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Rate the Last Movie You Saw

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Aswang: This is not a very good movie. For most people, I doubt it will be very effective. But there were a few bits that matched up so well with some stories that a Filipina friend of mine told me about weird creepy stuff that's happened to her and members of her family that it still really got to me.

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The Thing (2011): A project like this one is very difficult to pull off well. It's easy to just end up being a watered-down knockoff with better special effects, change into something else entirely, or just flat-out fail. I feel like they managed to walk that line pretty well and end up with something that adds to the original story without replacing it. YMMV. I did really like some of the discussion about making it that I found, talking about going over the original film, figuring out exactly what things about the base needed to be like, and then working to come up with a story that would result in all those details being left in its aftermath. And the updated effects for The Thing itself are pretty cool.

The Exorcism of Anna Ecklund: Very possibly the worst exorcism movie I've ever seen. None of the actors manage to sell any of it. At all. And that's not even getting into the problems with the script. As arguably the most egregious bit, at one point a Catholic nun asks one of the priests what language Ecklund is speaking. It's Latin. What kind of nun doesn't recognize Latin?

The Grudge 3: In some ways my favourite of the three, but largely just because it's the only one with a linear narrative, so I didn't have to look it up on Wikipedia to figure out what was going on. It was also (at least among the copies I've seen) the only one of the three that had subtitles for the parts in Japanese. The subtitles were in German, but I studied German much more recently than Japanese, and actually spent time in Germany, so I'm much better at it, and was actually able to follow along. Which was pretty cool.

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Happy Feet: Nice fun piece. Cute penguins, good tunes, good cast, just generally fun. I hadn't realized it was done by George Miller, which is kind of hilarious.

Python: Pretty much a B-movie all star cast. Billy Zabka, Wil Wheaton, Robert Englund, Casper Van Dien, even Frank Welker voicing the snake. Speaking of which, surprisingly good visual effects on that snake. I was expecting something more like the ones in Piranhaconda or Sharktopus vs Pteracuda, but this was pretty not bad. It's a SyFy original, so you know there ain't much plot or anything, but as those go, it's one of the better ones by a pretty big margin.

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Flight 666: Surprisingly good for a direct-to-video flick. "Horror" isn't quite the right description, tho it has horror elements, some of them strong enough that I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who dislikes horror movies. The overall feel is more of a suspense/thriller/mystery sort of thing. Has a lot in common with disaster movies, too. I really liked the interactions among the passengers and cabin crew. Felt very plausible for a tense situation like that. People freaking out, especially as more and more goes wrong, and others trying to calm them down, with varying degrees of success, but always in ways that felt like something that you might actually hear on a bad flight. And just how grounded in reality so much of interactions are makes the difference all the more striking when the supernatural elements start coming in.

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Kingsman: The Secret Service: There are a lot of good bits, but overall, it felt too self-aware, and like it was trying too hard. And a bit too much "loser who never made anything of himself" wish-fulfillment fantasy for my taste.

Fall of Grace: You know how Rob Zombie likes to start albums out with a mish-mash of static and samples and creepy noises and stuff? This is basically an entire movie of that.

Frenzy: Despite the title, this is actually a really slow burn flick. At the start, I was really uncertain of whether it was even worth going on, especially since the first few flashbacks are kind of distracting until you get used to them. But it builds into probably the best Shark movie I've ever seen. By the end, it gets very intense. Recommended if you're into that sort of thing.

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Aquaman (2019) might just be the best film in the “DCEU” to date or at least tied with Wonder Woman for that slot. I’ve always loved Jason Momoa, ever since Stargate: Atlantis where he was basically the only person worth watching for several seasons. It took the rest of the industry too long to notice him, but he’s great here. The movie’s plot is a rather by-the-numbers superhero fare, with its high point being the all too brief second act that sees Arthur and Mera on a fetch-quest that plays out like an homage to Indiana Jones or Romancing the Stone type flicks. The rest of the film is very much taking its cues from the hyperkinetic synth-pop technicolor kaleidoscope that was Thor: Ragnarok.

On it’s own merits, a solid 3 out of 5. Grading on a curve and judged solely against the other “DCEU” movies, a definite A+.

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Mary Poppins Returns

Did you like the original Mary Poppins? Of course you did, everyone does.

Do you want to see a sequel that isn’t a soulless cash-grab but is actually a lovely homage to the original that is simultaneously a movie with a heart and soul of its own? 

Emily Blunt is outstanding, playing Mary with just enough subtle nods to Julie Andrews’ performance but while also making the role her own; Lin Manuel Miranda's Jack is fun; the Banks children are adorable... and the cameos are hilarious if you’re in on the joke, but still work even for the little kids that won’t get it.

The songs are great throughout.

4.5 out of 5. Practically perfect in every way.

