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Death Wish (2018)
The adventures of Zombiedad
What do you do when your wife and daughter get shot in a robbery gone wrong? When your wife ends up DEAD on a hospital table and your daughter is left in a coma clinging for his life?
Apparently, you get like, really really bummed out. You don't get TOO upset but damn if you're not just a little bit bothered by the fact that your family just got raided and gunned down.
So it goes in the weird parallel universe this movie is set in. Watch as Bruce Willis react mildly when he first sets eyes on the dead corpse of his wife. Watch as he shrugs when her casket is lowered to the earth. Watch as he nearly dozes off looking at his daughter in a coma for the first time.
Then, watch as the movie presents some wildly inappropriate montage with rock music as Bruce Willis learns how to handle a gun. Then look as he goes completely nuts terrorizing the streets of Chicago all the while laudably still performing his duties as a doctor. Watch as he goes far beyond and above your average psychopath into frenzy mass murderer stuntman. Watch as this movie condones all of it, and all but applauds him for it.
Sure, in some other universe this could be considered in poor taste. But that is not the case in the universe of Death Wish. In that universe it just a day in the life zombiedad, America's finest, mass murdered at your service.
Violet Evergarden (2018)
Profound & real
I just wanted to leave a review because I almost finished watching this and I love it so much.
I haven't watched anime for a few years now but boy, does this title deliver. It's sweet, supremely poignant, and most importantly, real and sincere.
Basically most of the episodes consist of Violet going to someplace and writing a letter for someone. But the beautiful thing is, every story is real and unabashed. There's a lot of sadness and stuff that will make you cry but it's never manipulative or doesn't ever feel forced. It's authenthic and doesn't exist for any other purpose than to show that it does exist and that it can hurt or be beautiful, and most of the time both.
Anyway, I am totally enamored with this series. The animation is also beautiful and the characters are all distinct and do not strictly comply to anime stereotypes (too much). My only complaint is that the main protagonist is a 14 y/o girl who managed to wreck entire armies of soldiers and somehow was some unstoppable killing machine despite being built like a stick figure. But since this anime I guess that's something that can be reasonably forgiven.
My verdict: watch this series. It is truly incredible!
The Orville: Majority Rule (2017)
Let me start of by saying I love what this show has done so far. It has a lot of Trek going on in a good way, and it is obvious the creators really love ST and all it stands for.
That said I thought this episode was a let down. The intro was very interesting: what if there's a society that does not have laws but lets the member of society decide what's right and not? Granted, this has been done a year ago in Black Mirror already, but that's alright.
Where this episode goes the wrong way for me is the implementation. I get that this show tries to mix humour and drama, and I think it works well enough in previous episodes. However in this one it just makes the message of the episode hard to buy. The lieutenant is seem humping a statue in one of the first scenes when he is undercover in another nation: is this really in line with a crew on a rescue mission? And if that's not enough, he keeps doing similar stuff that is totally out of line. After getting in trouble, he does not try to understand what he did wrong and seems to take no efforts to have any respect for the society. In the last scene, he tells everyone on the planet that they are crazy and that he's glad to be gone from them.
Like I said, I get that this show tries to mix humour and drama, however I feel in this episode it made the episode totally moot. The whole point of Star Trek is to take a look at what could happen, how society could be different, but first and foremost always respect the things that are different (because there's always a good reason why things are what they are in space, even if you don't agree with it!). If that isn't what the Orville as a show is trying to do then that is fine of course, but it also makes episode like these where they're going halfway in giving some social commentary hard to buy. How can we take seriously a crew whole knowingly (mockingly!) violates another cultures values repeatedly while also at the same time tries to push home a moral message about how society could be or should act? It makes it hard to understand what the episode is exactly about.
R & M at it's core
Alright, I decided to write this review because reading other reviews on the web I didn't feel like they did the episode totally justice. There's a lot of depth to this episode and also a powerful message, and I feel it deserves at least some attempt at an analysis.
