Welcome back to my Mini Movie Review feature, where I write a short review of every movie I’ve seen for the first time (or have yet to review!)
You can see the full list of mini movie reviews HERE
And you can see my constantly updated “in progress” list of the most recent reviews HERE
With that said, let’s take a look at some of the new stuff I’ve watched last month:
- A League of Their Own (1992) – At heart this is just a “team of misfits” (even though they are actually all quite competent) baseball movie, and that is where it shines the most. For the most part it manages to rise above all the sap and “big important message” pitfalls in the script in the same way Madonna’s character rises above its generic characterization to become rather a delight.
- Star Trek Beyond (2016) – Fun entry in the new franchise that spends most of its time with the Enterprise crew romping around an alien planet. Its heart is firmly in the right place for most of this, but, it stumbles severely in the villain department by bringing into a play a big bad that is even more yawn inducing than Apocalypse in the last X-Men movie.
- X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) – The X-powers and new actors remain pretty great (with Quicksilver shamelessly coming in to steal the show again), but holy shit is this a movie in need of a villain. Isaac does his game best, but at the end of the day I am SO over ridiculously costumed, overpowered dudes in face-paint trying to make you care about their generic designs on the fate of the Earth.
- Doctor Strange (2016) – Cumberbatch’s Hans Gruber style American accented asshole is okay…everything else in this one is pretty instantly forgettable in the most Marvel B-list kind of way. It’s trying to be trippy and MIND EXPANDING, but ends up just repeatedly doing that Inception building thing to increasingly diminishing returns.
- Logan (2017) – Pretty relentlessly bleak (and violent–the “snikts” have never been so visceral), but overall quite assured and engrossing superhero stuff. Further evidence that origin stories are the least compelling parts of superhero movies.
- Monster High: Electrified (2017) – The pointless storyline reboot continues with everything still feeling a little dumbed down when compared to the already not exactly thought provoking previous Monster High Universe. Honestly, this isn’t really any better or worse than any of the previous movies, but some of the familiar faces and lore are seriously missed.
- Eat, Pray, Love (2010) – The “eat” stuff looks delicious, the “pray” stuff is thankfully just your garden variety bits and pieces of whatever eastern philosophies drift through the main character’s transom, and the “love” stuff is, I guess, no worse than the usual “find yourself” Hollywood stuff. What is less easy to swallow is the idea that all one needs to find oneself is to take a rich white person vacation around the world for a year.
- True Romance (1993) – If you can get past the sound of Tarantino’s heavy breathing coming out of every page of the creepy screenplay full of nerd wish-fulfillment fantasy, this is one hell of a ripping story. More big name co-stars than you can count, a brilliant script, and my favorite Arquette sister make this cinematic entertainment of the first class.
- Frenzy (1972) – Call me old fashioned, but I prefer my Hitchcockian suspense set-pieces to be a bit less rapey. Even at the end of his career, this is still a masterpiece from the master director, but oof is it unpleasant.
- The Leather Boys (1964) – Quite ahead of its time, this is a raw, realistic portrayal of young people from a very specific time period in England. The biggest surprise is how thoughtfully they deal with the central gay theme.
- Deadpool (2016) – Ryan Reynolds’ normal shtick really should not be as endearing as it is, but in this one he pushes things about as far as they can go with his constant string of smarmy wisecracks. Overall it manages to stay just on the right side of not-grating, and the low budget, well-lit vibe actually gives the film a refreshing atmosphere too.
- All the President’s Men (1976) – Story of the media investigation of Watergate that is well-crafted but ultimately feels rather hollow and cold. It has a big important feel to it, but the characterizations are mostly overlooked in favor of the events being investigated.
- Wonder Woman (2017) – There’s a nice fish out of water story in the middle, and a few great set pieces, but the usual origin story exposition overload was just as tiresome as all the other super hero movies that aren’t Dredd. Still, Gadot is pretty great in this, and I’d happily watch her as this character in the next one.
- Videodrome (1983) – There’s no denying that this is skillfully done, and it absolutely nails the bizarre atmosphere. As a commentary on our culture’s overexposure to violent media, it’s even a bit deeper than something like Natural Born Killers (which isn’t saying much I guess), but at the end of the day it relies a little too heavily on cheap gore to really be all that consequential.
- Hondo (1953) – A simple story that you’ve seen plenty of times before, but this is still one of Wayne’s best roles that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. There are few greater joys in life than watching John Wayne tell an asshole that dares to challenge his masculinity that “a man oughta do what he thinks is best…”
- Batman v. Superman: The Dawn of Justice (2016) – This is almost as ridiculously grim and overwrought as you might have heard, to the point at which you almost have to admire its dedication to the cause. The final bland monster fight will leave you yawning, but I can’t say Snyder’s idiot-savant bull in a china shop approach to atmosphere didn’t leave a bemused smirk on my face through at least half of the rest of the film.