theotterlimits

Otter's Eclectic Movie Reviews

What did you do in the war, Daddy?

war

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

 A group of American soldiers is told to capture an Italian village; the Italians want to have a festival before they surrender, the Americans haven’t had R&R in a long time, hijinks ensue.

Mr. Otter brought this home from the library where he works, and Ottersis and I thought it might be fun…I’ve heard of it, and didn’t mind giving it a try. Plus there were some good people in it, most notably James Coburn, a favorite actor Chez Otter, and Harry Morgan, who will be forever known as Col. Potter from the TV series M*A*S*H.

This was great farce, with nothing really unbelieveable happening but silliness piling on silliness until suddenly everything works out and the Americans come out heroes. But getting there is all the fun, and fun it is.

From the shenanigans at the festival, to the following near-disasters, to the crazy solutions to problems, and subplots adding in, this was funny, well written and pretty hilarious.

Finding Dory

dory

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

The eponymous fish, who we first met in Finding Nemo, now has her own movie. She has remembered her parents, whom she lost in childhood and then forgot (because, as she tells EVERYONE she meets, she has short-term memory loss…which means that the repeated joke in the movie is her doing or saying something, forgetting it and then repeating it ten seconds later.) And she goes to find them. Guess how it ends? (Hint: it’s a Disney movie. You know how it ends.)

Okay, I’m being kind of mean to it, which will get me in trouble, because Maid of Awesome loved it and told me to go see it.

Really, this was a charming feel-good movie, in the stamp of all others of its ilk. If you like them, you will like this one. I did enjoy it, I laughed at the funny parts, I got a little teary-eyed at the sad parts, and I loved the otters saving the day at the end, being one myself.

I am not a huge fan of modern Disney anything; I’m an old curmudgeon about it, and horrified a young friend when I admitted that not only have I not been to Disneyland in twenty years but have no intention of going again, except MAYBE to see California Adventure, which was just being built the last time I was there. I also admitted to loving Fantasia, which she hated, having been raised on the new Disney stuff.

Anyway. It’s  pretty typical Disney/Pixar, which is not a bad thing. Go see it, it’s fun. (Okay, Maid of Awesome?)

Ghostbusters (2016)

ghost

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Five women take it on themselves to try to stop ghost incursions in New York City, with amusing results.

Who ya gonna call? This update to an old standard (which, I am horrified to find out, I have not reviewed, which means I haven’t seen it since 2001 or earlier…! Far too long.) is pretty damn good.

If you are one of the three people in the world who has not seen Ghostbusters (1984), you have missed one of the seriously most hilarious movies on the planet, with a stellar cast, great writing, and wild comedy.

How do you do it again? By changing it out…the five main male parts from the original are played by women (and awesome funny women, Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig being the standouts);  the female secretary is now gorgeous but dumb beefcake (Chris Hemsworth, a joy to see having so much fun in something less ponderous than Thor movies); the basic plot is changed to an occult terrorist rather than ancient gods returning; and many of the old Ghostbusters cast have token parts that made me laugh and point at them and enjoy seeing them again.

It wasn’t screamin’ hilarious, but it was funny. There was a lot of charm, and the humor fit the women who played the (not the same as the original) parts.  There were references to the original, but it was its own movie, and was good enough to stand on its own feet.

And of course, the special effects were excellent.

Well done, Ghostbusters. Very well done.

Star Trek: Beyond

stbeyond

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

The third installment in the rebooted Star Trek franchise, which unfortunately is continuing to go where everyone has gone before…

<sigh>. Okay, it’s time to get on my soapbox again: Giving people the same stuff they’ve already seen is so boring. Sure, everyone will come see it, and you’ll make a lot of money on the opening weekend…but it’s just the same old stuff over and over. (Are you listening, DC Comics? You should be..)

So let me start by saying that I loved the first of the new Star Trek movies. It was well written, edgy, exciting, fun, and a great new take on a series that has been done to death.

But the last two movies show that they are not willing to take any chances any more…

So on the good side, this was better than Star Trek: Into Darkness, which just annoyed the crap out of me. Gaaah. I don’t even want to think about it.

This was fun in many ways: excellent special effects, good explodo, well-known characters doing the usual stuff, a few nods to the original series and (this was nice) acknowledgement of Leonard Nimoy’s death in 2016. All that was well done. The basic plot wasn’t bad either.

