October 29, 2015


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the graphic novel series of the same name by Peter Lenkov

A dead cop wakes up in a police station, that turns out to be where afterlife cops chase dead guys trying to make them move on to whatever’s next, and of course there’s A) a big conspiracy that will End The World As We Know It and B) the answer to the mystery of the new guy’s death.

Oh man what a turkey. I read the graphic novels, and thought, hm. Maybe the movie is better…but no.

Basically, it’s a ripoff of Men in Black with a big dose of Ghostbusters thrown in for funny and gross moments. Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges are in there trying, but the script really doesn’t give them anything good to go with. The worldbuilding is shaky, stuff seems made up rather than having a reason for happening, and by the end they’re all just going through the motions.

Skip this and do yourself a favor, watch MIB and Ghostbusters again instead. You’ll be glad you did.

Hector and the Search for Happiness

October 29, 2015


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Francois Lelord

Plot? Hector searches for happiness, what do you think?

We chez Rees really like Simon Pegg’s action movies. We loved Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and Paul. He was awesome as Scotty in the new Star Trek reboot (at least the first one; I was less happy with everything in the second one…)

But I do not really enjoy him in regular, everyday-life kinds of movies. I really hated How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (except for one scene, which was excellent) and I was not happy with this movie; in both cases, he was perfectly good as an actor, but every British actor does the whole ‘I’m so repressed by this stiff-upper-lip culture that I can’t unwind and be happy’ thing, and frankly, I’m pretty tired of it. I guess if you’re British it continues to be amusing, but as an American who has no problem being happy, spontaneous, cheerful, having fun, doing pretty much what I want, and all that other stuff…I really don’t need to see any more movies on this theme. Okay?

Other than my rant, it was a perfectly good movie and amusing in many ways. Just…been there, done that.

Jurassic World

October 29, 2015


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CinemaSins         Movie Reviews

Bringing back dinosaurs and other prehistoric predators. What could possibly go wrong?

Okay, let me get the complaints out of the way right now. Firstly, Mr. Otter and I (especially Mr. Otter) love dinosaurs. I mean, we LOVE DINOSAURS. Even I, who am not nearly as steeped in their lore, know a fair amount about them, and Mr. Otter is really savvy on the subject. So we were in line to see Jurassic Park on the day it opened, which is not something we do very often. And we loved it.

The sequels? not so much, Serious Honey Jeff Goldblum notwithstanding.

When we saw that there was yet another JP movie coming out, we rolled our eyes but said, of course we’ll have to go. And we did. Okay.

Secondly, they are beating this into the ground. Granted, this one was better than JP 2 or 3, for sure. Better special effects, better writing, more humor without slapstick, cooler prehistoric beasties. But how many times can you find a reason for dinosaurs to run amuck and kill a lot of people without getting into Friday the 13th franchise land?

Thirdly, the sense of wonder is gone gone gone, just like the said prehistoric beasts. I remember what it felt like, watching JP and seeing Sam Neill and Laura Dern get out of their little car and SEE REAL DINOSAURS for the first time ever. It was one of the most amazing movie moments of my life. And in among the havoc and suspense and running and bloodshed, the sense of wonder and awe at these amazing animals was there. This is not the case in JP2, 3 or this movie.

Fourthly, my suspension of disbelief took a nosedive when I found out that the premise for this movie was that it takes place in a time after JP 1,2 and 3- so DESPITE THREE INSTANCES of resurrected dinosaurs going ballistic and killing everyone they could, the people in this movie were not only stupid enough to keep this park open, stupid enough to PAY MONEY TO COME TO IT, but also the parkgoers are so blase that attendance is declining so the scientists decide to genetically alter T-Rex to be even MORE scary and smart…again, what could possibly go wrong?

Seriously, this was ridiculous. The plot was ludicrous, there was a lot of stuff that just couldn’t happen (pterosaurs picking up people?) and we rolled our eyes all the way through it.

Having said that, it was a funny, fast moving plot and Chris Pratt is cute as a box full of puppy dogs. If that’s enough for you, go for it, you’ll love it. But we Chez Rees have higher standards.

