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1917
War Action Drama / English / 2019

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
Just another war movie, except this time it's a faux-longtake.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
Longtakes are generally impressive spectacles even as one-off scenes in movies. Most commonly a rare feature in action movies such as Hard-Boiled's hospital scene or The Protector's restaurant scene, these serve to not just immerse you in the action, but also to sell the stunts involved. But sometimes you'll get a whole movie which it's just one longtake with maybe 2-3 breaks cleverly hidden between shots with the intent to simply bake the viewer into the world as we watch it live and breathe, such as Russian Ark.

1917 is set to accomplish both of these tasks, but rather than immersing me or impressing me I just found it continually distracting.

The first issue I have is not that it isn't a true single longtake, multiple longtakes stitched together can still be impressive, but the longer they are, the more impressive they are, and the point is to conceal the cuts between shots, generally by brief dips to black or passing an object across the entirety of the camera's field of view. In Russian Ark this was done incredibly sparingly and I may have only noticed 1-2 instances tops where a cut could have been snuck in. It's even easier if you have the camera on a track and can pass it over a benign static background and it would be impossible to tell if a cut had occurred. But multiple times over the coarse of 1917 the camera very obviously pans across trees or other objects in the foreground, at least twice it cuts to black, and there was one shot where the camera moves our protagonist offscreen and when they return to the shot they're in a position that they couldn't reasonably have reached in the short amount of time we didn't see them.

When I start noticing things that make me think the actor, who's portraying a soldier that's just been concussed by a severe head injury for literal hours, is having to jump up and sprint around offscreen so he can be in position for the next shot... I'm definitely not immersed.

The camerawork should be the best thing about this movie, but it's not. The sudden shift from steadycam to handheld is noticeable and jarring, there's multiple gratuitous 360 shots that just seem like counterproductive attempts to show off and here's the deal:

Russian Ark is impressive because the movie is saturated with actors moving about the entire set. The set's not going anywhere, the set doesn't need to act, or keep in character, or do anything other than look like it's an NPC stuck on an animation loop. They got hundreds of people to appear in that movie to make it feel like a real place, where real people are walking around and having conversations, that they have some place to be.

But 1917 consists mostly of just our two main characters. Pulling out to a super wide shot only serves to emphasize how big and empty the environment is. Wide open fields of nothing. The closest we get to anything on the level of Ark is when we follow the protagonists through the trenches and we see all manner of soldiers posted up, sleeping, having conversation or various other things. But even then, the area being recorded is incredibly confined, and the soldiers around them don't have to do a whole lot when half of them are sleeping.

Beyond that, I drifted between forgetting this was a longtake movie because nothing interesting was being accomplished with it, and being unpleasantly reminded of it because of the cinematography. The success of your longtake comes down to the cameraman's ability to run in front of the actor as he approaches the camera over the span of a football field's worth of dull environment, I don't really care.

Anyway, the movie's about a couple WWI soldiers being charged with bringing unwelcome news to the platoon of one of their brothers that they risk getting killed in an ambush preying on the misconception that the Germans are retreating.

Dude #1 is all gung-ho about it cause it's his brother, and Dude #2 isn't so cool with it because the intel about the retreat could be wrong and they're being asked to sneak through occupied territory. Immediately you start feeling bad for Dude #2 who I immediately wrote off as dead because the first thing he does is pierce his hand on a barb wire fence and then immediately dunk that fresh wound into the rotting exposed contents of some dead guy's abdominal cavity. And remember this is World War 1. My first thought is this guy's gonna get ill and die from infection. But surprisingly he doesn't, and shortly after he dunks the same hand in muddy corpse water and the movie just kinda forgets that might even be a problem.


Okay so Dude #2's day is already starting off pretty bad, but then the two find the German trenches abandoned, and in one of their tunnels they find *SHOCK AND HORROR* CG rats.

Definitely the most horrifying thing we've seen yet and I know that would ruin my day, but wait until the CG rat sets off a trip-wire burying Dude #2 in stone who becomes blinded with dust and is forced to flee the collapsing tunnel.

Okay, WORST. DAY. EVER. No doubt. He's probably got a different plague in each individual finger at this point, he took an explosion to the face, and now his eyeballs are filled with chalk. Definitely making us for bad for Dude #2 right now.

Which is why this is a fantastic time for Dude #1 to die less than halfway through the movie. Wait, what?

Seriously, these guys are conveniently present when a German plane gets shot down on top of them, they try to be nice and save the guy from the fire, but he wheels out and stabs Dude #1 right in the stomach. Prop for the blood effects in this scene, I'm awful shrewd about that stuff and they seemed to pull it off quite well here.

So Dude #2 is all on his own now, except that this is conveniently when an entire caravan of friendlies drive up in perfect silence to bring him some of the way. He becomes reinvested in completing the mission for his late friend and their brother and lah-di-dah eventually gets to sniper town.

Sniper Town, as I'll call it, is the exact point in the movie where you expect snipers to be posted up, but it is also when Dude #2 decides to be as unsubtle as possible by crossing a broken bridge by walking along it's metal railing. This after it's been visually established he could wade across and his boots are slippery as hell. Naturally he starts getting shot at, somehow he seems to tag the guy back with a practically blind shot into a window, enters the building directly (again, no subtlety), and walks directly into the soldier firing at him.

It seems like he gets shot in the chest at first, but when he recovers he only appears to have head trauma, so apparently the gunshot just startled him, he tripped backwards, split his skull, and nearly died from blood loss? That's ****in' lame.

The next sequence have him running around Sniper Town at night where fires and weirdly constant flares illuminate and eerily darken the vacant landscape. If there's any part of the movie where the camerawork makes sense, it's here because character stumbling around, suffering from a blood loss and a concussion while the lights shift all around him, make the constant floaty camera movement communicate a sense of surrealism, like this could easily be a nightmare he's having as he's unconscious on the stairs.

But no, no such luck. He's just running around a supposed military occupation but he sees like 4 guys maximum.

He jumps off a bridge, falls down a waterfall, climbs over some more bloated infected corpses, and automagically winds up where's been trying to get to. He tells runs past a bunch of fake explosions and soldiers running in one direction (we don't even see the enemy or any gunfire exchanged), he tells the general what he's supposed to, there's no fanfare, he finds Dude #1s brother, has a sad moment delivering the news, he flops down at a tree and credits roll.

The characters aren't engaging in any sense of them being interesting or enjoyable. Their conversations don't add up to anything meaningful... I mean it feels pretty cheap when you have exactly one scene where Dude #1 tells an unfunny story and Dude #2 laughs and that apparently serves as the entire foundation for describing him to his brother as though he's a regular comedian or something.

At least they tried to make me care? That's more than I an say for Dunkirk. They established personalities and a relationship between the main characters, but that's a pretty low-bar to clear.

When over half the movie's just a chopped up longtake of one character running and frowning though a landscape of nothing full of nobody... I just don't get much out of it.


Final Verdict:
[Meh...]
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Top 100 Action Movie Countdown (2015): List | Thread
"Well, at least your intentions behind the UTTERLY DEVASTATING FAULTS IN YOUR LOGIC are good." - Captain Steel




The Hunt for Red October
War Drama / English / 1990

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
I thought I'd reviewed The Hunt for Red October, but apparently not.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
A submarine thriller with a star-studded cast including Sean Connery, Alex Baldwin, Sam Neill, James Earl Jones, and Tim Curry? Sounds fantastic.

Alas, I found it underwhelming. Despite all the talent a movie budget could buy, this movie doesn't lean too heavily on the "acting" side of things. Not that it isn't there or the characters don't emote, but it's very very subdued. Comparing the naval encounters side-by-side with Greyhound, despite sharing the same lingo, there is much less intensity and much less technical concern for the small moving parts of the equation that keep that fragile chain of command one game of telephone away from killing everyone.

The only way I can think to describe it is it's way more "Hollywood"; the protagonists verge on that too-cool-for-school level of concern you expect Scharwzenegger or Stallone to show with a slow-motion explosion going off behind them. About the only concept really introduced is the idea of a "caterpillar drive" that allows a sub to operate virtually silent, thus allowing it to deliver a nuclear package practically undeterred. When Connery, the ship's Russian captain appears to go rogue, you have the premise of the movie, where Baldwin plays the CIA submarine nerd tasked with convincing the US military to risk the opportunity to attack the sub on the belief that Connery's actually defecting, which he is.

This whole plot about Sean Connery's character defecting to the Americans and America questioning whether he can be trusted is honestly such a dull concept. This absconds with the notion of submarine battles (except for the couple brief encounters they have with Russians trying to stop them) and this isn't even the sort of drama where you can expect some incredibly tense exchange of hostages or something.


No, it's just a sub full of incredibly fluent English-speaking Russkis that are just way cool about going to America and experiencing capitalism, man.

The atmosphere isn't there, the action isn't there, the drama isn't compelling... It's just a bunch of solid actors standing around expounding on their characters' goals and speculating about other characters' goals and... that's about it.

The Sonar Guy stands out because he seems to be personally interested in investigating and tracking the invisible new sub. He's also the one who ends up explaining some of the more interesting features of sub combat, such as how they have to be cautious going dead to pick up noises because even stopped, the sub could drift into the enemy revealing their position, or even worse, revealing their awareness of the enemy.

