Movies: American Assassin Review

September 18, 2017

Considering it starts off really well, American Assassin ended up being a bit of a disappointment for me.

The frantic nature of the opening scenes on the beach and main character Rapp’s vigilante mission into Libya are great, but they soon make way for what is a by-the-numbers race against time spy thriller.

Which is not to say that it turns into a bad movie, but rather than it goes from being something that could have been a bit special to a plot that we’ve all seen dozens of times before.

The characters become uninspiring, the plot hangs on the sort of twist that Terry Nation was writing for Doctor Who 55 years ago (the old ‘The only way you could know that is if you’re the villain, because I never told you’ trope) and it all ends exactly how you’d imagine it would.

Put simply, if you like that sort of thing, you’ll enjoy American Assassin, but don’t go in expecting any sort of fresh take on the genre. Like I say; it’s not that it’s bad – indeed it’s perfectly acceptable – but rather it just doesn’t live up to its early potential.

Oh, and for those of you keeping score, it ran for less than two hours and therefore didn’t overstay its welcome.


Movies: It Review

September 17, 2017

Most people my age will be aware of It, the Stephen King novel-turned-TV miniseries that was responsible for scaring the shit of children in the 1990s.

But awareness is just about all many will have. I remember seeing the first few minutes of it when I was probably about 9 or 10 years old and it terrified me. But I never actually watched the rest of it at any point.

Now it’s 2017, I’m a man in my 30s and it’s been remade as a proper Hollywood movie.

So what did I think?

Well I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t find horror movies scary as an adult. Long term readers of the blog will know that. I take the view that nothing can hurt me and I don’t get spooked by sudden loud noises, Some may get a thrill from it, but I’m not one of them.

So I wasn’t scared and I didn’t expect to be.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good movie. And It…well it wasn’t a bad movie, but it certainly wasn’t without its flaws.

To give it the appropriate credit, the story on a general level was enjoyable, the clown was initially creepy, the setting was good and the mostly child actors did their jobs well. In many ways it was like a dark version of The Goonies or Stranger Things.

But then there were elements that let it down.

For one thing, as someone who hasn’t read the book, I never really understood what Pennywise was. Was he real? Was he an alien? Did he really kill the children? Why were they floating in the air? Did they all come back to life when they came back down? Where did he come from? Absolutely none of this was explained.

Then certain parts – like the stuff with the school bully or the back stories of most of the kids – never went anywhere.

But perhaps most frustrating was that to spin the movie out for as long as it was – and again, it was another movie that went on for too long – Pennywise appeared so many times without claiming any sort of victim that he ended up looking proverbially toothless. And that was compounded by this fearsome creature eventually being beaten up and vanquished by a group of young teenagers.

Not exactly fearsome…

Overall, I did enjoy it enough to consider it a good use of a Saturday evening, but came away frustrated that it wasn’t as good as it could have been.

Oh, and apparently we’re getting a sequel. Great…cos Hollywood doesn’t have enough of them.

I’d rather they remade The Langoliers.

Movies: Death Note Review (or “A Fun Movie When There’s Nothing Else On”)

September 11, 2017

A random pick on NetFlix this evening led us to watching Death Note, an original movie – based on a Japanese manga series of the same name – from the streaming company about a schoolboy given possession of a notebook where all he has to do is write down someone’s name and they die.

A quick google search will find that this is not a particularly highly rated movie, with a 4.6/10 on imdb and a 39% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and yet it did get a recommendation from Digital Spy’s ‘New On Netflix’ article.

So either manga fanboys dislike it because it’s different to the source material, or this really is a marmite type effort where most people will either love it or hate it.

Personally, I liked it.

Now sure, this is not a movie that will win any Oscars for any aspect of its development – the acting is so-so, the dialogue is corny, the special effects are dated and the plot involves oodles of exposition and some rather presumptuous leaps to keep things moving along – and yet it’s fun.

This is the sort of movie you’d enjoy if you liked Final Destination or The Butterfly Effect.

It’s not worthy, it’s not trying to get above its own station and it probably knows that some people will think it’s crap.

But it’s a nice idea for a story, it moves along at a reasonable pace and even though it got a little bit confusing towards the end, it kept me entertained.

Put simply, it is what it is; a NetFlix movie designed to be watched on the couch when you’ve got nothing better to do.

It wouldn’t be a waste of your time to give it a go.

I’d rather watch this again than Detroit.

Movies: Wind River Review

September 10, 2017

It seems as though the point I made about the challenging length of Detroit struck a chord with some of you.

It did just seem to go on forever, and like me, others seem to agree that the running time took it beyond the point of being an enjoyable watch and into the realms of a chore.

Well the good news is that Wind River has no such issues.

Checking in at a reasonable one hour and fifty minutes, this crime thriller about a murder on an Indian Reservation in the vast emptiness of Wyoming hits the spot.

There’s plenty to enjoy about it, from a gripping plot to the unusual setting, and the acting is on point throughout. I should note that I especially enjoyed the performance of Graham Greene as Ben. I don’t think there’s any question that he’s the least well-known of the main characters in the movie, and in part that will be because his heritage will limit the roles he is offered, but he was excellent.

Gong back to the movie as a whole, the biggest thing going for it was that nothing was wasted. Every scene had a purpose, whether that was for character development or to move along the plot and therefore it felt brisk even though it was by nature slow in pace, if that makes sense.

And it’s because of that that I would consider Wind River one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. Sure, the pickings have been slim, but this was still a very enjoyable watch on its own merit, and I’d recommend going along to see it.

Movies – Detroit Review (or “Apparently You Can’t Tell A Good Story In Under Two Hours Anymore…”)

September 4, 2017

A movie can have so much going for it, but then after the fact if one thing goes against it, that’s what you dwell on.

On Saturday I went to see Detroit; a movie that has received much acclaim from critics and the general public at large, and yet when someone asked me this morning if it was any good, my brief summary was “It was good, but it went on too long”.

That’s what I fixated upon.

If I was going to expand on my thoughts I would say that it was a tense, well acted affair that highlighted – in a way that it admitted was over-dramatised and used creative license – how bad things were during the Detroit riots of 1967. It was well shot and it did a good job of setting the scene for what was to come in an introductory history lesson at the start of the movie.

But I just can’t get past how it could probably have cut a good 45 minutes out and nothing would have been lost.

Though this was about the infamous police raid on the Algiers Motel where three black men were killed and nine others were beaten and humiliated by racist police, it took at least an hour to actually arrive at this point. Before it did, I had thought that perhaps the movie was a collection of unrelated stories about people who were caught up in the riots.

Then the Algiers stuff – as well as it was acted – also went on too long, and began to lose its impact.

And finally, after all of that, it briefly turns into a courtroom drama, at which point I was just desperate to get up and go.

Now reading that back, it looks as though I didn’t enjoy it, and yet I did.

But it’s that one thing – the length of the movie – that I’ll remember the most.

Apparently you can’t tell a good story in under two hours anymore…