But (and here is where the Physics Police show up) there were some things that made my disbelief hit the ground with a loud thud. Many of them had to do with the ship being in outer space:

  • If a sharp pointy object (or many of them) hits hard enough to breach the hull and end up with the point in a pressurized area, the hole is not going to seal itself; it’s either going to leak air around the projectile or (more likely) forcibly expel the projectile and all the air through that great big hole.
  • Also, if there is any kind of a hole in a pressurized area, you aren’t going to have only the people near it sucked in…it’s like a party, if anyone is invited, you have to invite everyone.
  • A deep space ship cannot fall to land without burning up or coming apart; you won’t have just a few burned spots, it’ll be GONE. They cannot be made to survive that…and they actually made this point about another ship, not the Enterprise…but if it’s true for one, it’s true for all.

That’s enough of physics; there was a lot more, and it annoyed me. That’s sloppy writing, and you can work it out so it’s more believeable IF YOU CARE ENOUGH TO TAKE THE TIME.

Also, one of the things that EVERYONE rolls their eyes about on the original show was how often all the senior officers would trot down to a planet and all be in danger at once. In this movie, Spock has to go down to the planet, and he’s hurt, so they send McCoy with him TO FLY THE SHUTTLE on the pretext that he has to make sure that Spock is okay…then he does nothing except lend Spock a shoulder to lean on. And, I will point out, he is helping him in such a way that he is ripping Spock’s wound open, rather than taking his other arm. Wouldn’t a doctor know that? Anyway…it makes no sense to have McCoy do any of this, except that evidently the powers that be decided that McCoy needs more screen time for his curmudgeonly rants, and that’s how they did it. Seriously stupid writing.

So…it was okay. There were some good parts. It wasn’t as bad as the second one (and is this going to turn into a series where every other one is awful, like the original Star Trek movies???) I’d say this is a renter, except it was great on the big screen.

Oh, and just before the movie, Simon Pegg (Scotty) came onscreen with an announcement filmed on set, thanking everyone for coming to a movie theater to see it. Interesting.

The Letter

letter

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Bette Davis is the wife of the manager of a rubber plantation in Singapore; as the movie opens, he has been shot to death, and as more information surfaces, secrets are revealed…and the letter that will clear it all up (or implicate someone) has gone astray…

Mr. Otter brought this home from the library where he works; I said, wow, a Bette Davis movie I’ve never even heard of! so we watched it that night, and it was great! Bette Davis was at the top of her form, the writing was excellent, and the moodiness and starkness of the black and white film were amazing.

This was a real winner- good characters, suspenseful plot, beautiful cinematography. It might be hard to find, but it is definitely worth the trouble.

John Wick

wick

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Russian mobsters piss off the eponymous character and he spends the whole movie getting his revenge.

Let me start by saying that yes, this movie was beautifully filmed, amazingly choreographed and the fight scenes were really, really well done. Okay? I get why people like it. I really do.

But…

  1. Keanu Reeves. That’s a deal-killer. The only way I agreed to let Spider Jerusalem show me this was that I didn’t have to pay a cent for it. Because there are several people I will not knowingly or willingly pay money ever again to see on the big screen (or even the small screen, if I have to pay for it) and Reeves is one of them.*
  2. This is pretty much the same plot as Taken, in that something is done to the main character and he spends the rest of the movie putting it right. Except for the part where Taken had good writing, Liam Neeson, and a plot and characters that had at least a bit more to them than just a series of violent acts.
  3. No, having Reeves spend thirty seconds remembering moments with his dead wife does not count for either character development, good reason for the following hour and a half of violence, or believeable emotion from Keanu Reeves, who hasn’t had a facial expression other than “Huh?” in at least ten years.
  4. And this is the worst: AN ADORABLE PUPPY IS KILLED TO SET OFF THE PLOT. No. No way. No how. Nuh uh. Not Chez Otter. We do not watch movies where the animal dies, especially gratuitiously to give the plot a reason to happen.

When this scene was over, I paused the movie and said to Spider Jerusalem, in effect, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING SHOWING ME A MOVIE WHERE THE DOG DIES?

His answer combined parts of, it’s part of the plot! I told you this was part of it when I saw it last year! You like Boondock Saints and the cat dies in that!

No, sorry. “Part of the plot” does not fly. I pointed out that when he told me about it last year and told me about the dog dying (which I do not remember) I am sure I said no, not if the dog dies. And in Boondock Saints (a favorite of mine) you see the cat walk across the table, one of the guys throws a gun on the table, it goes off and there is a huge splotch of blood on the wall. It is hysterically funny and you DON’T SEE IT DIE OR HAVE TO SEE ITS ADORABLE CORPSE. Big difference. And it isn’t killed to make the story move, which I think is heinous.

So if you like action, can stand Reeves, movies with very little wit or charm but hella good fight choreography, and (unlike me) don’t care about the ADORABLE PUPPY being beaten to death…go for it, you’ll probably like this.

