Tag Archives: movie reviews

Movie Review – The Lost City (2022)

Romance! Treasure! Adventure!

BQB here with a review of The Lost City.

Let me say off the bat this movie is OK. It is an acceptable way to pass your downtime. I am disappointed in that everyone kept telling me this flick is awesome and I’m missing out if I didn’t check it out, but honestly, I found it more or less “meh.”

Loretta Sage and her late husband once traveled the world as archaeology scholars, unlocking the secrets of past civilizations. Alas, after her husband’s untimely demise, she cloistered herself and earned her living writing cheesy romance novels about an adventurous lady archaeologist and her hunky sidekick who go on treasure hunting exploits, a far cry from the academic treatises she wanted to publish, a dream denied due to lack of sales.

Years later, the novels are a smash success, too popular in fact. When billionaire Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) kidnaps Loretta in the hopes that she’ll be able to translate the key to a long-lost treasure, it’s up to her handsome yet incompetent, Fabio-esque cover model Alan (the hunky sidekick inspiration from the novels) to come to Loretta’s rescue.

A fine setup but the execution leaves something to be desired. Treasure hunting movies have been DOA for a long time. One might argue it’s because we’ve grown as a society and come to realize that all Western treasure hunters ever really did was just um, you know, locate and steal treasures belonging to other countries, cultures, civilizations etc. That’s part of it, though honestly, no one ever did the treasure hunting genre as well as Indiana Jones. The Romancing the Stone movies might be a distant second but ultimately, Indy was never topped. Tomb Raider and Uncharted? Yes, in video game form. No in movie form.

At any rate, you don’t really see a lot of stuff you’d expect in a treasure hunting film. There aren’t any puzzles, riddles or clues. There’s not even sufficient danger. To the heroes? Yes. To the world? I mean basically, if the evil billionaire gets the treasure, he’ll be more rich and if he doesn’t then he’ll be less rich. A far cry from the Indy stakes where an artifact falling into the wrong hands equals Nazi rule of the globe forever and ever and ever.

Even so, Loretta is in peril and Alan (Channing Tatum) is an unlikely hero. He screws up the rescue early and often to great comedic effect and there’s probably a fresh angle in that in real life, people who do things for the first time often screw them up royally. We never learn or grow without those screwups.

A different dynamic than we are used to seeing. Alan often bungles his way into becoming the “damsel in distress” that Loretta has to save and there is a 20 something year age disparity between Tatum and Bullock, though movies often feature an older, sophisticated man with a hot younger babe. Here it’s the other way around with smart Loretta and her man-bimbo Allan.

There are a lot of side characters we learn little about. They might have been interesting if allowed more time to shine. A side plot sees Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Beth as Loretta’s publisher who travels the world in search of her abducted writer. It feels like there was a budding romance between her and goofy pilot Oscar (Oscar of The Office fame) that was cut short, possibly for time. A quick line at the end will make you raise an eyebrow.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I wouldn’t rent it but wait for when it streams. It’s billed as a treasure hunting movie but it’s more of a chase movie through an exotic jungle location where the heroes have to out run the pursuing villains. A lot of CGI and the whole lady author falling in love with the real life Fabio from her covers might have been funnier in the 1990s when Fabio was at his peak, musclebound wind in the hair glory. Bonus points for some insights into the publishing industry, what sells, what doesn’t, the lengths that authors have to go through to sell some books.

Double Bonus Points for a surprise cameo that is fun though it made me wonder if the movie wouldn’t have benefitted from the cameo lasting longer.

Tagged , , , ,

Movie Review – Ambulance (2022)

Woo woo. Boom boom. Vroom vroom. Kapowie zowie!

Oh sorry, I just gave away the entire plot to this stink bomb.

BQB here with a review of the Michael Bay schlockfest, Ambulance.

This movie is a bimbo. Pretty face. Long hair. Great eyes. Jumbo cans. Terrific tucas. A sweet set of getaway sticks.

Ah, but alas, when she speaks, you realize if you marry her you’d be spending half your life reminding her to not look up with her mouth open whenever it rains so she doesn’t drown. Seriously, who has that kind of time?

The trailers looked awesome and I wanted to see it for months…you know, not unlike how when an uber hottie slides into your DMs and you look forward to your first date only to meet her in person and learn that she spent so much time on her looks that she can’t count to twenty without taking her shoes off.

Thus is the problem with this flick. It’s all razzle but no dazzle. All hat but no cattle. It has a bangin’ bod but can’t read.

I should have known. This is Michael Bay’s MO, though in his long line of movies that are high on kabooms but leave no room for wacky things like deep, meaningful character introspection or plot development, this has to be the worst offender.

