Morgan is another movie that I think made it on my “to watch” list from a reddit post of underrated movies or of scifi movies, and I suspect my reaction was “you had me at Kate Mara.” Though she has kind of a boyish haircut that doesn’t look good on her (but it is character appropriate) except when it starts to get a little messed up (pictured).
The basic premise is that a genetic engineering company makes an artificial (super)human, but there’s an incident and a risk management specialist (Mara) is called out to assess the project. It also stars Rose Leslie, Brian Cox, Toby Jones, Paul Giamatti, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michelle Yeoh, the guy from Narcos and Legion, and the title role is the actress who seemed from the trailers like main girl from Split, but creepy looking.
It’s simultaneously disappointing and surprisingly good. It builds up in the first act like it’s going to be this heady scifi thing, but there’s no decent payoff there at all. But the third act is straight up action and pretty good.
The Discovery is Netflix’s original movie with Robert Redford, Jason Segal, Rooney Mara, and Jesse Plemons about the scientific discovery of an afterlife. (spoiler alert for about 1 minute into the movie) people start killing themselves left and right, because I guess if life is going terribly, but you know there’s something after, why not shortcut to the next thing? That’s about the last interesting thing that happens. It turns in some kind of weird romantic thing with an ending that (spoiler alert for the last ten minutes) turns into a Quantum Leap sorta thing for some reason? Pretty boring.
I keep a list of movies I’m interested in seeing, and sometimes I forget why a movie is on that list. Such is the case with Under the Skin, which my best guess is that it came from one of those lists that shows up on reddit every once in a while, an imgur album full of movie recommendations. I remember ones for movies that “flew under the radar” (most of which looked pretty lousy) and another for “scifi movies that will blow your mind” (most of which I had already seen, because I seek those kinds of movies out). So, this was probably on one of those.
Scarlett Johansson stars… and either she really likes scifi or she’s been pigeonholed as scifi girl lately. This, Ghost in the Shell, Lucy, Her. Also, I would have thought I’d have heard of this movie (even though it only made $7 mil at the box office), since Ms. Johansson is without clothing for a fair amount of it, and normally the internet freaks out over that kind of thing.
It is an art house type movie. Apparently well-received by critics. I thought my audio was messed up because of the first minute or so of dead silence, but then the 2 minutes of ambient strings told me it was working, but that the movie would be weird. A prediction confirmed by the 11 not-action-packed minutes before there was any dialogue. Excruciatingly slow-moving. I would think that unless you go for that sort of thing, this is not for you. And I do not go for this sort of thing.
Scarlett plays a… something (alien?) who lures men with her hotnesss to their deaths. That’s basically the first hour. A little more happens after that, but… not a whole lot. There’s like 3 minutes dedicated to her getting a piece of cake at a restaurant and not liking it. But I stuck it out all the way to the still-not-very-interesting end.
Don’t Think Twice is Mike Birbiglia’s movie he wrote/directed/starred in about an improv group. It’s a small group of friends working a shit theater for peanuts, but then one gets cast on a show that resembles-but-is-legally-distinct-from SNL, and they have to watch their friend succeed and deal with professional jealousy and all that.
Gillian Jacobs is starting to feel omnipresent to me right now, since she’s in this, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 which I watched yesterday, and Love season 2 came out over the weekend. Key, Kate Micucci, that guy from Making History, and some that guys/girls also star, along with cameos from Ben Stiller, Pete Holmes, and Lena Dunham.
There’s something weird about watching people perform improv in a movie, which you know is scripted, so it’s not actually improvised? I mean technically it still might be, I’m sure these are all performers who could do two hours of improv, and you could get 15 minutes of good footage to fill in the movie… but knowing it’s filmed and possibly scripted kinda ruins it anyway.
So the comedy parts aren’t very funny, which just sorta leaves a drama behind. But it’s an ok drama? Not exactly recommended, but it’s not bad.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 follows up a movie that was self-aware and surprisingly good, with a sequel that is mostly just dumb. John Cusack didn’t come back, so he’s replaced by Adam Driver, and with no Cusack there’s no need for Lizzy Caplan (and she might not have done it anyway), so Driver gets a love interest in Gillian Jacobs.
Likable as they all might be, the plot of the movie is weak and gives few opportunities for comedy. The first movie was structured to make references to 80s movies, let the characters take advantage of their future knowledge, and had some jokes like Crispin Glover losing his arm. In this one, they travel to the future, and… basically nothing funny happens there. There is a segment at the beginning showing what the characters are up to that’s funny, and a montage at the end of time travel hijinks that was pretty good, but the whole middle of the movie was a drag.
Creed is kind of a sequel/spinoff of the Rocky franchise, but also sort of a remake of the original Rocky. Apollo’s son is Rocky, Rocky is Mickey, there’s a new Adrian, and some British guy is Apollo. But I guess it’s right on the line between remake and “following the franchise formula.”
