theotterlimits

Otter's Eclectic Movie Reviews

Archive for the category “characters: excellent”

The LEGO Batman Movie

legobat

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Yet another Batman movie…but wait! This is LEGO Batman!!

Okay, embarassing fact: I loved the LEGO Movie and have (so far) seen it three times. And when I saw the trailers for this, I was so excited. Because it looked like they were going to take the usual Batman plot points and do the same kind of amusing turn-them-around thing they did in the first one.

I also love Batman, he’s one of the few costumed superheroes for whom I actually read some of the graphic novels; not just the ordinary stuff, but the dark alcoholic self-hating lonely Batman? I love that stuff.

So I went to see it the week it opened…and I was not disappointed. Batman (voiced by Will Arnett, who also did Batman’s voice in The LEGO Movie) is moody and self-loathing, and is forced to let people into his life. And it’s done with wit and charm and great special effects, none of which I am going to describe here because it was so much fun to see it play out onscreen.

Trust me, this one’s a winner for adults as well as kids, and you’ll watch it more than once given a chance. I certainly intend to! Want to come over and see it again with me?

Saving Mr. Banks

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Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

P. L. Travers (author of the Mary Poppins books) comes to Disney to oversee the writing of the screenplay for the Mary Poppins movie in 1964.

Sure, I saw the movie as a kid. At least, I think I did…maybe on TV? or during a Wonderful World of Disney special? or…hm, maybe I didn’t. But I knew all the damn songs, you heard them EVERYWHERE in the 60s. Feed the Birds, and Chim-Chim-Cheree, and A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down, and Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious…you literally heard them EVERYWHERE. Or were forced to sing them in school. Or to listen while other people played or sang them.

But there was a time, after Mr. Otter and I were married, when we were both really sick with colds at the same time; we were so sick we took a week off work and stayed home together. And we were bored. So we went to the local video rental store (yes, kids, we’re talking about a time before Netflix, Amazon, or DVDs, if you can imagine that) and rented some movies to watch. On VHS tapes.

And this was one of them, because neither of us had seen it for at least thirty years (and I couldn’t actually remember having seen it at all…just clips of some of the dance numbers, or hearing the songs).

And we watched it…and we HATED IT. Oh my god. We love Julie Andrews in musicals. We love Dick Van Dyke. But this movie was just appalling. Inane, stupid, childish in a bad way. Van Dyke’s accent just made us cringe and grit our teeth, and when he dropped his pants and started dancing with the penguins, I just put my head in my hands til it was over.

WE HATED THIS MOVIE.

Now, the other parenthetical thing I must say is that although I have been a librarian my whole career, mostly in Children’s and Teen Services, I have never read the original Mary Poppins books by P. L. Travers. I don’t know why; I read a lot of older British authors (Nesbit and Lofting and others) but I was never drawn to these.

And when this movie came out, I was actually interested because I like Andrews and Tom Hanks so much…but I never went to see it.

So now, Mr. Otter and I were home, and he had brought home some movies to watch, and as is often the case I took a look at them and said, meh, you watch them and I’ll read or do computer work or something and keep you company.

And this movie sucked me in within ten minutes.

What a good movie. Charming writing, great characters, a wonderful plot, great storytelling, good acting. I loved this movie.

I’m not going to say much about it, because one of the joys of it was watching it unfold. But this is a REALLY REALLY GOOD MOVIE.

The only thing I’ll add is, make sure you don’t turn it off at the end; watch the credits. Because there is footage of Travers working with the Disney writers and it’s JUST LIKE THEY SHOWED IT IN THE MOVIE.

This was a winner, we both thought it was excellent.

The Green Mile

green-mile

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Stephen King

A prison guard in charge of Death Row in the 1930s South takes charge of a prisoner with unexplainable abilities.

This is one of those perfect movies. I remember seeing it in the theater, and how overwhelmed I was at just how good it is. The book is one of King’s best, originally published in six parts as a serialized novel (and it worked very well in this format, which was how I originally read it, although nowadays it’s collected into one volume).

Tom Hanks is in charge of the ‘Green Mile’, which is the section of the prison that’s Death Row. It’s in the 30s, so prisoners are executed with an electric chair, which is a big part of the plot. There’s a prisoner who has been convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, a crazy bastard of a prison guard, and a whole lot of great plotting and good writing.

And the ending is perfect as well.

I really can’t praise this movie highly enough, and I’m trying not to say ANYTHING that will give any part of it away; it’s written so perfectly, every single detail fits in so well, that to tell any of it would rob you of the enjoyment of seeing it for the first time…and if you’ve already seen it, no need for me to blather about how good it is, you already know.

Whenever someone says, Top ten movies? the list changes. I know The Princess Bride is on it. I know The Man Who Would Be King is on it. And I know this movie is on it. The other seven? We’ll have to get together and discuss that, won’t we?

The Shawshank Redemption

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Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the short story Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

Two men doing hard time become friends.

