Every film you've watched in 2021


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Godzilla vs Kong: Like all these movies, things are best when monsters are onscreen. I geeked out several times. It's fun on almost every level. I did leave feeling a little empty. Perhaps that's because money is tight and I rented this on Prime, but I don't know. Amazing effects, especially in the ... third act. Sorry, didn't realize there was no longer spoiler code.

Villains/Downrange: reviews forthcoming

Without Name: this was supposed to be for a review, but it's just 90 minutes of a guy going to a weird place and getting high and seeing weird shit. I've done that on my own. Lame.

The House on Haunted Hill/Lucky: review forthcoming

White Boy Rick: great crime film based on a true story. Great acting all around. It's a breezy 2 hours and teeters on excess.

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Mortal Kombat (2021) - I'm a big fan of the recent games and this matched the style and tone of those pretty well. I don't think the new guy was really necessary, he could've been any of the existing characters. I find it weird that the movie not made in the 90s is the one that has the blank slate original protagonist, I find that more appropriate for something aimed at all-ages audiences. The changes to the lore tying everyone together bother me a bit, because MK's appeal is how it takes so many disparate genres and melds them together in a fun mish-mash. The length also bothers me, it feels like a pilot for a show. If it isn't successful enough for a sequel, I would much prefer a series to really cover the whole world of the games.

Caveats aside, I did enjoy what was here. The cast nail their characters; Kano surprisingly steals the show, Scorpion and Sub-Zero are amazing, the Shaolin Monks are a lot of fun. The action was decent, could've been edited better, but I'm glad to see fatalities done in a movie. Any fight Scorpion's in, I'm all for.

Overall, fun experience, has some pretty big flaws, I'm really curious if they'll make more.

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I, at some point, heard someone, probably on a podcast, say that knowledge of the Karate Kid sequels might be helpful with season 3 of Cobra Kai.  Is that true?  No idea.  I'll find out soon enough.  Until then...

Karate Kid II - I liked this.  It took the characters and progressed them.  It wasn't a rehash of the first, which it very easily could have been.

Karate Kid III - I did not like this.  It is a rehash of the first, and really ignores the previous movie.  And not entirely sure of the villains' plan.

The Next Karate Kid - I'd seen this one before.  Really 90s and goofy as such.  Another one where I don't understand the villain, but generally inoffensive.

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14 hours ago, Professor said:

I, at some point, heard someone, probably on a podcast, say that knowledge of the Karate Kid sequels might be helpful with season 3 of Cobra Kai.  Is that true?  No idea.  I'll find out soon enough.  Until then...

Karate Kid II - I liked this.  It took the characters and progressed them.  It wasn't a rehash of the first, which it very easily could have been.

Karate Kid III - I did not like this.  It is a rehash of the first, and really ignores the previous movie.  And not entirely sure of the villains' plan.

The Next Karate Kid - I'd seen this one before.  Really 90s and goofy as such.  Another one where I don't understand the villain, but generally inoffensive.

Karate Kid II is probably my favorite of the original three, mostly because they're building on the Daniel / Miyagi relationship while reveling more about the mentor's past. There's a ton of world-building going on, and there's so much love and respect between the characters.

Part three is so odd. It feels like two or three movies smashed together and set in a Karate Kid framework.

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Mortal Kombat (2021): Was hyped for the movie based on the awesome trailer. This is one that comes down to a very bifurcated list.

PROS:

-The characters from the game are about as accurate as they could possibly get. Ludi Lin's Liu Kang was a highlight for me even though he cosplayed as Ryu from Street Fighter by the end.

-There was a total abandonment of shame when it came to how weird and nonsensical the universe was. Everyone's abilities are present.

-Sub-Zero was an unending threat. Every time he was on-screen you felt like someone was gonna die. His fighting style was also really cool.

-Hiroyuki Sanada as Scorpion was awesome.

-More violent than the 90s films

CONS:

-I like Lewis Tan quite a bit, but the script failed to present a need for him. He just got in the way and never earned the audience's engagement. 

-As a result, heavy hitter characters get jobbed

-The script is too stiff and arch. Most of the dialogue reeks of feeling unnatural, with the exception of Kano.

-There's not a ton of camaraderie established with the characters, especially compared to the '95 movie.

-Abrupt ending, whereupon you realize we never actually start the Mortal Kombat tournament.

 

Overall I enjoyed it, but despite itself. I hope it does well enough for a sequel, but it needs to shape up. This watched like a pretty good SyFy channel movie instead of a legit epic film.

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Run: girlfriend and I just finished Ratched and Sarah Paulsen is in this one, so we went for it. Pretty bog standard horror thriller elevated by some great performances from Paulsen, Kiera Allen who plays her daughter and Pat Healy as the hapless mailman. Haha! Decent.

