The Silence Breaks

Hi everyone! I know there has been radio silence for the past 5 or so months. We’ve been taking a much needed hiatus from podcasts and movie reviews. I’ve just submitted my application to Graduate School and Adam has a new baby around. So we’ve been super busy taking care of personal things during our time off. I am not at liberty to talk about when Season 2 of the podcast will drop but we’ll be making plans for that soon. 

The main reason for posting this is to announce since I’ve been slacking on movie reviews this year, I’m going to be doing them all at the end of the year. This will be mini reviews so not super structured or anything and because they decided to dump a bunch of movies at the very end of the year, I won’t be able to do a top 10 list like I normally do. That will probably have to wait until next year. Also the reviews will be exclusive for this website. I’ve been cutting out Facebook so I’m not going to be posting on there anymore. So return here during the next couple weeks and we’ll probably have some new stuff for you!

I also wanted to take some time and talk about what I plan on doing next year. I’m not going back for another semester next year as I only went back to help with my application and want to save money. So I’ll have a lot more free time to write articles and reviews. But I want to do more than just reviews. Going back to school has reminded me how much I enjoy learning and writing. So even though I’m not in school, I want to use to this space to explore the research and other learning I plan on doing next year to prepare for Graduate School (acceptance pending). So I’m going to be posting on psychology, pop culture, film and video games. Figure this isn’t a stretch for a website whose logo is literally a brain with nerd goggles. 

Happy Holidays everyone, and stay tuned for movie reviews!

Ready Player One Movie Review

ready player one movie poster

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these. There are a few reasons, one is I’m back in school and work has been busy. But since Spielberg’s newest film, Ready Player One, is a homage to all things geek culture, I figure I better do a proper review. Based on the book by Ernest Cline, this is an adventure set it the future where everyone goes to a VR world to meet, interact, shop and yes even play games. I was particularly interested in this movie since I made a movie in school based on a similar premise. Virtual worlds is a interesting subject for me, so does this hold up to my expectations? Game Start!

Likes:

  1. The most important thing that this movie needed to do was to do proper world building. This takes place in a somewhat dystopian future where the protagonist lives in the “stacks” a huge trailer park with several trailers stacked on top of each other. I must say that the world outside the oasis and inside the oasis was both very cool and fascinating.
  2. I think the fact that half of the movie contains CGI might be a turn off for people really sick of its overuse. But it works in this most since half the movie takes place in a virtual world. Besides that, the CGI is actually really well done and makes for a visual treat.
  3. There’s tons of pop-culture references in this movie, and for those of us who follow pop culture closely will have a ton a fun spotting them and also makes for some really fun moments in the movie. I’ll just say that fans of The Shining and Gundam are in for a treat.
  4. The story isn’t anything too deep but it is very satisfying. It isn’t a movie that dives deep into the philosophical implications that a virtual world entails but the characters are likable, the villains are fun to hate and a ending that is has an important message for our time.

Dislikes:

  1. There are some plot details that aren’t fully explained during the first viewing. This may be fixed upon further viewings but there were definitely moments of plot convenience. I won’t go into the details for spoilers sake but for as big and worldwide as the oasis is, everyone important just happens to live close together.
  2. If you aren’t up to date on pop culture, then you’re going to miss a lot of the inside jokes and references that give the film much of its charm.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 3/5

It is a PG-13 movie that has above-average language (including one F-bomb) and a few scenes that are suggestive (including a homage to a scene from another movie that is R rated). The violence oddly enough is the most withheld as there is no gore and only a little blood drawn in the real world. But bodies burst into gold coins in a unique substitute for blood and gore.

Overall:

This was a fun and enjoyable movie to watch. It’s a love letter to all things geek-culture, especially video games and movies. As a major geek myself, I was able to follow the homages and references that made the experience that much more fun. However, I’m unsure how older or audiences that aren’t into geek-culture would react to the film. It does have enough action to get most people excited but its like having pizza without any toppings. Your going to miss out on some of the best the film has to offer if you aren’t in the know. But if you follow us at all, I’m confident that you’ll have a blast at this movie. Just know that your non-geek SO will more than likely have a lot of questions.

