Category: movie reviews

What’s the Worst Movie You’ve Ever Seen?

For today’s non-political post, I figured I’d go with something a bit more lighthearted. Just a simple question: what’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?

I don’t mean a movie that’s intentionally bad. That doesn’t count, in my book. It also doesn’t count if the movie isn’t fully funded. I mean, there are a ton of B-movies out there that were never supposed to be very good to begin with. Anything in the MST3K range of movies, for example. You can’t really hold it against them. They are what they are.

No, I mean a Hollywood movie that was supposed to be all that and a bag of. Ideally, it’s a movie you paid money to see. In theaters would be the best, to prove this was something you were looking forward to. You expected it to be good, and then it was anything but. To me, waiting to catch a movie on Netflix or TV already implies a certain lack of confidence in that film.

So when I think back over all the movies I’ve watched over the years, one film really rises to the top (or is it “sinks to the bottom”). Battlefield Earth, starring John Travolta. It was a movie that I saw the week of release. I was a big fan of the book, and so I was excited to see what was done with the film. It had big name movies stars. A budget of $73 million. It was being hyped as a labor of love by Travolta, who wanted to do his religion proud and make a great adaptation of an L. Ron Hubbard book.

And it was so incredibly awful from start to finish.

It was like they’d taken the novel and passed it through a paper shredder, then glued the confetti together into something kind of resembling a film. It was bad at every level. Plot. Writing. Acting. Camera work. I wasn’t just critical of it as a fan of the novel. I was critical of it as a fan of decent storytelling.

It’s because of Battlefield Earth that I was so wary of Fellowship of the Ring. People look back on Jackson’s awesome trilogy now, but I remember sitting in the theater for that movie opening night, simply wishing as hard as I could that the movie wouldn’t be awful. And the PTSD of Battlefield Earth was strong back then.

I’ve never watched the movie again. I have no desire to. I don’t recommend anyone else ever watch it. Those 118 minutes of my life are gone, permanently. I would have been better served shoving jalapeños in my eyes for that time, instead. I honestly don’t think anyone out there can possibly have a worse movie to nominate than Battlefield Earth. It remains the measuring stick I use to compare all other bad movies. Yes, I realize IMDB only has it as the 16th worst movie ever, but only Disaster Movie and Epic Movie have as many votes (in the 80,000 range). Most of the others have like 24,000. And Disaster Movie and Epic Movie are intentionally bad, so they don’t count.

Battlefield Earth was supposed to be the real deal. And it was anything but.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Five Movie Travel Day

Hello! Remember me? I’m back from vacationland. Busy as all get out today (of course), but it’s high time I posted an entry on ze blog, right? Right. Since I’m swamped, I’m going with something easy today. I traveled back yesterday, and I watched five (count ’em, five) movies on the way. So here are my reviews of the films I watched. (Most telling? Justice League was available to watch. I didn’t even bother watching it when I had nothing else I could be doing at all. That’s how little I really care about most DC franchise films these days. What a sorry state of affairs.)

Anyway, here we go:

  • The Post. Definitely the best of the five movies I watched. Based on the real events of how the Pentagon Papers came to be published in the Washington Post. Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg. Soundtrack by John Williams. I’d been meaning to watch it since it came out, and I was so happy to have the chance to do so. Very interesting to see the parallels between the Nixon administration and today’s. Plus, I’m a real sucker for a good newspaper movie. (Spotlight comes to mind right away.) 9/10
  • Chappaquiddick. Did not like. It’s about the historical incident in Ted Kennedy’s past, where he drove a car off a bridge by accident, killing the passenger in his car, and then failed to report it at all for hours and hours while he worried more about how to handle the political fall out. It was a film about people behaving abysmally for two straight hours. Well executed, I suppose, but I couldn’t stand the skewed moral compass, and in the end I wish I’d watched something else. 3/10.
  • Tomb Raider. The new one. I watched it to get Chappaquiddick out of my head. It does what it says it will. Probably one of the best video game adaptations I can remember watching, but it’s still an adaptation of Tomb Raider. Much less sexualized than the earlier versions. Some very good action scenes that don’t care too much about plot. “Get Lara Croft into a tomb, then have her raid it.” Add in some backstory here and there, and Bob’s your uncle. Diverting. Probably not best suited for a small airplane screen. (Duh.) 6/10.
  • The Commuter. The one thing I have learned over my time watching Liam Neeson movies is that if I’m ever on a train, plane, or even just see him in public anywhere, I will run (not walk) in the other direction. In this one, he’s just a random commuter (ex-cop, of course) who’s charged with finding a person on a train or else his family dies. (Of course.) It was fine. Predictable, but okay. 5/10. (Probably could have been a higher rating if it didn’t feel like every other Liam Neeson movie out there in that vein.)
  • Logan Lucky. This, on the other hand, was a delight. Of course, it’s already up my alley, since it’s a heist movie about a bunch of hicks who decide to rob a speedway. Played for comedic effect. Starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, and Daniel Craig. Directed by Steven Soderbergh. A really fun soundtrack, super plot, and just a blast. An easy 9/10 for me. But at that point, my mind was also mush, so perhaps my grading skewed accordingly.

