Movie Reviews - April 2021

Movie Reviews - April 2021

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)

Pacific Rim: Uprising
It has been ten years since The Battle of the Breach and the oceans are still, but restless. Vindicated by the victory at the Breach, the Jaeger program has evolved into the most powerful global defense force in human history. The PPDC now calls upon the best and brightest to rise up and become the…

My rating: 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
The Texas Rangers chase down a gang of outlaws led by Butch Cavendish, but the gang ambushes the Rangers, seemingly killing them all. One survivor is found, however, by an American Indian named Tonto, who nurses him back to health. The Ranger, donning a mask and riding a white stallion named Silver,…

My rating: 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
Kyoya’s father was a great warrior, killed at the hands of the diabolical psychic, Rebi Ra, who has now opened a portal to hell in the city of Shinjuku. It falls to Kyoya to finish what his father started and battle his way through demons, while protecting a young woman from harm. The only problem i…

My rating: 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
Just when his time under house arrest is about to end, Scott Lang once again puts his freedom at risk to help Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym dive into the quantum realm and try to accomplish, against time and any chance of success, a very dangerous rescue mission.

My rating: 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
After claiming countless lives, the fairies won the great battle with the demons. However, the leader of their Kunlun sect Yu Qingzi died for his young apprentice Xiao He. 500 tranquil years later, Xiao He finds himself face to face with a resurrected Yu Qingzi.

My rating: 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
Gellert Grindelwald has escaped imprisonment and has begun gathering followers to his cause—elevating wizards above all non-magical beings. The only one capable of putting a stop to him is the wizard he once called his closest friend, Albus Dumbledore. However, Dumbledore will need to seek help from…

My rating: 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
After an alien ship crash lands in a Russian city, many who see the inside and the occupants start to question their own existence while others demand the aliens leave Earth.

My rating: 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
Laura Chant, 16, lives with her mother and four-year-old brother Jacko in a poor new suburb on the edge of a partially demolished Christchurch, New Zealand. Laura is drawn into a supernatural battle with an ancient spirit who attacks Jacko and slowly drains the life out of him as the spirit becomes…

My rating: 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
To find Ilona and unlock the secrets of her disappearance, Karas must plunge deep into the parallel worlds of corporate espionage, organized crime and genetic research - where the truth imprisons whoever finds it first and miracles can be bought but at a great price.

My rating: 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
Meek millionaire Alfred Butler goes on a camping excursion with his faithful servant. Once in the wilderness, Alfred ignores outdoor activities in favor of trying to woo a charming mountain girl, who wants nothing to do with her spoiled suitor. Trying to impress the girl, Alfred masquerades as boxin…

My rating: 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!