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Non-Stop
Action Thriller / English / 2014

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
I saw the DVD cover a long time ago and added it to my To-Watch List.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
"Am I in your way?"

Basic premise is Liam Neeson is an air marshall, boards a plane, and becomes entangled in a hijack attempt set up to frame him.

At first I thought "Non-Stop" was going to be a movie in the style of Speed, but it's more of a mystery thriller. The problem with that is that while it misses the opportunity to be a high-octane constant-instensity typo action movie, it simultaneously misses the opportunity to be a whodunnit.

A handful of clues lead Neeson's character to suspect multiple people on the plane, and there are obvious attempts to subvert audience expectations by emphasizing a conspicuous token Muslim character, but past all the twists all conspiring to condemn Neeson as the apparent hijacker to all observers beyond the audience, there really aren't any solid clues to lead the audience to figure out who the real perpetrator is. It's kind of a "Psych! It was me the whole time!" twist ending that you can't see coming and could just as easily be any other possible character.

It makes the story feel a lot more shallow when the secret bad guys just end up being random characters.

Beyond that, Fridge Logic kicks in when you realize that the antagonists go out of their way to help Neeson multiple times in his pursuit of them for literally no beneficial reason. They could have simply denied being able to do or refused to do various things which enable Neeson to defeat them. It makes sense if you're trying to subvert an audience's expectations, but as a terrorist attempting to remain anonymous, it doesn't.

Further, the entire justification for a hijack attempt is flimsy as hell. The 150 million dollar ransom would have been just fine as a reason to turn hijacker, but the whole "I'm protecting my country by exposing the frailty of airline security" bit is ****ing stupid.



The Big Bad even explains how public bloodshed and martyrdom is the only way to create change and the movie repeatedly references 9/11, apparently failing to realize not even an event like that apparently managed to beef up security enough to make a difference to this movie's villains. So major nationally recognized and memorialized security incidents didn't make a difference, what makes you think killing yourself on a smaller scale will? As though the fact that you're framing an Air Marshall would make any sort of difference in the grand scheme of things.

I'd also like to point out that the movie skims through TSA security and never mentions how someone manages to get a suitcase containing cocaine and a bomb onto the airplane.

The movie also concludes in a terribly rushed resolution wherein people are still being lead off the plane on stretchers while Neeson is alone, receiving a phone call from a federal agent saying he's off the hook with no apparent confirmation that he ISN'T the hijacker in question. Dude should be cuffed, swarmed by cops, and in the middle of an interrogation by federal agents, but the most you see at the eventual crash site is a few cop cars. Neeson saves the day, gets the girl, the end.

Also also also why on earth does everyone instantly believe him when he tells his sob story about his life when everyone on the plane has been turned against him by fake news?

Also also also also why on earth does everyone instantly shut up when he promises free international air travel year-round for every passenger? What kind of idiot would believe that? That's 150 passengers given 365 days to take any flight for free. That could easily usurp the 150 million dollar ransom the hijackers were asking for.

Also also also also also "We do not negotiate with terrorists, but the 150 million dollars is in your account, Liam Neeson, who we do not believe."

Overall, it's a thoughtless action flik. Didn't irritate me, but wasn't anything remarkable either.


Final Verdict:
[Okay]

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__________________
"Well, at least your intentions behind the UTTERLY DEVASTATING FAULTS IN YOUR LOGIC are good." - Captain Steel
Movies / Anime / Ultimate Showdown / Veg*nism / Action 2015



Enemy of the State
Action Thriller / English / 1998

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
Was lent to me by a co-worker.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
It's been a while since I've done a review, and in all honesty this isn't the first movie I've seen that I've failed to stop by and review, nor is it the first movie lent to me by this co-worker that I could have reviewed. However it is the first movie in a while that's reminded me exactly why I love movies.

Nowadays people can film themselves vertically performing some detestably acted farce about cooking hacks or pranks or contacting the dead or some other nauseating **** that leaves no surprises that the political scene is as ****ed as it is nowadays and they get 48 million views worth of ad revenue to line their pockets with. Meanwhile I struggle to think of the last real movie-going experience since Inception that really erased any doubts that filmmaking is a craft worthy of appreciation. I didn't think there was any reason to doubt, but I haven't felt much motivation to check out the latest Disney cash-grab to pollute the marketing space. Oh what's that? Disney+ shows aren't getting physical releases? And Disney is more or less the final boss of copyright totalitarianism? Certainly internet pirates have their work cut out for them.

What I mean to say is that sometimes I look at my shelf full of my favorite movies and question whether they were disposable experiences, just this increasingly stale waft of cinema captured in a jar that I keep trying to inhale with diminishing returns, and I get to the point where I don't even watch them. Even today I had these movies on my desk and I was tempted to watch old Youtube videos instead.

Thankfully I watched Enemy of the State and I had... a completely serviceable experience. Unlike the disgustingly low standards of videography that permeates places like Youtube, Enemy of the State has 3 simple goals and it accomplishes them well:

1. Be a fast-paced action thriller.
2. Have the premise be a social commentary on state surveillance.
3. Give us the turn-around, have the bad guy invade and ruin everything in our protagonist's life and then when he's driven into a corner, give him a taste of his own medicine.

Right out of the gate we establish our villain as the stereotypical deep-state politician with the resources to assassinate his opposition leaving only circumstantial evidence for the libertarian conspiracy theorists.



Next we have Will Smith, playing Will Smith, being the guy in the wrong place in the wrong time, ending up with the only known evidence of one of Big Bad's hits. Queue endless Seth-Green-at-a-computer-saying-addresses-superimposed-by-fake-software.

Not just Seth Green either, but Jack Black, and even Jason Lee get in on the action. It's cool to see recognizable faces. I don't really have an issue with the acting from any of them, although the writing, while unsubtle in it's political message, is most annoying when it gives Will Smith dumb lines, like his correction about being called a "scheister". Oh man, you really showed that mobster by correcting his casual usage of the word "scheister".

I can appreciate new-future technology and fortunately most of what's shown for surveillance in the movie is at least plausible from a 90s perspective. The government's definitely not so capable that is can tap literally everything, like the movie would like you to believe, but the real bull**** moment is when they're reviewing some restaurant's external cameras and rotate the camera 90 degrees around it's subject in pre-recorded video.

That got a laugh outta me, but fortunately they backpedalled almost immediately and said that what was shown was only what the software "hypothesized" may be seen in a 3-dimensional space. Nice save.

The 3D mapping of the bag in that scene, to determine that something was slipped inside of it, is only barely plausible now considering it takes days for machine learning programs to memorize a face with far more than a few seconds of footage to build a 3D profile from.

Overall there's not much to say, while not a classic itself, it is an example of now-classic 90s action thriller sensibilities. Constant tension, a very focused plot development, easy to like smart-alleck protagonists with love-to-hate big bads bound for their karmic comeuppance. I miss it. I wanna watch more movies.


