Mini-Reviews #14

And again, a little retrospect of the stuff that I’ve watched in the last couple of weeks and months:

Film

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
More of the same, not better or worse as the first part. As a whole, it still sucks and taints the legacy of Jackson’s own original ‘Lord Of The Rings’ trilogy.
The Visit
What a crap. Read reviews about it beforehand that this low budget horror would be a return to form for M. Night Shyamalan: It’s not! Too long, too boring, too unfocused, too much failure.
Bone Tomahawk
I’m torn about this one: Two thirds of it are a slow paced, old fashioned western, but not in a bad fashion, then the last third turns into a kind of survivor/torture horror movie that not quite gels with what came before. But it’s not totally out of place, just very sudden and little explained or explored. As a whole: Different enough to be recommended.
Escape Plan
Catched it on TV while browsing through the channels, but only paid little attention to it, because it’s a really dull little B-Movie. Which is kind of sad and funny when you think about: Schwarzenegger and Stallone together in a film! What an event this would have been in the 1980s/1990s…
Trainwreck
Yup, the title is appropriate. I knew from the trailer that I wouldn’t like the protagonist’s character, but still hoped for some entertaining comedy — boy, was I wrong.
The Martian
A Ridley Scott movie of recent years that doesn’t suck, what a nice surprise. A well made film (and I’m a fan of Matt Damon anyways), and something different than the usual superhero flicks. Recommended!
Wreck-It Ralph
I was an OK’ish animated comedy; as it is common with these kind of films, with several funny scenes. But as a whole simply not remarkable. See or skip, as you like.
Sicario
Enganging thriller/crime drama, moving a bit glacial at times, but with good actors and scenes. But: It badly needs sequel(s) or should be continued as a TV show. There is so much undiscovered territory, plot- and character-wise, that it would be shame to let it wither.
Life Of Pi
Didn’t plan to see this, watched it coincidentally on TV. And although I had an idea about the film that was bit off with what it really was, it was quite alright.
The Hangover (Part III)
Not a big fan of the over-hyped first part, found the second part just as mediocre, and this third (and hopefully final) part follows the tradition. TV fodder.
Ex Machina
Very hyped at the usual sites, so I expected a bit more out of it. Sadly, it didn’t quite deliver.
Might have to do with me being so accustomed to SciFi, roboters and A.I. stories that it is difficult to present something radically new (to me). So, credits for the execution; but as whole, it was just a well-made film, not an outstanding one.
The Hateful Eight
Another film by Mr. Tarantino, with the usual ingredients: Lot’s of talking, clever dialogs and lots of violence; nothing new under the sun. The minus points: Pretty long for a rather thin and underdeveloped story, and a jarring shift in the atmosphere for the second half/final act.
If you’ve liked QT’s movies in the past, you will like this one, too.
If not, then “The Hateful Eight” certainly won’t change your view on his work.
Despicable Me 2
Again, a computer-animated comedy with some funny/weird characters and some funny scenes. OK, but not as good as the first part.
The Revenant
Beatiful cinematography, but the story itself and Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance didn’t enthrall me.
Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens

After reading some intervews and arrticles with and about the makers, I do understand their intention: To bring back the spirit of Star Wars to a new generation, that has either never seen the original trilogy (execpt as internet memes and video snippets) or was spoiled by the disgrace of the prequel trilogy (which is also already over a decade old… *sigh*).

And in that regard, it works. But man, there had to be a more subtle way than remaking and throwing together a collection of well know scenes and circumstances taken from episodes IV/V/VI!

Again, starting at a desert planet?! Again a Death Star?! An Empire that is almost indistinguishable from the one that was supposed to be beaten 30 years ago?! On the other hands, lots of it works: The humor is spot on, the character of the antagonist is interesting and so on.

What I also found very surprising was the lack of feeling to be in a huge world somewhere in space. It never felt as a big budget event piece — and that I don’t mean as a compliment! Starting with Rey at a small environment on Jakku was fine (and those scenes in the desert with the abandoned star destroyer created a sense of size), but it never grew much beyond it: The raid on the village was small, the escape of Poe from the empire and space battle in general were small, the fight on Takodana was laughable small in scope. Nowhere I really felt the grandeur and awe of a space opera that I wished for.

So, in conclusion: Turned out to be better than I feared, but also worse than I hoped. However, the possibilites are wide open for the next parts, I still have high expectations for them.

Oh, and by the way: The teaser-trailer for the prequel spin-off Rogue One also almost only depends on the recognizability and fondness for the past (“Oh, look: An AT-AT! And those uniforms! And Mon Mothma is in it!“), yet it also hints at a new perspective and story that is just set in the well known world of Star Wars; and it also feels much more epic at the same time! I’m more pumped for this Star Wars Story than I was for The Force Awakens after its trailer debuted.

The Loft

A low budget thriller and remake of a danish film. Pretty average and the plot turned out to be a bit too twisty at the end.

How To Train Your Dragon 2

Yet another animated movie, but this one plays it a bit more serious, not a plain comedy. Loved the first one, but unfortunately I found this part a little bit lacking and less grabbing.
And the final act was in my eyes a kind of rehash of what happend at the end of part one. Anyways, good enough so that I’m looking forward to the next installment.

R.E.D. 2

Rewatched it on DVD recently and I must say it wasn’t as good as I remembered it to be (or as good as part one).

The Lorax

CG-animated, catched it on TV. Storywise it’s a movie more aimed at children, so I’m not really qualified to have an opinion 😄

Jane Wants A Boyfriend

Interesting little movie that I catched by chance. Very watchable, in my opinion.

Macbeth (2015)

Saw this one dubbed in german, because I can’t understand shakesperian english (or medieval german prose, for that matter). Nice visuals, but somehow too condensed. Could have become an interesting psychological drama when it would have been realized as a longer (mini)series.

TV

Sons Of Anarchy — Season 7
The final episodes. It won’t make it into my personal “Hall of Fame of Best TV Shows Ever”, but it was entertaining enough so that I stuck around for the whole run (although there were quite a few seasons and many episodes that did test my patience).
Mr. Robot — Season 1
Wow, that was unexpected. Neat setup, characters and storylines. Not without flaws, but I definitely want more!
Empire — Season 1
A strange kind of black “Dynasty/Dallas” revival with a lot of overacting and plotlines that would make daytime soap-operas blush. Will not come back for more.
Silicon Valley — Season 2
According to many articles, an half-hour comedy show that strays not too far from Silicon Valley’s reality (can’t rate that, living in northern europe myself); a fine and funny show. I wonder how good/bad it will age, since most of the fun stuff relies on the current technology and start-up culture.
Hell On Wheels — Season 4
It’s moving, but seemingly without any sense of direction. This train is running out of steam; thankfully the next season will be the last.
The X Files — Season 10
Was a big fan in the 1990s, but lost the appetite after season… six? Maybe seven? Now I have the DVD box-set of the series sitting in my shelf and I want to rewatch it (in english) once more. But after this failed attempt to bring it back, I guess I’ll wait it bit longer to get the bad taste of this season out of my mouth and wholeheartedly forget about it.