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

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

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Time for some B-Movie reviewing fun! Beneath the Planet of the Apes is the sequel to the original Planet of the Apes. It starts off where the first one left off by literally playing most of the ending from the first movie. I was really into the first half because it seemed like it would be a good continuation of the original story. We get to learn some more about the ape society and see how they’re at war with the gorillas. They probably should have just stuck with the whole ape vs. gorilla plot and ended it with a giant monkey war. Unfortunately, they chose to go way out in left field and… well, look at that screenshot above. If you’ve never seen this movie before you might have thought I posted a screenshot from the wrong movie, but I assure you that this is it. Beneath the planet of the apes is a society of evolved telepathic humans. They can communicate through thoughts and when we first meet them that’s all they do; they don’t even speak. Then they decide that they’ll speak to Brent instead since it’ll be easier for him. If telepathy is more powerful, how come for the rest of the movie they continue to speak even when there are no non-telepathic humans around? It’s like the writers said “Hey look at this super cool idea. Got the idea? Ok, great, now we’ll just have them talk cause we’re too lazy to keep it going.” They could have done it like a voice over narration where it’s not them talking and feels like the audience is receiving their thoughts telepathically.

That’s enough of that ridiculousness, let’s move on to something else. It’s time for rapid fire fails! The apes call each other “men” or “people”. The mouths aren’t synced right with the voices so it looks like some kind of English dub. When Nova bites it, she dies with her eyes open so it happens suddenly yet she stays standing up. The buildings are encased in stone like a mountain grew around them. I don’t see how new york would end up underground like that in just 2000 years. Brent tests out the greenish black water to see if it’s drinkable.  A wise man once said, “If it’s brown, drink it down; if it’s black, send it back.” The telepaths wear these human masks for seemingly no purpose other than to say to their god, “I reveal my Inmost Self unto my God,” and pull them off. Apes using a sauna… I don’t want to imagine what sweaty hairy apes smell like.

There were some things I liked about this movie though. Don’t burn me at the stake for this, but introducing Brent as the new lead instead of Taylor was a great move. It… uh… has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he’s younger and more in shape… absolutely nothing! I wish this movie had come out earlier so The Time Machine could see how to show a race of humans that can’t talk. Brent trying to talk to Nova was just like George trying to talk to Weena, but The Time Machine wimped out and just made the Eloi talk cause they were lazy I guess.

All in all, this movie was actually pretty entertaining and if it weren’t for the ending it would have gotten a much better verdict from me. That plot just didn’t do it for me though.

Verdict: 6/10 Needs more ape gorilla horseback fighting

Interstellar (2014)

So I finally got around to watching this since the DVD sort of came out. I have very mixed feelings and I’m not sure exactly what I think of it. I’ll go with the traditional format and start with what I did like. Obviously, the visuals were stunning, the other planets looked beautiful and the general atmosphere was just great. Some of the science parts of the movie were really interesting and for the first maybe 1.5 hours I was really into it. After that I feel like it went off the rails and changed direction which didn’t really sit well with me.

The biggest problem with the movie for me is the overall script/story. I don’t really understand why NASA didn’t know where Cooper was the entire time. It’s not like he’s in hiding, how hard would it be to find his address or phone number and ask him to fly the space shuttle. I was willing to put that aside and not count it against the movie, but then NASA starts telling him their entire plan within the first few hours and I find that hard to believe. While I think the acting was good, young Murph suffered from a case of overacting. I guess you can argue that she’s pretty young, but it really took me out of the moment, specifically the scene where her dad gave her the watch. Speaking of taking me out of the moment, all the talk of love made me sigh the biggest sigh I’ve ever sighed. Scientists almost disregarding logic and science entirely because of love made me feel like I was watching an after school special. Now another problem I had with the movie is how Doyle died. He stares at his impending doom instead of hauling ass back into the shuttle. I don’t really understand why he needed to be out of the shuttle when Brand was being brought back in when he could’ve easily been half way inside. If Brand didn’t make it back then would he have stayed outside to die with her? Doesn’t make sense to me, what a pointless death. And while I’m on the topic of not making sense, let’s fast forward to the last 30 minutes of the movie. Murph sets her brother’s crops on fire and tries to steal his wife and children away while he’s gone. When he comes back, he should be furious at her… but she says complete nonsense to him and hugs him and he just stands there and takes it. No repercussions from that act of sisterly love at all.