Meanwhile Baldwin's playing the whole "I know this Connery fella, I'm basically married to him. I have physically subsisted on his thoughts and dreams for twelve millennia so trust me when I say I know his motives.".

Fortunately, the only thing that stretches plausibility for me is Baldwin's trope of a role.

I do appreciate the jab at the end where the President(?), probably knowing full well that a Russian sub was lead to torpedo themselves, goes "you lost ANOTHER sub?" When it's brought up.

Overall, Satisfactory Movie terms like "funny" and "exciting" and "cool" never really came up when I watched this. I actually think I saw this fairly recently but genuinely forgot everything about it. Everyone I recognize in this movie has been in far better films.

I'd rather watch Under Siege.


Final Verdict:
[Meh...]
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The Wolf's Call
War Drama / French / 2019

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
Basically just binging "best submarine movies" at this point. This one's a French one from the perspective of the Sonar Guy.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
Right off the bat I'd like to say that there's a definite line between fiction and reality when it comes to these movies, and I don't know how thick or thin that line is. Some movies, like Greyhound (which is my definite favorite of the bunch so far) bring you in close to communicate some of the minutae of combating submarines. Others, like The Hunt for Red October, obfuscate much of this for grandiose setpieces, and when the gimmick is "this is a new never-before-classified submarine threat" there's the creative liberty to embellish on some of the technology present, especially if the setting is anything even remotely modern.

Much like how early sci-fi movies presented some of the absolute worst examples of what future space travel would look like, whereas period pieces bend over backwards to present true-to-the-time technology and culture.

In this movie, we see a lot more of the screens that Sonar Guy deals with, and they look very different than what we saw in Greyhound. The premise remains the same, in that they are effectively using directional echo-location to find and determine the behaviors of potential threats around them, but not only is the technology far more ambiguous than the relatively simple waveform and headphones we saw before, but Sonar Guy is presented as something of a hearing prodigy.

Now obviously it takes a degree of skill or experience to decipher the cloud of noise you might hear, let alone project it's distance, it's direction, and whether they're moving, fast, slow, or not at all...

But when Sonar Guy is like, "I hear 7 propeller blades, must be Iranian", I raise my eyebrow in a bit of skepticism.

This movie has exactly 2 combat encounters. The opening scene where we establish Sonar Guy's job and abilities. And the closing scene where, like a Castlevania protagonist, he's returned at greater than full power after being punked out shortly after the beginning of the game.

I don't like Sonar Guy. He becomes so fixated on identifying a mystery submarine that he sneaks into the Admiral's office (who just got done telling him to lay off and mind his own business), guesses his login and finds absolutely nothing of value.

Then he breaks into some records storage area (which he also knows the password to somehow) and determines the sub was some ancient Russian vessel that was believed to be discontinued. He's caught and told he's arrested, but then we do the whole "so yeah I only now just decided to check your homework and you're right so I'm going to waive all of your punishments and put you back to work immediately".



Sounds like karmic justice, right? Well Sonar Guy instantly fails his drug test. ****in' genius is a pothead. Brilliant.

The literal only time we see him smoking anything is in one scene with the Librarian who we have a heinously typical Overnight Romance with, complete with sex and *smoky kisses.* Mmmm...

You know I've always been pretty on the fence about kissing conceptually, but now that I know that the French will suck up a doobie and burp it into their partners' mouth? Damn, I'm sold.

You know I honestly thought there was going to be some reveal that the Captain or whoever falsified his drug test results out of a personal vendetta because there's one guy that's constantly mean-mugging him, but nope. I guess we're just honestly supposed to believe that Sonar Guy bathed in that shit before the biggest job interview of his life.

I genuinely hate the smell of weed. I'd never known what it smelled like before because I don't associate with those kinds of people, but ever since the crime rate spiked like hell and public transit took an absolute shit, I smell it on people all the time. It's so ****ing gross.

I'd rather live with a chainsmoker.

I've cleaned up vomit that smelled better than weed.

I have visited an online seller's home that reeked of literal cat piss, and I'd sooner visit them again than willfully enter the home of someone who regularly smokes pot.

CHUNKY SOLIDIFIED MILK that has been left in the sink for days... like, I should not be putting coagulated stagnant dairy products on the same level as something people deliberately imbibe to feel good.

I wouldn't care if smoking a joint gave me the same experience as a 10-minute sustained orgasm, I'd be too distracted by the smell. To say nothing of how bad it must taste.

All this is to say that I should not be associating the protagonist of a war film, ultimately responsible for saving the entire planet from nuclear armageddon, with the filthy creepshows who love to sit next to me on transit and whip out the tin foil and lighter.

DON'T. STOP. CEASE.

Thankfully the other characters rail on Sonar Guy hard, but when they decide he's the best pothead they have access to at the moment, it becomes a reluctant sort of "well I can't in good conscious put the lives of my crew in the hands of a weedlord guilty of compromising national security, but we need your stupid ****ing ears to find a stupid ****ing submarine SO I GUESS YOU'RE NOT BEING DISCHARGED".

I mean, you're basically communicating my own opinion back to me. I'd LIKE to have a competent protagonist who isn't randomly a druggie offscreen just to drive the plot into a ditch, BUT I GUESS THIS IS WHAT WE'RE STUCK WITH.

The whole drama about him being arrested by trying to find out about the Russian sub is entirely wasted anyway because the twist is the US sold such a sub to Jihadists, who are using the sub to fire blanks, provoking a nuclear conflict.

This creates one of those dumb**** military procedural rabbitholes where a sub is dispatched to nuke Russia on orders so secret that they go silent mode and close all communication, assuming any interference to be a threat.

Queue the winging about firing on former friends and all that. Seems awfully convenient that when both subs take a torpedo hit, exactly EVERYONE except the three main characters die instantly. That's just good writing.

Also the Face-Turned-Heel looks like French Gilbert Gottfried.

This movie was lame.


Final Verdict:
[Weak]
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K19: The Widowmaker
Military Drama / English / 2002

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
Rounding out my submarine movie marathon we have an early-2000s box office bomb starring Liam Neeson and Harrison Ford directed by the woman who brought us The Hurt Locker and Strange Days. I'm pretty optimistic for this one.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
It's easy to forget that while I really like Strange Days and The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow is also responsible for Near Dark and Point Break, neither of which I was terribly fond of.

K19 easily goes in that latter category of movies, unfortunately.

Rather than getting a Cameron-esque Hurt Locker-style slow burn submarine thriller, we get kind of a historical shitshow with, yet again, some extremely fluent, occasionally Russian-sounding, English speakers. It's odd to hear Ford put on the Eastern Bloc growl, but weirder to hear Neeson shift from literally growling to no accent at all.

The accent stuff is pretty easy to dismiss though, as long as the movie is great, it's totally forgivable, but this is not a great movie.

Simple premise being that rather than watching Ford and Neeson chew scenery as rival sub captains trying to obliterate each other underwater in a nailbiting thriller... we get Neeson getting demoted to XO in exchange for Ford who takes exception to Neeson's soft attitude towards his crew as they're assigned to conduct a training mission on the world's worst submarine.

No, it's not the world's *best* submarine... it's no Red October, it's in fact a giant piece of trash kept together by tape.

It leaks,
there are no radiation suits,
the onboard doctor got run over by a truck,
the nuclear reactor wasn't completely installed,
and Moscow's cheaping the **** out on everything in sight.

All this and more on top of the fact that Neeson apologizes and takes responsibility for all of his crew's ****-ups including when they injure themselves and are found drinking on the job. It's called the "Widowmaker" because everyone on board is going to die.

That's a pretty bad situation and the sub hasn't even ****ing launched yet.




This is when Ford shows up to oust Neeson as captain and proceed to put his foot up the collective ass of the communist crew by running constant fire and flooding drills while they dangerously send the sub down to crush depth which manages to impact the hull of the sub.

Great job Cap'n, you successfully damaged "the finest submarine in the world" despite the explicit advice of the former captain. I'm sure the gulag would love to have you.

Naturally, Ford plays the hardcore by-the-book patriot and this undermines his relationship with the crew eventually stirring up feelings of mutiny. There in fact eventually IS a mutiny which puts Neeson back in charge, who after abandoning his post once already and contradicting Comrade Ford at every turn suddenly goes, "Alright, cool, you are arrested for mutiny."

Ford asks him why and he goes "because it was wrong".

THIS after the nuclear reaction starts going into meltdown and Ford's already damned several crew members by forcing them to irradiate themselves to repair the ****ing thing. All of which are confirmed dead by the end of the movie.

So Ford, despite being offered alternatives, is directly responsible for ordering the unnecessary deaths of several members of Neeson's crew, and when faced with the prospect of EVERYONE ABOARD DYING because Ford insists on sacrificing as many people as possible so long as "we don't abandon ship" and "we don't accept the enemy's help", Neeson says mutiny at this point... is "wrong".

In what possible situation could it be right? They even established that there already exists acceptable procedures for the Political Officer to reassign command of the sub.

If the Political Officer is convinced they can abandon ship with the endorsement of Moscow, I'm not sure the Captain needs convincing.

