The Lobster (2015)

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The Lobster is a sci-fi movie set in a world where everyone must be paired up at all times. If you’re single you’re brought to a “Hotel” where you can meet a partner… or be turned into an animal if you don’t. Loners are the scum of the earth: police are constantly asking them for papers, they’re tranquilized and captured like wild animals, and they’re turned into wild animals if they don’t find partners.  In this extremely weird world, we follow a newly single man into the hotel where we learn about the rules and consequences of this society. Scene by scene we’re fed more information until, by the end of the movie, we finally feel like we have the whole picture. There are essentially 3 different sections of society: the Hotel, the City and the Woods. The Hotel is for loners looking for partners, the City is for partners, and the Woods is for loners who want to stay alone. This movie manages to take us through all 3 sections so we can see how each of them live and how each of them might feel about the society as a whole. It also allows the audience to form their own opinions about each of the sections.

While the structure of the story was the strongest part of the movie, I did have problems with some of its details. The first is that I don’t really understand why they had to be turned into animals. It brings up a lot of unanswered questions for me, like are all animals on earth former humans? If that’s the case, then whenever we eat a lobster or cow are we really eating people? Do the animals have memories of their past human lives? One scene in the movie suggests that they do retain some memories which makes the prospect of us eating people even more disturbing. How can a camel survive in the woods? Why would a person want to be a lobster when obviously it’d be cooler to be a bird since you can fly? I wish I knew the answers to these questions, but sadly I’ll never find out. Just like I’ll never find out what happens to the main characters because the movie just ends. I’m really getting tired of movies that end with ambiguity and unanswered questions. I can appreciate this in the right movie, but I don’t feel like this movie deserved that kind of ending. You don’t know for sure whether he’ll end up with her or not. For me it doesn’t work because the movie never played with the “will they, won’t they” story element. It’s sort of tacked on for a cheap ending. Sometimes I don’t always want to make up my own ending for movies, I want to watch the ending that the director envisioned. When the scene cut back to the woman sitting in the booth I had this feeling the movie might be ending and then I saw the black credit screen and I was just more upset than anything.

Aside from the ending and unanswered questions, my other problem with this movie is the fact that it’s supposed to be a dark comedy. I didn’t actually realize this until I finished the movie and was reading other reviews. All these reviews were harping on how funny it was and that’s when I looked back and realized that I didn’t laugh once. I legitimately thought it was a serious movie. I can see scenes that were probably supposed to be funny, but it didn’t hit the right notes for me. Granted, comedy is very subjective, but as a dark comedy this movie missed the mark which might be a problem since it’s supposed to provide some satirization of our own society and satire generally implies humor.

Lastly, in rapid fire, here are more things I just didn’t enjoy about this movie. I didn’t enjoy the way the lines were delivered, the bluntness of what they were saying, the narration, the fact that a near sighted person can only be with another near sighted person, the weird no masturbation rules at the hotel, and the weird grinding of the men to get them all excited. This movie has some interesting ideas, but nothing felt fleshed out enough for me to really get invested in it. I watched the entire thing but I don’t think I’d ever re-watch or recommend it.

Verdict: 6/10 Needs less bad omen dog killing and more Léa Seydoux being French

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Back and Bigger and Badder than Ever!

Ok well maybe a slight exaggeration there… I’m back and the same as ever. It’s been awhile since my last post and I’ve watched many movies (27 to be exact) since then, but haven’t been able to find the words to review them. Fear not, my ability to put thoughts into words has returned! I will be rapid firing off some short, quick reviews of the movies I’ve watched that I can still remember well enough.

Casablanca (1942)

casablanca I think this is the one that broke my blog writing spirit. Such a classic, but honestly not very enjoyable for me. It suffered too much from a case of unbelievable romance. For a movie in the romance genre, if I’m not buying it… I’m not enjoying it.

Verdict: 7/10 Meh


 Ex Machina (2015)

ex_machinaOn the other hand, this is the one that almost re-invigorated my blog writing spirit. I was looking forward to this one since I saw the trailer, and it did not disappoint. I loved every minute of it. That house was beautiful and the story was very intriguing. I’m a huge sucker for these sci-fi movies and with AI in general, so it really hit home for me. The implications of the ending completely blew my mind and made me look twice at every one I pass on the street. Who really knows? I sure don’t! For all I know, you’re a robot scanning the internet for information to one day enslave the human race. And for all you know, I’m a robot who literally lost their ability to put words into thoughts and was out getting repairs this entire time.