Down on his luck dad Will (Yahya Abdul Mateen II), having been given the runaround from his insurance company only to learn there is no way for him to pay for his son’s desperately needed yet terribly expensive surgery, visits his adopted brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal). He’s hoping for a loan but instead gets a job, a bank heist job, a trip into a world of crime he had long escaped from, having broken away from his sibling years earlier for fear that Danny’s criminal ways would drag him down.

Naturally, the heist goes awry, leaving Danny and Will the only survivors of a shootout with the police. They hijack an ambulance hoping it will give them the cover they need to get around police roadblocks, only to discover a badly wounded police officer in the back. This leaves EMT Cam (Eiza Gonzalez) in the unenviable position of having to save a gunshot victim’s life while being a hostage trapped in a high speed chase.

Could I, as a noble viewer, have suspended disbelief? Sure. Half the time, that is the job of a noble viewer, after all. No one wants to see real life in the movies. No one wants to see a movie about an accountant who suffers from hemorrhoids whose kids hate him and who eats cookies in front of the tv all night and can’t bring himself to challenge his wife about her emotional affair with a coworker because at this point in his life it would just be too exhausting to divide up all the stuff.

So yes, I can pretend like it would be possible for an EMT to perform a life saving bullet extraction in an ambulance being driven at high speeds, being rocked by bullets and crashes and so on. I can believe that the LAPD wouldn’t have smashed this thing off the road within five minutes.

What I can’t believe in is the virtually non-existent plot and lackluster character development. Every character is a cheap cookie-cutter cutout, a gimmick and a few hacky one-liners. Garret Dillahunt is an undercover cop who joins the chase with a comically large dog in his backseat. Olivia Stambouliah is a cop with big hair who worries about things being caught in it. A latino gang that gets involved calls everyone vato every five seconds. A gay FBI agent in charge of LA’s anti-bank robbery division comes into the chase mid-way and seems to only exist to provide expository details of Danny’s past. One wonders how the top FBI agent against bank robberies in the area went through half his day without hearing about this absurdly dangerous bank robbery. Also, for some reason he reminds everyone he is gay every five minutes. Yeah, I know, maybe it’s wrong to wonder why a gay character reminds everyone he is gay for five minutes when hetero people remind everyone they are straight every two minutes but it really feels like Bay is doing this to point out that he has a gay character in the film. Subtlety has never been Bay’s strong suit, such that he is one step away from having the gay FBI agent shout out during a shootout, “Hey everyone! Just a reminder! I’m a big fan of the penis! OK back to shooting at the bad guys now! Pew! Pew!”

Meanwhile, EMT Cam was almost a doctor but was thrown out of med school for speed addiction. We never learn why she wasn’t thrown out of EMT for speed addiction. Apparently, it is ok to be an EMT on speed. Danny’s criminal enterprise largely consists of a warehouse full of fast cars.

And it goes on and on like this. I get it. This is an action flick. But even the cheesiest action flicks give us a reason to care. This movie just feels like Bay played an expensive game of toy car crash em up, like how little boys bonk their toy cars together then go have milk and cookies except when they do this it doesn’t cost millions of dollars.

Irony is the critics seem to dig it. I wouldn’t think they would but I rarely agree with them. A quarter of the way into the movie I found myself checking my phone and puttering around the house to do busy work. Such is the sign of a bad movie when you are like, “yeah, yeah I get the gist but I’m not going to miss anything if I turn my back for a few minutes to do the dishes and fold the laundry.”

Weird. More explosions and crashes than a Beirut backyard barbecue and yet I lost interest. Critics seem to enjoy it as a roller coaster ride. In that case, I can see it and maybe it would have been better on the big screen, away from all my household chores. Even so, I say if a movie can’t keep me from my chores than it has failed.

STATUS: Borderline shelf-worthy but very borderline. I can’t say I’d watch it again. I wouldn’t rent it or pay money for it, but when it comes to your favorite streaming service, you might put it on so you can be moderately amused while you sweep the floor and finish your ironing.

Tagged , ,

Movie Review – The Bubble (2022)

Aw sweet! Cliff Beasts 6 is out already, 3.5 readers!

Come with me for a review of…The Bubble, not Cliff Beasts.

My first reaction is this is typical Netflix fanfare combined with typical Judd Apatow fanfare. Large ensemble cast. Basic structure but largely improvised dialogue. Too long. Could have benefitted from some editing. Not very coherent but it ended eventually. I assume Netflix likes such movies because they can spend heavy on the cast and not so much on anything else.

But that’s where I was wrong. This is a very special effects intensive film, largely because they are making fun of Hollywood, the film production process, pretentious actors and of course, action flicks. The ensemble, featuring the likes of Karen Gillian, Keegan Michael-Key, Fred Armisen, Leslie Mann, David Duchovny, that girl who played Borat’s daughter, Pedro Pascal and plenty of others who I’m probably too old to know their names star as the cast of the Cliff Beast franchise, a series of lousy action films in which a team of heroes assemble again and again to defeat evil dinosaur like creatures who dwell on cliffs.