Somehow this gesture of Neeson freeing Ford from the cuffs completely changes his perspective on the crew and all of a sudden he reverses his stance on abandoning ship and seeking help and even expresses compassion to the people who he condemned to death.

WHY? This Heel-Face-Turn makes no sense. There's no development here.

At the end he shows up to a funeral where the crew is mourning the dead and they look all happy to see Ford and Ford goes on commending them as war heroes.

YOU KILLED THEM. YOU ALONE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR DEATHS.

And this would be bad enough, but this was all for a ****ing TRAINING MISSION, with no combat whatsoever! They were supposed to park their ass in Atlantic, shoot a test missile, and then sit on a nuclear payload in case America fired on Russia. THAT IS IT.

All of the conflict arose entirely out of a coolant leak in the reactor (and that didn't start until halfway through the movie!), so "war heroes"? Really? For throwing themselves into lethal radiation on the whims of a partisan military ****stick?

ALL OF A SUDDEN the potential explosion is grounds to abandon ship because it could catch a nearby US destroyer and trigger armageddon. At what point was that NOT a plausible outcome BEFORE the mutiny, genius??

This character arc is so stupid, and he doesn't deserve the smiles and validation he gets at the end. Just straight Looney Tunes.

It is enough of a joke for the movie to point out that "the crew was sworn to secrecy for 28 years".

Sworn to secrecy? Over some epic military conflict in the Atlantic? NO.

The Soviets nearly NUKED themselves because they're cheap incompetent bastards and they virtually fed their crew members to a nuclear reactor just to save the metal they already invested!

So ******* dumb and the movie takes itself so seriously.


Final Verdict:
[Weak]
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Das Boot
War Drama Thriller / German / 1981

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
I have discovered to my misfortune that it seems I would be remiss to conclude a submarine movie marathon without Das Boot, a movie which clocks in at over 3 hours, reputedly because it's also a slice-of-life film. I'm not optimistic.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
"To be heading into the inexorable, where no mother will care for us, no woman crosses our path, where only reality reigns, with cruelty and grandeur."

3 hours is brutal for any movie, Metropolis and Lord of the Rings included, I really don't think it needed to be that long to communicate the passage of time and frequent boredom experienced by submarine crewmen.

Having established that, Das Boot is the closest to Greyhound in terms of being a technical representation of submarine combat, and it takes place at the same time; during the Battle of the Atlantic.

Main difference here being that we exclusively follow the occupants of a U-Boat this time, it's much smaller and less sophisticated than the subs in Wolf's Call or Red October, but consequently we get a much stronger sense for it's workings, it's layout, and the general sense of claustrophobia it brings. We become familiar with the control room, the engine room, the torpedo bay, the crew quarters, and the tiny area the officers eat at, half of whom have to stand up for anyone to get to the opposite side of the sub.

Despite us following a Nazi U-Boat, I appreciate that the movie didn't condescend to finger-wag at the audience to remind us that Nazis are bad guys (something that wouldn't fly nowadays), and instead focuses almost entirely on moment-to-moment drama aboard the U-Boat, regardless of the crew's motivations, allegiances, or political ideals.

In at least one point the Captain insults one of the officers, essentially for shaving and eating food with a knife, calling him a "Hitler Youth", but it comes across much more as a general cynicism that could be plausibly developed by any military veteran who's come to accept that the real people in charge have little concern for the lives they put at risk under the ocean.

In terms of the dilemmas encountered, thankfully we're spared any drama about mutinies or defection, or fearmongering about some brand new Deus Ex Submarine with a caterpillar drive or some shit, and instead we get quite the breadth of problems that could conceivably plague a U-Boat.

And I'm not talking Widowmaker-type problems, the sub in this case manages to survive an incredible amount of damage, and the crew scrambles to address each individual threat to the sub's integrity as soon as possible.

We get a shooting bolts from water pressure, we get a fire on-board, we get various leaks and flooding, they get attacked by a destroyer, they get attacked by a plane, they get attacked by an STD, it's wild... and it all culminates in numerous vital parts of the submarine getting damaged resulting in the sub going far beyond crush depth, colliding with the ocean floor, and refusing to rise, even as the water pours in and the oxygen runs out.

They're definitely interesting dilemmas, and you get a greater sense of the resourcefulness these characters have to exercise when they're trapped underwater with only so many tools to work with.

What I didn't like was... the general attitude of the crew. The movie opens up with them all throwing a real Nazi shindig where everyone but the Captain is drunk as could possibly be, and just straight up pissing on their car as they drive by.

That's a fantastic way to make me instantly hate everyone involved in this movie. Imagine having to be the Captain to some degenerate **** who brazenly pisses on your car at the first opportunity and yucks it up.

I understand that we're supposed to appreciate the change in tone from before they set to sea and after they've returned, but that's sufficiently communicated by the characters growing beards, looking all solemn and shellshocked, and appearing completely out of place when a fresh new batch of dapper Nazis salute Herr Fuhrer.

I also think I just have an irrational hatred for this character:



I hate looking at him. I hate his ugly ginger neckbeard face. I hate his Owen Wilson-style pout. I kept struggling to figure out why he's even in the ****ing movie, the camera keeps fixating on him and I wish it would stop!

Apparently he's some propagandist whose job it is to get into actual crew members faces with a camera to take money shots? ACTUALLY **** off. I did not like this character, I did not want to see his experience on the sub, I did not want to see him go all "I'm the king of world" on us, I wish he got shot.

Meanwhile I keep looking at the Captain and, knowing this is a German movie, thinking "gosh that guy sure does look like Sutter Cane from In the Mouth of Madness".

JŁrgen Prochnow (German pronunciation: [ˈjʏʁɡn̩ ˈpʁɔxnoː] listen (helpinfo); born 10 June 1941) is a German film, stage, and television actor. His international breakthrough was his portrayal of the good-hearted and sympathetic U-boat Captain "Der Alte" ("Old Man") in the 1981 war film Das Boot.[1] He is also known for his roles in The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (1975), Dune (1984), Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), In the Mouth of Madness (1994),
Oh, I actually got it right, that is him. Holy shit.

If I had never seen him before the beard I never would have guessed. I mean French Gilbert Gottfried wasn't actually Gilbert Gottfried, so can you blame me?

I don't know what to feel about this movie. At the best of times it was fun, I feel like I learned about what it might have been like to live on a WWII submarine, got some action, got some thrills. It's good.

But it's also a bit of a chore to watch and I'd really rather penises and sex not have been brought up as much as they were. I did not need to see a row of drunk ******** pissing into the camera within the first 2 minutes of the movie, and I did not appreciate knowing that they went on to give each other ****ing crabs.

That is a level of realism I would have been quite content without, and constantly showing me ginger-neckbeard-man is not improving my opinion.

Also the ending is weirdly anti-climactic with the crew getting Pearl Harbor'd last second during the return celebration. Okay then.

I really don't want to rate this movie the same as the others, but my complaints with it are ultimately much less serious or irritating than the issues in those other movies. Consider this one a [Meh...] and both Widowmaker and Wolf's Call docked half a point each.


Final Verdict:
[Meh...]
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Bridge of Spies
War Drama / English / 2015

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
Tom Hanks is recruited to be the unlikely negotiator of a prisoner exchange between America and Soviet Russia.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
The biggest twist in this movie was finding out Spielberg was the director. I realize he got a bit of a reputation (like 20 years ago) for making sappy family movies, but I dunno, I've really never connected with his more serious dramas.

You gotta be a certain sort of guy to make Hook, and Bridge of Spies doesn't share that distinction.

Bridge of Spies isn't a bad movie by any means, I really struggle to fault it in any major respect, but two things really hold it back for me:

One being that it's called "Bridge of Spies" and billed as being about this prisoner exchange between Cold War superpowers. I can't really say it's false advertising, the movie concerns what it says on the tin, but this is like ordering mac-n-cheese and getting the macaroni and cheese separately. Any movie that concerns spies I would hope to see some thriller elements in it, but there are none here, this is just pure bureaucratic drama. That, and the prisoner exchange in question is only foreshadowed until an entire hour into the movie. The first half of the movie is just about the Russian Spy guy being put on trial and Tom Hanks representing him.

Why again is Tom Hanks representing him? He's a private citizen, an insurance lawyer... the US couldn't find one mother****er in their whole ******* budget to provide public counsel?

The second and arguably bigger issue is just the movie's pacing. It's not the worst by any means, but it immediately shatters expectations by making me think I misunderstood what the movie was supposed to be about only to skim through the court proceedings. It's an hour's worth of movie, but that hour timeskips huge parts of the trial.

Entire interesting movies have been made just about one court battle, but this movie decided to cram in two and a prisoner exchange on top of it.



Once it shifts into the prisoner exchange arc the whole tone of the movie shifts too, it's like we've frontloaded it with all these really shitty examples of America. We deal with CIA guys casually shitting on the Constitution, a corrupt judge whose mind is made up about the case before he even sees any evidence, soldiers being commanded to kill themselves before they're caught, kids ritualistically saluting the American flag in class (which I sincerely hope isn't still a thing), and all these other people fearmongering about nuclear armageddon, or attacking Tom Hanks' family because he's representing a foreign spy.

