Friday, June 23, 2017

The Host

Sometimes I watch movies and don't review them. I'm unsure why I'm not doing that in this case, because to be perfectly honest I'm not exactly proud that I watched this one. That is to say, it's downright embarrassing, and one of my more shameful movie choices. I knew what I was getting into, yet here we are. Why did I watch it, you ask? Let me paint you a picture:

It was the night after I watched Logan for the first time, and the rest of my family was not ready to watch it again. I was (and for the record still am) freshly enamored with the easy to love and fun to hate snide chatterbox of a villain of Logan, and the actor who played him, Boyd Holbrook. A quick perusal of his IMDb page informed me that I had only seen him in one movie previously, (A Walk Among the Tombstones, where he had a small role I barely noticed) and was in three more movies I immediately knew I had easy access to. And one, as you've probably guessed by now, was The Host, which I had casually plopped into my Netflix cue on the excuse that it was an film, with a vague inclination to watch it if I had nothing better to do and was in the mood to kill some brain cells. It's amazing how fast a vague inclination can turn into a legit interest with the proper incentive. I was like, "hey, let's watch this," and in my defense, no one protested.

And in their defense they liked this guy in Logan as much as I did.

But enough of the disclaimers. Movie review. The Host. I feel like the most accurate review I can make is to give a hearty laugh while waving my hand dismissively, but I'm a writer, so I suppose I should try and put it in words.

Spoilers beyond!

In the movie, Earth has been invaded by parasitic aliens who posses humans and take over their lives. At the very beginning, our heroine Melanie (), a human rebel is caught and possessed by an alien called Wanderer, who, it turns out is nice -- unlike the villain () -- and when Melanie's mind refuses to leave the body to the invader, the two form an unconventional friendship. Wanderer gets to control the body, and Melanie yells things in her head. Wanderer turns to Melanie's side and runs away in search of Melanie's brother () and hunk boyfriend (). She finds them along with her uncle () and other human survivors -- including a good looking dude named , I mean Ian, and his brother Kyle AKA (AKA "oh yeah, that's why I'm watching this") -- who have a cute little community going on in some caves in the desert. Melanie's family assumes that she is dead, but conveniently decides not to kill the alien possessing her. Meanwhile Melanie inconveniently decides that telling them she's still inside is a bad idea, so Wanderer keeps quiet about it, causing some very convenient drama.

You can tell the possessed because the alien parasite makes their eyes glow blue. Also probably worth mentioning; wrote the novel.

If you're thinking this doesn't make any sense, that's because you're right, it doesn't. The aliens are pacifists, trying to make the worlds they conquer peaceful, yet more often than not possession kills the host. (Hey, that's the name of the movie!) They're so "pure" we're told, they are incapable of picking up a gun. The villain is, however, conveniently able to for some magical reason, and shoots and kills people which in the movie's eyes make her infinitely worse than every other alien who kills by kicking souls out of bodies. This issue is brought up by "antagonistic" human characters to create conflict, but is never resolved.

For their part, the humans will go out, kidnap aliens, and forcibly remove the alien soul, which has a 100% fatality rate for both parties. They don't know how to remove the soul properly, but don't know what else to do, so they keep trying. This I suppose could balance the morality of both sides, making them equally wrong, but instead what the humans are doing is presented as barbaric. It never seems to dawn on Wanderer (Wanda for short, who's really the main character) that what her people are doing is at least equally terrible. Anyway the movie uses the conflict for drama when it wants and ignores it when it wants. On to lighter, sillier things.

Ship ship ship ship ship ship ship ship ship ship ship ship...

Love triangles! Yay. Actually it isn't quite. Melanie and Jared are consistently in love, but it's super awkward for him seeing "Melanie" walking around not being Melanie... especially when something starts growing between Wanda and Ian. The more you think about this the weirder it gets, because Wanda is literally just a parasite that is thousands of years old. Ian insists that he fell in love with her mind, but why in the world should their minds be compatible? And she could have fallen in love with anyone, why the guy who is a good physical match for her? Also he tried to kill her, but bygones I guess, or, whatever.

So with Jared being possessive of the girl who looks like and is possessing his girl, and the girl who looks like his girl liking someone else, but being hesitant to do anything about it because the real girl is in her head yelling at her not to, things really do feel like a love triangle; only, one that was created to have a happy ending for all involved. Yes, this scifi plot exists for the sole (soul!) purpose of enabling ideal romantic situations for its characters. It's truly amazing how many situations are contrived to bring about kissing too. I am actually impressed. It was as if that, and not the plot or the characters were the point of the movie or something. Odd, but that couldn't be, right?

Hahahaha... ha... RIGHT??

Now I'm going to talk about Kyle even though he's pretty insignificant to the plot and the entire point of the movie, because, I want to. He's the main human antagonist, which is an unnecessary and therefore small part, but I watched this movie because of him, and danged if he wasn't the best part. At one point he tries to kill Wanda, but plagued by the convenient writing, almost dies himself instead. Wanda saves him (against Melanie's protests) and then even lies about what happened to protect him from punishment. This is a good moment for Wanda, and also for him, and I enjoyed Holbrook's performance in that scene as the bad guy who suddenly finds he has to rethink everything after being given some unexpected and very undeserved grace.

Overall the entire cast isn't bad either, but campy writing can bring a bad performance out of anyone. Saoirse Ronan's Wanda was a good lead, but Melanie is underdeveloped. Being a disembodied voice for the majority of the movie did her no favors. She has decent chemistry with her two co-stars, which was important for what the film wanted to be. Jake Abel's Ian was much more interesting than Max Irons' Jared, who was about as blank as Melanie, even with screen time. Ian and Wanda were fundamentally more interesting because of the way we get to see their relationship develop. It ends with a bit of a cringe though, because while Ronan and Abel had chemistry, Abel and did not -- she being the empty body that Wanda is transferred to in the twist ending, giving Melanie hers back. Browning was only there a couple minutes, but was spectacularly incapable of convincing that she was the most developed character in the film once she took over.

That twist ending should have won an award for Most Obvious Twist Ending Ever.

This review is already way longer than it deserves to be, so I guess I'll wrap up. The movie succeeds in being what it was conceived and designed to be. Oxymoronic connoisseurs of YA romance are perfectly catered to, and as long as they have no perception of what actual good, artistic filmmaking looks like, satisfaction is guaranteed. The small part of me that enjoys teenage romance flicks was mildly amused. The scifi fan in me was both intrigued (by the premise) and irritated (by the lazy and one-note direction it took). And the movie reviewer-me is absolutely appalled at the senseless plotting and cheap scripting used to contrive laughable romance, but still had fun cracking up at all those unintentionally hilarious moments this movie deals out like glowing blue eyes and pointless make-out sessions. In conclusion: It was a terrible movie, and time well spent!

