/ December Film Thread

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Blue Straggler - on 05 Dec 2018

Ralph Breaks The Internet

Ralph also breaks the Blue Straggler scoring system by forcing me into a Nigel Tufnell-esque knobhead score of 11/10. Bear with me on this.

Firstly - I didn't see Wreck-It Ralph until earlier this year. I had plenty of build-up as it has earned a classic status in the past 5 or 6 years. I liked it a lot but was slightly disappointed that they didn't visit more games, and felt that it wasn't at the level of Inside Out, Finding Dory or even Coco. So I didn't go into the sequel with some loyalty bias

But my goodness this was a truly great film. It just got everything right in terms of overall story and characterisation. Unlike The Incredibles 2 which acts as if 13 real years haven't passed, Ralph Breaks the Internet takes place 6 years after the original and gives us a predictable "Ralph is happy with a simple life and Vanellope is bored and frustrated" set-up - but it does that set-up with style and charm. And, through knowing plot contrivances and machinations, they end up in "the Internet" which is depicted EXACTLY as you want it to be, with people and hover-scooters scuttling you around to the different sites. It is an absolute work of genius, the depiction of "the Internet", and visually glorious.

And here is where it gets fun, and where my knobhead score comes from......it just keeps GETTING BETTER.
Not content with simply presenting a wry "The Numbskulls out of The Dandy" depiction of the Internet, the film manages to throw in some social commentary about our inane use of this amazing resource, WHILST not being in any way preachy about it. Tweets and inane Facebook clickbait "which Disney princess are YOU?" nonsense are done BRILLIANTLY and would not insult the participants of the latter, who presumably form part of the target audience. 
It shows us spam
It shows us the Dark Web
It shows us a character wanting to expand beyond their limited universe but at the same maturing into someone who won't abandon their friends. 
It has a proper exciting and tense climax (possibly scary for the young 'uns)
The visual characterisation of new character Shank is amazing, they stay JUST the right side of "uncanny valley" with oversized Anime eyes (see also: trailers for Battle Angel Alita) and it is clear that they could have made that character look 99% human but knew that the missing 1% would be freaky so dialled it back a further 8%
Sarah Silverman's voice performance as Vanellope was brilliant, with real humanity, the best I've heard in a Disney/Pixar animated movie. 


Why 11/10?

My system - arguably flawed - is based on all films starting at 10/10 and losing points when they fall down on something or other. It's also based on what I think the film was aiming for (otherwise a great B-movie could never beat a decent A-movie even if the B-movie is more enjoyable, so I factor in the whole "is it trying to be an important Oscar winning classic, or is it just trying to entertain me brilliantly for a couple of hours?"
Ralph Breaks the Internet surely is hoping for serious recognition, Oscar for Best Animated feature etc, and on that basis it gets 10/10. But I honestly thought that somehow it reached further. Its social commentary, its charm (again, thanks Sarah Silverman) and the visuals, pushed it beyond expectations. 
It's 11/10, with apologies. 
I was genuinely weeping tears of pure joy at how good it was, whilst watching. 

aln - on 05 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Wow. I saw Wreck-it Ralph for the 1st time on Saturday, in anticipation of maybe seeing the new film. Pretty much shared your opinion and wasn't too excited at the prospect of Ralph Breaks the Internet. Tonight's choice of entertainment with my son was either swimming or the film, I think you just made my mind up!

Jon Stewart - on 05 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I'd love to believe you, but every time someone makes me go and see a children's film with "honestly, it's amazing, it doesn't matter that you're not 10 years old, I promise I promise I promise" - it turns out to be...a childrens film. Which is boring when you're pushing 40 and don't have any interest in children whatsoever.

The only exception is The Nightmare Before Christmas - but it doesn't really count as the reaction to it was generally, "this is not a childrens film, do not let them see it".

subtle on 05 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Ralph Breaks The Internet

> It's 11/10, with apologies. 

> I was genuinely weeping tears of pure joy at how good it was, whilst watching. 

Nice one, I may go see this on your recommendation then.

Blue Straggler - on 05 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

 

Creed II

6/10 and I am being a little generous.

I really liked Creed, it was a great way to keep the franchise going, very well directed and filmed (the single-take boxing round filmed in the ring weaving between the fighters was stunning) and Michael B Jordan was superb.

I had anticipated this sequel a lot because it pitches Creed against Ivan Drago’s son, and Rocky IV was one of the first “not totally a childrens’ film” things I saw in the cinema.

To say that Creed II is incoherent is an understatement. The sense of time passing is confusing, there’s one point where i thought several weeks had passed and it turned out that about 8 months had passed, and i am not sure what year it is taking place because they refer to events in Rocky IV being thirty years ago but it it was made in 1985...

It does try to create some depth of character via animosity and bitterness between Ivan Drago and Rocky, but even that doesn’t ring true - it’s a while since I’ve seen it but don’t they respect and love each other after Rocky beats him, and invent Glasnost and bring about the end of the Cold War? “If I can do it, and he can do it, we can ALL do it?”

the depction of Father and son Drago and their horrible bleak existence in Ukraine is probably meant to be gritty but just comes across as lazy stereotyping of Russian life.

And the fight scenes have this terrible lazy chop chop editing that does the performers a great disservice.