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Jupiter Ascending: Fun time, visually amazing. Kinda wish I'd seen it on the big screen. Channing Tatum looks way better with that jaw prosthetic than he usually does, too. My only real issue with it is the sound. Way too wide of a dynamic range. I kept having to turn it up to be able to hear the dialogue, and then back down to avoid being deafened by the action scenes.

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14 hours ago, WestRider said:

Jupiter Ascending: Fun time, visually amazing. Kinda wish I'd seen it on the big screen. Channing Tatum looks way better with that jaw prosthetic than he usually does, too. My only real issue with it is the sound. Way too wide of a dynamic range. I kept having to turn it up to be able to hear the dialogue, and then back down to avoid being deafened by the action scenes.

We love this movie! So sad it didn't do well enough for them to continue to explore the universe. This is the first movie with Mila Kunis that I wasn't immediately seeing her as Jackie from that 70s show. 

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Ocean's Eight - or, how to kill off a franchise. I can't say there was anything really bad about the movie. But I also can't say there was anything good about the movie either. They took the Ocean's formula, used women, and then stripped out all the Coolness that made the previous movies so darn entertaining. And no real plot twist. Everything went as planned and they got away. zzzzzzzzzzz

Ocean's Eleven - or how to build a franchise. So then my wife and I watched the original remake (Clooney and Pitt). It was fantastic. It was subtle, it was fun, the chemistry worked great, and the music tied it all together. And the casting really worked. The best part were the plot twists too. The question of "could they pull it off" never left the table. So good.

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Thanks Bro G... I think that fell off my "to watch list" but now I don't think I'll add it.

Equalizer 2 - 8/10 - Good movie, Denzel is a great actor. But I almost felt like we deviated from the premise of #1... I'll never argue with turn off brain and watch, but I was thrown off by it. If you had a different impression please share, I'd love a different view.

Glass - 9/10 - I skipped Split not knowing it was a part of a series and thought it was a horror and I skip those. Once Glass came out I started wondering... I feel like they did a great job of giving you a nice dose of story so you don't have to go back and watch. I thought it was an impressive twist on "hero" movies... instead we delve into the twisted mind of the villains and instead of glorifying it, keep it dark. Surprised with the ending... but maybe that goes with the dark aspect of the movie.

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The Bell Witch Haunting: Very hit and miss, but some parts are really good. The use of the Found Footage structure is pretty badly done, which isn't helped by the fact that they couldn't maintain any kind of consistent chronology, and there are things like one date being listed as the 21th of January. My main reaction was that Cat Alter probably had a lot of fun filming some of the scenes where her character is full-on possessed and going to town on people.

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Treevenge (short): Pretty good, and I wouldn't mind seeing it expanded into a full length film with a proper budget. At the very least, it deserves a place in some anthology. Do be warned, however: The violence at the start is not simulated, and does not use any special effects. It is 100% real.

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All Light Will End: Objectively, I think this is a pretty solid horror flick. The way it tied into some of my issues (like difficulty telling the difference between my memories of dreams and memories of real life) made it an amazing horror movie for me. The chronology was a bit hard to follow, and if it goes like I think it does, there's some element there that I missed, but each scene, in that moment, was great. An excellent performance from lead actress Ashley Pereira, and a very promising first film for director Chris Blake.

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Blood Widow: This is another flick where I kind of wonder if the people working on it had more experience in stage theatre than screen acting. It's clearly low budget, but a lot of the ways that manifests (cheesy effects, stilted acting) feel more stylized than just bad. The lack of backstory and motivation for the killer, combined with the ending, seem like they could have been a deliberate choice, to make it an even more nihilistic counterpoint to the usual slasher flicks. Or maybe it was just badly done. IDK. The Blood Widow's character design is really cool, tho, and I hope it gets some further attention, and maybe a follow-up, with enough budget and other resources to find out how much of that vibe was actually intentional.

The Taking: This one, on the other hand, is a flat out mess. I have no idea what was going on, at all. It was like someone took a music video for a Pain of Salvation knockoff band and tried to make it into a full length movie.

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The End Of The Tour

 

A Rolling Stone reporter interviews author David Foster Wallace over the course of several days. 

It's a buddy picture, character study, reflection on mental illness and a dialogue about writing fiction. Overall I think it succeeds even with it's flaws. That's sort of the point. The subject suffers from depression and the movie, to me channels some of the reasons. I'm actually inclined not to make lists of pros and cons because I think the premise is really worthy and larger than any list of minor compliments and criticisms. 

One thing I will say, it's probably better for people who are not familiar with the real people portrayed in the script. Fans of Wallace will likely have too critical an eye and probably be irritated by how the performance relies heavily on costume and affectation. Or maybe not... if they are really into meta analysis they might actually love that. Either way, it's an earnest and authentic movie in my opinion. I think anyone who struggles with the creative process or being social will find something that resonates here. 

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