theotterlimits

Otter's Eclectic Movie Reviews

Archive for the category “f/x: good”

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?

The Men who Stare at Goats

mengoats

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Loosely based on the book of the same name by Jon Ronson

Several men are involved in the US Army’s attempts to make new-age and paranormal abilities useful in spying and combat.

I was at the Red Cross to do Apheresis, which means a couple of hours with needles in my arms, and I was looking for something amusing to watch, and this caught my eye…and boy, was it ever amusing. I was laughing out loud and all the nurses were coming over to see what was so funny.

The cast is stellar- George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Ewan MacGregor and Kevin Spacey. Ewan MacGregor is a reporter trying to find out about a program that was designed to teach soldiers (or spies) to use mind power for various things, including making an enemy’s heart stop by staring at them (they trained on goats, hence the title). He tracks down Clooney, Bridges and Spacey, all of whom have history with each other, and he is led on a chase from one place to another as he tries to find out the truth.

This was actually a gem-well written, funny, full of great details. The military background is hilarious, and Clooney is so deadpan it’s amazing.

Trust the otter- use your mental powers to track it down, you’ll be glad you did.

Risen

risen

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A Roman tribune is given the job of keeping the Jews under control during and after the Crucifixion, then finding the missing body, and of course he comes to believe that Christ is the Messiah.

Mr. Otter and I have a guilty secret. We love cheesy biblical epics. Like this. And especially this. So when he brought this home from his library to watch, I was all over it.

And it stars Joseph Fiennes, whom I consider to be serious eye-candy.

And…this was actually pretty good. Fiennes is serious; he has a job to do and he is doing it, and trying not to let the supernatural get in the way until he can’t deny it any longer. He comes slowly around to his new fellowship with the people he’s supposed to be rounding up, and his change of heart is believeable.

The settings, costumes and soldier-stuff is also very good; they really did try to make this look as authentic as possible. It’s a little ponderous, because you just can’t be flippant about the Crucifixion…well, okay, Monty Python can, but nobody else.

So this was surprisingly not cheesy. It’s a little slow, and takes itself a little seriously, but it’s not at all bad.

And it’s nice to see that Joseph Fiennes is still good eye-candy. Whew.

The Accountant

accountant
Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Ben Affleck plays an autistic-spectrum accountant, who, for various reasons, is not only the best accountant ever, but also can out-fight anyone and shoot a rifle extremely far and accurately. He lives a quiet life but is actually the accountant for various bad guys around the world, and the treasury department is trying to track him down.

Mr. Otter and I decided not to be at home for the little trick-or-treaters, and decamped to the movie theater instead, and this is one of the movies we saw.

This was watchable, but had a lot of problems. Firstly, Ben Affleck, who I think is actually a good actor, did a good job playing an autistic person-but since that means having a flat, un-outgoing personality and no real verbal skills, it meant that the character was not very interesting to watch…and he’s on screen for almost the whole time.

Secondly, there were HUGE coincidences and unexplained plot points that made no sense. I won’t go into them, one of them is the big reveal of the movie, but seriously, both Mr. Otter and I said, no way! Just…no way could that ever have happened.

John Lithgow was good, and it was nice to see him, but it was not much of a part.

And…no, this one really isn’t worth a long review. Good actors, some good action sequences, mediocre writing. Skip it.

What did you do in the war, Daddy?

war

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

 A group of American soldiers is told to capture an Italian village; the Italians want to have a festival before they surrender, the Americans haven’t had R&R in a long time, hijinks ensue.

Mr. Otter brought this home from the library where he works, and Ottersis and I thought it might be fun…I’ve heard of it, and didn’t mind giving it a try. Plus there were some good people in it, most notably James Coburn, a favorite actor Chez Otter, and Harry Morgan, who will be forever known as Col. Potter from the TV series M*A*S*H.

This was great farce, with nothing really unbelieveable happening but silliness piling on silliness until suddenly everything works out and the Americans come out heroes. But getting there is all the fun, and fun it is.

From the shenanigans at the festival, to the following near-disasters, to the crazy solutions to problems, and subplots adding in, this was funny, well written and pretty hilarious.

Finding Dory

dory

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

The eponymous fish, who we first met in Finding Nemo, now has her own movie. She has remembered her parents, whom she lost in childhood and then forgot (because, as she tells EVERYONE she meets, she has short-term memory loss…which means that the repeated joke in the movie is her doing or saying something, forgetting it and then repeating it ten seconds later.) And she goes to find them. Guess how it ends? (Hint: it’s a Disney movie. You know how it ends.)

Okay, I’m being kind of mean to it, which will get me in trouble, because Maid of Awesome loved it and told me to go see it.

Really, this was a charming feel-good movie, in the stamp of all others of its ilk. If you like them, you will like this one. I did enjoy it, I laughed at the funny parts, I got a little teary-eyed at the sad parts, and I loved the otters saving the day at the end, being one myself.

I am not a huge fan of modern Disney anything; I’m an old curmudgeon about it, and horrified a young friend when I admitted that not only have I not been to Disneyland in twenty years but have no intention of going again, except MAYBE to see California Adventure, which was just being built the last time I was there. I also admitted to loving Fantasia, which she hated, having been raised on the new Disney stuff.