It is some of the most sickening hypocrisy to see people go all Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, simultaneously enraged at the right to due process afforded to someone in their country, while supposedly oh-so patriotic to it because of the values it represents.

Do you actually care about American values or does the Star-Spangled Banner just make your dick hard?

There's just an endless string of criticism that could be leveled at this attitude, and in a better movie, like 12 Angry Men, we might have explored those attitudes. But here it's just a bump in the road, just one more thing we should include in the movie for reasons not altogether conducive to the actual story. Like, does Tom Hanks getting his coat stolen by an East German gang actually add anything? Is this a significant plot point that we need to refer back to? Was this one of the most memorable aspects of the real historical account that this movie says it was "inspired by"?

When you say the movie is "inspired by real events" I take that to mean you'll be taking some creative liberties, so did you just forget that aspect, or is Tom Hanks getting his coat stolen an embellishment, one of a couple little moments we took to go "oh by the way, the communists are bad too, look, they took his coat".

I really don't like the "happy ending" either. It's strongly implied that the Russian spy may be killed after the events of the movie (which they took a good amount of time to make an sympathetic character), but then Tom Hanks relives his moment on the bus where everyone is staring daggers at him for representing the dude and now one of the ladies who was giving him nasty looks before is smiling at him for negotiating the return of an American spy.

**** YOU lady, all that scene serves to do is remind me how unreasonable and shitty people were and how easy they are to manipulate with a ****ing headline. All of a sudden one person turns a frown upside-down because the paper implies Mr. Hanks ain't such a bad guy? Screw off.

If this was Spielberg's trademark saccharine contribution, I could have done well without it.

Overall, it could have done a lot better if it focused on just one of the two arcs instead of both and maybe actually did something with all of the psychotic American bullshit it started with.


Final Verdict:
[Meh...]
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Just tried watching American Sniper, but I got 16 minutes in before it became too cringe.

Every bad vibe I got from the reception of this movie was justified threefold within the first few minutes. It plays like a Christian propaganda film.




The Wall
War Thriller Drama / English / 2017

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
John Cena is a sniper.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
I was pleasantly surprised when I figured out this was actually a high-concept film about a single sniper v. sniper encounter in the middle of Iraq. "The Wall" refers to the place they believe the enemy sniper is hiding until shortly after when it becomes where the protagonist is hiding.

We drop-in, 20 hours into a standoff between our protagonists including John Cena as the good guy sniper and a potential sniper whose whereabouts among the destroyed infrastructure in the middle the desert are unknown.

Cena gets impatient (understandably) and decides to venture out into the open where he is promptly shot and almost immediately taken out of the movie.

Welp, so much for John Cena the sniper. The movie immediately shifts focus to the spotter who's wounded in the leg, his antenna's broken, and his water bottle's been shot through, which we're later lead to believe were deliberate shots when he was zigzagging to avoid being hit.

That's very hard to believe.

We find this out because when Spotter tries to radio for help he gets suspicious of the person's he's talking to and it's revealed to be the sniper who has a lock on his hiding place and continually goads Spotter into talking on threat of shooting Cena in the head (who's maybe dead from a gunshot to the abdomen?).

The movie heavily downshifts into this WAY less interesting plot device where Spotter is struggling not to bleed out and to locate the enemy sniper with his extremely limited resources. Too often this just ends up being Spotter laying on the ground and calling the sniper a "gay hadji". The movie doesn't feel like it progresses in any meaningful respect even compared to other relatively minimalist survival movies.

There's a point where he runs out of cover to grab a new radio, but it doesn't work.

There's a point where he creates a decoy to bait out a muzzle flash but it doesn't work.

There's a point where Cena wakes up and shoots blindly into a trash heap they think the sniper's in, but then he gets shot in the head, because of course he does. We established early on this is not a "John Cena is awesome" type of movie (which, to be fair, isn't what i wanted anyway).



Eventually it's revealed that Spotter keeps his former partner's scope because he feels guilty for shooting him in the back on accident. This is the same shitty reveal as in The Messenger. Why does the soldier have to have some secret burden about killing somebody with friendly fire? Let alone someone we've never seen at all. I really struggle to imagine any kind of movie-going audience who would get emotional upon discovering that.

OH NO, he feels bad cause he shot some guy we don't know years before the movie! That's turrible!!!

Spotter also determines that this guy is some kind of legendary sniper who's killed a ton of US soldiers. Implying that he makes a habit of impersonating troops calling in for support is a smart move, it implies the setting of the movie and rationalizes why he might have a disproportionately high kill count (so it's not just godly aim).

The movie ends very abruptly when Spotter recovers Cena's rifle, takes a shot at a muzzle flash, and it's left questionable whether he took the sniper down before he's loaded into a helicopter and the helicopter is shot down. Smash cut to black and butt rock.

This is not the sort of movie where a smash cut to butt rock feels appropriate. That's like a Return of the Living Dead thing, maybe if this really was a John Cena suckfest, it'd make more sense, or if the movie put more emphasis on this particular sniper being the ultimate big bad who no protagonist can survive... maybe it would have felt more appropriate, but it's just weird when you've spent so much of the movie dwelling on the minutae of Spotter getting water, eating Skittles, bandaging his wound, cutting out the bullet, trying to radio for help, and not even getting heckled by the sniper most of the time, but being asked for his life story...

I can imagine a much more tonally consistent movie where the sniper aggressively heckles them or causes situations that put them in more imminent peril, basically anything that can justify an ending that wouldn't feel out of place in Final Destination or Saw.

There was a lot of potential in this movie, but it was pretty squandered.

I'm not at all of the opinion that a movie headlining former pro wrestlers can't be decent. The Condemned was basically The Hunger Games, but not complete shit.

This movie was just... unacceptably boring for it's premise.


Final Verdict:
[Meh...]
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Snipers
Historical War Thriller / Chinese / 2022

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
I tried watching Battle for Sevastopol which seems to be a popular sniper movie presented from the perspective of this person, which sounded like a cool concept. But it immediately invoked the "suckfest" vibes I talked about with Cena's The Wall, the English voice actors weren't just dubbed in, but then they had translators dubbing the dub on top of that. The subtitles sucked also and just skimming through the movie I realized it was one of those tonally schizophrenic fliks where it wildly shifts back and forth chronologically between the downtime away from the war and conflicts in the war. It also came off like a Russian G.I. Jane if G.I. Jane had no subtlety.

So I dropped it. And decided to watch this instead. It's a Chinese sniper movie from this year.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
Snipers, is about what The Wall should have been.

It also centers around a single encounter, but rather than being reduced to just two characters in the first 10 minutes, this is the story of a spartan squad of Chinese snipers who've been baited into a showdown with a much better equipped American sniper squad during the Korean War.

Unlike The Wall and so many other military movies, there's no commentary at all about the circumstances of the war, who's the good guys, who's the bad guys, or anything. "5th Squad" at one point sing a song about "evil Americans", but it's only to wake their dying friend.

There's plenty of motivation for the Americans to be portrayed as excessively cruel, and I know where I come from there seems to be every reason for anyone fighting on the side of North Korea to be the bad guys, but this movie makes an effort to humanize both sides. Not so far as to make everyone sympathetic, but the movie, though mainly from the perspective of the Chinese snipers, presents a healthy amount of screentime focusing on the American troops as well as their own dilemmas.

Put another way, this is no propaganda piece. Easy though it would be, it doesn't have an agenda to push, despite the fact that Wikipedia says it was funded by China's Propaganda Department. It's just this one combat encounter between competing sniper squadrons.

Which is great because this movie delivers far better on the action, pacing, and even technical aspects of sniper warfare than the other movies I've seen (and skipped).



The main conceit here is that the "Chinese Reaper" Sgt. Liu gained a bit of a reputation and American snipers have been dispatched to capture him alive for political clout. While the American snipers have the gear, Liu and 5th Squad do not. None of their snipers have scopes, Liu alone has the only pair of binoculars, and instead of parascopes, they have big spoons.

This aspect serves to make their kill record more impressive, but it also strains the suspension of disbelief when anything other than explicit "covering fire" is a perfect bullet to the dome. They also do that Sniper Elite slow-mo killshot stuff which is unnecessarily silly.

I think my biggest problem with the movie would just be the excessive amount of crying. "Stop crying" is a repeated line in the movie because at minimum one character's eyes gets all watery each time one of them dies and the overtly sad music they play is a tad overbearing.

That said, what happens in the movie is definitely hard to watch at times, and it feels more appropriate when by the end Liu himself is struggling to keep the tears back. It's much more emotional than, frankly, most of the war movies I've seen recently.

I don't know what it is about Russian movies that keep turning me off, but I can at least say that the Chinese film industry is perhaps only second in maturity compared to Hollywood. They got the talent, the experience, and the budget to make a decent flik.

I liked it.


Final Verdict:
[Pretty Good]
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Godzilla
Kaiju / English / 2014

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
Friendship ended with sniper and submarine movies.
Kaiju movies are now my best friend.

