Some of you might still be off from work, school hasn’t started yet, and some parts of the country are going back into brief lockdown. Regardless of which, you may be spending time at home so here’s a few more movies I’ve been catching up on, recent and otherwise, that may (or may not be) worth a looksee.
Jay & Silent Bob Reboot (2019)
I completely forgot to add this to the previous movie catch up last year as I watched it months ago. Strange that I forgot because I really enjoyed it albeit it with a few caveats.
So this one is purely for the fans of Kevin Smith’s work as well as anyone who enjoys “stoner comedies” (although that Venn diagram is pretty much one circle). It’s much more of an excuse for a nostalgia trip based on a single joke rather than any sort of meaningful commentary on movie reboots and remakes.
However, the real core of this movie sort of sneaks up on you. Amongst all the updates and check-ins the audience gets with Smith’s various “View Askewniverse” characters, coupled with the revelation that Jay has a kid he never knew anything about, you slowly realise this film was all about change, moving forward and why we keep looking back and what we may miss by doing so.
The humour flips back and forth between really clever and painfully low brow as you would expect and you are likely to get whiplash from all the cameos and reprisals but overall I had a heap of fun.
Bill & Ted: Face the Music (2020)
Although my part of the country had zero active cases during this movie’s release, I still wasn’t feeling quite right going to the cinema yet. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long for the home release.
This is yet another nostalgia trip to the 90’s and a “where are they now?/next generation” update. It’s a fun and simple adventure as long as you don’t overthink the mechanics of things as well as ignore the denouement being signalled from a mile away. But all that still works mainly thanks to how likeable both Alex Winters and Keanu Reeves are as well as how game they seem to be at looking silly throughout this.
I think my only gripe is how imbalanced the story felt to me. Obviously, this is a Bill & Ted movie however this really should have been more focussed on their daughters as a much more overt “passing the torch” kind of movie. Still a lot of fun though.
Zombie films wore out their welcome over a decade ago and yet it’s rather fitting that genre refuses to die no matter how bored audiences are of it. However, the most refreshing takes on “the walking dead” seem to be coming from outside of Hollywood.
Like the excellent Train to Busan I reviewed last year, #Alive also comes from South Korea but it’s much smaller story focussing on a guy trapped in his apartment as he quickly runs out of food and water. It doesn’t necessarily swing for the fences like Train to Busan does or even overhaul the zombie movie really but its narrow focus does offer an interesting enough story that, on the surface, feels mildly suitable to 2020.
I do want to give a content warning to anyone that may be triggered by talk or depiction of suicide though. This may not be for you.
The title and advertising may imply more of a focus on the social media aspect but that feels more forced rather than having anything to say about such. It does have a more Gen-Z tone to some parts or at least someone trying to emulate that feel but overall it’s an entertaining enough little tale even if the gamut of character experiences and emotions are a tad compressed for 90-somthing minutes.
Ready Player One (2018)
I was originally excited about this film and then the more I heard about it the less interest I had until I just forgot about it altogether. Then it came to Netflix…
I despise this movie.
As a special effects spectacle and a trip into nostalgia and the shit we love it’s most certainly very cool and I admire the technical achievement but as a STORY it’s shallower than a tea spoon. I Know That Reference: The Movie represents everything wrong with “geek culture” by portraying it as a positive with a main character so absent of any redeeming qualities, or ANY personality apart from being a gate-keeping douche, that it makes it difficult to give a fuck what happens to him or the other characters. Even if the original intent may have been about normal people vs corporations, all of that is lost to appeal to the worst parts of fan culture.
2018 was a bad time to offer up and promote “true fans vs fake geeks” as a narrative to root for and it disappoints me that anyone would internalise any of this. But it would explain a lot.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
The 2014 Godzilla film directed by Gareth Edwards was massively misguided and incredibly boring as it misunderstood what made the classic Japanese icon so popular to begin with. The sequel, to its credit, learned from those mistakes… mostly.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is almost exactly as dumb as a Godzilla film needs to be and on that level it’s quite an enjoyable spectacle especially with Hollywood money and that alone should be enough for most fans of giant monster/kaiju films.
But it’s a double-edged sword in that regard because Hollywood’s unshakable need for “gritty realism” does hamper the otherwise spectacular visual effects set pieces ever so mildly. However, it’s the mistake of trying to give the story an emotional core that ultimately falls flat, failing to make you care about the tiny family drama instead of, OH I DON’T KNOW, maybe focusing on the guy that knows about Godzilla and should probably have been the main narrative lead. This ends up making the movie 40 minutes too long.
There is a lot to like here. When the film embraces the absurdity it’s a lot of fun but fails when it tries to go above its station.
Bleeding Steel (2017)
When you sit down to watch a Jackie Chan film you usually know to manage your expectations when it comes to plot and just enjoy the humour and high energy choreography. Sometimes you’ll be surprised with a truly excellent film…. Sadly, not this time.
Bleeding Steel is another one of those high-concept adventures that Chan has a go at every so often based on trends of the time. Wikipedia erroneously describes it as “cyberpunk” but this film clearly wants to be Captain America: The Winter Soldier with its blend of contemporary science-fiction and over-powered costumed antics (it even stars one of the Hydra soldiers as the main villain).
Despite its ambitions, everything looks cheaper than it should as if it were made in 2007 rather than 2017, which isn’t helped by the fact that potions of it were filmed in Australia (an old mainstay of 90’s Jackie Chan). Combine that with the story’s inability to balance drama and slapstick humour (let alone just being coherent) and it looks like it was made for 10-year-olds were it not for the occasional pops of ultra-violence.
Strange thing is, Jackie is still the standout in all this and not because of the fight scenes. It’s one of the unusual aspects of his career that regardless of all the terrible movies he’s made, he’s a genuinely good and charismatic performer. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to save this train-wreck.
I wish I had more outright recommendations but perhaps consider these a way to manage expectations if you ever feel bored on a Sunday arvo or something. To each their own…
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