Monday, October 2, 2017

Allegiant

The story drags itself onward, but doesn't quite reach the end with this third installment to the Divergent movie series. The biggest surprise for me is how this film is actually better than Insurgent in many ways. It's worse in some ways too, but I thought it would be all terrible.

Um. Did Tris just become Jeanine??? She looks exactly like her, and is about as relevant as her too -- and Jeanine is dead.

I actually gave a positive review to Insurgent after seeing it in theaters, and then promptly forgot it existed, which made me rethink that score. Insurgent somehow did a better job assimilating the appearance a decent quality movie while showing us nothing interesting or memorable. Maybe it reminds us of Divergent, which, whatever its flaws, was at least entertaining and a clean, straightforward adaptation of its source material.

But Allegiant strays even further from both the source, and the story's original starting place. It does away with the Factions -- the highlight of interest for the series -- and starts feeding us things about "pure" and "damaged" like that's what the story had been about the whole time. Then it takes us out of the dystopian walls of the crumbled Chicago into an otherworldly orange and red landscape and shiny floating futuristic cities. The only thing that connects this film with Divergent is that middle movie, which I've seen twice now and I still can't remember what the actual heck happened in that film.

The movie started with the same group on the run who were on the run at the beginning of Insurgent. With a handful changes they could have skipped that movie altogether!

In that way Allegiant feels even less like a Divergent Series movie, but in straying so far away, it stumbled on something that the last movie lacked in spades: memorability. A handful of things stick out as memorable, and, granted, some are not positive, but giving the movie some unique points made it more enjoyable than expected -- in spite of decidedly worse scripting and acting, and a random plot that goes nowhere. Of course I said Insurgent was memorable too at some point, so maybe a couple days from now I'll have forgotten about this one too. Here are a few reasons why I think I'll remember:

Bad special effects. With recalling the striking red landscape outside the wall comes the image of our heroes (and anti-hero Peter!) floating around in those transport bubbles. That was hilariously, awfully, painfully bad. The futuristic city had cool design elements to it, but most of the time when it was being shown along with characters, green screens and CGI was obvious and cheap. It was weird, like a cool scifi world had been created somewhere, and then all the characters from Divergent jumped over from a different universe and began to populate it, but don't fit there because they're worn out and dry. That feeling was enhanced by the city residents knowing who they are -- like they were movie characters brought into reality.

This is concept art. Someone obviously worked hard to make this place different and interesting. Then they tried to populate it with dead characters for cheap.

And like they would in reality, these characters begin to crumble in front of their new backdrop. Like in the book, Tris' character fades away, while Four finds himself the main character in every actually compelling scene. Hardly anyone is trying at this point, but isn't even pretending. She stares, she delivers her lines, and she's forgotten. manages to keep whatever interest he had from before, and could have carried the whole film decently on his own if he had been allowed, but half the movie still focused on stale Tris. Poor yet again makes the most of what he has, and all I can say is congrats dude on surviving these movies with your career intact. I can hardly believe how bad is, especially after being so enjoyable and capable in Baby Driver. Every scene Caleb is in is physically painful to watch.

I'm glad I waited until after I saw IT to watch this though, because is in this, and he amused me to no end by making subtle faces in the background that reminded me of Pennywise. And maybe I only noticed because I was paying attention to him, but his character Matthew was a decently interesting character. I know he was in the book, but I swear I don't remember a thing he did, so the mystery of whether he was good or bad worked on me. Plus the bit he's a part of where Four tells him to tell David () that Four left him behind so that Tris would know he was lying and find out the truth -- well, if I forget the rest of the movie I think I'll at least remember that bit.

Also the bit when he smiles at Tris while disappearing behind elevator doors. Made me laugh.

I just remembered that there's a whole plotline with a memory-erasing serum. I keep talking about forgetting and remembering, but didn't remember that element until right now. The serum is used for the movie's climax where it works terribly and makes no impression. And when it ends, there's no real conclusion in sight, because the final film has been abandoned. Yep, not even cool art design, rabid fans, or a freaking Skarsgård can save this directionless rust-bucket. Now my spirit is with Peter, jumping around and waving in front of the invisible gate, begging to please please pretty please be let back into the super cool futuristic city -- where characters resemble real people instead of dead horses.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Upcoming Movie Roundup - October

In September I wound up going to see only one movie, and I was surprised that I did, and even more surprised at how much I loved it -- IT. My brother who loves horror movies and my friend who I obsess over Stranger Things with (ST and IT have similar feels, parallel plot elements, and share an actor) helped me overcome my fear and dive into this quite disturbing, but ultimately incredibly rewarding film. It is very similar to Stranger Things as I mentioned, seemingly taking inspiration from the TV show just as the TV took inspiration from it. Read my review of IT here.

This month, there's a few things to keep an eye on, but the only current must-watches for me are down at the bottom -- TV shows! Stranger Things makes it's long-awaited return this month, and also another scifi show of a very different kind: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (review), which was the only other thing I managed to review this past month.

What are you looking forward to seeing this October? Let me know in the comments!


