The Wolfman (2010)

The first time I watched this movie was when it was released in theaters. I decided to rewatch it on Netflix, and I can’t believe I went and saw this in theaters. It’s just a mess. There’s good ideas in there but the execution is muddled and just bad. It’s a remake of an older movie of the same name but it takes its plot and butchers it in an attempt to make something new. It starts off so rocky and badly acted, you wonder if it’s a joke. It slowly improves though not by much. You’d think such famous actors would be doing a better job but the fault isn’t theirs alone, the writing is such a letdown.

The plot is standard for a werewolf movie. Man arrives to former home looking for lost brother. Man gets bit investigating supposed werewolf. Man turns into werewolf. Now he’s the one getting investigated. Shenanigans ensue, death happens. The man in question is Lawrence Talbot, son of John Talbot. Lawrence is played by Benicio Del Toro, John is played by Sir Anthony Hopkins, and the widow of the brother is played by Emily Blunt. Both Benicio and Anthony phone it in, they act like they don’t wanna be there, that this is a paycheck and isn’t worth the effort. Emily Blunt, on the other hand, actually tries and her character is the only one to create an emotional response.

The good part of the movie is that the transformation into a werewolf is very well done. The effects were done by Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London) and those transformation scenes are about the only true horror in the movie. Every single other bit of horror is a jump scare and after the umpteenth time, it’s just boring and downright lazy. The final “boss fight” was thankfully over quick and the werewolves were easily dispatched.

I’d recommend watching the transformation scenes on YouTube and avoiding this mess of a film. It’s not worth your time.


Dora and the Lost City of Gold

What a lovely family adventure movie! It was so refreshing to watch after many movies filled with profanity, violence and sexuality. I had a smile on my face the entire time, from start to finish. It made you feel good. It made you laugh, a lot. It was just a thoroughly enjoyable movie. That’s rare these days. Even rarer was that the puzzles in the movie were actually well done. Even better than Tomb Raider and that’s saying something.

I’ve never seen Dora, the cartoons, only heard of them. Though I now know what they look like because of a scene in the movie that briefly shows off the animation. Our titular character is played with poise and grace and just phenomenally acted by Isabela Merced (former stage name Moner). She was immediately likeable and you can’t help but smile at her presence on screen. She’s definitely a star. Her costars also deserve praise even if their characters were caricatures. Two of the animals are voiced by well known actors and they’re just great little surprises.

The plot itself is more like magical realism. Yes it takes place in the real world but at the same time, there’s a mysticism to it all. From her companion Boots, to the talking fox named Swiper, and even to the fantastical city of gold that they’re searching for. It’s like the writers were inspired by Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull but they wanted to make a good movie instead. So they nitpicked all the best elements and applied Dora to it.

Several scenes were quite entertaining and sometimes had me in stitches. It was just so funny. The jokes all nail their target audience but there’s also jokes for adults in there. Like the ending with her parents, that was incredibly funny. Speaking of her parents, they were played by Eva Longoria and Michael Peña and both did a good job for the roles they had to play.

I definitely recommend this movie to all ages, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. I’d love to watch it again with friends and family.


Gemini Man

After watching this movie, I decided to read several reviews to see what others had thought of it. It was painfully obvious to see many were paid off to write terrible reviews because the very nature and plot of the movie paints the US government in a bad light. It is nowhere near the level of bad that many had claimed. It’s actually quite the opposite. It was an enjoyable ride.

The plot is simple. Will Smith plays a former soldier turned assassin who works for the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency). After he is sent to kill a scientist due to false information brought by his handler, he visits an old friend who tells him so. However during the meeting, his agency spies on him with a drone and the higher-ups think he may have gleaned classified information that would bring their nefarious dealings to light. So they mark him as rogue and send hit squads after him.

One of these higher-ups is played by Clive Owen aka the villain. His private military company, Gemini, is used to send an operative to kill Will Smith’s character. And as you know from trailers, this operative is also played by Will Smith aka his clone. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong play Danny and Baron respectively, his friends and allies.

Apparently the movie in theaters was released with 120fps. I watched it at a normal frame rate and thus had no problems with the visual aspects. It is a colorful movie in its first half, and even the last half, that mostly takes place at night, is bright enough to see everything. The action sequences were quite well done. I actually felt like Will Smith’s character was channeling parts of John Wick, with his uncanny aim and ability to take out targets. Even the close quarters hand-to-hand combat was easily watchable and didn’t suffer from a shaky cam and a million cuts like other action movies.

