Mini-Reviews #28

Edition number 28 is here; the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 (“Corona virus”) pandemic over the last months has lead to less new content (at least major mainstream content: several blockbusters have been postponed; while some others went straight to streaming services…), which gave me the oppurtinity to [re]watch some older stuff and to catch up with some material that wasn’t too high on my list (and now I know, why… *sigh*).

Film

Tenet
So, the latest opus of the great Christoper Nolan — or is it? Not for me, quite the opposite, actually. And although I’ve learned in the meantinme, through The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar, that not everything he touches turns to gold, it was a big letdown.

This film is really a big disappointment in my eyes. Sure, there are analysis to be found online and meta-discussions of the content, and I really like it when I can dig deeper into a world, where additional layers of deeper meaning are revealed…

But before that, the first and only task for a movie is to “entertain” me (I put it in quotes, because something like the great Requiem For A Dream is definitely not “entertaining” in the classic sense of the term, but I hope you get my drift: It should not be boring, the plot and the characters should make sense and be comprehensible, hopefully thought-provoking, and so on…).

Anyways, Tenet is none of that. The inverted/backward time-thingy is a gimmick, that is not explained well (or at all), and I found it actually not that important to the story: A car chase backwards is still just a car chase, at the end of the day. I respect the technical aspect and the work that went into the production of it, but the final outcome just didn’t connect with me.

The story is a weird agent/spy hodgepodge and the characters are all very flat, and/or generic version of a clichee, without life.

I was really hoping for a new masterpiece from him, that would rival Inception; sadly, that is not what I got.

I still respect Nolan for what he’s doing: Big-budget movies, with fresh and new ideas, not just generic run-of-the-mill films, not just franchise sequels or remakes/reboots. But sometimes the end-result is just not there. And while sometimes his rather cold, cool, emotionally distant ways are fitting (or at least tolerable), here it was just another nail in the coffin.
★★☆☆☆ 2/5 stars

The Call of the Wild (2020)
A good sunday afternoon movie. And I know that some people can’t stand the CGI dog, but I actually liked it very much: I’ve seen enough films with trained real animals, and in terms of serving this plot and pacing, it was very good and convincing. Also, for some reason, Harrison Ford seemed to care a bit about his role (a thing you don’t get to see often nowadays).
★★★★ 4/5 stars
Flesh + Blood
A rewatch after a long time, and it’s still a very entertaining, early work by Paul Verhoeven. There are a few issues that strech the logic a bit, but I partially blame it on the budget and runtime, so no big deal.
★★★★ 4/5 stars
Total Recall
Rewatched for the n-th time. Yes, I’m biased and yes, my view on it is blurred by nostalgia (objectively, by today’s standards, there are things to nitpick). But still, one of my all-time favorites.
★★★★★ 5/5 stars
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
I think I catched this one because I heard it being positively mentioned on Kino+. Of course, it was utter boring crap. Sadly, it’s becoming the norm that there is an 80:20 chance that an exotic recommendation by them doesn’t match with my taste; oh well, still watchable — not the movie (not at all); the german review show, I mean! 😉 .
☆☆☆☆ 1/5 stars
Bill & Ted Face The Music
I don’t even remember if I ever saw the previous two movies in the 1980/1990s era, so this is not a case of a rose-tinted view into nostalgia. With that being said: Very bad. Surprisingly low (if any?) budget, considering that it stars Keanu Reeves. And the humor is also not mine (except for a few scenes, many in the trailer). Ignore.
☆☆☆☆ 1/5 stars
Velvet Buzzaw
WTF was that?!
☆☆☆☆ 1/5 stars
Office Christmas Party
If you read the synopsis, or see the cast (the usual suspects) or see the trailer, you know what you’re letting yourself into — and that is exactly what you’re getting, not one penny more.
★★☆☆☆ 2/5 stars
Big Trouble In Little China
A rewatch, I think…? Anyways, another John Carpenter movie, and one for which (as far as I understand) he got much praise. Well, not from me. Nice idea, but again, I couldn’t stand the execution or pacing or anything else really of it.
☆☆☆☆ 1/5 stars
Shazam!
A few funny moments, and the usual ‘superhero origin/teen superhero coming of age’ story that the viewer has seen hundreds of times before. First half is obviously the better one, the second one is even more generic. By itself, I’d give it three stars (just average, not too shabby [for a DC film]), but because it’s soooo generic, its gonna be just two.
★★☆☆☆ 2/5 stars
The Lord of the Rings I: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition)
The Lord of the Rings II: The Two Towers (Extended Edition)
The Lord of the Rings III: The Return of the King (Extended Edition)
I had the Extended Edition DVDs sitting on my shelf, unseen, for a very long time. And (like the books), on a second attempt (mere 15 years later 😮 ), I liked it better than the first time.