Anyway, Thanks for reading. Glad to be back!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Movie Review: Solo

The movie news pages are all abuzz with headlines of how poorly Solo performed at the box office this weekend, earning much less than predicted both in the US and internationally. I’ve read some reviews that are mixed to negative, and some that really liked the movie. Having seen the movie myself, I’m happy to weigh in on the matter.

I’ll be upfront about it: I gave the film a 7/10, which means I liked it a fair amount. I was leery about seeing someone else in the Solo role other than Harrison Ford, but I felt like Alden Ehrenreich really nailed it, enough that I stopped thinking of him as someone filling in someone else’s shoes, and just started thinking of him as a young Solo. (His smile seemed particularly on point to me.)

Beyond that, it was a fun movie, with a whole ton of action. The effects were spot on, the fighting was intense. It’s a movie that’s a lot of fun to see in a theater with a group of people.

Was it a Star Wars movie? Well, it had Chewbacca in it. It had cool droids. It didn’t have the Force at all, and it had no one named Skywalker in it. Overall, it still managed to feel Star Warsy, even without the Force (though the Force has always been my personal favorite aspect of Star Wars.)

At its heart, this is a heist movie, which feels natural for a Solo origin story. It tried a bit too hard to explain every tiny bit of back story about Han, right down to his name. Those were the parts that felt weakest to me, as if they were contorting to fit it all in there. That isn’t necessary. It’s also a movie that’s an amalgamation of different directors. Started by two, finished by Ron Howard, though it’s up for debate how much of the original conceit hung around. I would be really interested to know what Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (the original directors, who also did The Lego Movie) had up their sleeves. From what I’ve heard, it was a much more humorous take. Part of me is curious to see what a truly funny Star Wars movie would be like, but at the same time, I can’t fault Disney for ultimately balking. I think they took a risk and then decided the end result wouldn’t be good for the brand they’re trying to build.

Though at the same time, I think it’s inevitable that they will ultimately end up with some pretty crazy Star Wars movies. It’s one of the only things you can do to keep a brand fresh. See Guardians of the Galaxy.

One of the biggest criticisms the movie is getting is about how expensive it ended up, and how hard it will be to make a profit. I’m not sure Disney will view it that way, since a large part of the expense is on their shoulders. They started, stopped, changed directions, and restarted. That costs money. And hoping to have a wonderful end product after all of that is a big ask. I was happy to see it was a solid, enjoyable movie.

I think it was also marketed fairly poorly. All the dollars went to Infinity War, and then it was like Disney figured it would be able to build up steam in about two weeks, just because Star Wars. This proves them wrong, and hopefully they avoid this in the future.

But if you’re looking for a fun popcorn movie, there are much worse movies to see. My kids both loved it. DC especially. I think it did a good job earning its spot in the canon, and I will happily rewatch it again in the future. For what it was intended to be (Star Wars heist movie that fills in Solo’s backstory), it does a solid job.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Movie Review Roundup: Dunkirk, Get Out, Logan, and Split

I’ve been sick the last few days. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I’ve had plenty of time to catch up on movies. I’m on the mend, but still in bed today. Maybe I’ll get in one or two more. Who knows? In the meantime, here are short reviews to 4 films I’ve had on my To Be Watched list for quite a while.

Dunkirk. Nominated for 8 Oscars, including Best Picture and Director. Won three, all in the editing categories. I’d heard mixed reviews. The biggest criticism I’d heard repeated is that it was hard to care about any of the characters, since no back story was given to any of them. It was all centered right in the middle of the action around Dunkirk.