 

It has scenes in the first half that make you think there will be some really interesting drama around Ivan Drago, and Lundgren at one point looks like he’s going to be he best actor in the film, but they throw it all away and just make him a stereotypical angry pushy father. Shame, there was potential.

It’s still a 6/10, it delivers as a boxing film well enough, it’s pretty predictable (it almost is a total retread of Rocky IV with some elements of Rocky III thrown in) and the sheer physical presence of Florian Munteanu as Viktor Drago (who speaks just short of fifty WORDS in total in the film - I was able to do a half decent job of counting them, they were so few and far between!) is worth a point. He’s an absolute mountain. 

 

 

wercat on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Nick Park - 60 today!  Hurrah!

Offwidth - on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/like_father_like_son_2013

A fabulous movie... great camera work and direction... space aplenty for the emotive story to shine ... top line acting...  and thoughtful handlling of the unanswerable issues of nature versus nurture.

nufkin - on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

>  Lundgren at one point looks like he’s going to be he best actor in the film

A combination of words that are tragically rare

Bjartur i Sumarhus on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Has anyone seen Anthropoid or The Man with the Iron Heart? Been reading about Heydrich and wondered if these two movies were any good?

Blue Straggler - on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Not me. I don't even read these histories but I got a whiff of both films being Europudding mishmash stuff that would feel unsatisfying. And that's even allowing for my obsession with Mia Wasikowska. 

Anthropoid was in the cinemas for about a week, all at useless times like 4pm weekdays.

You have me thinking now that I should actually give one of them a chance.

Stichtplate on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Watched Anthropoid. Was looking forward to it after coming across the church in Prague where Heydrich’s assassins made their final stand and, more recently, reading Hhh . The film is well crafted and certainly looks authentic enough but was rather uninvolving and underwhelming in final analysis.

worth a watch if you’ve nothing better to do.

Post edited at 17:15
wercat on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to Stichtplate:

Wasn't one of Martin Shaw's early parts in a film about the assasination?  I seem to remember it being quite dark, as you'd expect.

 

just looked, Operation Daybreak 1975, good reviews.   Harrowing I seem to remember and having visited Prague in winter in the 90s I'm not sure I need the stark story re-telling.

Post edited at 19:14
Blue Straggler - on 07 Dec 2018

Disobedience. 8.5/10
Much more compelling than I expected. I thought I wouldn't enjoy it much and would be watching only for the sake of seeing this cast (Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, and the always reliable and underrated Alessandro Nivola). I thought it would feel overly "worthy", being an exploration of forbidden love within the strict Orthodox Jewish community. And whilst it did start out having a "TV movie" feel to it, and overall the problems of these characters don't amount to a hill of beans, it was strangely gripping. 
Mainly thanks to the performance from Rachel McAdams. A couple of weeks ago I was raving about Carey Mulligan in Wildness. Well, it's winter so it's time for the studios to unleash their potential Oscar fare and McAdams here will give Mulligan a run for her money. Playing totally against type as a dowdy frumpy North London Orthodox Jewish housewife, she's almost unrecognisable for a lot of the film and her role is pretty complex. It actually feels like a role that Mulligan could have taken and perhaps she was offered it and turned it down on grounds of it being TOO Carey Mulligan  
Weisz is solid and reliable but doesn't particularly stand out. Nivola shines in a perhaps thankless role, and he exemplifies a stark tension that infuses this whole film.
It was also educational for me, as I have little insight into the rules of the more Orthodox Jews, even though I spent time living near the area of London shown in the film. I didn't know the women had to wear wigs over their real hair!

(the storyline is that Weisz character ran away from it all and was exiled and shunned, but returns to visit when her estranged father dies, and finds herself still shunned, during loads of fist-chewingly awkward meetings. And then it goes all Brokeback Mountain....)

Loses points for a cringingly trite use of The Cure's Love Song (seriously a radio is turned on and retuned and hits this song just as he is singing "you make me feel like I'm home again Whenever I'm alone with you You make me feel whole again" just as a character returns to a childhood home with an old friend. FFS) and perhaps a sappy ending. But still a rock solid 8.5/10. And it felt less "television" than I'd first thought, there is some interesting cinematography. 

 

Blue Straggler - on 08 Dec 2018

I don't usually to bother to score/review unless it's something I saw at the cinema. Occasional special cases necessitate it though.


Short Term 12. 10/10
A tiny masterpiece anchored by a superb performance from Brie Larson (before she made "Room" and got her Oscar). 
The film is a snapshot of young workers running a residential centre for troubled teenagers. That's about it, really! I have little more to say. It's a proper independent "no-budget" job and just shows how much can be achieved with very few raw ingredients. 

 

stp - on 09 Dec 2018
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Yeah I just watched Anthropoid and thought it was an excellent film.

Anthropoid (meaning having the form of a human) is the true story of Operation Anthropoid, the incredibly daring attempt by two Czech soldiers to assassinate Hitler's third in command man Reinhard Heydrich aka the Butcher of Prague. Heydrich was in charge of the Final Solution but drafted into Prague to suppress the Czech resistance: so basically a really nasty b*stard.