Seriously though, it occurred to me that Godzilla vs. Kong is a literal movie that exists and that I haven't seen it, so I'm like "damn, I should see that", but then I found out the director is the guy who did the Death Note Netflix adaptation and I'm like "oh, well maybe I should kill myself instead".

I decided to revisit the Godzilla franchise, which is apparently the longest running movie series of all time? Thing is, I've been pretty underwhelmed by everything I've seen so far. My first exposure to Godzilla was the American version of Godzilla 2000 which was released in a VHS combo with the 1998 American Godzilla.

Watching these two movies side by side without having any attachment to the original monster movie left me with the extremely unpopular opinion that the 1998 Godzilla was the better movie. Granted, Godzilla 2000 features what is probably the most iconic version of Godzilla to date, but watching him move in what is obviously an extremely movement-restrictive costume rips me out of the movie at every possible opportunity. It's very hard to appreciate the character of Godzilla, King of the Monsters, when he's being puppeted in an obvious suit knocking down obvious props.

One of the most amusing things I've seen was one scene in which Godzilla gets blasted in the face by a giant space rock and flies backwards off his feet. It looks so ridiculous, and I'm all too aware that even sillier things take place in the less mainstream movies. For instance, I tried revisiting the series before by watching Godzilla: Final Wars, a movie which promised an all-out slugfest between Godzilla and many of his classic foes including the popularly hated "Zilla" from the 1998 American movie.

It is one of the dumbest ****ing movies I've ever seen in my entire life.



Not just because Godzilla chews through each monster like they're a punchline, but the human characters are batshit insane and hilarious for the worst possible reasons.

You know that trope of the "fair fight", where the bad guy agrees to duel the protagonist handicapped out of pride? This movie has the best example of this that I've ever seen where some dudebro American dude in a trenchcoat and katana get confronted by some sci-fi yakuza with an uzi, he puts the sword down, and the yakuza guy instantly throws the uzi backwards over his shoulder.

IT'S SO UNBELIEVABLY DUMB and none of it should be in my ******* monster battle movie. And those are basically my two biggest issues with Godzilla movies: The suits look fake as shit, and the human characters won't stay off the ****ing screen.

However, it must be noted that we are living in a post-Pacific Rim world. The untapped potential of kaiju movies is real, and while I could try to stomach the terrible effects of the older films, there are now many new English and Japanese reboots of the franchise that promise Godzilla with all the magic CG can offer.

So how does this movie handle it?

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
I completely forgot that this movie came out and was heavily advertised to star Bryan Cranston at the height of his popularity, but I only needed to wait long enough for this movie to put The Wall all over again and kill off their biggest talent only a short ways into the movie.

And that's honestly disappointing, because while I was on guard for mediocre human drama getting in the way of the monster throwdown, Bryan Cranston's just genuinely a solid actor and I got invested in him having his wife die through the door he closed on her to save everyone from succumbing to radiation. It's ****in' sad and it's so hard to imagine how I would feel if I were forced into that situation.

But then the movie timeskips 15 years and a completely different family has taken over the drama and I'm supposed to care just because you force in some obligatory "I love you, by the way I going to buy cigarettes, I'll be right back, I swear" bullshit? No.

The only other recognizable actor in this movie is Ken Watanabe, but his entire role is the embarrassing job of maintaining a tortured look on his face the entire movie as he baselessly pathologizes the monsters, just another Asian dude victimized by his own brilliant insight nobody else understands. It's dull as hell and adds nothing to the movie, nor does his female sidekick who seems to exist just to shovel his dialog when he's too busy opening his third eye to speak.

In this movie there's an XCOM style organization that secretly knows about and conceals the existence of Godzilla, while monitoring another monster, which is later revealed to be two monsters referred to only as "the MUTO". I appreciate them establishing a bit of biological significance, such as the male MUTO being small and winged and the female MUTO being much larger, but landed.

The MUTO feed on residual radioactivity long enough before waking up and finding the next source to hibernate around, whereas Godzilla is presented as a sort of apex predator who futzes about on the ocean bed absorbing radiation from the planet's core, but arises for epic monster combat should an actual threat arise.

I think this is a good way to justify keeping Godzilla as an ambivalent force in the world. He's a tangible threat to humanity while he remains in proximity, but he's also the hero because he takes out the monsters that more immediately endanger them.

Naturally this movie falls to the same trope as all previous movies I've seen (excepting the 1998 movie with Broderick, I think) by fixating heavily on human drama. I didn't show up to see humans squabbling over family members or reacting to damaged infrastructure, I showed up to watch a giant atomic lizard beat the **** up out of another abomination of nature, leave me alone.

But unfortunately, they really couldn't do the monster fights justice. Repeatedly they clip the fights so that it's happening offscreen or obscured by a cloud of debris. There's value to be had in not always showing the monster, especially if it's a brand new Godzilla redesign you're hyping up. But it takes an hour before we get a full view of Godzilla and it's another hour after that before I get to see him rompin' around and putting those terrible old costumes to shame.

AND EVEN THEN, they butcher the fights by constantly muting sound effects and audio, so that inexplicably monsters can silently appear and disappear around skyscrapers in a manner not all that different from the hide-and-seek nonsense of the 1998 movie. Except that movie actually had sound effects for Zilla moving around and didn't distractingly silence entire audio layers for dramatic effect.

I can see what they were going for, but it's the sort of thing that only works in moments of poignance, not your whole ****ing fight scene.

And what may make it even worse is Godzilla ultimately kills the female MUTO by prying it's jaws open and just puking atomic breath how it's throat.



It's ****ing awesome, and I'm disappointed that this is the finale to a series of encounters that I was repeatedly unable to SEE and unable to HEAR. I also had it spoiled for me in promotional material when this movie was new.

And thus, is my rating:


Final Verdict:
[Meh...]
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Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Kaiju / English / 2019

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
Sequel to the 2014 reboot, but a box office flop. Better?

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
Yes, it is a better movie, for a few pretty big reasons.

Firstly, we're spared the melodrama that polluted the first movie, the monsters are now front-and-center, and the human element is is purely to narrate a select few characters attempt to survive the devastation as well as their role to play in awakening the "titans" in the first place.

We eventually learn that Mom is pulling a Thanos and deliberately waking the titans with the help of eco-terrorists and a McGuffin that uses sound to way-too-easily control the monsters' disposition. There's no real tidy conclusion to the plot other than that the "this is bigger than just us" line eventually heel-face-turns into "I won't lose my daughter again" and suddenly we're just supposed to forget that one of these characters is guilty for attempting to kill millions of people.

Unlike the first movie we're also treated to a host of classic Godzilla foes including Gidorah, Rodan, and Mothra. I'm not attached to any of these monsters, but I definitely appreciate seeing some of the major icons that shaped the series.

The weird audio bullshit is virtually non-existent, as I said they should have reserved the use of silence during action scenes for poignant moments and they do that in one major scene and that's it.

Rather than waiting to see Godzilla until halfway through the movie we get pretty consistent action, at land, at sea, and air. Godzilla is also much ore firmly established as a "benevolent" force, and his convenient interference in monster attacks eventually woos our skeptical protagonist as well.

Our skeptical protagonist here is established as a guy who made the McGuffin. And that's it. He made a device that broadcasts a frequency. That's apparently all that qualifies him to make military decisions and dictate to the other characters how the monsters behave.



Ken Watanabe has a much bigger and more respectable role in this movie, he's clearly very biased in favor of defending the monsters from military strikes, but by the end of the movie he sacrifices himself to nuke Godzilla even though I don't think it's ever made clear that the characters have realized that nuclear weapons will only make him stronger. He has much more, and more varied, dialog this time around, but he still has a ridiculous habit of randomly asserting the motives and relationships of the monsters with LITERALLY no evidence whatsoever. It's really annoying.

Much as I appreciate more action, more monsters, more Godzilla, I will say that some of the charm of that first reveal is gone because they already left that first impression to die in the first movie. Godzilla suddenly tail-whipping the MUTO into a skyscraper was a cool way to end a fight, but we don't really get that here. Godzilla also Kamehameha-ing down the other MUTO's throat was also really cool, so him beating Gidorah with a couple shockwaves and stepping on him isn't quite as visceral and satisfying.

That's not to say that seeing Godzilla drag Gidorah underwater wasn't cool, or that Mothra v. Rodan wasn't cool, or basically any scene with Gidorah wasn't cool... he's a giant three-headed wyvern that manifests a hurricane around him and breathes lightning, that is a level of power visually conveyed in a way that could NEVER compare to the original movies' practical effects.

It's a shame this movie was a box office bomb because despite it's flaws I do think it's a much better kaiju movie than it's predecessor. I'd say this is the best Godzilla movie I've seen, but there's still a lot of room for improvement.


Final Verdict:
[Pretty Good]
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The monster stuff in KotM is amazing. You gotta tune out the shitty human parts, but that's a small price to pay. Much better than something like Shin Godzilla, which is shrill on both fronts.




Shin Godzilla
Kaiju Drama / Japanese / 2016

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
Originally Posted by Rockatansky
The monster stuff in KotM is amazing. You gotta tune out the shitty human parts, but that's a small price to pay. Much better than something like Shin Godzilla, which is shrill on both fronts.
That's not encouraging.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
Throughout this entire movie I could only think of two words:

Kaiju Prodecural.


