theotterlimits

Otter's Eclectic Movie Reviews

Archive for the category “characters: disappointing”

Tortilla Flat

tortilla

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Based on the book Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck

A group of happy-go-lucky guys in a small town on the California coast way back when there were sardine fisheries and everyone spoke with some kind of fake accent.

It was the New Year’s Day Videofest, and the theme this year was Hedy Lamarr. This was the first movie, and we were looking forward to it because not only was Ms. Lamarr in it, but also Spencer Tracy, several other good bit players, and it was adapted from a Steinbeck novel which Mr. Otter loved as a kid (Although I have read a lot of Steinbeck and enjoyed it, I have never read this one.)

And…it was pretty bad. Hedy was good, and extremely beautiful. John Garfield (as a Mexican-American…!) was cute and had a decent role, although he didn’t seem too bright, since he kept letting Tracy’s crew take advantage of him.

But oh my god, Spencer Tracy and his pack of layabouts (including Akim Tamiroff and Sheldon Leonard) were SO FREAKIN’ ANNOYING! Lazy assholes taking advantage of everyone, and Tracy’s character was so manipulative we were yelling at the TV by the end. The crap this pack of losers got away with, and the stunts they pulled, and their justifications for lying, stealing, arson and drinking, were just teeth-grindingly awful, especially as they were supposed to be happy-go-lucky older Mexican-Americans as well. But even for the time (1942) when this was made, they were just freakin’ annoying.

The only older guy in the town we really liked was Frank Morgan as the Dog-guy. He and his dogs were great. And John Garfield was cute and nice, if gormless. And Hedy was beautiful.

Otherwise? meh.

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

seven

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A remake of the 1960 western of the same name, which was itself based on Kurosawa’s movie The Seven Samurai. People in a small town hire seven down-and-out gunslingers to protect them from the bad guys.

So here’s what’s different:

  1. It’s not a Mexican town, it’s an American Southwest mining town, and the evil industrialist mine owner is trying to make people work harder so he can make a ton o’ money. I’m not sure how killing the workers is supposed to achieve this, but whatevs…
  2. Instead of an average Joe (or Jose, since the original was set in Mexico) being the town spokesman, a beautiful girl whose husband has been killed in the reign of terror (hired thugs shoot up the meeting in the church, then burn it down, ordering people to leave the bodies there as an example) goes on her own and hires some guys.
  3. She runs into Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, up to hijinks as a bounty hunter and gambler, and when she shows them some money and mentions the bad guy’s name, they’re all about helping her. And they find a bunch of other guys they know who can help.
  4. For a town girl, she sure does well at spending something like a week in the saddle doing hard riding…and they all seem to find their friends (in hiding) pretty well too.
  5. The seven are carefully multicultural and inclusive. The original group o’ white guys included Charles Bronson pretending to be Mexican, and Russo-Japanese Yul Brynner pretending to be just another guy, but the rest were Euro-types. The new set include Denzel, a Korean actor playing ‘generic Asian’, an ACTUAL Mexican guy playing a Mexican (must be a first for Hollywood) and, of course, a Native American. Plus three white guys.
  6. There is very little explanation of who these guys are, why they would be willing to do this, or what their connection is with Denzel.
  7. The Comanche (who, btw, is played by an actor who at least has some Native ancestry…Alaskan, but at least authentic…) of course runs into his arch enemy during the final battle and they fight. Because like women in a battle, who must be shown fighting each other, Native Americans must also be shown to fight each other instead of whatever target shows itself. Sigh.
  8. Don’t even get me started on the final battle, which was full of eye-rolling stuff like Gatling guns that accurately shoot single bullets over distance.
  9. And…of course they rescue the town, fulfill their various destinites, and (those who are left alive) ride out victorious.

I kind of liked this as I was watching it, but my brain kept saying, but…what about this? No, that’s not right…but this other thing? no, that doesn’t work either.

Even with the star power hired to attract viewers, this is a letdown. Pass on it and watch the original again instead, you’ll be glad you did.

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.

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.

The Hateful Eight

eight

Internet Movie Database           Movie Reviews

A bunch of people are locked up in a cabin in a blizzard. Shenanigans!