So it's definitely not an uplifting film. After a bit of slow start it's draws you in to a very intense thriller. Good acting all round and a great score to this true story makes it well worth a watch. It's the kind of film that leaves one with lots to think about after watching. You could read a factual account of this story but the film conveys a visceral lasting impact you won't get just from the facts.

8.5/10

 

stp - on 09 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I saw Short Term 12 a few years ago. Agree that it's excellent film and I'd highly recommend it too.

Blue Straggler - on 10 Dec 2018

Mortal Engines. 
3/10
It is quite a long time since sticking Peter Jackson's name onto something represented any kind of selling point. Fellowship of the Ring was nice, but the next two felt like homework and when they announced three Hobbit films, I said "no thanks". His King Kong was good, to a point. That was, what, 2005?
ANYWAY
The trailer for Mortal Engines was almost enough, it looked like something to watch with the sound muted (cf The Big Blue). 
And lo, it played out that way. I was amazed to see that Fran Walsh and Pippa Boyen wrote the screenplay, because the first hour was painful to behold, EVERYTHING being exposition (which can be done well - see The Abyss - but here it was so contrived). The whole thing is also a massive muddle, I had no idea what was going on for about half an hour, but the visuals were impressive. Then they throw in this guy who is like a Poundland amalgam of Whishaw, Hiddleston and Cillian M. 
The whole film just lazily cribs from all of the first three Star Wars films (Death Star, female rebel, Cloud City, flying into a reactor...) without doing anything clever with it. I don't object to its Laputa the Flying Island crib (indeed, the film comes to life when they introduce Jihae as Anna Fang (a version of Dola from Laputa) but the whole "derivative of other works without being smart about it" does really start to annoy. Obviously a lot of Mad Max in there. 
The lead actress was really good, as was Jihae. And there were moments of real potential such as the relationship between the protagonist and the robot, and Jihae's past relationship with the protagonist's mother. I got the impression that Boyle and Walsh had written a much longer screenplay but someone said "not another 5 hours" hence all the gaps (the film is just over 2 hours long). 
I hit a point where I was enjoying it as I thought it was at the climax, then looked at my watch and there was 50 minutes remaining. 

I think this film could have been more coherent if Terry Gilliam had directed it. And that says it all, really!

At several points in the first hour it got close to a walk-out or a 1.5/10

 

1
stp - on 10 Dec 2018
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

I don't often watch films twice but Anthropoid must have had an impact as I watched it again within 24 hours. First time was at a mates house, post-party, so I was bit tired and the sound quality meant I missed some bits of dialogue. This second viewing made me revise my score upwards. I would now give the film a 10, amongst the best films I have ever seen. I didn't fully appreciate the understated acting of Cillian Murphy first time round and the all round direction by Sean Ellis is superb - a poignant and gripping masterpiece.

Not seen The Man with Iron Heart and a bit worried that watching it might spoil Anthropoid possibly. I would like to see the Czech film Lidice (aka The Butcher of Prague) though.

olliehales - on 10 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

The new fantastic beasts, 2/10 very forgettable!

 

Bjartur i Sumarhus on 10 Dec 2018
In reply to stp:

Thx, I'm going to watch it tonight. I watched TMWTIH last week. It was ok, not great...although not helped by the fact I had to watch it over two nights rather than in one sitting. Sounds like Anthropoid should be a lot better.

 

Blue Straggler - on 10 Dec 2018
In reply to stp:

I’d have seen The Man with the Iron Heart if they had been bold enough to go with its working title HhhH

stp - on 10 Dec 2018
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Yeah reviews on IMDB are much better too, so not just my opinion. Hope you like it.

nufkin - on 10 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

>  It is quite a long time since sticking Peter Jackson's name onto something represented any kind of selling point

Didn't he produce (or at least get distantly involved as a producer of) District 9? That was pretty good.

And the recent 1stWW effort was excellent.

But otherwise, point taken. The Hobbits were guff

Blue Straggler - on 10 Dec 2018
In reply to nufkin:

> Didn't he produce (or at least get distantly involved as a producer of) District 9? That was pretty good.

 

It would not surprise me, because I thought it wasn't that good (I liked it at first but then realised the whole final act was bollocks and the main guy was a bit of a git!)

> And the recent 1stWW effort was excellent.

I am only dimly aware of it, I have heard good things about it but I'm not sure what it is.

> But otherwise, point taken. The Hobbits were guff

He had some involvement with the Tin Tin rotoscope film I think. I didn't see it because it looked a bit duff. I also don't know anyone who saw it, nor anyone whose kids saw it!

 

Blue Straggler - on 10 Dec 2018
In reply to olliehales:

> The new fantastic beasts, 2/10 very forgettable!

You are in the majority on this. I generously gave it 4/10 but couldn't be bothered to write words about it!

nufkin - on 10 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

The recent 1WW film was 'They Shall Not Grow Old' - the name had escaped me earlier. Mostly restored period footage with voice-over recordings from the IWM archives

Offwidth - on 10 Dec 2018
Blue Straggler - on 10 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Spiderman - Into the Spiderverse. 8/10 and I wish I could score it higher. 