Final Verdict:
[Pretty Good]

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Mercury Rising
Action / English / 1998

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
Was lent to me by a co-worker.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
Mercury Rising is noteworthy for about one reason:

It's evidence that Bruce Willis used to have an acting career.

He's not bad in it and he can definitely emote a lot more than his grizzled post-Die Hard persona. Alec Baldwin is instantly personable too, although his villainous motivations are sterile and boring.

"I am a patriot. Do you know that this uncrackable code is protecting undercover agents in Saddam's inner circle? Lives are on the line, that's why we need to slaughter anyone and everyone even tangentially related this barely coherent autistic 9-year-old American boy who cracked a cipher in a puzzle book. It's the American way."

Queue NSA-are-the-bad-guys trope.

And that's more or less the whole movie in a nutshell. Parents of McGuffin Child die, McGuffin Child is revealed to be the target of a failed assassination, escape-from-the-hospital sequence, return-home-to-reveal-answers-to-the-mystery sequence, inadvertently trigger oops-bad-guys-expected-that sequence. It's all very predictable.

The subplot of exploiting the good intentions of the random woman Bruce Willis coerces into protecting "Simon" (which reminds me of Simon Birch and I Am Sam) is one kiss scene shy of the worst Overnight Romance I've seen a while. There wasn't a payoff to the "I'll make this up to you" line, despite being a stalker wanted by the FBI and showing up to your apartment at night wanting to enter your home. Does he ever even give her his name? I remember her giving him her name, but he doesn't reciprocate, unless I missed it.



There's really not a lot to say about this movie. The kid is hard to like. He's directed to be difficult and screamy and the "autism" is overacted well beyond anything I'd ever recognize as autism.

I know autism used to actually mean something when it wasn't DSM'd into the special snowflake spectrum it is today, but that something never, to my recollection, involved constantly staring up and to the left away from everything you're focusing on. I think they're confusing the habit of kids who easily get distracted by staring off into space and maybe mumbling to themselves, just constantly busy with a pre-existing thought, as the movie even suggests, but the acting is just this kid silently staring fixed into the upper left corner of his vision for no apparent reason and seriously slurring his speech at times. Also he will bee-line for the nearest oncoming vehicle if given the chance.

I think your kid has way worse issues than autism at that point.


Final Verdict:
[Meh...]

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The Andromeda Strain
Sci-Fi Thriller / English / 1971

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
Been meaning to watch it and it's on a lot of MoFo lists.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
Surprisingly boring.

The Andromeda Strain is one of the oldest fictional outbreak movies before zombies took off and it makes me wonder whether the term "Operation Wildfire" is inspired by anything before it because that seems to be the go-to nickname for any fictional spec intended to combat a viral infection.

I'd also like to credit this movie with the amount of thought it put into it's multi-tiered sterilization procedure, from blasting the characters with radiation, killing their outer layer of skin, burning their clothes, and even putting them on a diet before giving them robot arms to play with.

There's some interesting editing choices with respect to showing shots alongside other shots, such as when the two characters are searching the town and we're given an image of the scene they're witnessing without actually following them through the windows or doorways.



All that, however noteworthy, did little to invest me in this movie. Dr. Forehead is strangely forgetful of important concepts regarding the self-destruct sequence, Mr. Exposition is bizarrely dissonant between his adamant defense of a hypothetical bio-weapons project and otherwise cheerful and over-informative demeanor, and finally Ms. Secret Epileptic's behavior and comments are confusing up until the epilepsy reveal but even then it's such an underwhelming payoff. There's definitely not a 4th even less memorable character of the main cast I'm forgetting.

Also big shock that A NUCLEAR DEVICE WILL ONLY GIVE THE VIRUS MORE POWER!

It's like this movie is trying to go for a slow burn, but it really only occasionally manages it and even then only briefly.

The ending is less impactful than your average Stargate episode and I'm inclined to recall even WarGames, as disposable a movie as that was, did a better job of emphasizing that a worldwide crisis was averted.

Overall it was too long for too little. Watch Sunshine or something instead.


Final Verdict:
[Meh...]

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The Wolf of Wall Street
Drama / English / 2013

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
I recently dipped my toes experimentally into stocks and have been binging content about stock fraud and scammers. This movie comes up a lot and I've even seen people post memes unironically idolizing the main character who's supposed to be psycho.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
I've seen very few Martin Scorsese movies and despite those few being considered some of the greatest movies of their time, none of them have managed to impress me.

The Wolf of Wall Street is no exception.

Wolf of Wall Street may even be the worst of those movies if we're judging in terms of what it manages to do with it's runtime, cause this movie is way too long and spends what seems like 80% of it annoyingly dragging out conversations into dull irrelevant banter. The characters will be talking about a plot development and the conversation skews off into hiring midgets. And it's not even a funny conversation. Deadpan comedy is already a challenge to get right and this movie seems to think that inserting low-brow vulgarity into white collar crime is a multi-million dollar opportunity.

If you would pardon me to stoop to it's level, this AIDs-riddled whore of a movie blows it's load in the first few minutes by introducing us to Leonardo DiCaprio's first job and the stockbrokers he meets are swearing up and down more than I do (which is somewhat impressive). Suddenly he's sitting down to a very public lunch setting surrounded by people at other tables in suits and Stockbroker McConaughey is very visible just snorting cocaine.

And talking about snorting cocaine.

And recommending Leonardo DiCaprio snort cocaine.

And then he starts beating his chest like a gorilla and grumbling like he's trying to summon rain.

And nobody reacts.

And Leo's just like, "I see that I've joined the right company". And boom, just like that, we've entirely nuked a potential character arc.

Already we've established that Leo's character is a twisted ******* and we've pushed the envelope of absurdity so far that the later scenes of midgets, orgies, and rampant drug abuse just aren't surprising. In fact the movie spoils all of this right away with Leo winking and nodding to the camera.

At this point I look at the progress bar and I'm like ****, there are 3 hours of this??



It really doesn't improve past that, it's just scene after scene of swearing, taking drugs, having sex, and the whole time it struggles to seem in any way believable. This movie is about a stock fraudster getting caught and ratting on his associates, but that's just the packaging for a degenerate ****show. I would LIKE to have seen more about how close he came to getting caught, or what all the things he did that tipped authorities off, but all of that is glossed over and multiple times throughout the movie Leo is monologuing to the audience about what exactly he's doing to scam people...

...but then he cuts himself off and goes all "NAH, you're too stupid to understand all that stock mumbo jumbo. Point is I'm filthy rich."

Why would you do that? I wanted to know this stuff, I wanted this world to be grounded in reality a little bit, but no, the audience just wants to see more ****.

The entire experience was just these people ****ing around and acting like psychos until the anticlimactic ending where the morally bankrupt main character goes back to the hustle. This movie is basically Lord of War... but worse. A Leonardo DiCaprio movie did a Nicolas Cage movie worse.

I can't help but think back to Catch Me If You Can, which was another movie in which Leonardo DiCaprio plays a conman, and that movie was so much more enjoyable.

