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Monday, July 27, 2015

Like, Four Months Of Movies. Part Deux!

Hello again! As promised, here are comments on the movies I've seen since my surgery. Say, I wonder if my enjoyment (or lack thereof) of these films would differ had I seen them before they cut open my skull? Hmmmm....

Jurassic World: Another reboot, with an initially interesting premise: the dinosaur park has finally opened and is raking in the tourist dollars. But the corporate beast needs more money so, needing to lure more of an increasingly jaded public, a new and scarier dinosaur is genetically created. Chaos ensues. But, really, beyond that quirk it's almost note-for-note the first Jurassic Park film, and anything beyond predictable character traits is nowhere to be found. B-minus.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: Very good. Moving, not entirely predictable, well-acted, quirky coming-of-age film. The titles of the short films the guys create, parodying titles of actual films (e.g. "My Dinner with Andre the Giant," "Senior Citizen Cane,") are awesome. A-minus.

Terminator: Genisys: An exercise in nostalgia, and not a very good one. The time-travel twist here allows for a complete revamping (and muddling) of the basic story of the franchise and allowed for the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger. And he mailed it in. D.

Love and Mercy: The biopic based on the life of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson bounces back and forth between the 1960s, when Wilson (Paul Dano) was at his creative peak, and the 1980s, when Wilson (now John Cusack) was a mess under the control of his creepy pyschotherapist Eugene Landy. The difference between Dano and Cusack was a little too jarring for me. Cusack is a little too...Cusack-y. But between the fascinating look (helped very much by Dano's performance) at the younger Wilson's creative process and all of the snippets of Beach Boys music, this was well worth it. B-plus.

Magic Mike XXL: Not having Matthew McConaughey, dead weight stripper (Alex Pettyfer), his sister (who was dating the title character) and the drug-dealing subplot from the original made for a better sequel. Not by a whole lot, but still. This one has a simpler premise: the guys on a road trip to a stripper convention. Flimsy, but better than the first. Still more teasing than actual nudity and worst of all, Donald Glover shaved/waxed his chest for his role, and he doesn't even strip! Unforgivable! C-plus.

Minions: Gru's little yellow helpers from the Despicable Me films are given an origin story: they've been around a long time and live to serve villains...not very competently. Meh. A brief run through their history ends in the late 1960s, where the Minions help Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) steal the British Royal Crown. Some cute musical cues and sight gags but, again, meh. The best part of the two Despicable Me films is the growth of Gru, from sour supervillain to doting father and loving husband, with Minions bouncing on and off screen as needed. Kind of a SPOILER ALERT if you worry about such things: at the end of this one we see the first appearance of a young Gru, so hopefully there are no more Minion-only prequels. B-minus.

Inside Out: The trailers had me worried about how the Pixar geniuses would pull this off. In delving into the mind of an 11-year-old girl whose emotions (Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger, all in a control center in her head) go haywire after her family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco, it almost seemed like there would be some less-than-pleasant scenes involving mental health issues. Damned if they didn't pull it off marvelously, though. A.

Marvel's Ant-Man: Speaking of pulling it off, in starring a decidedly B-list character in their latest movie, Marvel..kind of did it. Paul Rudd, more buff than usual in order to play the ex-convict who becomes a hero who can shrink thanks to a special suit, brings the right level of charm, although the villain is too cartoonishly evil. Also, an Avenger cameo and the post-credit clips set up Ant-Man for entry into the great big Marvel movie universe (not to mention this one has what I'm pretty sure is the first mention -- not by name, but description -- of Spider-Man in one of these films). B.

Trainwreck: Mostly great. Very raunchy, almost the opposite of a romantic comedy, until it returns to formula near the end. Well done, Amy Schumer and Bill Hader, and Tilda Swinton -- I didn't recognize her at all! And even LeBron James was good. Maybe there's hope for a possible Space Jam 2, but with a basketball star who can act. A-minus.

Mr. Holmes: The remarkable Ian McKellen plays Sherlock Holmes at two different ages. Mostly it's Holmes  at age 93, long since retired to his beekeeping in Sussex, living with a widowed housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her son. Holmes is physically frail and, more to the point, his brilliant mind is faltering. He's desperately trying to remember details from his final case, some thirty years earlier (depicted via occasional flashbacks), because he says the story written by Dr. Watson (who doesn't really factor into the film otherwise) is inaccurate. Also seen in flashbacks is a recent trip by Holmes to post-WWII Hiroshima in search of a plant that he feels will help improve his memory, and his dealings with a Japanese admirer (or so it would seem). Everything ties in together brilliantly. A.

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