Geostorm

November 7, 2017

 Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

There is a grid of weather satellites controlling the weather all over the world…but of course things go horribly wrong…

I would normally put a SPOILERS warning here, because I’m going to give away the name of the bad guy (as if you can’t guess it from the cast list) so if you really care, stop reading. And do yourself a favor, don’t watch it either; really, you will thank me for this advice.

So yes. Climate change and all, so the nations of the world actually work together and put up a continuous sphere of satellites, controlled by an international space station, to control the weather.

So let’s allow this ridiculous premise, that anytime this century (much less soon) this would even be feasible, much less possible. The science police are out to lunch, and we won’t tell them.

The footage of this web of satellites doesn’t just have all of them in geosynchronous orbit…no, they are PHYSICALLY CONNECTED by lines of some kind of metal into a grid. Really? What kind of stupid is that, to think that that’s more believeable than just spacing them in orbit? Plus the space station is OUTSIDE this net, and shuttles go up and down. Could they have left a couple of big holes for this? no, the shuttle has to get through the spaces, which don’t really look big enough.

Then…the station was built under the aegis of, and control of, the US, but will soon devolve to the United Nations, and of course somebody doesn’t want it and is sabotaging the weather (over specific cities, we’ll get to that later) but has left clues and things so the Good Guys can Figure It Out. I’m tired of villains who are stupider than I am. And of course it’s Ed Harris, as soon as you see that he’s in the movie you know he’s the bad guy. Because Ed Harris.

And speaking of actors, how sad is it that it looks like 300, as awesome as it was, is probably the zenith of Gerard Butler’s career? And I say that not having seen most of the stuff he’s done, but now he’s in a high-budget dog like this? Sad. Just sad.

So yes, high budget. Really amazing sets and (at least in the trailers) mind-blowing special effects. Except…there were more or less 5 cities that got destroyed…and it was…well, not very exciting. Plus there was no indication that when each of these catastrophic events happened they would have repercussions outside the specific area of that one city, which was even more unbelieveable than the rest of this turkey. They were individual cities, and you saw cgi footage of stuff happening, but since there were no characters we knew involved, and the damage was limited to one tiny area, it was…just cgi.

And that (aside from the predictability and the stupid science) was the problem with this movie- for a thriller and a special-effects disaster movie, it was kind of boring. The plot was not very good (at least  they tried to give an explanation for there being a self-destruct device on the international space station) and none of the characters was really more than stock- the smart girl with a gun who is in love with someone she shouldn’t be in love with, the maverick who built the thing who is going to have to die to save everyone except he won’t die, the bad guy who turns out not to be the bad guys because (surprise) Ed Harris is actually the bad guy, the maverick’s daughter who is in the movie SOLELY to try to make us care whether or not the maverick survives the self-destruct thing, etc. etc. etc.

Meh. Skip it. Not worth even watching for free.


The Revenant

January 25, 2017

revenant

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

“Based in part on” the novel The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke

Guy gets mauled by a bear, left for dead, returns (title, get it?) to take revenge. Wonder how it’s going to end?

This won a SLEW of awards, including Best Actor, Director and Cinematography awards, and was nominated for even more (both Golden Globe and Academy awards). And…well…I’ll give you cinematography and even director.  Leo didn’t have to do more than stumble around looking half dead, so although he’s an excellent actor, there is no way I would agree that he deserved best actor for this; it was probably just, oh, here’s Leo again, we’ll give it to him so he’ll stop bothering us. And you notice that neither of these august bodies offered this movie best screenplay.

And why? Because it was AWFUL.

Yes, I came out and said it. One of the most talked about and lauded movies of the year (2013) that it was made…is just appallingly awful.

And there are SPOILERS ahead, so if you really do want to watch this tedious and annoying movie without knowing what will happen (but you really do know what will happen, trust me…there are no surprises in store) then stop reading here and come back after you’ve wasted TWO AND A HALF HOURS OF YOUR SHORT LIFE on this thing. You could have read my review in five minutes and then picked up a good book, but no. You have to show how you know better than I do. Go ahead. See where it gets you. Prove me wrong.

I’ll just wait here.

(2 hours and 34 minutes later)

So. Now you know. Aren’t you sorry you didn’t listen to the Otter?

I was at the Red Cross, doing apheresis, which means that I spent nearly three hours in a chair, covered with warm blankets, needles in both arms while they took out all my blood, drained the plasma and platelets, and put it back. And I get to watch a movie. I picked this one.

Oh my god. Tedious, moody, serious as all hell. Very very very predictable. Sudden flashbacks to tell the backstory (about his Native American wife, which explains why his young son is with him (because their village got torched by Bad Men and she died in the fire and they were the ONLY TWO who survived)). Then he gets mauled by a bear. Oddly enough, him surviving this is one of the few parts of the story I DON’T have a problem with; it did happen from time to time. Not likely, but possible. But the bad guy (Tom Hardy, excellent as always, although (as another reviewer pointed out) he is a serious mumbler…) gets tired of waiting, decides that Leo won’t make it, and ends up killing his son, then mostly burying Leo because he’s mostly dead anyway. Cue revenge music.

So of course Leo survives (and at one point puts gunpowder on the wound in his throat and lights is to cauterize it…THAT made my disbelief take a serious nosedive.) Then he is chased by the Bad Indians and (he has gotten a horse by this point) he and the horse jump off a waterfall, the horse dies, but he manages to get to safety, and cuts the horse open to A) eat it and B) crawl inside to keep from freezing.

But he continues down a frozen river in winter. In north Missouri. In WINTER. And he doesn’t die, get frostbite, or pneumonia? I found this impossible to believe; his extremities would have been GONE.

There are a lot of People (mostly white males) Being Evil To Each Other (mostly to Native Americans). Not untrue at all, but heavy handed. Oh, and remember the part where he set off gunpowder in his throat wound? so after the first half hour of the movie, he CAN’T TALK. Most of the movie is scenery, heavy breathing, flashbacks and sign language. Gaah.

So then he makes it back to the fort, finds out that Tom Hardy made it back, and gets ready to take care of business, which (of course) has to be done before he rests or recuperates from his ordeal. And this was the part that really cooked my pemmican.

Because during this knife fight (in the snow and freezing river near the fort) there is a scene where Tom Hardy stabs Leo through the hand with a knife. And you see the blade go through his hand into the snow/ground on the other side. And the blade of the knife (which is about an inch and a half wide) is perpendicular with Leo’s fingers. See where I’m going with this? The knife blade ( and you can see the wound on his hand) HAD to have cut muscles and tendons through his whole hand. And HE USES THE HAND TO FIGHT AND HIT WITH. And of course wins, finally.

And there I am in the Red Cross, with needles in my arms and earphones on, saying loudly, NO WAY! There is NO WAY he is using that hand for this fight and probably NEVER AGAIN! No! That hand is TOAST! and the nurses are walking over to see what I’m talking about and laughing at me and nodding in agreement.

So yeah, I guess it’s an okay movie of revenge and perseverence, but it takes itself waaaaay too seriously, is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too full of modern sensibilities and has WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYY too much Leo doing totally unbelieveable things that are just ludicrous.

The otter would like to bury this one alive and not let it come back for vengeance.


Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

May 9, 2016

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.


The Haunting of Winchester House

February 23, 2016

winchester

Internet Movie Database

A family moves into the ‘Winchester House’ as caretakers and of course there are ghosts and stuff.

This review contains SPOILERS but since it’s a low-budget straight-to-video movie, I doubt you’ll ever come across it…and truthfully, if you do, you won’t want to see it. Trust me.

We have had this movie in the pile of DVDs that we laughingly refer to as The Great Unwatched, and it’s been there for a while…Spider Jerusalem watched it one time while house-sitting for us and said it was kinda meh. But because it was the Winchester Mystery House, of course we had to see it!

So let me start off by saying that I have lived within two miles of the real Winchester Mystery House for many, many years. I’ve taken the tour many times (great for out-of-town guests) and have read a lot about Sara Winchester and her interesting obsession.

The real WMH is in San Jose, across and down the street from two different shopping centers, and right by the 280 freeway. It is not in the woods in the middle of nowhere, and in fact the ‘house’ (in an undisclosed location) they use to stand in for it is a really pallid imitation, like showing someone a minnow and claiming that it’s a whale. Or some simile to that effect.

The production values are okay, not great, as is the acting. The house seems to have about six rooms, plus a basement and a secret passage. There are a lot of jump scares, and a bit of oogies with the baby (where did that come from? the main ghosts are concerned with the mystery of Sara W’s daughter’s disappearance) that is crawling into the room. But mostly pretty typical horror movie stuff.

The ending was just a damn stupid ‘Sixth Sense’ ripoff.

In the immortal word of Spider Jerusalem, Meh.


R.I.P.D.

October 29, 2015

image

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.


Maleficent

January 5, 2015

maleficent

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Sleeping Beauty told from the evil fairy’s point of view. Sort of. And badly.

Mr. Otter and I took a long vacation this last summer, and once in a while we would find ourselves with a free evening in civilized environs, at which point I’d rev up my ipad, open the Flixster app, and look for a movie to go to.

This one was playing pretty much everywhere at that time, and we discussed going to see it several times in several places…but we didn’t. I saw How To Train Your Dragon 2, and we saw Snowpiercer and Guardians of the Galaxy…but not this.

And I am now so pleased that we didn’t. Because the reason that we kept going to other movies is that this one got bad reviews. Now, we chez otter really don’t read movie reviews (other than the ones I write; you all know that you should listen to me because I KNOW WHAT’S GOOD. Trust the Otter!) but NOBODY seemed to like this, other than the special effects.

And, as sometimes happens, those bad reviews were absolutely right.

This was one of the entries in the 2015 New Year’s Day Videofest (theme: WITCHES) and it was really, really bad. Not just ‘started out well and lost its way’ bad. Not just ‘meant well but got rewritten a bit too much’ bad. Not even ‘could have been a good story’ bad. This one was a full-blown ‘we decided to pull all the money out of the scriptwriting fund and put it in the special effects budget instead because people will be more likely to come see a badly-written movie with amazing special effects than they will a really good movie with ordinary special effects’ stinkeroo.

And things went south right from the get-go:

  • There was narration. A whole LOT of narration.
  • There was no real thought put into the world-building, they just put stuff in so they could do cool f/x.
  • There were people doing stupid pointless things for the sole reason that it advanced the plot.
  • I hated the idiotic grown women (the fairies, omg.)
  • Not to mention Angelina Jolie’s way over-photoshopped cheekbones.
  • And …oh, what’s the point? you get it.

This was a ridiculous insult to my intelligence. Skip it.


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

June 9, 2014

smaug

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Based on the book The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Sometimes I’m just a glutton for punishment. Transcendence and this in the same week, it’s a wonder I can even look at a screen again…so let’s get this over with.

Firstly, I love Lord of the Rings, and like the Hobbit, although it’s very different, much lighter and more of a children’s book, so it’s not quite as close to my heart. But I do like it and have read it many times.

Secondly, I loved Jackson’s three movies of LOTR. I have the director’s cuts and have a couple of times even watched them all in one day (takes some planning but very much worth the effort.) I don’t agree with all his plotting and character choices, but at least I can see why he made them and what he was trying to do, and I have always given him a strong B+/A- on this, which for something as difficult to film and as beloved as this trilogy is, is nothing short of phenomenal on his part.

Thirdly, I was pretty excited when I heard that Jackson had FINALLY worked out the rights disputes with the people who hold the Tolkien rights and was making The Hobbit. He’ll do it right, I thought, and couldn’t wait for the first one to come out.

Fourthly: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Take your time, I’ll wait right here.

So after that awfulness, I was not ABOUT to go see the second Hobbit movie in the theater. Sure, the trailers looked good, but they have done so much work on creating trailers to attract audiences that I rarely trust them any more. I waited until I could pick up the movie from my library for free…and I am so glad I did.

Because it was the same as the first Hobbit movie, in that the special effects and things-chasing-each-other budgets were way overfunded, and the ‘taking a good straightforward book and creating a good movie out of it without screwing it up’ column in the accounting ledgers had for some reason been left at 0.

Yes, I know. Jackson and the writers are trying to create a seamless whole, where these movies will lead right into the LOTR movies, so they included people and foreshadowing and stuff that refers to the previous set of movies. Didn’t work for the Star Wars prequels either, did it?

I know, they are really only putting in stuff that Tolkien wrote about in places like the voluminous appendices to LOTR and the Silmarillion and things like that. Padding, is what I say. They are padding these movies out to make them blockbusters. And it shows.

There are lots of scenes of people chasing each other (never a good sign, as we know from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) and often (like that whole ridiculous subplot of Thorin Oakenshield and the White Orc) the same people chasing each other over and over and over. There is Portentous Foreshadowing of Events That Will Come in Lord Of The Rings Movies (I was forced to use capitals to make the words seem more important, Mr. Jackson made me do it.) There are cameos by people playing characters who have nothing to do with The Hobbit, but who must be seen to be doing Important Things That Will Matter Later.

Basically, in LOTR, Jackson took a 1200 page trilogy and made three four hour movies of it. Not a bad thing.

But here, he is taking a 350 page book…and MAKING THREE THREE HOUR MOVIES OUT OF IT.

And I’m done. I’ve said enough. It was ridiculous, I sneered at it, it did not beguile me or capture my interest. It was all I could do to watch the whole thing so I would be entitled to write this review.

And that’s done. Forever.

And I have two years before the third one will come out…or longer, if I’m lucky.

Think good thoughts, true fans. Good thoughts indeed.