*Sylvester Stallone, Woody Allen, Kevin Costner…and I think there’s one more but I’ve mercifully forgotten who.

Captain America: Civil War

civil war

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Basically, this is about the morality of being a superhero…should they be free to take care of what needs doing, or is that vigilanteism? And what if they make a mistake? And who has the authority to say do this or don’t do that? And what do they do if they don’t agree with their orders?

In other words, Marvel has taken on one of the central problems with the whole superhero thing, and done an absolutely brilliant job of it. There may be some SPOILERS in the following; I’ll try not to be too specific in my rapturous prose, but DAMN this was good.

Things I liked about this movie:

  • Bad Boy Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) coming down on the side of being supervised, with good reasons for doing so, and then legitimately losing his shit when it was reasonable to do that. Very well written, great character development.
  • The major disagreement being between Captain America and Iron Man, who started out snarling and circling like wild dogs and became friends, only to (now) come down on opposite sides of the central issue that affects them both.
  • In fact, with basically ten superheroes in this movie, six or seven had great character development. Ant-man and Spider-man were just fun walk-ons, and the same for Hawkeye, although it was great to see him back in the thick of things. Very Whedon-esque (In fact, I just had to check back and make sure Whedon was not one of the writers…much of this felt like him. No, he wasn’t, but it’s worthy of him.)
  • I liked that the characters who weren’t there either had reasons for not being there, or at least their absence was acknowledged…it makes for better continuity within the Marvelverse of these movies and shows.
  • And speaking of which, there were several mentions of things that tied this to the previous movies and some of the TV shows like Agents of SHIELD…but that weren’t necessary to have seen. Good writing.
  • And thank you for not going into everyone’s origin story yet again. That is one thing I hate about all the Batman movies, they feel the need to reinvent the wheel over and over and over…but don’t get me started on that latest DC godawfulness
  • I liked that (except for the first scene, which had plot reasons for it) they managed to keep the fighting to places where there were fewer people, and the filmmakers made it look like they were doing that on purpose…in other words, they actually learned from The Incident (destroying NY in the first Avengers movie).
  • There was also a lot of talking, and conversation, and character development. Again, kudos for that. Do you catch a theme here, Devoted Fans? I love that the Marvel universe is mostly populated with people who have extraordinary abilities, not just fighting suits who spout lines.

I could go on for an hour, but suffice it to say that this might be the best thing Marvel has done since the first Avengers movie made us all stand up and cheer. You go, Marvel! Keep it up, we love it!

And I’m off to see this movie again…anyone coming along? You’ll love it, I promise!!

Zootopia

zoo

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A girl from a small town has a dream of going to the big city and becoming a police officer. And of course, because it’s Disney, you know everything will turn out fine.

I LOVED the preview of this movie, the scene in the DMV with the sloths. Not because I think DMV, or even government workers are necessarily sloths (having been on a city payroll myself for many years) but because THAT IS MY LIFE. My life happens at about 1 1/2 times the rate everyone else in the world is going, and every single day is like that scene. Yes, all those incredibly slow people are nice, worth knowing, and do their jobs well…but OH MY GOD COULD YOU PLEASE JUST DO IT ALL A LITTLE FASTER BEFORE MY BRAIN IMPLODES WITH WAITING FOR YOU ALL?

Sorry. Anyway, I laughed very hard at those previews, and didn’t think any more about it. I don’t go see most Disney movies, and definitely not in the $$$ theater $$$, since they are pretty predictable, so I thought, if a lot of people tell me it’s good, I’ll rent it.

But then I found myself in Yuma Arizona.

Now, Yuma may actually be a nice place to live. I was only there for about 21 hours, which turned out to be about 18 hours too long. I was on my way home from a wonderful vacation camping across southern Arizona. My camping buddies had flown home from Tucson on Sunday, and I drove home doing some more camping and touristy stuff; Yuma was my last stop before Southern California and then home. And I had some fun stuff to do there:

  1. Go to Del Taco for lunch (my obsession, especially now that the only one within 20 miles of my house has gone)
  2. Visit the Territorial Prison, which sounded interesting
  3. Go to the Camel Farm, where there are camels and exotic animals to pet and visit.
  4. Get a motel for the night (luxury! after camping for several days.)

So I arrived in Yuma. I visited the prison, which was not nearly as interesting as it sounded. I found the Camel Farm, which was a really depressing looking place; I didn’t even get out of the car, just drove the ten miles back into town. I tried for over an hour to find the Hummingbird Garden which is supposed to be in the long park on the Colorado River, with no luck. And I was done. I was hot and tired and frustrated, I hadn’t found a single thing to do, and I was just done. I went back to my motel, got out my ipad, and checked for movies.