The more I'm watching Rick and Morty the more I'm getting convinced it's just Star Trek buried under layers of disturbing content and gore. And that is definitely a good thing. Rick and Morty as a series has its own style and its own jokes, but at its core it's a show about depicting reality as it is and showing us everything happens for a reason. Even when it comes to the things that are totally bonkers and reprehensible (something you'll see a lot of watching Rick and Morty), it's probably still a good thing that it's there, because without it the world wouldn't be real and simply cease to function all together.
"Rest and Ricklaxation" serves as a thesis statement of this case, in addition to the earlier "Rixty Minutes" which also fought to make this point clear. In "Rest and Ricklaxation", we see a dream unfold that seems appealing at first sight: what if we were able to get rid of the parts ourselves we didn't want? What if we could get to live as our idealized versions? Though it may seem great at first sight, it may not be all that fantastic as it appears to be.
In the current episode, after a traumatic event, Rick and Morty both split in two different personas: the toxic and "healthy" versions of themselves. The toxic version contains every "bad" character trait Rick and Morty want to get rid of, the healthy version contains what they see as their "good traits". For Rick this means that he splits off his alcoholism, vulgarity, narcissism and insanely inflated ego as toxic, whereas Morty splits off his low self-worth, anxiety, depressive feelings and self-detestation. What remains are the idealized versions Rick and Morty have of themselves: Rick is a meek but cold being, whereas Morty turns into a shallow sleazy person.
A case can be made that this episode shows us that our idealized version of ourselves are never able to obtain what we want them to. This happens to both Healthy Rick and Healthy Morty. Healthy Morty ultimately never gets the girl he so very desperately wanted and Healthy Rick is so meek and devoid of ego that he is in no position anymore to protect himself from threats, let alone protect the world around him from them. Thus the dream is better than reality and getting everything you want isn't nearly as good as it seems. But what I think is the most interesting is that this episode makes the case that your idealized version of yourself is not ultimately something you WANT to be living as. For both Rick and Morty, a dynamic starts to exist that moves their Healthy and Toxic version back to their counterparts. Thus, the toxic naturally moves towards the healthy and vice versa. We see this most obviously with Rick: Toxic Rick moves towards Healthy Rick because of his need to keep Morty safe; Healthy Rick moves towards Toxic Rick because his sense of responsibility tells Toxic Rick that he needs Healthy Rick to survive. But, even though it is delayed the same thing ultimately also happens to Morty. After getting a phone call from Jessica, Morty purposely does not hang up the phone, leaving him to be traced by Rick and reunited with his Toxic self. Thus, Healthy Idealized Morty moved back to Toxic Morty. Why? Because Healthy Rick simply needs, and also wants Toxic Morty to be able to feel good: without the "bad", insecure, anxious side of him he is not able to feel the good feeling of love Healthy Morty so desperately craves.
With this, I think the episode teaches an important lesson that has been made in other episodes (most notable ST:TNG "Tapestry"). Though it sometimes seems like things could be better differently, such as a better life to be lived by an idealized version of ourselves, this simply does not exist. The good and bad both function in tandem and always move towards each other, being part of each other. I think that is the point of this episode, and it is deliver beautifully is all I can say.
Penguins of Madagascar (2014)
One has to respect the sheer exuberance of Penguins of Madagascar. In a movie landscape filled with try-hard products, Penguins distinguishes itself by only being concerned with delivering as much fun as possible. It does not hold any pretense of approximating coherency, nor does it need to to get the most value out of its format.
Much like progenitor Madagascar, Penguins plays out like a fever dream, opting for momentum over deliberation whenever it can in its relentless pursuit. Though spin-offs are always an inherently risky venture, the cute cuddly penguins prove to be the perfect vehicle for channeling Dreamworks' specific brand of comedy. The penguins' awkward physical makeup provide ample opportunities for physical gags, and the volatile meta-humor inherent to the Madagascar series is complimented well by the drunken frivolity of the quartet.
