better Watch Out
A pleasant surprise from out of nowhere that maintains a knowing wink to the audience throughout. A Christmas home invasion with some interesting spin. Impressive performances from new faces and a brief second of Patrick Warburton you'll miss if you happen to be distracted by overfed house pets.

Yardie
Idris Elba's directorial debut based on the novel of the same name by Victor Headley. It's got all the quality in the individual elements; acting, soundtrack, atmosphere and sense of place/culture, nicely shot etc etc...the only issue (for me at least) is that at times it feels like one or two elements aren't aligning effectively enough to capitalise on certain emotions in a couple of scenes that present either a moment where you know you're supposed to feel tense or some action occurs. During those odd moments, it seems all it would take is a different camera angle and timing of soundtrack to heighten the intended effects to a level where it wouldn't feel like a wasted opportunity. The majority is all good though, and indeed an impressive first go for the esteemed actor.

Paddington 1 and 2
Why did nobody, including the films themselves tell me these were good??? Oops, well, maybe someone did and I refused to believe them cause...let's just say a lot of people in meat space around here have not inspired great confidence in their filmian/TV opinions. Oh well.
Is it lazy to compare these to the recent Christopher Robin? Probably. But both have beautifully animated cute talky fluffy bear people in real life Britainland with hijinks, sentimentality and acting talent that almost produces a feeling of patriotic pride if it wasn't for that overbearing voice calling me a stupid cunt for trying to subconsciously leech their achievements into my own just for sharing the same land mass, oh and to get on that rope train for my failures as a human being, but shhh, voice! People are starting to stare funny.
Um, oh yeah, these are wonderful and charming and keep up a pace of consistent entertainment with witty visual moments of childish wonder that blows Christopher Robin out the water. There's so much convenience in the set-pieces that would turn any other film into an eye-rolling farce, but these do it with so much charm and commitment that it's real difficult to not smile or, dare I say, laugh even at its' most ridiculous.
There's light hints towards allegory of immigration and racism in the first, which a 'Paddington enthusiast' acquaintance of mine assures me was part of the original material. Having read the books very young, I was too busy trying to find methods of forgetting childhood memories to remember them, unfortunately.
Extra credit due to Hugh Grant being the surprise joy in the sequel for comedic over-acting in a villainous role.
Wow. There was a warm tingle in my tumtum that wasn't liver damage and crippling anxiety for once! ...Twice!

And I am definitely 100% in no way speaking from a species bias.

The Festival
Hmmm, umm, well...you see, ehhhm, ehh, errr, yeeeeah...noooo. no.

Festivals are nice and all. They don't need or want this. Yes, you can speak for the platonic form of a musical event now, the future is our shivering sloppy oyster of nihilistic suffering!
This will appeal to some of course; those that find the inbetweeners style of humour actually funny for whatever undiagnosed reason. For those people...knock yourselves out on this! For the rest, I don't know...go for a walk. Preferably to a real festival.

You Were Never Really Here
Is good. Joaquin Phoenix is barely recognisable. Ends in a way that seems to encourage a shlocky sequel in the exploitation genre by a far less skilled writer and director though. Not sure how well that would go down. But until then... this is worthy moments' procrastination.

Escape
This is an astoundingly simple, familiar idea of a drama done with exceptional attention to detail concerning the subtlety in human interaction within a troubled relationship. The acting is necessarily superb in that regard and the precise direction that cunningly uses sound and imagery to impress upon the viewer a claustrophobic sense of detachment and sadness from the protag's (Gemma Arterton) point of view. Also, speaking from personal experience, I found the moments of brief respite the character has before the last part are portrayed in an ingenious minimalist way that felt the film really understood the suffocating effect of becoming trapped in your own life where each moment you find yourself able to breathe is constantly weighed down by the knowledge that you aren't free and this moment is yet just another illusion soon to disappear like all the others. The ending is unfortunately underwhelming, but the rest is very arresting.

Transcendence

Maybe the spoiler doesn't state it well, but this is movie tries to make every side as gray. The most reprehensible characters later are portrayed as justified at the reveal of a much greater threat. It tries to end as morally ambiguous, but it comes out a little more confused than intended. It's main message is "people fear what they don't understand", but several characters seemed quite sure to understand what was happening and accurately predicted how the AI was going to evolve.

I think the movie used more sci-fi tropes than it should. Suddenly I was thinking in Terminator, Deux Ex, Mass Effect 3 ending (the green one) and Jam. But in the other hand it was fun to see how far they would push it.

In conclusion, it's not bad. It takes itself a little too seriously for the level of absurdity it has, but it's still enjoyable.

Score: Discount HAL-9000 / 5 (real score 3.5/5)

PS: It also should be a delight for Johnny Depp haters to have a movie where he dies a in slow and painful way...

CaitSeith:
It also should be a delight for Johnny Depp haters to have a movie where he dies a in slow and painful way...

Isn't that already happening to him in real life though? :P

Instant Family (7/10)

Couple wants to adopt. Couple gets three kids. All three kids are 'damaged' in their own way. Cue custody disputes, tantrums, and both hard and soft love.

You can probably guess a lot about the plot from that description. There's also a strong chance that your guess will be correct. Still as per the rating, this film does get a rating of "good," if only just - primarily because it's a case of a predictable plot being buoyed by its manner of presentation. It can be moving, it can be funny, and there's a bit of subtle acting at times to convey the trauma the children have suffered without getting into things. So, decent job.

Jupiter Ascending

It's one of those endearingly awkward movies that genuinely don't seem to be aware how little mass appeal they have. A unapologetically baroque Space Opera, directed by the Wachowski Sister, starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum, that's just slightly too weird and slightly too awkward to capture that mainstream audience.

While the word "space opera" has been used to refer to a lot of movies, many of them having the word "star" in their title, it has to be pointed out how particularly... operatic Jupiter Ascending is. The daughter of a comically stereotypical Russian immigrant family in Chicago finds out she's the heir of an intergalactic empire that three siblings want to get their hands on, either by marrying or killing her. This is the premise of a movie featuring genitically engineered dog people soldiers with rocket boots, Eddie Redmayne delivering a delightfully hammy performance as an evil interstellar aristocrat, references to Terry Gilliam's Brazil, Terry Gilliam, and people with such colourful names as "Jupiter Jones" or "Titus Abrasax"

It takes a lot of cues from various science fiction Blockbusters, most notably Star Wars, but ultimately owes most of its style to the same french comics and pulp magazines that inspired Fifth Element and Valerian.

Having gotten all of that out of the way, let me go off record here for a moment and say: This movie fucking rocks, okay? It's everything I like about the Star Wars series distilled through a filter of unflinching high camp that would make an 80s Dino DeLaurentiis production feel like an excersice in restraint. And energetic mix of french and American space pulp incorporating, if not exactly in a very deep or insightful way, the themes of class struggle and anticolonialism that have always been a big part of the Wachowski's filmography.

Also, it's pretty interesting how Kunis' Jupiter seems like a sort antithesis to the criticisms leveled at Rey from the new Star Wars trilogy. Where people have been talking themselves into a frenzy about how Rey is too good at too many things the movies don't go out of their way to show her practicing, Jupiter's growth as a character is relatively believable. She never takes on trained soldiers (that's what her hot dogperson supersoldier boyfriend and his mentor do), she makes bad decisions under pressure and the conclusion of her character arc is holding her own in a one on one confrontation with Redmayne's evil space tyrant.

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