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Movies You've Seen Recently |OT| July 2017

Boogs31

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Aug 3, 2016
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Saw Atomic Blonde (nearly won a poster signed by Theron). Liked it probably more than most other will. Really dug the soundtrack, which has a "name that tune" quality to it. Sound design was also great, as was set design. While the story went a bit all over the place, at least it was more involved than "someone killed my dog".

4/5

Sometimes simplicity is better though. As basic as the plot to John Wick is, I still found myself completely engaged in his quest for revenge. I can't say the same for Charlize Theron's character in Atomic Blonde. And saying the story was simply, "someone killed my dog" is pretty disingenuous.
 

Blader

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Oct 8, 2006
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I am so glad Atomic Blonde is finally in theaters, just so I never have to see that fucking trailer again. "This only ends one way...a bullet" fucking 20 times, enough already.
 

Krev

Unconfirmed Member
May 8, 2009
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I'm gonna watch Valerian (not at the cinema, ofc.) hopefully is one notch above Jupiter Ascending at least.
It definitely is. It plays very well on a cinema screen - there is SO MUCH stuff to look at.
 

NewDust

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Nov 18, 2013
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Sometimes simplicity is better though. As basic as the plot to John Wick is, I still found myself completely engaged in his quest for revenge. I can't say the same for Charlize Theron's character in Atomic Blonde. And saying the story was simply, "someone killed my dog" is pretty disingenuous.

Yeah, I definitely did care more for most of the characters in JW than any of the characters in AB. JW2, went more heavy on the story and I thought it didn't work, and while AB story isn't (told) great, I was interested in the which direction it would head in. For JW, store felt more like a means to an end... How can we get Keanu in as many bad-ass scenes.
 

Toothless

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Oct 12, 2014
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Indiana
Spider-Man holds up to still be a remarkably fun cinematic introduction to the world's most amazing web-slinger. Maguire proves a spectacular pick for Raimi's vision of Spider-Man, and Dafoe is delightful in the big hammy supervillain role that was built for him in every way. The effects aren't that great anymore, but that's fine since the campy tone prevents them from really distracting from the heartfelt and thrilling story. Raimi directs with precision, making the rare comic movie that takes inspiration from the original art-form in editing and aesthetic. Its sometimes disjointed nature combined with a little too much campiness at points are disappointing, and the action certainly could be better directed and choreographed. Nevertheless, Spider-Man is a pleasantly sincere beginning to the modern superhero craze, keeping its characters in mind above all else to make a rousing tale of heroics. 6/10

Rough Night is a typical formulaic comedy with a few good laughs. Its biggest mistake is having a truly phenomenal ensemble cast of great comedians and yet oddly choosing to focus on Jillian Bell, who is probably the only person in the cast who is more obnoxious than remotely funny. The other four of the main cast all do their best, but Bell' really drags the movie down, both with her annoying character and the way she clearly improvs her jokes into an obnoxious realm. The attempts at emotion are very bland, but it's alright because for the most part, it's moderately entertaining. Rough Night is an average inoffensive R-rated comedy that still is enjoyable to watch, but it's hard to say if I'll remember anything from it tomorrow morning. Could've been a lot worse. 5/10

Spider-Man 2 remains one of the pinnacles of the superhero genre. Everything works here; the villain, the romance, the score, the action, everything. Raimi directs with even more precision than he did the first go-around, and Maguire gives his best performance as both sides of the title character, brilliantly displaying the drama of living a double life. Molina's villain isn't on-screen as much as remembered, but that just goes to show how much of an impact he makes. The entire ensemble is used well; no one feels wasted. The action sequences are all remarkably well-paced, and it never forgets that this is a film about what it means to be a hero. Spider-Man 2 is a masterful blockbuster, wonderfully building on the themes and characters of its predecessor to make a film that stands up to the test of time better than nearly any other blockbuster of its era. 9/10

Spider-Man 3 is infamous for being a mess, and there's truth to that reputation. There's so much bloat present while many actually important plot threads are underdeveloped. It's clear Raimi had no interest in the scenes involving the symbiote as these lack any of the energy present in the rest of this trilogy. Peter comes off as out-of-character even before he tries on the black suit, and Dunst tries her best with some truly terrible material. Only Franco, Harris and Simmons come out of it with their reputations still intact, although Franco's arc still falls under the underdeveloped plot threads, sadly. The action is still good, and the Sandman is a pretty cool villain aesthetically. Unfortunately, the black suit really amounts to one cool scene (Peter dancing down the street), and just a lot of other boredom. Spider-Man 3 is the disappointing ending to what could've easily been one of the greatest trilogies ever, coming off as a forced finale rather than the organically told story of the previous two chapters. 3/10