What kind of movie would you get if you took Godzilla and presented it, realistically, entirely from the perspective of the Japanese government as the bureaucratic machinery sluggishly struggles to reconcile the political landscape in view of a giant radioactive lizard tromping around downtown?

Well, you'd get this movie. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather take a concept like this over Godzilla: Or How I Learned How To Cram A Romance Into a Monster Movie, but this somehow accomplishes the rare feat of being a fairly fast-paced movie... but also boring.

All of the characters you only ever gain a superficial familiarity with, it's basically just the PM, some other assorted people with vague government roles, and one of them is a sort of quasi-protagonist, because of course, just like the other movies, there has to be one insightful dude who somehow knows exactly how to respond to every conflict that arises because reasons.

The editing is very over-the-top with constant 4th wall camera shots of characters looking directly into the camera as though it were 12 Angry Men or something. But rather than serve to insert me into the room and help me to imagine if I was one of the characters being spoken to, the editing here is just really distracting with odd camera shots, rapid-fire scene cuts, and a LOT of information being communicated very quickly.

This is not aided by the CG, which unlike the MonsterVerse reboots, looks pretty trashy at times. Extreme closeups on Godzilla or vehicles like tanks and trains look awful when they're moving. Ironically this means Godzilla looks better over the course of the movie because they have an "evolving" gimmick where he quickly comes ashore malformed and develops into a much slower, much stiffer monster more resembling the flexibility and posture of the original movies' costumes.

I really don't think that improved my experience. Even before watching the movie when I saw the poster it looked to me as though Godzilla was just this giant static prop, as though he really were a guy in a costume, and in the movie it's almost exactly that, with the exception of a giant wiggly tail.

One of the THE biggest benefits of doing Godzilla in CG is being able to portray him as a realistic creature, to show him moving and behaving as an animal would. They started with something resembling that, but as soon as he "evolves" into Godzilla proper, suddenly he has fixed T-rex arms, he stands upright, and basically zombie-walks everywhere. Apparently there are already action figures of this version of Godzilla and I guarantee the toys are more flexible than what he see him do in the movies.

This is also probably the ugliest design I've seen for Godzilla yet.



I legit laughed when I first saw it, and was sure that it was just one of the monsters that Godzilla would later show up to fight, but nope, that's Godzilla. The King of the Monsters is a giant bug-eyed dopey mouthbreather. It's an insult to say that "Zilla" from the first American adaptation was a betrayal of the monster, when this shit passes for a first impression in an actual serious movie that isn't trying to cram in jokes. Granted this is like his "larval" form, or whatever, but he still never blinks throughout the entire movie and just giving him a shark mouth full of random spikes for teeth just looks unattractive. His mouth also splits open like Predator when he goes nuclear which is also a design decision I didn't appreciate.

Speaking of his atomic breath, I will at least credit the movie for presenting Godzilla in the most destructive version of him I've seen yet. There was a nice touch to show him initially breathing fire before it seems to funnel into a controlled laser and then sweeps it across the city wiping out several districts at once. That's pretty incredible, I liked that.

It seemed a bit convenient that air attacks were so easily thwarted by Godzilla then shooting lasers out of his back and simply shifting back and forth to perfectly eliminate literally every single missile and drone in 3 ******* waves... Then his TAIL starts shooting lasers... I mean come on. It's like you got one trick here, guys.

The movie got another laugh out of me when in Japan's last gambit to stall Godzilla long enough to administer a blood coagulant that would nullify his nuclear energy(?) they're like "send the train bombs" and INSTANTLY there's like 20 ****ing trains uppercutting into his face. It was beyond silly. And it was already silly to think that they would be able to maneuver however many of these vehicles they had to even reach Godzilla after they deliberately blow up 4 skyscrapers on top of him.

And all of that assumes they even needed to wake him up in the first place. The dude was SLEEPING, you're telling me there was no part of this entire monsters' body that you could approach and inject with coagulant other than his mouth? I don't believe that.

All of that is critiquing a relatively small part of this movie's total 2 hour runtime. The vast majority of the movie is just people debating the issue in offices, and NO, this is not anything even remotely on the level of 12 Angry Men, and that's not what I wanted in a Godzilla movie anyway.

Apparently this movie got great reviews in Japan, but I don't understand it. The twist at the end that shows people sprouting from Godzilla's tail makes no sense (I think they mentioned earlier he has a bunch of human DNA for some reason?), and there's a Japanese-American character who's supposed to be a politician planning to become the US President at some point, but she's clearly not a native English speaker despite the fact that they got native English and German speaking characters for other roles in the movie?

Ah, t'would seem they hired her for her star power, rather than her believable portrayal as an American politician.

This movie did way too much to be as boring as it was.


Final Verdict:
[Meh...]
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Godzilla vs. Kong
Kaiju / English / 2021

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
And now our feature presentation.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
I read that this movie was probably going to be the best of the reboots because, per what I read, it featured the least human drama.

I wouldn't say that that's strictly true, but the conflicts immediately facing the human characters are definitely de-emphasized this time compared to the Godzilla v. Kong throwdown.

Now I didn't watch the King Kong movies because there's not a whole lot you can do with a giant monkey that thrills or surprises. That said, both of these monsters have legendary film histories (pun unintended) and it's absolutely appropriate that they should get a Versus movie.

Something I picked up on right away was that both Godzilla and Kong are considered "hero" monsters, they're the on-again, off-again, saviors of humanity when they're not an imminent threat to it. So not only do the creators not want to bias the outcome of their fight by just having one win and the other lose, they want to give both monsters a chance to shine, so they "both win" in a sense.

This was a accomplished in Batman v. Superman by introducing Wonder Woman, and she was definitely the highlight of that movie. So I immediately wondered what tertiary threat they could introduce that would have both Godzilla and Kong team up to fight? It would have to be a pretty significant foe with a history of their own, and I guessed Mechagodzilla.

I was totally right, and I'm not even upset.

The movie pads out it's runtime by trying to prove insinuations in the previous movie that in this universe, Hollow Earth is real, and is the ultimate origin of all Kaiju. This is eventually proven to be the case and it's claimed that Kong and Godzilla's ancestors are ancient rivals... which is not quite the sort of worldbuilding I had hoped they would go for.

I did question how Kong would be able to toe the line with Godzilla given he's just an ape (and doesn't have a hyper beam), but this is rationalized by him being far more dexterous than Godzilla and inventive enough to use tools, as an ape would, recovering an axe comprised of a Godzilla scale WHICH I KNEW at some point would be used to block a hyper beam and it was. That bit was honestly way too predictable.

It would have been better if Godzilla's atomic breath actually had a cooldown and he wasn't spamming it for much of the fight. Kong does get hit by it once and it's like a Stargate character getting a blaster in the back.

There's 3 bouts, Godzilla v. Kong on the ocean, which obviously goes to Godzilla cause it's his natural habitat. Credit for the creative environment; having Kong have to jump between aircraft carriers to tussle with Godzilla.

There's Godzilla v. Kong in the city, which I feel like is probably the most protracted fight of the series so far. I appreciate that, seeing them throw each other into buildings is exactly what I showed up to see. Kong... wins? And then loses... but I guess Godzilla doesn't finish him off out of some inexplicable respect? I don't get it. It'd make more sense if they better emphasized that Godzilla just was more focused on Mechagodzilla, who was the bigger threat.



And then there's the three-way, which consists in large part of Mechagodzilla beating the absolute **** out of Godzilla with missiles and rocket punches. Multiple times he just picks up Godzilla and rams him headfirst into a building, it was pretty good. And it makes sense that Kong would get the final blow in the end by ripping Mechagodzilla's head off, although I still don't think anything will beat barfing a nuke down the MUTO's throat.

The CG in this movie is so much better than Shin Godzilla and the main lizard himself is way more flexible, aesthetically pleasing, and even emotive. But there's also way more going on in King of the Monsters, with more enemies, more surprises, and more encounters to get creative with. If the human involvement in that movie was toned down to the level of their involvement in this movie... that movie would be way more enjoyable. Especially since this movie doesn't seem to take it's human characters too seriously.

We follow the daughter of the Evil Mom character in the last movie with her geeky friend as they go to meet up with some wacko conspiracy theorist who's ultimately proven right about the Hollow Earth and his company building something malevolent (Mechagodzilla) behind closed doors.

They could have made them way more funny, I can imagine a cast of quippy characters along the lines of Guardians of the Galaxy, just playing straight and leaning on the 4th wall as they spectate the events of this movie... but the writers are so much more invested in talking up their whole Expanded Universe lore involving Hollow Earth and the psionic powers of King Gidorah's skull to telepathically operate Mechagodzilla. Did you seriously pull that with a straight face?

Overall, it was nice, probably the least objectionable one of these movies I've seen, but also missing some of the best moments of the others. The best thing I can say about it is it occasionally hits moment like where at the end of Jurassic World, the Raptor and T-Rex corner the Indominus Rex only for it to be completely bodied by the Mosasaur they foreshadowed long enough ago for you to forget about it.

That's some golden moment stuff. Not that either of these movies maintain the thrill of that climax, but I was positively reminded of it while watching Godzilla vs. Kong.