Another thing that bothered me was the music choices, so often they seemed totally inappropriate for the scene. Sure, Everlong by Foo Fighters was released around the same time as when these events took place, but are you trying to evoke the 90s rock scene with Leonardo DiCaprio on a ****ing yacht?

At least Sir Mixalot's Baby Got Back was more appropriate, but that should really tell you how seriously this movie takes itself.

I got one or two amused grunts out of this. Leo's done much better elsewhere.


Final Verdict:
[Just... Bad]

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A Quiet Place
Monster Horror / English, Sign Language / 2018

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
I don't remember, but I stumbled on a clip for Part 2 and decided to check it out.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
"Who are we if we can't protect them?"

This is another gimmick monster movie, this time with the not-so-original theme that the monsters are blind, but very good at hearing.

It seems a little bit on the nose for one of the main characters to be deaf, but I suppose it gives the cast an excuse to communicate in mostly sign language which leaves me confused about what is going on because I don't know sign language.

Right off the bat we learn that there's some sort of conflict between Deaf Girl and Office Dad where Deaf Girl's not allowed in the basement where he's working on hearing aids and she's also not allowed on trips out to catch fish (which is also a strike against the movie).

Right about when we FINALLY hear some actual dialog out of the characters' mouths during this often silent movie, Son #2 asks Office Dad directly why she couldn't leave with them and he doesn't answer the question. The movie eventually ended and I never figured out why she couldn't be in the basement either. And what tragedy of ironies it is that OF COURSE as soon as she enters the basement she figures out the monsters are weak to audio feedback.

Seems really ****in' cheap. I might reason that feedback itself is the main reason she wasn't allowed in the basement, but she straight up refuses to wear a hearing aid in the one scene they're offered to her, and we learn later that the one she was given straight up doesn't work. So Office Dad can't even test his homebrew inventions and for whatever reason she doesn't want to wear them anyway!

This movie also suffers from what I will now title:



Apocalypse Mom Syndrome

This is a disorder affecting women in apocalypse films, where it's clearly established that the environment is unsuitable for children, but the bitch gets pregnant anyway. This is proven by the movie repeatedly stating that this is over 400 days into the "apocalypse" (which is a word I feel we're abusing at this point).

This is especially obnoxious when the scenes of her youngest son getting eaten and her giving birth in a tub with monsters outside the room are among THE scenes most heavily circulated as marketing material. And then of course we get a scene where the newborn baby's cries attract the monsters too. You realize lives could have been saved if you kept your ****ing legs together?

Not like Office Dad's out of the marshes either, he's clearly got a role to play, and I'm still baffled as to why he had to die. He clearly has time to usher his kids off to hiding places, but then he just stands around in the open waiting for the monsters to come to him.

This movie wasn't AWFUL, but so many different components are done so much better in other movies. I don't know why Metropolis is so much easier to understand when the characters are flailing concepts at each other, but it is. And finally, in terms of the central gimmick of the movie... Tremors did it better.

Tremors had a third dimension to the monsters being that they're limited to movement underground and only anything immediately accessible through bare earth. It was also a fantastic excuse to show the monsters very sparingly. The sequels expanded on this too, but giving the monsters varying "lifecycle stages" similar to xenomorphs.

It's an okay movie, and credit to Office Dad for being able to act beyond just Office Jim, but I don't see a reason to watch it ever again.


EDIT: Oh and the corn silo scene was fricken's stupid. I dunno, I'm feeling generous.

Final Verdict:
[Okay]

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Tremors
Monster Horror / English / 1990

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
A Quiet Place seemed to me to be an inferior attempt to do what Tremors already succeeded at nearly 30 years previously. Does it still live up to my memory?

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
Yup.

I seemed to have reviewed Tremors 2 on here, but dunno if I ever reviewed Tremors 1 and can't be bothered to look for it so here goes:

Tremors is by no means a masterpiece, I think it would have to be a very different sort of movie if it wanted to be that, but that movie appears to be A Quiet Place, but that movie is no masterpiece.

Basically none of my problems with the previous movie are present here. About the only thing A Quiet Place managed to do was work in a narratively convenient deaf character to add a relevant new perspective to the concept of the sound-based monster movie, and that ended up about as subtle as Signs having that one character who has the bad habit of not finishing glasses of water in the movie about monsters that are weak to water.

At least in AQP's favor, it wasn't an Autistic Savant-style superpower and an actual detriment to the character in question, but nonetheless, it was to every character's advantage to be able to communicate in sign language, so it's still kinda the same ****.

Tremors dispenses with the pretentiousness of a pseudo-silent film and goes about as B-movie cheese as you can get without being a straight comedy. We follow two characters with reasonably distinct personalities; divided by age, united by job and cynicism. Just two ultra-small-town hicks tryin' to make their way and just as they become fed up and try to leave the aptly named town of "Perfection", victims suddenly start popping up and the monster is gradually revealed, trapping them in the middle of nowhere.

I said before that the series added dimensions to the monster by having it underground, but I entirely forgot that the initial reveal of the monster was a fakeout and what they thought was the killer turned out to be one of three tongues of the killer.

Resourcefulness plays an important role in this sort of movie, what would YOU reach for if the floor suddenly became lava and anything that made noise became a target for the monster?

Can't mention this movie without Redneck Man and Redneck Woman who are both just a couple generations of inbreeding shy of being too cartoony to take seriously. Fortunately the town of Perfection is populated by these two mega stereotypes: Paranoid Conspiracy Theorist Guntoting Preppers. Defacto Libertarians. Go figure, when the **** hits the fan, they just happen to be the best people to turn to. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

Anyway, they're both fun, and clearly I'm not alone, cause they got the guy to come back for multiple sequels as the main protagonist.



There are 2 characters I got slight issues with though. One is Main Lady. It never occurred to me before, but Main Lady is chronic case of the Captain Carters, meaning she exists for no reason other than to be the standalone girl geek character, rabidly espositioning her guaranteed-to-be-true theories and confusing the less-that-thoroughly-educated characters for laffs.

Kevin Bacon's character has an Overnight Romance with her and it's complete trash as you'd expect. The movie opens with him disappointed to find her, a seismology geek of average attractiveness, and it ends with him laying into her with a kiss... with zero chemistry or actual scenes of mutual interest leading up to it.

There's also Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf, which is exactly that character, and is exactly as sympathetic as that character. Why he didn't die, I have no idea, even the smallest possible character arc for him would have been better than **** all.

There's also Pogostick Girl, who I don't really have a problem with as a character, but she literally only seems to exist to wear headphones and play around on a pogostick, making her a glorious target for the monster in that one scene. After that though, she seems to virtually disappear from the movie. She's still there... I think... but she never gets any lines, any action, any camera focus, I completely forget about her as soon as she falls in with the rest of the survivors.

Overall, it's really hard to complain about much in this movie. It was creative, thoughtful, funny, and engrossing. The practical effects were great. A classic modern monster movie.

