Sunday, November 29, 2015

Review - Home

Even for a kids’ movie from Dreamworks, this is saccharine stuff. A cute, quirky alien and a cute, quirky girl end up on the lam together. Cute, quirky adventures ensue. True to the studio's animation standards, the production is acceptable without being particularly inspiring. Verdict: mildly amusing.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Review - The Babadook

A single mom accidentally reads a scary book to her mentally-disturbed kid, thus summoning the title horror. The book (especially its illustrations) actually is kinda spooky, which of course raises great wonderment about why a parent would read such a thing to her already nervous son. Likewise the monster itself turns in a few frightening appearances. The shocks are more or less enough to offset the annoying characters and relative plotlessness. Verdict: mildly amusing.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Review - The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

A fitting end for the most part. I admit that I prefer the simple survivalism of the first two over the political machinations of the Mockingjay duo. I also think the target audience may be more tolerant than I of cliché plot twists and the awkwardly happy ending. But the acting and production values are still good, and the action is still entertaining enough. Verdict: mildly amusing.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Review - Anna Nicole

Here’s the semi-tragic rags-to-riches story of Anna Nicole Smith. Predictably enough, it portrays her as not as dumb as she seemed to be, and not quite as much of a gold digger. The production is sprinkled with recognizable faces – especially Martin Landau as wealthy old man J. Howard Marshall – who must have lost bets or something. Otherwise the production isn’t especially noteworthy. Verdict: mildly amusing.

Review - At the House of Madness

Once again we find a common question posed: if one sets out to make a terrible horror movie, is a failure a success? In this case I’m going with “pure failure.” Though I appreciated the self-conscious effort to recreate the look and feel of indie horror from the 1970s, that’s still no substitute for plot and character. Abysmal writing and amateur-hour acting doom this two-tales-and-a-bracket anthology piece. Verdict: see if desperate.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Review - Jurassic World

The evolution of this series parallels the evolution of effects-intensive movies in general. When the original came out, it was full of wonder at the mere notion that dinosaurs might be brought back to life (for real within the context of the story and via impressive new effects in the production). Now, however, such miracles are commonplace. Dinosaurs are only exciting if they’re part of a carefully-choreographed theme park attraction. One thing remains unchanged, however: a combination of greed, stupidity and common error brings the whole thing crashing down. I liked some elements here, such as velociraptors on the “good guys” side. But overall this represents a further decline of the set. Verdict: mildly amusing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review - Spectre

Of the Craig Bonds, I enjoyed this one the most. For the most part this follows the usual series formulae. Indeed, several minor plot points and background details are obvious tributes to earlier movies in the set. The plot is a little threadbare, but then the plot isn’t as important as the gun battles, explosions and the like. And those are both plentiful and well executed. I was also a little pleased to see the return of the Blofeld character. I know he seems cartoonish by 21st century standards, but I still missed him during his absence. Verdict: mildly amusing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Review - Pixels

By the look of things, Adam Sandler is as tired of making these things as I am of watching them. Once again he’s an underachieving man-boy in a love-hate relationship with a woman far out of his league. And once again some improbable bit of cleverness on his part wins the day for him. Here the cleverness is a smidge more clever than usual: Earth is attacked by aliens who take the form of 1980s arcade game bad guys, so only a hapless 40-something game nerd can defend us. That supplies a few plot twists and some effects shots we wouldn’t have gotten from a more prosaic dilemma. Verdict: mildly amusing.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Review - Bridesmaids

As one might expect from a comedy, this production is at its best when it’s being funny. Much of the running time appears to be devoted to improv of one kind or another, some of which actually works quite well. However, it also spends a fair amount of time preaching about friendship, rivalry, failure and the like. Come for the sight gags but be prepared for the story to not amount to much. Verdict: mildly amusing.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Review - The Martian

I was nervous going into this experience. Movies that fill their running times with one catastrophe after another aren’t generally to my taste. And stories about isolated castaways can sometimes turn out too limited by their own set-ups to go much of anywhere. However, this turned out to be an entertaining picture. It had a good sense of humor and only occasionally resorted to accidents that seemed like unrealistic attempts to keep the plot from resolving. Acting and production values were good, which helped maintain the sense of realism necessary for a sci fi picture like this. Verdict: mildly amusing.