Ant Man and the Wasp

July 12, 2018

ant

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Ant-Man is back! Under house arrest for helping out the Avengers in Germany, but still needing to save the world…or at least a little part of it. Joined by the volatile Wasp, and up to amusing business as usual.

This is the ‘bumbling superhero’ type of movie, and while amusing, is not really my cup of tea. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly are good, the plot moves well, there are great special effects and some surprises (including the traditional Marvel added scene in the end credits, DO NOT MISS THIS) but it was just funny hijinks with not really much at stake.

And…I know the Marvel universe is full of pseudoscience, but in many of the movies they try to make the pseudoscience make sense in the context of the movie. In this one I felt like they would throw around some science-y sounding words and then MAGIC! Something would happen and I would just be expected to go with the flow. I got really tired of this after a while: OMG (science sounding words) we better (more science sounding words) (MAGIC HAPPENS) because (science sounding words).

So yes, the story was amusing, I kinda like the “bumbling but it all turns out ok” way that  And-Man operates, sure. But not the best Marvel movie ever.

Except the tardigrades, aka water bears, who were ADORABLE. Aaaawwwww.

 

 


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

July 12, 2018

beasts

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A prequel set in the Harry Potter ‘verse. Newt Scamander comes to the United States in the 1920s to help a rare creature, and gets involved with muggles (known as ‘no-maj’-es in the US, where magic is Not Allowed) and, you know, shenanigans. And lots of cute creatures.

I have pretty much given up on the Harry Potter oeuvre; I liked the books, plot holes aside, but by the fourth movie they were just sinking under the weight of having to condense ten hours or more of plot into a bit over two hours. Meh.

But I really like Eddie Redmayne, and this looked interesting, and I was going to be at the Red Cross for three hours with needles in my arms doing apheresis, so why not?

And it was ok verging on good. If this had been written as a standalone, it would have been better, but of course it’s going to have sequels that will set up the Harry Potter series and the political and dark magic underpinnings that preceded those books. So sure, whatever.

I liked the three principal actors- Redmayne, the girl and the no-maj sidekick guy; they worked well together and the sidekick didn’t just come off as an idiot and the butt of all the jokes; he was a pretty cool character in his own right, and I liked him a lot. Serious Honey Johnny Depp shows up briefly, about which I will say no more.

And…the sequel is coming out next year, and I’m sure there will be another one…and it will NEVER END.

So I’m pretty much done with these; not only do I get tired of waiting years to find out how the next installment goes (I’m looking at you here, George R. R. Martin) but the whole PORTENTOUS thing just blows this out of the water for me. It’s not deep. It’s not a huge revelation. It’s just a kids’ fantasy series, guys, so stop taking it all so seriously.

And now I better change my email address before the hate mail starts pouring in…


Justice League Dark

April 26, 2018

dark

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The first team-up of the sorcery/magic Justice League group.

Okay. So first, you need to know that I am a HUGE John Constantine Hellblazer fan. I have the whole 300 issue run in graphic novel form, and Son of Man was one of the three comics that made me start reading graphic novels again after a 30 year hiatus. I LOVE Constantine.

So when DC did “The New 52”, finally ending the 20+ year run of the original comic, and rebooted it as this Justice League Dark teamup, I was skeptical…and read the first several issues and ranted for days about how bad they were. Constantine’s character was WAY watered down from his original foul, mouthy, semi-evil bad boy origins, and being a team player is NOT on his list of job skills.

But I somehow got a copy of this movie recently, and thought, well, let’s give it a try.

And…you know…I liked it.

The story is the usual thing, mysterious evil stuff at work and who’s doing it? and let’s go a lot of spooky places and fight stuff and find out.

But the story was good; Zatanna wasn’t as annoying on screen as she is in print because hearing her cast spells is much better than reading it  (she casts magic spells by saying things backwards, which I find extremely distracting, and kind of stupid). I always like Jason Blood, because Etrigan (a demon who talks in bad verse) is hilarious, and the group worked well. Constantine was really pretty well represented here; they had to clean up his language A LOT, but he was still rude and mouthy, obviously hot for Zatanna, and not so much a team player as a ‘I’m going to do this, you can follow if you want’ kind of person.

I enjoyed this a lot! might go back and give the later comics another try…


Batman: Gotham by Gaslight

April 26, 2018

gaslight

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From the graphic novel of the same name by Brian Augustyn

Batman and other Gotham characters are recast in a late 1800s Gotham City, and must stop a series of “Jack the Ripper” style murders.