This was one of the craziest mainstream blockbuster franchise films I've ever seen!
As far as I understand it, it is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (I'm not entirely sure about this as it doesn't reference The Avengers etc) but it plays almost like a mockery of it, whilst still being a solid superhero movie with an engaging plot. In this sense it brought to mind an old favourite, The Long Kiss Goodnight which mocks the buddy action genre whilst also being one of the best examples of that genre. 
In case you missed the trailer, this is an animated film featuring a collision of dimensions which brings together different Spidermen (and Spiderwoman, and a Spiderpig) from alternate dimensions. 
It was written and produced by the team that made The Lego Movie and it has that film's sense of fun and irreverence. In fact if you've seen The Lego Batman Movie and remember just how hectic and busy the first big action scene in that one is, with all the references and wisecracks - well the new Spiderman basically keeps that up for two hours! I thought it was incredibly bold. 
Nicolas Cage voicing "Spiderman Noir", a monochrome character from the 1930s, is genius. 
I believe all these alternate Spiderman/woman/pig characters are canon, from the comics.
It is also one of the most visually striking animated films I've ever seen. I saw it in 3D and there may have something wrong with the projection at times, I'm not sure. Regardless, there is a certain style to it which I haven't seen before. 

I would have scored it higher but it loses points for a rather sluggish first act, and for one extraneous character (Spiderham / Peter Porker, who is just sort of "in it" and doesn't add anything). 

Blue Straggler - on 10 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> I think the public and critics would regard you as mean...

> https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/fantastic_beasts_the_crimes_of_grindelwald/

Tomatometer 38%, pretty damn close to my 4/10

Just the summaries I see from the critics on the front page of the RT link (OK I cherry picked, one of these goes on to be a bit more positive and I have not pasted the ONE OTHER positive one.  10 out of 12 showing on that front page are negative. 

"About as exciting as a trip to Hogwarts's most neglected lavatory."

"Dash it all, even the devoted will likely struggle with the reams of expository talk and gobs of unearned feeling and scads of largely pointless beasties, plus some just plain lazy visuals (looking at you, magic cats)."

"More workmanlike than magical, ...."

"The Crimes of Grindelwald feels hollow and disconnected, like it could have been made by anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Rowling's wizarding world."


". [M]alaise infects every aspect of the filmmaking."

"There is just so much bad...but there are a few really funny, cute, good moments...do me a favor and end this franchise."

"The film didn't work as well as I hoped it would going in ... While the film offers some intriguing scenarios ... there is a lot left lacking as a film to itself."

"CRIMES is the kind of film where good performances end up getting swept up and away by the swirling maelstrom of the plot."

"[L]ong and vaguely confusing and - most damningly - joyless ... if your movie about exploring the wonders of a massive wizarding world isn't fun, then what are we even doing here?"

"Sadly, if you are not a fan of Harry Potter, you will suffer throughout the inconsistent story. "

The imdb "metascore" (aggregate from critics) is 53%


Sure, the public rated it higher on both sites. 
 

Offwidth - on 11 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Selective quoting ... and you later said 2/10 might be right. I'd believe your original 4/10 score for a film fan... messing easy things up is annoying ... but you claim your score matches the intent of a film and this was always CGI heavy, unthinking, fan-bait, like Star Wars episode I. You just need to own your opinions and stop pretending they are absolute. One day (not so soon) I might even watch it (but your other recommendations will be watched first). Overall your detailed stated views in the last couple of years on UKC surpassed my interest in the TV and serious press critics, so please don't get annoyed. I'm also very greatful for other UKC regulars. As one said:  films can be so bad that they are fun! 

Blue Straggler - on 11 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> Selective quoting ...

 

not massively selective though 

 

> and you later said 2/10 might be right.

No I stick with 4/10, that comment was just a bit of banter upon finding someone else who had even seen the film

 

> You just need to own your opinions and stop pretending they are absolute. 

I don’t understand your statement. I do own my opinions. I don’t pretend anything (unless you mean you want me to say “IMHO” at the start of every review, which would be ridiculous, sad and redundant as it should be a given that anyone’s review is just their opinion. 

I reseve the right to disagree with anyone who doesn’t share my opinion. That’s the point

Blue Straggler - on 11 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> Selective quoting ...

 

if this were some other platform Inwould have posted a screengrab of all those previews of reviews that I quote. It really wasn’t that selective, as I wrote before 

Bjartur i Sumarhus on 11 Dec 2018
In reply to stp:

So I watched Anthropoid last night and am in full agreement with you, it's excellent. I would highly recommend it to anyone. I thought the acting was great, there was good tension and Prague looked great in a cold, misty sepia hue. My only criticism (which is really a joke) is that everyone was far too good looking and Lance from the Detectorists trying to do a Czech accent just didn't seem right ;-)

Miles and miles better than the Man with the Iron heart (which focuses more on Heydrich and less on the assassins) 

Darron - on 11 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Just seen ‘Free solo’. Really excellent. Will probably hit the non climbing public conscience in the same way that Touching the void did. Certainly deserves to.

Post edited at 21:32
stp - on 11 Dec 2018
In reply to Darron:

Yeah I saw it tonight too. After The Dawn Wall which I thought was totally brill, I thought this couldn't live up to that and would be disappointing. The Dawn Wall set the bar really high for a climbing film. But this was just as good in my opinion - although a different type of film. Two of the very best climbing films screened within a few weeks of each other.