Until they come out with the next damn Jurassic Park movie spawn…then (sigh) we’ll be there in the audience too.

San Andreas

October 28, 2015


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CinemaSins         Movie Reviews

The San Andreas Fault gives way and Dwayne Johnson must save his family.

Oh my god, this was so stupid. I mean, the movie itself was okay, for an explodo…but I LIVE ON THE DAMN SAN ANDREAS FAULT. I have lived on it pretty much all my life, and have had earthquake knowledge drummed into me since I was a tiny little otter…and as bad as it’s going to be when and if The Big One happens, it won’t be anything like this.

Because this was STUPID. They had the wrong fault lines going the wrong way and doing the wrong things, they had tsunamis and floods and…gaaaah. It’s just too awful a mish-mosh to write it all. I called out the Science Police, and here’s what Buzzfeed and a bunch of actual scientists had to say about it.

Yeah, The Rock is pretty good in this, and there’s action, and suspense, and great special effects…but unless you can completely turn off the part of your brain that knows ANYTHING about science, you’ll be rolling your eyes all the way through, just like Mr. Otter and I did.

Mel Brooks: Make A Noise

October 28, 2015


Internet Movie Database

Mel Brooks talks about his life and career in this documentary, originally broadcast on TV as part of the American Masters series.

I was at my library perusing the DVD racks and saw this and thought, Hm…why not?

It’s a 90 minute tribute to Brooks, with him being interviewed and many other people (including Anne Bancroft, in older footage) chipping in about him, and clips from a lot of his works. And it’s really good- he’s funny, honest and self-deprecating. It was really fun to watch, and gave me a whole new appreciation for him.

Now, I think that Mel Brooks is an amazingly funny man. He’s had a long and varied career, and made a lot of movies…but my contention is that only his first four movies: The Producers, The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, were really funny.

And then I look over his list of movies, and I see When Things Were Rotten, which I remember as one of the funniest TV shows ever, Dick Gautier as Robin Hood and Dick Van Patten as Squire Tuck and hilarity and hijinks…but it’s not available at all, much as I’d love to see it again. (And it turns out that it is available on Amazon, on a Print on Demand DV-R…so I am happy!)

And there’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, which I remember as being pretty funny. Spaceballs? Evidently everyone under 30 thinks it’s the funniest movie ever (Wrong. This is the funniest movie ever.) Robin Hood: Men in Tights? okay, not awesome. History of the World Part I? not at all. And there were a few more in there that I saw over the years, some better than others.

So…yeah, four movies that are brilliant, and a lot of stuff that wasn’t brilliant but certainly had moments. And that’s just the big stuff, he had a hand (or voice, or pen, or directed) a whole lot of other movies and tv episodes as well.

And that’s the thing about this biofilm- it shows Brooks as a well-rounded extremely funny guy and makes you appreciate his movies and humor all over again. It was great, you should watch it. And then watch a bunch of his movies. You’ll be glad you did.


October 28, 2015


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Um…some wierd mishmosh about time travel, George Clooney and a future that looks like the Jetsons?

Okay, really: George Clooney as a teen goes to the 1964 World’s Fair (and does not run into the young Otter, although I was there…!) and meets a beautiful teen girl who shows him an amazing future that does not come to pass…he grows up disillusioned but handsome, into the George Clooney we all know and drool over. A current teen girl gets the same kind of glimpse, and they run around trying to make this future happen and foil the bad guys. And they eventually do, of course.

I saw this several months ago, and had completely forgotten the plot EXCEPT that the ending was so completely stupid and unbelieveable, even after a whole movie of really bad pseudoscience, that I was facepalming like crazy.

This is another of Disney’s attempts to make movies based on their theme parks. One was good. One was bad. Now they are in ‘why are you even trying this again’ territory…and if they make a Country Bears Jamboree movie, I am NOT going to go see it. OH MY GOD NO, THEY ALREADY DID!!!

The Lego Movie

October 28, 2015


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CinemaSins         Movie Reviews

Yes, The Lego Movie. Me. I watched it. Really. No, I have not been taking psychotropic drugs or joined a cult. Really. Yes, I liked it. Now can I get on with my review? Thank you.