I loaned several seasons of the truly excellent Gotham TV series to a friend and his teenage sons, and one of the sons got me this as a thank-you present. And they say millenials don’t do well with social interactions! A very thoughtful gift!

Anyway. I took this along when I went to the Red Cross to do Apheresis, and it was excellent for lying for a couple of hours with needles in my arms- interesting, well done, suspenseful and fun.

The animation was good- stylish but not overfancy. The characters were good too, and the whodunit ending was surprising, if you haven’t read the book (and I don’t remember reading it if I did, so I was certainly not expecting what happened.)

My only slight problem with it was the period setting, which was a mishmash of both British and American and several different decades of things, references and happenings.

But, to misquote another movie…”Forget it, Otter. It’s comic books.”

Worth seeing if you are (like me) a fan of Batman or Gotham.


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

January 23, 2018

jumanji

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the book by Chris Van Allsburg

Four teens end up inside a video game and must win it to escape.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a librarian. And for most of my career, I’ve worked in Youth Services, aka the Children’s Room. So I read Jumanji when the book first came out, and loved it. Different, funny, beautiful black and white illustrations.

I saw the first movie, which was a pretty good take on the book, when it came out in 1995. And really liked it too (although I haven’t seen it since I started reviewing movies in 2002, so there’s no review of it on this site.) Well done, a good translation of the book to film.

And then, twenty-two years later…it’s BA-AAACK.

I saw the poster for this and rolled my eyes. Do they have to remake every single successful children’s film twenty years later? Really? I said to myself or whoever was with me.

But then I swathe trailer…and loved it. It looked like a really funny fresh new take on the story, with good people in it, and maybe even good writing.

So last week, I went to my favorite local ‘plex and saw three movies in a row, because they were all about to leave town and I had the time free. And this was the first of the day. And the trailer (for once) did not lie- I loved it.

This movie is smart, funny, sassy, well written and very tongue-in-cheek both about the situation and about video games in general. Yup, video games…the board game in the book and the movie has been changed to an old-school cartridge-run video game, and the kids who find it and play it (and are stuck in the story until they complete it) are literally transferred inside the game, rather than having the occurances of the game happen to them in their home.

And of course, when they enter the video game, they are turned into characters, two of whom are played very well by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jack Black. The other two are good too, I just didn’t recall seeing them in anything (turns out I had seen Karen Gillan, as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but didn’t recognize her without a ton of makeup and costume…!)

Anyway. Even though the end is not much in doubt, this is a fast funny ride of a movie, very enjoyable, and worth your time. And I don’t want to say any more, the jokes and plot twists are too good to give away.


Bright

January 7, 2018

bright

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Two cops, one of whom is a despised ethnic group, and the other is his partner under protest, stumble on a gang, several murders and a conspiracy, during which they learn to respect each other and maybe take a few steps toward being friends.

And the cop nobody wants to partner with is an Orc…

This takes place in a future LA, with annoying fairies, rich and beautiful Elves who live in an enclave, and Orc hooligans and gang members. Will Smith’s partner (yes, Serious Honey Will Smith is back in a really good role, yippee!) is an Orc who has cut off his tusks (and is called ’roundtooth’ by other Orcs) but all he wants to be is a good cop.

This is an excellent example of taking a plot everyone has seen many times, and remaking it with one element (fantasy creatures in our world) changed, and thereby creating a new and interesting story. The worldbuilding is good, there are rules for the magic and abilities and the plot makes them clear, and the writers stick to the rules.

Mr. Otter was kind of rolling his eyes at this and claiming that it didn’t explain stuff or follow the rules, but he doesn’t read fantasy novels, and I do, and I say this was really good.

You better watch it for yourself, though, and see what you think.


The Thing

January 4, 2018

thing

Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

Based on the short story, “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, Jr.

Scientists at a research station in Antarctica are attacked by a Thing.

It was the New Year’s Day Videofest, and the theme was Hollywood’s Version of the World. I have always wanted to see this IN A LIGHTED ROOM WITH LOTS OF PEOPLE AROUND so it was a perfect choice for Antarctica.

And not only was it good, but it was not oogie at all…it’s basically Alien or Jaws, the monster picking people off one by one, the survivors getting more frantic and over-the-top with damage control.

The underpinnings (scientists alone at a research station, no way out, can’t let it get loose or the world will end) were very good, and the buildup was great. Kurt Russell was his usual no-nonsense kick-ass self, very enjoyable, and the characters of the scientists who had to deal with this menace were good.

And the monster was scary and gross, and very well done.

A good time was had by all!