This fact alone leads to the biggest laughs of the film as we get a comparison between how CGI scenes look very cool once rendered vs. what buffoons everyone involved looks like when they are shooting such scenes.

The overall premise is that at the height of the pandemic in 2020, back in the early days of the rona when everyone was so worried that they were wiping down their potato chip bags, a major studio dares to be one of two companies still willing to produce a major film. Accordingly, the cast is cloistered in a posh hotel in the British countryside and are forced to live together, not go anywhere or do anything fun for fear of coming down with the dreaded rona. Hotel staff have to pamper these rich entitled bums who are used to getting their way and are willing to throw outrageous temper tantrums over trivial things whereas the rest of us working stiffs have grown used to not getting our way.

Hijinx ensue that’s pretty much where the coherence ends. Each character has their own subplot and it all culminates in the ensemble yearning for a way off the set, for the film itself becomes a nightmare. Mistakes and errors cause the production to drag on for months and months and there’s no exit from the hotel in sight. The actors try almost every option to get out of the film except, you know, being good actors.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Not really a great film and not something I’d want to watch twice. It does have a lot of laughs and parodies Hollywood extensively. The behind the scenes looks at actors working on a green screen set are a laugh riot. I suppose we’ve come a long way in two years, from the time when people wearing scuba type helmets on dry land seemed like a great idea to now, when a film can laugh at such silliness.

SIDENOTE: I’m not entirely sure a dry land scuba helmet is a terrible idea. I’d wear one if it were socially acceptable.

Tagged , , ,

Movie Review – Nightmare Alley (2021)

Never be a geek, 3.5 readers. Believe me, the last thing you want to be, at least in this film’s definition of the word, is a geek.

BQB here with a review of Guillermo Del Toro’s Oscar buzzed noir flick.

It’s the early 1940s and drifter Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper in a fedora, see?) has just snatched up a paying gig, he’s a carnie and accordingly, all the freaks and geeks of a traveling show will educate him on the ways of flim flam, fakery, deception and of course, the con.

His professors in this master class include Zeena and Pete (Toni Collette and David Strathairn) – a couple who perform as a fortune teller and her assistant bilking the crowd of boku buckeroos with claims of communication with the great beyond. Meanwhile, “geek keeper”) Clem Hoatley (Willem Dafoe) educates the lad (Cooper is referred to throughout this movie as young buck but isn’t he pushing fifty? Oh well, if you’re handsome enough…) on how no one gets ahead without getting their hands dirty. (Sidenote: in this movie, “geek” does not mean “person who collects many Star Wars action figures” as it does in modern times and I’ll leave it at that.)

Rooney Mara rounds out the cast as Molly, she who claims an astounding ability to absorb electricity and Ron Perlman stars as strong man Bruno, Molly’s father-appointed protector who promised to beat up anyone who hurts Molly, thus putting Stan the Man in line for a knuckle sandwich with extra beatdown sauce if he misbehaves.

Long story short, the film is actually two films. The first half, Stan learns the art of the con and the second half, flash forward years later to a time when Stan has perfected the con, performing a mysterious mentalist act with the help of assistant Molly to large, sold out halls in the big city.

Enter Dr. Lillith Ritter (Cate Blanchett). Molly describes her as a stone-faced bitch and frankly, that’s the best description of Blanchett’s typical role I’ve ever heard. In addition to being a stone-faced bitch, Ritter is also a psychiatrist, who views her profession as a legalized con and recruits Stan to use his BS skills to bilk uber wealthy but hella gullible rubes out of their bucks in exchange for Stan tricking them into believing he can communicate with their deceased loved ones.

Then again, the uber rich aren’t people you want to piss off…and I’ll leave it there, another than to mention turns by Richard Jenkins, Holt McCallany and Mary Steenbergen.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I saw this offered on HBO Max and for a long time I assumed it was some sort of new series that I didn’t feel like investing time in. The movie was long and at times I actually wondered if it would have worked better as a series with Stan conning a new mark every week. I’m not sure it’s Oscar worthy and may not have been in the running had it not been for Del Toro’s direction.

DOUBLE SIDNOTE: In the first half of the film, it is always raining. In the second half, it is always snowing. At any rate, bad weather abounds.

TRIPLE SIDNOTE: Based on an old novel turned into a 1940s film that makes me want to go check out the old film. I doubt I will though because I am incredibly lazy.

SPOILER ALERT:

LOOK AWAY UNLESS YOU’VE SEEN IT!