Luke’s Top 10 Films of 2017 (#5-1)

Top 5 Movies of 2017

Here you go! Here is the top movies of 2017.

coco

#5 – Coco

The reason Car 3 is not on the list is because I didn’t see it. But Coco is more than enough from Pixar to please me this year. I didn’t know what to expect from this movie but did it deliver one of the most heart-touching animated films since Inside Out. The animation is beautifully done with the Day of the Dead acting as a visually and musically beautiful framework for a universally understandable story about family. If you were on the fence about it, I highly recommend checking it out.

wonder woman

#4 – Wonder Woman

No one was expecting DC to make not only a good movie, but a great one. Gal Gadot is a fantastic Wonder Woman. She was naive but not stupid. She was powerful but not at the cost of her femininity. But more than anything she was heroic. The no man’s land scene will go down as one of the best superhero scenes ever. It will also go down with the great superhero origin movies such as Batman Begins and Ironman. While GotG vol 2 gave me superhero fatigue, Wonder Woman reinvigorated the genre for me.

silence

#3 – Silence

This film went under the radar with a small release at the beginning of the year. While it was nominated for an oscar, it didn’t win. The film has been largely ignored by most people but left quite an impact on those who watched it. This film was a passion project of Martin Scorsese and took him over 20 years to get made. This film is not for everyone, as it is both long and slowly paced. Those of us who need a slow movie every once in awhile, will be treated to a thoughtful, faith provoking story that is both horrific and beautiful to watch at the same time.

logan

#2 – Logan

While Wonder Woman will go down as a great superhero origin movie, Logan went down as one of the best superhero films of all time. I cannot express in words just how impactful this movie was. Not only for myself but everyone I watched it with. It was a strongly visceral experience that commands your attention throughout. Hugh Jackman’s final performance as Wolverine could not have ended on a better note.

The first X-men film marked the beginning of the current superhero era of filmmaking. If it wasn’t for Wonder Woman, this film may have ended it for me. It set the bar really high for what a superhero movie could do. While I find it unlikely, I believe the Best Actor oscar should go to Hugh Jackman with Patrick Stewart getting Best Supporting Actor. I can say that this not only reached one of my top spots of the year, but has done so for all time top movies for me as well. And we’re only at number two.

blade runner 2049

#1 – Blade Runner 2049

I honestly thought Logan was going to be my number 1 throughout most of the year. Even after watching Blade Runner 2049 for the first time Logan was still my number 1. However the thing you need to understand about the Blade Runner series is that it’s an acquired taste. I thought Blade Runner was overhyped when I first saw it, now it’s one of my favorites. Blade Runner 2049 was a movie that never quite left my mind after I saw it. I found myself reflecting upon it over and over again.

My first viewing I was able to truly appreciate the special effects and found it to be one of the best looking films in recent memory. But there was something about the story that stuck to me and refused to let go. It was a truly paradoxical experience to have something cerebral morph into something visceral and truly meaningful when I started to understand what this movie had to say to me. I saw it a second time and I better understood why I loved this movie. I’m sorry for being vague about this but it was a really personal experience for me and there are not many movies that can do that. I don’t expect everyone to share the same feelings that I have.

But what I can say is that this movie will probably sweep the technical oscars and for good reason. The movie is extremely well made and beautiful to look at. 2017 has produced some great movies and I’m happy that I can now add 2 more films to my all time favorites list.

Luke’s Top 10 Films of 2017 (#10-6)

As promised I’ll have these up here before Facebook. #5-1 will be posted next week. Happy Holidays Everyone!