I'm surprised that these doesn't get a longer show time though. Here in Sheffield, climbing capital of the UK, it was initially only scheduled for one day. This sold out weeks before the screening and I believe they're now putting it on for a second day sometime. Other films are put on for several weeks and you go to the cinema and it's often nearly empty.

Blue Straggler - on 12 Dec 2018
In reply to Darron:

Looks like it is, it has sponsored advertising on various movie websites that are pretty mainstream and not related to adventure stiff

The Wild Scallion on 12 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Mortal engines.

I saw this Saturday morning and while it had problems , I think it was a far better film than your giving it credit for.

Pacing issues , mainly.  

And I could have been an extra 30 minutes long to give more explanation of things and allow more character development.  

That aside it was visually unlike anything I'd seen to date .  Pretty spectacular to watch. 

I'd go 6 out of 10

Post edited at 06:28
Simon Caldwell - on 12 Dec 2018
In reply to stp:

> I'm surprised that these doesn't get a longer show time though

Free Solo was a one-off special showing last night with Q&A but then goes on general release from Friday. It's on at the Showroom in Sheffield, between three and give showings per day.

I found parts of it almost unwatchable, in the same way that I find parts of most horror films to be unwatchable...

Offwidth - on 12 Dec 2018
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

Tarkovsky's debut about a young boy caught up in the horrors of war. A truly great piece of cinema and  I think much more approachable than his later classics The style is instantly recognisable: fracturing mixtures of reality with dreams, human dislocation, bleak landscapes, use of music, camera work.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/ivans_childhood/

Post edited at 15:59
Blue Straggler - on 12 Dec 2018
In reply to The Wild Scallion:

Glad you liked it. There was a lot to enjoy but for me all those things that were potentially enjoyable were spoiled by the too-expository dialogue. If that sort of thing doesn’t bother you too much then I guess it would be a more enjoyable experience. I’m not being patronising. My low score was because this film could and should have been so much better. 

 

Blue Straggler - on 12 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Not bothering with any comeback to my responses, Steve?

Offwidth - on 13 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

It's hard to 'come back' as its more that I'm struggling to understand what you are saying in your system (in these cases) , than having a full on disagreement. I'm fine with whatever you score. Quite a few critics have ad hoc systems or rules that normally help lead to their review but they sometimes honestly throw these out and say they just love or hate the film irrespective (with reasons).... I still think you have some of this at times. 

For FB there were a few positive reviews that you left out and the average critcs scores were a tad over 5/10 on both meta review sites... but its not a big deal. The intended public clearly liked it, indicating fitness for purpose beyond critics reviews, despite the flaws.

Obviously in a review many factors get juggled. So, to help, maybe you can explain why the dialogue was such a big factor in your Mortal Engines review (a first film from complex books, so some expository essential)  and less so in the Star Wars reboot (episode I) where, despite established fan knowledge, as blockbusters go it had some of the worst dialogue ever, including some cringeworthy expository. Again I'm trying to look at this in the context of  what you think the film is intended to be.... ie. balance with good stuff...Star Wars 1 effects were really great for its time.

Post edited at 09:29
Blue Straggler - on 13 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> It's hard to 'come back' as its more that I'm struggling to understand what you are saying in your system (in these cases) , than having a full on disagreement. I'm fine with whatever you score. Quite a few critics have ad hoc systems or rules that normally help lead to their review but they sometimes honestly throw these out and say they just love or hate the film irrespective (with reasons).... I still think you have some of this at times. 

> For FB there were a few positive reviews that you left out

I acknowledged these

 

> and the average critcs scores were a tad over 5/10 on both meta review sites...

 

RT was 38% when i looked . That’s not over 5/10

 

> So, to help, maybe you can explain why the dialogue was such a big factor in your Mortal Engines review (a first film from complex books, so some expository essential)  and less so in the Star Wars reboot (episode I)

 

where did I ever write anything about Star Wars: Episode 1?

 

 

Blue Straggler - on 13 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Have you seen Fantastic Beasts - Crimes Of Grindelwald?

 

Have you seen Mortal Engines?

 

> So, to help, maybe you can explain why the dialogue was such a big factor in your Mortal Engines review (a first film from complex books, so some expository essential)  

 

Because it was badly done and relentless.

Well-done exposition is possible, I referenced The Abyss as an example.

A great example of badly handled exposition is in season 2 of “24” which was noticeably dumbed down from S1 to cater to a new wider audience and, yes, exposition necessary but when they write the following line for a character:

”Nina Myers? You mean the rogue CTU agent who murdered Jack’s wife”

you have to be generous to call it “efficient writing”. It was clunky.

Mortal Engines has that sort of thing for around 70% of the dialogue. Characters verbally sharing information that they don’t need to share because they should be expected to know it already in this universe, purely for the sake of handholding the audience. It spoiled the film. 

Is that clear enough yet or do you need further exposition ?

 

Offwidth - on 13 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

RT average critic score is not the same as the critic's percentage (not sure why) : 38% and 5.3/10 currently.

