Watched any good movies recently?

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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Oct 20, 2019 7:35 am

Watched action-Horror Mandy. Premise: In the Shadow Mountains in year 1983, lumberjack Red (Nicholas Cage) leaves with his beloved Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) but their happy love is somewhat interrupted when Children of the New Dawn cult arrives and their leader Jeremiah (Linus Roache) spots Mandy. It is a Cage movie, I think you can guess what happens next.

Lost this post so this review may not be as good as when first written

Starts badly, the lead couple don't have chemistry and though the line aren't great neither of them deliver them in a convincing way, the surreal visual effects director Panos Cosmatos and cameraman Benjamin Loeb go for just feel weird at this point, pace is slow and drifting. I don't find myself caring for the main couple but when the cult arrives it starts to pick up, Roache suitably petulant and charismatic enough in the role, the chemistry there works better, performances better, the cult dynamics seem intresting.

The event to get Red going into action is well done, the build up is tense, the scene itself is effective, the visual effects like the use of colour work better for the darker, horror moments. The film picks up for awhile, Red has one or two figures to bounce off, some of the action at least feels a bit different if pushing towards gruesome and one looked forward to seeing more of the cult.

However the film concentrates on a gang before the cult and that slows the film down, yes some well done action but the gang isn't intresting, the plot gets somewhat muddled, Red makes some bizarre decisions that leave questions about if he is an idiot. The film runs out of steam quite quickly during the gang section and though it picks up a little near the end, the performers involved like Olwen Fouéré are having to cover up for a lack of build up, they do that well but it is a fleeting moment in what had been a boring film for me. I can see what they tried with the ending but left me cold.

5.0

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse started slowly for me, the attempt to use animation for a few jokes and nods was nice enough but the early action didn't click, Peter Parker's (Chris Pine) quips didn't land and as a whole it wasn't quite gelling. When Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) was alone or doing Spiderman things, the film didn't land, it flickered into life when with family or at school when he had figures to bounce off.

When the multiverse thing comes in, that takes Miles more away from the things that work and it takes awhile to click, one or two good jokes but it is only when a certain spider comes in
Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld)
comes in that it really clicks, helped also that the villains begin to make an impact. The jokes click with more people around and more dynamics to play with, there are nice nods, relationships grow, it adds freshness to tale of a spiderman (also helped by not being about Peter Parker) learning the skills and the heart required.

I found the more and more the film got went along, the more and more I got into it. The sweetness, the humour (including the character intro's), the style, the sadness and the pain when the time was right. The final boss battle went well, good action, suitably imposing baddie, kept within the themes, using it's multitude of characters and humour to very it up and present pace problems. The voice cast like Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, John Mulaney, Kathryn Hahn and Liev Schreiber did a very good job to ensure, particularly those with lesser written characters, to add depth to add something to their characters

I would say with a large cast of characters, it had a clear team A and team B (and one suspects partly for humour) but B had their own moments of triumph, humour and pain even if underdone. The villains relied on the art, the sense of power in the fight and the voice cast making them hit, the writers were effective in building them up but the two main villains were underwritten overall.

7.5
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Zyzyfer » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:25 pm

No long reviews. But I had a couple of forays to the cinema recently, and saw The Joker and Doctor Sleep.

The Joker - Mostly good, Joaquain Phoenix superb, but maybe just a tad overhyped. A few iconic scenes and I haven't forgotten the film entirely about a month later, but it didn't speak to me like some reviews would suggest.

Verdict: Worth checking out purely for the fact that Phoenix will make you squirm (or be super relatable).

Doctor Sleep - Full disclosure, never sat down and watched The Shining, although I am familiar with many of the iconic scenes. Takes a while to build up. Great and creepy villains. Excellent camerawork, I thought, and haunting music and sound effects. But on the flipside, the characters seem to have a much firmer grasp on their capabilities than we do as viewers, and towards the end, when everyone seems to be doing cross-country chases that consist entirely of one side's conversation in a car, it detracts too much from what is about to happen and pulls me out of the film at last. It feels like they wanted to make some bold breakaways from traditional movie/horror/thriller fare in places, but it didn't always work.

