Wednesday, June 14, 2017
The Nicsperiment's Early Summer of 2017 Movie and TV Mini-Reviews
It's that time of year again. The time when I take stock of all the movies and TV I have lately seen, and write a two sentence review of it for The Nicsperiment. Of course, just one sentence on The Nicsperiment is like two or three paragraphs anywhere else, and will surely have you saying “What did I ever do to deserve this?” in a good way...of course...
This is one of the rare times I am including re-watches on this list. This recent Tom Cruise Mummy movie that I will likely never see reminded me of how the 1999 Mummy with Brendan Frasier is a perfect action/adventure/comedy hybrid, and the best Indiana Jones movie in the last 20 years. I remember being supremely disappointed in the bigger isn't always better sequel, The Mummy Returns, but now it is a sort of post-Y2K/pre-9/11 relic, and I felt like I owed it a second chance after 16 years. I also gave the third movie in that series a try, as I had never seen it. Also, obviously, I recently saw Alien: Covenant. I realized afterward that Alien: Resurrection was the only film in that series I haven't seen, so I watched it, and gave the supposedly better “Assembly Cut” of Alien 3 a try, as well (I'd already seen the original cut). I think the rest of this stuff is pretty much all new...or at least, recent.
Alien: Covenant -- 7/10
I don't get why it is so hard to make a great, modern alien film--you have the greatest movie monster ever conceived, and an outer space setting, and instead, this is just a decent, violent, mostly enjoyable sci-fi film that doesn't even take advantage of its setting. Instead of capitalizing on the terrifying isolation of space, or going all in on action, Ridley Scott essentially does a retread of Prometheus with slightly more competent, but still profoundly stupid human protagonists whose stupidity drives the story, and scenarios that were more fresh in the 1930's, like "Is this the good twin, or the evil twin?"--c'mon 20th Century Fox, VALUE YOUR PROPERTIES!
Alien 3 (Assembly Cut) -- 4/10
Makes an incomprehensible, bad movie, into a comprehensible, overlong, bad movie.
Alien Resurrection -- 6/10
Uh...at least it's better than 3? I'm glad they went all out on the creatures, but this is kind of just weird for the sake of weird, with little substance.
The Americans: Season Five -- 9/10
Races headlong to its Season Six conclusion at a glacial pace, like a car crash in slow motion. By the time this ends, The Americans might very well go down as the greatest show of all time.
Arrival -- 7/10
Ah, sorry. I mean, it's a cool idea and all, and it's beautifully shot, but it's so damn hokey.
The Boss Baby -- 4/10
Of all the kids movies I have been to over the last seven years, this is not one of the better. Fart, fart, puke.
The Fate of the Furious -- 4/10
Disregards everything that made the last three films so fun--the family aspect is completely missing, and without Paul Walker, it may never be possible to recreate it. The action is incompetently filmed, cutting every time the frame gets interesting, mangling the unbelievably awesome stunts the crew pulled off--and making them look like CGI when they were actually real...this is a huge disappointment.
Get Out -- 10/10
In my personal opinion, horror is the best genre to get across deeper metaphors about humanity. That the dude from Key and Peele was able to do this better, scarier, and more hilariously than anyone in a good decade is a revelation--more movies please, because with great power comes great responsitrillitrunce.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 -- 9/10
I've heard this film accused of having "too much heart." I'm not sure what that means--I love this tale about a makeshift family of lovable losers just as much as I did the first.
It Comes At Night -- 7/10
It's a nihilistic post-apocalyptic thriller being advertised as a horror film--and one of the most depressing films I've seen. I thought I figured out its purpose, then realized that if that was what the film was going for, it contradicts itself, and though it is quite well-made, one of the three other people in the theater besides me very reasonably requested a refund after it was over.
It's Always Sunny in Phildelphia: Season Twelve --7/10
Starts out with some episodes that give the impression this season will be an all time great, and there are a couple more midway in that vein, but overall, it ends up being a very average season. Hope the break helps.
John Wick -- 8/10
It's basically a live action cartoon where Keanu kills 'em all for killing his dog, mostly using a gun. I can't wait to watch the second one now.
Kong: Skull Island -- 7/10
It realizes it is a big dumb monster movie, and never ascribes for more than that, achieving well what it set out to accomplish, with big monsters smashing lots of stuff real good. Nice bit of pathos for the John C Reilly character, too, just to make sure you care a little bit.
Legion: Season One -- 9/10
Probably the most head-tripping Marvel adaption on screen, beautiful to look at, and seductively addictive, though the jury's out as to where the journey will lead.
The Lego Batman Movie -- 8/10
It is so stupid, and it is so funny. It may betray the character just a little, but who cares when the laughs come this fast, and what's happening on screen is so entertaining...afterall, Lego Batman, by this point, is his own character.
Logan -- 9/10
Considering how badly these Wolverine movies have been squandering the greatest character Marvel ever created, it is shocking how well they put him to bed here. Finally liberating the character to create the bloodbaths and swear-storms previous films have only hinted at feels refreshingly real and sobering, rather than exploitative, measuring the cost of Logan's life, yet without quite making you want to jump off the Golden Gate.
The Mummy Returns -- 7/10
The first hour is incredible fun, more fun than I remembered, but the second is a "bigger isn't necessarily better" retread of the first film, featuring notoriously lousy CGI. However, The Mummy Returns seems positively restrained compared to today's wall of CGI blockbusters, is luxuriously shot, stays focused, and features an excellent score...also all things the majority of today's blockbusters seem to be missing.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor -- 5/10
And this is what a Mummy movie looks like post 9/11--the colors are muted, the fun is missing, everything that made the series special is lost, or at best, downgraded. At least The Mummy Returns had the courtesy of making one side of its climactic CGI battle human.
Nocturnal Animals -- 9/10
Incredibly spellbinding film, with a hypnotic score, great performances, and one of the better novel within a movie metaphors I've seen, directed with style to spare by Tom Ford. So entrancing.
Split -- 7/10
It's not as good as his first few films, but Shyamalan has now created two fun, competently made films only he could have written and directed in a row--and it connects to a past favorite. Bring on the next one--Shyamalan's back!