Ghostbusters: Afterlife

December 2, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

Broke mom moves with kids to family home in Oklahoma…but mysterious things are happening…

SPOILER ALERT

I saw the original Ghostbusters in the theater when it came out (yes, I am an old Otter) and have loved it ever since, and quote from it all the time. The sequel, Ghostbusters II, was pretty good. I really enjoyed the 2016 reboot, that was all women. And now there’s a fourth entry in the dynasty…and this one is based on the first two, but pretends the 2016 one never happened…

Okay. Sure.

This was good. Mr. Otter liked it more than I did; I enjoyed all the usual shenanigans, and the actors, but I did have three problems with it:

  1. All the sequel and reboot movies insist on dragging the original actors in to link them with the hit movie that they’re based on (I’m looking at you, Harrison Ford…!) This is problematic for me because it’s kind of a cheap way to make the audience buy in. Also,
  2. Harold Ramis is dead, and they used a computer generated version of him to show up as a ghost in the end shot with the other three original Ghostbusters…I am still having problems with (and I know it’s the way everything is going) dead actors being put in movies with computer animation. Where will this end? says the hero of every single sci fi apocalypse movie…
  3. It was good, and well written, but not fall-down-on-the-floor-laughing witty. I miss that about the sequels. I know you can’t catch lightning in a bottle twice, but should a perfect movie be remade or added to imperfectly? I don’t know…

Anyway. This was fun, good f/x, nice storyline. Give it a shot, it’s worth your time.


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.


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.


Free Guy

October 21, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

A mild-mannered bank teller finds out that he’s actually an NPC in a video game.

Okay, I’ll admit it: I really really like Ryan Reynolds. He’s not a Serious Honey, but he’s cute and charming and funny. And I have one of those movie passes where you can see all the movies you want to for one monthly fee. So, I thought, why not?

And I was glad I saw this. Yes, it’s silly and kind of predictable, but it was really charming. Reynolds is perfect for Normal Guy Rising to the Occasion, the writing was good, the plotting was solid and of course the special effects and animation were excellent. Following the Hero’s Journey as he realizes what his world is really like, and searches for a way out, is a great ride.

This was a really fun movie, and highly recommended.


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.


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.


12 Monkeys

September 1, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

A convict from the future is sent to the past to try to find out what cause the plague that wiped out most of humanity, and stop it if possible.

I saw this once or twice in the mid-90s when it came out, and remembered it as brilliant-Bruce Willis, a very young Brad Pitt, Madeleine Stowe, and of course directed by Terry Gilliam. Seeing it again 20 years later, as a much older Otter…maybe not brilliant, but still very good.

This is one of those movies where you have to just accept several premises: that time travel works, that it is possible to change the past, and that huge coincidences are just part of life. On the other hand, given those three things, this movie has edge-of-your-seat suspense and really mind-blowing twists and turns. Even having seen it, albeit 20 years earlier, I was rivited by the plot and waiting to see how it would play out (I vaguely remembered the general plot but not the details.)

Bruce Willis is perfect for the desperate but clueless main character, and Brad Pitt as the crazy son of the virologist. Madeleine Stowe is excellent as always, as the psychiatrist assigned to Pitt’s case.

Just get on the roller coaster and ride. Everything will make sense by the time it’s over.


Once Upon a Time in America

August 26, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the novel The Hoods by Harry Grey

A gangster returns to the Lower East Side where he grew up and started on his life of crime, hoping to put his past to rest.

This was one of our Zoom Movie Nights; during the lockdown in 2020, Mr. Otter, CoyoteRambles and I would set up a Zoom session, and after we had chatted a bit, would watch a movie while connected and talk about it afterwards. It was so much fun that we are continuing the movie nights indefinitely! We alternate choosing movies, and this was my choice; I’ve seen most of Sergio Leone’s movies, but always wanted to catch this one and never had. And I was not disappointed!

De Niro is a gangster who is haunted by his past, and that past (and his childhood) make up a large part of this movie; most of his young life is shown, with the present as a frame story and mystery about what actually happened to De Niro’s friends from the past.

This was so enjoyable! Not a typical mobster movie (and I had really expected a Godfather clone), but more of a character study framed by the question of what’s really going on in the future. The prohibition-era kids who will grow up to be gangsters are really good, and the fact that the film focuses so strongly on them makes it a much better viewing experience than it otherwise would have been.

Recommended by The Otter!


Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

August 25, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Charles Shaw.

A marine and a nun are stranded on an island in WWII after it’s evacuated, and are still there when the Japanese come and occupy it.

This was one of the films we watched on our New Year’s Day Moviefest 2020 (theme: John Huston.)

This was really good! Robert Mitchum (who, I think, has just won promotion to Serious Honey) is perfect for the part of the guy who is trying to do his job and save his country but is falling for this woman he cannot be in love with; Deborah Kerr is a total hottie and very good for the part of the nun who is practical and not at all dainty and girlish, and the growing relationship between them, and the question of where it can/will go, gives as much tension to the movie as the Japanese occupation and their attempts to block that.

Highly recommended, very enjoyable.


Spartacus

August 4, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Howard Fast

A slave leads an almost successful revolt against the Roman Empire.

I love this movie so much. It’s got a great story, spends a lot of time on the characters (which is kind of hard on the viewer, since this is one of those movies where just about everyone dies), and really lovely cinematogaphy (which is one of the four Oscars this movie won.). Three’s lots of Roman pomp and a pretty darn good scene with the Roman legions deploying for battle. There’s enough action to keep my explodo-loving brain happy, but enough character development to engage me as well.

Aaand…there are so many more things to talk about relating to this movie, I’m just going to hit the high points:

  • As you can see, this is an Otter Family Favorite Movie. Both Mr. Otter and I have seen it many times and love it.
  • The cast is amazing: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, and Tony Curtis, to name just a few. Not to mention being directed by Stanley Kubrick, who took over from the original director; evidently the first scene, in the mines, is all that remains of the footage Anhony Mann directed
    .
  • Fun fact: the mine scenes in the beginning were shot in Ryan, a mining area near Dante’s View in Death Valley..
  • This was the movie that finally ended the Hollywood Blacklist, when Kirk Douglas insisted on giving Dalton Trumbo credit for writing it (after being blacklisted, Trumbo had written a ton of movie screenplays, two of which had won Oscars, but all had been credited to pseudonyms)
  • The book was excellent as well, but very differently structured from the movie. Howard Fast, himself a victim of the blacklist, wrote it while serving time in prison for contempt of Congress.
  • There is a scene in the middle of the film that is pretty tame now but at the time was cut for being waaaay too suggestive; when the original version was restored, the film existed but not the soundtrack for that part. Tony Curtis rerecorded his lines, but Olivier was dead, so Anthony Perkins did a really fabulous job of putting his Olivier on.

If you haven’t seen this excellent classic movie, DO IT NOW. Trust the Otter, you won’t regret it.