Friday, June 16, 2017



I finally got the Blu-ray and watched Hugh Jackman's last run as The Wolverine, and I am here to confirm that it is indeed an R-rated superhero film. I also believe that it is an ideal R-rated superhero film. Mainly because it doesn't stop at being R-rated, and it doesn't stop at being a superhero film. It understands that those things alone cannot a great film make, and like its hero, it does not stop.

My copy also came with a black and white "noir" version. Looking forward to watching that.

I always find that the best superhero flicks are what you might call "superhero plus." Examples: Guardians of the Galaxy; superheroes plus space opera. Ant-Man; superhero plus heist film. Captain America: The Winter Soldier; superhero, spy film. It's a good way to make your comic book film stand out in this tired and over-saturated market, and the further you veer from "superhero" to "plus" the more naturally original the film appears to be. And now, here's Logan -- a western film, in everything except the almost throwaway fact that Logan is a superhuman mutant.

He's not even invulnerable anymore as the Adamantium that makes up his skeleton is leeching into his body and poisoning him, slowing his healing abilities and sticking him with a bad cough to boot. Now he limps through the film, scarred, weary, and haggard. Almost not even recognizable anymore -- almost. Logan is so different from what we've seen of him before, but truly it's more as if we've never seen him accurately before now, and this bitter, grimacing old man with bloodshot eyes is the true and honest version of Logan -- one the PG-13 movies were forced to hide from us. Even in those toned-down flicks has never taken a misstep playing his iconic character, and with his dedication everything he does as Logan is guaranteed to be optimal; here, even going so much darker and deeper and pushing the boundaries further than ever, it is no different. He is Logan, through and through. Maybe I should feel more impressed as it is an impressive performance, but it is also no surprise.

With the realistic futuristic tech and the fantastic aging makeup, it truly feels like a film from the near future.

I was impressed, however, by Sir 's equally aged and reshaped Charles Xavier. My logical mind knows he is a superbly talented actor perfectly capable of complex performances. The rest of me completely bought that there was a feeble old man with dementia on the screen. With the combination of the performance with the makeup Charles is suddenly so much more than the honestly flat and uninteresting straightforward mentor he used to be. Now he is sad and complicated and a magnificent mixture of harrowing and funny. The all-important make-or-break element of the film was the little girl Laura, played by . With great screen presence she pulls off the part from the beginning, and from there only continues to add to the impressiveness as more about the character is continually revealed. The animalistic intensity of her fighting -- on par with Wolverine's -- is excellent and sells the risky character.

And with how reliable Jackman is, and how necessary the R was, she was probably the film's only risk. Paid off.

The dark horse for favorite character is the villain, Pierce, played by . In such a hard and intense film is nice to have that one character who's determined to enjoy himself, and that's what this guy is. He likes the sound of his voice, and he likes his mechanical hand, and he likes his villainous position, and he's out there to make the most of it all. This might be an apt description of the actor as well -- and I'd say they both succeed. At any rate he's an easy-going, casually antagonistic kind of character that finds a delightful balance between charming and sinister. I found myself looking forward to his appearances and growing happier whenever he survived another scene. When showed up playing his superior, I was afraid he'd be replaced as the main villain and forgotten, but that doesn't happen, though Grant gets his time to shine creepily as well. Also worth a mention is as Caliban. I imagine I'd appreciate the part more if I knew the character previously, but the value of his inclusion was not lost on me.

Just keep on rockin' that neck tattoo, bud! (between starting this review and finishing it, I've seen him in two more movies, but no I'm not obsessed why would you think that.)

With no rating holding back the filmmakers from exploring the deep recesses of these characters and shaping a unique heart out of the mature fodder, the film's themes and emotional focus take on unusual shape. It is, again, much more western than anything else, and the issues at hand follow that theme. Though in our world the story wouldn't make news, the stakes -- personal, fleshed out, and tightly focused on -- seem huge. Bigger and more important even, than the traditional end-of-the-world plots of the X-Men of yore. The destruction is small but the impact is massive. And you don't need an R-rating to get that, but it certainly does seem to come naturally with it. Kudos to the writers and director for knowing what the movie needed to be, and sticking with it to the end.

The easiest way the film could have been distracted was in the action. Instead, it may have been its greatest strength. Firstly they really make up for the seven movies where Wolverine wasn't allowed to stab people in the head. I never knew how much he needed to do that until now. Then they also remember to match the action with film's scale and emotional center. Small destruction; massive impact. Check. Also not forgotten is the film's most basic roots -- superhero film; western film. With those genres it's the action that sells and they deliver on those promises. It's something they needed to do, but it's also obviously something they wanted to do. The action sequences and fighting -- while always connected to the plot in significant ways -- are hugely important elements, and great care and attention was given to them. Each sequence was unique. The choreography was spectacular. And the filming captured it deftly for maximum entertainment.

Visually unique and beautiful, but perhaps more importantly, visually memorable.

That goes for the whole movie in fact; the cinematography added beautiful interest to a story that on paper might give the impression of being boring. But with the characters there's always something to think about, with the cinematography there's always something to look at, and with the action there's always something to be wowed by. I have one grievance and that was the brief nudity -- in a movie that was otherwise refreshingly R out of necessity, it was irritatingly unnecessary. Otherwise the filmmakers stayed on target to keep the movie focused on what was important, and the result is a structured and concise work of art, moody, gritty, and full of heart -- with a massive impact. Logan and Hugh finally get the movie they deserve. Our happy fate is that we get to watch it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wonder Woman

Spoilers are marked.

Diana, () the only child on a hidden island Themyscira, grows up in a cheerful and innocent state of warmongering. Her mother the Queen () tries to keep her a safe distance away from fighting, but, driven by awed love for her kin's history (in which they helped Zeus defeat the evil god of war, Ares when he tried to corrupt mankind) Diana wishes to be a warrior. Prophesy says that Ares lives, will return, and can only be defeated by a weapon that Zeus made as he died. Diana wishes to wield that sword, and her aunt () trains her until she can. Then a stray pilot crashes in the ocean. A man. () (Cue a cheesy yet endearing grin!) He tells the Amazons of a terrible war to end all wars, and Diana knows this must be the return of Ares, so she takes the sword and goes off to save the world!