Ghost in the Shell

#10 – Ghost in the Shell

Let’s start off with the most controversial film of the list. Yes, I know this was universally hated for even daring to attempt an adaptation of the beloved Anime classic. I know about the white-washing, which I wrote an article why I think that reasoning is weak to boycott the film. But if you follow my reviews at all you knew that I actually really enjoyed this film. Yes, I’ve seen the original so I do have some comparison going on. Yet, I still enjoyed the film as one of the best looking films of the year and ended up being an above average action thriller. Is there things it did wrong? Absolutely, the heavy reliance on imagery from the anime was unnecessary, and its use of too many action movie cliches are the two major ones that I can think of. But what it lacked in philosophically loaded exposition like the original did it get in some nuance that most people chose to ignore. Amazing effect shots that were done practically (the birthing scene with the robotic skeleton was practical) was entertaining to watch. You might hate it, but it’s my list so I will put it down.

Justice League

#9 – Justice League

Another movie that people seem to hate a lot more than I feel is fair. It’s not a perfect movie by any means, the plot is predictable and has a weak antagonist. But I still saw it 3 times this year and didn’t mind one bit. Call this my “guilty pleasure” movie of the year. Not to say there were things that movie didn’t get right: the plot, while predictable, was at least well paced. The action scenes were easy to follow and exciting. But most of all, I am excited to finally see the DC heroes on screen together. I am a big DC comics fan and having the gang together was a treat for me. Well acted characters, worked well together with a chemistry that felt natural and balanced. It may not have been the Avengers buster people were hoping for but it did make me more interested in the future solo movies to come.

Dunkirk

#8 – Dunkirk

Anytime a Nolan movie comes out, you bet I’m going to be excited for it. I was also fortunate enough to watch it in IMAX, which was what I would call an “experience movie”. Made for large-format theaters, this film has some of the most immersive experiences at the movies. The soundtrack made me feel like I was in a war zone. This added to the sense of danger and suspense that loomed over the movie. Beautifully shot images were edited together in another non-linear way of telling a story that Nolan is famous for. The only reason why this film didn’t score higher was because I haven’t really given much thought to the film since watching it. Home video will lessen the impact of this film. Even a 7.1 surround home theater won’t do the film justice. Go to the theater to see this film.

Spider-man: Homecoming

#7 – Spiderman: Homecoming

Marvel Studios wasn’t a complete disappointment this year. From the movie that had a lot of doubts for it too. The original Spiderman films are considered classics (the first two at least). The last couple movies were disappointing to put it mildly. This film has reversed the trend with the best Spiderman film since Spiderman 2. Tom Holland is without a doubt the best Spiderman on screen, Michael Keaton returns to comics as a relatable yet menacing version of a B list villain and having it take place in the Marvel Universe was a nice bonus. Most of all, it was a maturation story that worked perfectly for this version of Spiderman. Also it had the best end-credit bonus scene from Marvel yet.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

#6 – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

This film ranking as low as it is, I’m sure surprises a lot of people. I’ve seen this movie called both the best Star Wars ever and the worst one since Attack of the Clones. Needless to say this film has been very divisive for fans. I find myself in the middle of it all. I liked the movie and felt it did a lot of things right but there were some really annoying story decisions that stopped it short of being a great movie. That said, it did have a bunch of surprises which was refreshing since Episode 7 was too similar to the original. Plus I have a soft spot for Luke Skywalker and seeing him again was fun. The second act was bumpy but the ending was satisfying. Overall, this movie isn’t the best film since Empire Strikes Back and it’s not as bad as Attack of the Clones.

2017 Year End Movie Recap!

Hey everyone!

I started a Facebook tradition of posting my top 10 films at the end of the year to showcase the movies I thought were interesting, fun and sometimes emotionally visceral. I also add mini-reviews for the movies that didn’t quite make the cut. I’m changing it up a bit so that you guys here on geekmindfusion.com get to read the reviews before Facebook does. The cool thing is that there will be film reviews included that I didn’t post here (because they weren’t geek related) and my thoughts may have changed over time. So this is the most up-to-date when it comes to where this year’s movies stand in my mind. So here’s the list of the movies I saw this year that didn’t make the top ten. Let’s begin (in no particular order)!

