Movie Reviews - April 2021

4 minute read

Wow, it’s been a whole year since I wrote any movie reviews. You’d think that staying home in a pandemic would give me lots of time to do blog entries, but apparently it more just leads to being too exhausted to do anything besides work. Fun.

I have been watching a fair number of movies in the past year, though, so my pending list to write reviews about has padded out nicely. And I’ve continued adding to my list of movies to watch at an even faster pace. So no worries about running out of material.

As always here’s my post about how I rate movies. There’s a bit of a system, but mostly it’s just my whims.

Also apparently I can just post the IMDB links here with the new version of Ghost and it converts to snippets, that’s pretty cool – I’ll do that and then add my reviews below them. (Update: now retrofitted with The Movie Database links instead) (Update 2: removed embeds now no longer on Ghost)

Pacific Rim: Uprising 3/10 – I generally enjoy the spectacle of the Pacific Rim movies, but this one just was not good. The plot didn’t make a lot of sense, it was even more jingoistic and celebratory of the military than normal, and a lot of the fun and silliness from the first movie went too far and didn’t land this time. Meh.

The Lone Ranger 3/10 – Johnny Depp playing a caricature of a Native American is bad enough, but the rest is also bad. I didn’t remember Armie Hammer was in it, but that would certainly help further explain why it was not good. Some interesting story ideas and action sequences prevent it from falling all the way to 1/10, but also meh.

Demon City Shinjuku 3/10 – I’ve got a real string of winners to start out this time. Anyway, I don’t remember much about this movie, even after watching the trailer again. So… MEH.

Ant-Man and the Wasp 6/10 – This generation of Marvel movies all have a similar feel. Paul Rudd is able to land the comedy and heart-felt moments better than some other actors, but nothing in the standard MCU formulaic plot and characters can really elevate it beyond an “OK” level. Added point for finally bringing Janet Van Dyne back instead of just moping about her endlessly.

The Legend of Zu 2/10 – Yes, the drek continues. There was some OK action in this, but it was all very silly, and not in a good way. Plot was super sketchy and not consistent. Basically no character development beyond stereotypic tropes. Not a great use of time unless you have literally nothing else to do.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 6/10 – I had originally rated this a 7, but I’m dropping it a point in retrospect. It’s generally an OK movie with great special effects, as you’d expect. Characters from the first movie continue to develop, and this fills in a bunch of back story from the later Harry Potter stories. Johnny Depp is a compelling villain because I really dislike him outside his characters. Worth one watch, but not two.

Attraction 6/10 – Netflix has definitely helped me watch more films from other countries. This one is a fun sci-fi film from Russia. It’s not without issues – most of the characters and their motivations are pretty stereotypical, and the plot is pretty basic – but the approach to the sci-fi aspects is different enough to make it a more interesting watch, and it doesn’t have any jarring issues. There is a sequel, and I plan to watch it.

The Changeover 8/10 – Originally rated 7, but bumped up one in retrospect. I really like this film. It’s a small story from New Zeland focused on a family going through a magical horror scenario, and it’s very well done. The acting is great, the plot is solid and believable, and as a whole it’s very satisfying. I was extremely pleased to watch a scary movie with a young female protagonist who had zero sexual trauma inflicted on her by the older male antagonist in the course of the story. Recommended.

Renaissance 8/10 – This is definitely a film that starts with a lot of conceits – it’s a sci-fi movie from French filmmakers that’s in extremely well-animated black and white. Luckily it also works quite well. The story is a bit predictable once it gets closer to the end, but still enjoyable. It certainly deserves it’s film festival wins, I’m surprised there are not more. Worth watching at least once, I may watch it again.

Battling Butler 7/10 – I have a tendency to rate movies from the 1910s and 1920s higher than they might rate if taken in a vacuum, because I see so many things in the next hundred years of movies that are based on them. The story in this movie is not particularly excellent by itself, the characters don’t have much depth, and the camera work and acting are not particularly startling (aside from Buster Keaton’s always astounding physical abilities). But adding the context that this is from 1926, so a lot is being done for the first time – both capturing on film and presenting to film audiences – and it becomes much more impressive.

That’s it for now!