As is the case with most Dreamworks products, at times Penguins forgoes consistency for sheer output. It its less effective moments, the burden of protagonism placed on the penguins wobbly little shoulders becomes clear. Luckily, these instances are too far in between to be of true bother. Penguins of Madagascar may not be the king among the animals, but the place they have secured for themselves is nonetheless nothing to scoff at.
Galaxy Quest (1999)
Where no comedy has gone before
There's a fine line to be made between playfully parodying popular geek culture and making a mockery of it. It's easy to believe that the latter approach would feasibly be easier to inject to a movie and also more readily appeal to a wide demographic. Galaxy Quest wisely forgoes this option, with the alternative working all the more in its favor. Its resulting charm is mostly the product of the love it extends to sci-fi, the actors involved, and especially the fandom associated with it all.
In Galaxy Quest, we follow the lives of a number of actors formerly involved in a popular TV show (not in any particular way to be confused with Star Trek) who now make their livings off attending conventions for money. All but washed up, they are approached by a group of humanoid aliens who have confused their TV episodes with historical documentation. Their race is in great danger, and they need the help of their heroes to fight off the evil lizard-like beings that threaten their existence. It's all very convoluted, and it all works very effectively to give the writers every bit of leeway needed to make the jokes they want to make. The cast deserves special mention, with Rickman, Allen, Weaver and others serving as perfect references to notable real life counterparts.
Watching Galaxy Quest you sort of want to believe Roddenberry would have appreciated it as much as any of us could have. Putting all the humorous overtones aside, it is distinctly similar about the message that it is trying to convey about human nature. This compliments the movie for the geek audience (myself included), but fortunately you do not need any sci-fi knowledge to appreciate what Galaxy Quest is about. All the technobabble aside, it's just a darn funny movie, and that is more than enough to make it worth your while and then some.
The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
The Ultimate Courtroom Drama Trope Collection
Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is a high profile defense attorney. He seems to have everything going for him, until he takes up the case of a wealthy client accused of murder. The subsequent string of events that unravel makes him question his morals and beliefs, and yadda yadda yadda bla bla bla. Something evil psychopath trying to get away with murder something something cat and mouse game turns into a court room drama and presto we get the Lincoln Lawyer. It has all the underpinnings of what makes the great courtroom dramas great, so it in turn must be great too, right?
It is amazing to see a product focusing so hard on delivering thrills and failing so immensely in the process. I'm sure that whoever wrote or directed this must have been an avid fan of John Grisham, because he or she took every last trope from the books and did absolutely nothing with it. The tonal dissonance doesn't become totally clear until the later stages of the movie, but by then it is hard to even get what the point of the movie was in the first place. The last scene ends with McConaughey proverbially walking into the sunset while his former client is being non-proverbially beaten to death by his posse. Cue shootout and the final scene in which our hero is united with his family. It would all be offensive if it wasn't so hilariously misguided.
The sole saving grace of this movie comes from McConaughey. It's not the performance of a lifetime, but he's doing his best with what he has been given. The courtroom scenes in the latter half are interesting to watch, but just only because he sells the triple agent role Haller finds himself in. Is it worth sitting through two hours of exposition dialogue and sigh inducing stereotypes to get there? Probably not. Let us remember then The Lincoln Lawyer as the start of McConaughey turn to drama acting, because that is about all of significance this movie will probably be remembered for.
Peaky Blinders: Episode #1.1 (2013)
Has "peaked" my interest
I'll admit to only checking this series out because Hardy's name is attached, but sadly he makes no entry until seasons 3 apparently. Still, I thought this was an enjoyable first outing. The episode takes a lot of time setting things up and seems to be more interested in the long game than delivering immediate thrills, but that is not a bad thing necessarily.
The pilot centers most around Thomas Shelby, a gangster figure at the head of a Birmingham crime organisation. Cillian Murphy has a rich history of representing psychopaths in films, and the trait doesn't fully escape his character here. Thomas plays out as a man equally affected by greed as past war horrors, with his true motivations remaining quite shady. Murphy does great work with the role, injecting the role with a high dose of intensity.
