Reminiscence

October 21, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

In a sort-of-apocalyptic future, a PI tries to uncover the truth about a client he falls in love with.

And let me say here that I really, really, REALLY wanted to like this movie. But no.

Firstly, it’s Bladerunner lite. Dark post-apocalyptic setting where most people come out at night? Check. Anti-hero detective tormented by his past as the main character? Check. Falls in love with the girl he’s going to have to arrest? Check. Big reveal in the denoument? check.

So yeah.

The pace was slow (especially for an action movie), many of the scenes were dark and muddy, and the ending was so ridiculous that I was rolling my eyes and shaking my head at the screen.

No need to even give you spoilers, just trust the Otter, don’t even bother with this dog. You don’t need it in your memories…


Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe

September 22, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

Joe Jr. drops out of medical school because he wants to go into show business, so Joe Sr. lets him run his nightclub for a while, and gets a girl to pretend she’s interested in him to keep Jr away from Sr’s girlfriend. Shenanigans! And lots of musical numbers.

Completely ordinary, great if you like the aforementioned musical numbers. Lots of good singers and dancers to watch.


The Green Knight

September 22, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

A retelling of the Arthurian legend, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

The huge and scary Green Knight comes to Christmas in Camelot, and offers a challenge: any knight can strike him a blow with the knight’s sword, but a year later he gets to reciprocate. Gawain takes the challenge, cuts the Green Knight’s head off, and a year later has to travel to his castle to be beheaded, but ends up proving his bravery.

Which is a famous story that has been told over and over for hundreds of years, and is a great basis for a movie. Just not this movie.

Because the story is not very long, so the filmmakers had to add stuff to pad it out. And boy, did they ever. Including a lot of pseudomystical hoohah and looooong travel shots and things that made us say, Huh? (I saw it with Mr. Otter.)

This was long, not interesting, slow moving, and really really dull.

CoyoteRambles, whose specialty is cinematography, and who is a dear movie buddy, disagrees with us; he thinks it was engaging, interesting and beautifully made.

One out of three, CR, one out of three…


Grumpy Old Men

September 15, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

Two men in a small town who grew up together and have had a 50 year rivalry mostly expressed through invective and practical jokes both become interested in a widow who moves to town.

Our wonderful neighbor loves this movie and thinks it’s the funniest thing on Earth. She brought it over one night and we watched it and…well, we agreed to disagree.

It just wasn’t funny; mostly it was mean spirited, and these guys were pretty much annoying idiots. On top of that, they are both pursuing Ann-Margret, who is 16 years younger than Jack Lemmon and 21 younger than Walter Matthau, and looks even younger than that…it was kind of creepy. Not to mention the assumption that one of them will of course ‘win’ and she will be his. Was there nobody else in town interested in a beautiful and smart woman besides these two losers? Can she just not choose anyone and live her own life? Evidently not.

Not my cup of tea, thanks. You go ahead and enjoy it.

(And, after we had seen it and were nonplussed, and trying to find nice ways to tell our wonderful neighbor that no, this was not very funny at all…she said, oh, you need to see Grumpier Old Men, the sequel, that’s even funnier! Um, no, but thanks.)


Wise Blood

August 25, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Flannery O’Connor

A WWII vet returns, finds his family home abandoned, has a crisis of faith, and starts an ‘un-church’, an anti-religious ministry in a Southern city. Various things happen.

This was one of the movies for the New Year’s Day Videofest (theme: John Huston), and was not one of the better ones.

Evidently the book, O’Connor’s first, was made up of a group of short stories reworked, including her master’s thesis. The movie supposedly stays pretty close to the book, which does not recommend said literary oeuvre to this Otter.

It was wierd and disjointed. A lot of things happened for seemingly random reasons that never got resolved. None of the characters was particularly interesting, and truthfully, as I wrote this review, I had to go back and read a synopsis to remember any of the details of what happened to this guy at all.

