Archive for the 'Movies' Category

19
Feb
18

Slow West, The Salvation

Slow West

Slow West is a pretty good title for this movie. Boring West would also work. It was helmed by Scottish director John Mclean who barely understands the genre. The film’s languid pacing makes this 84-minute film feel three times as long. The characters are barely characters at all, merely one-dimensional constructs for lurching the plot along incrementally. The only action scene comes at the end of the movie, and the main character retardedly throws himself into a bullet and dies. Michael F. Assbender stars in this, and it was the only reason I gave it a chance. The movie sucks, and even though he’s a good actor, he couldn’t save it. Westerns without a story or at least without a charismatic character are pointless. They thrive on personal drama, punctuated by violence that has come after slowly building suspense. Slow West delivers none of that, only the slowness.

Verdict: Shitty

The Salvation

The Salvation is about a Danish immigrant who travels across the old west. I liked this angle, because there were a lot of immigrants in this period of U.S. history, and until now they have been left out of the story on the silver screen. Mads Mikkelsen plays a former Danish sharpshooter who immigrates with his family, only to have tragedy strike at the hands of ruthless gang members. What follows is a dual tale of revenge, with gang leader Jeffrey Dean Morgan attempting to get revenge on Mikkelsen, and Mikkelsen attempting to get revenge against the entire gang. Morgan is completely over-the-top with his scene chewing, and almost ruins the movie, but manages to keep it reined in enough to not lose it altogether. Mikkelsen is pitch-perfect as a man-on-fire looking for vengeance, but who is also smart enough to know he needs to keep his cool in order to survive. I liked that he prefers a rifle over a revolver, which is a different choice for the genre, and set the action scenes apart from genre standards. Eva Green is underutilized as Morgan’s girlfriend, but she has a great scene at the end. The biggest problem is the movie doesn’t feel like a real, lived-in world. The town feels like a set, and none of the characters are fleshed out except for Mikkelsen. You don’t really get fully absorbed, and always know you are watching a movie. The Salvation has plenty of action, and will satisfy any fan of the genre. It’s worth a look, especially for Mikkelsen’s performance, and the fact that it’s a modern western that isn’t boring.

Verdict: Average

 

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01
Feb
18

Bright, Death Note (2017)

Bright

This Netflix original movie comes with an interesting premise: orcs, elves, and magic exist alongside humans in the modern era. Unfortunately, the bland writing does nothing for the concept. It’s a standard buddy-cop movie set in the gritty streets of L.A. But instead of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, we get Will Smith and an orc played by Joel Edgerton. Every character is hugely racist against orcs, and Smith especially comes across as an insufferable asshole. I guess it’s to help you sympathize with Edgerton, but it’s overboard here. They don’t even trade witty one-liners, it’s just non-stop racism and swearing.

The story is rote. Director David Ayer cribs from his own filmography, bringing out every cop movie cliche in the book from dirty cops (like in Street Kings) to two cops trying to escape gang members in the ghetto (like in End of Watch). Smith and Edgerton stumble across a magic wand, and are constantly running from everyone who wants to get it for themselves. It’s mostly Smith and Edgerton surviving shootouts and car chases, and none of them are inventive or memorable. The entire concept of fantasy characters in a modern setting is irrelevant to the story. Something more should have been done to make this stand out, but writer Max Landis was too busy jacking off from creating a cool concept to be bothered to write a compelling plot.

The acting is borderline atrocious. Smith and Edgerton are fine, but everyone else is hammy as all get-out, with Noomi Rapace turning in one of the most over-the-top performances this side of Nicolas Cage. When the credits finally rolled, I was happy to turn Netflix off, and I have no interest in revisiting this world for the already-announced sequel.

Verdict: Shitty

Death Note (2017)

Death Note exists in a lot of mediums from the original manga, to anime, to several live-action Japanese films, and now a Netflix live-action movie. I’ve experienced every version, and there is no doubt that Neflix’s version is by far the worst. Trying to compress 37 episodes (going by the anime) of material into 100 minutes is an impossible task. Plot lines, world building, characters, important scenes, and character development are all tossed by the wayside. How can you even have character development in such a compressed running time?

Light is changed from a brilliant sociopath with a god complex into an average, angsty teenager with misgivings (somewhat) about what he’s doing. His girlfriend Mia is more of a threat than him, and ends up being a more interesting character. L is portrayed accurately, but even he devolves to shouting at everyone when things go sideways. The things that made the original Death Note great are not to be found here.

The backbone of the anime was the cat-and-mouse game between Light and L. In this film, it is gone, with L figuring out Light is Kira immediately, and trying to ram home the conclusion to his investigation as quickly as possible. The movie is too stupid to even follow its own rules. For example, they mention multiple times that the Death Note can only have one owner at a time, and it can’t change hands unless it is separated from Light by seven days. Then, they have Mia stealing pages and killing people left and right, and even L possibly writing Light’s name down at the end, all while Light was in possession of the book within the seven-day window. For fuck’s sake, the filmmakers don’t have the attention span to follow the rules they established thirty minutes earlier.

The ending tries to include Light’s trademark elaborate machinations, but it comes across more as deus ex machina rather than the workings of a criminal genius. All of this happens amid a swirling shit storm of bad acting, corny dialogue, and poor plotting. The only positive thing I can say was Willem Dafoe was perfect as Ryuk, even though his character was watered down from evil/mischievous to boring/asshole. Worst of all, there was no scene of Light eating the potato chip! Total letdown, utter garbage.

