Category: movie reviews

Movie Review: Pinocchio (2022)

Disney bragged about how it was releasing its live action Pinocchio as part of Disney Plus Day. When I heard that, I immediately wondered what the real reason for that was. If the movie were actually good, it would be very unlike a movie studio to purposefully cut it out of theaters, but maybe it would somehow help Disney more to have it promote its streaming service?

I watched it with the fam over the weekend, and I discovered the answer was much simpler. It’s just a terrible movie.

From start to finish, almost nothing of the movie works well. For one thing, it’s generally a carbon copy of the animated original, except it’s a mix of live action and CGI. This removes pretty much any sort of interest the movie might be able to generate on its own. Almost the whole time, I was wondering why in the world I’d want to watch this version when I could just watch the original. True, there are a few additions to the plot (a marionette Pinocchio interacts with being the biggest), but nothing there that makes it appreciably different.

Ironically, the film decided to diverge from the songs of the original, only leaving a few brief shout outs to the old songs here and there. Instead, having Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard pen some new songs. Now, I’m a big Alan Silvestri fan. Forrest Gump? Back to the Future? Iconic soundtracks. But imagine if you really like grilled cheese sandwiches, and someone shows up and says they’ll give you a grilled cheese sandwich, and instead give you a BLT. I’m not saying the songs were BLT quality, but it was really hard for me to assess them, because they definitely weren’t the originals, and the difference was very lacking. It also didn’t help that a few of them were “sung” by Tom Hanks, proving really only that Tom Hanks is great at many many different things, but singing ain’t one of ’em.

This is a movie that never should have been green lit. A blatant money grab, and a blight on some otherwise great filmmakers’ careers. Was there anything good in it? Well, clearly the CGI had a lot of work put into it. I really liked the portrayal of Honest John, and the Pleasure Island sequence was very good. But they were all too far and few between to salvage much of anything.

3/10. Avoid this 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 posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this DON’T GO TO SLEEP Amazon link. It 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: Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes

It’s not often that I come across a movie I have both never heard of before and which I end up absolutely loving. Last night, I was trying to find something to watch. I didn’t have a lot of time, but I didn’t really want to watch a TV show, so I was looking for a short movie. I came across one that was only 70 minutes long, and it was a time travel movie. Sold!

The premise of Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is pretty easy to explain. A man comes home from work to find his security feed for his business (which is downstairs) has him on it. Future him. And future him starts talking to present him. They can converse freely. Except future him isn’t from 2050 or something. He’s from two minutes in the future, and after they talk for about a minute and three quarters, he tells present-him to hurry downstairs to the security cam so that he can have this conversation and not create a paradox.

(Hmm. I thought it was easy to explain, but maybe it isn’t? It depends on if that made sense or not . . .)

The film is one continuous take. (Or at least, filmed to make it seem that way.) So when you see the character from the present talking to himself in the future, two minutes later you’ll see him now talking to himself in the past, having the exact same conversation. I was really impressed by just how much work went into pulling it all off and having it make sense. (It’ll make much more sense to you when you’re watching it. I swear.)

It sounds like a movie that would never work. How do you stretch even 70 minutes out of such a premise. Two minutes in the future? What a worthless ability, as far as time travel goes. But what would that really be like, and what could you do with it? The film does a fantastic job exploring that and keeping everything snappy for the whole length of the movie. I don’t really want to say more about it, because half the fun is seeing what happens.

Granted, I’m a sucker for time travel movies. But that also means I’ve seen quite a few of them, and I can spot a great one when I do. This movie was custom made to have me like it. Quirky premise, perfectly executed, and very obscure. It was a wonderful surprise, and I gave it a 10/10. It’s in Japanese, so be prepared for some subtitles, but it is 100% worth your time.

It’s on Amazon Prime, waiting for you to watch even as we speak.

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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 posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this DON’T GO TO SLEEP Amazon link. It 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: RRR

I know. Two movie reviews in a row from me. How did you get to be so lucky? It’s just that I’d heard such good things about a new Indian movie that was on Netflix, that I just had to check it out. RRR is the latest from what I gather is a very well known Indian film maker, S.S. Rajamouli. While I have heard about Indian movies, I haven’t actually . . . watched one of them. This seemed like an excellent opportunity to correct that oversight.

What did I know about Indian movies going into this one? Not a whole ton, to be honest. I knew they really liked to put song and dance numbers into films. I knew I’d seen some snippets from what were very bad looking films that got made fun of online, but I also knew that India has a thriving film industry. Word on the street was that RRR was just full over over the top action sequences, with a really high production value.

Oh yeah. And it was over three hours long.

With that kind of buzz, how could I refuse? Denisa and Daniela were away last night, so I approached Tomas with the idea. “Three hours long?” he asked. “We’re going to need provisions.” So he headed to the store and got some ice cream, chips, salsa, and candy. MC went to bed, and we settled in for the long haul, not really knowing what to expect.

You know that bit in the Princess Bride? “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, miracles”? It’s got pretty much all of that. Maybe it’s missing giants. I honestly can’t remember. All I know is that for three solid hours, I was thoroughly, completely entertained. Start to finish.