When not focusing on Thomas the episode stumbles a bit. The scenes with Inspector Campbell are all very one-note. He alternates between big speeches and harsh words, making him feel more like a bully than someone looking for justice. The subplot with the crazy PTSD ex marine is very crudely done and is almost comical. Other characters appearing are still too undefined to be really cared for.
Overall I feel this show has a lot of potential. It is a bit melodramatic at times with some clunky one-liners but Thomas is an interesting character and the fight between the inspector and Thomas could prove to be a compelling one. It's hard to say what direction the show will favor but based on the pilot I would say this might definitely be worth looking out for.
The Guest (2014)
"What the ****" indeed
Going into this movie, you might be under the seriously mistaken impressions that you are watching a thriller. Indeed, throughout most of its running time it bears all the resemblances of a psychological suspense movie. Like its protagonist however, crazy is always brewing under the surface, and once it gets released you don't know quite what you are watching.
The Guest centers around David, an ex-soldier who seeks shelter with the family of one of his fallen comrades. Though the family is initially happy to have a friend of their lost son in their house, soon something begins to feel distinctively off about him. David is played by Dan Stevens with perfect conviction, always cool and charming on the outside, but with his inner lunatic always being subversively present. There are several moments in the movie where you know things are about to get out of whack, and seeing David trying to contain his inner demon is gleefully fun.
Most surprising about the Guest is how it manages to make a complete 180 degrees shift into slasher territory and actually get away with it. About two thirds throughout all pretenses of being a thriller are dropped and the movie goes in full on frenzy mode. Here we get insane theories about genetic engineering and sequences that don't quite make a lot of sense, and best of all it is a blast to watch. Special mention goes to the editing and the music, which might not be too far off in a Quintin Tarentino movie. Overall, the Guest is one and a half hour of unembellished fun, and will likely appease to anyone looking for a no-frill ride to enjoy.
The Imitation Game (2014)
The Benedict Cumberbatch Show
The Imitation Game is by far and large the Benedict Cumberbatch show. Credit where credit is due, he does actually sell the role for the most part. It is just a shame that the plot seems so eager to please his character progression at every turn. Knightley marries him and declares she wants to spend the rest of his life with him despite the fact that they do not romantically love each other. The fate of the war relies on him, because it is he who gets to decide what to do with sensitive intelligence information. Matthew Goode alternatively despises him and stands up for him when the plot needs him to so that we can identify with Cumberbatch's struggles. It is one thing to make a biopic center on a character and another to make to world revolve around him.
That is not to say that the movie doesn't work. The Imitation game centers around Alan Turing and his struggle to figure out a mathematical code and at once his place around others. And there really are good parts to be enjoyed here. The fight against figuring out how the Enigma can be deciphered is a compelling one. Seeing Turing trying to figure out how to balance his feelings for his wife, his moral sense and his obligations to his friends is equally enticing. It is in these segments that we actually get a feel about the struggles Turing must have endured as a homosexual man scoring on the spectrum.
In the end, the biggest fault in the whole movie is that it tries to please too hard. It goes through lengths to portray Turing's autistic and homosexual side, all the while assuring us how good the people are who accepted these sides of him and how evil the persons were that condemned them. It's an easy way to pat ourselves and our 21st century beliefs on the shoulder, without giving much nuance to true environment Turing must have found himself to be in. The movie can tell Turing all it wants that it's a good thing to be such a lateral thinking genius deviant, but in the end I don't think he particularly bought it, and neither did I.
Salinui chueok (2003)
Intense and fear-inducing
There's a quiet sense of hysteria present throughout Joon-ho Bong's Memories of Murder. Though on the surface the movie plays as a detective with many comedic elements, its true core consists mostly of deep despair and paranoia. It is a testament to the director's skill that these two sides are joined together so well without it resulting in a disjointed mess.
