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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Nicsperiment's 11/29/16 Movie Marathon, featuring Star Trek Beyond, Independence Day: Resurgence, Lights Out, and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Last year, I had an even weirder life than I have now, and I got to go to the movies alone a lot during the day, like Don Draper--

--yep, exactly like Don Draper.
This year, I didn't really get to do that. There were a lot of movies I wanted to see that I knew few people would actually want to watch with me. I would have gone to see them by myself, but I was less Don Draper this year, and more Pete, except for most of Pete's defining characteristics and appearance. The only movies I've seen are every single kid movie with my wife and son.
I recently noticed that at least four of the grown-up movies I wanted to see that my wife probably wouldn't want to watch are on Redbox--aka, the I-don't-have-the-Internet-where-I-live movie machine. So, I took today off from work today and watched four movies in a row.
It's the 11/29/16 Nicsperiment Movie Marathon. Here's a write up of my awesome day (questionably awesome to anyone with taste or ambition), and an opinion blurb on each movie. For posterity's sake, I've listed the Rotten Tomatoes consensus afterward, though I will pretend that Rotten Tomatoes is actually an arrogant, opinionated person who I can disagree with, instead of an amalgam of the opinions of 300 arrogant, opinionated persons. Now on with the day.

I wake up early to run and help my wife and son get out of the door. My plan is to wear a towel all day. As predicted, however, about three minutes in, I get a call from my wife. She is freaking out because she has somehow spilled coffee all over her shirt. She asks me if I can drop a shirt to her on my way to work (we work across the street from each other). I remind her that I am not going in to work today. She tells me not to worry about it. My life cereal has already gone soggy.
The whole day is ruined. Might as well give up.
Just kidding. If there's something I've recently put into practice, it's that stuff that isn't my fault is in fact, not my fault. I did not spill the coffee on my wife's shirt. Where my wife and I work is nowhere near our house. I cannot help my wife, therefore I will not worry about it. The day is not ruined. It is time for The Nicsperiment's 11/29/16 Movie Marathon.
I throw my soggy cereal into the yard (I literally do this--and I hope the fire-ants choke on the soured milk!), and put in the Star Trek Beyond Blu Ray.

Star Trek Beyond 
Man, I'm still not a fan of Michael Giacchino's Star Trek theme, and I really like Michael Giacchino. Thankfully, the rest of his score here is really, really good. Justin Lin is the director, his first time on a Star Trek film. He elevated the Fast and Furious franchise from B-movie car race films to action masterpieces. Can he bring these new Star Trek's from pretty good to awesome? Eh. Almost. The strength of these films is still the casting. Each actor does respect to the original cast-played character, yet makes that character their own. Everyone has great chemistry together. Also, Sofia Boutella, as an alien ally, is a really great addition. Lin gets some excellent shots, and the action, despite the abundant CGI (which is actually well done), is pretty fun. However, the villain is just so-so, as well as his motivation. The plot goes to the basic structure of 70-minutes of conflict, then hour-long numbing action finale. Too much of it is just silly. There's a motorcycle scene with Kirk that seems like a joke, but I think it's supposed to be serious. The there's the "see, Star Trek is cool, check out how we incorporated a modern song into this major scene!" part that stands out like a sore thumb. Also, do they have to blow up the Enterprise in every damn movie? I'm disappointed. This isn't awful, but it's nowhere near great, either. Still, the ending makes me look forward to another. Maybe they'll nail it next time. It took Lin two films to perfect Fast and Furious(The 4th Fast and Furious movie(his first for the franchise) is total crap). Maybe give Lin a second chance here. They'll miss Anton Yelchin as Chekov, though. What a tragic death. Good actor, likely had some great work ahead of him. Chekov is mostly just there for side-humor, but it will be strange without him. Should they re-cast or just let the character rest in peace? Situation sounds familiar. I give Star Trek Beyond a 7/10.
Rotten Tomatoes gives Star Trek Beyond an 84%. I think their expectations were lower than mine. Have they seen Wrath of Khan?

My kid's birthday was last week, and he wanted kingcake. Mardi Gras is four months away, but if you want kingcake down here, you can get a kingcake. You can get a lot of things, actually...
We've got a ton of leftover kingcake, so I grab a piece, and throw in Independence Day: Resurgence.