I saw Mortal Engines.... much less annoying dialogue than Star Wars I and maybe a tad better overall as a film (I recall you defended it many years back, after I said Lucas needed removing from the detailed scripts and with some CGI investment moved to proper scriptwriters). I'd agree with Wild Scallions comments on ME. The part of Tom (Robert Sheehan) was pretty dire and inconsistent (probably a mix of below par acting and direction and  trying to transfer too much from the book?) but he looks Shakesperean compared to Ja Ja Binks and no one looks as bored and regretful as Liam Neeson did.

Lynn and I loved the exposition and other inadvertant comedy  in 24... we'd sometimes repeat out loud forced examples of giving the full name of  characters in the dialogue, (like the drinking games of keeping up with when the actors drink, but more liver friendly . We also adored The Wire (the exact opposite in exposition terms) for serious crime related TV.

1
aln - on 13 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Ms. aln and I are looking for a new box set for our one night a week TV experience. The Wire gets recommended so often, but it's 10 seasons! That's a big time and effort investment, is it worth it?

1
Blue Straggler - on 13 Dec 2018
In reply to aln:

The Wire is five seasons

Blue Straggler - on 13 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

Thanks

aln - on 13 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Thanks. Dunno where I got 10 from. How do you rate it?

1
Blue Straggler - on 14 Dec 2018
In reply to aln:

I never saw it !

i have it all on DVD and tried to start it recently but it was very late at night and I was tired. You need to be absolutely alert to follow it and I was clearly not doing it justice. I’ll start it properly some time.

Ghastlyrabbitfat on 14 Dec 2018

Creed II: nicely played; great to look at and perhaps a film more about being a parent than boxing.  This is well handled in some aspects though weakly in others.  Not a great one for the fan boys either: I don't think my pulse elevated much during the training montage! (Take a look back at Rocky III and Mr T hitting a bag and doing pull ups for how much fun they should be.....)

Spider Man..... Great, innovative perhaps, animation and funny enough to define as a comedy by Kermode's rules.  I found the first twenty minutes hard work as was trying to register everything happening in the frame.  Better to relax into it, watch the subject in the frame and let your brain subconsciously pick up the rest. Highly recommended for Spidey fans, very watchable for others.

The Old Man & the Gun: quiet, even, "traditional" film making with enough interest to engage throughout.  On leaving the cinema with my - much - better half, we agreed Casey Affleck's turn had been stand-out amongst the other, good, performances.  Minor Spoiler Alert: he shares a small amount of screen time with Redford but there is an encounter in a cafe which is sublime. Recommended and strangely feel good considering the subject is a career criminal.

Thanks in anticipation for the recommendations above re "Anthropoid", which I missed due to some middling critical reviews.

 

alan moore - on 14 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

The Zero Theorum.

If you like Terry Gilliam all the usual is present. Gets a crumby 6.1 from the IMDb crowd.

Where Brazil tried to escape from a currupt corporate rat-race, Zero Theorum searches for the meaning of life in, of all places, a virtual world. 

Blue Straggler - on 15 Dec 2018
In reply to alan moore:

Saw it in the cinema on release and found it utterly unengaging and empty. Strangely enough I watched Richard Ayaode’s “The Double” immediately afterward at the same cinema, and it not only redeemed the evening by being superb,but also turned out to have a really Gilliam/“Brazil” feel to it!

Blue Straggler - on 18 Dec 2018

Aquaman. 7/10

A pleasant surprise, I didn't have high hopes for this - another lesser-known character, trailers that looked to have very ropey VFX (and having seen awful VFX on the underwater parts in Justice League last year, I was a tad worried....), plus the ropey track record of the DCEU feature film franchise so far. And a running time of 143 minutes! But it happily exceeded my low expectations. 
It's an odd narrative, being simultaneously an origin story and NOT an origin story (we get a flashback showing the genesis of the character, with a creepily de-aged Nicole Kidman who doesn't look like 25-year-old Kidman but a younger version of Kidman with her current face ) and a few more training-montage flashbacks of Aquaman growing up, but it doesn't dwell on these that much and if anything, I'd have liked a bit more about his existence on land - the story goes that he prefers to live on land and has no desire to get involved with the undersea tribes. It's not really clear what his day-to-day life is like, between occasional vigilante heroics. 
I moaned about expository dialogue on Mortal Engines so it would be remiss of me to ignore that Aquaman has LOADS of it. And yes it feels a bit clunky still, but at least in this case it serves the characters (mostly Princess Mera having to explain to Aquaman his new missions, tasks and responsibilities, and how the whole undersea realm works). Plus it's far more of a comic-book movie than was Mortal Engines. 
Where the film really shines is in its tongue-in-cheek approach (refreshing in the DCEU!) and the art direction. The representation of the various undersea kingdoms is astonishingly imaginative and quite beautiful. Arguably overambitious, stretching the ability of CGI maybe beyond current limits in parts (cloaks are particularly bad), but it's forgivable somehow. It takes a while to adjust to how they show people "underwater" (basically filmed in air, talking normally, with some overlay of slightly swirly water and presumably CGI flowing hair) but you do get used to it. It doesn't look "right" or "convincing" but you just have to buy into this weird movie universe.
Another surprisingly good aspect was Amber Heard who pretty much carries the whole plot and really bolsters the movie to the point where the film should have been called Aquaman and Mera (Heard's Mera does a lot more than The Wasp did in Ant-Man and the Wasp). Of all the actors, it's Heard who most gamely goes along with the camp "wink at the camera" approach (closely followed by Momoa who is a real natural in this). That Heard, playing royalty, makes no attempt at any sort of neutral/regal accent but sounds like a husky-voiced Brooklyn resident, is as punk as Bananarama not even bothering to mime on Top of the Pops. I thought it worked really well!