Spoiler Warning

Looking at the story from the aspect of the clone, I enjoyed that the clone and Will Smith’s character had, by the end, developed a father/son relationship. I also thoroughly enjoyed the de-aging CGI used. Will Smith’s tears did, in fact, move me. I felt an emotional response. The writing was on par for what it was. This was not a deep philosophical movie like Looper (past selves killing older selves) but a simple action movie. US government bad, Will Smith’s characters good. Or rather, US government filled with corruption bad. As the Russian character says it’s just a Tuesday for Russians.

I recommend this movie. It was satisfying. I’d watch it again with friends and family.


Good Boys

I honestly haven’t seen a more stupid coming of age tale than this movie. Written and directed by Gene Stupnitsky, it is a story about 3 boys entering the sixth grade. Filled with an overabundance of profane language, and implausible action, it is a story that makes you wish you never started watching it. The boys are Max, the ringleader of the group and a completely inept moron who doesn’t understand how to talk to people or act around anyone that’s not his friends; Thor, a chubby wannabe and aspiring singer; and Lucas, a black kid and a tattletale and a coward.

The best scene in the movie is when Thor gets punched, rightfully so, in the face by a college student. For the uninitiated, these three boys went into a frat house and tried to buy molly (ecstasy). When that failed, Max pulled out a paintball gun and began to shoot (assault) everyone inside the house. He then got Lucas to steal the molly while the drug dealer is on the ground in pain. Thor took a punch to the face while this all unfolded and somehow didn’t get knocked out. Why did the plot go this way? Because our intrepid heroes spied illegally with a drone on their neighbors and then crashed said drone into the neighbor’s yard. When the neighbor confiscated the drone, the boys thought it smart to steal the neighbor’s purse which contained molly (which they had to now replace).

In the end, they didn’t learn a single iota of respecting other people’s property or taking responsibility. What they learned was to lie, cheat and cover for one another. Learning that you can have other friends in addition to your best friends is such a lazy message that completely negates their adventure leading to this ending. The only one to not lie was the tattletale. Lucas gave up everything every time a person of any remote authority presented themselves. Honestly if I, at that age, had a friend like Lucas, I’d tell him to stop doing that and if he does it again, I’d stop being friends with him. He doesn’t deserve friends at all. The kid that everyone knows at school but nobody actually likes because he’ll go running to a teacher and run his mouth off. I mentioned he was a coward and he is, because any loud sound makes him scream like a little girl. It was kinda funny the first time, but after the fifth time, somebody should’ve given him a reason to actually scream.

How this movie should have gone is after decking Thor in the face, they went on and decked all three of them. Then called the police on them for trespassing and assault with a weapon. Then the next scene is them in juvie and then the movie ends. But Greg Stupnitsky lives in a fantasy land and thinks little boys behave in this manner. I don’t know what kind of childhood he had, but no child acts this way. This is some twisted fantasy that never should have made it this far, let alone into a movie.

I definitely don’t recommend this movie unless you enjoy getting pissed off watching three hooligans.


Joker – A tour de force of acting by Joaquin Phoenix

As I watched the credits roll on Joker, I felt as if the message of the movie would be twisted by those who think the story is about them. Some call them “incels”, but ultimately, they are self-deluded individuals who, more often than not, share traits with those that suffer from mental illness. I saw the message of this movie as those that suffer from mental illness are abandoned by society, and left to fend for themselves. And when they find they cannot, they break. They become a shell of who they were. Not all do. Some are strong enough to overcome their demons, or at the very least, manage their demons.

Arthur Fleck is a man molded by not society, though it certainly plays a role, but by the actions of the few. These few share in his same pain, they share the fact they have mental illness. It’s a cycle. Much akin to the cycle of poverty vs the rich. It’s a war fought vicariously that benefits only those at the very top. Society is an engine used and tuned by those in control. It runs to their machinations, to their design, and we are enslaved to it. Should we find ourselves outside the engine that is society, we find ourselves cast out and abandoned.