Adrian died, Rocky’s son moved away, Paulie apparently died too (Burt Young is still alive apparently… I’m older now than he was when he was in the first movie, which blows my mind, he looked about 60 in 1976, but he didn’t turn 60 until 2000). Rocky now runs a restaurant, Adrian’s, and reluctantly agrees to train, Adonis. Michael B. Jordan plays him, Apollo’s son from a woman besides his wife, who gets recast as Phylicia Rashad because the Mrs. Creed I remember best died in 2011. Jackie from Veronica Mars seems to be getting hotter, here as the love interest.
In true Rocky fashion, the training montages stand out. Keeping with the previous movie in the franchise, there are some quality inspirational speeches. Also, as is generally the case for Rocky movies, I don’t give a shit about the love story part. One big point of separation is the way they shot the first fight. No cuts at all, and I didn’t spot any cheats either where they had a chance to stitch two shots together to make it seem like one take. And it was really well done. The big fight in the end is much more like typical Rocky stuff, but it’s still exciting.
Overall, a pretty solid movie. No real points for originality, but it’s fun to watch. Now I’m looking for the sequel where he faces off with Clubber Lang’s son. Save Drago’s son, with the “your dad killed my dad” undercurrents, for later.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 continues the civil war in which both sides believe PR to be more important than fighting. The rebels assemble a squad of elite soldiers and reality show contest winners who will not really fight much but look good on TV. And then, you know, for the purposes of creating some drama, the look good on TV squad actually does something productive and not for PR.
You know, I could have sworn I remember there being a while “Team Peeta” vs “Team… Thor’s brother” thing, but Thor’s brother is barely in these movies. Admittedly, he’s more in this one than in the previous ones, but… still. Maybe it’s a thing from the books? And Peeta sucks all through the third one. I’m clearly on “Team Jennifer Lawrence should make out with Natalie Dormer,” and there’s one scene where they give each other a hug where I thought for a second they were going to (but… I’m pretty sure if they did, the internet would have already told me about it, since I’ve seen the time they accidentally kissed on the red carpet several times).
Anyway, the ending is… probably meant to mean something, but I took it in an extremely cynical, nihilistic way. Like, (spoiler alert), she seems to think somewhat positively about her experiences, but the whole reason she got involved was to save her sister, who is now dead, and she fought a whole revolution to put in a new president, who she then killed. But fuck it, this guy who tried to kill me once put some babies in me, so… let’s call that a win?
Swiss Army Man is the movie where Daniel Radcliffe plays a dead guy who farts a lot, and it turns out to be even weirder than I thought it would be. It turns out to be a surreal semi-musical about isolation and depression with a conclusion that is… certainly memorable, though not actually that good.
Paul Danno and Daniel Radcliffe are actually pretty good in it. I think it takes balls to commit to roles this weird. And Mary Elizabeth Winstead is cute as ever.
Logan is the latest Wolverine solo movie, and last with Hugh Jackman, that I thought was based on the dumb/awesome Old Man Logan comic, but isn’t at all. It does see an old Wolverine in the future trying to leave all the superheroics behind, but that’s pretty much the end of the similarities. With the R-rating, it’s full of F-bombs and body parts being sliced off (and a really forced “hey we have an R-rating so we can show boobs” moment), and it pretty much alternates between rippin’ throats and tugging at heart strings. And it does so pretty effectively. Easily the best of the Wolverine solo movies and a fitting send-off to Hugh Jackman.
Patrick Stewart is along for the ride as senile Xavier, and X-23 does murder cartwheels. Stephen Merchant plays Caliban, the white guy from Narcos is after them, that one lady from OitNB who’s the pregnant girl’s mom plays X-23’s mother figure, and Eriq LaSalle shows up too.
After not particularly liking the first one, I only saw the second Hunger Games movie because the lovely Natalie Dormer was going to be in the finale, and then the last one got broken up into two movies, because of cash grabbing, and I forgot about my plan to see them. Until now.
So The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 immediately strikes me as a collection of way too many good actors for a franchise this boring. Literally two minutes into the movie, Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence is escorted by Oscar winner Mahershalalhashbaz Ali into a meeting with Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, Oscar winner Julianne Moore, and mere Golden Globe/Emmy winner Jeffrey Wright. Not to mention the presence of Oscar nominees Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci, somehow not Oscar nominee Donald Sutherland, and Emmy nominee Elizabeth Banks.
I had forgotten a lot about the plot of the second one, I actually scrambled to wikipedia to read a plot synopsis of it when I started to get lost early in this one. But basically it’s again about trying to make personal relationships and being telegenic somehow the key to a life or death situation. But in this case, it’s rebellion against the government, instead of a fight-to-the-death TV show. Mostly I think because of her haircut, I thought Natalie Dormer played some kind of badass soldier type which would have been hotter, but she’s actually a film director who’s filming Katniss’s activity within the rebellion to win hearts and minds or whatever. She is really hot though, and doesn’t die in this, so I’ll watch the third one.