Reviews, page 2

  1. Paddington 2 2017

    Watched 27 January 2019

    Really great, improves on the original in every way.

    Hugh Grant’s character was brilliant as the antagonist. Well written, both captivating and funny. Unlike Nicole Kidman’s character in Paddington 1, he adds to the story instead of just existing in it as an archetypal, irredeemable villain.

    I like how Paddington isn’t framed as a can-do-no-wrong saint just getting caught up in bad situations. Some scenes (like the barbershop one) show him messing up and struggling to come up with excuses instead of admitting his fault. It’s subtle, but is a nice touch that makes him more sympathetic.

    The writing and editing were once again economical and effective. Art direction was even sharper. The pop-up book fantasy scene that takes place early on stands out — it’s especially memorable and affecting, doing so much emotional work with so few ingredients.

    I can see now why this has received such high praise. It’s well deserved.

  2. A Simple Favor 2018

    Watched 25 January 2019

    Kind of fun, but weird. And not weird in a good way — weird in a “not sure what it wants to be” way. It tries to be a thriller, but the plot is way too messy and clichéd to be interesting. It tries to be a comedy, but there is no real intent to the humor; just a residual layer of silliness, no courage about it. I guess this tone was intentional, but it simply did not work for me. The longer it went on, the less satisfying it became.

  3. Fyre Fraud 2019

    Watched 30 January 2019

    Felt rushed and incomplete. The interview with Billy McFarland did not really add much depth, and several of the more interesting people featured in the Netflix documentary were missing altogether. The poorly-edited-in internet memes and patronizing attitude detracted from the experience and eroded the point being made. Meh.

  4. Paddington 2014

    Watched 24 January 2019

    I expected the charm and fuzzy feelings, but not the nuanced, topical take on immigration, delivered with the utmost efficacy. Bravo!

    It’s all very wholesome and hard to criticize, though I think it could have benefited from some more Spirited Away-style bittersweetness, and a more complex antagonist. But hey, it works.

    Sidenote: the wonderful art direction somehow reminded me of Spielberg’s Tintin and, in contrast, how much of a disappointment that was.

  5. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch 2018

    Watched 3 January 2019

    Building it around the concept of “choose your own adventure” itself did not make any of the choices and outcomes anymore engrossing or thought-provoking — the experience of rewinding to take different paths made everything feel muddled and disconnected. I think the stakes should have been higher, giving the viewer fewer opportunities to fix mistakes.

    There is a glimpse of interestingness near the beginning when the medium-unique twist is revealed, but it gets lost as the narrative branches off and grows in possibility space, with some storylines dropping the idea altogether.

    It’s a fun ride, and then it’s over. Though I might have to give it another go. Also: the poster is really neat.

  6. The Haunting of Hill House 2018

    Watched 15 December 2018

    What if haunted house movie but
    - ten hours long, lots of repetition
    - cheesy, artless direction
    - all spoken lines are monologues

  7. Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle 2018

    Watched 2 December 2018

    These films are very awkwardly put together. They feel shallow and soulless in a way that is hard to describe. In terms of epic narrative scale, they seem to be the most ambitious Godzilla films to date. Yet that ambition comes at the cost of detail and emotional tangibility. All characters look the same, animation is robotic, individual moments have no emotional heft. No part of it even got me to go “that’s cool”.

    Sure, I would love to learn about the heroic future humans fighting to reclaim the Earth from Godzilla. But please, make me care about it.

  8. The Predator 2018

    Watched 29 November 2018

    No new take, just a patchwork of rehashed tropes. Every scene feels like something you’ve seen before, and the paper-thin “I have backstory!” characters don’t help either.

  9. The Meg 2018

    Watched 5 November 2018

    I was expecting this shark movie to be more of a boat movie. But it turned out it was actually more of a submarine movie, and also a Jason Statham dating simulation movie. So yeah, it was fun.

  10. Incredibles 2 2018

    Rewatched 4 November 2018

    While riding her motorcycle, Elastigirl smiles at a girl in a nearby car before speeding away.

    I just wanted to rewatch the Elastigirl bike chase… Ended up doing that, rewinding, then watching the whole thing. I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last time that happens, so it’s going in the 5-star bin.

  11. Undertale 2015

    Played on Mac
    30 September 2018

    Brilliant in mechanics and narrative. Absolutely fantastic soundtrack. Got a bit too high on its own supply at the end there, which left me somewhat emotionally detached. That disconnect might just have been due to expectations, though: I was anticipating a more adult-ish, less “anime” overarching feeling. But I guess anime is real.

  12. Upgrade 2018

    Watched 13 September 2018

    Cool and exciting, but the low budget/high ambition combo leaves it stuck in a sort of uncanny valley — the kind of sci-fi that never quite manages to hide its seams. Still, very enjoyable and made me wish for more cyberpunk movies. I’ll probably go watch Ghost in the Shell for the fiftieth time now.

  13. Deadpool 2 2018

    Watched 15 August 2018

    As fun and cringe-worthy as the first one. Somehow more enjoyable because Infinity War was such a downer.

  14. Mission: Impossible - Fallout 2018

    Watched 4 August 2018

    There is a shot in this film that, for a split second, managed to trick my brain into believing Tom Cruise was about to die. I didn’t smile and think “that’s cool.” Folks, I audibly gasped in a movie theater.

    (I’m talking about the helicopter scene)

  15. Mission: Impossible 1996

    Rewatched 3 August 2018

    It’s clear why kid me thought this was the coolest thing ever. I was pleasantly surprised to find that all the iconic moments I remembered still hold up. What I wasn’t expecting was for the rest to be so… messy? The more expository scenes feel very half-assed, to the point of being a bit silly.