I thought I’d talk a little bit about some of the new movies I’ve seen recently. I love seeing movies in the theater. In recent years, though, I’ve often gone for months without going to see a film. The last several weeks I’ve been making up for it, I guess, seeing a new movie about every week.
The ones I like best are generally going to be science fiction or fantasy in one form or other. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve fallen in love with many, many movies that are not so “out there.” For example, I’ll always count some far more mainstream movies like Ordinary People, Out of Africa, and Cinema Paradiso among my lifetime favorites. For comedy, I don’t expect anything will ever beat how much I enjoyed Tootsie.
But let’s move on now to some movies that aren’t decades old. The new movies I’ve seen most recently are all of the more far-fetched sort. They are also, in most-if-not-all cases, of the blockbuster variety. I’m not really sure exactly what criteria a “blockbuster” movie must fill, but it seems like the term gets bandied about with regard to certain movies before they even open in the theater. Or maybe it’s just in my head that the term bounces around, causing me to get all worked up from the (effective) advertising and rush out to the opening midnight showing.
I’m not going to provide anything close to thorough reviews of these flicks, though I’ll offer a grade I’d give each one. I’ll also include a few impressions I got from the films, or parts thereof. I won’t give away any spoilers, since in most cases my memory is barely good enough to even remember how the movie ended, much less any other important details of the story. Impressions are often all I have left a few days or weeks after seeing a picture.
In no specific order then:
The Hunger Games: I haven’t read the books, yet still had fairly high expectations for a complex and involving story going in. That’s mostly what I got, and I really liked the movie, though I couldn’t help feeling it could have gone deeper. No easy task, though, when put up against a novel. A-. I’d gladly watch it again.
John Carter: This movie was silly fun. As with all the movies I talk about here, the special effects are mind-blowing to me. I got a kick out of the way John Carter could do astounding gravity-defying leaps when he wanted, but after a little practice he could walk just as naturally as if he were still in earth’s gravity. I’d gladly watch it again, mostly because I remember virtually nothing about it except the jumping and a beautiful princess. No, not at the same time. Grade: B.
The Avengers: I think I was a little lost in the beginning of this movie because I haven’t seen all the movies leading up to it, and I was totally unfamiliar with a couple of the superheroes. But I won’t blame that on this movie; there’s way too much other stuff to take care of during this flick besides building backstory that I should already know. Duh. None of that spoiled the fun of the movie, though. Entertaining interaction between the heroes, great action and special effects, a blast of a movie. Grade: A. I’d gleefully watch it again.
The Cabin in the Woods: A wild, funny, ghastly blend of horror and sci-fi that takes some of the thematic elements of a typical R-rated horror flick and turns the whole thing on its head before joyously stabbing it repeatedly in the abdomen until its intestines spill out. I’d watch parts of this again for the humor and some of the monster effects. Grade: B-.
Battleship: Despite a painfully predictable and cliche-ridden character setup at the beginning of the film, and managing to create a hero that I cared virtually nothing about, this movie did have some redeeming features, including the aforementioned special effects, some worthy exciting moments, and a well-deserved, patriotic, and satisfying nod (or way more than a nod) to our war veterans. The movie is very reminiscent, by the way, of the movie Independence Day, but I.D. had more interesting characters. I’d watch parts of it again for the special effects. Grade: B-.
Men in Black 3: Funny, warm, and engaging characters and storyline. Throw in freaky aliens and time-travel and the movie-makers pretty much have it made. I’d watch it again with great pleasure. Grade: A.
Snow White and the Huntsman: Awesome special effects all around, a cool castle, magical forests and beings — given my love of fantasy, this movie turned on just about every one of my *YES* buttons. Throw in a particularly memorable and heart-wrenching scene showing a few private moments with the huntsman, and this movie has officially earned a permanent place of esteem in my movie memory gray matter. Which is increasingly hard to do, by the way, since the rental space is slowly shrinking. The wicked characters, too, are surprising and pleasingly multi-dimensional. Unfortunately, I’d say the movie does have a mild weakness in the character of Snow White. There were times in the film when I just wanted her to say something, already! Literally. Perhaps it was the director’s idea that sometimes silence can speak a thousand words, that a scene can be strongly evocative just by the actor’s or actress’s (I still get a bewildered moment of confusion when people call actresses actors, so sue me) facial expression, body language . . . or even just what shows in their eyes. In Snow White’s case, however, these quiet moments were merely just vaguely frustrating for me, because nothing showed in her eyes when there should have been worlds of love and pain there to explore. And words to begin to describe them. Grade: A-. I could easily watch this movie again multiple times. In fact, I hope to.
Prometheus: This is another movie I had high expectations for, given that it’s by the same director that did Alien and Blade Runner. My bad. It was a good movie. It really was. As long as you can tolerate the mild to moderate gross-out factor, and a few things that make absolutely no sense. Hey, it’s a sci-fi horror movie, what do you expect? Oh, and if you can also take a load of unanswered questions by the end. It’s still a fun-to-watch movie, and easily takes its place alongside the other two I just mentioned above. There were, in this movie, (purposeful, I’m sure) glaring similarities with Alien. That must have worked, in someone’s mind. Me, though, not so much. I would have preferred a bit less homage and a good deal more originality. I’d gladly watch this one again, with lower expectations this time. Grade: B+.
Well, I carried on here quite a bit longer than I expected, but once I saw this post growing into a monster I couldn’t bring myself to cut it in half. Like so many of the monsters in the movies I’ve written about here, it may have deserved it, but sometimes things happen in movies, and posts about movies, that just don’t make any sense.