I'm inclined to think that some aspect of the presentation or soundtrack could have really sent this over the edge. Maybe if they had somehow made Perfection with very clearly defined features and partitions for the characters to work around, rather than "Oh can we run for that bulldozer off in the distance?" that would have made for more interesting setpieces.

Either way, real solid.


Final Verdict:
[Pretty Good]

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Stalker
Drama / Russian / 1979

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
I don't remember, it's been on my watchlist for forever. I just looked it up and it says it's a psychological thriller with sci-fi elements, that'll probably do it.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
2 hours of my life gone for nothing.

From the very start of the movie you can tell this movie's going to be slow and it is. The only positive thing I can say is that it has a few interesting shots... but those shots drag their ass back and forth across the screen before anything happens.

It takes a while before you can glean any concrete info from the world, but eventually we learn that Mr. "Stalker", living in a black-and-white dank industrial hellscape, abandons his wife and child to escort two others into some place called "The Zone".

The movie, being divided into two parts, doesn't even tell you why this is happening until the second part. The first hour is comprised of the three sneaking past some non-specific institutional security (graduating from the Stormtrooper School of Marksmanship) to pass a gate, jump on a minecart, and roll out of town.

The "Zone" is identified by the movie shifting to color and it's characterized as being an unoccupied forested area in the middle of nowhere that's "dangerous", so much so that the characters throw metal nuts with cloth tied through like the boots in Cube.

Stalker is called "Stalker" apparently because that identifies him as one of the sort of people that escort people into the Zone. He's SUPER panicky about the danger of the Zone, but his clients are reasonably skeptical because there is NOTHING to substantiate his claims about it.

One of them eventually gets fed up and decides to walk off on his own, but is terrified by a scary wind sound and decides to follow Stalker.

End of Part 1. That is a basic summary of 1 hour of bull****tery. The camera loves to be either too far away from the characters to distinguish them or to superglue itself to the back of the character's skulls precisely when we should be getting wide shots of the environment. The characters themselves either have nothing to say or have some navel-gazey nonsense to wax poetic about.

One dude randomly says he's morally torn between believing the world should be vegetarian and his personal craving for meat. Sure, yeah, okay, that's potentially relatable and important... nothing comes of it though.



Part 2 finally drops in some overdue backstory to say that the group are searching for "The Room", which is supposedly a place in "The Zone" capable of granting wishes. The Zone was created by a crashed meteorite, and the wish-granting rumors were enough to persuade the government to block the area off.

Stalker insists that The Zone is ever-changing, but he immediately contradicts this and contradicts this repeatedly by naming multiple locations in the Zone he's been to consistently. He describes traps and says detours are safer than direct paths, but the characters NEVER encounter ANY danger AT ALL, there's even a hallway that the movie dwells on trying to convince us and the characters that it's supposed to be scary, Stalker even hides behind one of his clients, calling out to usher the one guy he coaxed into drawing a long straw into going down it alone...

...and only after they all pass it without any issues whatsoever does he go "THAT WAS THE 'MEAT MINCER'". WOW, damn, the "Meat Mincer" was sure scary. That Hallway with literally nothing in it in which literally nothing happened was definitely terrifying.

The ****ty part is the movie isn't even edited in a way to be scary, it's just the characters insisting that what's happening is intimidating.

They even encounter a black dog, one of the only living things we see in The Zone. The image of a black dog gets so much mileage in just one of the Harry Potter movies as a dark omen or sign of imminent death, but the characters virtually don't even acknowledge it's existence.

There is zero supernatural phenomenon throughout the first 99% of the movie, that you have no reason to believe any of this crap by the time they get to The Room. And when they get there, one of the clients changes his mind and questions Stalker who has never entered The Room himself, and the other guys just whips out a ****ing BOMB. "Yeah, it's just 20 kilotons." This dude's been walking around the movie this whole time with a nuke in his pocket and the reveal is so underwhelming. Apparently he reasons that if The Room can grant wishes that eventually a bad guy will get his wish granted, and that probably explains this plague, or that war, or any number of bad things that have already happened, so he wants to blow it up.

But then over the course of a few minutes they reason that everything they've heard so far is 100% hearsay anyway, and Stalker admits he's never even seen a happy person come out of The Room, even though that's ostensibly the purpose of bringing people here, cause he wants to make people happy. "Before you enter you have to believe." Oh, yeah that's real persuasive, definitely not some self-reinforcing bull**** going on there.

SO THEY JUST LEAVE. And the movie still takes an eternity to end!

Eventually the movie ends on a shot of his daughter who supposedly lost her legs to The Zone by some arcane means, even though we see she has legs and just uses crutches, she's revealed to be using some kind if telekinesis on a couple glasses.

And that's the movie. WHY did I need to watch that?

What does her having magic powers add to the rest of the story? That what was said about The Room was true? Did they ever even mention his daughter having anything to do with The Zone besides? The Room, let alone? We never even SEE The Room beyond a painfully dragged out scene in which we watch rain come and go over the flooded floor just inside the entryway. Literally what value did that add to the story or my viewing experience?

AT LEAST there was some kind of pay off and it doesn't just leave the entire story ambiguous, but it's just a worthless payoff, unexciting and adding virtually nothing to the rest of the story.

You just dragged your ass across my face for 2 hours and then told me that you MIGHT have deigned to plant a shiny nickel on my forehead with your buttcheeks. But I'm feelin' up there and I'm not finding it!

The only possible explanation I can think of for this movie is that it's a religious analog. One-off characters near the beginning of the movie are complaining about the cultural absence of God and then our protagonists get strung along for a familiar pilgrimage to a magical site said to grace them with their heart's desire, even though there's no evidence that it's real and the character's literally say that they have to give up empiricism for what they're doing. You have BELIEVE for it to work, but if you already BELIEVE then it's already worked.

This would be a fine narrative agenda, but the movie does **** ALL to even keep that one-time dialog fresh in my mind or consistently relevant to the random bull**** these characters spout over the course of the journey.

Bottom line, this movie is boring as sin and it doesn't suddenly become enjoyable or fascinating or engrossing to watch a camera pan for 7 ******* minutes by granting that that was the central conceit of the movie. If that is the point this whole movie could have been done WAY better than it was. It could have been shorter, punchier, more meangingful, actually emotional (and not just the characters insisting on the emotions I should feel), and a 20-kiloton bomb in somebody's pocket in the third act could actually not be a complete joke of a plot device.

Very close to giving this an Irredeemably Awful rating, but for mostly boring me to death I give it...


Final Verdict:
[Just... Bad]

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Snowpiercer
Action Sci-Fi / English / 2013

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
I was aware of this movie back when I was more active here in 2015, but never saw it and nowadays I keep hearing references to it. I really enjoy a game called Frostpunk and I've noticed that fans have said they would like to see a crossover with Snowpiercer, which is about as good a recommendation as I've heard yet.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
Let's start with the positives, I think the concept is cool.

Now that that's out of the way... THIS MOVIE WAS STRAIGHT GARBAGE.