I guess I have a lot of negatives to say about the movie, but overall I did enjoy it so that was enough to pull the verdict up. If they took some of the cheese out I probably would’ve gone up some more.

Verdict: 7/10

Shinsekai Yori (2012-2013)

Well this is my first anime review so it should be interesting. It took me way too long to finish this 25 episode series. I don’t like using the term binge watch, so I’ll just say I watch things in small chunks unless it’s really short or really good. The first half of this show was the latter. I liked the mystery and the art style which reminded me of Ghost Hound, one of the first anime I watched. It had this nostalgic feeling for me, but nostalgia does not make a good show! There were really interesting episodes with a good story behind it, but it got VERY heavy into terminology and history half way through. I am just awful at remembering names, places, terms etc. which is made worse by the chunk watching. This is not a show to watch lightly because it’s very easy to get lost and when that happens it becomes really hard to enjoy. Another thing that I thought was both good and bad is the fact that a lot of characters just disappear. I love that they have the guts to just remove characters from the story and not introduce some Deus Ex Machina so that no one will be sad. If you’re gonna go for it, really go for it! On the other hand… I was sad. Not only did some characters I liked disappear, but I don’t think I’m a huge fan of the wide time span of the show. It starts off with the characters as younger children then keeps jumping forward in time. I found it hard to really connect with a character to keep me invested in watching it.

I guess I did the complaints first, so now for the positives. I’ve been following new anime for years and this show really does stand out. It looks beautiful and the story is really fleshed out. There is no bimbo character with huge boobs, as is the trend among many anime, and there are no girls with inhumanly high pitched voices to irritate my ear drums. This was a more… mature show, which I really liked, and I rarely if ever felt my intelligence being insulted. If you don’t mind putting in a little work for this one, I think it will be worth the watch. It’s ranked 97th right now on MAL and for good reason. If my ability to retain terminology was higher I’m sure this would have gotten an 8/10 because I really enjoyed the first half.

Verdict: 7/10

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

The Thing (1982)

A weird thing happened when I watch The Thing… I actually enjoyed myself. Talk about a smart, cool, horror thriller mystery film. I’m sure it’s possible that I missed a big “WTF?!” moment, but the characters acted like real people. “Holy shit, what is that? Get the flamethrower and burn it… BURN IT!!!” Then the head dislodged from the guy’s body and tried to crawl away, and I’m thinking “Oh no, guys turn around right now!” and they did! They turned around, saw the head and burned it like no severed head has ever been burned before. They didn’t have to rely on that cheap trick where a part of the alien gets away and we kinda forget about it for a bit, then it comes back later to screw everyone in the movie. Instead that part was just a cool scene that showed us it’s one crazy alien that needs to be extra killed, and added an extra element to the story. I’m also going to applaud the writers because I had no idea who was turned and who wasn’t throughout the whole movie… this concept totally messes with your head. Aside from the great screenplay, this movie has incredibly amazing effects. It’s all puppets and makeup and WOW is it good. Even 30 years later it still looks believable. I can’t even imagine how they did some of the transformations because it’s so intricate. A movie just feels better to watch when everything is physically there and not CG.

Well I guess I need to come up with some complaints. Let’s see… I lost interest near the end when they discovered the spacecraft thing. I think I just enjoyed the mystery and suspense of them figuring out what was going on and who was turned, rather than the conclusion.  But the most obvious problem with this movie, and I think everyone would agree with me on this is that they shot a dog. They shot a dog! Not only did they shoot a dog, they axed a dog in the neck. I do not approve of dog killing, especially when they’re awesome huskies. That was almost enough for me to drop this a point but I let it slide… this time.

Verdict: 9/10