Movie Reviews – Early 2016
Things have been a little slow in my movie life. Go Time has been pretty intense this year, and I’ve been changing a few things around in my personal life. I was still able to squeeze in a few movies though. Let’s do it…
The Revenant – A stunning achievement. Some of the best cinematography I’ve seen in a move, ever. Perhaps the best camera work I’ve ever seen. There were scenes in this movie where I literally didn’t know how they did it. Apparently the entire movie was shot with natural lighting, just the Sun and fire for light, no movie lighting. It meanders just a little towards the end, but that’s a very minor quibble. If you’re a fan of film, this movie is required watching. It’s not a movie. It’s an achievement.
Gods of Egypt – This is a perfect example of a movie only I can enjoy, because one of my super powers is the ability to shut off my brain, despite my higher than average intelligence. This is how I can watch a shitty, special effects-filled movie like Phantom Menace or Gods of Egypt and still have a great time knowing the movie is shit. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is shit, but it’s not nearly as bad as everyone is saying it is. It’s perfectly entertaining and fun to watch…if you know it’s one of those big dumb CGI movies going in and can accept that. If you can’t do that, and I understand many people can’t, then stay far away.
London Has Fallen – A pretty forgettable action movie, just like its predecessor. I was surprised they were able to get the entire cast to come back, including Morgan Freeman and Aaron Eckhart. Gerard Butler makes a great badass but they need to use him better. Both in this movie and in Gods of Egypt you can see that glint in his eye, but he really needs a better director to make him shine. 300 and Law Abiding Citizen are fantastic Gerard Butler movies. There were two good sequences in this movie, however: the destruction scenes towards the beginning and a long sequence at the end where Butler has to infiltrate a building where they’re holding the president hostage; those were both great, but the rest of the film was blah.
10 Cloverfield Lane – It lived up to the very high expectations I had for it. This is not a sequel to Cloverfield and you won’t see the monster, but that’s all I can say about it, since this is one of those movies I can’t talk about without giving massive spoilers. Constant twists and turns (only one of which I anticipated, which is pretty good). John Goodman is one of my favorite actors of all time and he’s amazing here. The director was incredible. Highly recommend if you like plot-twisty suspense thrillers. Just don’t read anything about it before you see it.
Jungle Book – The only reason I bothered to see this (with my daughter) is that the Jungle Book was one of my favorite movies when I was a very small child. I used to listen to the songs on my record player (remember those?) over and over again. This version was a very effective and enjoyable adaptation of the book. The CGI was probably the best I’ve seen to date; it looked real. The only time it didn’t was when the animals made more human expressions. I enjoyed it, but I’m biased (and a kid at heart).
Hardcore Henry – One of the most innovative action movies ever made, and I don’t say that lightly. The entire movie is filmed POV with GoPro cameras. The action is simply amazing, and it pretty much fills the entire movie. Some people have complained that the action is too much, but I had an ear-to-ear smile the entire time. When the movie was over, I was actually a little sad. The addition of Sharlto Copley was genius, and he’s fantastic as ever. This movie has a strong Russian feel to it, having been made by Russians, featuring nearly all Russians, and (I think) filmed in Russia. Damn, these Russians need to make more movies. This movie is mandatory viewing for any action movie fan.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War – Better than the first movie because there’s no Snow White. The movie moved slowly and none of the comedic aspects were effective. On the plus side, the acting was great and the entire movie looked amazing, always a plus for fantasy nerds like me. I don’t recommend it unless you’re a fantasy nerd too. Side note: Back when this first version of Snow White came out a few years ago, I said I would really enjoy a movie that completely focused on Charlize Theron’s evil queen character. This was what I was hoping for when I saw Maleficent, but as most of you know by now, that movie ruined the entire concept by making Maleficent a good guy (WTF?) and loading down the film with a bunch of feminist crap. Charlize Theron’s evil queen returns in The Huntsman, and again she’s evil and great. I wish Hollywood would embrace an evil character for once.
Criminal – Ah, speaking of embracing evil characters, this movie is a perfect example of why I force myself go see action movies that get not-so-great reviews. Criminal has a 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and every review I’ve seen of it has been negative to lukewarm. They’re all wrong. This was a perfectly good movie. Kevin Costner is the best I’ve seen him in years. The cast is fantastic. The music was so haunting and moving that I ordered the entire soundtrack on Amazon as soon as I got home. The action was brutal and hard-R. Costner plays a brutal, sociopathic mass murderer who gets infused with the memories of another man. I was worried the movie would make him into a good guy, or at least a good guy too quickly, but that didn’t happen. The movie doesn’t shy away from the brutality of this man; he is cruelly murdering people all the way to the end of the film, in ways you’d expect from a mass murderer. I liked this film every bit as much as 10 Cloverfield Lane, which is a lot. So, often the reviews for a movie are correct, but many times they’re not.
The summer movie season has now arrived, so next up are wall-to-wall superhero movies. I’ll be posting a full review of Captain America: Civil War very soon.