Five Quick Reviews of Five Movies on DVD (June ’16)

I may not be blogging as much now but that doesn’t mean I’m not watching movies. I’ve seen a few good movies and a bunch of bad ones. Some that don’t deserve to be blogged about and others that deserve their own goddamn posts (those are coming).

So here are five movies I’ve watched recently and a quick review for each (I do my best not to rant). So it’s just like the old days. Remember the old days?

The Situation Room

“My god, he’s gonna do it.” “That magnificent bastard.”

For anyone who doesn’t remember the 5 Quick Reviews format; I give my impressions of each movie in a couple of paragraphs. Short and sweet. I don’t mince words. I do not do a bunch of plot synopses or explanations. It’s mostly just my personal feelings. (And I do mean personal). And there are no spoilers.

Believe it or not this is the way I used to do all my reviews.

I know, right?

To the list

First up…

Gods of Egypt (Summit Entertainment)

Gods of Egypt poster

Directed by Alex Proyas

Written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless

Starring Nikolaj Coster-WaldauBrenton ThwaitesChadwick BosemanÉlodie YungCourtney EatonRufus SewellGerard Butler & Geoffrey Rush

God of Egypt was a hell of a lot better than I thought it would be. It’s a great story based on Egyptian mythology with fantastic effects. Awesome movie… honestly. But oh my god, the acting is so bad.

gods-of-egypt-4

Gods of Egypt has great directing and great writing but… I don’t know… bad casting? Very bad casting. Whitewashing? I agree, somewhat. I’ve always been a fan of integrating the past in fantasy movies. Especially movies so steeped in mythology like this one. And anyway Cheikh Anta Diop has already proven scientifically that the ancient Egyptian rulers were dark-skinned. Darker than me. Darker than pitch. They were black alright. And being the crossroads between Asia, Europe and Africa means that Ancient Egypt was more than probably integrated as fuck. But I’ll stop.

gods of egypt movie

Because this is meant to be a fun fantasy film about mythical monsters and gods and men and it certainly is. So ignore the skin color. Ignore the politics. And for the sake of the gods, ignore the acting, ignore that nearly all the extras (except in close-ups) and most of the main cast are white people, and just enjoy the damn movie.

Gods Of Egypt

But having said that, I must also add (because if I don’t I’ll kick myself later) that centuries of European dominance has whitewashed ancient history and religion in many ways. Early images of Jesus and Mary picture them as dark-skinned. The destruction of the Sphinx’s face to hide African features etc etc.

gods-of-egypt-00

And as a response to this retroactive racist whitewashing we should (as artists) integrate the past as thoroughly as possible in movies and books and TV and comics as often as we can. There is no historical truth anymore. So let’s just bury them in a beautifully rainbow-colored reality of racially inclusive certainty and take back the past to undo this petty petty petty crime against history. Because like I’ve told you people before; History isn’t written by scholars. It’s written by novelists.

ENOUGH

“ENOUGH!”

What was I doing? Oh yeah reviewing a movie. Gods of Egypt is a damn good science fiction-fantasy movie that entertains and defies expectation.

Rent it

Next up…

The Danish Girl (Focus FeaturesUniversal Pictures)

the danish girl poster

Directed by Tom Hooper

Written by Lucinda Coxon  Based on The Danish Girl  by David Ebershoff

Starring Eddie RedmayneAlicia VikanderMatthias SchoenaertsBen WhishawSebastian Koch & Amber Heard

The Danish Girl features two great performances. Eddie Redmayne, who is phenomenal in everything. And Alicia Vikander, who brings it. And I just wanted to bring it to her.

The Danish Girl Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander

Vikanda plays Gerde Wegener. She is amazing. I loved her character so much. Such an amazing woman. An artist. A painter. Extraordinary woman in any era. I was crushed right along with her and laughed along with her and cried along with her. And for most of the movie I just felt like giving her the D. I’m so sorry.

Alicia Vikander as Gerde Wegener in The Danish Girl

I don’t mean that as a slight to her husband turned stranger. But I was in love with the character and I felt she needed the D. Am I being crass? Possibly. But it struck me so strongly. I wanted to fuck her character so terribly. I know this isn’t much of a review. But Alicia Vikander makes the movie hum. She is amazing and well-deserved the Oscar win. Fantastic. And absolutely the kind of woman (I mean character) I fall in love with. But we’re talking about my lust for the character right now. Gerde Wegener.

Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl

Einar Wegener, her husband, was a pioneer. And the movie softens her history and the historical facts of her surgery. I’m going to use “her” because she was one of the earliest, and perhaps the first to transition through surgery (the dates are fuzzy) becoming Lili Eibe and no longer Gerde’s husband but a stranger. It is a tragic love story.

Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl

And that is the best thing about The Danish Girl; it’s not a biopic about one of the first transgender women but a love story. A love triangle between two people. I’m sorry. It was tragic. But all I could think was how much I wanted to walk onto the screen, take Gerde by the hand and bring her to America with me. And that laugh… She laughs this laugh at a critical point in the movie and it makes the entire film. She is the best.

Alicia Vikander my love

I am a huge Alicia Vikander fan now. Huge.

Rent it

Next up…

London Has Fallen (Focus FeaturesGramercy Pictures)

london has fallen poster

Directed by Babak Najafi

Written by Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt, Christian Gudegast and Chad St. John

Starring Gerard ButlerAaron EckhartMorgan FreemanAlon Moni AboutboulAngela BassettRobert ForsterJackie Earle HaleyMelissa Leo & Radha Mitchell

London Has Fallen? More like London has no police, no security and no fucking people. This is the most unrealistic piece of shit I have seen in a long time. A fucking war breaks out in the middle of London and there is absolutely no police.