I'm really going to struggle to squeeze every criticism I have into this review because it was a constant barrage of dumb shit as I watched it.

Even from the opening credits, I'm left perplexed. They show off the various production companys' credits twice for no reason and they do some weird transition with the movie logo and I couldn't figure out what effect they were trying to accomplish.

Right away we open on the "lower class" citizens of the Snowpiercer which serves as the setting of the movie. It is The Day After Tomorrow outside, and everyone's cooped up on a train that is constantly moving for no adequately explained reason. They briefly mention that the front of the train collects water from the ice it breaks through? But how does that sustain a train? Why is that the only means by which you can collect water? How is this train even fueled? Never answered. And the more you notice the lack of beds and storage and other inessential amenities in the rest of the train the more you realize the writers just didn't give a shit.

So the lower class is heckled by Hunger Games-style villains, which is my way of saying they are too unrealistically evil and cartoony to take seriously. I will say that I appreciate the minimal creativity they took to have an organic means of punishment, whereby they grease up the arm of a misbehaving passenger, fit him with an arm size washer, and seal it outside of the train through a hole until it freezes. That's pretty plausible, I like that.

That said, it takes 30 minutes of melodramatic ******** for the "siege" to kick off where the people at the back of bus say "**** this" and decide to push on through the train to get to the mysterious conductor "Wilford". Once again, I'm momentarily re-engaged by the creativity of having the characters construct a long line of tubing and quickly wheel it through a serious of timed doors to wedge them open, I didn't how they were going to clear that 3-4 second window, and that surprised me, so again, props.

But this is where props end because after this point I am just flabbergasted at everything that happens. The pacing is CRAP. I feel like it takes 30 minutes for the movie to rev up and it only lasts a couple minutes before it smashes to a halt again for them to drag out a LONG character introduction of some Korean dude who doesn't have subtitles and only occasionally uses a translation device. This culminates at the end of the movie in a looong monologue, in Korean, complete with flashbacks, that I cannot understand at all.

Was I supposed to get anything out of that? Because I didn't.



The real question, once the lower class people at the back escape their cots and steady supply of water and "protein blocks", is what are in the cars ahead of them? How does this quasi-religious noble class live and how are they situated as compared to the engine, or the "water room", or the inevitable armory where all the security guys work?

Well the first couple cars seem to just be security checkpoints and some beds, so I guess that's where the security guards at the back sleep? Then that's, for some reason, bookended by "protein block" car where it's discovered that they're grinding up a massive supply of beetles to make the protein blocks. Where do these beetles come from? Never explained. Also **** you for asking questions.

You don't ask questions around here. This is a serious movie. How dare you rub two brain cells together and even suggest something here may be silly?

So anyway, the next car is entirely empty except that it's full of guys, all wearing eyeless balaclavas, holding axes, and trading around a single fish to wet their axes on to look threatening.

It is at this point that the movie completely jumps the shark and continues to jump the shark over and over again.

NO explanation for why they're wearing eyeless balaclavas, or can still see, OR how they have this sudden supply of fireaxes... WHO CARES they're going to stand there and menace you with a fish for a bit before they start hacking.

It is around this time that I notice that the choreography isn't good enough to communicate how the main character ever manages to get a nightstick or axe, but he does. Also the Korean dude has a daughter who's clairvoyant for literally no reason. It only comes up a couple times, it has ZERO payoff, and it needlessly introduces the only supernatural element there is into this movie.

So there's a big axefight going on, it's all in slow-motion, and that makes it all the more jarring when a hit obviously doesn't connect and the inappropriately stereotypical meat-slapping and SHING sounds effects kick in.

And you're TRYING to stay immersed in the movie, you're TRYING to ignore the fact that all of the bad guys have purposely blinded themselves with eyeless balaclavas, but that's when the main character SLIPS ON THE SINGLE ****ING FISH. The one and only fish that existed for literally no other reason than for the bad guys to pull out of their ass and bloody their axes with!

How can I NOT laugh at that!? That is so unintentionally funny! This clearly isn't meant to be a comedy but it's so ******* stupid!

Eventually they do some darkfight shit and the main character manages to get the Bitch-In-Charge as a hostage. Then it transitions to Ollivander from Harry Potter walking through and bemoaning all the dead people before cutting back to the main character who doesn't have the lady hostage anymore!

How do you just ignore where she is!? She's important!

Next they find a greenhouse car, which makes sense, then an AQUARIUM TUNNEL, yeah sure. Why the **** not. And yeah, let's have a sushi bar at the end. Let's also insult the audience by poorly explaining the concept of a closed ecosystem.

We KNOW it's a closed ecosystem, we also know the TRAIN is a closed ecosystem, but that only begs the question how you manage to have an entire SLAUGHTER CAR full of dead chickens and what looks like cow! Where did they come from, genius!? This train has been running for 17 years and they're still here?

Then of course we have the SCHOOL car, you know, for elementary school, where the teacher shows way too much gum and is way too excited to indoctrinate kids into hating poor people and worshiping the "Divine Wilford". Real subtle.

Then some dude rolls in with a wheelbarrow full of eggs.

...where the **** are we getting eggs from now, Mrs. Closed Ecosystem?

But just as you're distracted by all the bright colors, smiles, literal song and dance, they suddenly WHIP OUT UZIS FROM THE EGGS AND START BLASTING!!!


I could not make this shit up if I tried. This is the worst Easter ever.

Apparently amid this sudden gunfight the same thing happens to the crew at the back of the train, which reminds me: Why in the actual **** did half a dozen people go alone instead of which the numbers they started with? Was this ever explained?

Also, why was anyone left alive between the forward group and the back group? Why was anyone left with weapons? WHERE DID THE EGGS COME FROM???

Somehow, after the axefight, the characters separated along a linear span of train cars and inexplicably several people managed to sneak in between them with GUNS SMUGGLED IN A WHEELBARROW OF EGGS. This is complete and utter clowshoes at this point.

The kids in class magically disappear during the shootout and you never see them again. We see exactly ONE cabin that may be considered a living space after this, but that is it.

Finally we see the rich people sitting around and nothing happens.

Next is the SPA car. Which serves only as a shootout with one of the bad guys that got behind them with a gun somehow. The main thing that bothers me about this scene is they totally rip the knife scene straight from Saving Private Ryan. That's a memorable haunting death scene, and they squirt out a flippant copypaste of it here.

They pass through the Rave Car and the Drug Car. You really gotta wonder how they manage to keep peace on the train when seemingly ALL of the security is at the back of the train with a literal kid's classroom between them and the drug addicts. This "closed ecosystem" really doesn't make any ******* sense.

Now at this point basically every other notable character except the main character and Korean #1 and #2 have been shot or stabbed to death. And I am so beyond caring. NOTHING they could do could surprise me at this point.

So naturally this is when the main character confesses to the Korean guy that he's a cannibal and he thinks babies taste best.



Not even kidding, what a great main character.