Verdict: Shitty

24
Dec
17

My Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi Review (Guess What, I Didn’t Like It)

Reviewing Star Wars films objectively is an impossible task. They have baggage. Whether it’s preconceived notions of how the audience thinks events should unfold, or whether it’s just getting a glorious nostalgia bomb, no one is watching these films objectively. No critic and no fan can watch these films with a completely open mind. Many of us weren’t even alive when the first one came out, so Star Wars has always been with us. That being said, I’m going to try to lay out my thoughts on the newest film in the series, Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi. I’ll probably do a terrible job, and you’ll probably think I’m a virgin moron, but hey, let’s give it a shot anyway.

The greatest crime a film in a franchise can commit is rehashing things that were already done. Case in point, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens was little more than a remake of the first Star Wars film. Sure, it had a few cool moments, and yeah Kylo Ren was a good villain, but generally it was a giant waste of celluloid. The Last Jedi, at least, is not a remake of any of the other films in the series. Because of this, it is automatically a better movie than The Force Awakens. But does that mean The Last Jedi is a good movie? No, far from it.

The Last Jedi suffers from terrible plotting issues, pointless scenes, useless characters, woeful editing, gaps in logic, dumb humor, and it still cribs from the original trilogy. I suppose most of the blame should lie with Rian Johnson. The instant the movie ended, John Williams’ score boomed into the theater along with the text that said, “Written and Directed by Rian Johnson.” So, since he’s taking full credit, he should also get full blame.

Continue reading ‘My Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi Review (Guess What, I Didn’t Like It)’

25
Nov
17

The Italian Job 1969 vs. 2003

If you like high-speed chases in Mini Coopers, then The Italian Job is the movie for you. But wait! There are two versions of this film. So, which one should you watch? Well, that depends. Your friendly neighborhood BrikHaus has watched them both, and I’m going to pit them head to head, so you can decide for yourself.
The Italian Job (1969)
This is one of Michael Caine’s most popular and beloved films, and I can’t understand why. The marketing makes you think this is going to be a rip-roaring caper film, especially with the heavy leaning on Minis being used in some kind of high-speed getaway. Unfortunately, there is nothing high-speed about the original Italian Job.
Caine plays Charlie Croker, a criminal recently released from prison. He immediately goes on a mini-James Bond spree getting a fancy suit and sleeping with hot chicks. After that, he recruits a gang to perform a big job in Italy. Clearly, prison has reformed this man. I’m glad that the justice system works so well in England.

Continue reading ‘The Italian Job 1969 vs. 2003’

05
Nov
17

The Woman in Black

Horror is a tough genre to do well. It’s mired in cliché and cheese. Either it’s too gory, too dumb, or not scary. Modern horror films have relied too much on startling the audience instead of earning scares. An ever increasing reliance on CGI have made horror films tame. What’s scary about an obviously fake computer generated image? Nothing.

The Woman in Black is by no means a movie that shakes up the genre. It stays firmly planted in all the usual trappings of a standard haunted house film. What this film does well, however, is it generally avoids all the modern pitfalls like startles, stupidity, and CGI.

Continue reading ‘The Woman in Black’

14
Oct
17

Blade Runner 2049: A Sequel Nobody Asked For

Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel that nobody wanted or asked for. The 1982 original was a landmark film that inspired the look and feel of virtually every sci-fi film since. It told a self-contained story, was completely satisfying, and had no need for a continuation. It was also an abysmal failure at the box office, and these are precisely the reasons why there was never a follow-up film. Well, this is a new era in Hollywood where every ancient property, no matter how obscure or irrelevant, gets resurrected for a reboot or sequel. If there is even a remote chance for name recognition, the hacks in charge green-light it for production.

The new film has strengths, but also glaring weaknesses. It is by no means a bad film, but perhaps ill-advised. As a direct sequel, director Denis Villeneuve, captured the look and feel of the universe exactly. It feels just like the original film. The neon nightmare, the crumbling infrastructure juxtaposed with state-of-the-art technology, and the oppressive loneliness are all brought from the original without missing a beat. Without a doubt, it feels like a Blade Runner film. And that is perhaps the sequel’s greatest strength, that the universe is still tangible and plausible, and, most importantly, consistent. The transition between films, despite a 35 year gap in time, is seamless.

Continue reading ‘Blade Runner 2049: A Sequel Nobody Asked For’

08
Oct
17

Movies > Books: Blade Runner

I’m willing to bet a lot of people aren’t aware that seminal sci-fi noir film Blade Runner is based on a novel. The awkwardly titled Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep forms the basis for the 1982 film. The film is a loose-ish interpretation of the book. The two entities are similar, yet different enough to make comparisons difficult. Even so, I’m going to give it a whirl.

Blade Runner is a film I didn’t initially like. I had seen the theatrical cut twice, and wrote it off as a failure. I ignored the international cut and director’s cut, because why would I watch additional cuts of a movie I didn’t like? Then, the final cut came out in 2007, and was much ballyhooed. So much so, that I decided to give the film one more chance. This time, I was blown away. Director Ridley Scott had perfected his dark, futuristic vision. What he had in his head when he filmed it was finally conveyed to the audience without studio tinkering. I liked it so much, I now consider it a masterpiece.

But what about the novel? This, too, I had actually read a long time ago, when I was a teenager, and unable to appreciate the nuances of it. I thought it was a weak-ass sci-fi novel which had been completely overhauled and improved upon in every aspect by the film. Even though I didn’t like the film at that time, I still considered it a vast improvement over the novel. I didn’t give it much thought in the years since. But with the release of the sequel film, Blade Runner 2049, I thought I’d revisit the source material. My intent was to write up what a piece of shit the book was compared to the superior film. But what I found was that the book was surprisingly great, too.

Continue reading ‘Movies > Books: Blade Runner’




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