There’s two endings. I can’t get too deep into them other than to say the first ending required me to suspend disbelief as it seemed unlikely someone so adept at conning would do what they did.

As for the second ending, that was great and fitting and it added some symmetry, bringing it back to the beginning of the film which I felt laid out something terrible and made me wonder if they had just forgotten this part only to go back to it at the end.

Tagged , , , ,

Will Slaps Chris at the Oscars

Hey 3.5 readers, your old pal BQB here.

Wow. I didn’t bother to watch the Oscars last night, only to wake up and read about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on live TV.

So, without further ado, my thoughts:

1 – My first reaction was it must be a publicity stunt. Oscar ratings are dwindling. Hollywood rarely, if ever, puts out big blockbuster historical type epics like Titanic anymore that made big money while putting butts in theater seats and have Oscar appeal. On this fine blog, I used to opine about the Oscars all the time but eventually stopped because, well, literally every year I had never seen any of the movies nominated so it’s not like I have an incentive to tune in and root for flicks I’ve never seen before.

So I wondered if this was designed to boost ratings, like “you never know what could happen at the Oscars so better tune in next year.”

Also, if you watch the video, Chris Rock barely flinched. He doesn’t skip a beat. He just goes on with the show. I wonder if most people wouldn’t have been flustered and not sure what to do next. Then again, Chris Rock isn’t most people. He has performed live for many years and as a pro he is trained in keeping a show running even under bad circumstances.

2 – Thus, I hate to say it but I think it was genuine, which makes me sad. I always liked Will Smith. I liked him because I feel like he’s an underdog story, like kind of a comedy nerd who put himself out there and hit it bigger than ever. When I went to bed and read he won for King Richard I thought good for him. About time. Now it will be hard to not view him as anything but an a-hole.

3 – A lot of people saying Chris deserved it. First this assumes Chris knew about Jada having a condition that causes hair loss. He might have just thought he was making a silly joke to roast an actress about her hair cut. Who among us has never put our foot in our mouth, said something that, once we learn a new fact, we immediately regret saying it? This would have been handled better with Will talking to Chris backstage, letting him know the facts and maybe Chris could have apologized later.

But still, if he knew, the better approach would have been for Will to just respond verbally. Explain how the joke was low class.

4 – I don’t know. Hollywood has been trying to cultivate a real person image like they’re people like the rest of us and then when a guy slaps another guy on live tv and gets away with it with no charges pressed…this wouldn’t happen amongst regular Joes. Slap a guy in a bar and there’s a chance you’re going to end the night in handcuffs.

Anyway, Chris Rock and Will Smith. Two celebs I have always liked and it makes me sad.

Tagged , , , , ,

Movie Review – The Batman – (2022)

Riddle me this, 3.5 readers.

What’s only going to be read by 3.5 readers and full of SPOILERS?

THIS REVIEW!

(SERIOUSLY, SPOILERS ABOUND)

This isn’t the worst Batman film ever made. I doubt the late 1990s’ Batman and Robin, what with its bat nipple suit on George Clooney, will ever be unseated from that distinction.

It’s far from the best either. 2008’s The Dark Knight has some big shoes that may never be filled while 1989’s Batman, though silly by today’s standards, paved the way for Hollywood to start thinking there might be gold in them thar superhero flicks, so I doubt you’d have any of the Marvel success today without it.

This movie is somewhere in the middle. It’s worth the price of admission, there are some fun twists and turns. However, it’s not something I want to rush to watch for a second time and at 3 freaking hours long, it’s a time commitment. Seriously, the movie is so long that when I walked out of the theater I wondered if so much time had passed that the world had been conquered by damn dirty apes.

My best description? Imagine a noir detective Batman. Like so many 1930s fedora clad private dicks, Batsy narrates the film, explaining to the audience what he’s up to.

It’s also, God help us, millennial Batman. The Caped Crusader fights for social justice and against white privilege (including his own) with his mighty Bat-Fu skills.

There’s even a twist of emo Batman – Robert Pattinson broods with long hair in his face and dark eyeliner.

To the film’s credit, it’s not an origin story. I think Hollywood is finally grasping that we don’t need to see origins of superheroes that we’ve seen a hundred times before. No need to see Mr and Mrs Wayne murdered. No need to see baby Superman’s little spaceship crash in the Kents’ backyard. No need to see Spidey’s Uncle Ben shot by a mugger again.

Yet (SPOILER), the Waynes’ untimely demise(s) feature prominently in the film as part of a larger mystery, so there’s still at least one Hollywood suit out there who is worried there might be one viewer left in the world who doesn’t know Batman became Batman because he’s sad about his dead parents.