Lego Batman:

I’m sure many are surprised that this isn’t higher on my list. As much as I liked it, I honestly don’t remember that much about it, neither do I feel the need to re-watch it. I did like the humor and the bright animation style, it was a homage to all things batman. Good movie, but for me, kinda forgettable.

King Kong:

Skull Island: This is a fun movie, and is entertaining enough, but there isn’t that much to talk about. The only thing I remember from this film is the over-the-top action sequences especially when the katana is pulled out. I was laughing out loud for better or for worse. Slocky as all else, but not a bad movie either.

Beauty and the Beast:

This is another good movie that had great music and a timeless story. I did like the attempt to fill in a lot of plot holes from the animated classic, however I think the animated version is still better with a far less uncanny aesthetic for the animated characters. Still worth watching if you’re a fan of the original. Also the new song “Evermore” is totally the best addition to the film.

Power Rangers:

This is a movie I thought was going to be terrible. But it was better than expected granted probably not for the right reasons. It was Breakfast Club meets Power Rangers and the Breakfast Club part of the movie was far more interesting than the slocky third act when it went full power rangers.

Pirates of the Caribbean:

Dead men tell no tales; Aside from the first movie, which is a true classic, the rest of the series has been bogged down by convoluted plots, confusing character motivations and a “biggerer is betterer” mentality. This was one of the better films from the series but still doesn’t come close to the original.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2:

This is a movie that I have no real reason on disliking, but this film was the first time I truly started to feel “superhero fatigue.” It did a lot of things right, every character is given an arc and the jokes were funny. But the plot was fairly predictable, the ending was way too long and the movie refused to take itself seriously when it needed to. I understand a lot of people loved the movie and that’s fine, but I came out feeling “meh.”

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets:

The trailer looked great, it was based off a classic sci-fi comic and had a lot of promise. Then you get a movie that feels like a video game with a bunch of side quests. The lead character was very much miscast and the pacing was awful. There were a few clever sequences but it couldn’t make up from the rest of the mess.

War of the Planet of the Apes:

This was a movie that was good but I don’t have much to say about it. Don’t go into this movie thinking it’s going to be the awesome third act of the last movie, it was more The Great Escape than a war movie that you’d expect. Still a good movie and a good ending to the prequel trilogy of the Planet of the Apes series.

Dark Tower:

I heard a lot about the books and I was surprised that not only did they get it into one movie, but an 90 minute movie at that. You can tell that they cut a lot out though. It got me interested in the world though and may persuade some people to check out the books. Other than that, it was an okay movie with some cool action.

Thor Ragnorok:

The same feelings I had about GOTG Vol 2, reappeared again after I saw Thor Ragnorok. Not a bad movie technically, definitely made me laugh, but there was something missing. I’m still trying to piece together things in my mind as why I’ve felt the superhero fatigue over these movies when everyone else seems to love them. It may be a future article if I can actually get to it.

Murder on the Orient Express:

I have a soft spot for mystery thrillers and this was a pretty good one I must say. The cast was will acted, the pacing of the story was tight and I was second guessing myself throughout. A good movie to say the least, but not much else to say about it.

The Red Turtle:

This film isn’t for everybody as there is no dialogue and takes place of a man’s life on a island. It’s beautifully animated, and there isn’t that much else to say about it. Definitely worth a look for animation fans in general but if you want something to watch with the kids, they’ll probably be bored.

The Disaster Artist:

I had a lot of fun watching this movie. Tommy Wiseau is one of the most perplexing people alive. This gives a bit of a glimpse into the making of The Room. James Franco does a really good impersonation of Wiseau and there’s plenty of laughs. However I don’t have much to say about it, it was a fine movie but “oscar-worthy” is a bit of a stretch.

Movies 10-6 will be posted on Friday.

Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi Review (Spoiler-Free)

The Last Jedi

After a pesky nearly literal cliff hanger from Force Awakens, the continuation of the series, The Last Jedi is now upon us! The Force Awakens was a fun action packed Sci-Fi adventure that revivified the series for many fans. The movie however in JJ Abrams fashion left us with a bunch of questions. Does Rian Johnson continue the mystery box that Abrams is so fond of or are we finally going to get answers? Since this is a spoiler-free review I will not talk about those things at this time. Lets see if this movie is actually good or not.

Likes:

  1. My greatest worries for this film is that it was going to be a rehash of The Empire Strikes Back, much like what The Force Awakens did with A New Hope. While the movie does take quite a bit from Empire Strike Back (which is not a spoiler if you saw any of the trailers), it does subvert your expectations in very surprising ways. I was legitimately surprised by some of the ways the movie sets up something you’d expect to happen then have it turn out something completely different. I don’t believe there is anything on the same level as the Vader-as-Father reveal in Empire Strikes Back but there are some surprises that satisfied my desire for novelty.
  2. All the main characters have strong arcs in which many of them learn something important and grow. Poe Dameron gets a lot more screen time this go around and turned out to be a really fun yet flawed character that is also given time to grow. There are some new characters that were integrated well into the plot without making it convoluted or messy.
  3. As stated earlier there were a lot of questions that this film really needed to answer. Without spoilers I will just say that there are several questions that are answered and there are some that are not. It did leave enough questions for the next movie, but I expect that some of them may need to be answered in stand alone films or other projects.
  4. The special effects are on point, but they also find neat ways to use practical effects where they can. It was a very good looking movie with the exciting action you expect from a Star Wars movie.
  5. Porgs are not this generation’s Jar Jar. I wouldn’t even say that they’re the Ewoks. A cute creature made to market to kids but are harmless otherwise.

Dislikes:

  1. It’s hard to explain without giving away plot points. There is a part where I don’t know why a character didn’t do something. They had no reason to do what they did. Sounds vague but I’ll get hunted down if I explain in more detail.
  2. There’s a lot more comedic bits thrown into the movie. While it works in many parts, there are others that felt forced and made the scene tonally messy. A similar problem I had with Thor: Ragnorok. While I don’t think it was as severe as Thor, the humor in the original series never felt forced or change the scene’s tone in a bad way. I can’t help but feel they had a mandated jokes-to-scene ratio that Disney keeps insisting on. Even when the scene doesn’t benefit from it and may in fact alleviate tension that the scene wants to build. It would be like if Lucas forced Luke Skywalker to make quips during his fight with Vader in Empire Strikes Back. The scene doesn’t need it and it messes up with the tone of the encounter. I’m probably complaining too much about this, it really wasn’t that bad. But it’s an annoying trend I see with Disney films lately.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 2/5

There is PG-13 level of violence. I would say that there is some parts that may be a bit more graphic than the previous film. There is also some minor language. Other than that it’s rather harmless.

Overall:

Many are wondering if this is going to top Empire Strikes Back in terms of quality. In my opinion, it did not quite reach that level. Empire Strikes Back is one of my all time favorite films and is a very steep benchmark to meet. But is it better than the other two Disney Star Wars films? I would say yes actually. The film had a much more satisfying conclusion than Force Awakens and had better characters than Rogue One. There were legitimate surprises that helped the movie stand out amongst the other Star Wars films. This allowed real tension for many characters as you couldn’t tell what direction they were heading with the series. While I had some minor grips about confusing character motivation and forced humor, it was a solid movie overall. I’ll have to wait to see where is stands with the other Star Wars films.

Justice League Movie Review

Justice League

The world’s finest finally come together on the big screen, albeit it has been a really bumpy road. With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice being a critical failure, and the DCU generally under-performing (with exception of Wonder Woman). Will the previous movies bog down this one and is DC several years too late to the superhero team movie?