What's even weirder is his backstory where he explains that he was about to eat a baby when another character stopped him, cut off his own arm with a knife and said "eat this instead". How on earth does this interaction even happen? You can just whip out a knife and lop your arm off willy-nilly, which is why I can't help but imagine the unfathomably bizarre and awkward pause between the main character goin' "Imma eat this baby", and the other guy saying "hold that thought" then standing there as he takes 20 ****ing minutes (or however long it would take) to carve through all the muscle, cartilage, and bone in his own arm, only to hand it over and say "eat this instead".

Right, yeah. That definitely happened.

Finally they make it into the engine room, Korean Guy just wants to bail the train for whatever reason, Wilford apparently toils away at a grill with no indicate that he even sleeps anywhere. They have a lazy-ass "wow, you know I intended for you to die, but you really impressed me, so why not be a bad guy like me" monologue, they spend way too long teasing the possibility that the main character would do it, but no, the cannibal is righteous man, he'd never do that.

They finally find one of the kids security took working away under the floor panels and the main character decides to rip his arm off by reaching directly into the gears to... touch him? "Timmy" is clearly intact where he is, I should think you try and remove him by the same means he entered, which evidently doesn't require sacrificing an arm.

There's a lot of people losing arms in this movie.

So after the Cannibal monologue, after the Korean monologue, after the Big Bad monologue and all that ********...

...suddenly the ravers from the previous car show up to pick a fight! WHERE THE **** WERE YOU!? We literally walked right past these ****ers and they waited nearly an entire 3rd Act to go "Eh! Let's kill those guys!"

BLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAH, Big Bad's final words are "Nice", train crashes and omigosh a polar bear there is life outside after all!

Credits.

What a ****awful movie.

You know I could easily see a movie like this done well, maybe in the style of Speed, where the lower class at the back of the train need to fight their way to the front to learn the train is only sustainable by child labor by design. Like, there could definitely be a good movie in that. This is not that. This is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory level ********.

((I wrote this before I realized there are literally Willy Wonka crossover fan theories for this movie, what the ****.))

Just some hilariously tone-deaf screenwriting, some totally underwhelming twists, and for a movie that seems most appreciated for it's setting, has completely nonsensical worldbuilding.

I had no idea this was going to be so bad. Please do not put this garbage in Frostpunk. Trains are cool, this is not.


Final Verdict:
[Irredeemably Awful]

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Ocean's Eleven
Heist Comedy / English / 2001

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
Ocean's Eleven is considered a bit of a modern classic and I have a bit of professional interest in casino security. I've seen this one before, but it's been a while.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
It's a solid movie, though definitely unconventional in my experience.

The first two thirds of the movie are setup for the heist that's supposed to go down, which sounds pretty boring, but fortunately the movie manages to be just engaging enough to drag me along.

Part of the conceit of Ocean's Eleven is that it's vague about exactly how it intends for it's characters to go about burglarizing the casino. We get what seem like substantial bits and pieces of certain characters' roles in the heist and a particular thing they're expected to do, but more often than not it turns out to be only a fraction of the masterplan and the movie introduces various twists and turns in the third act that develop the sequence of events you expect to see.

We know that Asian Guy is supposed to be smuggled into the vault in a storage container, but we don't know that he's supposed to blow the door.

We know that Matt Damon is supposed to cozy up to impersonate someone, but we don't know that he's pretending to be a "gaming commissioner" to Benedict.

We know that Simon Phoenix is supposed to blackout Las Vegas with an EMP bomb, but we don't that it's because Clooney and Pitt need to zipline down an elevator shaft full of lasers.

This results in the movie being surprising and interesting, and ultimately the biggest reveal is how exactly they intend to "walk out with the money". I do feel though that many of the steps in the process end up feeling convoluted or Xanatos Gambit-levels of convenient, and at times I really couldn't figure out why certain things had to happen. Like why did they need to smuggle a suitcase into the vault if they were already smuggling a whole guy with items separately? There are also other things that are easy to forget, but in the moment I couldn't help but question what grand purpose they really served.



Speaking of lasers, the security obstacles in this movie range from plausible to unrealistic. The dispatch center looks like it's out of a sci-fi movie, and there's really no reason to riddle an elevator shaft with lasers when a single one will do. It's just there to sense the elevator, right? If not, then why don't they have floor sensors like in the vault? There's also a moment where 2 guys are impersonating security, walk up to security, and go "oops I forgot my card". Why wouldn't security be alerted to these guys? You're going to all these other lengths to protect the casino's assets, but they can't be asked to familiarize themselves with the staff in their own department? Is turn-over that bad?

Ocean's crew also leaves evidence all over the place. Brad Pitt leaves a cell phone with his fingerprints on a random table, and security already knows that someone on a phone in that area of the casino is attempting to steal from them. Reviewing cameras and finding this guy would be a definite priority. Also the impersonators who dress up as security leave both of their waiter outfits in the elevator. That's a pretty big red flag. You walk into a customer-facing elevator and find two full employee uniforms ditched in the corner?

Romantic subplot between Ocean Clooney and Julia Roberts is weak as you'd expect. She's completely cut him out of her life after he got arrested and sent to prison, he comes crawling back saying Casino Boss Benedict is an ******* and she's not convinced. Then at the end he gets her to see video of him admitting he'd trade 160 million dollars for her and she's suddenly in love with him all over again.

Like, what? Was this not your biggest heist yet? You got sent to prison for theft before, doesn't that mean you essentially forfeited her once already for less money than that? I mean as long as we're measuring love in dollars... but whatever I guess she decided to wait for him this time, whatever.

Definitely strikes me as one of those movies that's a lot weaker once you already know what happens. The acting was competent, the occasional jokes were... jokes... Meh.

They coulda made Benedict easier to hate, but most of his role as the antagonist is just exposition.

It's a fine movie and I liked it, but it doesn't go too far for me.


Final Verdict:
[Good]

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The Messenger
War Drama / English / 2009

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
Premise is a guy joins Woody Harrelson as a "casualty notifier" who visits the homes of the family members of people who have died while in military service and informs them of their loss. Honestly seems like a great premise for a movie so it's been on my watchlist for a long time.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
"Anybody watching would say that you're a lowlife trying to take advantage of my grief and I'm a slut who's not grieving."

This movie had the bare minimum of what I expected from it, but it did not capitalize on it's premise in any way I appreciated.

Early on I missed some dialog establishing that Main Guy's girlfriend is marrying someone else and he's low-key upset about it, this is for some reason supposed to establish his headspace as he gets reassigned to become a "casuality notifier", informing the next-of-kin that their spouse or family member has died.

As expected, the movie takes the opportunity to portray a variety of situations that could plausibly develop from this scenario, which I was looking forward to, but unfortunately I was never emotionally invested in what happened.