Still not the greatest thing since sliced bread, in my eyes, but generally a good trilogy and it aged way better than I expected.
★★★★ 4/5 stars

Léon
Rewatch. And after seeing “Lucy” recently, I wanted to go back when Luc Besson supposedly still made good movies. Well, what can I say: The years have not been too kind on this one: Plotholes everywhere, missed or wasted oppurtunities in the story and this very weird flair in regards to the character played by Natalie Portman, where I’m really not sure what the stance of the director was (well, maybe this ambiguity was the intention; but is that good?).
★★☆☆☆ 2/5 stars
Casino
Also a rewatch after many, many years. Not quite sure, but somehow I expected more. No doubt, a very good movie, but something felt off (I have that with many films from Martin Scorcese).
★★★★ 4/5 stars
The Quick and The Dead
I have seen it before, a long time ago. Underrated little gem with the typical Sam Raimi touch.
★★★★ 4/5 stars
Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation
Part 5 of the series, and also a rewatch for me. The seriens is still going strong, but I have to admit that this one is a (small) step down: I remember that I really didn’t like it much on my first viewing some years ago.

Now, on a second time, I appreciated it more, but somehow it just didn’t quite grab me as well as part 3 or 4 did. Nevertheless, still a good, fun and entertaining maintream action flick.
★★★★ 4/5 stars

The Man with the Iron Fists
Viewed it because it popped up on Netflix and I heard of it before. It was kind of OK; but not really my cup of tea.
★★☆☆☆ 2/5 stars
Holmes & Watson
To be honest, I didn’t fully watch it: After circa 40 minutes, where I was already tuning out more and more, by the minute, I fast-forwarded and endured the last 20 minutes or so, with little focus. It’s just that bad.
☆☆☆☆ 1/5 stars
Class of 1984
I’m sure this was a sensation back then, but nowadays, of course, the viewer is accustomed to much ‘worse’ in terms of actions and dialogues done in a movie. So, if you take that away, you’re left with a pretty bad script. Two stars, the second one is just for the 1980s flair.
★★☆☆☆ 2/5 stars
In the Mouth of Madness
Dimly remembered some parts of it; heard/read recently praise for it on some online review shows, so I watched it again, after a long time, on Netflix. But, like the recently reviewed Prince of Darkness by Carpenter, I don’t think its a good movie, not even mediocre. There a handful interesting ideas, but also a few very weird screenplay decisions that bring it down.
★★☆☆☆ 2/5 stars
Mile 22
Peter Berg is an Hit-or-Miss director, and Mark Wahlberg can be a good fit, at times. But here, both fail miserably: The plot, as simple as it could and should be, is needlessly convoluted, and the editing of the action is also terrible (especially considering that Iko Uwais is starring in this movie; what a waste…).
☆☆☆☆ 1/5 stars
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu
I actually have no connection to the Pokémon phenomen at all, I’m just aware that it exists. But back then, I saw the trailer and found it OK(ish), and I like Ryan Reynolds. And since it now was available on Netflix, why not…

Verdict: Suprisingly un-bad. At the end, I didn’t ask myself why I wasted time with, but I also didn’t pay full attention over the full runtime and I also pretty quickly put in a back corner of my movie memories.
★★★☆☆ 3/5 stars

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Got a lot of hype, also for the animation; and after watching a few short documentaries on how the film was made, I understand and respect that even more. Still, doesn’t change the fact for me that it’s not (as a standalone piece) an outstanding film. OK, not really more. (By the way, I heavily am burning out on comic-superhero franchises, and I am not even watching a lot of it!)
★★★☆☆ 3/5 stars

TV

The Mandalorian — Season 2
Still an entertaining series. Obviously, some episodes are a bit better than others, and the overall story arc is not that deep or extensive.

But this hybrid of procedual/serial format is a nice alternative to the usual strictly-serial shows of recent years. (Which I really dig, but they can be a bit taxing at times to follow).

So, coming from someone who was never that much invested in the Star Wars universe (and despises the prequel- and the sequel trilogy): A solid, above-average show.
★★★☆☆ 3/5 stars

Black Mirror — Season 1 + 2
As it is the case with anthologies: The quality differs. I watched the initial episode years ago, and liked it. But, like my experience after watching and loving season one of “Game of Thrones”, I then somehow got distracted and only continued now with the remaining episodes of these (very short, since british) seasons.

There are a few neat ideas in each plot, but in general I think many episodes are a bit too long, or focus not enough on the right themes — hard to describe, but it is simply lacking something for me.

Four stars for now, because it is ‘new’ and something other than superheros or zombies; let’s wait and see how it develops in the future.
★★★★ 4/5 stars

The Walking Dead — Season 10 (Ep. 1-15)
More of the same. We had worse and we had better seasons. If you, like me, are still viewing this show (albeit with greatly reduced enthusiasm), then stick around. It has become a kind of grim soap opera by now.
★★★☆☆ 3/5 stars