But, this is a story about Joker. About Batman’s nemesis. And to that end, the movie absolutely excels and nails his character. As a villain of the comic book world, he translates perfectly on screen in this one shot as a burgeoning criminal whose acts of violence propagate as symbols in the war against the rich. He becomes an idea. Remind me again who adopts a symbol to become an idea… Oh yea, a guy in a bat costume.

Joaquin Phoenix’s acting here was phenomenal. His mannerism and ticks brought to life the character of the Joker. His laugh perfectly capturing both laughter and pain at once. It’s maniacal. His dancing is a man at joy and happy in his own way, but it comes off as uncomfortable to watch. Like you can feel that there is something wrong with this man. It helps that Joaquin lost weight and his own body helped his performance, often appearing grotesque.

The violence itself wasn’t too strong. You felt it coming. It equated to the anger his character felt, and often matched it. It left you reeling but at the same time, it left you understanding why. It was horrible to watch, as it should be, but it was done with purpose. I didn’t feel as if any scene was done just because. Every act pushed the story forward and took Joker further into becoming the psychopath we recognize him as.

As to the movie itself, I feel as if, perhaps, if he was able to be given a voice before his message was twisted by the media, then he could have turned out different. If he was given a chance to heal, to be helped by those who can, he’d not have ended in a dark place. This is a story about whether the ends justify the means, or do the means justify the end. Did he sow chaos and mayhem because of what happened to him throughout his life and so he reacted? Or was he always this way, and what happened was his own response and the media just ran with it to fit a narrative?

This movie holds a powerful message, and it is entirely subjective to the person viewing it. It can be dangerous. But I wish to see more. Not of the Joker, but of DC comics adapted as one shot/one off stories. A singular story with no hint of a sequel. One message. Yet viewed by many different lenses.

I highly recommend this movie.


Parasite (2019) Review

Do we dream of the best to happen to us, or do we just stand there in our wallow and with the inability to act? Is life a series of things that happen to you regardless of your own plan, or do you act with your own design instead? Does karma truly exist and are you fated to fall for any misdeeds, or be gifted with good fortune for kind acts?

Between the lines of the story of Parasite, one can tell that there are more deeper thoughts and messages at play beyond the surface level. The movie is like an onion, it has got layers. Yes, I went there. The point is, it is absolutely hilarious at times at the sheer absurdity of the situations at hand, while simultaneously being deeply disturbing in their nature. This horror itself is layered. It’s horrific in a multitude of ways but none of which are startling. It builds up a slow horror as you, the viewer, finally realize the plot at the hour mark. That same horror creeps and changes into a smile as you realize what’s to come. Will this madman actually take the story that way? Is what you’d think, and you start to laugh. It truly excels as being dark comedy. I miss this genre and I greatly enjoyed Parasite, and its addition to it.

The layers also take into account the framing of each scene. The camera work and the music combine to paint sombre portraits while managing to invoke a sense of hope and everything’s gonna be alright feeling. Everything adapts perfectly to the story and enhances it even further. There is also hidden imagery and symbolism to be found. It is a work of art. One of the better movies I’ve seen this year. It deserves all the awards it can get. Especially its actors. I loved the lead role. I’ve enjoyed his presence and acting since The Host.

I watched Parasite with a friend and he also had decreed that while a very enjoyable movie, it’s certainly got a degree of confusion and unexpectedness and that there’s probably more layers to it than either of us could find. I recommend seeing it for the sheer absurdity and original content. Really refreshing to see.


Hellboy (2019)

“Uh, what the fuck?”

I watched this several weeks ago and I had decided to record my thoughts as the movie went along. But there was only one thought going through my mind over and over. It certainly wasn’t a good movie nor a good idea for an adaptation the way it was written. I just kept thinking the thought written above. By the way, that thought occured 10 minutes into the movie.

Basically my thoughts are someone watched Transformers the last knight and thought there’s money to be had taking a franchise and applying King Arthur to it. David Harbour looked good as titular character and did the best he could. The movie just fell flat on its face and reminded you that a better Hellboy movie already exists. The violence was pretty much the only thing pulling me along; how far could they take the brutality and gore along?

At this point I couldn’t remember unless I rewatched it. Brilliant plan, make your movie forgettable so it has to be viewed again.

I recommend Hellboy (2004) and its sequel. That’s a proper tale and adaptation.