Part of the problem here is that I'm experiencing this through the perspective of Main Guy as he develops a work relationship with Woody Harrelson, but I don't even like Main Guy or Woody Harrelson. Woody's character acts bipolar where in one scene he's the by-the-book straightedge guy who's seen too many broken hearts that he's become cold to his job. But then in the next scene he's drinking his ass off and porking a prostitute. What does this add to the movie? What does this add to his character? How does this endear me to when he puts on a straight face and delivers soul-crushing news to the next random person who's family member was killed in [insert current pointless war here].

Main Guy's even worse, he's got a case of the "Vindictive Ex", and his character is seemingly split too thin across all of 4 competing subplots, where in one he's the former soldier trying to clamp down on his grief for being inadvertently responsible for the death of a comrade, he's the ex-boyfriend to a girl who's giving him the cold shoulder and he's really broken up about it, he's the new "casuality notifier" to work with Woody and he's simultaneously learning to do the job and maintain a healthy work relationship with his pseudo-boss, AND he's the creepy stalker of one of the only person he ever "notified" and is trying to jump in her pants, true Overnight Romance style.


And that last subplot dominates a good chunk of the movie. It's SOOO hard to watch. The last third of the movie doesn't even really feature them delivering "casualty notifications" (I keep putting that it quotes because it's the dumb term they keep using) and instead just becomes really cringey, with them crashing Main Guy's ex's wedding, randomly showing up to Widow Mom's home uninvited, and getting into fights with jet skiers.

I wouldn't think a movie about telling family members their son or husband died would have this much sex, but it does and it seems incredibly tasteless.

Woody's reveal that he's never seen combat doesn't add anything to his character, Main Guy's reveal that he inadvertently killed a friendly doesn't add anything to his character, explaining how he almost killed himself doesn't add anything to his character. It's just exposition. They drink, they laugh, they scream, they cry, and I'm just bored.

Main Guy falling for one of the woman he's "notified" shouldn't have even been part of the movie, it's just a massive distraction to what could already make an engaging and emotional journey for a character experiencing other's grief by proxy. Like this is such a great concept for a movie and it feels so wasted because they tried to cram in so much stupid shit.

Like I can imagine a version of this movie without the prostitutes, without the estranged ex, without creepy stalker vibes, where this guy's just such a hardass from field duty, that he's reassigned and forced to take another look at the whole picture. Someone dies in war and they're glorified as a hero, but at home people aren't so fond of their friends and family getting chewed up and spit out by the military industrial complex.

I can see that being a real punchy story where eyes are opened on both sides, even for Woody's character, who's essentially a pencil-pusher and personally ignorant of the horrors of war, having never been "baptized" as he says.

Main Guy's eyedrops are a constant foreshadowing for a reveal that we never even needed the emphasis for, a random cop is easily persuaded out of a traffic stop which he had good reason to make, and it's such an anticlimax that he gets some vague affection from Widow Mom who's moving away at the very end.

I was hoping for a really solid movie, but I got a boring cringey mess that kept trying to get away from that golden opportunity as much as possible.


Final Verdict:
[Meh...]

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Dunkirk
War Action / English / 2017

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
It's a Christopher Nolan movie and I've been on a little bit of a war movie kick recently.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
Pretty underwhelmed.

This may actually be the most uninteresting Christopher Nolan movie I've seen. Not the worst, mind you (I think I'd give that to The Dark Knight Rises), but nothing to write home about, which seems kinda shitty cause the historical event itself sounds like it would be a solid movie concept.

The premise is it's WW2 and British (and French) soldiers have been driven to Dunkirk and they need evac. Tragically, despite England being literally within sight across the English Channel, some geniuses decided to spare their air and sea forces to protect England from the inevitable assault, which history shows didn't happen until a week after the evacuation. This resulted in hundreds and thousands of soldiers being stranded at Dunkirk at the mercy of bombers, subs, and encroaching ground troops.

If you can imagine what that would look like in a movie, you basically got Dunkirk, which sounds good, but it's just not executed very well.

Right off the bat we're introduced to a character who doesn't speak, who runs into another character who more or less doesn't speak, and they come across like they're deserters as they make repeated attempts to escape on a number of boats before their turn either by finding a guy on a stretcher they can use as an excuse to get boarding priority, or by hiding under the dock so they can stowaway on a boat as it departs. Eventually they run into a third guy who more or less doesn't speak, and at this point it's very easy to lose track of who's who and you really just stop caring about them cause it's like every boat they get on sinks, and they find another boat and it sinks, and they find another and it sinks, and... okay. Cool. This is kinda silly.

Eventually there's a """big reveal""" that one of the characters we've been following might actually be a "Jerry", a German spy, but it's revealed he's French and... I guess that's just as bad? **** everyone who's not my nationality, am I right? Haha. Haha. Ha. Weren't there supposed to be Nazis somewhere in this movie?

You never see any. They're always offscreen. Or flying some plane you can barely discern the markings on most of the time.



Perhaps the most interesting part of this movie, if any, surprisingly enough, are the dogfights. We follow the perspectives of the trio of troops at Dunkirk, a family of civilians who are recruited to evac soldiers on their private boat, and a couple fighter pilots.

I think what interests me about the dogfights is that it's old technology, it's not just fancy virtually sci-fi WOOSH PLANE GO PEW PEW BOOM!! So it's really just one guy trapped in a metal coffin suspended in the air trying to put more bullets in the other guy's coffin. Just the simple little addition of the fuel gauge breaking and forcing the pilot to scribble in his remaining fuel and time on the dash adds so much, you have so little resources available to you, you'd have to do something like that, but it's not something I really would think someone might have to do.

The civilian boat that goes to Dunkirk features the most amount of drama in the whole movie. I don't want to go over the whole thing, but the entire subplot of the soldier panicking and shoving one of the boys down into the boat so hard that it blinds him and kills him is... I dunno. What was that supposed to add to the story? Was there a purpose to that? We don't even see him fall, we just cut to him on the ground groaning and we're supposed to infer he hit his head really hard. I appreciate the little amount of worldbuilding the father adds by his practical knowledge of various little military things, but I don't feel like I got much more than that.

Probably the oddest choice was to present this story in 3 parts non-chronologically. I realize now, that given where the characters were it makes no sense for the day and night shots to shift so radically as we switch perspectives, but it seriously took me over 40 minutes to realize they were telling the story in non-chronological order, cause that's when we first see Scarecrow before and after his rescue.

At the very beginning they preface each set of characters with "One Week", "One Day", and "One Hour", obviously alluding to... what? When the Germans attack? When they... leave Dunkirk? The weird part is these timelines all eventually overlap so we're seeing time progress disproportionately fast for some characters, but not others. It's like Inception, but... why make it like Inception? Inception had a whole thing about the progression of time in dreams and you had a lot of creativity liberty to flex with that premise, but here it's just kind of unnecessary and needlessly complicates the sequence of events as they're presented in the movie.

Overall, I was just never invested in any of the characters (and they barely had any character), the environment looked bland and boring, the action was kinda meh, the Churchill speech at the end didn't feel like a satisfying capstone to what I just watched. Watching it just made me think about how much I'd rather watch Saving Private Ryan or Titanic.