Verdict: Worth a viewing if you're into the genre or The Shining, or if you need more reason to love Rebecca Ferguson, otherwise it's probably skippable.
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Nov 15, 2019 10:54 am

Looking forward to both of those films (though I got the impression one or two of those praising Joker loved it for not being a superhero figure and could make comparisons with some old movies)

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Watched animated film Batman Ninja. Premise: Gorilla Grood's (Fred Tatasciore) gathers the villains of Gotham to unveil his latest plan, his machine explodes as Batman (Roger Craig Smith) and allies intervene. Batman wakes up to find himself in Ancient Japan with the Joker (Tony Hale) in a position of power. Can he return back to his own time?

Has an animation/drawn style that took me a bit of time to get used to, lips didn't seem to synch (I wonder if I might have been better watching in Japanese), some lovely twists on the traditional costumes to suit the era or at least the perceptions of the era. Voice-work felt like a few grew into it, Tatasciore did the best work but Hale was erratic as the Joker with some deliveries very high pitched. One or two nods to being out of time but the film found a way to use modern weaponry and machines which was disappointing, was better when characters had to adjust.

As an adventure it was alright, most of the villains beyond Grood and Joker were underdone, it varied up the action even if not always in ways I liked , batman was a decent central figure but only Catwoman (Grey DeLisle) stood out from the heroes. I'm not sure the Gotham and Japan elements meshed as well as it might have done but I was also quite tired so may be an element of that.

5.5

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Watched Gravity , heard a lot of good things and had always meant to watch it, in end I liked it but wasn't quite sucked in. Good visuals and some well done tense moments that are carefully spaced out, Clooney gives a very charismatic performance while Bullock grew more and more into it as character got better fleshed out, some fun casual exchanges and dialogue was used well. I enjoyed the 90 minutes or so watching to see how situations would unfold

I did find myself questioning how Nasa let Dr Stone anywhere near a space shuttle, the character made a lot of mistakes or seemed ignorant of things that one would have thought someone in space needed to know. It became better as she began making better decisions but it didn't help that Clooney's character Lieutenant Matt Kowalski in contrast is the great experienced leader who always seemed to have the answers.

7.5
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Dec 25, 2019 1:24 pm

Watched Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, new family in the Quinn's with no need to have seen first film, return of Slappy (Mick Wingert). It has some good things, the adults particularly mother Katy (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and store manager Walter (Chris Parnell), does good fun things with Halloween, some moments of humour and fun. Yet I felt it didn't wrap it into a successful film, it had moments that went well together but often felt disengaged which I blame on choices made by the writers Rob Lieber and Darren Lemke.

I loved the first meeting between Katy and Walter, the awkwardness and humour... then both get pushed aside and it focuses on the two Quinn children, the stereotype looking to go to university Sarah Quinn (Madison Iseman), geek brother Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Sonny's friend Sam Carter (Caleel Harris). The three aren't intresting characters which makes it difficult for the cast to shine, Taylor of IT fame does a poor job, their decision making ranges between sensible acknowledgement of reality and bizarrely stupid decisions, Sam is irritating.

Slappy is a reasonable villain with more force then the first film, can be slightly annoying but they use his powers well and he is helped when he has other figures to bounce off and allow for more humour. The writers fail to really build the characters, can see certain story beats coming (though other ones are inventive and fun) and pacing is off, characters descent into the horror is rushed so they realize things before it feels like they should, scenes can jump from one to the other, can feel like stuff has been cut.

It is a pity becuase when the film gets it right, with humour, the glimpses of the adults, the use of Halloween and Slappy, a nice time is to be had.

Me: 5.5, Sis: 6.0

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Watched the new animated version of The Grinch, starts not quite clicking with an awful narrator (Pharrell Williams) not helping but rest of voice actors do decently though don't elevate the material. I didn't warm to the Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch), early on the film overstuffs the screen and camera moves too quickly to take it all in, some of "for the film" songs really don't work.