One of the Lego workers (and Legoland is like 1984 in cheerful colors, with everyone doing their job and following orders to the Nth degree) breaks away and goes on a quest to save everyone from being glued into place.

Yup. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? And srsly, THE LEGO MOVIE? Like there isn’t enough stuff being made into movies solely to sell more stuff to more people, especially kids? I am so tired of animated movies that are the same story over and over, with cute stuff to get you to like the movie, and more cute stuff to get you to buy cute stuff that is shown in the movie. Gaaaaah.

But this movie was funny and charming, well written, even- dare I say it?- WITTY. I really really loved it, I laughed and chortled at the funny stuff all the way through, and there were surprising plot points.  The writers totally poke fun at the whole Lego phenomenon, and there are many send-ups of pop-culture icons (like Batman) as well. The ending was excellent, and I won’t give it away.

And it had Will Ferrell in it. Now there are THREE movies (the others being Megamind and Stranger than Fiction) with him in it that are worth watching. That’s more mind-blowing than me seeing the Lego Movie and liking it…

I’m going to watch it again! Want to come over and join me?

A Streetcar Named Desire

October 28, 2015


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the play of the same name by Tennessee Williams

Ah, yet another screwed up Southern family…Stella, from a previously aristocratic Southern family on hard times, has married Stanley, a working-class son of immigrants, and when her alcoholic and delusional sister comes to stay with them, passions are turned loose and shenanigans ensue.

Mr. Otter and I saw this at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival; as much as I like Tennessee Williams’ oeuvre, I had never seen either the play or the movie; it was better and more interesting than I expected, and the production was excellent (as is usually to be expected.)

So when I was looking for a movie to take to the Red Cross while I did apheresis, I decided to try the (deservedly famous) film version of this, with Marlon Brando as the broody working-class guy and Vivian Leigh as the ethereal sister with a past and no future.

This was very good; Brando, while neither sexy nor one of my favorite actors, was quite good, both tough and vulnerable, and both Janet Leigh and Kim Hunter (who played Stella) were excellent. Nobody chewed too much scenery, and seeing it in black and white added to the broodiness of the whole story.

This is deservedly a classic, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you should.


October 26, 2015


Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A coming-of-age story that follows the life of a young man from childhood to going off to college.

The big thing about this movie is, of course, that it was filmed over TWELVE YEARS, with the cast under contract to reconvene every year for three or four weeks to film the next segment of the story, so that audiences will see everyone in this movie actually aging as the years pass.

The protagonist starts out at 5 years old, goes through school to high school graduation and the movie ends as he drives off to college, already a young man on the brink of freedom and responsibility.

This was a good movie and well made. The story was good, although nothing really happened beyond the things that happen in people’s lives- his parents got divorced, his mom gets remarried, he has friends and girlfriends and problems at school, the usual stuff.

And it was cool seeing people get older for real, instead of having them made up and pretending. The only problem was that the transitions were not always clear; a couple of times we (the movie group watched this together) had to back it up to figure out that a year had gone by; usually, the scene was different or someone had a different look, which made the transitions easier, but not always. Some kind of text or title card would have been helpful, but I think that the point is that life moves on and people change and you don’t always notice it right away, so the filmmakers didn’t want to call attention to it.

So for what it was, a growing-up-and-changing story, it was good. Not amazing, but good. There was no big denoument, no meaning, just…a story. Worth seeing once, if only for the novelty.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

October 25, 2015


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From the graphic novel of the same name by Mark Millar.

There is a super-secret spy group that recruits young people and sends them to an academy to become spies; this movie is about a young man from a lower-class British family who is recruited and goes through the training, mentored by Colin Firth. They must save the world from a bad guy who is going to wipe out a huge number of people to save the Earth from global warming.

This is rude, irreverent and funny. Colin Firth and his very proper Englishness in some of these situations is hilarious, and the writing and action are good. The final scene is waaaay over-the-top (not a spoiler, but do NOT watch this movie if you can’t handle blood and violence) and it made me laugh really really hard…what can I say? I’m twisted.

Not the best movie of the year, by a long shot, but a fun one to watch.