The Amazing Spider-Man, more than anything, is dull. There's nothing imaginative about this take on Spider-Man. It constantly rehashes moments from the Raimi movies with more forgettable cinematography, mediocre action, and a color scheme too dark to follow. Garfield is a decent Spidey but a horrendously unsympathetic Peter Parker. Everyone else, from Martin Sheen to Emma Stone, similarly doesn't leave any impression, and the huge focus on Peter's parents seems both silly and a distraction, seeing the film drops it after the first forty minutes. It's hard to write a review about because it's just not that memorable at all. The Amazing Spider-Man is a superhero movie without any identity that makes it wholly not special and completely unbefitting of its title hero. A disgrace to the franchise thanks to its own anonymity. 2/10

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a total mess. It swings wildly in tone and manages to be more cheesy than any of the Raimi films that have cheese built into them to be tolerable. Garfield's Spider-Man is actually really fun this time, but his Peter is even worse, shockingly still not developing at all despite it being his second film. The action is actually pretty fun and creative, but the villains are horrible cliches with barely any actual character to them. The whole film feels like a variety of plot points and sequel/spin-off hooks spun together into the world's most misshapen web. However, thanks to its total ineptitude, it is much more watchable than its predecessor; this is definitely a memorable film, thanks to how miscalculated it is. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gracefully closes Garfield's short tenure as the web-slinger, giving him a memorable film to go out on. Too bad he never even had one that was even mediocre; just two awful superhero flicks that deserve to be forgotten as quickly as possible. 2/10

Despicable Me 3's only good moments are in its closing credits. Finally, the film embraces its Spy vs. Spy influences in classic animation that's actually amusing and clever. The rest of the film is neither of these as it totally bores through a variety of underdeveloped subplots full of unlikable characters. The jokes simply don't work; only some Minion slapstick might make you crack a smile, and even that just feels blah by now. Carell does his best but it feels very stale now. There might be some enjoyment found in Parker's character, except that, much like his character's old television show, everything about him is predictable and stale. Despicable Me 3 is yet another entry in this animation franchise that feels like an insult to exist, giving mind-numbing headaches to anyone over the age of 12, and probably barely entertaining those under that age too. Trash. 1/10

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the first MCU film (or really, superhero film in a while) to really tackle secret identities. The dramatic double lives that used to be synonymous with the genre have all but disappeared in recent years, and this does it better than any superhero movie since the Raimi trilogy. The choice to be Spider-Man weighs down this Peter, and although we never hear the famous line, the struggle of great responsibility is always evident in the film.

This is also the first superhero movie, or even modern blockbuster in general, to really feel like it takes place in a high school. The young cast is ridiculously strong, and it seems as though they plan having a consistent supporting cast in these films, which is truly exciting. Holland proves that his Civil War performance wasn't a fluke, feeling effortlessly like Peter Parker. Keaton elevates the role of Vulture, although he's simply a good villain, nothing great but more than serviceable. The script is its strongest aspect, being effortlessly funny and surprisingly heartfelt in its depictions of young love and awkward high school days.

That's why it's so crushing when the MCU elements come crashing in. Sure, Tony and Peter's dynamic is fun, but it's not worth interrupting Peter's story with fanservice moments or quirky in-jokes from other films. The third act also continues the genre's disappointing streak, being incoherently shot and ridiculously dark in color. It's near impossible to see anything that is going on, and that's just mediocre. Really, there's only one good action scene, and that's the only one that shows us something we've never seen with the character.

The retreaded moments, either from other Spider-Man or MCU films, just hurt so much when they occur, because it seems clear the rest of the film is trying so hard to avoid them. Giacchino's score is also shockingly mediocre, as his theme just feels like he played around a bit with the cartoon's theme and left it at that. More creativity there would've been appreciated.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is a solid entry for the amazing hero in the MCU. A smaller scale and a focus on high school really help makes it stick out of the crowd of superhero movies despite the other generic elements. It's certainly a fun movie though, and one that finally gives Spider-Man his first good movie in over a decade. That, more than anything else, makes it well worth seeing. 7/10

The Genie of the Ravioli Tin is an incredibly charming short about the beginning of a friendship and the magic that causes it. Really nice.

My Life as a Zucchini is a remarkably tender film. Showing plainly life in a foster home, it rattles one's emotions simply showing the family that forms from those who have no one. The animation frequently astounds, as the art style is breathtaking. However, it's the story that's the true highlight here, with memorable characters with wonderful realistic dialogue among the kids. It's just a surprisingly charming movie that isn't afraid to show the rough side of childhood, and how those who hurt can often help each other heal. My Life as a Zucchini is a stunning piece of stop-motion animation with a powerful narrative backing that up. A really fantastic film.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a very good sci-fi that's at its best when it's being a different breed than what we usually get. The slow burn of the first two-thirds is a fascinating tale about the dangers and wonders that can come from scientific accomplishment. Serkis is spectacular as Caesar and the CG for the most part holds up six years later. Too bad the third act is a generic action blockbuster, removing all the thoughtfulness of what came beforehand. The action is dully shot and edited, and goes on for far too long. It's a critical misstep in what could've been an absolute sci-fi classic. As it is, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is an above-average reboot of the famed franchise, thanks to a smart script and a truly remarkable performance from Andy Serkis. 7/10