This is one of those just-about-perfect movies. The description doesn’t do it justice; Tim Robbins as a man facing life in prison for a crime he can’t prove he didn’t commit, Serious Honey Morgan Freeman as the guy who becomes his friend, and (how could I not mention) James Whitmore as the mild-mannered prison librarian (by default, no MLS here) who has no life outside the walls of the prison. Oh, and yet again Otter Family Favorite Actor Clancy Brown gets to play an evil bastard.

This is a gem of a movie. I was about to call it a short gem, but I checked and it’s two and a half hours…sure doesn’t seem like it. This tells you how good it is, well written and full of description and feelings. Freeman’s narration is matter-of-fact but warm, and every detail is perfect.

This one is too good to miss. If you haven’t already seen it, get it now and watch it. You can thank me later.

Hell or High Water

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Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Two brothers in Texas are desperate to save their farm after the 2008-9 economic downturn and start robbing branches of the bank that tried to foreclose on them.

Chris Pine and Ben Foster are the brothers, who have a great plan that (of course) doesn’t work out quite the way it was supposed to. Jeff Bridges is the Texas ranger trying to track them down (and he does a great job in a role that seems like it was written for Tommy Lee Jones…). Gil Birmingham is also excellent as Bridges’ partner Alberto.

Mr. Otter and I felt like seeing a movie, and this was the one we could agree on. We both really enjoyed it, although we disagreed about the ending; I wanted more, and he was happy with the open-endedness of it, with a hint of what would happen. I think we should have been shown that last scene.

But this was an interestingly written modern story about desperate men who take the law into their own hands for reasons that, if not good, are at least understandable to the audience. Both sides of this series of events are given a fair presentation, and the ending is worthy. Even if I wanted something more explicit.

But you should rent it…and let me know what you think.

Ghostbusters (1984)

ghost84

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Three guys start up a business catching ghosts that are annoying people in New York City. Then things get wierd…

I was kind of horrified to learn that, in the 15 years since I started reviewing movies…I HAVEN’T WATCHED THIS ONE EVEN ONE TIME.

I know I haven’t, because if I had, it would have been here. So, after seeing the excellent update of Ghostbusters that just came out in 2016, I went downstairs to our Basement of DVDS and…this wasn’t there! Anywhere! I know we own it, honey, have you seen it? No I haven’t seen it, did you loan it to someone? (loud wails and cries of woe) (clicking keyboard keys) 2 days later: Amazon delivery! And now we own it again. Whew.

I was actually dating Mr. Otter when this came out, and we saw it in the theater together. And, of course, loved it. This movie is right up there with Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Terminator 2 for great quotable sound bytes; there are many I use to this day, in all kinds of situations. And I won’t launch into them here, because they are already bouncing around in your head. Don’t pretend they’re not.

But I will tell a story. In 2012, I spent a long weekend in Santa Barbara with a couple of girlfriends; one of them traveled with me by train, and the other joined us later that night after driving up from LA. The two of us who took the train got to the motel to check in, and were joking with the desk clerk, and suddenly noticed that her name tag said ZOOL. I am not joking. We (including the clerk) laughed ourselves silly, claimed to be the Keymaster, and made all the Ghostbusters jokes. Turned out that the day we checked in was the day (or day after) Whitney Houston died, and the desk clerk’s name was Whitney and she just didn’t want to deal with everyone having to comment on it…so she became ZOOL for the duration. I loved that!

So back to this awesome movie. The casting is superb (I’m a huge fan of both Murray and Ackroyd, although they were by no means the only good actors there. I also had a crush on Ernie Hudson for a long time…), the writing is fast paced and witty, the special effects were amazing in their day (and many of them purposely looked slightly cheesy, because the story required it).

Truthfully, I cannot praise this movie highly enough, and the best thing is that it stands up extremely well to repeated watching…which I’ll be glad to do, just come on over and we’ll call the Ghostbusters one more time…

Captain America: Civil War

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Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Basically, this is about the morality of being a superhero…should they be free to take care of what needs doing, or is that vigilanteism? And what if they make a mistake? And who has the authority to say do this or don’t do that? And what do they do if they don’t agree with their orders?

In other words, Marvel has taken on one of the central problems with the whole superhero thing, and done an absolutely brilliant job of it. There may be some SPOILERS in the following; I’ll try not to be too specific in my rapturous prose, but DAMN this was good.