Anyway. It’s  pretty typical Disney/Pixar, which is not a bad thing. Go see it, it’s fun. (Okay, Maid of Awesome?)

Zootopia

zoo

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A girl from a small town has a dream of going to the big city and becoming a police officer. And of course, because it’s Disney, you know everything will turn out fine.

I LOVED the preview of this movie, the scene in the DMV with the sloths. Not because I think DMV, or even government workers are necessarily sloths (having been on a city payroll myself for many years) but because THAT IS MY LIFE. My life happens at about 1 1/2 times the rate everyone else in the world is going, and every single day is like that scene. Yes, all those incredibly slow people are nice, worth knowing, and do their jobs well…but OH MY GOD COULD YOU PLEASE JUST DO IT ALL A LITTLE FASTER BEFORE MY BRAIN IMPLODES WITH WAITING FOR YOU ALL?

Sorry. Anyway, I laughed very hard at those previews, and didn’t think any more about it. I don’t go see most Disney movies, and definitely not in the $$$ theater $$$, since they are pretty predictable, so I thought, if a lot of people tell me it’s good, I’ll rent it.

But then I found myself in Yuma Arizona.

Now, Yuma may actually be a nice place to live. I was only there for about 21 hours, which turned out to be about 18 hours too long. I was on my way home from a wonderful vacation camping across southern Arizona. My camping buddies had flown home from Tucson on Sunday, and I drove home doing some more camping and touristy stuff; Yuma was my last stop before Southern California and then home. And I had some fun stuff to do there:

  1. Go to Del Taco for lunch (my obsession, especially now that the only one within 20 miles of my house has gone)
  2. Visit the Territorial Prison, which sounded interesting
  3. Go to the Camel Farm, where there are camels and exotic animals to pet and visit.
  4. Get a motel for the night (luxury! after camping for several days.)

So I arrived in Yuma. I visited the prison, which was not nearly as interesting as it sounded. I found the Camel Farm, which was a really depressing looking place; I didn’t even get out of the car, just drove the ten miles back into town. I tried for over an hour to find the Hummingbird Garden which is supposed to be in the long park on the Colorado River, with no luck. And I was done. I was hot and tired and frustrated, I hadn’t found a single thing to do, and I was just done. I went back to my motel, got out my ipad, and checked for movies.

And found this one, in a theater that I had passed so I knew where it was. It was only seven bucks, and they had ice cream. This was the best part of the day; I was alone in the theater, the ice cream was delicious and the movie was fun.

I liked it. Typical Disney fare, no surprises, but it was funny and charming, and amused me for the afternoon.

And the next morning, I got out of Yuma and had a wonderful day. And I never have to go back.

Now that’s a good movie.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

uncle

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Two spies during the cold war, one British and one Soviet, are forced to work together. Hijinks ensue.

This otter is old enough to remember the original TV series this is based on, with Robert Vaughn and David McCallum…I didn’t watch it, but my mom did; I would hear the theme music as I was getting ready for bed the night it was on every week.

I had not gone to see this in the theater, since most reboots of 60s stuff are not that great, but I was at the Red Cross to do apheresis, and needed something amusing for a couple of hours, and thought, what the heck?

And it was amusing. I liked Cavill in this better than I do as Superman; he’s not as stiff and ponderous here. I always like Armie Hammer, and he was good as the Russian spy. And (bonus) Hugh Grant was their handler!

This was fluff, light and fun and self-consciously retro. They got most of the period detail as right as they needed to (although the plot revolved around a ‘computer disk’ that was about 3 inches square. Nothing like that existed or could have existed…anything with info on it would have been a big ol’ reel of tape…) But quibbles aside, it was fun and not too annoying.

Trumbo

trumbo

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 Road Warrior

road warrior

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Max is back and kicking bad-guy ass again in this sequel to Mad Max.

Mr. Otter and I recently saw the fourth in this series, Fury Road (which came out 20 years after the third) and I mentioned that I had never seen the first two…so we had a Mad Max Movie Night soon after, and watched the first three.

This is the second…and this movie is where the legend really begins. Here is the burned, blasted and dessicated landscape, ravaged by some ecological apocalypse that the filmmaker wants us to believe is our future. Gas is scarce, and machines are prized, so of course an enclave with a tanker truck is an armed camp, soon to come under siege. And here for the first time we see the crazy drivers of wierd vehicles with wild scars, tattoos and body modifications, not to mention really interesting clothing. This is the movie that cemented the vision of the future that comes to mind whenever anyone mentions Mad Max.

Which is why I was completely surprised by the first movie of this name, which was a pretty tame sf shoot-em-up in comparison. In just two years, George Miller jumped from this, the evil gang in Mad Max:

toe

to this, the evil gang in Road Warrior:

humungus road warrior gang

That’s quite a jump, considering that it set a whole series of on-screen craziness in motion.

The plot is much better too, more visual and much more straightforward- Max is still the loner whose family is dead, but mostly he’s there to kick bad guy butt and blow up whatever gets in his way. The bad guys are pure evil, and the good guys are just trying to get by, including some comedy relief characters and the cute feral kid.

This is the Mad Max I was expecting, and I was not disappointed. Crazy costumes, vehicles and action, lots of fun to watch.

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