It is a little inconsistent in tone, I'd have liked it to be more consistently fun. But the simple story flows nicely, there is plenty going on but it's all very easy to follow and there are no pointless tangents. There are some great action set-pieces (the Sicily sequence is really well done), and there is an octopus playing drums....what more could you want?!

 

Post edited at 15:53
Tom V - on 18 Dec 2018
In reply to aln:

The Leftovers.

Not often the critics get it right, in my opinion, but they did with this.

Post edited at 15:56
krikoman - on 18 Dec 2018
In reply to aln:

> Thanks. Dunno where I got 10 from. How do you rate it?


It's great, with a dip in the middle, but can't remember which season, but it's worth the effort.

RX-78 on 18 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Just watched "North Face" the 2008 movie of the doomed attempt to climb the north face of the Eiger. I was pleasantly surprised how good it was, very harrowing though!

Offwidth - on 19 Dec 2018
In reply to krikoman:

The Wire is simply some of the best TV I've ever seen. However you do need to buy into the mess in Baltimore with the cops, dirty politics and drugs gangs. It's also uncompromising to viewers... you do need to invest time and pay attention to get the best out of it.

Good article on it here:

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/mar/06/the-wire-10-years-on-we-tore-the-cover-off-a-city-and-showed-the-american-dream-was-dead

 

Two more films well worth the watch (being well rated but better than I expected from those ratings)

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_spectacular_now

A touching coming of age US high school drama... as good as the genre probably gets.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/in_a_better_world

Mixes the stories of medical aid in Sudan and domestic life in Denmark. Really good acting and directing but a little too sentimental to be brilliant (deserved a better, less happy ending). 

 

BnB - on 19 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> The Wire is simply some of the best TV I've ever seen. However you do need to buy into the mess in Baltimore with the cops, dirty politics and drugs gangs. It's also uncompromising to viewers... you do need to invest time and pay attention to get the best out of it.

Still at the top of my list. Even in this golden age of long format TV. All of life is there.

Blue Straggler - on 19 Dec 2018

Stan & Ollie. 7/10

Saw this at a preview last night. 
First off, I'll say that John C Reilly's performance as Oliver Hardy is fantastic. Yes the prosthetics are good and Hardy was (literally) a larger-than-life character so it might be argued that it's easy to shine in a showy role. That would be unfair on Reilly. From the first second, he just IS Hardy
With that out of the way....
This is a little biopic covering the twilight of Laurel & Hardy's career, long after their Hollywood peak, desperately playing to sad undersold little theatres in the UK in the 1950s seemingly in some bid to drum up interest and funding for a reunion movie after 16 years apart. 
It opens in 1937 with a hugely ambitious tracking shot that seems to have used up half the film's budget, and shows the initial split (Laurel wanted to leave the Hal Roach studio, Hardy enjoyed the comfort of a steady if paltry income) and then jumps to the early 1950s. 
From there, it follows a fairly predictable pattern, expected from something that, like The Children Act, has a feel of "made for television but ushered into the cinemas for the sake of possibly snagging an Oscar nomination for an actor" but it is perfectly enjoyable stuff.
Steve Coogan arguably has the much harder role as Stan Laurel, and it took me an hour to buy into Coogan "being" Laurel. Distractingly he seemed for a long time to be playing Rob Brydon doing an impersonation of Coogan playing Laurel lifelessly, this surprised me as Coogan is an excellent performer. He does really lift things toward the end though. 
But overall it's still just a 7/10, as it was all a bit "meh".  Reminded me also of My Week With Marilyn, another 1950s-set "true showbiz story" with a cheap made-for-TV feel and a staggering central performance that the film barely deserves.
Stan and Ollie was more enjoyable than that film though, mainly as it didn't suffer from Eddie Redmayne running around being a total drip. 

 

Blue Straggler - on 21 Dec 2018
In reply to Ghastlyrabbitfat:

 

 

> The Old Man & the Gun: quiet, even, "traditional" film making with enough interest to engage throughout.  On leaving the cinema with my - much - better half, we agreed Casey Affleck's turn had been stand-out amongst the other, good, performances.  Minor Spoiler Alert: he shares a small amount of screen time with Redford but there is an encounter in a cafe which is sublime. Recommended and strangely feel good considering the subject is a career criminal.

6.5/10 from me. Great performances but yes there is that problem that we have zero reason to root for the protagonist. The cafe meeting felt a bit thrown in for comic relief and not quite in keeping with the character.
Elisabeth Moss stole the entire film with her 4 minutes of screen time!
Affleck was very good, I forgot he was in it and didn't recognise him, I kept thinking "Joaquin Phoenix but not QUITE..."

