Rodent's Reviews: PART DEUX!

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This is how I use the Popcorn Ratings












I use a combo of directing, writing, acting, effects, overall enjoyability, finished product to judge my rating

I also give my reviews a Rodent Stamp Of Approval:
- As it says, watch it now. NOW NOW RIGHT NOW!
- Good movie for some, but not for others
- This movie is poo. Avoid at all costs

A couple elements of my reviews, for instance the cast and crew list order, and plot synopsis, are paraphrased from Wikipedia.

Everything else in my reviews, is my own work.

Rodent's Reviews Part 1 can be found here:

Welcome... to Rodent's Reviews:

I'm a little rusty, this is my first written review in over 6 years... but...

... take a seat, boys and girls, and let's begin:


Year Of Release
Denis Villeneuve
Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve, Cale Boyter and Joe Caracciolo Jr.
Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth
Based on Frank Hervert's book
Greig Fraser
Joe Walker
Hans Zimmer
Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, Chang Chen, Charlotte Rampling
With Jason Momoa
And Javier Bardem
In the distant future, Duke Leto of House Atreides, ruler of the ocean planet Caladan, is assigned by the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV of House Corrino to replace House Harkonnen as the fiefholder of Arrakis, a harsh desert planet and the only source of "spice", a valuable psychotropic drug that imparts heightened vitality and awareness to its users. It is critical for faster-than-light interstellar travel, as it grants Spacing Guild Navigators the limited prescience needed for safe navigation. Shaddam intends to have House Harkonnen retake the planet with the secret aid of his Sardaukar troops, eradicating House Atreides, whose spreading influence he considers a threat to his power. Leto is reluctant, but sees the advantages of controlling Arrakis and forming an alliance with its native population, skilled fighters known as the Fremen.
Slow, quiet, yet somehow exciting to watch as it unfolds.

The cons of the movie, is there's one major thing when compared to "modern standards" and modern audiences.

I say modern standards, because by modern standards, Dune suffers with not having massive action set pieces and CGI explosions, enormous battles filled with Ready Player One levels of battle scenes, and no near-misses every 7 seconds.
There's also no Avengers: Endgame third act or some kind of hero-meeting that makes the audience cheer.

And this, might well be why it was relatively warmly received by a majority of younger audiences.
83% on RT (which isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination), and some non-critique audiences felt it was too slow in pace or not actionified enough.
I think the movie suffered from word-of-mouth too. Some saying it's "overly boring", meaning other potential, possible future fans, didn't go and see it.

The other thing that may have irked younger audiences is Zendaya's involvement.
The movie was seemingly heavily marketed with her face on it... yet she's in the movie for a plum-total of around 4 minutes, and has maybe 3 or 4 lines of dialogue.
I saw some reviews from younger viewers saying they went into the movie because of her, and were annoyed she's barely seen.
So bad marketing may have marred the movie's credentials a little.
It's a shame, because, well, because of the pros:
Dune is not meant to be... that.
Don't let word-of-mouth stop you seeing this movie.

Dune is also considered something akin to LOTR... unfilmable.
Yet Denis Villeneuve managed it to a major extent.

When Villeneuve was announced to direct the movie way back in around 2018 or 2019, I was hesitant but excited.

See, I love Villeneuve's work. Prisoners is one of the best movies I've ever seen with its thought provoking subject and its quiet, unassumingly tight photography and dim lighting.
Blade Runner 2049 is probably one of the strongest sequels ever made too.
So when Villeneuve was penned in as director, writer and producer, I felt within myself that if anyone could do it, he possibly could.

Now sure, there's elements of the novel left out... and some of the sheer scope of the original novel feels held back in this movie... but that's kind of the case with every novel adaption ever made.

Some things must be sacrificed, otherwise the movie would be 28 years long.