At its heart, RRR is a buddy movie. Two guys end up being best friends, not knowing that they’re on polar opposite sides of a revolution in India against British rule. In that loose framework, Rajamouli jams in just about everything you can think of. The fight scenes and action sequences are all over the top in a way that would make the Fast and the Furious movies look on in envy. Just when you think the film can’t possibly give any more, it does. (I wanted to post the trailer for the movie here, but I felt like it gives too much away. Avoid it.)

And yes, there are song and dance numbers. And yes, it gets overly melodramatic from time to time. The British also come across as almost completely evil. But you roll with all of it, and you just enjoy the ride. Forget about physics and pesky things like believability. Rajamouli just draws you into a world where a man can face off against 1,000 and come away victorious.

I had a great time with the movie. 9/10. It’s TV-MA, but purely for comic book violence. It seemed more like a PG-13 to me. You should definitely check it out. And the best news? Rajamouli has other movies on Netflix, waiting for me right now . . .

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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 posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It 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: Operation Mincemeat

At some point, I lost track of most of the new movies coming out. I think it’s because I knew I wasn’t going to see them in the theater, so why not just wait until they made it to one of my streaming platforms? The disadvantage to this is that I have no idea what many of the new movies are about. Many just didn’t make it onto my radar at all. The good news is that I can find movies I haven’t heard of at all, and then be pleasantly surprised.

Operation Mincemeat came out last year. It stars Colin Firth in a story based on a real life incident in World War II. The Allies needed to invade Italy, and the only logical place to do it was in Sardinia. Hitler knew this, so Sardinia was well defended. What the Allies needed to do, then, is to convince Hitler that they were actually going to invade somewhere else, so that he’d move his defenses there, instead. To convince him of this, they came up with an idea of having a body wash ashore carrying top secret documents that detailed the Greece invasion. But it’s one thing to have an idea. Making it work is entirely different.

I really enjoyed the movie. It had solid acting, and it was a real pleasure watching as these different characters worked through scenarios to try and guess what the Nazis would do in response to their actions. (If we do X, they’ll do Y, but they might anticipate us doing X, so we should do Z, etc.) Yes, we all know that ultimately Hitler lost the war, but that doesn’t take away from the tension of this singular incident. Everyone who watched it with me had a great time.

As a quick aside, I wanted to speak up in favor of good, but not great, movies and media. It’s something I have to remind myself from time to time. I’ll look through reviews, searching for something that’s highly rated. This one is a 6.6 on IMDB, and I debated watching it. The thing is, at that number, it could be a 5 or a 6 for me, in which case I’d rather just avoid it, or it could be a 7 or an 8, in which case I’d have a good time watching it.

Also, if I watch too many of the same kind of movie, it just gets . . . boring. I’ll call in the Pixar Problem. Pixar generally makes really good movies. Fantastic movies. They’re excellent produced, heartwarming, funny, and worth watching. But I’m getting to the point that I just don’t really care about Pixar movies coming out. It almost feels formulaic to me by now. I don’t know how they move past that. It’s not the CGI; it’s the way their stories are constructed.

Yes, I get it. I’m complaining that a movie studio is making movies that are too good. But if they make enough of them, close together, then they all sort of drown each other out. Marvel is playing very near that territory now. When you feel like you’ve seen the movie before you even watch the movie, you lose the desire to watch it at all.

In any case, back to Operation Mincemeat. It’s on Netflix right now. 8/10. Check it out.

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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 posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It 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.

Unpopular Opinion: Blade Runner Hasn’t Aged Well

I got in hot water in some circles with my review of 2001 a while back, but I clearly haven’t learned my lesson when it comes to revisiting old science fiction classics. I watched Blade Runner for the second time a few nights ago, promising Denisa that it was a solid movie. It’s really highly rated on IMDB. It’s got a great cast. It’s influential. You can’t go wrong, right?

Wrong.

It suffers from some of the same problems 2001 did. The pacing is just. So. Slow. And there are times when the movie feels willfully obtuse. Again, I think some of the difference here is that back when it came out in 1982, showing these cool environments and potential futures was just fascinating in and of itself. Special effects were miles away from where they are now, and so much of this stuff was just fresh and fascinating. Fast forward forty years, and the effects have been left so far behind, watching them just to be amazed isn’t enough to keep my interest.

Yes, I can see how the movie’s influential, and I can appreciate where it stands in the long lineage of science fiction films. The concept is still great, and I can (in theory) really get behind a sci-fi noir film. But there are many noir movies that are still fantastic today, and that’s mainly because they focused on story and character instead of flashy effects. I’m not saying Blade Runner doesn’t have either, but both its story and its characters are overshadowed by attempts to make things feel more “future-ish.” As if the assumption was that in the future, people would now be pretty strange across the board. When people don’t act like people, but like caricatures, I lose a fair bit of interest in the movie.

It didn’t help that I watched the “Final Cut” as well. There’s a reason the movie felt much more violent than it did when I saw it before. That was added into the movie, and it didn’t really make it any better, and arguably made it worse.

One of the main reasons I watched the movie was so that I could watch Blade Runner 2049 and understand it, but after such a poor experience with the original, I’m pretty gun shy about the sequel. Should I still give it a shot? Because I gave this one only about a 6, and that was me being super generous and giving it some bonus points for its place in history. I probably ought to bump it down to a 4 or even a 3. Checking my watch and pausing it to see how much time is left is rarely a sign of a movie I just adore.

Tell me why I’m wrong.

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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 posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It 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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