Charging a German trench. Why? In the words of my brother: "She can't not."

The best thing about this movie, time and time again, is Diana. Her heart is as pure as a baby lamb frolicking in untouched snow, and she's as innocent and naive as you'd expect of a girl who's lived a couple thousand years on a mystical island inhabited only by women. Yet she has confidence in her strength and in herself, and no petty need to advertise. My personal favorite characteristic though, is her joy. Even when she's not explicitly happy, she constantly exudes a joy for life; she relishes beauty and goodness, and you can see her eagerly soak in her surroundings, wide-eyed. She is also passionate and noble, and Gal Gadot gives her such life with a charismatic and confident performance. If more women could lead these kinds of movies with such unaffected grace, people wouldn't need to try and force it to happen.

I'm not one eager to go gaga over Chris Pine, so I was pleased to find that his Steve Trevor is a character who earns his worth. He, like Diana, is noble and passionate, but having lived through four years of the Great War, these traits have been repressed and replaced with hardened logic. He does what he can, and ignores what he cannot. He doesn't understand Diana or what she is capable of, thinking that her naivete could put her in more danger than she can handle. He tries to protect her and guide her through the unforgiving world, and as a result is continuously surprised by her unwillingness to see evil and do nothing about it, and her ability to do what he would never dream to be possible. Pine puts a damper on the swagger for the character (in comparison with Star Trek) and the result is an increase of heroic charm.

My favorite small moment was here, where she admires herself in the mirror without a hint of vanity.

Pine and Steve both are great supports for the film and its heroine. As a duo, Steve provides some great fodder for Diana's fish-out-of-water moments -- an element that can be hit or miss, and here was hit after hit, endearing her to us over and over. Their chemistry wasn't top-notch, but "good enough for a superhero flick" was all that was really required. In the end Steve's character is there to enhance Diana's, and that was done with aplomb. Conversely, none of the three rag-tags who follow them (, , and ) made much of an impression. I was simultaneously surprised at how little effort was put into them, and confused as to why they felt the need to put any effort towards them at all. They helped to move the plot, but their characters were mostly distractions, only.

Doctor Poison herself () also proved to be all but useless as a character, which was disappointing after she seemed well set up to be a formidable villain. In fact, speaking of the villain... (Spoilers!) Once 's Ludendorff is revealed to not be the main villain his being so underwhelming makes sense. Ares is really , and while he does a fantastic job making himself memorable after his reveal lets him loose to be villainous, it is unfortunate that he didn't get more time due to his identity being kept secret. It was a good twist for the movie, but let the character down a bit. That epic bit where he gets his armor does its best to make up for it, and if it doesn't completely, it was close enough, because woah. (End Spoilers) On the island, both Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright give great performances on some hardcore characters. And last but not at all least, as Etta, Steve's secretary makes herself a worthy addition by being charming and funny.

She's got super strength, but also has featured qualities common and befitting to femininity. Like compassion, for which she has no chill.

Obviously characters were what made the biggest overall impression on me here. Though the only truly outstanding one was Diana herself, I still appreciate that director set out to make this action blockbuster an equal-part character piece besides. Diana makes up about 50% of the movie's worth; everything else (Steve, the action, the style, visuals in general, themes, and writing (the value of a good one liner should never be overlooked) makes up about 40%, and there's 10% or less of want. So, action wise: There is no shortage of stylish action where the enjoyment hits levels of sheer glee that we haven't seen come out of DC since Nolan. It's great stuff, enhanced even further by how much fun Gadot is having performing it.

It does have two shortcomings however. The first is overuse of slow motion -- and this is coming from a movie where slow-mo is considerably more appropriate than average -- there's a lot of it. Often it works, but one or two fights could have used some restraint. The other is that the action is sometimes cut... safely. Probably to avoid awkwardness in the movement. It can be jarring and disjointed feeling. Both these problems can probably be traced back to a lacking in fight choreography; individual stunts are fantastic, but are sometimes strung together with awkward flow. Visually the film is nothing short of stunning, and when action sequences make use of visual appeal they are at their best. And with the insipid dullness of the recent past, I feel it's appropriate to praise this movie's bold use of vibrant color. From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate it.

Honestly I wish she'd served in the war longer. There could have been twice as much of the historical side of the war. And of her running into the fray bECAUSE INJUSTICE IS BEING DONE AND SHE MUST STOP IT. I love that about her so much.

Wonder Woman hardly feels like a DC film at all, only reminding us via short bookends. After all the murky sludge that has come from Snyder of late, a film that sets out to entertain and dazzle and have fun seems incredibly original and endlessly welcome. It's more like a Marvel, in fact, with obvious similarities with Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger present in the plot, but not so much as to make the film feel redundant -- not even close. This film even exceeds Marvel's later efforts with its gleeful and unashamed joy. It seems thrilled to simply exist, and its greatness is a natural consequence of that joy and devotion. It doesn't conspire to prod or manipulate its audience, but to share its story with us, and let us share in the wonder; and maybe inspire or move us with some words of wisdom. In other words, Wonder Woman is everything she needed to be.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Upcoming Movie Roundup - June

In May the only movie I went to see was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. And while I enjoyed the mess out of it in the moment, it hasn't made much of a lasting impression. Check out my review of it here! I still want to see the other releases I mentioned eventually, and may go see Pirates after a while, but right now is my busy time of the year, and theater trips must take a backseat for a bit.

This month looks to have two must-sees to get to over summer, plus quite a few that will be staying on my radar as they pass through! What are you most looking forward to seeing in the month of June?

Wonder Woman
Jun 2nd; PG-13
Well -- no matter what happens with the film, we know they can make a super epic trailer out of it! It looks a bit like Thor and a bit like Captain America: The First Avenger, but it's got a female lead and comes from DC. Wonder Woman was one of the best parts of Batman v Superman, so from my perspective her film has the potential to be the best film from DC since The Dark Knight. It appears to have a coherent and interesting plot which is promising, and the flood of overwhelmingly positive responses so far is creating some huge waves. I'll certainly be seeing this one in theaters, though probably not for a little while due to extreme busyness. At this point it doesn't seem to be too much to hope that all the hype it's built up for itself will be lived up to!

Jun 2nd (limited); PG-13
Ah, the classic indie film, with the kinda goofy-looking, low key depressed and cynical lead, who wanders through a mildly aimless but pleasant jaunt of a plot, falls in love (maybe) and feels a little better by then end (maybe). Yeah. I may sound a bit cynical myself about this, but honestly this is the kind of flick I'd spend all day on lazy Saturdays watching if only I had access to more of them. So put me on the waiting list for this one too. Bonus: Kevin Kline!