Oh, Quentin Tarantino. How do I love and hate thee? let me count the ways:

Love: Brilliant, incisive dialog.

Hate: Bad-boy glee in using words and saying things calculated purely to offend, whether or not they are useful/appropriate/apropos in the movie.

Love: Action! Action! Action!

Hate: Action does not equal plot. Killing everyone off is not necessarily the best way to resolve the issues presented in the movie.

Love: Screw science, physics and  history, I’ll write it my own way.

Hate: Screw science, physics and  history, I’ll write it my own way, whether or not it makes sense.

Love: I can do any damn thing I want because I’m TARANTINO!

Hate: Nobody can stop me from doing really pointless and stupid scenes because I’m TARANTINO!

Okay, that’s enough, you get the idea.

Hollywood’s bad boy director has made his eighth movie and titled it in such a way as to make sure everyone who hears about it knows it. And as usual, it’s a mixed bag (see above.)

There are a lot of good things about this movie- great actors doing their best with what they’re given- Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Bruce Dern, and Kurt Russell, to name the toppers. The filmmaking is beautiful, although the opening shot of the stagecoach in the snow lasted approximately two of the three hours of this film’s running time. The working out of the plot, of eight people coming together in this cabin who each have their own agenda and stuff to work out with the other characters is a good idea (remember Stagecoach, anyone? it worked there too…better than here…). The plot is full of (supposed) surprises that are meant to make the viewer go, Whoa! Didn’t see that coming! And the violence is suitably violent.

But.

And you were waiting for this, too, weren’t you?

Like Stephen King, who exasperated me so much at one point that I created my own ‘Write your own Stephen King novel!) page, Tarantino has become unstoppable…and I mean that in a bad way. Nobody can say no to him. Nobody can tell him anything. Nobody can edit him down to a concise, well structured story and a reasonably paced movie. And this movie suffers from all those things.

I am willing to concede the coincidences that brought all these people together in this place and time, to work out all the grudges they have against each other.  I am even willing to sit through a three hour movie to see all of this worked out. What I am not willing to do is to be bored for three hours while doing it.

Mr. Otter and I were both expecting this to be a good movie; we have seen most of Tarantino’s oeuvre, and liked all of them except for Kill Bill 1 and 2, which we agreed was good moviemaking but not having seen the movies referenced, it didn’t do much for us. We are not intimidated by blood and body parts, bad words, sexual references or innuendos, loud noises, gross stuff happening onscreen, or Samuel L. Jackson acting to the top of his bent.

We watched this movie. And turned to each other and said, was it me, or was that just TEDIOUS?

The characters, none of whom are supposed to be likeable (hence the first word in the title) are none of them interesting. They are a bunch of people who are thrown together, connected in tenuous ways and by coincidence, and given motives which are mostly not revealed to the audience until part or most of the way through the film…with no previous hint of what was going to be revealed, so the audience just says, Huh? instead of being in on the reveal. This is Tarantino, like a kid who has to prove himself over and over, in the worst manner of a bad detective fiction writer, showing the audience how he is smarter than they are. Over and over and over.

There are a lot of things that make no sense in this movie, but the ones that still annoy me a month later when I write this (and yes, I did call in the Reality Police) are:

  1. They are in a permanent dwelling in Wyoming, and it’s winter (hence the blizzard) and yet in both the house and the barn, you can see light shining through the chinks in the planks. Everyone in the house and all the horses in the barn (who, btw, they put away hot without cooling them down) would be frozen to death, stove and fireplace notwithstanding. Certainly nobody would be wearing light cotton dresses, as the women in the flashback are.
  2. The whole desert scene where Jackson describes (and Tarantino shows) what Jackson did to the Southern general’s son. This had no actual bearing on the plot other than the fact of it happening. I was not shocked by it, I just rolled my eyes at Tarantino again gleefully saying, I’m so famous I can get away with THIS and nobody can stop me!
  3. The ‘haberdashery’ (does Tarantino even know what that word means? it’s not a general store, it’s a men’s clothing store. Why would there be one in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming?) is run by a free African American woman and her white (husband? lover? ) who obviously have a relationship. There is NO WAY IN HELL that either they would allow this infamous Southern general, trash-talking about people of color, to stay there, and there is NO WAY IN HELL that he would stay for a minute in a place run by these people. That made absolutely no sense.