Likes:

Luke

  1. I’ll preface this review with the fact that I do in fact like the DC characters more than the Marvel Heroes. So it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed having the DC characters together on the big screen. I really enjoyed these versions of the characters I love. Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg  were all well acted and brought different personalities to the team. While the story may be lacking, the saving grace in this movie for me is the characters.
  2. It doesn’t have the same tone of dread that BvS did. It was a lighter tone in the same vain as Wonder Woman, which I feel is needed for this film.
  3. (Spoiler-ish) Superman does superman things and is likable.

Adam

  1. This was a fun, lighter toned film. This film didn’t take itself as seriously as Dawn of Justice did, but didn’t get as silly as some of the newer Marvel movies have. I felt that it was the perfect blend, and appreciated how they didn’t go too far either way.
  2. I really enjoyed the new members of the team: Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. They are all interesting and enjoyable to watch. They may not have been developed quite as much as I’d like but in the time they had, I felt that they did a good job.
  3. I felt like the characters were closer to how their characters have been portrayed in the past and in the comic books. Dawn of Justice showed most of the characters in very different way that I didn’t like, but in this movie I feel like we got closer to the source material.

Dislikes:

Luke

  1. The main villain, Steppenwolf, is pretty boring and generic. His motivations aren’t really made clear and it’s the same old renew-the-earth-by-destroying-it plot. The story is fairly weak and predictable. But as mentioned before, the characters sell it and the pacing is good enough that it doesn’t drag.
  2. Not enough J.K. Simmons.

Adam

  1. The storyline was a little lacking and unsurprisingly foreseeable. There was only one part that actually surprised me.
  2. Minor thing, but I don’t like how flash runs. His arm motion doesn’t look natural.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 2/5

This film is your typical superhero action movie, there’s some language at parts and the violence is on par with most PG-13 films. There are a few bits of adult humor that will go over the kids’ heads.

Overall:

Luke:

It’s hard to say if this movie will be remembered in a decade or so. The Avengers was the first of this kind of big superhero multi-franchise team up so this movie will probably be overshadowed by it. However I am very fond of the characters. I love these heroes and to see them on the big screen was a delight even though its slightly above average at best. It’s entertaining, action-packed and should please you for 2 hours. If you love the DC heroes, it’s definitely worth a watch. But if you’re feeling super hero fatigue, then this film will probably bore you.

Adam: 

I did enjoy this movie. I honestly went in with low expectations but was pleasantly surprised. This is definitely one that is worth going to see in the theater. DC is moving in the right direction and I have hope that the DC Cinematic Universe will continue to improve.

 

Blade Runner 2049 Review

In 1982, Blade Runner, the Ridley Scott film loosely based on Phillip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, was shown to the world with lackluster box office sales. It wasn’t until the VHS release of the film did it find it’s audience and become a cult classic. The film’s dark noir-like setting, tone and world building would influence a new Sci-Fi subgenre called steampunk, making way for books, movies, and video games.

Despite the rough production and poor ticket sales. Blade Runner was rereleased twice, developed a huge fanbase and now after 35 years, a sequel. But does it live up to the classic that changed Sci-Fi?

Likes:

  1. Anyone who watched the trailer should know how beautiful this film is. The movie as a whole is always interesting to watch. The production design is top notch, and truly oscar-worthy. While the original is one of the best looking films of the 80’s, I think it’s safe to say that this one holds true to the Blade Runner tradition of beautiful and haunting sets, a deep world and top notch cinematography.
  2. I don’t wish to spoil anything about the story as most of it has been kept secret. I will say that it is quite a bit easier to follow than the original. It really is the movie I think most people going into Blade Runner would be wanting. It’s smart and well-structured, which is good since it’s nearly 3 hours long. There’s a lot of plot twists, red herrings and everything else you’d want from a mystery film. But none of it comes out of the blue either. Hints peppered throughout the film give you clues. In the end everything does make sense (with the exemption of one minor detail). The story actually is better than the first film. However the original isn’t known for it’s well told story but its setting and special effects.
  3. Well done acting. I know that some of the jokes about the deadpan performance of Ryan Gosling as Officer K, but it’s rather appropriate for the film about a blade runner dealing with existential angst. Harrison Ford, while an important character doesn’t show up until past half way, but does a good job returning as Deckard. Jared Leto gives a haunting performance as Wallace as well.
  4. While we aren’t getting the great Vangelis back for the soundtrack, Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch have composed a fantastic score that is very much at home with the Vangelis synch music from the first movie. Classic musical cues are brought back at important moments. They not only honored the original movie but added the visceral flair that the scene needed.