The Mummy
Jun 9th; PG-13
The beginning of a new universe franchise of connected monster films including Jekyll and Hyde and Frankenstein and such -- they're calling it Dark Universe! But they're a bit behind. This flick seems to be more of a remake of the Brendan Frasier version then the 1932 original, but whatever. No matter it's to-be connections or general quality, one thing is almost certain: that it will be entertaining. That is Tom Cruise's specialty. I also enjoyed Sofia Boutella a whole lot in Star Trek Beyond so I'm looking forward to her playing a potentially over-the-top villain like this! As for quality, we'll have to wait and see.

The Book of Henry
Jun 16th(limited); PG-13
This movie has been making some waves coming up -- maybe mostly because it's directed by Colin Trevorrow who has a small but good track record and is set to direct Star Wars Episode 9. It also has both Jacob Tremblay and Jaeden Leiberher, two of the biggest child actors right now, and Naomi Watts who always puts everything into her performances. The plot is unexpected and unusually serious for a film with a child lead, and the trailer, as ominous as it is, also has some extra ominous undertones that are making me wonder if there's gonna be a happy ending here. If I see it it'll surely stress me out, but right now it looks like it would be worth it. The movie also promises Lee Pace, but unless I missed him, he doesn't appear in the trailer.

Jun 16th(limited); PG-13
A performance-driven indie. This one's about the Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis, played by Sally Hawkins, and her husband, Ethan Hawke. Since it's based on a true story, I'd imagine they play up the drama a bit to make it more interesting, but it does look like a sweet tale, and I like the two actors, so if ever I get the chance I'll probably give it a watch.

Kill Switch
Jun 16th(limited); R
Okay... a scifi film starring Dan Stevens. Yes, take my money! But wait -- what's this? A catch? Turns out most of the movie is in POV so we won't get to see his face, doing all that acting stuff? Why? We already had to deal with this issue in Beauty and the Beast. Can someone make an awesome scifi movie with Dan Stevens and actually put Dan Stevens in it please? Besides him the movie doesn't look too great, but because it's a scifi, and because Stevens is in it (however little) I'll probably still watch it at my earliest convenience. I expect I'll be disappointed though.

Transformers: The Last Knight
Jun 21st; PG-13
Ugh. The over-stimulation is for real. I could barely even stand the trailer. It is nice to see Josh Duhamel back though, but that's about it. If you enjoy these movies chances are this one will be no different, but for me it's looking even bigger than the last one, which means it'll be even better for making fun of it whenever we can get it for free! Enjoy it how you can, right?

Baby Driver
Jun 28th: NR
Haha, I was about to say this might be my most anticipated movie of the month! No "might" about it friends -- if this isn't the highlight of my movie-June, there isn't gonna be a highlight (okay fine, Wonder Woman could easily be a highlight, but you get my point). Edgar Wright directs this one which is all I really need to know, but it will also feature a boatload of music (makes sense with Wright) and all long cast list of Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, and Jamie Foxx. The trailer makes the film look super stylish and tightly edited (Wright, again). Seriously, there is no bigger draw than the director, and the premise out of which you know he can make one killer film! (With one killer track!)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Confessions of a Film Lover! -- Tag

This tag converts movie quotes into movie questions, and yes, did require some confessing on my part.

1. "Yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man." - The Big Lebowski 
Your most unpopular film opinion:
That Captain America: Civil War was halfway a terrible movie. I've seen it three times now, and can enjoy it well enough to continue watching it whenever the situation calls for a huge superhero blockbuster, but that's only in spite of the issues I have with it. Seeing it in the theaters it felt like being pelted with backhanded insults for two and a half hours, (read: IT WAS NOT FUN) and as the credits rolled I sat with my head in my hands confused as to whether I wanted to start yelling expletives at the screen or just cry. Yet I wasn't at all surprised when everyone else in the group I saw the movie with (save for my youngest brother who's even more of a film cynic than me, and generally doesn't like MCU movies) absolutely loved it.


The problems I had with it were enhanced by the other half of the movie being exceptionally well-done what with all those spectacular fight scenes and a bunch of lovable characters, and basically boils down to this: The plot was painfully contrived, and it forces characters to do things out of their established character; and to cover it up, the film attempts to emotionally manipulate the audience. Feeling like my emotions are being purposefully manipulated while watching a film is probably my biggest movie pet peeve, which is probably why I dislike this movie so much more than most. Check out my review of Civil War here for a more in-depth explanation of my opinions!

2. "The limit does not exist!" - Mean Girls 
A Guilty Pleasure film you can watch over and over again:
I thought about this, expecting it'd end up being some girly flick similar to Mean Girls, like maybe Clueless, which I love; but I realized that all the girly rom-coms I love I don't feel guilty over. The movie I rewatch the most and feel movie-guilt for enjoying is actually Peter Jackson's King Kong. You may say it's a great film and I shouldn't feel guilty over it (or the opposite!) but that's not the point. The 2005 King Kong is my biggest guilty pleasure film -- possibly just because the rest of my family hates it, but there you go. In many ways I think the movie is genuinely an excellent film. The technology used for Kong, the cast, the scenes before the island... it's main problem is the dinosaur chase sequence which did not hold up animation-wise, and it does have that sappy, overly-dramatic tone going on at the end too. That's what King Kong is though, and I really enjoy it. I don't even mind the runtime!

3. "Are you not entertained?!" - Gladiator
A film that is universally loved that you found boring:
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I'm not sure if this movie counts fully as universally loved, but when I first saw it and found it boring it certainly did seem that way. My brothers and I were all quite bored watching this, and even had a hard time making fun of it's overly serious and depressing tone. Since then I re-watched it alone and was able to appreciate the motion-capture performances of the apes -- mainly Koba, Toby Kebbell, who I was just starting to pay attention to at the time. Recognizing the actors behind the apes was interesting in it's own way, but I still maintain that the movie and its plot is overall very boring, building glacially up to a war that we'd have to wait 3 years to see. (Read my review for more ranting on the subject!)

And even then Koba's dead so who cares?