Independence Day: Resurgence 
The original Independence Day is one of the greatest B-movies of all time. It was one of the last major blockbusters to rely on practical effects over CGI (back in'96, I bought the "Making Of" book!), didn't take itself seriously, yet was able to pull off a ridiculously rousing speech right before its finale. Most of the original cast is back for the 20-years later sequel, and they seem to be having a blast. Unfortunately, the new cast members can't measure up. These millennial kids just seem too young, like high-schoolers flying fighter jets. Also, David Arnold, the soundtrack composer for the original film, does not return. His Grammy-award winning score for the first film made that movie (figuratively!). What his replacements do here is an unfortunate rent-a-score, completely disposable. Same goes for the special effects. The 2016 CGI is poor, cold, and remote. It can't replace the warm flames the special effects coordinators from the original film in 1996 created with thousands of tons of gasoline. This movie has some fun moments--bringing back Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch for larger parts is an inspired choice--but overall, it feel uninspired and unnecessary. The charge to take the fight to the aliens in a sequel at the end is also a bit sad, considering this film flopped, and these characters will never get to "kick some major alien ass." I give Independence Day: Resurgence a 5/10.
Rotten Tomatoes gives Independence Day: Resurgence a 31%. That about equates to a 5/10 on The Nicsperiment.

I had thought about slow-cooking some ducks for lunch, but I didn't feel like cleaning up all that crap. Instead, I cut up a bell pepper, get some shredded cheese of my choice and oregano, and toss it on a Totino's pizza I grab from my freezer. Toss it in the oven for ten minutes. Problem solved. I then attempt to start Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. The Blu Ray will not play. Maybe Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates didn't hear: this is the Nicsperiment's 11/29/16 movie marathon.
It will get its.
For now, I put in Lights Out, get my pizza out of the oven, and settle in. My wife calls me a few minutes into the movie to apologize about earlier. She was just stressed about finals. I already figured that out because instead of just trying to figure out why I am a huge idiot, I thought rationally, realized that I didn't do anything wrong, and figured that my awesome wife would figure that out, too, once the coffee dried. Being rational in marriage has its perks. Simplify that sentence: being rational has its perks. Simplify it again: being perks. Ugh...sorry, for some reason I thought that would work.
Next movie!!!

Lights Out 
I love a good horror film, especially when the horror holds a deeper meaning. The Descent, It Follows, and The Babadook, my three favorites in the last decade, all feature great metaphorical depth. Lights Out seems to be taking a page from the Babadook, which is a great idea. The Babadook, whose monster is a metaphor for grief, is one of the greatest horror films of this young century. The literal idea for Lights Out's monster, a creature which only lives in darkness, is great, but the Babadook did the wonder of making its metaphor clear without spelling it out for the viewer--Lights Out straight up tells the viewer that the monster is sycophantic with the mother in the film's depression. Also, The Babadook is far more artfully made. Still, Lights Out is scary, well made enough, and the performances are excellent. Though it takes the easy way out in its ending, I'd put it in the "solid" tier of 21st century horror films, on the same level as say, Unfriended. I give Lights Out a 7/10.
Rotten Tomatoes gives Lights Out a 77%. Hey, that's pretty close to what I think! Nice job, man!

I reserve another copy of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates from the closest Redbox, which is at a Dollar General in the middle of a cane field. I take a fifteen minute drive, and grab that and some hamburger helper, because my kid thinks hamburger helper is Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. I get home, bake myself some cookies, get a huge glass of milk, and prepare for that milk to then come out of my nose.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates 
(Written immediately after watching) I can't believe I am going to say this, but I enjoyed Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates more than any of the other movies that I watched today. I laughed almost endlessly (endlessly in this case being a finite term for the duration of the movie). I even enjoyed the credits. I was a little worried going in, because the millennial casts for the two middle movies made me feel old, and of the four leads in this film, I've got about five years on everyone but Adam Devine. Thankfully, that didn't hurt my enjoyment of the film at all. While these characters are obviously exaggerated for comedy, they at least feel like exaggerations of real people. Also, the sex-comedy/rom-com hybrid movies can follow formula to a fault. This movie has a high-concept tailer made for that formula: two wild brothers are asked by their parents to bring nice girls to their sisters Hawaiian wedding--the girls aren't so nice--and hijinks ensue. Thankfully, the movie focuses on laughs through the interaction of its characters instead of the formula. This is about as good as a stupid raunchy sex comedy can get, and while I don't think a stupid raunchy sex comedy could ever be a great film (of course, I could be proven wrong), this is definitely a great stupid raunchy sex comedy. Also, stick around till the end, as the end credits feature an outtakes real that shows how talented the cast is at improvising--also, there's an awesomely stupid rap song by the two male leads. I give Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates an 8/10.
Holy cow, Mike and Dave only got 37% on Rotten Tomatoes. Maybe they were too old for it? Maybe my sense of humor is just dumber than theirs?

Time to get my get kid from school. Good movie marathon The Nicsperiment. None of the movies were great, but at least they didn't kill you, and you got to eat some cookies. All-in-all, a good day. You didn't even cry once!

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