But with sense of scope being filtered back, making the movie a more interpersonal viewing, there is still the sense of actual scale there.
Everything we see in the wide-shots is vast with its horizon-wide panning shots and 30 second long aerial shots of deserts and enormous structured cities, and this makes the character driven story all the more potent.

The viewer begins to feel as if they're part of this enormous world because of the small, close-up shots of the cast, backed up with those occasional shots of outer space, enormous grandios stone-built halls, and sprawling deserts.
It gives a sense of proper scale to the actual story.
And story, is something sorely missing from those "modern standards".

This is where Dune shines amongst those modern standards.
Shines like a partical of Spice, suspended and floating alone in an empty room.
I won't get into the acting too much... but let's just say that Stellan Skarsgård literally chewing his way through his scenes is a standout performance.
Timothée Chalamet as well nails a role that I thought was out of his range. He's surprisingly good as our hero Paul Atreides.

The effects of the movie are top drawer too. Nothing in the movie feels disjointed or overly done, or done for the sake of doing it.
They use practical, green-screen, full-on CGI, camera tricks, you name it... and it all blends together seamlessly.

All in all, I think the tone and atmosphere of this movie before you see it, should be thought of as something like Villeneuve's other recent slow-burner Blade Runner 2049, or the even older style of movie making that gave us things like Jurassic Park.
Talky in places, experimental in others though nothing that will change the movie industry.

The movie also does its best to make Dune relatable and accessible to a new audience that might not be up on the lore of Herbert's world.
Most importantly though, the movie isn't choppy, but can feel like a small slog in places due to the 2 and a half hour running time.

It's a thought-out movie, that introduces us to Frank Herbert's world in what has now become seen as the old-school style of Hollywood novel-to-movie-interpretations.

83% on RT?
I gave it more props than that at 87%


Year Of Release
Denis Villeneuve
Andrew A. Kosove, Broderick Johnson, Bud Yorkin, Cynthia Sikes Yorkin
Hampton Fancher, Michael Green
Based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
by Philip K. Dick
Roger A. Deakins
Joe Walker
Benjamin Wallfisch, Hans Zimmer
Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis and Lennie James
With Dave Bautista
And Jared Leto
Replicants are bioengineered humans, designed by Tyrell corporation for use off-world. Their enhanced strength made them ideal slave labor.
After a series of violent rebellions, their manufacture became prohibited and Tyrell Corp went bankrupt.
The collapse of ecosystems in the mid 2020s led to the rise of the industrialist Niander Wallace, whose mastery of synthetic farming averted famine.
Wallace acquired the remains of Tyrell Corp and created a new line of replicants who obey.
Many older model replicants - Nexus 8s with open-ended lifespans - survived.
They are hunted down and 'retired'.
Those that hunt them still go by the name...

Blade Runner


Blade Runner is a classic, and one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time. Combining real storytelling and some of the greatest effects ever put on screen, and an absolute masterpiece by Ridley Scott, surpassing even Alien in his genius... a follow-up, especially in today's climate of overly used CGI and pretty much all big-budget movies have little to no actual soul, the word "wary" doesn't come close to my concerns.
But, (and this is a controversial opinion) Ridley Scott is inconsistent at best.
He makes either a masterpiece, or mediocre movies.

So, my second thought after my initial worry, was that not having Scott as the director or producer, or even the writer, was probably a good thing.
And, I said this in my previous review of Dune about Villeneuve, if anyone could do it, it was probably him.

2049 didn't disappoint.

But, ok, there's a couple things wrong with the movie... and the first being that it's kinda linear.
There's nothing really that will change anything in the industry in terms of the storytelling.
It's a pretty simple ABC, 123 set of circumstances that lead to the ending.

Another thing, is that it relies too often on twists.
The twist about K's identity, the twist behind the bones found in the box, the twist of who "the child" is, the twist that Deckard is still around with the question as to whether he's a replicant or not still unanswered... the twist of Luv's abilities that are different to other replicants, the twist of who Mariette actually is... etc, etc.

