Movie Reviews - February 2019

7 minute read

Another year, some more movie reviews…

Obligatory link to how I rate movies, and there may be spoilers.

Captain America: Civil War
Following the events of Age of Ultron, the collective governments of the world pass an act designed to regulate all superhuman activity. This polarizes opinion amongst the Avengers, causing two factions to side with Iron Man or Captain America, which causes an epic battle between former allies.

Captain America: Civil War (7/10) - It’s a Marvel superheroes movie. I like Marvel superheroes. It’s not the best, it’s not the worst. Very obviously a bridge movie without much resolution of over-arching plotlines in the MCU, but does move things forward. Some cool fight scenes. Enjoyable, but not particularly memorable.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
In 1926, Newt Scamander arrives at the Magical Congress of the United States of America with a magically expanded briefcase, which houses a number of dangerous creatures and their habitats. When the creatures escape from the briefcase, it sends the American wizarding authorities after Newt, and thre…

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (7/10) - First movie in the world of Harry Potter in 5 years, and the first one without Harry Potter. I wasn’t particularly interested in the main character – Eddie Redmayne is great, but this was hardly a challenging role – but the supporting characters were excellent, both in writing and execution by the actors. Plot was OK, though a bit obviously intending to be the first of many, and everything else was good. Disappointed we’re stuck with Johnny Depp as the villain, there are so many other better actors for that role.

Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie
A squad of Ultramarines answer a distress call from an Imperial Shrine World. A full Company of Imperial Fists was stationed there, but there is no answer from them. The squad investigates to find out what has happened there.

Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie (4/10) - I’m not a Warhammer 40k fan, I have never played the game. I think I’ve read a few comics, and am generally aware of the universe. This was a pretty bad movie, but it did have a few redeeming qualities. The movie was consistent to what it wanted to do, and the plot – while extremely simple and short – was pretty much what I expected. I should mention this is an extremely short movie, just over an hour, and it really played out more like a short story/novella than a full novel-length plot. Which is certainly a blessing, if this was a 2hr movie I would certainly have stopped after the first hour anyway…

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay
Task Force X targets a powerful mystical object that they will risk their lives to steal.

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay (7/10) - Animated DC superhero movies continue to be far superior to the live action ones – which really isn’t all that difficult, sadly. I generally enjoy the concept of Suicide Squad, it’s a pretty dark premise with interesting characters. Also short, 1h15 before credits, which felt appropriate – if it had been another 20min I certainly would’ve dropped the rating.

Black Panther
King T’Challa returns home to the reclusive, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country’s new leader. However, T’Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne by factions within his own country as well as without. Using powers reserved to Wakandan kings, T’Ch…

Black Panther (9/10) - Well, finally another Marvel superhero movie that doesn’t suck. This is certainly one of my favourites, both because it spends most of the story outside Western norms, in all areas – visual aesthetics, casting, music, even plot – and they’re also very well done. While it’s obviously still a Hollywood movie, it does push boundaries and (at least to me, a Western White male) it delivers on what I hoped a modern Black Panther movie would be – in many ways more than recent Marvel movies have delivered.

Bleeding Steel
Jackie Chan stars as a hardened special forces agent who fights to protect a young woman from a sinister criminal gang. At the same time, he feels a special connection to the young woman, like they met in a different life.

Bleeding Steel (6/10) - I can’t remember much about this movie, but it’s a 2017 Jackie Chan movie so that’s probably appropriate. I remember some fight scenes that were entertaining, and Jackie Chan being his usual amusing self. Light fare, more action than comedy, but entertaining.

Avengers: Infinity War
As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use…

Avengers: Infinity War (5/10) - Well, here we finally are. This was not a great movie, and a great example of Marvel not delivering on stories from the comics. This type of “cross over all the things!” story works OK in comics, where you can extend bits of plotline into individual comic titles over several months. It doesn’t work well here. The movie spends all it’s time trying bouncing between every hero introduced in all the past movies, explaining what’s happening to each of them as they plan/fight/die vs Thanos. It’s scattered and tiring, and the overarching plot could’ve been told in 45-60min if we weren’t jumping around all over the place, and spending well over 2hrs left me annoyed and exhausted. It also ends with everyone dying, which is so obviously going to be reversed in the next movie that it doesn’t even belong on the same planet as the word ‘cliffhanger’. Meh. Would’ve done a better coming up with a storyline from scratch instead of trying to translate a story told in dozens of comics titles into a few movies.

Mary Shelley
The love affair between poet Percy Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin resulted in the creation of an immortal novel, “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.”

Mary Shelley (3/10) - Reversing the earlier trend in this post of fairly short movies that felt appropriately short, this is a 2hr movie that felt like at least 3hrs. One of the slowest movies I’ve watched in years, and surprisingly little actually happens. I feel like this could’ve been an interesting story, but surprisingly little time is spent on the actual writing of Frankenstein – it primarily focuses on how Percy was a loser asshole and Mary suffered a lot. Which is not really compelling to watch for 2hrs, at least for me. The supporting cast and characters were entertaining, which brings the score up a bit, but this was still a slog.

Sherlock Jr.
A film projectionist longs to be a detective, and puts his meagre skills to work when he is framed by a rival for stealing his girlfriend’s father’s pocketwatch.

Sherlock Jr (8/10) - This is a 1924 Buster Keaton movie (he directs and stars), and it disabuses me of any notions I had that cool visual effects and complex plots in movies were things evolved later in the history of film. There are several layers of stories, dream sequences, multiple-exposure film to do crazy visuals, and amazing stunts. It’s only 45min long but seems longer – in a good way this time. Amazing stuff.

A story of a legendary battle, where seventeen fearless warriors defend their land against an army of thousands well-trained soldiers. In 13th-century Mongol warrior hordes and their leader, Batu Khan, control most of the known world. As the Mongols move towards Europe they invade the last Russian p…

Furious (5/10) - One fascinating effect of Netflix and other streaming services continually needing new content is the simple availability of less-than-stellar foreign films. 10-15 years ago a movie like this would likely not have been seen much outside of Russian-speaking countries and expats. It’s not a great movie, but it tells stories I have not been exposed to, about Mongols attacking Russian towns and the legendary hero and his band who resisted them. It’s extremely exaggerated as legends tend to be, and there are a lot of things that possibly didn’t land with me as I’m not catching Russian references, but all in all it was not bad.

Making this list I realized I’m getting perilously close to running out of movies I’ve rated. Perhaps this winter will stay cold and keep me indoors to watch some.