Paul Dano brings The Riddle to life in a major creepy way heretofore unseen on film. Past incarnations of the human question mark have always just been a wacky version of The Joker (Jim Carrey’s career making goofball performance in Batman Forever, for example.) Here, Paul Dano plays every millennial’s worst nightmare, the unloved, socially inept incel who broods behind a screen all day, exposing big time dirt on Gotham’s elite with a side of murder and violence to increase online viewer counts. (Gee whiz, even the Riddler gets more readers for his blog.)

Zoe Kravitz is Catwoman though is never called Catwoman, yet she becomes a sidekick/love interest for Batsy as she searches for justice for her deceased friend caught up in the madness. Meanwhile, Colin Farrell is completely unrecognizable as crime boss henchman The Penguin. I literally did not know it was Farrell until I googled it at home. Good performance, yet another handsome guy robbing an ugly guy of an ugly role with the aid of prosthetics and make up. Sigh. If only prosthetics and make up could make an ugly guy handsome, then again who has that much time to sit in the makeup chair every day?

A lot of weirdness. A lot of heavy handed exposition. A lot of telling instead of showing. At times we are spoon fed helpings of backstory and while many films have been able to pull off a three hour run time by keeping you on the edge of your seat, this one doesn’t. By the two hour mark, I wanted to go already.

Though it avoids origin story silliness, it’s still new, early in his career Batman. He makes mistakes. Literally falls on his face at one point. If you came for super awesome grappling hook, zipline, flying around while making it look easy Batman, you came to the wrong place and ultimately…yeah while there’s a decent amount of action but there’s more talking than action.

Andy Serkis plays a believable Alfred. Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) plays buddy cop to Bats, but it almost reminded me of the cheesy 1960s Batman where Batman would work directly with the police while in full costume and no one thought it odd a mystery man in cape and cowl was consulting with the police. Here, everyone does think it is odd, but its like the writers felt there needed to be some obligatory lines like “Hey why are we working with this costumed guy” and so on.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. It’s acceptable but not great. It builds a world that I’m not, at this time, really chomping at the bit to see and it’s not just because I’ve seen it a hundred times before. And I’ll admit, I’m old, and comic book movies are for the young, so maybe the younguns will enjoy Millennial Batman fighting for truth, justice and wokeness.

I would point out though that back in the day, I thought 2005’s Batman Begins was great but at the time, I thought it would just be a one and done. That film paved the way for 2008’s powerhouse the Dark Knight so you never know, with a little tweaking this franchise might (I’ll believe it when I see it) but might just have a masterpiece sequel on the way if everyone plays their cards right.

Tagged , , , ,

Movie Review – The King’s Man (2021)

Wow 3.5 readers. Europe is so fragile all it takes is one dead archduke to eff things up beyond repair.

BQB here with a review of this historical action movie.

I have to say it up front. This one is not as good as the other two in the series. For the uninitiated, the first two installments take place in modern times and follow British delinquent Eggsy (Taron Egerton) as spy Harry (Colin Firth) recruits him into a secret espionage organization and turns him from a wayward punk into one of Her Majesty’s top clandestine agents. Somehow, the films manage to combine zany, over the top slapstick comedy, globetrotting hijinx, action and yes, even heart as we see Eggsy confront his shortcomings to become a better man with the help of characters who urge him to put country over self.

Don’t get me wrong. This film is good and worth a watch. However, it is very serious, often times quite sad and generally lacks the humor that made the first two films great. While it explains how the Kingsman organization got its start, it is set during WW1 which, let’s face it, if you’ve been watching the news lately, humor and raging global conflict are two subjects that do not mix, so you can’t blame the producers for abandoning the yuk yuks altogether.

While I wonder if it wouldn’t have been a greater box office success for the studio to have gotten Egerton and his mates together for a third installment set in present day (history pics tend to not put butts into theater seats) I have to say it did educate me a lot about how WW1 broke out, albet in a comic book fashion. Did you know that Kaiser Wilhelm (Germany), King George (England) and Tsar Nicholas (Russia) were cousins? I did not know that. The movie suggests the Great War had its roots in the era when the boys would play fight war games under the disapproving eye of their granny-in-common Queen Victoria of England.

Anyway, the plot? Lord Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) was once an adventurous do-gooder, using his vast family fortune to intervene in war, to broker peace and deliver aid whenever possible. Alas, when his wife is shot during one such junket during The Boer War, he cloisters himself in his estate, vowing to shield his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) the only family member he has left, from harm.

Alas, when World War 1 breaks out, Orlando realizes he can’t stay on the sidelines anymore. Young Harris sees war as a chance to prove his mettle and find great honor, despite his father’s protestations that there’s nothing but pain and bloodshed and no greatness to be found. Rather than let Harris go it alone, Orlando braves the world again as father and son go on a whirlwind adventure, from Russia where they take on the villainous Rasputin to other Euro locales where history’s greatest baddies are conspiring to commit heinous deeds most foul.