It feels as though the movie is trying to throw as many curveballs as possible amongst that ABC, 123 screenplay.
It makes the scenes and acts feel a little unconnected at times. Like, it goes ABC, 123, curveball... ABC, 123, curveball... ABC, 123, curveball...

A couple twists here and there are good, but almost every character having one, it gets a little off-putting.

Another thing I think marred the movie, is that Ford's return as Deckard was spoiled by the trailers and marketing.
Like with Dune, Villeneuve's marketing team needs a bit of an overhaul.

The good thing/s though... it's not complicated to follow as it chops and changes between the various twists, and I like that.
A movie with so many turns could have been impossible to make sense of, but they managed to make it simple enough to just sit and watch it all unfold as it goes along.
The other thing I like, are the small touches that throw-back to the original movie.
Small soundbites, some nostalgic photography, the fact that the movie has some genuine scope to it with some of the shots across the sprawling cityscapes and farming areas, and the junkyard that seemingly goes from horizon to horizon that's filled with scavengers and an orphanage.

The piano key was a nice touch as well, becoming a throw-away set-up and pay-off in the 3rd act.
As too is Sapper Morton's initial speech to K about miracles and the relationship between K and Joi, and I absolutely loved the way that Luv and Wallace react to each other.
The background of the movie as well is also packed with little details and touches of real-world trinkets and a sort of "lived-in artistry".
It's those little touches and overlooked details that make 2049 like the original movie that was packed with tiny details and organic, world building touches.
The atmosphere is there as well with rainy scenes, dirty streets, the weather effects adding depth to scenes, though the movie isn't quite as "smoky" as the original, which is something that always bothered me a little with the original with all the steam and smoke in every scene.

I also didn't mind that this movie is driven by a MacGuffin, in this case "the child".
K's purpose is to find it, the entire plot revolves around it, because his/her very existence could, ahem, "break the world".

The other thing I loved about the movie, is the useage of actual sets combined with CGI only when it was needed, and the touches of practical effects as well.
The CGI also doesn't disappoint either. The aesthetic is akin to the original movie (which used processing and camera trickery), with the addition of the in-universe tech being more advanced.
I think the weakest piece of CGI, is the de-aged Sean Young. I wasn't fooled I'm afraid. It looked ok, but there was something not quite right with it.

But, the only way I can think to put the whole aesthetic is that it's both fresh and new, but also recognisable as Blade Runner, at the same time.
Bravo, filmmakers.

The acting is solid too throughout.
Gosling as K is perfect.
De Armas as Joi is also stunning.

Ford returning as Deckard though is a bit hit and miss. He's not exactly playing Deckard, he's playing Harrison Ford. Kinda the same way he did with Han Solo in the Star Wars sequels.

The standout for me though, is Jared Leto as Wallace.
Damn this guy is menacing.
Full of mystery and intrigue, eccentricity, wonder, broiling anger almost at times too.
Hard to believe this is the same actor that gave us Joker and Morbius.

All in All, visually brilliant, and a story and screenplay that has a few twists and turns, but easy to follow... though again like Dune, nothing that will change the movie industry.

Nostalgic to an extent, and does new things with the in-universe lore at the same time.

Apart from too many twists, some of which are kind of throw-away, it's up there with some of the greatest sequels of all time.
It's not exactly Godfather: Part II, or say, Aliens or T2, but it's definitely up there because it did the impossible; successfully following Blade Runner.

I think the highest rating I've seen on online sites is 87%...
My rating: Just pips the 90s at 91%.

A system of cells interlinked
Great reviews!

I just rewatched Dune (for the fifth time) the other night, and it is just so damned good. I was also on the fence about Chalamet when i first heard about the casting, but man, he just nails it. I have watched the interrogation scene with the Reverend Mother about 25 times, and they both just absolutely kill it in that scene, and that is with one of the actors wearing a veil!