4. "Sorry! My Prada's at the cleaners! Along with my hoodie and my 'f*** you' flip-flops, you pretentious douchebag!" - The Social Network
The most pretentious film you've ever seen:
Oh that's easy: Gravity. As a lover of scifi, I am, of course, perfectly capable of suspending disbelief for the sake of enjoying movies that don't completely respect the laws of this world. Like physics. How. Ever: Gravity gets no such pass, because it was marketed and presented and acclaimed as the most realistic space-set scifi film ever made. And yes, it looks pretty darned realistic -- until their blatantly ignoring the laws of physics and general reality gets in the way! All done, I might add, to propel a plot that otherwise couldn't have made it an inch off the ground. It's pretty, yes, but if you're gonna be that smug over the greatness of your film, maybe make it actually as great as you claim.

For your viewing pleasure: CinemaSins! My biggest issue with this one is mentioned at 2:48, but honestly I agree with them all.

My second biggest issue isn't mentioned in the CinemaSins though. It's actually the scene where Stone is in the ship crying, and the tears drip off her face and float slowly towards the camera. Back to emotional manipulation again, because in reality tears in zero-g will just accumulate on your eye in a bubble, as demonstrated in this neat video:

This fact that the movie did what it did instead of adhering to the laws of reality is evidence that its true motivation was not to be realistic, but simply to market a trite and contrived story under the guise of being groundbreaking in film realism. Read my review of Gravity here for more unrelenting bashing.

5. "Draw me like one of your French girls." - Titanic
A film that describes your aesthetic:
Disclaimer: I have no idea what "aesthetic" is. I know the proper definition, and I've certainly seen it used as a kind of exaggerated meme, but I don't know what "my aesthetic" is, or how a movie could describe it. So I'm just going with a movie that has a tone and visual makeup that appeals to me. (Which is probably exactly what I was supposed to do!) And that movie is Mud. I won't even attempt to describe the aesthetic except to say the director Jeff Nichols said that he wanted the film to flow like the Mississippi River (an important backdrop in the film) -- and it did. You can read my review of the film here (which I wrote before I fully understood the complete reasons why I loved it) and I'll leave you with a compilation of its cinematography:

6. "That's a bingo!" - Inglourious Basterds
A director who has never let you down:
Jeff Nichols. It's a high standard to live up to, and the more film's you've made the more likely it is that you disappointed in some way. I immediately thought of him, but then thought there had to be some other director who's done more than five movies who never let me down, but no. I still haven't seen his fifth film, Loving, but even with four he still wins. Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, Mud, and Midnight Special are not only films that have merely not let me down, they in fact all blew me away in one way or another, and are all among my favorite films. Click the links to read my reviews of each of them!

The posters look so good together too.

7. "Don't believe his lies." - Memento
A film you were told was bad but you loved:
This one I'm giving a tie because both the movies have the same set of circumstances. The Brothers Bloom, and The Darjeeling Limited; both considered by the general movie-going audience to be the worst movies of their respective directors, Rian Johnson, and Wes Anderson, but are actually my favorites from them. (Though I haven't seen all of Andersons films.) The Brother's Bloom (review) has a few plot holes, but is of a fun and underused genre, is very funny and incredibly charming, has a great cast playing great characters, and (to me at least) is decidedly heartfelt.

(I know neither of these movies are commonly considered bad. This is the best I could do.)
(I just realized both these films star Adrien Brody. I wonder if that has anything to do with anything... ....

For The Darjeeling Limited the biggest criticism I hear is that it has no plot or makes no sense, but that is the appeal of Wes Anderson in the first place for me, and for some reason this one's particular brand of ambiguity resonates rather deeply with me. It does have seemingly pointless moments but also some meaningful ones too, and I like it all. I love watching the relationship of the brothers (oh hey -- both these movies focus on brothers too!) and their journey to find something that maybe they do find, but can't quite put their finger on what it is. For me, it works. Plus I love the music, and it's often hilarious. 

8. "It's only forever, not long at all." - Labyrinth
If you could only watch one film for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I'm gonna go with The Lord of the Rings trilogy on this one because I can get away with it counting as one film. Extended editions too, of course. Obviously if I could only watch one movie the rest of my life I'd want it to be a long one so it'll grow old more slowly, but really, if I could only watch one movie for the rest of my life I would spend a whole lot more time reading. In which case, I might pick The Way Way Back (review) because there's no book version of that.

But no -- let's not get complicated -- Middle Earth wins.

9. "Were you rushing or were you dragging?” - Whiplash
A long film you thought was perfectly paced:
To be honest I like long movies, and as long as I find the plot or the characters interesting I'm hard to bore. So how about this: It's technically a mini-series, not a film, but the 1995 Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. It's five hours long, and so well structured that I cannot leave the room for even two seconds without pausing it to prevent my missing anything good. Read my enamored review here!

"You can never get a film long enough, or a bowl of popcorn large enough to suit me." -- Me, plagiarizing C.S. Lewis a bit.

10. "As you wish." - The Princess Bride
Your film dream team. (Directors, writers, genre, actors, music, whatever.)
Right now, after a bit of daydreaming, I would like to see Damien Chazelle write and direct a scifi noir film. I love the genre mashup of noir and scifi, and I think he absolutely had the ability to capture the right tone. His movies have a palpable energy to them and I'd love to see how that marries with subtle and dark tones like that of Blade Runner, Dark City, or Gattaca. The music could be jazzy since he likes that.

And because I've been noticing and enjoying these two a bunch lately, it should star Toby Kebbell and Vanessa Kirby. Neither of them get many leading roles -- that is to say, almost none -- but I absolutely think they have the talent for it, especially if the characters are not your typical leading types but more character-types. I bet Kirby could pull off the mysterious woman/possibly femme fatale excellently, and I know for a fact that Kebbell can do that hard-boiled-but-surprisingly-soft-on-the-inside type.

Since it's a Chazelle film it should have J.K. Simmons in an important supporting role too. Something for him to have fun with, or surprise with. It could be set in space, or the distant future, or just an alternate reality altogether; and I'd probably prefer if it focused mostly on character and intrigue, but had some good action in it too. With all those elements in place there would be no way the movie could disappoint me.

Now I'm depressed because it won't never exist!


I got this tag from Kyle Gaunt -- check out his YouTube channel here, and follow him on Twitter @kg_moviereviews! And if the tag seems fun to you, don't hesitate to participate! I suppose you can actually tag people if you want, but it's more of a loosely-structured thread. I hope you enjoyed reading my answers and weren't offended by my opinions which are definitely the only right opinions to have! Just kidding -- leave me a comment and tell me where I'm wrong! Or if you agree. Or just your thoughts in general. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


Well , you've done it again. It's been three years for us, but for the Guardians it's only been about a month. They're using their status as "Galaxy Savers" to get odd jobs of general protecting/guarding around the universe, and when Rocket () takes advantage of their proximity to valuable objects, they get in trouble with an uber-race of pretentious gold people (led by ). A mysterious man appears to help them out of this situation, and then reveals himself, telling Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord (AKA the one and only ) that he is his father, Ego ().

