Mini-Reviews #10

A lot of material has been accumulated over the past months, so here’s already the next post.

Film

The Lego Movie
Rather disappointing, to be honest. Too much meta-jokes, I couldn’t relate to this new world of Lego with all the licensed stuff. Of course, occasionaly the humor of Lord and Miller was to be witnessed, but as I recently learned, that alone is not a quality sign for funny movies.
Big Hero 6
Disney Animation + Superhero action = odd mix. Not really my cup of tea, but alright for a lazy sunday afternoon.
Drive
Overhyped semi-arthouse film. If you ignore that and take it for what it is (gritty crime b-movie), it’s watchable.
Dallas Buyers Club
“Based on a true story” — usually a warning sign. I’m probably lacking the emotional depth, but for me this was rather bland. And regarding McConaughey’s role: It would have been more interesting if his stature wasn’t the much-spoken-about paper-thin appeareance from the beginning, but progressed (regressed) along with the plot.
Hector and the Search for Happiness
I really like Simon Pegg, especially in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but every other movie where he was the lead actor, sucked. The same here, just worse.
Melancholia
Lars von Trier is a case of (rare) hit or (often) miss for me (love Dogville, liked Manderlay, hated Antichrist); this one was a ‘miss’, again.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
Again, I don’t really know why I’m watching all those indie/arthouse movies (except for a great lead actress), most of the times I can’t relate to the story or characters and the production is mostly uninteresting. So, this one did nothing for me, but others may like it.
The Salvation
Not many western movies are made nowadays, and I can understand why: They either have to rehash stories that have been made (better) some fifty years ago or they (need to) try to be somehow innovative and clever and that often simply doesn’t harmonize with the mental image most viewers have with this genre. This danish production I’d categorize as nothing new on the western front, but really well done and with just the right amount of style update. Recommended!
A Walk Among the Tombstones
Another month, another generic Liam Neeson cop/crime/action/triller. This one has less kick-ass-action and is more of a detective movie with a ‘film noire’ vibe. Unfortunately, the plot is implausible and therefore brings down the film (because there is nothing else noteworthy about it: Bad story, average actors, average production value). Would be tolerable as an episode of a TV show or mini-series, but not as a stand-alone movie.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

This one had many glowing reviews and those weren’t wrong, but somehow, somewhat was missing for me. I can’t really put my finger on it just yet. The effects are breathtaking in a very subtle way (not once I was thinking that I was watching CGI creatures), it’s a smart story arc, but the third act was a bit of letdown and reminded me of any other summer action flick; admittedly, an action movie seldom allows much character development and elaborated plots (obviously due to the restricted time; I’m spoiled by TV shows by now).

And the end was like the cliffhanger on a season finale of a show, only that we now have to wait 2-3 years.
But all this aside, I’m very hooked on this new take on the Planet of the Apes franchise.

Edge of Tomorrow

I’ve read many praising rewiews about this one. And I also read that it more or less bombed at the (US) box-office (common theories: misleading trailers or audience’s dislike of Tom Cruise).

That’s too bad, because it’s a really good film: Interesting plot, great actors, fantastic effects, with the right dose of humour. Tom Cruise isn’t the usual hero this time (for most of the film at least) and roles like the FMB that Emily Blunt is playing are a rare sight in films.

The two negative points I have: The third act isn’t that exciting, compared with what came before.
And the final resolution is a bit of an unexplainable deus ex machina plot device.
But that’s nitpicking on an otherwise great SF piece.

TV

Boardwalk Empire — Season 5

As it goes, final seasons of good TV shows tend often to be disappointing. Not wholly terrible, but underwhelming because the more you’ve learned to like the show over the years, the more you expect the last episodes to be a grand triumph; but reality and high expectations seldom match.

As far a I know, the end was planned and since it played during our well known past, there was only a certain amount of leeway for certain character arcs (for example Capone).

What didn’t work for me was the rush: A time jump of seven years plus a reduced number of only eight episodes plus the pressure to bring many plots to a closure at once. On the other hand, I greatly appreciate the fact that many threads got a conclusion at all, albeit most of them got the “live by the sword, die by the sword” treatment.

Anyhow, despite these flaws, it was a good season and a wonderful show.

Sons of Anarchy — Season 5

Hard to find proper words to describe this season; not because it was particularly good or bad, but because it was just more of the same. SoA is an entertaining show, no doubt about it, but it’s also nowhere near my top-ten-list of must-see-shows.

One thing I noticed is that this series somehow lacks depth and a more fitting heaviness for this kind of backdrop. Yes, lot’s of people are getting killed and the plot advances from season to season, but without real consequences.

I don’t really know how to articulate it better, because I can’t explain it to me neither:
The show has all the ingredients, and still comes across as not really that good.