Dislikes:

  1. This is a personal nitpick, but this film has less of the film noir mood than I loved about the original. The original movie takes place entirely at night or at least in twilight (the studio mandated ending in the theatrical cut doesn’t count). It was weird to see daytime scenes in a blade runner movie. Fortunately it’s never sunny so nothing is too beautiful. Then again, the scenes wouldn’t really work during night time either so again, I’m just trying to find fault at this point.
  2. There is a minor plot hole that I noticed. But I don’t think the movie should have stopped to fill it. The plot hole involves some semi-spoilers so I won’t go into detail.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 4/5

This movie earned its ‘R’ rating for violence, sexuality, nudity and language. So there are some ‘F’ bombs dropped. The violence does get bloody but not super gory. I think the thing that may get people is the nudity. I would say that the nudity was at least used for reasons other than a cheap sexual selling point. The nudity at least as a purpose to it.

Overall:

It’s safe to say that I really enjoyed the film. It performed it’s purpose of a sequel perfectly. This film adds to the original. It stands on its own and the world of Blade Runner has deepened and improved overall. It’s a movie I may have to watch few more times as I think it’ll improve over repeated viewings. If you’re a fan of the original Blade Runner then you must see this movie.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Review

Valerian

I don’t know how many people have heard of the Velerian and Laureline comic series before the trailer of this movie started popping up everywhere. I certainly haven’t, but if you don’t know it’s a french sci-fi comic series that was allegedly an inspiration for Star Wars and other Sci-fi franchises. The trailer looked pretty cool so I figured I’d check it out on $5 Tuesday. Is this the next Star Wars or is it going to pull a John Carter?

Likes:

  1. The production design on this movie was top notch. There was a bit of Star Wars, Star Trek, Mass Effect that was really cool but ended up having unique designs that stood out from other franchises. The world and characters were truly realized and you can tell that this was what the filmmakers was hoping to do. It was a truly visual splendor to watch.

Dislikes:

  1. While the movie looked pretty, it was boring and directionless for most of the movie. My friend fell asleep near the beginning and I didn’t feel the need to wake him until he started snoring. The set pieces were exciting by themselves, but failed to push the overall plot forward. Which only lead to me asking “When are we getting back to the plot?!” several times during the second act. It really felt more like a video game that required you to complete several side quests before advancing the main story. Works great in a video game but not in a movie. The movie really needed structure that would allow the scenes to push the plot forward. Much like BvS, this movie is nothing more than trailerbait, with cool looking scenes but we could care less because they don’t drive the movie forward.
  2. The actors weren’t too bad but the writing for these characters wasn’t thought through. Valerian is made out to be a womanizing loose cannon that is full of himself but also very effective. He then only flirts with Laureline, whom he professes to love exclusively. Goes out of character to object to disobeying orders near the end of the movie. This is one of the many examples of characters acting out of character for plot convenience.
  3. It’s full of annoying cliches that keep popping up. Was the preachy message of the noble savage from Avatar too annoying for you? It’s here in this movie too. Hated the “love conquers all” from Interstellar? There’s a bit of that here too. Hate it when difficult decisions made in the heat of battle are turned into a simple “Because I’m war-mongering imperialist pig.” There’s that too. This is all in one scene by the way.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 2/5

There’s one scene where Valerian has to make a detour in the red-light district to find a shape-shifting working girl. The dance she does is impressive on a technical and visual level, but also rather suggestive. I don’t remember any strong language and the violence is PG-13 level.

Overall:

It’s pretty apparent that I didn’t like this movie that much. It’s a real shame because there was some clever and unique set pieces in the movie. But the story and plot didn’t hold it together at all and makes it difficult for you to care about what’s going on. Had they hacked a bunch of scenes, rewritten it to make a cohesive plot and fixed the character problems this would have been a fun sci-fi adventure. But you can skip on this one, which I don’t think needs to be said since the movie bombed over opening weekend. No one saw it, so I guess this is the new John Carter.

Dunkirk Movie Review

I’m always excited to see a new Christopher Nolan film out. He’s been using his popularity to direct a wide variety of films, with the Historical War Epic being the most recent. How does his style work in the war film? Does it live up to other war epics? Let’s sink into this, shall we? (Pun totally intended)

Likes:

  1. On a technical level this is a masterpiece of film. Shot on IMAX (which I highly recommend seeing it in if you can) cameras this film is gorgeous to look at. Some might be tired of the desaturated color palette that is common in war films, but this film truly deserves it as it fits the tone of the film perfectly. There is color at other parts of the film where it is needed too. But I must stress this again, if you have a IMAX theater near you playing this movie (or even better a 70mm film screening) it is absolutely worth it.
  2. The sound design maybe a bit on the controversial side as the focus of the mixing is on the chaos of war and visual storytelling, so the dialog is sometimes difficult to hear. That said, the dialog isn’t terribly important as the character actions are what drives the plot forward, not any exposition. The booms are loud, the bullets are deadly and it was truly am immersive experience as the sound really envelops you into the Beaches of Dunkirk.
  3. This is an unusual war film in the fact of how it shows war. The early WWII films were more-or-less action films with clear heroes and a glory that surrounds the conflict of war. The post-Vietnam war films were much more brutal and cynical as it depicted the dehumanizing effects on war. I don’t really think Dunkirk really fits in any of those paradigms. Firstly, this is a war movie about a crushing defeat of the allied troops early in the war before America gets involved. So there isn’t any glory or victory awaiting the troops on Dunkirk. The only victory at this point is survival. This depiction of war is unlike any war movie I’ve seen. It’s fresh and unique to this story where the only goal for most of these characters is to not die.

Likes/Dislikes:

  1. This is more of something I anticipate that people may struggle with than any personal criticisms I have. Like most of Christopher Nolan films, the structure of this film is not at all straight forward. This is something that I love about Nolan films is his use and mastery of structure is the best in the business today. However, some people might get lost as there are three distinct but overlapping story arcs that happen. First is a group of young soldiers on the beach trying to get off the beach and back home. The second is a English citizen and his two sons taking their boat across the English channel to Dunkirk. The final is the story of two BAF pilots fighting the German planes over the channel. Just know that the story is told on emotional beats of each arc and isn’t chronological.

Dislikes:

  1. There is a scene involving a lock that I won’t spoil for you. What I will say is that there was some buildup but the conflict dies down way too quickly. Didn’t really pay off for me.

Awkward Walk-In Meter: 3/5

While the blood and gore isn’t nearly on the same level as Saving Private Ryan, this movie is really intense. Suspense is a driving force in the film and it might be much for kids to handle. There is also a couple ‘F’ bombs, but not enough to warrant an R rating.

Overall:

I really liked the film. Again, on a technical level is was a totally immersive and chaotic film that really justifies a large-format viewing like IMAX. The story is tense throughout the film and you can never predict what is going to happen. Especially since Dunkirk isn’t talked about often in WWII history (at least for Americans) as most of the stuff we discuss is the push back on and after D-day. So yeah, I guess this film is an unofficial prequel to Saving Private Ryan if you really want to look at it that way. That said, this is a worthy Nolan film, I can’t say it’s one of my favorites but good none-the-less.