But -- did he look like Kurt Russell to Peter? Or does Kurt Russell not exist in this universe? Or does Kurt Russell not look like Kurt Russell? Asking the deep questions here.

This is of course huge news for Peter, and becomes the center for the movie's plot and heart. That the movie has this center is important to the film's quality as from it is born every exceptional aspect the film provides. Ego himself is the best character here, in that his character arc is the most natural, yet also the most intricate, and is most closely tied to the center of the film. Kurt Russell does his part brilliantly and with the ease of a practiced veteran, sometimes making less confident performances from his cast-mates more noticeable by comparison; sometimes elevating performances along with his own. Chris Pratt gets both sides of this.

I love Pratt, and I love Star-Lord, and I love the premise of the journey he goes on with this adventure, but none of it played out as well as it should have. He has that suggestive flirting scene because that's the Peter we knew, but it doesn't make sense anymore once we're told that he's going after one girl now -- Gamora () -- now it's out of character for him to flirt with other women like that. His father provides a ton of fodder for character drama, with multiple stages of their relationship for varying emotions to expound on. Only one stage had time spent on it; the rest were breezed over in one swoop. To utilize them would have meant a re-haul of the film's events and pacing, but it would have been to the benefit of Peter's character. As the film is, Peter at best only gets equal benefit as every other character.

It all needs to come down to this guy. Or else, what is the point?

Every returning character is developed equally and in distinct pairs. Gamora and Nebula () dig deeper into their relationship of sisterly hate. Drax () is paired with newcomer Mantis () for some wonderfully effective scenes of meaningful comedy. Mantis benefits greatly from being new; her unique character is established, and calls for nothing more. And Rocket and Yondu () bounce off each other to push along their edgy characters. Baby Groot () is never too far from Rocket, but is developed by himself, and also Kraglin () who gets bumped up the character ladder. By themselves, these pockets of characters are perfectly sufficiently compelling; when put into the film and viewed as a whole, they feel like more of a distraction. The thread used to tie them all to the film's center is too thin and too long, so though everything is technically connected, they might as well have not been, for the significance they add to the heart of the core.

I understand the idea. Fans love all these characters, as I'm sure James Gunn does, and the desire to focus on all of them was just too great. Sadly, that decision, made with the best of intentions, was the film's downfall (such as it is), because with the focus so widely spread, no one gets the attention they deserve. The original Guardians focused solely on Peter, and through him the others were also developed. That was impossible to do this time with the plot as it was, so perhaps it was as good as it could have possibly been -- it still pales in comparison with the groundbreaking first.

It's a conundrum with no easy fix.

So while the film had a heart in place as a source for grounding the emotional journeys and creating a common theme, the film's focus was too widespread to properly utilize it -- thus the film felt disconnected. The problem traces back to not showing the story through the sole eyes of Peter -- that is the root of any problems this films has. That being said, I enjoyed this movie like nobody's business. After it was over I had to come to terms with its domino-effected shortcoming, but in the moment I was all in, %100, let go, tickled to the core. The visuals (perhaps over-the-top at times) thrilled me; the jokes and gags landed (though they were generally of a slightly lesser quality there were more of them); the twists and plot developments involved me (they were, in fact, unexpectedly well done, and grounded in the film's darker core) and the music compelled me to be open to every bit of character-love I could glean. That was all I asked for and more; I was satisfied.

Who knows if a second viewing will be so carefree and eagerly open, (it's one thing to ignore and push aside issues; it's another to deny their existence) but no matter what I'm glad for the one I had. If nothing else I want to give a hearty "thank you" to James Gunn for the scene where Peter is asking the other Guardians for tape. That is half of the embodiment of why I love The Guardians of the Galaxy in the first place. The other half is the unexpectedly deep heart hidden under that kind of fun and humor -- here, it wasn't embodied in one thing, but wasn't completely absent either, you only have to scrounge around for it.

"I can still hear you sayin', you would never break the chain..."

Too much of a carbon copy of the original where it didn't matter, not enough of a spiritual copy where it did, Vol. 2 is a traditional Marvel sequel; more of the same on steroids. It both creates problems and brings back the sources of our original adoration. Its success is drawn out of that of the original's, and with the doozy of an original this one had going for it, it's no surprise it features such a cosmically high concentration of fun -- if only all that fun substance could have been applied to a more concise and well constructed framework, to better enhance the fun and the thrill the characters and the heart alike. Two-time Galaxy-savers? Absolutely -- but repeating the past can only get you so far.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Upcoming Movie Roundup - May

In April I was right about there not being any must-see new releases for me, though I am still interested in most of them for a someday/rental view. I did get to the theater twice, though, to see some repeats -- Kong: Skull Island, and La La Land -- and both were every bit as good the second time!

May has my most highly anticipated movie of the year (!!!!) plus a couple big releases that I'll certainly see eventually whether or not I go out of my way for them. The blockbuster season is beginning!

How does the month look for you? Anything you're particularly excited for? Let me know in the comments!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
May 5th; PG-13
Do I even need to say anything? This has probably been my most anticipated movie ever since the day I saw the first Guardians of the Galaxy. I have a great amount of confidence in James Gunn, and his ability to write and direct something that is not only entertaining, but also unique, moving, and set perfectly to classic music. Then Chris Pratt is still the greatest thing since sliced cheese, and all this movie needs to win me is him and the other guardians, a handful of good jokes, some splashy visuals, and some groovy tunes, and all those things are already guaranteed. At this point, it's only a question of how good it's gonna be. Saving the galaxy again? You know it!

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
May12th; PG-13
What's going on here? King Arthur getting the superhero treatment? Excalibur appears to have actual magical powers. Also, filmmakers continue to try and steal from the Lord of the Rings. So here's the thing: Guy Ritchie undoubtedly makes visually unique movies, which gives this one a good bit of appeal, and the plot doesn't look like the worst thing (although I'd bet it falls apart in the end a bit). I like Jude Law, but (as I mentioned last month) don't care for Charlie Hunnam. And it really looks like this trailer is desperate for attention. It certainly looks like the better side of casual popcorn-y action flicks, but probably won't be able to compete with the next Pirates film let alone the Marvel one. There's a little curiosity, but not much hope.