Verdict: 9/10 I’m keeping an eye on you…


The Imitation Game (2014)

imitation_gameAnother of the movies I was looking forward to. Sadly, in this case, it did disappoint. It disappointed hardcore. If they gave an award for most anti-climactic movie, this one would definitely be in the running. It just ended… that’s it. The pacing was way off and it was hard for me to stay interested in it. It was another of those movies with scenes that are tossed in because they need to quickly advance the plot. For example, Turing’s girlfriend, Joan, gets in a fight with him and tells him he is wasting his time. He will never solve the problem. This shows us that there is some turmoil in the relationship. That is a great little scene to toss in, but then immediately after this he asks her to marry him. If they were going to show us problems in their relationship only to have them instantly be mended, what was the point? Either split that scene up and sprinkle that seed of relationship doubt throughout other scenes, or ignore it completely and just have them be “happy”.

Verdict: 7/10 Needs to come with a free extra large coffee


Pitch Black (2000)

I knew exactly what I was getting into when I watched this movie and it actually wasn’t too bad. As an action type movie, it was interesting enough. Yeah the special effects were pretty awful, but I’ve seen a lot worse. I would recommend watching this with someone else just so you can laugh at the cheese factor together.

Verdict: 7/10 Entertaining enough


Enemy (2013)

doubleIf you’ve heard of this movie, you’ve probably also heard, “Wtf was that spider at the end?!” so I’m not going to go there. Yeah, the ending is a little weird, and the whole movie might also be a little weird, but it has a Fight Club type appeal for me. I didn’t realize what was actually happening the entire time with the whole double thing, only after I was reading posts about the movie did it finally click. I think you’re better off not really understanding the movie, then understanding it and then watching it again through a different pair of eyes. This is exactly what I plan to do at some point… until then the verdict will be pretty average, but this is an interesting little movie for sure. Jake Gyllenhaal is awesome!

Verdict: 7/10 Weird, but interesting


Honorable Mentions

Tokyo Godfathers (2003) Verdict: 8/10 Make it through the first 10-15 minutes and you’ll get into it

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014) Verdict: 8/10 Infuriating and sad

Citizenfour (2014) Verdict: 8/10 Very interesting and informative

Still Alice (2014) Verdict: 8/10 Sad… really abrupt ending though

OXV: The Manual (2013) Verdict: 8/10 Really weird, just stick with it and it gets better and better

Rebecca (1940) Verdict: 8/10 Entertaining and likeable characters


Dishonorable Mentions

Serpico (1973) Verdict: 6/10 Bad music, slowly paced, semi-anti-climatic ending

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) Verdict: 6/10 Willie is one of the most annoying character I’ve watched, the rest of the movie is pretty solid though

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) Verdict: 6/10 Wasn’t as good as I was expecting, might re-watch at some point

Fitzcarraldo (1982) Verdict: 5/10 Just really boring, a pain to sit through

Evil Dead II (1987)

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Evil Dead II is one of those special movies where you need to shut off your brain to be able to enjoy it. The plot is completely nonsensical, the acting is horrendous and the screaming is a crime against humanity’s ears. I suppose that’s pretty harsh, so I’ll go through each of those points in detail so you can get a real sense of what this movie is all about.

Clearly this is a sequel to the Evil Dead, which I’ve seen before and enjoyed enough that I gave it an 8/10. This movie starts off with a recap to the first movie, but it is insanely confusing because Sam Raimi who directed it lost the rights to the first movie and couldn’t do a proper recap. The first 10 minutes is so confusing that there is an actual debate going on whether or not this movie is a sequel or a remake. After the “recap” is over, the movie starts to pick up and have a real plot. This is just a fake out though, there is no real plot in this movie. It’s basically lots of screaming and special effects shots based around some people stuck in a cabin.

The lack of plot could be acceptable if it weren’t for the unbelievably bad acting. This isn’t the kind of movie that’s trying to win an oscar for best actor, but… well I stopped the movie half way through to get some crackers. Can’t have cheese without crackers. It’s a b-movie comedy and part of the original charm was the cheesy acting, but it’s like the sequel decided to move past charm levels of cheese and move into eye-rolling, face-palming cheese territory. This applies to every actor in the movie, not just Ash, even though he was the worst offender.

This point will be short and sweet; the screaming was unbearable. At some point I forgot what real words sounded like. They replaced all dialogue in this movie with people screaming really loud for a really long time. My ears did not appreciate this.

Now I can’t write this review without mentioning the special effects. I’m actually legally obligated to give credit to the practical effects used in this movie. As laughable as it was at times, it brings me so much joy seeing real objects interacting with the actors. I loved seeing what they could do without the use of a green screen and CG. While I’m on the subject of loving things, I did love some of the shots in this movie.The two that come to mind is the one where the camera chases Ash through the house and is moving around the corners and going through the doorways. It’s seamless and perfect and must have taken a long time to get right. The second one I remember well is the one where Ash is on the floor and his hand is dragging him along. The camera switches to this first person view and you get that “I’m being dragged across the floor” feeling.