Fantastic film.
“Human beings are born with different capacities. If they are free, they are not equal, and if they are equal, they are not free.” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Great reviews!

I just rewatched Dune (for the fifth time) the other night, and it is just so damned good. I was also on the fence about Chalamet when i first heard about the casting, but man, he just nails it. I have watched the interrogation scene with the Reverend Mother about 25 times, and they both just absolutely kill it in that scene, and that is with one of the actors wearing a veil!

Fantastic film.
I think that might be the scene that made me reverse my thoughts on Chalamet as well.
It's one of those real acting scenes where he just has to sit there and literally pretend something's happening.

A system of cells interlinked
I think that might be the scene that made me reverse my thoughts on Chalamet as well.
It's one of those real acting scenes where he just has to sit there and literally pretend something's happening.
They just convey what is happening so well with their acting. The witch is there to put down Jessica's arrogance by killing her son to punish her insolence and audacity. Her haughty demeanor and surety is clear on her face and in the way she holds herself. There is a moment when the power just all of a sudden shifts, Paul looks up, and the mother realizes that not only is he the one, but that she and her order are totally screwed. None of this is conveyed by dialogue, but it is clear as day.

Blade Runner is a classic, and one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time. Combining real storytelling and some of the greatest effects ever put on screen, and an absolute masterpiece by Ridley Scott, surpassing even Alien in his genius...
Eh, I think it's good, but I can't quite go that far.

Eh, I think it's good, but I can't quite go that far.
I dunno, I do like Alien more than Blade Runner, but...

The technical aspects of BR far outweigh Alien.
Look at some of the wide shots of the city with the Spinners going by... they had to do something like 14 passes using motion-controlled cameras and then superimpose fire and stuff as well with more passes.
All done on celluloid.
Then there's the actual sets with smoke and rain etc, and extras involved, and the choreography of those elements.

Alien is amazing, no doubt about it. A masterpiece in horror and suspense. But Blade Runner is definitely a "better" movie overall.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Year Of Release
Jason Reitman
Ivan Reitman
Gil Kenan, Jason Reitman
Based on Ghostbusters by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis
Eric Steelberg
Dana E. Glauberman, Nathan Orloff
Rob Simonsen
Mckenna Grace, Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Logan Kim, Celeste O'Connor, Bokeem Woodbine, Annie Potts
With Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson
And Harold Ramis

In 2021, a mysterious loner is living on a farm, and has been predicting the end of the world for decades.
After his death, he leaves all of his belongings to his estranged daughter and her children, including the farm itself.
Amongst the property and belongings he left behind, are the bits and pieces of highly specialised scientific equipment, and the remnants of what used to be the Ghostbusters.
Odd movie this one.
It shouldn't work.

After the debacle of 2016 and the backlash Sony received, they returned to the Ghostbusters family, Ivan and Jason.
The backstory here is that Jason had planned but not executed a 3rd script for GB3 years before, but simply sat on the idea without developing it.
2016 happened, and the rest is basically history.

I was wary of the movie though once the cast had been announced.
Grace as Phoebe in the lead... backup from Wolfhard, Logan Kim and O'Connor... made me grind my teeth that they were maybe making some kind of Saturday morning live-action kid-flick.
Gladly though, what we've been treated to is both a kind of fan-service, and a genuine 3rd movie at the same time.

With Jason's writing and direction, and Ivan's guidance, plus the backing of a talented cast, the filmmakers have managed to create something that's fun, spooky in places, nostalgic, and also brings new things to the table.

Now, there's a couple things wrong with the movie.
The first being that fan-service I mentioned.
It doesn't exactly pander to the audience in the same way that maybe Rogue One did, or even Force Awakens and Jurassic World... but it does have all those Easter Eggs laced throughout with pieces of equipment dotted here and there, nods to GB1 with trinkets and props and the occasional line of dialogue.

