Film Brief: Thor: Ragnarok

The 2017 Thor movie gets a marginal thumbs-up laden with the normal caveats.  Definitely some fun moments and charged performances, especially from Cate Blanchett, who was utterly charming last time out on Ellen.  Second half of that appearance below, along with her “Kneel.” clip.  6/10

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Film Brief: Wonder Woman

Credit Apple TV marketing for finally pushing me to see the biggest movie of the year.

What I do is not up to you.

There are nice bits of Wonder Woman that absolutely soar.  But…

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Perhaps my biggest problem with superhero movies is they all end exactly the same.  Wonder Woman is no different, which is too bad — because otherwise I found myself having a good time.  I didn’t even mind the beginning non-titles (see posts on Les Miz, Selma, and the upcoming one for Logan Lucky.)

Two trailers included below. This movie is growing on me, but for now my original evaluation: 6/10

Film Brief: War for the Planet of the Apes

War for the Planet of the Apes features lots of great visual sequences, and a sense the filmmaker knows what he’s doing — which is refreshing.  A generally well-executed story, if a not particularly original one.  (SPOILER:) See Comparison Notes to understand why not particularly original.

War is inferior to the last episode of the franchise, but it’s still good.  Note: despite being billed as “the end,” it won’t be.  A fourth film is in the works.  7/10

Comparison Notes (recommended): Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Logan’s Run, Run, Run

Pursuit – run-in, pursuit – run-in, pursuit – really big run-in, end of movie.  This basic, worn out, unengaging and paper-thin plot structure is the bane of many superhero and “action” films, and to some degree explains the disparity between the Tomatometer and my score on a movie like Logan.  Almost makes you wonder if all these other critics are so dim as to not recognize the formula, or somehow think it novel.

I liked the feisty girl, and the performances in general were OK.  I’m a bit of Hugh Jackman fan — from Les Miz at least.  Add in a little fun to get 4/10.

Comparison Notes: the much better Mad Max film from a couple years back

Film Brief: Deepwater Horizon

Like Everest, Deepwater Horizon fails at the most most crucial point.  But at least Everest was an engaging picture.  I still don’t know what or how the explosion(s) occurred, and I don’t want to reverse-figure out the movie on Wikipedia.  A good documentary on the subject would have been infinitely better — so I guess I’ll wait for that on PBS.  I did like the parts that weren’t just a bunch of banging, and John Malkovich was perfection.  4/10

Comparison Notes (recommended): Captain Phillips, Sully, Gravity, Everest

Film Brief: Suicide Squad

suicide-squad-posterSuicide Squad is the most hyped movie of the year by far, so despite the poor reviews I took it as my duty to go see it. Plus, it looked kinda fun.

The funny thing is that although it was terrible, it wasn’t worse than any other latter-era superhero / comic-based movie.  Which is to say critics can’t find the line between good and bad action flicks.  2/10

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For a real female superhero movie, I suggest La Femme Nikita.  And for a real evil-doer movie, Dead Calm.