Alien: Covenant
May 19th; R
I recently watched Alien and Aliens for the first time, and then Prometheus, so now this film almost seems like required viewing -- so of course it has to push that R-rating further than I want to follow. Prometheus's disappointment was in not being so much of an Alien movie, but was otherwise very effective, so since this one truly features the aliens, it looks like an ideal blend. Visually modern, but referring back to the originals. I won't be seeing it in theaters, but now that I'm in the franchise... I don't think there's any escaping.

Everything, Everything
May 19th; PG-13
This month in sappy kiddie romances.... This one's based on a YA novel that I came across in a store and was surprised at how short and large-printed it was. More like a tween novel. But you gotta adapt those teen novels, so here it is. It's got Rue from The Hunger Games all grown up, Nick Robinson, and the lady from Nacho Libre, and looks just about as sappy and fluffy as they come. I looked up spoilers out of curiosity and it cemented those thoughts even more. Probably fans of the book are looking forward to it, and fans of the genre will watch it, but if it makes any kind of splash I'll be super surprised.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
May 26th; PG-13
So here's how I'm reasoning right now: there's no way this franchise could get any worse, so maybe this one is actually good? No way to go but up sort of deal? Well... "good" is maybe pushing it, but it certainly does look better than the last one, and the one before that, so maybe a Dead Man's Chest level of good? I'd be up for that. Sides of appeal: a young Jack Sparrow, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, and Kaya Scodelario. Plus the animation doesn't look as messy as it has before. The trailer says "final adventure." Does that mean this is the end?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Barely Lethal

Fan of teen comedies from the 90's and early 2000's? Wish you could go back and watch your favorites all over again for the first time? Well, you're in luck! Does have the movie for you!

This one also has guns!

Hailee is Agent 83; an orphan who was raised her whole life by a league of assassins for girls, run by . 83 is the best of the best, but one lesson never stuck: that she shouldn't form attachments. She discovers movies -- teen rom-coms to be exact -- and falls in love with the idea of living that normal high school life. So when the opportunity rises, she fakes her death and becomes Megan, a Canadian exchange student, finds herself an all-American family, and an all-American high school. One problem: her idea of a "normal high school life?" Not even close to reality.

The really funny part is that this movie's version of reality, which has none of the cliches she imagined she'd experience, has all the cliches from the movies where she got all her wrong ideas! It's quite the fun circle of cliches. I think almost everything that happens in this flick is borrowing from some classic (or at least popular) teen flick. Clueless is blatantly (and also subtly) copied. Mean Girls has its moments; Pretty in Pink; the 10 Things I Hate About You one is pretty obvious. Also I want to say, Paper Towns? Although did the cliche of two drunk people suddenly understanding each other whilst hanging out in a bathtub at a party originate there? Anyway, this movie handled the scene way better than the film version of Paper Towns, so... that might be awkward.

It's an eternal circle of cliches, where you can have your fun and laugh at it too!

Besides Hailee and Mr. Jackson, we have the villainess, , and 83's co-worker (rival assassin) is . Megan's all-American family includes the typical loner girl who just needs a good friend -- . At the school there's the hot guy who's in a band (), the foul-mouthed dude bro (), the mean girl (), and even the teacher who tries too hard to be cool (). But most importantly there's the unassuming guy who has a heart of gold -- . Once the film introduced all the characters, I hoped out loud that the movie would be as predictable as I was thinking it'd be, and I'm happy to report that it was.

You might think that a movie that relies completely of the cliches of other films would be trite and irritating, but honestly its connection to those films is where it shines; freshened up by the extra layer of pointing out the cliches, then twisting and having fun with them. There's an original side with the assassin aspect, but the film stumbles most noticeably when it focuses on that. It's a neat idea and understandably you'd want to put time into it; it was just too separated from the rest of the fun. The writing all-around is much smarter than your average teen comedy, and truly funny in plenty of places. They use puns. And I appreciated them! It works because attention is given to character, then characters make jokes that fit them but aren't necessarily funny on their own -- making them funny with personality and circumstances.

*Holding a stalk of corn* "I think you're a-MAIZE-ing." "That's pretty corny..."

The brunt of the film's weight falls on Steinfeld, and it shows. Megan is a classic teen heroine and certainly entertaining, but is also on screen all the time, and for some reason doesn't bring the comedy like some of her cast-mates can. She brings it more naturally on the realistic, straight-forward drama side; in the "awkwardly funny" and some of the fish-out-of-water bits, she's more awkward than I think she was meant to. Thomas Mann is ideal for his part (as he commonly seems to be) with his goofy charm and natural sincerity. He was one of few who had scenes without Steinfeld, and he could've had more. Dove Cameron started out boringly and ending up great, which was fitting, and Gabriel Basso continues to impress with his diverse role choices and consistent charm. Sophie Turner is also a fun character.

Cute homecoming pic gets a bit awkward when both your boyfriends are there...

So you can't exactly say its original, and it's not like teen rom-coms are typically a high standard for movie excellence... or even romance excellence... or comedic excellence... or much of any kind of excellence, really. The mere fact that Barely Lethal makes itself memorable by being funny, having characters that are a smidge more interesting that you'd expect, and half-way riding the coattails of other flicks that have risen above expectations is more than enough to earn a recommendation, a passing grade, and a license to kill -- but just barely on that last one.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Me Before You

Major Spoilers!

Before I begin, I want to make two things very clear. 1: I did not pay to watch this movie. I would never do that. And 2: My motivation for watching it was so that I could confirm its status as a miserable, wilting pile of BS. Well -- BS confirmed.

Thanks JoJo moyes for inspiring me to write something better -- like this sentance. It has spelling and grammatical errors, but I'm not going to fix it to make a point about the height of the bar you set.

I knew it was, because I read the book (I was super, naively, embarrassingly unwitting to what it was), and since the movie is exactly like the book, I now have a nice opportunity to go on a ranting rampage and get a few things off my chest. So in case you're ignorant to this story, here it is in a nutshell. Girl () is hired by rich parents ( and ) to be a sort of care-giving companion to their previously wild playboy son () who was hit by a motorbike and now is a quadriplegic (basically he can move his head, and his fingers enough to drive his wheelchair). Girl and boy develop friendship, improve each other's lives, fall in love. Boy commits assisted suicide with the support of girl and parents. Isn't that so sweet? You're probably bawling already from the tragic romantic beauty of it all.

So the movie spends most of its time and more than most of its effort in trying to justify the suicide (still never sticking to one argument long enough to see it through, but more on that later) but in the beginning, before Clark learns of Will's intentions, there are a few events to keep one entertained. The growing friendship and the mutually improved lives were by comparison, well done, and bolstered by the movie's visual aspect which featured a lot of good-looking people wearing pretty clothes and surrounded by pretty, well filtered locations.

That's in the center. And is Clark's sister -- a pointless role outside of the book.

But the movie is torn between improving Will's life and making it tragic so that the end "works." He gets to spend all day being waited on, watching movies, listening to music, and rolling through beautiful English countryside, and his loving parents are rich and doting -- but no, his life is miserable. Examples? Well, he used to be a daredevil, and has explored places and done things that most would only dream of. Sounds like he was lucky to be able to do those things before the accident. He also had a girlfriend () who is now engaged to his old best friend and it's super awkward. But he attends their wedding and she makes a point of thanking him for coming. She also implies to Clark that the reason they broke up was because he pushed her away. I dunno y'all; it's an unfortunate situation, but she sounds like a decent girl.

On the flip side, Clark has her own boyfriend (), a fitness-obsessed, bit-of-a-doofus kind of guy you know is gonna be gone by then end. But again, there's really nothing wrong with him. He's just ignorant to Clark's wishes, like, he plans a holiday that he wants to do, which she pretends to be excited about! And then we're supposed to hate him for not understanding her? She won't tell him what she thinks about anything, so of course he thinks everything is fine. Then he starts getting jealous of Will, which, considering the romance that blooms later is totally justified. They finally break up and I feel more relieved for him, poor fellow.

At the wedding, Clark sits on Will's lap and they "dance" to shock the snobby crowd, but we are never given any reason to think they are snobby except that they're rich. And Will's rich too. And Clark...

Clark all by herself is just as confusing, and is also, I think, the movie's one casting flaw. Everyone else has pathetic or underused characters but is still a bunch of talented, well put-together and probably highly paid actors who got to phone in decent performances. Emilia Clarke acts by wiggling around her very flexible eyebrows, and misses the mark on a pretty cliched lead character. Bubbly, optimistic, fashion-brave, care-free Clark comes across as a self-righteous snob who will insult employees for doing their job. She plays everything like a comedy bit, and couldn't capture any semblance of genuineness. Oddly, most off was her singing. She sings like a mouse. Bad singers who don't care just let it out -- especially with a silly song like that.

On to the main event. So Clark discovers that Will has made an agreement with his parents to stick around for six months and then they'll let him kill himself. Will's mom still hopes he'll change his mind and she and Clark plan adventures and trips to try and make him see that life isn't so bad, the final trip being a vacation to some expensive resort on a tropical island. On these trips Will pushes Clark out of her comfort zone in ways she never could have dreamed, let alone had access to without him. On their last night in the tropics, he tells her that he was never happier than in those past six months, and then he casually invites her to come to the suicide resort with him.

And then they have a nice giggle about it and smile way too much to mask the fact that this movie is sick and disturbing.

First of all, WHAT?? If he doesn't want to die because he's unhappy then why does he want to die? Clark and others offer feeble arguments to all his reasoning, but none of the arguments are seen all the way through, because their natural conclusion is that he shouldn't kill himself. DUH. Unhappy? No, admittedly he is happy now. Quality of life? Granted, it's not at the extreme heights it was before, but he's still wealthy and surrounded by people who love him. Killing yourself because you can't skydive or windsurf anymore sounds more than a little petty and selfish. Very few fully able people have that kind of quality of life. Also he admits that the playboy him was a jerk and never would have given Clark a second look; seems like the accident made him a better person in the end. Then he says he wouldn't be able to stand being in a relationship with her without being able to have sex, which is also pretty petty, but I'll give him that one -- he should break up with her if that's how he feels. Suicide is maybe overkill in that scenario.

It seems to me that the only reason he has to kill himself is because he's disabled, not because the disability affects his life in any kind of significantly negative way. But the movie can't say that because it's evil and untrue. So they make up excuses.

So she's devastated because she thought she had changed his mind, and oh yeah, she's in love with him now, so she goes home and mopes... but then comes around before it's too late and they make up, with him on what will be his death bed. The argument the movie settles on -- for the sake of the romance -- is that he loves Clark so much he wants her to go live her life without him holding her back. So before he kills himself he creates an itinerary of adventure for her to complete after he's gone and gives her some money to "buy her freedom." The end of the film shows her sitting at a cafe in France, reading his final letter. Alone.


BS, honest and simple. There's no angle to look at this pile of crap that makes it even faintly resemble a beautiful, inspiring butterfly, but that's what we're constantly told it is. Are we really supposed to believe that her newfound capacity for travel is supposed to replace a relationship with a human being? It what world is her life better because she got to go to Paris alone? (And by the way, what exactly was it that stopped his going to France? Oh yeah, he wanted to be there as his old self... the playboy jerk who loved no one.) No -- her life was better because of him; it can't also be made better because he's gone. This story painted itself into a corner and stubbornly stuck to its ill-advised propaganda. A literal death grip.

What kind of message is this movie trying to send, anyway? Well obviously it's trying to push the "right to die" agenda and normalize assisted suicide. (I'm on Clark's cross-wearing mum on this point -- it's no better than murder. And also a fundamentally extremely deceitful idea.) But besides that, what does it accidentally imply at the same time? If you're unhappy you should be able to kill yourself. If your quality of life is in any way diminished from what it used to be or what you want it to be, you should be able to kill yourself. If someone loves you and wants to spend their life taking care of you, you're holding them back -- you should kill yourself. And most broadly: Selfish aspirations are more important than personal relationships. Essentially, the title -- you, before anything or anyone else.

Talented actors Charles Dance and Janet McTeer as: Everyone as they realize what they just watched. Also probably: Them regretting their involvement in the project.

I sincerely hope I'm not the only one who noticed all these terrible ideas ingrained in this terrible, miserable movie. Briefly on the technical side: Of course I wasn't watching to enjoy myself or be involved in the story, but I never had to bother with any effort to keep myself from being pulled in. I was never tempted -- never even nudged to be emotionally moved. The movie was stale, unromantic, whitewashed moral excrement. Pooped out by a male cow, and smeared over pages of a book and a screenplay by an ignorant, misguided person armed with an agenda and absolutely no ability in or inclination toward critical thought.

I wish this story would kill itself. We would all definitely be better off without it.