Final Verdict:
[Pretty Good]
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Saving Private Ryan
War Action / English / 1998

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
Back to war movies. I wanted to rewatch this and I realized I didn't have a review for it already.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
"FUBAR."

I didn't expect it to, but Saving Private Ryan has joined the elite few movies that have managed to get me tearing up by the end.

I was struggling for a bit to articulate what I liked about this movie, or what is "good" about this movie, I'm well aware that it is popularly considered one of the greatest, if not THE greatest war movies ever made, and I really wanted to come away with a more than shallow perspective on it.

I think this movie sticks out among most American war movies because most of them usually fall in line with a variety of subgenres:

Patriot Porn: This exists to be a *********** tribute to the state by glorifying war and the military.

Patronizing Pacifism: This exists to click the collective tongue at any form of violence at all by demonizing the state and acting as though war in and of itself can wished away with sunshine and rainbows. It's just male bravado that causes all these problems really...

War Epics: This exists just to tell a story and uses the war and the military as the backdrop and/or props to tell a greater narrative about... saving the world, or some shitty romance, or maybe the creators really want to bring some historical event to the big screen.

I don't feel like SPR falls into any of these categories. It doesn't comment on the circumstances of WW2 or the politics, it doesn't even really concern itself with the relationships between it's characters, the violence is neither glamorized or overly dramatized, it's just sort of presented as is with an intimate peak into the human element at ground level.

It really seems to be that if Saving Private Ryan is about anything, it's not about Private Ryan, it's not about Captain Miller, it's not about the battalion he leads, their successes or their failures... it's really just about trying to the makes the losses they do suffer worth something.

And I think that's communicated in the one title drop they do in the movie:

Someday we might look back on this and decide that saving Private Ryan was the one decent thing we were able to pull out of this whole godawful, shitty mess.
Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition is also a recurring acknowledgment in the movie. We're taking for granted that the situation, whoever you might like to blame for it, is a catastrophe.

It's ****ed that Nazi Germany tried to take over Europe, it's ****ed that the US drafted citizens and basically threw them to their deaths on the beaches of Normandy. It's ****ed that certain people get special treatment because of circumstances that were never in their control.

But amidst all of it and the deaths that resulted, things being as they are, what can one do to so that the horrible choices we made amount to something good at the end of the day?

It's not, by any means, a rosy picture this movie paints, and while it absolutely excels it's depiction of violence, for better or for worse, I think the real touchstone are all the little moments of human fallibility that intermingle with it all:

War crimes committed out of impulse,
tunnel vision from the senses being overwhelmed,
being seized with fear and unable to do what needs to be done,
and the high of life-or-death adrenaline coming to a crushing stop as the traumatic realization of what just happened floods you with grief.



The characters in this movie make mistakes. Deadly mistakes. But they all make sense, they're mistakes anyone could conceivably make, and in the end they should be considered in the context of not just what was lost, but also in what was preserved or achieved. It's not always worth it, but it may be all you have left.

The cast was excellent, and I do believe star-studded in retrospect. I even recognized a number of faces I didn't remember were ever in this movie like Vin Diesel.

The editing really takes the cake here as it I feel like it appropriately shifted tones and adjusted it's pace where necessary to compliment the mood of any given moment. We have moments of shellshock where background noise is repressed to telegraph the characters' tunnel vision, we even downshift the framerate to communicate moments where things are unfolding imperceptibly fast, and multiple times the viewer is grounded in an expectation only to be rugpulled with a surprise.

If there was any CG in this movie it was probably limited entirely to aircraft or matte paintings because the practical effects are top-tier and on full display. Blood is present and appears to flow realistically from wounds (as opposed to spurting everywhere like a horror movie), the sets look real, the costumes look real, the weapons look real, and no punches are pulled when it comes to showing casualties, whether we're talking about the main cast or the supporting cast.

It's already so well-known it's been parodied, but the "knife scene" is still incredibly difficult to watch. It's just an all-too-intimate view into someone slowing dying an incredibly painful death and in a way that's too easy to imagine. It's the one scene you just don't want to experience again, but you know you're signing up for it when you watch this movie.

We get solid payoffs to foreshadowing, it's engaging to watch the resourcefulness of the characters, and the entire movie, even it's moments of tension release, are just short enough to keep my attention because it all still ultimately relates to prospective deaths of these characters, the losses they've suffered, and the possible futility of their hopes that it wasn't all in vain.

There's still a lot that can be said about it, but it's doubtlessly been said before, and to a much more exhaustive degree than I ever could.

Other than my personal discomfort with the knife scene, I think only two brief moments out of the whole movie could have been done better: 1.) is Matt Damon whinging in the fetal position at the end of the movie, (that just seemed out of character and unintentionally silly) and 2.) the moment where the squad is sharing looks with Capt. Hanks because his hand is shaking even after he looks down and realizes what's causing the stares, he looks back at them and makes what was meant to be a genuinely awkward but heartfelt moment an unintentionally funny moment. That one extra exchange of looks just ruin the whole moment for me.

Overall, I can easily say I like this movie, because it's an excellently produced experience with a lot of heart... BUT it's hard for me to say that I enjoyed it to a truly exceptional degree because of how brutal and somber the experience is.

It's sort of like Durak in that sense, where I really appreciate what it was trying to do, but I can't honestly say that I "had a great time" by the end of it, since the actual content of the film is largely crafted with the purpose of bringing the audience into a horrible situation.

So I can't really call it a favorite, but it gets mad props from me.


Final Verdict:
[Pretty Good]
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Platoon
War Action / English / 1986

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
Another oft-cited war movie.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
Platoon falls doubly into the categories of being an anti-war movie, as well as a story focused on inter-character relationships.

Here we have the Vietnam War, which was already a very popular war to hate, and Platoon takes an incredibly weak and self-contradictory attempt to validate those opinions.

On one hand it wants to be an introspective thought piece on the futility of war and the oppressive ladder of power that continually jogs it into motion. But at the same time it wants to be a conventional action movie where one of the Sergeants is just evil.

And Charlie Sheen is an honestly terrible foil to his character, particularly because before the scene in which Sgt. Barnes is witnessed shooting a civilian, Sheen's character was busy shooting at and threatening to kill a half-blind one-legged man for absolutely no reason.

At first I thought I was supposed to sympathize with the fear-of-the-unknown that motivated these violent impulses, but then when that scene flows right into the the next scene and Sheen is suddenly so compassionate for the poor Vietnamese civilians... it just comes off as complete bullshit.

Unlike Saving Private Ryan, this movie attempts to characterize it's characters, but there's nothing of substance to go off of. Most of the black characters are predictably preoccupied with the fact that they're black characters, John C. McGinley is just playing Perry from Scrubs, everybody else is presented as weathered-by-war hardasses, and the only seemingly likeable character, is surprisingly Willem Dafoe, who not only plays the "good" Sergeant but is actually the guy who famously appears on the movie posters and cover. I had no idea.

But even HE has a scene in which half the cast is drugged the **** out, disconcertingly looks directly into the camera, holds the barrel of a gun to Charlie Sheen's face and invites him to smoke his pre-smoked cigarette from the end of it.

How about NO?

I understand that this is the late 60s, and people are supposed to be idiots about drugs and all, but that's a whole 'nother level of retard.

The movie concerns itself with one sergeant shooting some random lady in the head, but the "good" sergeant just about shot his own officer's head off trying to mouth-feed him drugs.

That scene, unfortunately, seriously tainted the rest of the movie for me, because it's hard to sympathize with or for characters that unfathomably stupid. Not to mention, it's a tent full of sweaty guys who haven't bathed so the body odor must be terrible, they're smoking hash so you got the smell of rotting burning garbage on top of that, AND THEN you have the privilege of the tasting the inside of Willem Dafoe's mouth.

I think I'll pass.



Gosh, I sure hate war. Would be a shame if this movie were to completely ignore the context of it. Oh, look at that, it did.

Even Saving Private Ryan featured an arc in which the choices of the soldiers influenced somebody to become an enemy combatant later, the soldiers in Platoon straight up massacre a village and the consequences of that decision are never represented by anything the Vietnamese do, it simply a plot device for us to shake our fist at the Sgt. Barnes character who seems to represent the United States military for some vague reason.

The action never really engaged me like SPR did, the messaging is weak as hell, the acting consists almost entirely of angry yelling and braggadocio. Again, I don't give a shit about any dialog whinging about "dem white honkeys" or how much this or that character desperately wants "pussy". You're just making me hate the cast.

There isn't even any effort to humanize the Vietnamese, everything shown to be awful that's done to them seems to exist for no other reason than to develop Sheen's incredibly rushed character arc. Like when Sheen and Keith David are shown to be all buddy-buddy as though they have this strong relationship, it comes out of nowhere! We've been doing timeskips to Charlie Sheen narrations and all of a sudden I'm supposed to appreciate the bond these two characters have developed with the all of NOTHING screentime they've shared together?

But, okay, it's time to spill the beans, I'm just talking about all this to distract from what is actually the most important part of the movie, and that is...



I have 100% heard Adagio for Strings before. And I immediately recognized it when Platoon opened with it.