The film however has heart and a sense of humour, good use of its animals and Cindy Lou Who is sweet while I like what they do with mother Donna (Rashida Jones). The attempts at heart and what happens to the Grinch doesn't always work, it can feel a little clumsy and clunky but it does seem to mean well. Uses traditional carols and festive music well for some good humour and some moments of sweetness in a more subtle way then the songs made for the film.

Both: 6.0

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Watched sci-fi Project Almanac, the directorial debut of Dean Israelite. Premise: Inventor David Raskin (Jonny Weston) has got into MIT but not got the scholarships he needs to be able to afford it. Searching through the works of his father for an experiment to show for a last shot at scholarship, he stumbles across one for a time machine. With long time friends and Adam Lee (Allen Evangelista) and the foolish Quinn Goldberg (Sam Lerner) plus David's sister Christina (Virginia Gardner), he begins a project that can't possibly go wrong...

Looking for something nice and easy, ended up with a film that for 2/3rd's was one of the most engaging I have seen for some time despite its flaws that was heading into the 8's but last third saw it fail to stick the landing.

During the opening phase, wasn't too keen on the "found footage" (usually with Christina meant to be behind camera) shot by Matthew J. Lloyd but grew used to it and they used it well, the film was a bit too in awe of David with one scene pretty much being mother Kathy (Amy Landecker) and sister admiring his intellectual brilliance. It was not only a little too in awe but it also left things unbalanced, we got a sense of his hopes and dreams for the future as a driving force of the film but what about those around him? Their lives are very thinly sketched, we don't know what their plans are for college or the future, only his.

Yet it works, the actors do a very good job to make one warm to the sister and the friends, giving a sense of warmth and personality, there is an excellent group camaraderie. The script does have some nice touches, Christina for example, it gives a sense she has a very separate social life (that we don't see) but boredom, proximity to events and then being drawn into the adventure is why she is joins the three amigo's of her brother's group. They feel like teenagers, making mistakes, the jokes, the references and it's pulled along by the bond and exchanges.

The introduction of Jessie Pierce (Sofia Black D'Elia) hampers things initially, her role is slightly stereotypical and it takes a bit of time for her to fit into the group dynamics, not helped by knowing where at least one dynamic was going and that the writing used her to, somewhat clunkily, move the plot on. However she did merge into the group, bouncing off others well and bringing her own humour into it.

The film remembers they are teenagers in their use of time-travel to excellent effect. Building from the schematics, they get excited, they make mistakes, they have to test and compromise, their efforts to gather supplies lead to escapades with the group not always the most professional. When the time to time-travel happens, they had smoothly set the ground-work for what they would and wouldn't do with natural sounding reasons and constraints, within those they explored what would a bunch of teenagers do with time-travel. It is fun watching them test out the potential and then run riot, there is fun, romance (the main romance lacks chemistry, where it works is how other characters react, humour and the near misses), lots of humour. The things they do feel natural and with that group, it is a glorious ride to watch in their successes, their failures and disputes.

The last third is a good idea that doesn't quite land the execution, relying on an a decision
major spoiler
David responding to "missing the boat" with Jessie by breaking the number 1 rule and time-travelling
that has a certain sense of paper but doesn't quite work in the film. It touches on the damage done by such decisions but never fully explores it, leaving potential emotional ramifications underdone, there are some nice touches but it sacrifice some of it's strengths and doesn't do well enough with the idea to replace it. Decent tension near the end, should perhaps have ended one scene earlier

Me: 7.5, Sis: 6.5
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Ranbir » Thu Jan 02, 2020 4:02 pm

I saw Jojo Rabbit. Go watch it too.
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:20 pm

Ranbir wrote:I saw Jojo Rabbit. Go watch it too.