Final Verdict:
[Meh...]

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Predator
Sci-Fi Action / English / 1987

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
Predator's considered a Scharzenegger classic and it's been a real long time since I've seen it. How does it compare to Commando?

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
Predator's a cool movie, but I mean that in the mildest of ways. There's something about the gratuitously cheesy one-liners of Commando and the running theme of Arnold being a one-man war machine that's just too perfect an encapsulation of what made his old school movies great. Predator doesn't really tap into that quite so well, despite the likes of "get to da choppa" and "I ain't got time to bleed" transcending space and time.

Instead there's some Aliens-esque betrayal subplot about the true intentions of Arnold's troop that ultimately endangers the whole squad, it's much more gory, it's much more serious, and silly Arnold-isms are hard to come by.

It's revealed that some terrible special effects are hiding an alien that hunts the party from the treetops. We get brief glimpses of it's true nature, it's strange technology, it's resourcefulness, and it's signature trait as a trophy-hunter. The music definitely feels more appropriate in this movie than in Commando, whose leitmotif gets old pretty quick, but ends up being more memorable.


As expected, Arnold's crew gets picked off one-by-one and you would have hoped they'd deduce some creative way of tracking the Predator, but instead it seems to take them way too long to figure out it travels the forest through the trees, even though they literally found 3 people already strung up and skinned way up in the treetops.

Suddenly this new revelation of looking up reveals the Predator's shitty active camo and bad habit of purring near their victims. The concept of Arnold getting covered in mud and making him functionally invisible to the heat-seeking Predator is very appropriate, but it's also not surprising, possibly because this concept ended up spawning a bunch of copycats who more of less lifted this same twist for their own story, like how in The Walking Dead, the survivors can hide their smell from the zombies by covering themselves in viscera.

Again, credit to the little things like presenting the Predator as unusually intelligent for his ability to detect and sidestep multiple traps set up to catch it, but overall it's a pretty predictable affair.

The Predator's appearance was obviously spoiled for me by this point and I still can't say that I like it. As Arnold says, he's one ugly mother****er.

Just kind of a bog-standard monster-of-the-week style action romp. Not bad by any means, but certainly not what I would think warrants a franchise of sequels, unlike Predator's sister series, Alien. And Alien didn't have the benefit of Mr. Olympia chewing the scenery.


Final Verdict:
[Good]
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Greyhound
War Action / English / 2020

WHY'D I WATCH IT?
I was intrigued by Tom Hank's Bridge of Spies, which I never saw, but it turns out he went and wrote a screenplay to an entirely different wartime period piece, this time as a naval captain embattled with enemy submarines. I like Tom Hanks, I'm interested in war history, let's do it.

WHAT'D I THINK? *SPOILERS*
I don't know what it is about ships and trains, but these huge, relatively slow, often claustrophic, and generally archaic forms of transportation are just very interesting settings to a tell a story. The concept of a closed eco-system developing on a moving train as in Snowpiercer definitely had potential, it's just a shame that movie sucked. In a similar vein, movies like Hunt for Red October and Greyhound are interesting because, as in Dunkirk, the characters are effectively trapped in a relatively fragile metal coffin above or beneath the waves of an ocean that doesn't care about your god, and you have what little fuel, ammunition, morale, and intel to maneuver through hostile territory before meeting Davy Jones.

I read that this movie had "little character", but was brisk with the action, and that is definitely true. About the only character we spend any meaningful time with is Captain Tom Hanks himself, playing the man who refuses to sit or eat until he sees the job safely done.

The job here being the lead military escort of a convey of supplies through submarine-infested waters without valuable air support. True to the promise, the action comes on fast, and like a ship breaking on the waves, it bops with each encounter with enemy vessels. Unlike Dunkirk, it doesn't dwell for long stretches of time, it doesn't tell an anachronistic story, or try to engage me in dog-eat-dog drama. It's just, someone calls out a contact off the starboard bow AND WE'RE ALL IN BABY, LET'S DO THIS.

Now if I have any grievance with the action, it's going to be that it ultimately amounts to a lot of Tom Hanks running back and forth from opposite sides of the bridge to look out at waves of nothing with only the hint that a sub may be there. It's still exciting, but it does get little bit tiring, especially at the beginning before the fleet of subs emerge into view. Much of the dialog is communication between the ships protecting the convoy, the sonar guy, Capn' Hanks and his immediate staff. They convey a lot of information very quickly, and if you're unfamiliar with some of the naval lingo, it's easy to lose track of where the subs are purported to be. I appreciated one character's translation of "screws" to "propellers", which helped establish that when the sonar guy said "too many screws" he meant he was getting interference from the sounds of propellers in the vicinity, which inhibited his ability to clearly articulate the sounds of hostiles from friendlies. Other elements like the exact quantity of subs they were detecting was also fuzzy because of this dialog, but a rewatch may clear that up.


I liked the increasingly overt theme of the submarines representing a "wolfpack", trailing and picking off vulnerable members of the herd over time. They really come off as an invisible predator of their own, eternally deadly, because their torpedoes are only barely visible and provide a damningly small amount of time to turn such a big target out of it's line of fire. It's surprising to me that a ship like the Greyhound would even plausibly be able to take on a sub, but maybe I'm just operating by Advance Wars logic. I'm thinking of these ships like Battleships when I should be thinking of them like Cruisers.

The sound design of this movie was strange, but I also liked it. They have a pumping action-horror soundtrack and the subs are accompanied by what I can only describe as a cross between a prolonged orchestral sting and and a whale sound. It's some awful artificial scream that further makes these ships seem like animals, and I liked the mood that they added, however distracting I imagine their inclusion would be for anyone actually experienced in naval combat.

The CG was noticeably aggressive in this movie which is a definite strike against it which I wouldn't give to Dunkirk. And that seems to me to be a particularly rough aspect to stumble over considering this is marketed as an "Apple Original Movie", a company which prides itself on the visual fidelity of it's products. The motion blur during panning ocean shots seem to be the worst offender here.

I didn't care for the religiosity of Hanks' character, but it was thankfully brief, and not to crap on Hanks by referring to his character as Hanks, I genuinely do appreciate that every movie I see him in, no matter how recognizable he is, he manages to slip into the role and come off as somebody distinct from Woody from Toy Story, or Viktor from The Terminal, or Miller from Saving Private Ryan. Even if his character isn't wholly fleshed out as in those other movies.

Perhaps the best thing I can say about Greyhound is it makes me want to read the book it's based on, cause I imagine a lot of the minutae about operating the ship and locating and combating the subs was glossed over for the purposes of the of a standard runtime.

I really did enjoy this movie and I think the only thing I wish I got more of was the specifics about operating the ship. I imagine it sort of in the vein of Treasure Island, which, for all of it's adaptations, often obfuscates the worldbuilding that was present in the book and consequently popularized the pirate genre.

I may give this a better rating on a rewatch, but for now I think it deserves a solid


Final Verdict:
[Good]
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