Time for another post of quick movie reviews that have accumulated. I’m just going from my IMDB TMDB rankings list, so there may be some there I watched earlier and just got around to ranking. Also there are a few “blockbuster” movies I watched this year and never got around to ranking, so they’re at the end, because that’s when I ranked them on IMDB.
I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but sometimes the comment-worthy good or bad points of a movie are spoilers.
Also, see my post on how I rate movies if my ratings don’t make sense.
Red Dawn (2012) - 3/10 - I have a fondness for the original Red Dawn, as with many movies from the 1980s that are probably not as good as I remember (I have it in my queue to rewatch). It tied together Western fear of the Soviets with attractive young people overcoming their fears and challenges to fight back. The premise of this remake seems in many ways like a parody – does anyone in the US really fear an invasion from North Korea? The acting was mixed: Josh Peck was mostly good and Chris Hemsworth mostly bad; Adrienne Palicki good and Isabel Lucas not so much; and Josh Hutcherson has not managed to escape “whiny kid” category for me.
Jupiter Ascending (2015) - 6/10 - Interesting sci-fi premise, good effects, mixed acting (Channing Tatum meh, Mila Kunis good). Story is fun though not great, and I loved that the female lead character kicks some ass. The ending was pretty unbelievable to me, but perhaps I’m not the target audience… >.>
RED (2010) - 7/10 - Bruce Willis works best for me in campy action movies - not Die Hard, which is really a serious premise with moments of comedy, but full-on comedy like Hudson Hawk (1991). This is somewhere between those two, not gonzo silly but definitely way past realistic. It’s a fun, actiony romp, and worth it just for Helen Mirren’s joy at blowing shit up. So much fun.
RED 2 (2013) - 7/10 - Same thing, do it again – if you like the first one you’ll like this one. Not high art, but suuuuper fun.
Nemesis (1992) - 3/10 - To be honest I don’t know why I actually grabbed this, but it’s pretty bad. There are a few intersting sci-fi ideas (it’s about cyborgs), but just really badly done, even for the early 90s.
Seventh Son (2014) - 5/10 - Not a bad fantasy movie, some interesting ideas, and the effects are pretty good. I won’t be watching it again, but don’t regret the time spent.
The Expendibles 3 (2014) - 5/10 - If you’ve seen the previous Expendibles movies you know what this is, it’s the same thing with even more aged action stars. The premise is getting a bit stale at this point, and I don’t feel they’re really going anywhere with the series. Still fun if you like the original movies these guys were in, but… eh.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014) - 6/10 - I really like the premise of this movie (groundhog day time loop in the middle of a war with aliens), enough to even get me watch Tom Cruise. And it wasn’t bad, the whole production is very smooth and the effects are pretty great. Met my expectations, did not exceed them. Bonus points for Emily Blunt being a badass.
Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) - 4/10 - Premise is good (My Fair Lady meets James Bond?). The first two thirds of the movie are not bad, if it had continued I probably would’ve given it a 7/10 or even 8/10. But the last third entirely falls apart and gets stupid instead of silly/cool. Samuel L Jackson’s character is just embarassing.
Man of Steel (2013) - 5/10 - I held off watching this because I’d heard it was not great. That assessment was correct. It was not horrible as movies go, but the Superman portrayed is not the Superman I know from decades of reading comics, whose integrity and intelligence are supposed to be as good or better than the best human. My issue is less the “Superman kills General Zod” concern that many people had issue with, and more the “Superman destroys the entire city while fighting General Zod without any apparent care about hundreds of thousands of humans who must have been killed”.
Ant-Man (2015) - 8/10 - I frequently find Paul Rudd annoying, or maybe just movies he’s in, but he’s good in this role. I’ve always liked Ant Man as a character, and from my perspective this is a worthy introduction of the character to the Marvel Cinematic Universei (MCU).
Sabotage (2014) - 2/10 - This is just bad. I don’t remember why I gave it 2/10 instead of 1/10, maybe it was just for Arnie.
Last Knights (2015) - 5/10 - Another interesting premise, 47 Ronin rebuilt using Athurian knights, in what I think was supposed to be a rebuilt post-apocalyptic world. Not great, Morgan Freeman is notably wasted in his role, but not a total waste of time.
Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) - 2/10 - I was raised a Christian, went to Sunday School every week, and ultimately in my late teens decided I didn’t trust any specific religion with my beliefs. So I have a firm basis in both Old and New Testiment stories, and I generally like them as stories even though I don’t revere them. With that background, this was a horrible telling of the Exodus story, it seemed more like Exodus:300, with more interest in making cool special effects than the genuinely intersting story. My feeling after watching was that I should probably go watch The Ten Commandments again as a palate cleanser.
Hitman: Agent 47 (2015) - 4/10 - Have never played the Hitman movies, but I’m familiar with the idea. This was fun action with cool effects, but the plot was boring and ultimately the whole thing was flat.
Assassin’s Tale (2013) - 4/10 - Could’ve been good, was not. A badly written drama (very little action) about unexceptional people who happen to be assassins. Got an extra point for Anna Silk.
Europa Report (2013) - 8/10 - It’s not quite the original Alien, but it has that kind of vibe. Pretty hard sci-fi, but to be honest I was so caught up in it that I wasn’t looking for science fails. Would definitely recommend if you like solid dramatic sci-fi.
Deadpool (2016) - 8/10 - I was looking forward to this ever since I heard it was coming out. It did not disappoint, it was definitely a proper Deadpool movie.
The Last Witch Hunter (2016) - 6/10 - Vin Diesel as an immortal witch hunter. Pretty much what I expected.
Kill Command (2016) - 4/10 - This looked great – the premise (military machines given AI and start killing us) was clear and intersting, the effects sharp, and the general feel on point. Unfortunately it doesn’t pay off, and instead of a smart movie about AI it turns into a fairly normal action movie where the solution to everything is big explosions. Meh.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) - 4/10 - I don’t like this Spiderman series. Andrew Garfield can’t sell geeky nerd, none of the characters’ motivations make sense, and even the big action sequences are boring. And that Jamie Foxx’s Electro villain is the only notable person of colour, and who is also mentally unhinged, seems pretty racist to me.
London Has Fallen (2016) - 2/10 - Wow, this is just bad, stay away. Gets an extra point because some of the action sequences are cool, but that can’t be literally the only good thing in your movie, and I literally laughed out loud at some of the other action sequences that defied both belief and even action movie laws of physics.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) - 7/10 - Solid entry in the MCU catalog. What I’ve come to expect, plus a few bonuses (The Vision! One of my faves), but nothing really surprising or new in terms of plot or themes.
Jurassic World (2016) - 5/10 - Fun, but ultimately weighing the pros and cons it’s no Jurassic Park – at no time
was I on the edge of my seat like with the original, and it failed to capture the wonder and amazement of a world with dinosaurs. But definitely better than
the previous sequels, and Chris Pratt is always fun even if he doesn’t have much to work with.
Spectre (2015) - 5/10 - Oh James Bond. For decades you were so minimally cool, now you rely so much on special effects.
Another fun one, but nothing new or different.
The Wolverine (2013) - 7/10 - Wolverine is one of my favourite comic characters, and I love that this movie focuses
so much on his past in Japan and on his character’s development instead of just all action. It went downhill pretty bad towards the end, as if suddenly remembering
this was supposed to be an action movie after all, but I enjoyed the journey before that.
The Equalizer (2014) - 7/10 - I used to watch the old The Equalizer show with Edward Woodward, and I remember liking it,
though I haven’t seen it in many years. This has some of the same themes, a man trained to kill who is protecting innocent victims, but is a very different story – much darker and wit h more brooding. Denzel Washington is amazing, because of course he is. The rest of the cast is adequate, but there really are no co-stars. The ultimate payoff is satisfying, but my memories of the old series were that the protagonist was more surgical, removing the specific problem threatening the innocent victim, not killing everything that gets in his way. In many ways this movie reminds me of John Wick, and I would’ve preferred more old Equalizer and less John Wick. But it’s still fun – and definitely earns it’s R rating.
Riddick (2013) - 6/10 - The Riddick series is one of my guilty pleasures, and the character is one of my favourite bad guy heroes in the past few decades. So it’s unfortunate that the movies have not lived up to his potential. This latest (and last?) entry in the series goes back to a lot of the feeling and even specific encounters of the original Pitch Black, but ultimately it feels like repetition instead of building on the original. I’m probably rating it high because I do like the character so much, but whatever, it’s my review and I can be biased if I want. ;)
That’s it for now, next (at some point) I’ll tackle my thoughts on Fall 2016 television!