Mar. 10th, 2017

thewayne: (Default)
10/19 Miss Peregrine
10/28 Inferno

11/01 Doctor Strange x2
11/08 The Accountant
11/17 Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
11/26 Arrival

12/10 Allied
12/17 Rogue One x2
12/22 Moana
12/29 Passengers

Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children had its interesting bits, but overall I was rather disappointed. And based on a Metacritic score of 57, apparently so were most critics. As a rule Tim Burton does some pretty amazing work, sadly, this was not one of them. A review on IMDB described it as Tim Burton’s X-Men, and that’s not a bad perspective. For a two hour movie, they had too much in it. I think they would have done better to make two movies with a smaller threat in the first leading to the bigger threat in the second, which would allow for much better establishment of the characters. But they didn’t ask me. It didn’t make enough domestically to cover costs, but it tripled that internationally, so I guess there’s a chance of a sequel.

Inferno. I had a mild interest in seeing this, but only mild. Like, is Zoolander 2 showing anywhere? But my wife wanted to see it, so we saw it. This time it wasn’t Da Vinci’s code, it was Dante’s death mask as the McGuffin. It did have some interesting plot elements, but I just wasn’t that in to it.

Doctor Strange I really enjoyed. First off, Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Steven Strange. For a young(ish) Dr. Strange, he was fantastic and I can’t think of anyone whom I’d rather see in the role. I never much read the comic and mostly only saw it when it crossed over with the titles that I did read. While this is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it doesn’t tightly integrate with the Avengers series of movies, though Thor has a wonderful short bit in the end credits, setting up Strange’s appearance in the forthcoming Thor movie. And I’m fine with that as Thor, as an Asgardian god/alien, also deals with a lot of mystical threats. And there was a brief shoutout to the most recent Captain America movie which I appreciated. But what I liked was the ‘reluctant acceptance of the mantel of power’ character growth that we saw in Strange. In the end, he’s earned his position as one of the mystical guardians of Earth and does so brilliantly. I’m definitely looking forward to future releases in this line, I’m only disappointed that things like this diminish the chance of more Cumberbatch/Freeman Sherlocks. I’m very glad for their success outside of Sherlock, but I’m sad that the likelihood of more is not high, nor is it likely to see much in the way of the two of them doing much work together in the future.

The Accountant was one of the better movies of the year as action movies go. Very interesting story, though parts were predictable. For my personal collection, I would rate this as one of my fav action movies, up there with the first Transporter movie (the second wasn’t too bad, but let’s leave it at that), the first Die Hard movie, and Fifth Element. I just hope they have the wisdom and courage to leave the movie be and don’t do The Accountant 2: More Accounting, or should it be Account Harder? I think the concept was quite original and I really don’t want to see more, I think the originality would be lost.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. In many ways I liked it a lot more than the Potter films, but it was necessary for those to come first to establish the universe. I haven’t read the book on which it is based, but that book is not a novel, it’s an encyclopedia. I liked the freshness of seeing magic established in the United States, absolutely loved the time setting. And the view of creatures never before seen in the movies was fantastic. But one thing REALLY bugged me. What I did not like was the boy who was the center point of the story. He clearly was badly abused, physically and emotionally, INCLUDING by one of the people put forth as a good guy! In the end, the kid is at the hand of the ‘good guys’, and there’s absolutely no sorrow over how his mistreatment literally turned him in to a monster. Considering Rowling’s involvement in the movie, I think this was a gross oversight that should have been given more time. I’m very curious to see what the future movies are like.

Arrival, definitely one of the better films of the year. Just how do you communicate with aliens who appear from outer space and are just sitting there, doing nothing? I suspect the military, NASA, and other agencies around the world have thought about this for a long time. Well, this is the film in which you see it all come together. A contemporary or near-future setting has a woman who is a professional linguist is coopted by the military to try to figure out how to talk to the aliens to find out just what it is they want before the entire world goes insane. Several alien ships have landed, no more than one in a country, and no one is having any luck talking to the aliens. I would have liked to have seen it in the theaters more than once as there’s a plot element or two that I’m undecided about, but it didn’t happen. I think the best way to sum up the movie is that it’s a science fiction movie where the sci fi part just sits there passively, doing almost nothing. It’s all about the humans.

Allied. A classic World War Two story: Canadian airman working on a British base conducting missions behind the lines, falls in love with a woman in the French resistance, exfiltrates her back to the UK and marries her. Then later, his superiors tell him that she may be a spy and he has to figure it out and possibly execute her. While it was not a fantastic movie, it was quite excellent. Good story, well-paced, great cinematography. When you get down to it, it was not a war movie, it was a movie about people during war time. A fine distinction, but I think a significant one. Anthropoid, on the other hand, was much more a war movie. Very good performances, and well worth seeing.

Rogue One was another film that just didn’t impress me too much. It took a long time to get me really involved in the movie, and that’s probably a lot of the reason for my disappointment. The story is Episode 3.9: it ends precisely when Episode 4: A New Hope, begins. I’m OK with that, it was a good prequel. And we got to see other worlds in the Star Wars universe, which was cool. This is also a bit of a gripe: have you noticed that most planets in the SWU seem to be mono-ecologies? We have the ice planet. The desert planet. The swamp planet. The forest moon. This doesn’t break from that. While it doesn’t make sense, I guess I can grudgingly accept it. But for me, characters needed a little more back story. As far as I know, they’re all fully fleshed-out in novelizations, but I stopped reading SW books probably 20 years ago, so I don’t know. Episode 7 was partly fan service and largely a rehash of Episode 4 and reintroduced core characters. I’m OK with that, and I really liked the main female character being given so much agency and power. But in this one, there was just too much missing from the lead woman. She needed some more screen time, showing what happened since bad things happened in her childhood, until the main plot starts rolling along. Maybe it would have been better as Episode 3.9 Parts 1 and 2. Considering the ending, I’m very curious how they’re going to do the announce sequel.

Moana was tremendous fun, and music written by Lyn Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame?! (wife and I are huge Hamilton fans, not that we’ve gotten to see it yet) It was great seeing an all Pacific Islander movie where they don’t have to be saved by the Noble White Man. You could really feel Miranda’s influence on the songs, and I liked that. I meant to pick up a copy when I was in Las Cruces Tuesday but I forgot, I’ll get a copy next week. Which brings me to another point: we saw the movie just before Christmas, and the DVD is out in just over three months?! Anyway, great animation by Disney et al, amazing music, wonderful story, and in a remarkable break for Disney – neither of the lead girl’s parents are dead! Heartily recommended.

Passengers, another strong contender for my top sci fi movie of the year. Your basic ‘cold sleep ship, something goes wrong, someone is woken up, then things go REALLY wrong’. But the moral problem in the plot is quite something to think about! The ship is great, the effects are fantastic, lots of little details to see. The concept of a cruise ship in space that allows passengers to go EVA is a little boggling, but I’ll accept it. Great story and well worth your time to see. I think one thing that I really liked was that even though it was future-set sci fi, they didn’t break Einstein’s limit of the speed of light. The passengers were to be asleep for most the the ship’s 160 year journey to a distant star at a significant fraction of the speed of light, but not exceeding it. It was a ‘boost half way to accelerate, flip, boost to brake’ mode, and I liked that. You couldn’t set this story in an FTL ship.

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