The bottom line is if you can manage to shut off your brain then you just might enjoy this movie. If you haven’t seen the first movie, then you’ll need to remove your brain entirely. As for me, I remodeled my brain and my brain shut off switch is forever lost in the walls, permanently in the on position.

Verdict: 6/10 Needs more plot and less cheese

The Third Man (1949)

source: http://silberius.deviantart.com/
http://silberius.deviantart.com/

I put a lot of effort into trying to enjoy this movie; sadly, it didn’t happen. The Third Man is currently in at least 31 official top movie lists including the top 100 British films, the top 50 film-noir, the best of rotten tomatoes and various others. Sometimes you watch a movie you don’t enjoy but you can see why other people would and why it’s held in such high regard. I didn’t feel that way towards this movie, so much so that I’m considering adding it to my grossly overrated movie list. The only moments I enjoyed were when Anna started talking about how she felt about Harry Lime and the scene on the Ferris wheel. These were the only moments where I felt any connection to the characters. For the rest of the movie, I honestly couldn’t have cared any less for what happened to any of the characters. I don’t need to know a character’s entire life story, but give me something more to work with here.

Another problem I had with getting into this movie was the story and how it was presented. People praise this movie for the cinematography and I can see why, since some shots were fantastic. Most of the scenes, however, were really short and the movie felt very fragmented. A new scene would start and last maybe 20 seconds then change to a completely different setting and you have to keep readjusting. I’m not saying that a movie has to stay in the same place so that my tiny brain can follow along, but I felt like I wasn’t given a lot of time to take everything in. I had such a hard time figuring out what was supposed to be happening in the beginning that I went back 10 minutes to try and catch up. An hour into the movie I was still unsure so I looked up a synopsis for the plot up to that point. Even that wasn’t enough to get me interested in what was happening.

Combining the lack of character development, the jumping around from scene to scene, and the muddy plot made for a rather unenjoyable movie. I don’t have much more to say about this one. Maybe in a few years I’ll give it another watch, but for now I’m just going to stay disappointed.

Verdict: 6/10 Needs more character investment

Let Me In (2010)

Here I am, back to my regular format which is good because it would be a short post otherwise. Apparently you can’t trust the word on the street anymore because this movie was not better than the original. Part of it might be that I enjoyed the original so much, but most of it is because it really wasn’t as good. It wasn’t a terrible movie by any means though. The plot was solid and they were able to show certain elements of the plot that I didn’t piece together in the original. Of course, they had to take out a spoon and feed them to me. Even though I didn’t get everything in the original on my first viewing, I still prefer their method of storytelling because it gives me a reason to go back and watch it again. The remake laid everything out on the table for you and didn’t leave much room for interpretation. Anyways back to the good parts… I like that they… uhh… kept some lines almost word for word from the original. The parts I liked in the remake were the parts that they kept the same. The only exception to this is the part when Oskar/Owen cuts his hand to make a blood pact with Eli/Abby. In the original it was pretty weird the way he did it, but the aftermath of her drinking it off the floor was good. In contrast, the remake did the actually cutting part better, but wow was the aftermath ridiculous. She turned into some kind of veiny demon monster and it just seemed so unnecessary.

I’m just going to start firing off what I didn’t like about this movie. I’ll start with all the awkward dialogue such as Owen’s mom having the divorce talk with his dad on the phone right in front of him, the second thing Abby ever says to Owen is that they can’t be friends even though he never even said anything to warrant it, and Owen’s dad complaining about Owen’s religious mom while they’re on the phone together. If there was a time when the dialogue wasn’t awkward then it was the delivery that was really awkward. I found the acting sub-par and felt as though the actors were trying to emulate the original way too much. Owen kept going back and forth between sounding like Oskar in the original and sounding like his own character. Acting-wise Abby was not nearly as good as Eli; it felt like she really was a 12 year old girl and not an old vampire. Something I loved in the original was the “what happens when you become a vampire” subplot. This was changed substantially in the remake and didn’t add anything to the plot. You see her drink her own blood and then burst into flames which was presented more like they were trying to gross out or scare the audience than trying to provide us with exposition on vampires. I will end this post with the following list of random observations: bully’s older brother says the same thing to bully that bully says to Owen so we can sympathize with the bully trope; Guardian drops container of blood down hill, runs to get it, sees car coming, suspenseful music starts playing… and nothing happens trope; Guardian hides in back seat of potential victim’s car with a garbage bag over his face in plain view if either of the kids decides to ever look in the backseat stupidity.

If I learned anything from these two movies it’s that you can’t believe what you hear on the streets and, for the most part, remakes never live up to the original.