Heard mixed things, seems like a divide between those who find it bad taste and those who see it as clever satire

Watched Muppets Treasure Island, a nice easy watch, plenty of jokes that still work including references to Star Wars and ribbing Disney, the songs are very effective for the film be it the creepy opener or some light-hearted ones that bring laughter and a bit of zip. Tim Curry puts in a shift and generally the human actors do well alongside the Muppets, a nice amusing adventure.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World the final part of the likeable trilogy. They get a good villain with F. Murray Abraham performing well and making his scenes work well though felt they could have done the theme around the bad guys better, decent themes for end of trilogy as characters grown up, pleasant humour and adventure. Some of the humour with the team doesn't quite work but the adults around still provoked a laugh and the lead two characters work well together while there is always the bond with the dragons which provides such pull. It hits the beats it goes for, some of the dragon related themes and moments are moving but not so much for the humans, felt it flagged a little near the end and wonder if last scene could have been handled better, ditto wonder if some of the themes could have had more emotional punch they managed.

Been a nice trilogy, enjoyed all three themes, gave out message to kids without hitting adults over the head, there was humour, a bit of romance, good bonds and voice-work. The dragons always looked impressive and were used well, they felt like characters and one cared for them, would get a pleasant adventure with a charming and humorous bunch of humans and dragons.

Both: 6.5

Watched zombie-Christmas horror/comedy musical Anna and the Apocalypse, reviewers here had treated as a hidden gem of 2019. Premise: In Little Haven, Scotland, Anna Shepherd (Ella Hunt) is considering her future, wishing to travel before university and dealing with the usual problems of a student, love, friendship, family, evil deputy head (Paul Kaye). Less usually, zombies attack Little Haven part way through (though takes longer then one would expect).

As a musical it is great, Tommy Reilly and Roddy Hart (who also sing the amusing Fish Wrap short) do an outstanding job with crafting of the songs, there are several good ones, one or two excellent songs (I added five to my playlist) and no real duds, some sweet, some romantic, some with tragedy hidden beneath it, know how to use the songs to add a bit of emotional power to a scene. The cast are good singers with Mark Benton as the father the best while Kaye is a weak singer but they get around that, some of the choruses don't mesh the voices so found there were strong one person singing verse then let down by the chorus that sounded discordant. One of the things that seems to work is it feels like the song and music has been tweaked to the cast voice so nobody is singing in a way that ill-suits them (which can happen with a song that a musical sticks rigidly too), it adds to the song. Kaye may not be a good singer so they don't ask him to belt songs out, they play to his strengths like his patter and energy.

My pick would be "It's That Time of Year" sung by Marli Siu, for those who haven't seen the film it makes a charming, romantic Christmas song that is well sung and it is one of my favourite songs of 2019. It works as a song that might live on after the film (likely) fades from memory but could be in Christmas lists in the years ahead but within the film, the context and Siu's performance puts it in another light and the song takes a different edge that works very well.

As a film? It is cheap but they make the most of it, British state schools are not going to ever match to the schools one sees in US shows like Riverdale and the cheapness of British schools comes through as part of the setting and the life the characters live through, they generally avoid doing anything that exposes the cheapness in terms of effects. It is also, with the exception of the likes of Kaye and Benton, an inexperienced cast with Malcom Cumming, Sarah Swire, Christopher Leveaux and Ben Wiggins but they do well with good singing voices, bounce off each other nicely and put in experienced performances.

Where the inexperience becomes a problem is writers Ryan McHenry (who died before release of his first film) and Alan McDonald (first film) along with director John McPhail don't always make the best use of a promising script and though they put together a likeable film+good musical, an experienced guide might have got more out of things. Their characters are likeable, there are some good touches, humour, promising themes, moments of insight like the difference between a parent's worry and a teenager's here and now, some brave choices with the zombie stuff. One feels this should be a better film then it actually is as one can see what it might have been.

The characters are thinly sketched, likeable enough thanks to performances and what is written but one wonders if they had too many figures (Anna's group of four plus two figures connected to group plus vice-principle, plus parents), there are good potential themes but they will appear then vanish till needed again so no build up. Some emotional punch is gathered thanks to performers and some good use of music and quality of the scenes in themselves but there is feeling far more could have been coaxed out of the ideas by concentrating on a few things.

There are good jokes in the script but they don't always land, some of the early songs don't segue naturally from the talking scenes, it takes a little too long to get to the zombies and they fail the execution of their arrival which had the potential to be funny. They do however mesh the script with the songs, it is hard not to like the characters, there are moments that the themes flash what could have been.

Despite the flaws, if you like musicals (doesn't need to be seen at Christmas, it is more Love Actually and Die Hard where the setting is Christmas rather then a Christmas movie), you should give it a go for the high quality of the music and it is a nice film.

Both: 6.5
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Ranbir » Fri Jan 03, 2020 4:56 pm

Anyone taking it in bad taste hasn't seen it.
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Jan 09, 2020 11:50 am

Watched channel 5 TV movie Agatha and the Curse of Ishtar. Premise: Agatha Christie (Lyndsey Marshal) has recently been divorced and is looking to write about romance but is struggling so she accepts an invitation to Iraq to see an archaeological dig. There she stumbles upon archaeologist Max Mallowan (Jonah Hauer-King) and a murder mystery around the dig...

Wasn't expecting much and in truth didn't get it as it failed on two fundamental points but there was good stuff that kept me engaged. Marshal did a good job in the lead to help carry things, Katherine Kingsley as the provocative lady who invited Agatha provides a lot of humour, Stanley Townsend is a erratic as diplomat Sir Constance but the charm means he carries his scenes well and hits some of the bigger notes he is asked to play. There is humour from the off through situations, dialogue or Kingsley's Katherine Woolley though sometimes the film is trying just that bit too hard for the jokes. The costumes department under Nigel Egerton does a good job, the denouncement scene which even several of the Christie film/TV adaptation get stiff and flat actually works well here by keeping it simple and having small human moments.

The film suffers when it focuses on the romance with Hauer-King not one of the better performers and a real lack of chemistry between the two leads (whereas Kingsley bounced well enough off the humour played romance with Jack Deam who played the husband) or when the focus is on the mystery. With characters thinly sketched, it is hard to care who did it and it lacks a sense of thrills, the twists do not pull one in so your left relying on a few good performances and the humour. The dialogue includes some bizarre moments where characters seem to say something random, not connected to anything at all. The writer Tom Dalton is aware of how archaeology of the age did some bad things but Iraqi characters seem to be mostly there to raise the point, usually in effective ways but maybe making them more prominent would have been an idea?

Both: 5.5

Watched Incredibles 2, wonder if might have benefited from a recap. Took awhile to sink in, some of the performances didn't quite gel initially and it felt like "this is really good idea in here but it isn't quite working" which, if I recall, was also my feeling with the first. Good ideas that I would love to see done in other superheroes but execution not quite there. When the baby storyline really came into play, it started to click, a fair few laughs there and other things began to work, the film goes along nicely if never quite as good as it perhaps could have been.

Me: 6.0 Sis: 6.5
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby ky9ersfan » Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:04 am

Watched Starwars:Rise of skywalker. Without going into much details, I liked the first half, but thought the second half felt rushed. It could have been much better in my humble opinion, and I also wasn't a fan of the final confrontation. All in all, I give a solid 8/10. If your a Starwars fanboy it is atleast decent, and worth a watch.

I also watched Hustlers starring Constance Wu & Jennifer Lopez, and it was an entertaining movie, about greedy strippers, getting one over on unsuspecting male patrons. It was solid, 7/10.
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Re: Watched any good movies recently?

Unread postby Zyzyfer » Thu Jan 16, 2020 3:22 am

Also saw Rise of Skywalker a week ago (came out super late here). I enjoyed it enough while watching, but later as things sank in, my opinion of it fell. I feel like they really botched the ending in particular.
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