I recognized it again when they played it the second time.

And the third time.

And the fourth time.

And the fifth time.

And the sixth time.

AND THE SEVENTH TIME!!

This stupid ****ing song is like the only ******* song in the whole movie and it's always played from the beginning, so it's not even like this is a leitmotif that the movie revisits that much more clever films will use to subtlety pair scenes... it's just A SONG that they play AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN.

And of course it's one of those overly-saccharine songs like Woe is Me that honestly carry this movie's anti-war vibes harder than the actual script does.

I realize that I'm perhaps biased because this song maybe wasn't too frequently sampled prior to Platoon, but even accepting that it is WAY too repetitive for any music track in a movie and I cannot think of another movie I've seen that has run a single song into the ground so many times as Platoon did with Adagio for Strings.

I was not impressed.


Final Verdict:
[Meh...]
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Speed
Action Thriller / English / 1994

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
One-half of two movies that together make Mad Max: Fury Road. Been meaning to revisit it.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
It's a solid action movie. Genuinely hard to complain.

Speed is noteworthy for perhaps one reason alone and that is that it is constant action all the time. Keanu Reeves and Dumb & Dumberer are LA Bomb Squad and we get a prologue mission about a bomber holding people hostage in an elevator for money. The plan is foiled, but this sets the stage for our movie: a city bus is rigged to explode with civilians aboard, where driving over 50 mph arms the bomb, driving under 50 mph detonates it. And so you have the improbable pretext for an action flik that literally won't slow down.

It is constant intensity the whole way through from Reeves getting onto the bus while it's moving, to discovering the bomb, navigating unpredictable traffic conditions, attempting to disarm the bomb, and eventually saving the people aboard, finding the guy, and putting an end to his schemes.

It's never quite as clear-cut what the solution is as a large number of answers fail due to the Big Bad's contingency plans. It never feels quite Xanatos Gambit level of forward thinking, but it gets pretty close.

Numerous little touches also help elevate this movie too, from a passenger shooting the driver believing Reeves is trying to get him, Sandra Bullock being on the bus because her license was revoked for speeding, the guts to kill Dumb and Dumberer when he's supposed to be on light duty, and even after the passengers are saved, the bus explodes, and everyone's okay, the twists don't end.



There are some bits that I don't care for:

Snooty Guy has some lines which are supposed to be funny but don't land at all, even when it's supposed to be an awkward moment it just feels like a pointless inclusion.

The line about "shoot the hostage" is foreshadowed, gets an almost immediate payoff and is never brought up again.

The big freeway jump makes no sense because something clearly pops the front of the bus into the air like they went off a ramp or something, but no ramp is shown in the preceding scenes.

We go through all this effort to save a bus full of people only to blow up an airplane, which potentially killed even more people. There are a handful of issues there: The plane is connected to a tug which means the ground crew is right there, planes don't get tugged unless there's a flight crew or maintenance on board at a minimum, so they all died... ALSO we hype up this bus's bomb by saying it can put a hole in the city, but it didn't just explode, but it ran into an AIRPLANE presumably full of fuel!

It was still a big explosion I guess, but again we're supposed to believe that these circumstances and the deaths they would have caused are necessarily better than the deaths of people who were on the bus.

I liked the cast, Sandra Bullock was likable, the "regulars" she interacted with were likable, the Police Chief was likable, the Big Bad was kinda silly, and Reeves was just playing Neo again.

Overall the movie reminds me of Die Hard with a Vengeance, except without Bruce Willis and Samuel L Jackson. I think I prefer that movie just because of the personalities they bring. There's a bit of wholesome comedy here which I appreciate it and the Overnight Romance between Reeves and Bullock, while still a movie-making sin, was done about as tastefully as could possibly be done.

Easy non-controversial popcorn movie that does more than enough things right. It's a definite example to follow when it comes to action movies, but it also doesn't aspire to be anything more than that.


Final Verdict:
[Pretty Good]
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I've tried to adjust my Top 10 in relation to their ratings and I've adjusted their ratings a bit. Some of these already have updated reviews by me.

Revised Top 10 List (2022):

1.
Ink [+2]

Additional thoughts: Some dialog seriously drops like a lead weight and it overlaps a bit with a small handful of scenes that seem to drag. That said, Ink is still a very brisk story that keeps me engaged all the way up to the gutpunch ending and consistently pokes me in both my sadness buttons every time I watch it. I really can't imagine a Top 10 list without it.
2.
The Nightmare Before Christmas [-1]

Additional thoughts: I'm not big on a lot of the character designs and they seem to add little to the movie beyond set dressing. Their unconventional priorities and grotequeries really only seem to normalize Jack's motives, and while he still remains front-and-center they are a recurring presence both in and between the songs. This is easily the most consistent movie on my Top 10, but while it's valleys are arguably the least shallow, it's peaks aren't nearly as high as others on this list.
3.
12 Angry Men [+3]

Additional thoughts: Every other movie on this list was shot in color, had a strong soundtrack to grease the emotional wheels, and didn't recuse themselves to a high-concept premise with a setting as sterile and uninviting as the American justice system of all things. But despite that, it is harder to fault this movie than any other movie on this list. I love a great debate and the battle between human fallibility and a rational conception of justice are the centerpiece of this one, as so often seems to be the case. I still entirely credit @Yoda's own debate skills for even motivating me to see this.
4.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Additional thoughts: By no means is this Tom Hardy's best performance and I still feel like this is Charlize Theron's movie. That probably contributes to the prologue feeling like the weakest (and least memorable) bit of the whole show. Still, this movie meets and exceeds every goal an action movie should strive for: It's intense, it's over-the-top, it's silly, it's quotable, it's got an awesome soundtrack, and it's a ride from beginning to end. Pure metal. Well worth the 2 hour runtime. This is a movie I judged conservatively when it was new, but it's retained it's strong impression on me.
5.
Hook [+4]

Additional thoughts: The definition of a guilty pleasure movie, Hook is almost certainly the worst reviewed movie on this list, but if the Rotten Tomatoes dichotomy is anything to go off of, I'm not alone, and as time goes on I meet more and more people that loved this movie. John Williams composes and Steven Spielberg directs two of the biggest actors of their time... and Julia Roberts I guess, who cares. It's whimsical sentimental gook like any Disney adventure comedy, but here Robert Williams gets to be kind of an ******* for once and Dustin Hoffman gets to chew scenery in a wig and mustache. You can't lose with that formula. The worst thing to come out of this movie was a single by Skrillex.
6.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory [-4]

Additional thoughts: It takes literally half the movie to even get to either Wonka or The Chocolate Factory. I can appreciate that the setup seems to go by quickly, but it leaves a good chunk of the movie significantly less memorable than the rest of it.
7.
Aliens

Additional thoughts: James Cameron's only appearance on this list, he's one of the few directors whose work I seem to consistently appreciate, at least up until he decided to make Avatar his entire career. More of an action spin on the Ridley Scott horror classic, this movie also boasts a lot to like, particularly with regards to it's theming and creative (though disgusting) approach to the Alien. That said, it really only has one memorable backing track and it also takes about half the movie to get up to speed, which hurts a bit more when it's almost 3 hours long.
8.
Greyhound [New]

Additional thoughts: Believe it or not, ever since I watched this movie recently I've rewatched it several times. I just like Tom Hanks as an actor, I think submarines are cool, the constant intensity is great, and it's somewhat validating to see that even real life admirals credit this movie for it's realism despite obvious creative liberties they took. It's just an all-around solid movie. My biggest gripe is that there isn't a physical release since it's an Apple TV exclusive. **** Apple.
9.
Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind [-4]

Additional thoughts: There's a lot I like about this movie that's difficult to elaborate on. I like the 80s-esque soundtrack that almost confabulates nostalgia, I like how it gets all psychedelic around the jungle or the insects implying their alien and toxic nature, the cel animation has clearly aged but the quality shines through, and the message is agreeable without coming off as directly preachy. However it's noticeably only a fraction of a greater narrative and the breaks it takes to worldbuild and develop it's lesser characters do hurt it's pacing when compared to movies higher up on this list.

X.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children [Removed]

Additional thoughts: This was always the most questionable inclusion to me. Were I to rate it PURELY on the Sephiroth fight at the end, it would be a top-tier favorite, no question. It is a textbook example of what I call the "hyper action" genre and with Nobuo Uematsu doing the score and Tetsuya Nomura directing, you know you're in for a treat, but this movie puts a lot of it's weight on it's pre-established universe and does not endear me to it's new characters. Sacrilege though it is, I have never been a fan of Final Fantasy VII, the original game was infuriating and the remake didn't engage me long enough to get more than a few hours in, and having never played Crisis Core I am simply not the target audience for this movie. So every scene that isn't action nerd eye candy is just boring, and that's why I find myself continually resistant to rewatch it.


10? Nothing yet.
I've decided none of the movies I currently own deserve the final slot of my Top 10 and will be rewatching some of my highest rated movies to determine which, if any, make the cut.

The movies I'm looking to see again are:

Appleseed
Casshern
Drunken Master
Edward Scissorhands
Gremlins
Inception
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV
Looker
Strange Days
The Dark Crystal
Wallace & Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures