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!
As promised I’ll have these up here before Facebook. #5-1 will be posted next week. Happy Holidays Everyone!
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
Unlike the title of the fifth pirates movie, seemingly dead franchises still have tales to tell. It’s been 6 years since the last pirates movie and 10 years since the ending of the Will Turner trilogy. Dead Men Tell No Tales takes place 19-20 years after At World’s End. So was the brief hiatus what the series needed to turn out a sequel that wasn’t lackluster? Does it stack up with the first pirates movie (the only good one)? Let’s find out, eh shavvy?
- The story is not a standalone Jack Sparrow adventure like the previous movie, but actually continues off the original trilogy where Will Turner is the captain of the flying dutchman, still cursed to ferry the dead at sea (an ending that I absolutely hated). The story continues with his son, Henry Turner, seeking the Trident of Poseidon, that has the power to break his father’s curse. I love that the film is basically seeking to fix the ending that I hated so much.
- The new villain played by the brilliant Javier Bardem, is truly a foe worthy of his infamy among pirates. The problem that many of the previous pirate movies had (except the first one) was the insistent of adding antagonists to the point where it’s hard to keep track of everyone’s motivations. This movie starts off as having a secondary antagonist but half way through the movie is taken out of the picture. I was relieved to say at least the plot wasn’t a muddy mess that the previous movies were. By the end of the movie, it was very clear who the protagonists and the antagonists were.
- The action scenes were dynamic and unique. Some were really outlandish but I had to remind myself that this was a movie about ghost pirates seeking a mythical trident. If you loved the silly action set pieces from the previous movies, then you’ll be right at home with this one.
- Captain Hector Barbossa was magnificently played by Geoffrey Rush. The amount of acting that he could do with just his facial expressions and how much he could convey was simply amazing. He went through the whole range of emotions and I love the arc that he has made through the series. Any time that he is on screen is great.
- The effects for this movie were top notch. The way Captain Salazar and his crew looked and what they were able to do was just amazing. The overall look of the movie was beautiful.
- While the new characters aren’t as boring as the previous movie, the next generation probably won’t have the lasting effect as the original characters. Carina, the new female lead was pretty good as the scientist astronomer which is different for the series. Henry Turner was just a less interesting Will Turner though. Jack Sparrow is beginning to lack his charm. They set up Jack to be a washed up has-been who is a dying breed of pirate which would have been interesting had they not promptly dropped it once the adventure started and he went about doing his usual thing. They really need to find a new angle for him, or maybe give him an arc for once, like the first movie.
- I don’t like the implications that the post credits scene made. The ending of this movie was quite satisfying and they’re trying to muddy it up with sequel bait.
- I was very disappointed with Jack in this film. In all of the other films he is almost always in control of the situation and if something doesn’t quite go his way he has back up plans. In this film he very rarely seemed to have a plan and when the plans he did have went wrong he didn’t have backup plans. I agree with Luke, he lost some of his charm and also some of his wit.
- The post credit scene was completely sequel bait and, I feel, didn’t make any sense based on how the movie ended. They are making and exception to the films resolution just for the sake of a sequel.
Awkward Walk-in Meter: 2/5
There is some suggestive humor in it that will likely go over the kid’s heads. Pirates drinking rum is a mainstay of the series. Some parts might be too scary for the little ones. It’s your typical PG-13 movie.
It’s safe to say that this movie is the second best pirates movie to date. Not hard to do as the last three were pretty lackluster. There are a lot of things this movie does right that the previous movies failed to do but it still doesn’t live up to the charm of the original pirates movie. If you were disappointed in the ending of At World’s End, you will want to see this movie as it delivers a much more satisfying conclusion for all your favorite characters from the first pirate films. So while this movie wasn’t great like the first movie, it was at the very least good.
Dead Men Tell No Tales was a good attempt to return to what the was so good about the first film. It didn’t quite make it there but there was still a lot of good in it. There was several touching moments that were lacking from many of the other films and several character arc were excellent. The ending of the movie was extremely satisfying and clean. If you are a fan of Curse of the Black Pearl then go see this one in theaters.
March is a heavy month for movies, so expect reviews weekly. It’ll die down in April as there isn’t much in the way of movies. So while we tend to focus on geeky movies on this site, it is very appropriate to have King Kong here. The original King Kong was a hallmark film that inspired countless filmmakers including Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg. You have Kong to thank for the movies such as Lord of the Rings and Jurassic Park. So how does this film hold up?
- If you want a movie to turn the brain off to and let it entertain you, this movie will fit the bill. It’s a popcorn movie that will keep you entertained and excited for 2 hours. The action is exciting and at times, gloriously over-the-top. I was laughing during many off the action scenes just because of the utter shock of what I was watching. If you don’t take the movie seriously you’ll find yourself having fun.