I actually didn’t mind the no back story bit. If Nolan had gone the traditional route, this movie would have been at least an hour longer. Adding back stories for each of the characters means you need to add denouements for each of them as well. And a whole lot of that just writes itself. Do we really need to see the scene where we find out the pilot is engaged and supposed to be married in two days? Or where we find out the stowaway soldier is a rogue who loves to gamble? Perhaps, for some movies. I’m thinking of Saving Private Ryan, where a lot of the meat of the movie comes from the quieter moments, where we get to know the characters and understand their motivations.

Then again, I don’t think that’s what this movie was about. It was about Dunkirk. Says so right in the title. And so Nolan focused on the actions of that event, dramatizing them through three different storylines that intersect. It’s telling the movie was nominated for all sorts of Oscars, but no acting ones. The acting could have been done by anyone, really. They were pieces to show the game being played.

All that said, I enjoyed the film, but didn’t adore it. It was riveting stuff, and it made me want to find out more about the historical event, but I also discovered that not really caring about the characters does peel away a layer necessary for me to invest myself in the outcome. Still a great war movie, and an interesting approach. 8/10

 

Get Out. Keeping in the Oscar Nominated movies vein, I had a chance to see Get Out in its entirety. Nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Original Screenplay (for which it won its only Oscar), I knew a fair bit less about this movie going into it. I knew it was in a strange mix of genres: horror, comedy, social commentary. I knew it was about race.

What a crazy, awesome mix of a movie. I’m glad I didn’t know more, since so much of it revolves around reveals. It was thought provoking and unpredictable. The sort of movie you really want to discuss with people after the fact. Here’s the storyline from IMDB:

Chris and his girlfriend Rose go upstate to visit her parents for the weekend. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.

Gary Oldman better have been insanely good in The Darkest Hour, because the performance by Daniel Kaluuya in this movie was incredible. Very worthy of an Oscar nomination, and I’m surprised he didn’t win. (Have to think the horror genre somehow counted against him.)

As far as horror movies goes, it’s more for suspense than gore (though there is a fair bit of blood in the movie). Lots of language earned the R rating, which I kind of wish they had scaled back from. I feel like there are a lot of people who would benefit from watching the movie who won’t watch it because it’s R, and I feel like the movie would have easily had the same impact without a bit of the blood and all of the language.  9/10

 

Logan. I’d heard many people say it was the best X-Men movie. It’s currently the 208th best movie on IMDB. Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. (And directed by James Mangold, who was just announced as the director for the Boba Fett movie . . .)

I’ll say one thing: “Best X-Men movie” is a bar that isn’t too hard to get over. I’ve liked some of the entries in the series well enough, but none of them have stood out to be as Completely Awesome. Logan, frankly, was also not Complete Awesome for me, but that was more from the fact that it’s quite dark, and I prefer my superhero movies to be more super. Matter of taste.

That said, I really enjoyed the movie. Ultra violent, which I know a lot of fans have been clamoring for. And when your main character is a guy with foot long adamantium claws on both hands . . . you’re kind of obligated to find out how many creative ways you can have him use those claws to kill people. I get it.

The premise is simple: years in the future, Wolverine is living a broken life. He’s borderline suicidal. Mutants are pretty much hunted out of existence. No new ones are appearing. Life is terrible. And then a new mutant girl is discovered, and it’s up to him to protect her, despite the fact that he’s the least fatherly figure you could imagine.

It’s not a movie you’re going to come out chipper from. It’s quite the downer, but it’s a good downer, so there’s that. Honestly, this is a pretty easy film to decide whether you’ll want to watch it or not. If “R-Rated dark Wolverine movie” is something you’re in the market for, here’s your huckleberry. 8/10

 

Split. I do not, as a rule, enjoy horror movies. (And yet here I am reviewing two of them at once sitting.) That said, I really liked The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable and (to an extent) The Village and Signs. M. Night Shyamalan has directed some stinkers, sure, but he’s got a number of movies I enjoy. Split wasn’t one I was planning on seeing, however. The main reason I watched it was because I heard it might intersect with Unbreakable somehow, and my fond memories of that movie made me want to check this one out.

I generally really dislike movies where the villain is a “crazy person.” I feel like it does a real disservice to people with mental health issues. James McAvoy plays a man with something like 23 different personalities. And of course some of them want to abduct three girls and keep them hostage for unknown reasons.

McAvoy did a fine job acting the different personalities, but I still found the whole concept kind of scummy, and I could never really invest myself in his character because of that. Additionally, my general distaste of horror made me gun shy of lots of the movie. In the end, it wasn’t a very enjoyable experience, and the intersection with Unbreakable wasn’t enough to make me happy I’d invested 2 hours of sick-in-bed time with the movie.

