Friday, May 31, 2019

Review – Deadwood

At the outset I should point out that if you aren't a serious fan of the original Deadwood series, this movie may be difficult to follow. On the other hand, if you are a fan then this is the closure you’ve been waiting for. Familiar characters are back, albeit older. Fair warning, though: unlike the series, the story here departs significantly from the historical record. So for plot and character developments, all bets are off. I also would have guessed that one of the town’s devastating fires would have factored in somehow, given all the foreshadowing the show did. Nonetheless, this is a worthy conclusion with all participants in fine form. Worth seeing

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Review – The Nun

This prequel to The Conjuring has all of the purposelessness of the original with few of the scares. A big part of the blame for this movie's failure rests on the decision to set the story in Romania. After umpty-thousand Dracula movies, American audiences expect this part of the world to be the abode of endless creepiness. Deprived of their ability to disrupt normal life in the US, the moments of unspeakable evil seem relentless, murky and unimaginative. And I wish I'd put a counter on the jump scares. They're so frequent that their impact – lessening with each successive booga-booga – fades to total inanity. I ran out of interest way before the director ran out of footage. See if desperate

Review – Tomb Raider

This appears to be the product of a series of super strange choices. The first attempt to bring Lara Croft to the silver screen followed the action-heavy, plot-light look and feel of the game. But in this take the protagonist is far more human, right down to being broke and working a bad job. The platform hopping doesn't even get underway in earnest until halfway through the movie. The result is oddly non-gamey for a production based on a game. Mildly amusing

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Review – The First Purge

I continue to be amazed at how the Purge series develops. It got off to a really lackluster start, but each successive entry has better production values, more clever scripts and more of a point. Which is of course the exact opposite of how most movie franchises progress (or rather regress). This prequel sticks closely to the anti-Trumpist themes of the last one, explaining here how the whole Purge thing got started. To be sure, it's a simple-minded action movie. But it's nice to have escapist fun that targets a problem worth targeting. Mildly amusing

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Review – The Meg

This is the most time, energy and attention I've ever seen devoted to a super-giant shark movie. Usually they're more the province of the SyFy channel. In this one even the explanations are elaborate, building in temperature inversions at the bottom of the ocean to explain how a 60-foot-long predator could exist without ever coming into contact with humans. The movie packs a few scary moments, sadly offset by some unnecessarily sad bits. This is also impressively well tailored to make a seamless transition to Chinese media markets, which I found more interesting than the story itself. See if desperate

Review – The Predator

Here's a space monster for the Trump era: just make the stupid thing bigger and that's bound to make it better. In all fairness, the jumbo-sized Predator is one of the movie's high points. The production is also clearly designed for the age of comment sections, with lots of little in-jokes such as the acknowledgment that the aliens are really more sport hunters than they are actual predators. Though the action sequences are top notch, the "talky" parts of the script often seem a little pointless. Mildly amusing

Friday, May 17, 2019

Review – The Silence

It's pointless at this point to become the thousandth reviewer to observe that this comes across as a knock-off of A Quiet Place, both because this one came out later and because the other one was better. Though this one has its moments, for the most part it does everything wrong that the other one did right. For example, the monsters make their screen appearance too early and spend too much time in the clear light of day. It also spends a big chunk of time pitting the protagonist family against other people, which struck me as a mistake. If you've got good monsters, why bother with a stereotypical religious cult? See if desperate