Along the way, they found the King’s man organization, meeting out of a tailor shop, recruiting other “knights of the round table” and relying on the assistance of a vast network of domestic servants who overhear what their powerful bosses are up to and report the dirt back to Oxford’s housekeeper Polly (Gemma Areton) with backup from butler Shola (Djimon Hounsou).

STATUS: It’s a good film that I fear will probably be swept under the rug. Lots of action. Great special effects. You will learn a lot about history. Obviously, much license is taken with the facts but if you weed through the chaffe you’ll pick up some tidbits of info here and there. I’ve always found WW1 to be quite complicated and this film did a better job of explaining how it happened (if you can look behind the comic bookish bits and realize the real scoop.)

Alas, the movie’s downfall is it’s not funny like its predecessors. Understandable because again, watch the news as of late and you’ll find yourself not laughing, but it doesn’t quite fit with the other two hilarious films in the series. Quite good as a stand alone.

Tagged , , , ,

Movie Review – Spiderman – No Way Home (2021)

I finally got to see it, 3.5 readers and it is the best Spiderman movie ever made.

BQB here with a review of the latest film about our friendly neighborhood webslinger.

Don’t get me wrong. All the Spidey films have heart and the first two installments of the Tobey Maguire version really did bring superhero films into the modern era. Without them, I doubt you’d have the Avengerfest of today. The Andrew Garfield films were fun though I think maybe they just came too close on the heels of the Tobey films and the world wasn’t ready for a reboot just yet.

The past two Tom Holland films were epic, owing in large part to the Avengers-verse that Marvel has created. When a rich, backstory filled structure has been built, it isn’t that hard for a new Spidey to come in and sling his way into the 2020s with great gusto.

Following Mysterio’s big reveal that Spiderman is Peter Parker in the last film, the anonymity jig is up for Peter (Holland), and his partners in crime, girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and BFF Ned (Jacob Batalon). Their lives are ruined under intense public scrutiny as the wall crawler and anyone who assisted him is raked over the coals by media blabbermouth J. Jonah Jameson (JK Simmons).

When Pete seeks the assistance of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), the great wizard agrees to help with a spell that will make everyone forget that Pete is Spidey, but Pete’s own blabbermouth during the incantation causes the spell to go awry and well, the rest is movie making history.

Magic makes worlds collide and those older Spiderman movies? Turns out they weren’t just movies. They were alternate worlds. The multi-verse is real, with infinite versions of you, me, Spiderman and his foes.

Truly a Herculean effort that required cooperation between different studios and different actors of various incarnations of the franchise. Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Electro, The Lizard, and Sandman team up to unleash chaos in our current world and it’s up to Team 3-Pete, Holland, Garfield and Maguire (three Spideys, no waiting) to save the day while Willem Defoe, Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx, Thomas Haden Church, and Rhys Ivans reprise their villainous roles. Marisa Tomei and Jon Favreau return as Aunt May and Happy Hogan.

At almost 2 and a half hours, it’s the longest Spiderman movie ever made, though there’s so much going on you’d hardly notice it. It’s quite ambitious with a lot of moving parts, my only criticism is it feels like there might be a few plot holes but honestly, I couldn’t tell you if these are really plot holes of if it’s just something I didn’t quite get on a first viewing with everything moving so quickly.

It’s definitely a movie we all needed, what with the pandemic scaring movie buffs out of theaters, closing theaters, and causing Hollywood to shut down or delay production of big time flicks. Personally, this is the longest I’ve gone without checking out a superhero movie, because a) I literally was unable to buy a ticket at my local theater for the first month because every time I tried they were all sold out online and b) alas, my local theater closed down because it couldn’t stay afloat in the pandemic, which means I just won’t be able to see movies as much as I used to. Is that a good or bad thing? I don’t know.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy, and proof that people will go to the movie theater if a film is awesome enough. Hang in there Hollywood, keep making those blockbusters and try to help theaters stay alive any way you can.

SIDENOTE: 40, 30 and 20 something Spidermen all on one screen. Where has the time gone? Memories, like the corners of my webbed up mind…

DOUBLE SIDENOTE: Kudos to this movie for thinking of a new way to rehash old(er) characters. The problem all superhero reboots and sequels suffer from is we’ve already seen the story before. We don’t need to see Pete get bitten by the radioactive spider again. We don’t need to see Norman Osborne go nuts and become G-Gob. Sure, younger actors can take on these characters but it usually just feels like a rehash of something that has already been done. With the spell gone awry plot device, we can immediately return to our old Spidey baddy faves without having to re-tell the stories we already know.