- Samuel L. Jackson ironically was one of the most nuanced and deep characters in the movie (not hard in this movie but we’ll get to that in a moment). Playing a war hero from Vietnam who’s so devoted to military life works well for him. There were some interesting pieces of dialogue that were kinda easy to miss but where his motivation was revealed. I understood why he was doing what he was doing.
- The CG was good in this film, where if you like to see spectacle you will get it. I don’t think the art direction was on par with Jackson’s King Kong, but it was still very gorgeous to watch on IMAX 3D.
- Movie is at a comfortable 2 hour length, not 3 hours like the Jackson version.
- Japanese Katana because why not?
- I agree with Luke in that it is a great popcorn movie to just relax and enjoy. It can make you feel compassion for several of the characters but it doesn’t send you into a rage or sob fest.
- I like the way they conveyed that Kong wasn’t just a wild mindless beast but had intelligence and feelings. He wasn’t as flushed out Peter Jackson’s King Kong but they did at least begin to show that he was a bit of a character instead of an unfeeling force of nature.
- Tom Hiddleston was fun to watch. This role is a bit different than his role as Loki from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it was enjoyable to see some of his diversity. His character was not as flushed out as I would have like but overall was good in this movie.
- Again going to have to agree with Luke. Japanese Katana. It had some amazing scenes.
- As it is with all popcorn movies, this movie excels at what it’s made to do but leaves some shortcomings in some story elements. The biggest one being the characters. All but two don’t feel like characters but rather stereotypes made to serve as plot elements. No one is really the driving force for the plot, but rather vice versa, where the plot is dictating what the characters do. There’s only really two characters that I liked, first was Samuel L Jackson who I mentioned in my likes and John Reilly’s character. Who I’ll talk about in detail later.
- There was a lot of exposition made in the movie that was clearly made for a future movie in mind. Because few of it really paid off in the movie we were actually seeing. I try to keep this reviews spoiler-free so I won’t mention any specific things.
- Kong didn’t feel like a character as much as Jackson portrays in his film. Granted this movie is considerably shorter, there aren’t many scenes that Kong can come off as more than a force of nature. There were scenes where they tried but still feels a bit flat.
- This one might need explaining. So the current climate of film economics has moved to an international market. By this I mean China is now one of the biggest consumers of films in the world. Hollywood being a business, wants in on the Chinese market. China has strict guidelines and limitations toward its imports including movies. To get around this, Hollywood co-produces with Chinese Film Production companies. On top of this, they add Chinese characters (who are big Chinese stars) to appeal to the Chinese market. This isn’t a big deal but it isn’t handled well in this film. The obligated Chinese character in this film does nothing. It doesn’t make sense for her to be in this movie other than to be one of the scientists (which you could easily combine two of them and nothing would change). If you have to put her in, at least make her do something! I’d be interested to know if she plays a much bigger role in an edited version of the film played in China.
- There were a few character arcs that were not my favorite. Like Luke mentioned, Samuel L. Jackson’s acting was great and he was one of the best developed characters, however I didn’t care for where he ended up at the end of the movie. John Goodman’s character was another one of those arcs that easily could have been so much better.
- I like to take my kids to as my movies with me as I can but from a father’s perspective this movie is not one I would take my kids to. There are a lot of jump scare and enough frightening images that I wouldn’t feel comfortable bringing my kids who are both under 8 to this movie.
Like and Dislike:
- John Reilly is really the only one that shows much emotion or has a sympathetic reasoning behind his actions. I like this character but he is absent for nearly a third of the movie. Telling his story about living on the island for over 20 years would have made a more interesting movie than the one we saw.
- I second that.
Awkward Walk-In Meter: 1/5
Near the beginning there’s a short scene inside a brothel/bar but nothing is explicatively shown. The rest is harmless enough, it’s your typical action violence from a PG-13 rating. Oh and there’s one F-Bomb, and it’s oddly not from Samuel L. Jackson.
On top of what Luke mentioned I’d say the violence is a little more than say your average Marvel movie. The violence is mainly creature violence and because of that there was more blood and some visible lose of limb and one impaling.
It’s no surprise that this is a typical action blockbuster. No one is going into this movie to watch a character-driven drama (go watch Logan if you want that). So if you want a popcorn movie, then that is what you will get, it is an entertaining 2 hour adventure. Granted there have been blockbusters that are not only fun but have good characters too. So it is a bit disappointing for Hollywood to easily abandon character and plot for action and spectacle when you can have both. One such movie was actually Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Which by the way is superior in every way, except for the length. It isn’t a bad-bad movie though, but I guess a good-bad movie, where if you don’t take it seriously, you will have fun.
Like we have mentioned above it is a great popcorn movie and is a lot of fun to watch. The plot isn’t complex and the characters aren’t super deep but it is still an enjoyable watch and a great escape from everyday life. There is an extra little scene after the credits that goes into something not too well developed in the movie so it worth staying for.