The movie also, for some weird reason, seems to ignore GB2 when the characters are talking about historical events... and looking online, GB2 is still canon according to the filmmakers... so I'm not sure exactly what happened there. Maybe it was cut for timing or something.

Which brings me to the screenplay and writing, timing etc.
This movie is almost perfect.
It rolls out nicely, and doesn't lose the audience with anything too complicated, and also doesn't lose the audience by being boring or overly zany.

There's a slight wobble in timing near the middle of the movie once Phoebe gets hold of a working proton pack with her pal Podcast (Logan Kim)...
They immediately take it out for a test-run, and immediately come across as ghost... which then immediately leads into the car chase scene and the gunner seat (great nod to the 80s cartoons by the way).

It felt a bit rushed in that 7-or-so minute sequence.
I'd have liked to have seen maybe the characters having to get used to firing the neutrino wand and struggling with things before going on their first hunt.
Still though, the sequence does include them struggling during the actual chase and entrapment of a ghost, but it still felt a little forced.
There was no real comedic lead-up to the similar scene in GB1 where the main 3 basically destroy a hotel ballroom because they're essentially cowboy tradesmen.
Once that scene is over with though, the movie balances itself back out again.

What I did love about the movie, even with it forgetting about GB2, was the familiarity it had with the original two movies.
It feels like a Ghostbusters movie.

It's fun, funny, exciting, has a couple little pieces that harken back to the set-up and payoff of "turning the land, never planting anything" in a similar way that the original used "don't cross the streams" as its payoff.
It's nice to see as well, that the filmmakers actually love this IP rather than just making it for the money.

I think along with all the familiarity, the one thing I wasn't keen on, was Zuul, Vinz and Gozer again?
With Callie and Grooberson as a repeat of Barrett and Tully?
It makes it fell like a re-tread of the original plot.
Plus, and I'm laughing typing this: We had skybeams!

Gladly though this time having the backstory of kids and grandkids doing all the discovering, it works.
And that's really the gist of what I'm trying to pinpoint... they were damned if they did, and damned if they didn't.
In this case, the cons are forgotten because the pros are so good... they are all kinda cancelling each other out and the movie felt as though it was in safe, loving hands.
As for loving hands and understanding the lore... we have a stellar cast.
Logan Kim might be a little annoying sometimes, but, he's likeable.
Wolfhard and O'Connor as the secondary characters play it well too. They seem to be having fun playing off as the (almost) teenage lovers with Wolfhard desperately trying to get the attention of the girl he's taken a shine to.

Rudd and Coon as Gary Grooberson and Callie are brilliant to watch as their blossoming romance grows, before they get thrown into an apocalypse. They have probably the best chemistry in the movie.
Coon in particular has a real mom feel about her. She somehow plays both relaxed and stresses at the same time.

Mckenna Grace as Phoebe though. Wow.
12-13 year old leading lady, in an 80s style nostalgic Ghostbusters movie?
I absolutely love her in this film, she's the soul of this movie and carries a lot of the weird dialogue really well. Kid's got a future ahead of her.

The rest of the Ghostbusting team are more a lengthened cameo.
I won't spoil it, but it was fun to see them again, even if it was short lived... and Aykroyd rattling out his 30-second-long speech to Gozer is great to see.
Aykroyd loves long complicated lists

Now, the bit I've been putting off writing about.
Harold Ramis' Egon Spengler.
I was intrigued... then I cried, and then I laughed.
And then I cried again.
It's a lovely homage they did throughout the entire movie, and the beautiful goodbye to Harold as well in the 3rd act.
For that, it's a bravo, and standing ovation from me.

All in All, tons of fun.
Tons of nostalgia.
Also finds its own feet in the storytelling with the grandkid side of things.
Not as whacky and zany or repetitive as GB2, and not as adult oriented or fresh as GB1... it manages to find a middle ground, brings new things to the table, and still feels like a Ghostbusters movie.
A worthy reboot.

My rating: 86%