And found this one, in a theater that I had passed so I knew where it was. It was only seven bucks, and they had ice cream. This was the best part of the day; I was alone in the theater, the ice cream was delicious and the movie was fun.

I liked it. Typical Disney fare, no surprises, but it was funny and charming, and amused me for the afternoon.

And the next morning, I got out of Yuma and had a wonderful day. And I never have to go back.

Now that’s a good movie.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

uncle

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Two spies during the cold war, one British and one Soviet, are forced to work together. Hijinks ensue.

This otter is old enough to remember the original TV series this is based on, with Robert Vaughn and David McCallum…I didn’t watch it, but my mom did; I would hear the theme music as I was getting ready for bed the night it was on every week.

I had not gone to see this in the theater, since most reboots of 60s stuff are not that great, but I was at the Red Cross to do apheresis, and needed something amusing for a couple of hours, and thought, what the heck?

And it was amusing. I liked Cavill in this better than I do as Superman; he’s not as stiff and ponderous here. I always like Armie Hammer, and he was good as the Russian spy. And (bonus) Hugh Grant was their handler!

This was fluff, light and fun and self-consciously retro. They got most of the period detail as right as they needed to (although the plot revolved around a ‘computer disk’ that was about 3 inches square. Nothing like that existed or could have existed…anything with info on it would have been a big ol’ reel of tape…) But quibbles aside, it was fun and not too annoying.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

batsup

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Um…Batman and Superman have problems getting along and try to resolve them the old-fashioned way, by whining and punching each other until a smart female shows up and they realize how stupid they’ve been…right?

I guess you could say that there are SPOILERS here, but really? don’t worry, if you read this whole review I’m hoping you won’t go see this movie, or care if I tell you how bad it really is…

This was yet another attempt by DC to jump on the amazing freight train that is Marvel Comics’ multiplatform superhero series, and yet another chance for viewers to watch DC being thrown under the wheels and crushed into the ground.

Seriously, I was excited about this movie. I’m not crazy about Henry Cavill as Superman; he’s pretty, but he doesn’t have much personality…and it seems to me that more than most superheroes, Supes NEEDS to be relatable for viewers, him being a godlike alien and all. But Ben Affleck as Batman? Hellz yeah. I really do like him, have since Dogma (an Otter Family Favorite Movie) and was sorry to see his acting career come to a careening halt after Gigli. So I thought this might really do it for him, bring him back into the whole movie/acting thing.

And although I’m not a fan of Superman, I really like Batman and a lot of the Batman stories, especially the ones that take place in Gotham that Bats is only peripherally involved in. I also liked the look of the previews, and the seemingly intelligent handling of the moral problem of how one calls a superpowerful being to account.

But you know why I’m saying all this, right? to build up to how EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED I was in this movie. It wasn’t intelligent. It wasn’t insightful. Heck, I would have been happy with ‘well written’, ‘witty’ and ‘full of good character development’. It was none of those things.

What it was was dark. Disjointed. Whiny. Sometimes nonsensical. And kind of dull.

Except for the ten minutes when Wonder Woman shows up (although she’s been there all along, incognito). She is literally the only good thing about this whole movie, and that’s sad. Because she was awesome, and because the rest of this huge overblown overproduced overhyped steaming pile of ick is so much worse in comparison.

I saw it with my friend Spider Jerusalem, who had sent me this Scott Kurtz comic:

 comic

And luckily we were the only people in the theater, because every time there was an angsty flashback or ANOTHER wierd dream sequence where Batman was yet again having problems with his orphanhood, we both said this loudly and with feeling. And laughed. None of which we should have been inclined to do, but there was FAR too much whining in this movie.

And speaking of things there was far too much of, I have yet again broken my vow never to pay to see Kevin Costner in ANYTHING again. He DIED in the Superman movie, dammit! I should be safe from him! But no, Superman had to have an angsty dead parent flashback too, just to show that he was as screwed up as Batman. Seriously, the movie was like this.

And there were far too many people (title characters included) doing incomprehensible things for ridiculous reasons. More than once I turned to SJ and said, What the HELL is he doing that for? and it was never explained. Just, you know, reasons.

There were so many great reviews on the interwebs about why this was an absolutely terrible movie that I don’t have to hit it point by point…here’s a good one from cracked.com, there are lots of others. Just, seriously, don’t do it. Even if you think you might like it, there are so many better ways to spend two and a half hours. Go do something you like and leave me to try to heal on my own. But (I promise) without flashbacks or dream sequences. Thank you.

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