I usually love John Huston movies, but this one? Fuggedaboudid.


Thir13en Ghosts (2011)

August 5, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

A remake of the 1960 Castle film of the same name (without the cutesy leet numerals)

This is recognizeably the same movie as the original: impoverished family inherits houseful of ghosts, moves in, ghosts are inimical, uh oh, family triumphs, bad guys Pay the Price.

The new screenplay ups the ante by 1. making the old haunted house a wierd glass construct with mazelike walls that move around, and have wierd glowing writing on them, and 2. turning said construct into a machine that will End The World if the evil plan succeeds.

Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same. The ghosts are scarier and more inventive, there’s a lot more blood and violence, and it’s not as well written as the older movie (and when it’s not as well written as a Castle film, well, that’s saying something right there…)

As silly as it is, the older one works better…but don’t take my word for it, have fun watching them yourselves!


Frozen II

July 1, 2022

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

The second in yet another blockbuster Disney franchise.

Elsa is called to the mysterious forest by music only she can hear, and of course fixes the problem after much angst and Benji-peril. And of course Anna, Kristof and that damn annoying snowman go with her, because why leave someone behind to actually run the kingdom?

I liked the first Frozen movie, but this was just silly, annoying,  and preachy (Earth, Air, Fire and Water are imbalanced and must be brought back into harmony <rolls eyes>).

Only for little girls who are obsessed with the series. I really don’t get it, but whatever.


Dolittle

March 3, 2020

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Dr. Doolittle sets out (with his apprentice and a bunch of animals) to find a cure for the Queen’s illness.

I have so many things to say about this movie, very little of it positive…so hold onto your hats, kids ! Oh, and there are SPOILERS if anyone cares (and you shouldn’t, really. Trust the Otter.)

Firstly, let me say that I loved these books; I had a collection of four or five of them in paperback that I read over and over and over. Before seeing this movie I reread the first one, The Story of Dr. Dolittle. And enjoyed it, although being a British book of its time, it is not politically correct in any way. So I was ready to see a more modern and less Rex Harrison-y version, and to like it very much. I mean, ROBERT DOWNEY JR? Oh yes.

And I was in the theater with Ottersis. And the movie started…and the opening credits were pretty awesome. They were set against a series of drawings showing the story of how Dolittle had a medical practice, learned to talk to animals, met a beautiful woman explorer, fell in love, she had to go on one more voyage, her ship was wrecked, and she sent Polly the parrot (whose REAL name was Polynesia, dammit!) back to Dolittle with her wedding ring…and he became a recluse.

THEN the movie started with him hiding in his house like Willy Wonka in the shut-down chocolate factory.

And you know what they say about sequels, that they’re never as good as the first movie? It was true in this case too…because the story that was told in the opening credits was AWESOME and would have made a WONDERFUL movie. This, although technically a stand-alone, was really a sequel to that story, and like most sequels…it SUCKED. (Here’s Otter’s list of Sequels that Don’t Suck)

Firstly, it was predictable. Grieving curmudgeon is forced to come back to life by a cute child and His Duty.

Secondly, the animals were way more fun than any of the actors.

Thirdly, Downey was just not at the top of his game. He was so completely phoning it in that I thought maybe he owed a favor to whoever made this damn thing and had been forced to appear in it. I mean, Iron Man. The Avengers. And as soon as his Avengers contract is over, he does…THIS? But no. He was the executive producer. It was his baby.

He must bear the blame. Especially for NOT engaging his audience, a mortal sin in a kids’ movie. Gene Wilder was a curmudgeon but (as soon as the ‘walking slowly out of the factory and scaring everyone’ part was over, he was obviously fun and interesting and engaged with the kids. Downey…was not. Granted, it can’t have been easy doing that much green screen time, since most of the actors in this movie (the animals) were cgi…but he’s done this before and it’s worked. It truly looked and felt like he just didn’t want to be there at all. And after a bit, neither did I. He was so low-key and nonreactive that it was almost painful to watch him…he was certainly not interested in engaging his audience, any more than he was interested in the movie he was STARRING IN…!