Many of the plot points that combine to create the final bloodbath make just as little sense; I found myself saying, Huh? many times, and it may have all worked out if I watched the movie again knowing what was happening…but I have no desire to.

Skip this, it is indeed hateful, and not in a good way. Next time I want to do something tedious, I’ll clean out the fridge; at least at the end of that three tedious hours, something useful will have been done.

Cats and Dogs

catsanddogs

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Cats and dogs are waging a war for control of the humans and the planet. Cats are the archvillains, and dogs are the goofy good guys. This movie is about one puppy who joins the struggle.

It was the New Year’s Day Videofest (theme: CATS) and this looked like a fun and silly movie to include. And it has Jeff Goldblum, Serious Honey. What’s not to like?

Pretty much everything. Firstly, the assumption in this movie is that CATS ARE THE BAD GUYS. Really?

Secondly, it’s full of stupid pratfalls and dumb jokes. Which can be funny, when done right. But not when not done right. Guess which category this falls into?

We may have judged this film harshly, having been watching movies for almost 12 hours straight; this was #7, and I think Mr. Otter decamped to the kitchen to watch dishes rather than watch it, muttering something about dogs under his breath. But it was really stupid. I like a lot of the people in it, the f/x of the dogs and cats doing stuff looked great, but it was just a dumb, not-very-well-written comedy.

I seem to be in the minority, btw, there is at least one sequel that got made. I will eschew it, and be made happier thereby.

If you like Stiller and Sandler and Ferrell and Carrey, you will probably like this movie. If you have good sense of humor, probably not. The Otter has Spoken.

Gay Purr-ee

gaypurree+

 

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Boy cat loses girl cat. Boy cat goes to the big city to find girl cat. Boy cat foils villain. Boy cat gets girl cat.

The New Year’s Videofest theme this year was CATS. This movie seemed like a good choice.

Seemed.

I mean, there were some good things about this- there were good people doing voices (besides Judy Garland and Robert Goulet, who were okay)- Red Buttons, Mel Blanc doing a lot of minor characters, and Hermione Gingold as the cat-madam.

But it was kind of silly and wierd. It was made in the day when children’s cartoons were just made for kids and not the adults who are with them, so the plot was really predictable. There were some time discrepancies that I’m sure someone said, never mind, it’s for kids, they won’t notice or care…but a sailing ship took way more than a couple of days to get from France to America, even more time to get to the gold strike in the Yukon, and then back. And I was annoyed at Goulet’s character’s name, Jaune Tom, which everyone kept pronouncing like John Tom rather than Jone Tom. Just me being fussy.

We actually MSTed this pretty thoroughly, and that was fun.

(Mr. Otter: You forgot to mention the whole thing about her being sold into prostitution…
Me: Not sold, more like led down the primrose path.
Mr. Otter: The catnip path, more like…!)

The best thing about this movie were the bad cat’s minions, who had a truly surreal song and dance number with him about The Money Cat (which, of course, is what he cares about.) Other than that, the songs were forgettable. The cute kitten sidekick was cute, but in a really annoying way.

I was glad to see this once. Once. And that was enough.

The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini

ghost bikini

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A bunch of teenagers at a haunted house with a bikini-clad ghost trying to do a good deed within 24 hours. Shenanigans!

Our friend Craiggers was visiting us, and we all like silly movies; he has a penchant for both campy horror-ish stuff, and Beach Blanket movies, and this was a very silly combination of both.

The ghost does indeed wear a bikini (a huge one by today’s standards, covering up a lot of her) and the woo-woo special effect was that you’d see her in pale double exposure, but where her bikini was supposed to be, you could see through to the background.

Tommy Kirk is in this, and Nancy Sinatra as one of the teens (and of course she gets a song…) And Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff both have walk-ons as well, which was fun.

There is some campy stuff, and silly antics, but unless you really like this brand of silliness, it’s pretty excruciating…this one is not for the faint of heart, kids!

 

R.I.P.D.

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

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.

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