Verdict: 6/10 Needs more CGI cat attacks

The Time Machine (1960)

Last week I finished reading the novel version of The Time Machine and even though it was written in the 1800s I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. The beginning was dry but half way through it picked up and I really got into it. So when I got the movie, I was excited to see how the adaptation would be. Bear with me here, this post may get ragey because I’m directly comparing it to the novel. The first thing I noticed was that the time traveler in the novel, known as George in the movie is a lot younger than I imagined. I give a thumbs up at that cause he wasn’t too bad to look at for an hour and 40 minutes. Then the actual time traveling starts and the differences start to pile up. I don’t mind the fact that he travels ahead only a few decades to see what becomes of the world he knows because I thought it was decently well done. I liked the stop motion melting of the candle and opening/closing of the flowers. I would really love to know though, why is there a volcano right by George’s house?! The city gets bombed which causes a volcano to erupt, instantly spewing lava all over the city? I can’t even wrap my head around that! Whoever came up with that idea, shot it and put it in this movie, I would really love to meet you. I’d also love to make sure you never become a city planner.

It was at this point that things started getting kind of weird and stopped making much sense. George is 200,000 years in the future at this point, and he’s starting to talk to the Eloi. The first difference is that they can speak English instead of just grunting. So the English language survived for 200,000 years somehow? I’m not buying that for one second. I’m also not buying that the Eloi know the word government if they don’t have one and, presumably, never had one in the first place. In the first part of the movie there was a lot of narration for George’s inner dialogue, so I don’t know why they just didn’t continue that throughout instead of using the Eloi to explain everything to us. I found it more intriguing with George guessing how everything worked and piecing it together himself. However, the books crumbling to dust was pretty cool, even though it doesn’t really makes sense that they would keep a library at all…

Near the end is where the movie triggered rage mode for me. George pretty much saves the Eloi from the Morlock’s and I don’t know, makes it his life mission to re-build society? Not that I didn’t like Weena, but the novel version where they killed her and the whole forest burst into flames was so much better. The Morlock’s were explored more in depth in the novel whereas the movie seemed to gloss over a lot of the interesting traits. The fire being so bright that it blinded them and effectively saved George was a cool idea. Clearly in the movie, the Morlocks are completely cool with light and are just like some kind of yeti monster instead of an alternate evolution of humans. I won’t rage too much about excluding the ending of the novel where he goes much farther into the future because I think they opted to leave that out and include the part about traveling into the near future to see the wars. This might go without saying but I’ll say it anyways, I was left pretty unimpressed by the end of the movie.

Is it fair of me to judge this movie based on a direct comparison to the novel? Maybe not, but I play by my own rules and that’s just what I did. The story in the novel felt a lot tighter and more thought out which made it extremely difficult for me to adjust to the illogical changes they made in the movie. And with that, I have no choice but to deliver this verdict.

Verdict: 6/10 Needs more grunting

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Before I saw this movie I had thought that 2001 was supposed to be a year; I now realize it’s how many minutes of my life I feel I wasted watching this. You heard me! This movie just went on forever and I think I had the cut version which was 22 minutes shorter than it could’ve been. Woah ok, gotta hold on for a minute while I go over the positives. The music was classic. The opening song is iconic and so is that other song they play when the monkey throws that bone up in the air. The HAL 9000 is another iconic image and idea that has been reused and spoofed in tons of shows and movies. The space effects were amazing for its time. The weightlessness looked as good as what you’d see in modern movies. The space setting was really… spacey too. Yeah, I’ll give some respect to those elements for sure, this movie was ahead of its time.

Now here we go. The copy of the movie I had started off with 1 and a half minutes of black screen. Then it’s… 20 minutes of monkeys doing monkey things. Finally that’s over and I really did think that the movie was going to pick up and be awesome like I was expecting, but nope… just people talking. Everything was extremely extremely slow. There are scenes of objects floating in space that can last for 5 minutes and a psychadelic LSD trip that last for 10 minutes. I haven’t been this bored in a movie since I watched A Man For All Seasons. I will also point out that I haven’t been so bored since I watched Barry Lyndon, which is another Kubric film. I really truly wanted to like this movie but I can’t stand it. It’s supposed to be “artsy and deep” but this is still film and something needs to keep the audience’s attention. I find it extremely difficult to believe that anyone watched the spacecrafts connecting for 5 minutes and thought how amazing it is. There is no reason for it to be so damn long. I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of many art movies but I’m not an action junkie or a transformers baby… I’m quite capable of understanding and appreciating deep ideas in film. This movie just took it too far. At some points I could have been staring at a photograph and got the same effect as what I was seeing on screen because nothing moved or happened. I’m going to stop it here and say that I can understand why this movie was rated so highly. It tried to accomplish something that hadn’t been attempted before and push the limits of film, but the final product was nothing more than a polished, high production snoozefest.

Verditc: 6/10