Fourthly, the plot was trite and didn’t make sense. The queen is sick, we have to assume Queen Victoria, although she is never mentioned by name. She is played by a 30 year old woman and looks younger than that, but we’ll give it 30. That would mean this movie is set in 1869 or thereabouts, but nothing in the politics or period detail reflect this. But wait, you say, this is a kid’s movie, you are overthinking it! Nope. If a movie has a definite time and place, it has to WORK. This didn’t. And of course there are plots, and one of her advisors is poisoning her with a nebulous poison that leaves her at the brink of death for an unspecified time, which Dolittle goes off on adventures and gets the fruit to make her better and gets back JUST in time to unmask the bad guy and fix ol’ Queenie right up. Shades of The Magician’s Nephew, seriously.

The CGI animals were darn cute, although a little too cute and scene-stealy. The rest of the cast was fine. But the plot…there were other plot problems, which brings me to

Fifthly. More than once, we are told about something amazing and exciting, either because the movie was getting too long or they ran out of CGI budget. There was a point, I think when they reached the island of the guy who was supposed to help them but threw them into prison instead, and the movie literally cut from the ship to them climbing up the ramparts of the castle while the parrot (Emma Thompson) who was also the narrator told us that amazing adventures had happened to get them there. Huh? Then why didn’t you show them to us instead of referring to them so offhandedly? This is just plain bad writing, for whatever reason, and should not have happened.

So yes, I disliked this movie intensely. It was badly written, Downey was awful, and the plot, even for a kid’s movie, was trite and annoying. Why, oh why, did they not make the movie from the beginning credits? I guess we’ll never know…

 


Cats

February 18, 2020

Internet Movie Database           Movie Reviews

From the wonderful Old Possom’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot

And the stage play by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

A group of cats are waiting to see who will be chosen to be reborn into a new life. Really, that’s the plot.

I am an old enough otter to remember when this show came out; a dear friend had tickets and couldn’t go, so she gave them to me and Mr. Otter, and we sat in the THIRD ROW CENTER. There were cats EVERYWHERE. And I loved the poetry, which I had never read, and got the book, and got the album, and listened to it a lot, and…got over it. Not the poetry, that’s still awesome. And in fact Jennyanydots was my cat, and if you want to hear stories about her I’d be glad to tell them, she was one of the Great Cats.

But I digress.

The thing you have to know is, we Chez Otter DO NOT LIKE Andrew Lloyd Webber. We DO NOT LIKE him with a particular and virulent passion  that we reserve for few other human beings. We don’t play his music, or go to any of the millions of the revivals of Phantom, or anything like that, and when his name comes up we heap SCORN on him. My favorite comment about this show is, yes, but he had a great lyricist…

Although I have to admit I inadvertently tear up whenever I hear the song Memories, so there it is.

So this movie trailer came out and pretty much broke the internets. I think we were all under the assumption that this would be more like a filmed version of the play, with HUMANS in cat makeup. Instead of the weird looking CGI…THINGS… that were on stage. And the movie opened to even more WTF and furor.

I turned to Ottersis. Want to go hate-watch Cats? (yes, this is a thing).

Sure, she said, and we did.

And, well. At least I had seen the trailers and read about what to expect, because WTF was a pretty mild reaction.

They put people in full-body fur suits and CGI’d over them to make them…kinda…look…like…maybe…cats? They more looked like people in tight fur suits, because PEOPLE ARE JOINTED DIFFERENTLY FROM CATS and (as the man says) there’s no doing anything about it. So even thought they tried to look like actual felines, it failed, and looked wierder than if they were just people dancing like people.