Blade Runner 2049
Oct 6th; R
It's got a visually magnificent trailer and early reviews are leaning almost completely positive, but due to the hardness of the R-rating I probably won't see this one until it releases on DVD. I love the scifi/noir genre more than anything, and that was my favorite thing about the original Blade Runner, so the style appeals to me a lot, but I'm not big on it continuing the story of Deckard. Maybe it turns out fine and I have no problem with it, maybe not. I would be completely on board if it were set in the same universe without referring to old characters, but if the risk of including them pays off, it might turn out better than it could have otherwise. At this point the only question is how good it'll be!




The Mountain Between Us
Oct 6th; PG-13
I'm sure that the talents of Idris Elba and Kate Winslet lend this movie a set amount of entertainment and quality that can't be undone, but otherwise this is the kind of plot that stresses me out more than it entertains me. It's the sort of movie I wouldn't even consider seeing in theaters, but would happily watch at home on a lazy afternoon. I just hope the dog gets a good death scene...
(BTW, if the potentially romantic strangers team up isn't appealing to you but the "survival on a snowy mountain" plot is, you could always see Walking Out which features a father and son in a similar situation, or 6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain, with a lone snowboarder. Yep, there's three of these movies this month!)




The Osiris Child
Oct 6th(limited); NR
This month on neat-looking small-time sci-fi! This one was made in Australia, and has a western feel on the side as a result. The effects look great and the world looks real and gritty. Who knows how the plot will turn out as it's pretty typical on the surface. It could succumb to the typicalness or it could manage to be more on the classic, never-gets-old side. I'd definitely like to find out, but who knows when that will happen.




Happy Death Day
Oct 13th; PG-13
Not exactly my cup of tea -- this is a prime example of the type of horror movie that I don't care for. This one has one gimmick to make it more interesting though: the Groundhog Day effect! To my knowledge it's never been used for a horror movie before, (Supernatural did it, but that's a TV show) so that's pretty original. Otherwise the movie looks maybe even worse than similar movies of the genre. I am a bit curious though, because I have a guess as to who the killer is already. If I'm right it'll be a terrible movie, but worth seeing anyway for the satisfaction. And if I'm wrong, then maybe it would be decent. Maybe.




Goodbye Christopher Robin
Oct 13th; PG
But but but, why Goodbye Christopher Robin? Make me think the little kid is going to die or something. This movie looks super sweet and I don't want that to happen. Domhnall Gleeson and sweet dramas are a perfect combination; I'd probably want to watch this even if it didn't also throwback to my childhood with Winnie the Pooh. Margot Robbie is the wife which is neat because she was the girl who turned him down in About Time. And Kelly Macdonald who's great at everything she does.




Geostorm
Oct 20th; PG-13
Geostorm! Yay! I'm so excited for this movie! BECAUSE THEN I WON'T HAVE TO WATCH THAT INCREDIBLY IRRITATING TRAILER ANYMORE. I'm probably going to end up watching it when it come to DVD, because my brother is obsessed with terrible disaster films, and this one is the most disaster-y of them all. I'm sure it was be both awful and a very enjoyable watch. It's got a classic top-tier doomed movie cast: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Andy Garcia, and Ed Harris (impressively). Also Jeremy Ray Taylor, who was Ben in IT last month, but it looks like a small part so hopefully he'll be able to get past it.




The Snowman
Oct 20th; R
HAHAHAHAHAhaha. Haha. Ha. Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons. Sounds nice, but then you get this plot. I seriously don't get this. This is dime-a-dozen serial killer story line, except it looks like it's just embracing all the cliches of the genre instead of trying to subvert them with originally. And we're still supposed to take it seriously? Whatever, this isn't the kind of thing I'd be interested in in any form.




The Gifted
Oct 2nd; FOX
I doubt I'll love it as much as I did Legion, but The Gifted looks so much like Legion made for teens that I get the feeling it'll be at least worth watching. Yeah, it's probably going to have lots of teenager-angst drama, but it looks like a decent production, and even in the trailer the characters are set up to be interesting. Also the length of six episodes is promising -- promising that they won't be draining the life out of the story, but giving us a concise story line that hopefully more or less wraps up at the end, whether a second season is done or not. Actually looking to checking this out.




Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
Oct 14th; BBC America (season 2)
I just discovered this show, and with perfect timing to be ready for the second season! This show is like what would happen if The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Doctor Who were merged, but confined to Earth, and features a "detective" who follows fate around to solves cases. Everything's connected, nothing's a coincidence, and it's 50% goofy and hilarious, 25% neatly dramatic, 20% mind-blowing, and 5% awkward. I love it. And I'm excited to see the next wacky adventure!




Stranger Things
Oct 27th; Netflix (season 2)
I haven't watched any trailers for this second season, and I don't think I will. I went into season 1 completely unaware and unprepared, and, I think I'm still reeling from it. Recreating the season 1 experience is probably impossible, but I'm just going for knowing the least amount of spoilers that's reasonably possible. This is hands down my most anticipated entertainment event of the month, and if all goes as planned, it will be launched up the the level of Baby Driver and Dunkirk as the best of the year. I'm terrified that this season won't live up to the first, but only because I love it and am so invested in it's success and the standards are so high -- not because there's any kind of evidence that it won't be absolutely magnificent. I. Can't. Wait!