Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dunkirk Review

Anyone who has followed me for a while knows I'm not exactly a big fan of Christopher Nolan, and yet I was pretty interested in his new film, Dunkirk. I'm not sure why since Nolan has a track record of failing to live up to the hype, such as with Interstellar.  Interstellar got me super psyched since it was such a cool concept and I'm a space geek, but the movie itself is just straight up laughable when it isn't boring as hell.  So you'd think I would've learned by now.

I guess it's just because Dunkirk is about one of history's greatest turning points. 300,000 mostly British soldiers stranded on a beach with the full might of the Nazi war machine closing in on them. The fate of the entire Western world hinged on whether or not they could cross a body of water so small they could practically see home from the shore. Their saviors? Ordinary British civilians who got in their little boats and sailed across the channel to rescue their countrymen, going back and forth for a week just to get all those guys out. What a fantastic story to tell, and one we really haven't seen done before on the big screen.

You would think having such a stirring historical event as the basis for this movie would make Nolan's job easy, but as with many of his movies that get all the hype, in the end he just couldn't deliver. Let's talk about why Dunkirk unfortunately doesn't measure up:

And if you'd like more on Dunkirk, check out this week's episode of The Flyby, the weekly podcast that I co-host with Sarjex, wherein Ed Morrissey joins me to talk about where this movie succeeds and where this movie fails.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

Well Spider-Man: Homecoming was certainly one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Sony finally returned Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe for an epic cameo in Civil War, and now we were going to get a full on standalone story for this new Tom Holland version of the wall crawler done MCU-style.  Add in Michael Keaton playing the villain, and you've got plenty of reasons to be hyped.

That of course made me super nervous going in.  I wanted this to be an Independence Day-level movie, the kind that I'd want to turn around and walk right back in for another viewing, and it's tough for a movie to live up to that kind of hype.  Not to mention it had to follow the few fantastic comic book movies we've already had this year and there have been serious concerns that the trailers may have spoiled the entire movie.

Alas Independence Day it was not, but as I've said before, even the less than stellar Marvel movies tend to be worth the price of admission so it's pretty rare to walk out unsatisfied.  Since I'm pretty late putting up the blog post, you've probably already seen it and formulated your own opinions by now, but here's my take on Spider-Man: Homecoming

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Cars 3 Review

Hey look, another sequel! This time it's for Disney/Pixar's license-to-print-money, Cars. I actually hadn't seen the original Cars or its sequel because it was a concept that never appealed to me enough to bother, so I actually went back and watched both before I headed off to Cars 3.

I found that Cars 1 is, as others before me have noted, basically just Doc Hollywood with talking cars. Since I liked Doc Hollywood, and Cars did an ok job of translating it (existential questions about this universe aside), I enjoyed it.

Cars 2 was just terrible. If Cars 1 is Doc Hollywood, Cars 2 is like Mr. Bean or The Tuxedo, one of those awful movies where some dumbass character trips their way into a spy movie and is comically better at being a spy than the professionals.

Meanwhile Cars 3 got off on the right foot with a very dark teaser trailer, and it seemed like we might be in for a Cars version of Rocky III, and you can't go wrong with Rocky III even if your hero is a talking racecar named Lightning McQueen. 

Well that assumes you actually follow through with that idea, which they kinda didn't.  Instead they decided to raise some very complicated questions that had me going..."huh?"  Let's talk about them!

And if you want a more in depth argument about Cars 3, check out the latest episode of The Flyby, a weekly podcast I've been doing for a little while about movies and TV shows with my buddy Sarjex.  We'll be moving over to a new network soon, but in the meantime, here's the link: The Flyby 6/21/17 - Cars 3

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Conscientious Objection in the Culture War

I finally got around to watching the much lauded Hacksaw Ridge the other day.  It suffers quite a bit from being obvious Oscar Bait, but overall it was a decent movie.  I'm not really interested in doing a review here though; I just found the movie incredibly instructive for another discussion that continues to rage in the social media circles in which I run.  This time it was re-ignited by a couple of people disrupting a version of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" that features a Donald Trump lookalike being brutally murdered instead of the Roman Emperor.