TRIPLE SIDENOTE: I know the Academy hates comic book movies but I wonder, given the fact this film put butts into theater seats in record numbers at a time when theaters are closing and people are avoiding social gatherings might not have merited some Oscar consideration. If theaters do go the way of the Dodo, I truly fear we will see a stark decline in the quality of moviemaking overall and we need films like this to save the industry.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Hotel Rwanda (1994)

Sorry, 3.5 readers. I have no witty starting lines because this movie is too sad, so let’s move on to the review.

As the manager of the luxurious Hotel des Mille Collines, Paul Rusesabagina has spent his life tending to the needs of the international rich, powerful and politically connected. Diplomats, military men, politicians – all have rested their heads under his roof and over the years. As tensions begin to rise over warring Hutu and Tutsi, Paul wonders if he has done enough favors for the hoi polloi that he might be able to call in some chits of his own should he find a need to get his family out of Dodge.

The social credits Paul has banked come in handy when a tenuous, negotiated peace is broken, and all out carnage begins. Tutsi rebels shoot the Hutu president’s plane out of the sky. Interhamwe, a Hutu militia, responds by passing out machetes like party favors and going on a hack and slash spree on Tutsis, who they openly refer to as “cockroaches.”

Paul (Don Cheadle in perhaps one of his best performances) is a Hutu married to a Tutsi, Tatianna (Sophie Okonedo), and has many Tutsi friends and neighbors. Not every Hutu and Tutsi embraces the rhetoric both sides lob at each other. Many just want to make a living, raise their families and be left alone.

When the machete attacks begin, Paul opens his doors to hundreds, filling the swanky joint to overflowing with Tutsis marked for death, as well as Hutus that Interhamwe believes are not sufficiently supportive of their cause.

It all escalates into a horror show, where Paul comes to believe that the mass genocide of his guests is inevitable, and it’s not a game of saving them permanently but just prolonging the inevitable. A tenuous business friendship with Georges Rutaganda, a product supplier who has long made a hefty profit selling goods to the hotel with Paul as purchaser buys some time. In addition to his day job, Georges is the leader of Interhamwe and the radio voice that whips his followers into a frenzy, pushing them to bloodshed. Georges calls the shots and as long as the hotel keeps operating as a hotel and acting as a cash cow for Georges, he’ll delay the slaughter of the guests while Interhamwe forces hack and slash elsewhere.

Thus, Paul has to keep up appearances. He’s not charging the refugees but has to create phony bills to make it appear as though he is. He has to doctor records to remove names from the system to hide people the militia is looking for by name. He has to negotiate with staff who are ready to walk off the job and flee. A friendship with a Canadian UN General (Nick Nolte) means he might be able to get his guests to safety. A friendship with a Rwandan general might get him some backup that he desperately needs.

It’s all about buying time and using bribes, connections, cajoling, begging, even smooth talking to navigate his way through chaos in the hopes of saving as many people as he can. Add to the mess that he’s trying to locate his lost nieces whose parents have likely perished and its quite a film, a fitting tribute to the real life Paul.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Sad, both in the film and the real life. One wonders if the UN could have done more. A million people were killed in three months. That’s a frightening number and how sad to know that such hatred can lead to such a massive kill count.

Sidenote – A young Joaquin Phoenix as a cameraman giving us insight to the fact that well, while the West cares, they probably don’t care enough to actually do anything. (It is hard to know what the West could have done here. On the one hand, perhaps a massive coalition of UN forces could have stood between the Hutu and Tutsi and saved lives. On the other hand, we’ve seen in the past 20 years Americans wanted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over in 5 minutes, so I’m not sure we had the collective stomach to engage in an African conflict that might have resulted in years of warfare. I’ll leave it up to the experts to decide.)

Double Sidenote – The movie explains what the difference between Hutu and Tutsi is, something I never knew. Apparently, in the old Belgium colony days, the Belgians selected what they felt were “better looking, more attractive” Rwandans to become a ruling aristocracy, giving them lands, titles, power so long as they kicked money up to the Belgians. The Hutu resented this, seeing the Tutsi as collaborators and sell-outs long after the Belgians left. Sad irony is, as the movie points out, looks are subjective, what is attractive to one might not be attractive to someone else and ultimately, it’s difficult to tell the difference between a Hutu and a Tutsi. The differences are that arbitrary.

Tagged , ,

Movie Review – The Matrix Resurrections (2021)

Jesus Fucking Christ, this movie makes The Room look like Citizen Kane.

BQB here with the horrid poopy stinkfest that is the fourth installment of the Matrix franchise.

Let me begin by saying please support your local movie theater. If you’re (understandably) afraid to take in a show due to Covid concerns, maybe just buy a gift certificate and throw it in a drawer to spend on tickets on that long-awaited day when the rona becomes about as dangerous as a bad case of gas. Or what the heck? Just buy a seat online and don’t go.