Though I would really love an Unbreakable sequel. Just sayin’. 5/10. I didn’t hate it, but was generally neutral on it, which is what a 5 is for me. All movies start out as a 5. They move up and down based on my response to them.

 

Seen any of these yourself? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Movie Review: Infinity War [SPOILERS]

I took Tomas and DC to the movies on Saturday, off to see the latest Avengers movie. And there’s no way for me to review this movie without talking about massive SPOILERS, so if you haven’t seen it yet and plan on it, then don’t read this review. Got it? On the other hand, if you’ve already seen the movie and want to chat about it, you’ve come to the right place.

In the end, I have really mixed feelings about the movie. Not because it was poorly done. The effects were awesome, and I was certainly entertained throughout. But it’s all build up and no release. The ending? Half of everybody dying? All it really did was remind me that there are no endings in these movies. It’s a franchise that just keeps on churning.

For a story to be complete, you need to have an ending of some sort. I don’t review books and movies that I don’t finish, so how in the world can I review Infinity War, an unfinished movie?

Sure, you can argue that the movie ended. The lengthy credits rolled, and we got to see Nick Fury die at the end (a final stab of the knife in case fans weren’t low enough already). But simply rolling credits doesn’t mean its over. You could also argue that it’s a “dark” movie, and that the ending is an ending, but that’s just a bunch of garbage. It’s a complete, 100% cliffhanger of an ending. Except instead of leaving the protagonists on a cliff, it drops them off the cliff and focuses on their dead, bleeding corpses.

I don’t for a moment believe Starlord, Black Panther, Spiderman, et al are actually, really dead. These are comic book movies, and characters come back from the dead all the time. Already there are tons of theories about what will happen. Maybe an alternate timeline. Captain Marvel’s movie takes place in the 90s and comes out soon, and Fury was paging Captain Marvel right at the end there. So perhaps we get some timeline shenanigans ala X-Men to iron things out.

The best example of a “dark ending” I can think of is Empire Strikes Back. But that movie has an actual ending. Luke fights Darth, Darth wins, Luke escapes. It would be very different if Luke fought Darth and the film ended with a shot of Luke falling into the depths of Cloud City.

Roll credits.

The more I think about this, the more it becomes clear that Marvel films aren’t really films at all anymore. They’ve morphed into this strange hybrid of films and television series. I don’t mean Agents of SHIELD or Daredevil. I mean the movies themselves. A cliffhanger like Infinity War leaves us with is much more in line with something we might see out of Game of Thrones or Lost.

Or comic books themselves, for that matter.

Which, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Marvel has simply finally gotten to the point where it can adapt its comics to the screen completely. We have all the characters’ back stories. We can see a veritable cornucopia of heroes and villains on the screen, and we know all about each of them. They can die, be reborn, be recast, and have everything happen to them that happen in the comics.

But just because you can do something on film doesn’t mean you should. I think my biggest objection to the end of the movie was the way it was done. There’s the big finale fight scene. The heroes lose, and snap, everything changes. And I wonder why exactly I just watched 2.5 hours of struggle to have nothing really fixed.

It felt like I got too good of a look at the inner workings of Marvel. How we’ll see these movies come out one after another, and none of them will really matter. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Marvel will decide Black Panther 2 is a bad idea, and leave the character dead. But since the movies exist to make money . . . I seriously doubt that will happen. Too much moola is at stake.

So Marvel pushed the boundaries too far for me. Character deaths stop really having an impact when you start doubting any of them will ever really be permanent. Imagine a Lion King where Mufasa shows up alive and kicking in the sequel. Or what it would feel like if Boromir shows up out of nowhere in Two Towers. Sure, you can get away with a bit of it now and then, but so many characters all at once?

I felt like I wanted my money back. Might as well skip the whole first movie and just watch the inevitable sequel to find out what really happens.

But that’s too harsh, because I really was entertained for those 2.5 hours. The movie was funny, explosive, and engaging. But it also was a big ol’ sucker punch, and it’s hard to say “thanks” when a film does that. Especially when it isn’t earned.

I’ll watch the sequel, of course. But a large part of whether or not I’ll ever want to rewatch Infinity War rests on how that sequel goes. I watch superhero movies to escape. To see the good guys win.

What did you all think of the movie?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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