London Has Fallen into disrepair

So they order the civilians to stay in their homes and they just do it. Like that would happen. There are no cops to enforce the curfew. No armed forces. The streets are just desolate. It’s eerily unbelievable.

London Has been abandoned

There’s an aerial combat sequence over one of the largest cities in the world and there are no other aircraft in the air. There’s this one stupid part where we’re supposed to believe that a drone follows the president where ever he goes in the world. Well then the fucking drone knows where he is. And the bad guys searching for him just have to look up.

London Has Fallen into a funk

Bullets flying. Cars whizzing by. Guys in body armor with automatic weapons and zero police. Zero civilians. Zero probability. Zero chance of liking this crap.

Gerard Butler in London Has Fallen off the list of the most populated cities

Oh dear gods of Egypt, what a stupid fucking movie London Has Fallen is

Skip it.

Next…

Whisky Tango Foxtrot (Paramount Pictures)

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot poster

Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa

Written by Robert Carlock  Based on The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Kim Barker

StarringTina FeyMargot RobbieMartin FreemanAlfred MolinaChristopher Abbott & Billy Bob Thornton

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot works better as a book I think. And besides the fact that Tina Fey is the lead, I don’t consider it a comedy. It is an interesting story. Amazing cast. I am a huge Tina Fey fan. But the bad pacing and directing make it boring as shit.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

The story is this incredible tale of a pair of competing news embeds with the American armed forces stationed in Afghanistan during the early days of the war. When the Iraq war was stealing all the headlines. Two women, two pros in a country where women are props or property. Two women surrounded by young male soldiers. Two women who form a friendship while maintaining a professional rivalry. Sounds cool. But somehow they made it into a boring movie. Boring as hell.

Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot Tina Fey and Margot Robbie

It fails miserably when it tries to be funny. It comes off as down right wacky. The movie works better at the times when it’s being serious. But then suddenly a silly character appears and the movie loses its way. It loses its narrative focus and its atmosphere of war and danger. And the tension dissipates. Choose a side why don’t you. I say stick with the drama. This movie would be a great drama that just happens to be funny at times.

Tina Fey in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

I think the film-makers were trying to emulate M.A.S.H. and the way that movie becomes silly at times while still keeping a firm hold on the tension. Attention Film-Makers: Robert Altman is an actual fucking genius. Do not try to copy him. Or try to be like him. You don’t even speak his language. Just enjoy him.

Margot Robbie in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

“You enjoy him.”

These folks are not Robert Altman. The minor characters come off as silly and out-of-place. The comedy scenes ruin an otherwise interesting film. Without the comedy, the slow pacing becomes tension. With the comedy, it becomes large lulls of boring. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a wonderful story. So please pick up the book. And it includes a fine cast of funny actors, but the bad directing and pacing and the screenwriting make it barely watchable. And just plain boring.

Skip it.

And lastly…

Midnight Special (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Midnight Special poster

Written & Directed by Jeff Nichols

Starring Michael ShannonJoel EdgertonKirsten DunstAdam DriverJaeden Lieberher & Sam Shepard

Speaking of boring… Midnight Special is also boring. It trods along to the beat of it’s not so special gradually unfolding mystery. There is no character development. There is no real sense of jeopardy, action, or even fantasy.

Midnight Special

And anyway, I think I liked this movie better when it was called Starman and John Carpenter directed it. Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen starred in it. And I had just graduated from High School. (I know me graduating has nothing to do with it but I just wanted to mention it… I peaked in High School. But anyway) The boy’s got powers. The government is after him. People either want to worship him or exploit him. And his family just want to help him fulfill his purpose. Whatever the fuck that is.

midnight-special-kirsten-dunst

I’ll admit the reveal is pretty cool and it’s trippy, but it is not worth the hour and a half to two hours spent running around doing absolutely nothing like chickens with their heads cut off. Nor is it explained well enough to leave the audience thinking about it while the credits roll. Hell I think I’ve forgotten it already.

midnight-special

I love Kirsten Dunst. She’s good in the movie. (So is Adam Driver) And I’ve been a fan of hers for a while. And I’m fairly certain she will get an Oscar one day. But all the while I was watching this film I was thinking. You know who would fit well into this movie? Brit Marling that’s who. It feels like a Brit Marling movie. A little sci-fi. A little religious imagery. A lot of mystery. A less than mind-blowing reveal. And in the end a movie that thinks it’s deeper than it actually turns out to be.

midnight_special Kirsten Dunst

Midnight Special is not very good. (Oh shit. I should have said not very special. Damn)

Skip it.

So to recap…

There were two Sci-fi Adventures about a character with powers and the humans trying to help him fulfill his destiny: Gods of Egypt and  Midnight Special. One of them fun and exciting with extremely bad acting. The other bland and boring with extremely good acting.

There were two War Thrillers about Americans overseas trying to survive the violence of war: London Has Fallen and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. One of them fast-paced and exciting with no basis in reality and bad acting. The other slow-paced and boring, based on a true story with good acting. Neither one very enjoyable.

And there was a Period Drama about an epic romance that turns into a love triangle without ever adding a third person. The Danish Girl. And I don’t have to tell you guys, even though I have nothing against his decision to transition, I’m with her.

I am completely and totally with her. (You guys know what I mean)

More to come.

– Mel