The Founder is one of the most frustrating movies I've seen in quite some time. All the ingredients seem to be here for a masterpiece. The cast is fantastic and the script is surprisingly engaging for the cliche biopic this appears to be on first glance. Kroc's huckster qualities and shrewd business dealings make this a fascinating treatise on capitalism and what it means to follow the American dream.

That's why it's so crushing that Hancock is the director. He clearly does not know what the proper tone should be for this material, and his sheer workmanlike direction robs the film from the style it rightfully deserves. Worse than the style stolen though, is the removal of any subtlety. The camera lingers on overt foreshadowing and the editing relies on banal crosscutting far too often. It's a testament to Keaton's abilities as an actor that he still delivers a phenomenally magnetic performance as Kroc despite the rest of the film around lacking identity or agency thanks to the mediocre direction. Burwell's score is also misdirected, adding way too much whimsy and making emotional undercurrents super obvious.

Thanks to a strong cast and a script that shines through the mucky direction, The Founder is still worth watching. However, the crushing disappointment comes from realizing how much more it could be. It's the cinematic equivalent of ordering a cheeseburger with everything on it, but then the cheese being forgotten. It might still taste good at points, but ultimately, the loss of the most appetizing ingredient makes it a slog to get through. A very sad turn-out for this intriguing project. 6/10

Denial is surprisingly ahead of its time, despite being released less than a year ago. The constant use of fallacies and claims of lies and deception by Irving bare to mind the tactics of a similarly hunched man in power right now. It's a film about the importance of objective truth and how that grounds itself in our lives everyday. I greatly appreciate what this film is about. Too bad how it is about is dull in every way. The cinematography and editing is generic, and the script is often heavy-handed in a way this material need not be. Weisz at points feels hammy, which is disappointing as the rest of this ensemble is pretty great. Spall, Wilkinson, and Scott all do excellent jobs, but the film ultimately is just average. Denial is a great story but a wholly average film thanks to uninspired direction and a dull script. 5/10

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a marked improvement off its predecessor. Although the humans could use a tad more development, they're still pretty interesting, thanks to a charismatic performance by Clarke. The real star are the titular primates, with Serkis delivering another fantastic performance. Kebbell's Koba steals the show, being a rare modern blockbuster villain that's more than memorable. He's terrifying, a force of nature that is unpredictable yet methodical in his approach. The action and cinematography are top-notch, and Reeves directs with a confidence that may be lacking in style but always engages. The visuals are top-of-the-line and constantly make you forget you're not watching real apes on screen. The only notable flaw is Giacchino's distracting score, which has a solid theme for Koba but generic dullness for the rest. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a remarkable sequel that improves on the original in ways previously thought impossible. It's a prime example of a pulpy blockbuster, with memorable characters and setpieces with dynamics rarely exploited in modern big-budget filmmaking. 8/10

Youth in Oregon is a generic indie movie with barely anything to make it noteworthy. The "barely" qualifies for Frank Langella, who gives a strong performance in spite of the weak material, being remarkably watchable in this otherwise maudlin work. Lucas is also fun in a small supporting role, but besides these two actors, the cast is near unwatchable. The script is not at all fresh despite its unusual subject matter, and the plot hits every single cliche of the family dramedy subgenre. The direction is mediocre while the cinematography is outright ugly. Youth in Oregon was buried in distribution and it deserves to be as its waste of talented actors on a melodramatic script is more criminal than euthanasia outside of Oregon. Dreadfully mediocre. 3/10

Beatriz at Dinner is an average satire that never really illuminates any thing. That said, the conversations had this film are awkward in the best sense, showcasing class and racial tension in a compelling way that both entertaining and painful to watch. Hayek gives a very strong lead performance, and the rest of the cast does their jobs well. However, the ending is such a mess it ruins the entire endeavor. If a satire does not have a clear intent, that can be an issue but not a dealbreaker. However, if a satire throws three esoteric endings in a row at its audience, the lack of clarity makes one wonder if the filmmaker even had a point he or she was trying to make. Beatriz at Dinner falls in the latter. Moreover, these endings (along with a few other scenes) come across as padding to hit the requisite 80-minute runtime to be considered a worthwhile feature-length film, and thus, the film feels much longer than it is. Thanks to a horrendous ending and terrible pacing, Beatriz at Dinner fails as a compelling film despite strong performances and a few great scenes. 4/10

War for the Planet of the Apes completes the story of Serkis's greatest creation, Caesar, in the epic he has always deserved. Seeping with ambition and emotion, Reeves refines his direction in a way that is both stylish and invisible. He doesn't draw attention to his own direction, letting the story of the apes never be distracted by needless flash. The story here is breathtaking, a riveting tale about the dueling forces of humanity and savagery. Giacchino's score matches the story, being truly exceptional in how it builds from previous films and also feels like its own beast.