Things I liked about this movie:

  • Bad Boy Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) coming down on the side of being supervised, with good reasons for doing so, and then legitimately losing his shit when it was reasonable to do that. Very well written, great character development.
  • The major disagreement being between Captain America and Iron Man, who started out snarling and circling like wild dogs and became friends, only to (now) come down on opposite sides of the central issue that affects them both.
  • In fact, with basically ten superheroes in this movie, six or seven had great character development. Ant-man and Spider-man were just fun walk-ons, and the same for Hawkeye, although it was great to see him back in the thick of things. Very Whedon-esque (In fact, I just had to check back and make sure Whedon was not one of the writers…much of this felt like him. No, he wasn’t, but it’s worthy of him.)
  • I liked that the characters who weren’t there either had reasons for not being there, or at least their absence was acknowledged…it makes for better continuity within the Marvelverse of these movies and shows.
  • And speaking of which, there were several mentions of things that tied this to the previous movies and some of the TV shows like Agents of SHIELD…but that weren’t necessary to have seen. Good writing.
  • And thank you for not going into everyone’s origin story yet again. That is one thing I hate about all the Batman movies, they feel the need to reinvent the wheel over and over and over…but don’t get me started on that latest DC godawfulness
  • I liked that (except for the first scene, which had plot reasons for it) they managed to keep the fighting to places where there were fewer people, and the filmmakers made it look like they were doing that on purpose…in other words, they actually learned from The Incident (destroying NY in the first Avengers movie).
  • There was also a lot of talking, and conversation, and character development. Again, kudos for that. Do you catch a theme here, Devoted Fans? I love that the Marvel universe is mostly populated with people who have extraordinary abilities, not just fighting suits who spout lines.

I could go on for an hour, but suffice it to say that this might be the best thing Marvel has done since the first Avengers movie made us all stand up and cheer. You go, Marvel! Keep it up, we love it!

And I’m off to see this movie again…anyone coming along? You’ll love it, I promise!!

Deadpool

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Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Guy becomes superhero, finds out his girlfriend is in danger, takes care of business.

This is one of the most hyped superhero movies ever- teasers, trailers, word of mouth. In the month leading up to its release, you couldn’t go anywhere on the internets (except maybe lolcat sites) without seeing references, promos or comments.  (No, I was wrong…)

And you know what? it was TOTALLY JUSTIFIED hype, for once.This movie was AWESOME.

I finally found time to go see it at the 9:50 show on a weeknight, about six days after it opened, after everyone else I knew had seen it and emailed me about how good it was.

Me: I’m going to the 9:50 show of Deadpool, want to come?

Mr. Otter: What’s it about?

Me: Costumed superhero. Fighting. Witty dialogue. Morena Baccarin.

Mr. Otter: Sure, what the heck. I got nothing else better to do.

Even Mr. Otter loved it. This movie hits all the right notes- over-the-top violence and gore, a great (and much more accurate than usual) car chase, wonderful dialogue and asides from Deadpool, great supporting characters, Serious Honey Morena Baccarin, and a good script that holds together well all the way through.

I can’t praise it highly enough. Go see it. I’m going a second time as soon as I have a spare minute.

Trumbo

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Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A docudrama about Dalton Trumbo and the blacklisted Hollywood writers in the 50s.

Mr. Otter and I saw previews of this movie and we were all excited about it, being writer/librarian types (well, he’s a writer and we’re both librarians…) We were ready to go at the beginning of December when it opened…in NEW YORK. And a few art theaters. And NOWHERE around us.

Dammit.

So we waited patiently, and just before Christmas, it opened across the country; we actually went to a theater we hate (overpriced and no coffee. AMC really sucks.) just because it was literally the only time that weekend we could see this movie.

And we were so happy with it.

Bryan Cranston is a huge favorite of ours, we’ve seen Breaking Bad twice and really really like him. We even went back and watched a bunch of Malcolm in the Middle (a show that we had heard of but that, tvless as we are, we had totally missed when it was being broadcast) for his sake. And he is a perfect choice to play Trumbo.

My younger friends had no historical context for this movie, but even though the blacklist was before I was born (but not, I feel compelled to point out, before Mr. Otter’s birth. Just sayin’.) it is still in my ‘recent history’ brain file…I feel very comfortable back to about 1930 as recent history.

Anyway. So we went to see it, and it was WONDERFUL. Concise, well written, full of good actors in various bit parts (including Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper, John Goodman, Joaquin Phoenix, and, of course, Alan Tudyk, who was very very good.

This movie takes Trumbo from 1947, when he was a thriving and respected screenwriter, through the insanity of the communist witchhunts and the blacklisting of the Hollywood 10, his prison time, and out the other end when he’s trying to make a living as someone who still cannot be openly hired. The actors who play well-known famous people (John Wayne, Edward G. Robinson, Hedda Hopper) are all excellent, but the best was Dean O’Gorman playing Kirk Douglas…in one scene, he’s watching the rushes from the movie Spartacus (which Trumbo wrote but couldn’t take credit for.) The rushes are from the actual movie, except for one scene, which they redid with O’Gorman instead, and it fits in so seamlessly it’s kind of mind blowing.

This was an amazing movie. Well written, well acted, and it really showed up the blacklist for the vicious evilness that it was. Everyone should go see this movie. Now. Really, just go ahead, you can read more reviews later.

The Lego Movie

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Internet Movie Database          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?

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