The furry ‘suits’ were really odd, the worst of both worlds. On the one hand, they CGI’d the actors’ bodies to look more like cats, but all they ended up being was amorphous shapes…no boobs (hmm, cgi’ing 6 nipples on Taylor Swift might have been interesting…) and of course no boy bits on the boy kitties, although (as I said to my sis) at least they had the good sense to neuter these travesties so they don’t reproduce…! Their fur is fur, but doesn’t really look like cat fur, it more looks like thin soft rabbit fur. This makes the actors even less catlike than they would have been if the feline-ness were just suggested. Didn’t work for me.

And they had them on overlarge sets to make them look like they were cat-sized, but the relative sizes of the stuff around them wasn’t consistent, so it was just wierd as well.

To (I guess) make it more of a story/experience/worth the money, they rewrote it and added a lot of plot that wasn’t originally there…including at least one more song, which was completely MEH. The new (way overwritten) plot was stupid, and there was WAY too much overproduction…more sets, dancing cats, fancy effects, you name it.

At its core, this is a simple musical that shows off Eliot’s brilliant poetry to great effect; all the boom and whango of the movie doesn’t add anything to that, and distracts from it. It would have been SO much better to pick a really good production of the play (or hire the actors to do one) and present that…but no.

I understand that this has already become a cult singalong movie…have fun, kids. I have so many earworms from this show (even as I type) that I don’t dare go see it again for fear my head would explode…

 


Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker

February 4, 2020

Internet Movie Database          Movie Review

Um, you know, the good guys need to defeat the bad guys because it’s the last movie.

I am of an age to have seen the original Star Wars movie (which I will forever refer to as Star Wars, NOT ‘Episode IV: A New Hope’, dammit!) in the theaters, and if you have listened to any of us old people go on and on about it, you know what a life changer that was. As were the two sequels.

Then came the travesties that were the prequels, and the less said about them the better. (Episode I came out before I started writing reviews and I’m sure not going back and seeing it again, but here are Episode II and Episode III for your reading pleasure.)

Then Disney bought the franchise, and of course they had to make billions more dollars and put their stamp on it…and the first of their movies, that would be Episode VII, was pretty good. The second, Episode VIII, was pretty good.

Aaaand…here’s the one where they are supposed to wrap all of it up in a pretty bow, and finish it off satisfyingly. And…not so good.

As my daughter, Maid of Awesome, said, it’s okay for a standalone but really doesn’t work as part of the series.

Truthfully, I’m not a huge fan. I can’t tell you who all the characters and aliens and background plot points are. But even I had trouble with some things:

The ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ are really hard to tell apart. I don’t mean the individual people- obviously, if they’re wearing black, or look scary, or have British accents, they’re BAD. Otherwise they’re GOOD. The Republic and the Resistance are the good guys (and if they’re a Republic, why do they need to also be the Resistance?). The First Order is bad guys. Okay. But the good guys are presented as scrappy fighters without much of a budget, fighting against the big bad guys…but they always seem to have a nice big army at the end, like this movie, where literally thousands of spacecraft show up to fight the bad guys. Who coordinated that? and how? You can’t just send out one call for help and hope someone shows up…and the bad guys had this amazing fleet of ships on a secret planet, each one with a weapon that could vaporize an entire planet. Why were they sitting there waiting for the good guys to destroy them, instead of being used?

Stuff like that kept bothering me, and to be honest, there were so many characters jockeying for their minute of screen time that I was not even trying to keep track, but just letting it flow in front of my eyes. I was sorry that Rose got shorted in this one, she was a good character. Poe just had the ‘maverick’ label stuck on him, so his major character trait was to go off half-cocked and do whatever he wanted in any given situation…not a good thing in a secret army. I felt like the writers were just coming up with characters, and audience reaction would determine who got a good role in the next movie. Again, not good.

This was okay but not great, and I can’t envision myself ever wanting to see it again. At least (I hope) the series is over; the one-offs seem to have stopped with the abysmal failure of Solo. But with Disney, nothing ever ends…