I know. I’ll never do such things and you won’t either. Neither of us has the money to waste.

My point is this movie is the type of schlock you get when streaming services reign supreme and theaters go bye bye. As long as they meet their subscriber quota and have enough people paying monthly fees to keep the service going, they don’t give a shit if you actually like the movie. They can make it as dumb or stupid or preachy or lame as they want.

Meanwhile, the latest Spiderman flick is breaking box office records and doing the unthinkable, putting butts in theater seats, the moviegoing masses uncaring they might catch a debilitating illness because apparently the movie is that awesome and therein lies the rub – for a movie to make it at the theater level, it must be good, like, really good…so good that Hollywood suits might put in actual effort.

But I digress.

Way back in 1999, The Matrix was a surprise hit, a new twist on the sci-fi genre about a world where the machines have won a war and turned the defeated humans into batteries, placating their minds with a false simulation. Those smart enough to figure out the world is an illusion gain superhuman like abilities, which they’ll need to fight the system’s evil agents designed to keep free thinkers down.

The underlying message and/or food for thought? Life is a game and if you figure out how to hack it, you can break all the rules and do whatever you want.

I don’t think any of us fans blamed the Wachowskis for making the shitty 2003 back to back sequels. They stunk big time though the second had a few cool moments, the fight scene on the big rig in particular. The then brothers (now sisters because apparently they took their own message about hacking the life game’s code quite literally) had wowed us with a pretty awesome flick so who could begrudge them a 2 sequel cash grab?

But this latest one? It is truly an unmitigated pile of horse manure, covered with pig manure, drenched in pigeon poop, and then like, a dozen syphilitic hobos peed all over it and then the whole thing was left out in the hot sun to rot and fester and grow mold and mushrooms on it and then a bunch of rats and mice and assorted vermin burrowed into it and called it home and that’s before a bunch of drunk frat boys puked all over it.

No, really. It’s that bad.

The plot? It’s a super meta Matrix movie about the other Matrix movies. The main villains are Neal Patrick Harris and the literal Warner Brothers Corporation. (You read that right, as in the studio that gave us Bugs Bunny. No one thought it was funny when WB made itself a central plot point in Space Jam this summer so I don’t know why they thought it would work this go around.)

SPOILERS ABOUND

NPH is an evil psychiatrist who seeks to keep Neo (Keanu Reeves) under control by convincing him none of the stuff from the first three films ever happened and that it was all dreamed up by Neo’s real life identity Thomas Anderson, a video game designer who put elements of his life into a super realistic video game, ranging from his controlling boss (Agent Smith) to the soccer mom he likes to oggle at his favorite coffee shop (Trinity.)

When Warner Brothers, the parent company of Anderson’s gaming company, orders an unnecessary sequel (the studio only gets so many points for making fun of itself), Anderson goes into a deep state of depression over having to return to a bunch of stories he’d grown tired of until a plucky band of cyber warriors led by Bugs (Jessica Henwick in a dual reference to the rabbit that leads Alice down the rabbit hole and WB’s perennial carrot chomping mascot and seriously, whoever it is at WB who thinks it is a good idea to make WB a key part of movie plots needs to be both fired and publicly shamed, preferably at the same time)….

….where was I? Oh, right. They break Neo out of his funk and into a whole new world of data driven conspiracies.

Fan favorite characters Agent Smith and Morpheus return, but in different digital bodies played by Jonathan Groff and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. They try but they don’t hold a candle to Hugo Weaving and Laurence Fishburne who, I like to think (or hope) they turned down this crap because there wasn’t enough money in the world to make them lower themselves enough to be associated with it.

Meanwhile, Carrie-Ann Moss reprises her iconic role as the leather clad biker babe Trinity and the gang must save her from the life the Matrix has cruelly assigned to her, that of a suburban soccer mom, because apparently, she would be better off getting sucked out of a pod full of goo and forced to live as an underground freedom fighter aboard a stank ass, dank, dark tunnel dwelling ship than, God forbid, raise children and be the important matriarch figure in their lives.

STATUS: To quote John Lovitz’ the Critic, “it stinks.” I watched it so I could tell you that you shouldn’t. To be fair, the final 20 minutes is a fun special effects bonanza, so if you want to put up your HBO MAX app and fast forward to the last 20, I wouldn’t blame you. You certainly shouldn’t sit through the first 40 where very little action happens and NPH and Keanu just pontificate over Mr. Anderson’s depressed state as a video game designer forced to make an undesired sequel. What about us fans who were forced to watch an undesired sequel? Will WB pay our therapy bills?

Oh wait. Now that I think of it, no one forced us to watch it and if we’d stop watching them, the studios would stop making them. Perhaps the system really can be hacked after all.

Tagged , , , , , , ,