Memories of Murder portrays a case of a serial rapist in a small town on the outskirts of the Korean countryside. Three detectives with very different methods of investigation are put together to search for the killer. It becomes quickly clear that this isn't a usual case and the complexity of the case puts the detectives way over their head. You get the sense that these are effective investigators in their own right, but they are way outmatched for the situation they are put up against.
Part of the effectiveness of the film is that it actually conveys the overwhelming fear that slowly seeps into the persons facing the unknown evil. The horrific acts committed are all the more scary because they are happening in a town with seemingly nice people. Everyone in the town seems to know each other by name. This makes the killer seem like somewhat of an alien presence, a ghost hiding behind a human face. As the girl describes the presumed killer in the end, his appearance was that of just an "ordinary" guy. The most scary thing is that he isn't a hideous deformed creature driven to these disturbing acts, but that this person could ostensibly be hiding in each other person that you know, with no way to determine which one in particular.
Because there seems to be no rhyme and reason to what is happening the movie makes for a very scary experience. I have to admit I am not an avid watched of foreign films, but at the same time I found this movie to be thrilling to watch. It is not a light experience (it will likely leave you drained at the end) but very worth seeing. Highly recommended.
A two-sided piece of art
This film isn't for all people. That's to say about a lot of movies in general of course, but this one in particular brings up a big clashing point between critics; What do we want to see in our movies? What is more important, to portray a fictional setting for the sake of giving people a mind blowing visual experience or to amuse and amaze them with clever plot twists and intelligent dialogs?
First lets analyze what exactly this film is made of. Basically, the whole thing is just one epic fighting scene after another. Most noticeably is the camera work and the visual effects. Every shot seems like it was intended to be a work of art. The colors, the characters, the costumes, the backgrounds... every little detail has been given so much attention. During the big fights you'll also instantly notice the unique editing. There are a lot of "time slowdowns" throughout the battles which show what exactly is happening. Fatal wounds that slowly leak blood spatters in the air, decapitated heads traveling in slow-motion across the screen... it's all there.
The story on the other hand isn't very complicated, in the sense that the whole movie could probably be described in a sentence or two. The dialogs are simple and most often talk about moral values like freedom and honor. If you would look at the script, it would probably look like another movie that has nothing more to offer then idealistic visions of how life should be.
Reviewers of this title seem to be split up in two groups. They either love it with passion calling it an epic movie of the 21th century, or hate it even more and throw it off like a piece of garbage consisting of mindless action and silly cliché phrases. I feel reluctant to take a position in this argument. Normally it's tolerable to weigh out both sides of this matter to result in a fair judgment about a movie. Not in this one. On the one hand the visual are surely among the best to be witnessed in a movie. Every detail, every background, every special effect set to the scenes are so mindblowingly stunning. On the other hand the plot and dialogs are of the most simplistic and quite frankly dumb kind. "I fight for freedom! I'd rather die in honor then live in shame!" Sounds familiar?
Of course it could be debated that this movie was never intended in the first place to have a unique plot that makes your head spin. But from an objective point of view it's still lacking in this department, so it should be noted.
Now that's fine and all, but does that all make of the film? Is it worth watching or what? I think it is. For me the good outweighs the bad by miles. From the second the movie started it grabbed me and didn't let go. Every battle, every scene of the movie had me at the tip of my chair. Everything from the strong acting to the wondrous visuals to the war-shouts of the soldiers was just so stunning... it was truly a wonderful experience.
I did not one single moment felt like the movie lacked anything. But I could imagine why other people did.
So here's the deal.
If you are easily impressed by beautiful landscapes, wonderful camera-work and editing and powerful acting then go see this. Right. Now. You'll be missing out if you don't. There is so much to see, so much power in the way this comic is translated to the big screen... It'll leave you in awe.
However, you are looking for a good story, clever plot twists, some innovating to the world of the movies then skip this. 300 contains nothing of this, nor does it wants to give you this.
I enjoyed this movie so much, but I know there will be people that will pass of as rubbish, and that's understandable. Just be sure to make up your mind about what you want to see when you go to the theater yourself instead of being drawn into bias by the tons of reviews this site has to offer.