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 the links out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the new stuff I’ve watched last month:
- Bad Moms (2016) – The cast is great, the set-up should be, if not a home run, at least been an easy walk to first, however, the complete lack of effort in the script destroys any potential this might have had. Unfunny and intelligence-insultingly lazy, I have to assume most of the cast was embarrassed to have been a part of this one.
- Jupiter Ascending (2015) – Channing Tatum in elf-ears in-line-skates his way through a film that is both ridiculous and numbingly confusing. I wanted to like it, I really did, but only my steely sense of completionism kept me through to the end of this one.
- The Hateful Eight (2015) – This is basically just three hours of venomous scenery chewing in a single room–and yet it is quite amusing despite the nagging sense that there might not be much of a point to all of it beyond setting up a simple nihilistic bloodbath. Still, as a well-constructed, hate-filled Western whodunnit, it’s at least worth a watch.
- The Legend of Tarzan (2016) – Aside from some dodgy, physics-defying CGI stuntwork and a rather bland central performance, this is actually a pretty enjoyable (and faithful to the books) jungle romp. The animal effects were really quite fantastic too.
- Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016) – Cruise continues to do a decent job as Reacher, but there is not much else in this one to recommend it, even for Reacher fans who haven’t already boycotted the film due to Cruise’s casting. Much like the Jack Reacher books after 20+ entries, this just feels listless and dull.
- Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016) – Many of the gags skirt the boundaries of cleverness, but a very game cast manages to keep the whole thing careening through its run-time on the right side of amusing. If I had a complaint, it is that this movie is further evidence that Aubrey Plaza is not a very good actress, something that always surprises me for some reason.
- Spectre (2015) – Complaints that the film follows the Bond playbook so closely that it feels routine are warranted, but hardly a debit in this very enjoyable entry to the franchise. Waltz does very well as Blofeld, and hell, new Bond has even learned how to smile a bit by now.
- The Arrival (2016) – Clever, low-key alien contact film that mostly tackles its high concepts well. It occasionally feels a bit too pat and convenient, but manages to mostly keep its head above the most self-important waters.
- Monkey Up (2016) – Dire kid’s film about a talking monkey with dreams of being a real actor. So bad that even the 5-year-old I watched it with lost interest after 20 minutes.
- Attack the Block (2011) – The game cast thankfully plays it straight, but this is unfortunately never quite as funny or action-packed as you feel like it should be. Like the similar Edgar Wright movies, this both excels and suffers for thinking it is a better film than it actually is.
- The Hobbit – The Battle of Five Armies (2014) – I waited three years before grudgingly watching this final entry in Peter Jackson’s bloated, cartoonish, idiotic, pile-of-shit adaptation, and I never should have indulged my morbid curiosity. If I never see another film made by anyone involved in this mess on a creative level, I’ll hopefully never again risk snapping my optic nerve by rolling my eyes all the way back into my head for 3 hours straight.
- The Hobbit (1977) – Really not a bad adaptation which makes intelligent choices for the changes, and the amateurish animation is at least passable–all in all, far more charming than the also “animated” Peter Jackson version. I’m all for cutting stuff out, but my chief complaint would probably be that some of the scenes seem to speed by a bit faster than necessary–which, if anything, means that more should have been cut out to improve the flow.
- Parsifal (1982) – There is something uniquely German (in a Faustian sense) about de Troyes story of the fool Perceval le Gallois, so it seems it would be a natural fit for Wagner’s opera. This four hour cinematic version has all the usual Syberberg “pyrotechnics” (rear projection, puppets, moving camera) to help liven up the proceedings, but, still, 90% of this opera is them sing-talking their way through pages and pages of exposition…which ultimately makes it one hell of a rough slog.
- Brief Encounter (1945) – Unassuming (though beautifully photographed) love story about two repressed married people who fall into a doomed love affair. The dude came off as possibly slightly manipulative, but the naturalistic performance from the woman was brilliant–this one will stick with you.
- Querelle (1982) – In some ways this is a triumph of atmosphere, set design, and making the most ridiculously homoerotic movie of all time. In all other ways, most notably in the careless and confusing script, this is rather a complete failure, despite the best efforts of a bunch of game buttfucking to try to liven things up.
- Despicable Me 3 (2017) – Entertaining enough though it’s hard not to hear Michael Scott doing an awful eastern European impression for his nonplussed employees throughout this one. Also, I wish the plots for these animated films weren’t so paint by numbers, you can practically see the gears moving between scenes.