As usual, one side asserts that disrupting the play goes against their principles and should be condemned, while the other insists that these are the rules imposed upon us by the Left and they should therefore be made to suffer them just as we do.  Or, to put it more succinctly, Be Better Than Them vs. Payback's a Bitch. I of course fall into the latter group for many reasons that go beyond the scope of this particular post.

Hacksaw Ridge features just such an argument about principles versus pragmatism during wartime.  In it we learn about Desmond Doss, a man who could not in good conscience stay home while everyone else went to fight in World War II, and yet, his principles required that he not engage in violence.  He believed this so strongly that he refused to even learn how to use a gun, much less carry one into battle. His fellow soldiers saw this as cowardice and tried to drum him out of the service, asking the obvious question of "why are you here if you can't kill the enemy?"

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Mummy (2017) Review

Now that Marvel and Disney have made all the money, everyone's gotta have a shared movie universe.  Universal tried to get theirs started with Dracula: Untold, but nobody wanted more of that movie, so now they're trying again by rebooting The Mummy.  To increase the odds of this one actually working, they recruited some Grade A star power in the form of Tom Cruise to play the lead.

For a brief moment, that idea had incredible potential.  With the first trailer it actually looked like they might unceremoniously kill him off, thereby demonstrating their universe actually was a "Dark Universe" in which anybody was fair game for monsters that have often been seen as goofy in the past.

Of course that moment passed as quickly as it came since they would shortly show him surviving in another trailer clip, thereby ruining all of the tension the scene could have had in the movie as well as dashing any hopes for this thing to be a serious effort.

Despite that though, it was still possible that this could at least be a pretty awesome action flick, so I went into it still holding out some meager hope I'd see something fun.  That's when I saw something truly frightening: Alex Kurtzman had directed this. So let's talk about just how horrific The Mummy really is:

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Wonder Woman Review

I've been pretty clear about my distaste for the current crop of DCEU movies, which is why I went into Wonder Woman expecting yet another train wreck of epic proportions despite it having obscenely good buzz.  Obviously one always hopes these movies are going to be good, but given the track record it's impossible to do anything but put the bar on the floor going in.

Meanwhile, we had the usual political firestorm surrounding this movie because feminism can't leave anything well enough alone for people to enjoy.  In addition to the usual hot-takes about "first female superhero movie evah!" (it's not), The Alamo Drafthouse announced a women's-only screening, including only female employees(!?), and when people rightfully pointed out how a men's-only screening of say, Thor: Ragnarok would result in the theater being burned to the ground by screaming harpies, the screaming harpies complained about having their safe spaces invaded.  Just can't win folks.

Personally, I don't care if you want to hold a thing-only anything. As a small business dinosaur, I believe you should have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason, even if those reasons are morally abhorrent to the rest of us.  If you're so -ist or you believe in something so much you're willing to lose money for it, that's your prerogative, and only an idiot would want to then force you to go to work for them since it inevitably means they'd get terrible service.

Unfortunately, the screaming harpies refuse to play by those rules, so until such time as they realize how untenable they are, I can only say "bake the cake!" to the Alamo Drafthouse and anybody on the Left who tries to have their own discriminatory practices.

In any case, political ramblings aside Wonder Woman finally achieves what appears to be a win for DC.  Is it really though, or is this a case of everyone walking on eggshells to avoid feminist backlash? Well as the most oppressed class of person on Earth (namely one of the few remaining dinosaurs in this homeosapienarchy), let me tell you the truth about whether or not Wonder Woman is a good movie, and of course, how it made me cranky:

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Review

Damn that is a long title for a movie, which I suppose makes sense since each successive installment of Pirates of the Caribbean seemed to be exponentially longer than the last.  (Not to mention more confusing and just generally less entertaining.) But hey, we can't just assume because it's the 5th movie in a franchise that really didn't need a sequel in the first place that it'll be terrible right?

I mean Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow's usually pretty funny, the previews have some cool effects like a zombie shark, and they even showed Will and Elizabeth coming back.  How can you go wrong with getting the band back together to fight zombie sharks?

Turns out you can go pretty wrong, so let's just get to it and I'll tell you about the pratfalls of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: