The Tomorrow War

November 18, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

Aliens will kill most of Earth’s population in the future so soldiers are being drafted in the present and sent to the future to fight and die…until Chris Pratt takes care of business.

OMG. This is the reason that, as much as I love time travel movies, they really should be kept out of the hands of idiots. This movie had a lot of boom and whango, as we say Chez Otter, but very little about it made sense. There were so many plot holes related to time travel that I’m not even going to go there. Mr. Otter and I spent most of the movie yelling, Why are you doing this? at the screen, and pointing out the obvious paradoxes and inconsistencies.

And I really like Chris Pratt, but not here. Even he couldn’t save this dog.


The Day The Earth Stood Still

November 18, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the short story Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates

An alien comes to earth with an ultimatum: abandon war, especially nuclear war, or the Earth will be destroyed by other alien races.

This is, of course, a legendary SF movie. My family always had the TV going on Sunday afternoons to watch whatever cheesy old SF and horror movies were playing (back in the days when you had to watch whatever the Television Gods decreed, rather than choosing for yourself.) This was a big favorite, and my sister had a huge crush on Michael Rennie, who I will admit is easy on the eye.

I saw bits and pieces of it, and of course Klaatu Barada Nicto is a famous catchphrase…but I really don’t remember ever having actually watched it all the way through, until Mr. Otter mentioned it and I said, I’ve never seen it. Well, that was a gap in my cultural literacy that got addressed pretty quickly!

For what it was, a preachy cold war movie about eschewing violence, it was pretty good. The special effects weren’t bad for the time, and the story, although pretty far-fetched (none of his abilities was ever explained, he could just do all this random stuff. And he was exactly like Earth humans…hm.) it all held together pretty well.

The story was interesting enough not to be draggy, and of course the ending, “The decision rests with you…” was great.

The Otter liked this classic and was happy not to be disappointed by it!


Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

November 17, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

Shang-Chi finds out that A) his father is a Bad Guy and B) he has to use the power of the Ten Rings to save his mother, who everyone thought was dead, and they must also defeat an evil dragon.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

It was actually much better than that description makes it sound. This was a compelling, beautifully made MCU movie (in one post-credits scene the heroes are taken to Kamer-Taj by Wong the Librarian) and very enjoyable…except for one small quibble: the evil dad, Wenwu, was a way more interesting and compelling character than Shang-Chi.

I mean, yes, the MCU is full of people like Captain America who are kind of vanilla; they’re unsalted good guys, probably okay for a snack but not what you are really craving. But to have such a contrast between the two stars of the same movie, and have the bad guy be the one I was really behind for the whole thing, evil or not, didn’t really work for me.

Yes, Loki is a bad guy that everyone likes…but he gets his comeuppance regularly, and bounces back for more. In this movie, the bad guy was just BAD. Until the very end, when he sacrifices himself and gives his kid his power source.

Hm.

I’m going to watch this one again before coming down too hard on it…I’m finding that the MCU movies are so full of stuff both from previous stories and their own that I usually like to see them twice before writing a review…and as I said, it was beautiful and I did get caught up in the story…so I’ll be kind to this one til then.


Venom: Let There Be Carnage

October 21, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

Eddie Brock, the host of the symbiotic alien Venom, is trying to get his journalism career back and interviews a serial killer…who becomes the host for another Venom-class symbiote, and is out to get his super-powered lost girlfriend out of the slammer.

I really liked the first Venom movie with Tom Hardy, and had been looking forward to the next in the franchise…but of course 2020. So when it actually did get released, I was on the road with my friend Craiggers, driving halfway across the US. We were in Albuquerque, and had a free evening, so we went to see this.

And it was…okay. Way too much ‘this symbiote is now inhabiting this body’ for me, even for a comic book story that was kind of silly. Much less character development than the first one. But okay.

The teaser has Eddie Brock and Venom transported to a hotel room in the Spider-Man universe, so we’ll see what happens there…


The Suicide Squad (2021)

September 22, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

A reboot of the DC Comics bad-guys squad, they are sent to the island of Corto Maltese to stop evil scientists from what? Oh yeah, TAKING OVER THE WORLD.

I liked the 2016 Suicide Squad movie (Margot Robbie and Viola Davis are, I think, the only two holdovers from that. There are a few other characters who are the same…but there are a lot of new ones, or remakes of the old ones: Idris Elba’s Bloodsport vs Will Smith’s Deadshot, King Shark instead of Killer Croc, you get the picture.) and was really looking forward to seeing a sequel…except this isn’t, it’s kind of a reboot; the same thing has happened, with evil boss Viola Davis putting bombs in supervillains’ heads and telling them to get out there and do a job for her or she’ll kill them. That was the only similarity.

SPOILERS ahead, nothing huge, just fyi.

So this was a big ol’ mishmosh of a movie; the team is put together, they interact in very dysfunctional ways (they put the fun in dysfunction!) and then decide they need to GET IT DONE. Most of them are killed on landing, and then we find out that there’s a second team that was sent in to do the same job three days earlier, and the team from the beginning of the movie was just a distraction…but what’s distracting is the number of people with weird powers running around, killing whoever is a target, exchanging witty (or not) repartee, and maybe solving the problem?

This was just too full of stuff. If they had crammed any more plot or characters into this movie it would have exploded like one of its own special effects.


Klute

September 22, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

The best friend of a murdered man talks a PI into trying to solve the case, working with a prostitute who may be the next victim.

This is a movie I’ve heard about since it came out (and since I was 12 at the time, of course I wasn’t allowed to see it, lol!). It wasn’t the greatest whodunit ever, especially since the audience knows very well who the bad guy is; he’s shown listening to tapes he made of the victims’ sexual encounters several times, so duh. The low-key but intense interaction between Sutherland and Fonda is good, and so is Roy Schieder as the pimp of all three murdered girls.

Not exciting, but a good psychological suspense movie.


Jungle Cruise

September 16, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

A botanist and her brother hire the captain of a cruise boat to take them up the Amazon in search of a magical tree. Hijinks ensue.

Okay, Disney. You listen up here: just because you took a chance with Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl and ended up making a franchise, a worldwide phenomenon, and billions of dollars, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to keep throwing the same concept at the wall to see if it sticks. That’s what caused Haunted Mansion. And Tomorrowland. And now…this.

I’ve been going to Disneyland (in Anaheim) since I was a very young Otter;, waaay before Eisner got his hands on it and trashed all my childhood memories. I’ve been on the Jungle Cruise ride a ton of times, and always enjoyed the stupid eye-rolling puns and the Benji-peril.

I do have to say, I like Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock. He’s good-looking, and his on-screen persona is kind of low key and a little self-deprecating, both good things. In this, he tells a ton of ‘dad jokes’ because they’re riffing on the experience of the actual ride; I think every bad joke I’ve ever heard on that ride was incorporated into this movie somewhere, to groans from the audience, and Johnson was the perfect person in this role.

Having said that, the movie was awful. This was a serious mishmosh of well-known movie tropes: girl and brother off to find a magical item? The Mummy. Taking a boat up a river in search of something the Conquistadors found? Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Two people fighting like cats and dogs on a boat trip but ending up smooching? The African Queen. And on and on and on. I don’t think there was an original idea or scene in the whole movie, truthfully.

I was rolling my eyes by the end of this thing, and not at the jokes; even for an action/magical events kind of movie, this was ridiculous. Every time someone thought the journey was over or the bad guys would win, they raised the ante on idiotic coincidental things that would happen, look great on film, save the day and make no sense, culminating with the huge waterfalls at the end.

Disney, give up. Be happy with one success and stop trying to make every damn ride in the theme park into a blockbuster movie…

This is a good choice for an evening when you have literally nothing else to do, but only if you enjoy dad jokes and promise to remove your brain first.


Quo Vadis

September 15, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Henryk Sienkiewicz.

A Roman general falls in love with a Christian slave and is eventually converted, all against the backdrop of Nero’s Rome.

I was traveling, as is my wont, and was listening to a great audiobook series from the Teaching Company about movies that take place in Ancient Rome and their historical accuracy; the presenter was a Classics professor, and he was funny and had a lot of interesting things to say, both about the movies and about the whole ‘Roman Spectacle’ genre of movies. This was one of the films he talked about; it started the whole genre in 1951.

I read the book many many years ago as a young Otter, and still remember that it was a thunderin’ good read…this movie? not as much, although it wasn’t bad…

Robert Taylor is the Roman commander, and it’s a toss-up whether he or a block of wood would be a more compelling hero…he’s very handsome, but rather stiff and unemotional. Deborah Kerr is beautiful and awesome as the Christian slave Lygia, but the cake is completely taken, eaten and owned by Peter Ustinov as Nero; not only is Ustinov an Otter Family Favorite Actor, but this role is campy and awful. Scenery is chewed with gusto.

This movie has huge sets, scenes with hundreds if not thousands of actors, chariot races, Rome burning, and lots of overacting. What’s not to like?

But read the book as well, it was great.


Soul

August 26, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

Joe is a middle school music teacher who dreams of being a jazz musician; he falls down a manhole and goes to the afterlife, has adventures and things work out in the end.

This was cute, and I wanted to like it more than I did, but it was a pretty typical Disney/Pixar kind of movie; I wanted to like it more than I did.

The vision of the afterlife was bland but interesting, with souls needing to find their ‘spark’, their inspiration to return to Earth, to be reborn, but not enough to save the movie from being pretty ordinary.


Momo

August 25, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the book of the same name by Michael Ende

Momo lives in a peaceful village until the Grey Men show up and start buying everyone’s time…and then everyone is busy and stressed, and Momo has to fix things.

I have a German friend who has been in the US for many years, but when she still lived in Germany, Michael Ende wrote the Neverending Story…and she sent me a copy of the beautiful English language edition from there, with multicolored type and lovely illustrations. And when I raved to her about how much I enjoyed it, she sent me his previous novel, Momo (which was originally translated into English as The Grey Gentlemen.)

And forty years later, I still have both of these books and still love them.

Ende’s worldbuilding is a big part of his appeal; his plots are interesting, and his writing doesn’t talk down to children.

I found the movie of Momo cute, but very ‘kids will like this because it’s cute and quirky’, rather than a good fantasy story that happened to have children in it; but this movie was made in the days of Goonies and Explorers (No, I am not a fan of either Goonies or Explorers. Deal with it.), and has that same kind of ‘adults writing for kids with no idea what they really like’ feeling.

And I just looked…and Michael Ende, unhappy with the movie of Neverending Story, is one of the screenwriters. But I stand by my comments, the movie is just…cutesy. There are some good action sequences, but it never really seemed to come together.

The girl who plays Momo is cute and perky, the Grey Men are not scary but certainly not appealing, and there are some good scenes. It wasn’t horrible, just not as good as I remember the book being…I guess I need to go back and reread it.

Still…not one I’d recommend.