Serkis delivers his strongest performance yet, deftly applying raw emotion and true understanding to Caesar. You never once think you are watching a CGI-creation. Harrelson and Miller both deliver the first memorable human characters in this franchise, and the rest of the apes all stand out in ways never before. The effects have never been better, and although the third act might get a bit over-the-top, the distinctly subdued nature of the film is a relief compared to other recent blockbusters.

War for the Planet of the Apes concludes the most underrated blockbuster trilogy of this century in spectacular fashion, delivering the best film yet thanks to the strong emotion and startling setpieces all anchored by Andy Serkis's marvelous acting prowess. A stunning achievement in today's blockbuster landscape. 9/10

A Ghost Story mesmerizes in a way films rarely do. Evocative of the free-floating nature of its titular subject, its approach is more experiential rather than telling a story. Lowery's vision of the afterlife is astounding, with tons of quirks that all are grounded in a solid world. The sound and cinematography are both top-of-the-line, and the film is at its best when its playing with horror tropes and really tackling the mourning nature of loss. Hart's score is beautiful, and Affleck and Mara both do admirable jobs in their roles.

However, it's a tough watch at points, thanks to its esoteric nature and refusal to commit to any actual character in the film. This is to its benefit too, but ultimately, it just left me feeling surprisingly cold by the end of the film. That negative aside, A Ghost Story is a tremendous piece of filmmaking, with fascinating ambition executed to near perfection, even if that might not be what one is expecting from the film. Definitely worth seeking out. 8/10

Insomnia is a solid thriller, but there's not much more to it. Pacino leads the film well and Williams delivers a fantastic supporting performance that makes the entire film worth watching. Nolan directs as well as he usually does, and the script is compelling enough. That's its central issue though; it's just "enough." It really doesn't stick out from the crowd, and at points, the glacial pacing gets to be a tad annoying. Insomnia is a worthy beginning to Nolan's studio filmmaking, but, with the exception of Williams' performance, is mostly forgettable and sadly close to be a cure for its titular affliction. 6/10

Transformers: The Last Knight certainly has amusing moments. For one thing, why is Stanley Tucci playing a character completely (and explicitly) unrelated to his character in the last one? That's about the only bizarre aspect of this film that amuses rather than annoys. For example, why is Bay sexualizing a character portrayed by a minor who is stated to be 14-years-old? It's disgusting in every sense of the word. Furthermore, he has managed to find a way to make his trademark style even more indecipherable; he shoots this film with a ridiculously erratic aspect ratio, with nearly every other shot switching it up between 3-5 different ratios (I honestly couldn't keep track of them all). The story is utter nonsense and none of these characters are remotely likable. Transformers: The Last Knight has thankfully disappointed at the box office and will likely be the last one of this original series. It's a shame that audiences have allowed for this go on for so long. The joke lost its humor quite a bit ago, and now, it's just utterly annoying and insulting. Transformers: The Last Knight is a total landfill of a film, being borderline nonsensical in a thoroughly miserable sense. 1/10

One of these days I'll actually get into my thoughts on Wreck-It Ralph and probably give it a score, but probably at a time when I'm watching while not being up for eighteen hours straight or responsible for over fifteen children. That said, it's still an effective animated comedy with a clear passion for video games and a strong heart to it. Definitely a good way to waste sometime during a lock-in.

After watching it mostly muted at four in the morning, it becomes clear that Pete's Dragonis Lowery's strongest work yet. Despite these handicaps, it remains remarkably engaging and emotionally involving. By transferring his sincere yet slightly fantastical style to a family film, Lowery constantly delivers what he only briefly touches in his other works: pure magic. A truly delightful film that makes me cry every time I see it and which deserves to become a hallmark children's film.

I'll post Dunkirk and my movies after it for the month in the August thread I suppose.
 

Monocle

Member
Jan 16, 2008
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Sometimes simplicity is better though. As basic as the plot to John Wick is, I still found myself completely engaged in his quest for revenge. I can't say the same for Charlize Theron's character in Atomic Blonde. And saying the story was simply, "someone killed my dog" is pretty disingenuous.
Agreed. It's absurd to attack the simplicity of John Wick's plot. That's part of what makes it work.

Atomic Blonde is more story driven by design. And that story is convoluted and somewhat muddled at times. Ironically, to the extent that it resembles John Wick's propulsive badass-on-a-mission mode and its brazen style, it totally works.