 

Offwidth - on 21 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Finally got round to watching The Big Short from its TV premier last week. As well as being truly terrifying in terms of how much the big banks and their regulators were completely out of control it was also a really exceptional piece of filmaking. I think black humour was exactly the right way to deal with such a scenario and I think they had it almost pitch perfect all the way along to the closing jokes (everyone went to jail... only joking ... just this one mid level schmuck... who did less wrong than most). Highly recommended.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_big_short/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Short_(film)

https://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Big_Short_(film)

 

Blue Straggler - on 21 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

How they failed to give Steve Carell an Oscar nomination for The Big Short, is beyond me!

Offwidth - on 21 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I'm guessing it was because it was an ensemble piece. Steve and  Christian were both really impressive.

Blue Straggler - on 21 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> I'm guessing it was because it was an ensemble piece. 

 

That doesn't hang together because Bale got an Oscar nomination!

Offwidth - on 21 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

As supporting actor.

Blue Straggler - on 21 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> As supporting actor.

Yes I know. And your point is what exactly?

Offwidth - on 21 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Best actor doesn't go to someone in an ensemble cast... thought that was obvious. Sorry if that wasn't clear. If what you are saying is he should have been up for best supporting actor as well... I agree and apologise for any misunderstanding.

Blue Straggler - on 22 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> Best actor doesn't go to someone in an ensemble cast... thought that was obvious.

Sometimes it does though - and vice versa. Anyone can be nominated in either category regardless of screen time and relative prominence. Often a studio pushes for a supporting nomination even though someone was in a lead role, to try to give them a better chance of a win. Geena Davis in The Accidental Tourist, for example. Anne Baxter in All About Eve insisted that the studio campaign for her as Best Actress alongside Bette Davis, and in the end both were nominated for Best Actress and neither of them won. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon were rightfully both nominated for Best Actress in Thelma and Louise. It's late and off the top of my head I can't think of a lead nomination for someone who was clearly a support player. Maybe Louise Fletcher in that ensemble film "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest"
Nothing is obvious.


> Sorry if that wasn't clear. If what you are saying is he should have been up for best supporting actor as well... I agree and apologise for any misunderstanding.

I meant it was a travesty that Bale, who was the weakest link in the film, got that nomination at all. That said, I think Carell could justifiably have been nominated in the Leading Role category for The Big Short. It felt like he was the heart of it. But I wouldn't have been upset if he were nominated for Best Supporting. It's an "either/or" one. 

 

Blue Straggler - on 22 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> Best actor doesn't go to someone in an ensemble cast... thought that was obvious. 

Marlon Brando, The Godfather. Ensemble.

 

Tom V - on 22 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Always been intrigued by the "ensemble" classification. 

How many does it require?

Blue Straggler - on 22 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> Best actor doesn't go to someone in an ensemble cast... thought that was obvious.

I haven't seen The Hours but I think that's pretty much an ensemble film or at least all three actresses have equal screen time...but they gave Kidman the Oscar 

NOTHING is obvious.

Blue Straggler - on 22 Dec 2018
In reply to Tom V:

> Always been intrigued by the "ensemble" classification. 

> How many does it require?

There is no such classification in the Academy Awards, hence it can be played fast and loose, leading to anomalies.

Golden Globes and Screen Actors' Guild are two major ones that have it. I don't know the criteria. Two films have been nominated for Best Cast at the SAG with just three cast members named in the nomination (Beasts of No Nation and Million Dollar Baby). SAG does not use the word "ensemble"

Post edited at 00:27
Blue Straggler - on 23 Dec 2018
In reply to Offwidth:

> Best actor doesn't go to someone in an ensemble cast... thought that was obvious. Sorry if that wasn't clear. 

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri won several ensemble cast awards in the awards cermonies that have that category, but it also won Best Actress at the Oscars. What was that about “obvious” again?

 

Tom V - on 23 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

In the vein of "films that I gave 15 minutes to and then got stalled with "  I offer the following three examples from Sky Movies this last week:

The Greatest Showman:

The Shape of Water:

Ready Player One.

 

 

Trangia on 23 Dec 2018
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I watched "They Shall Not Grow Old" on DVD yesterday because I had been out of the country during the Armistice week when it was shown.

Incredible how enhancing the 100 year old  B&W with colour and dubbing speech into the movement of the soldiers lips made it look as though it was filmed yesterday. Two things that really shook me was the blood (not so obvious in B&W) and the terrific din of artillery firing and bursting.

It really emphasised the extract from Siegfried Sassoon's poem "Aftermath"

"Do you remember that hour of din before the attack -

And the anger, the blind compassion that shook you

As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?

Do you remember the stretcher cases lurching back

With dying eyes and lolling heads - those ashen-grey

Masks of lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet ?.....

Look up and swear by the Green of the Spring  that you'll never forget."

 

Blue Straggler - on 23 Dec 2018
In reply to Tom V:

> In the vein of "films that I gave 15 minutes to and then got stalled with "  I offer the following three examples from Sky Movies this last week:

> The Greatest Showman:

> The Shape of Water:

> Ready Player One.

Sounds about right. I saw them all in their entirety at the cinema. The Greatest Showman I forgive because musicals simply aren’t my genre and there seems to be a lot of love for it; I only saw it as a Williams completist. The Shape Of Water, meh. Ready Player One deeply flawed


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