All Hail the Popcorn King: review forthcoming

Barb and Star Go To Vista del Mar: this was a wild, weird comedy. I really enjoyed it. A couple lines that will stay with me. More than you can expect from most comedies.

Next update:

Savage Dawn: review forthcoming but holy shit!

I Care A Lot: This is an excellent movie. On my year end list for sure. Everyone in it is a putrid person, but there's a shit-ton of great performances. 

The King of Staten Island: youngest suggested this for the movie tonight, and I'm glad he did. I don't really like Pete Davidson, but I liked him in this, a little. But I also loved Marisa Tomei and Bill Burr and the Apatow kid who plays the sister. Good movie.

Semi-Pro: dumb fun for movie night with the boys.

Next update:

Woman in the Window: this is a pretty rote and obvious rip of Rear Window with the added mental health issues of the unreliable narrator. Not the worst. Not very good.

Army of the Dead/The Hand/The Reckoning/Witchfinder General: reviews forthcoming.

Canada's Wrestling Elite: not quite feature length doc about an Canadian indie wrestling company and them doing a tour in the winter. It seems miserable. 

The Trade: the summary said this was a documentary about deathmatch wrestling, but it's specifically about Sick Nick Mondo from CZW and his retirement. It starts to veer into a promo and then once it ends, it's absolutely just a promo piece, but it's still entertaining. He's a compelling character and a narcissist. I've seen a lot of shit in death matches, but I've never seen a weed whacker used on a guy and this movie has it twice.

Dracula 2000/Dracula II: Ascension/Dracula III: Legacy/Dracula 3000: reviews forthcoming. Yikes.

Am I the only person who's watched a movie in the past two months? C'mon guys!

Wacken: a feature doc about the German metal festival of the same name. Decent.

Bo Burnham: Inside: I don't usually like Burnham. I have always found him a little too...petulant? Is that the right word? I don't know. This was a cool exercise though. He certainly got really good at using his equipment to film his own "special." Some funny songs poke through the pretentiousness. "White Woman's Instagram" is the best by a mile.

Boys from County Hell/Skull: The Mask: reviews forthcoming

Still nobody else? Jeez you guys!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles: a perfect film

Deadpool: weirdly picked up on a  lot of things I never did in the three or four times I've already seen this one. All gags, but I don't remember hearing them before.

Thor: Ragnarok: really fun movie. One of the MCU's very best and I don't care what Ian says about it.

Climate of the Hunter/Fried Barry/Day of the Beast/The Amusement Park: reviews forthcoming

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Thor: Ragnarok: really fun movie. One of the MCU's very best and I don't care what Ian says about it.

LOL take that

Star Treks 5&6: Definitely planning on sending in my thoughts to EOF podcast, but I enjoyed both of these films for very different reasons.

Star Trek 5 has a bad reputation, and I'm not necessarily inclined to argue. It's silly, it's goofy, it's campy. But I really love how comfortable all of the characters come off in it. Spock popping into screen with rocket boots he borrowed from Futurama I found to be very funny. I didn't care about the lousy effects on it. Sybok I found to be a compelling performance, given by a guy whose Shakespearean flare added to this guy's crazed ambition. From the very beginning I was interested in him. I don't love the half-brother revelation, I'm never a fan of surprising the audience with that *so* late into the canon because it rarely delivers on the interest. And he didn't have to be related to Spock. But...Shatner's foul-mouthed rant to Spock after Sybok takes control of the Enterprise made me laugh so much. It's the most William Shatner was playing himself and not Captain Kirk. It was ridiculous, down to him saying to Spock "You made that up" when he knows good and goddamn well Vulcans don't lie. Because the weirdness of everything was so OTT, I was enjoying it on an ironic level.

(I will say the scene with Bones and his father was a shot to the heart, and one that hit extremely close to home. Throughout these movies DeForest Kelley seemed to be the one cast member who gave the most increasingly humane performances.)

Star Trek 6 OTOH I was surprised how *actually* good it was, both in writing and direction. With a perfectly appreciable plot, the writing on the characters becomes stronger, leading to better performances. The general dilemma is gripping, and aside from the whole escape subplot with Iman, there didn't seem to be any wacky sci-fi bullshit crammed into the movie. By the very end with the action-studded climax I found myself cheering out loud, which is a first when watching Trek I think. 

I'll admit that the Spock Mind-Meld scene threw me for a loop. I really, really liked it in the moment, (watching the unedited version, apparently there's a cut that flashes to the various characters) finding it to be efficiently directed and the acting to be on point. The discourse surrounding that scene all comes to a resounding "Wait that that torture and mind rape". Yeah, I guess it is, isn't it? It watched to me like Spock was knowingly crossing a line, and the other crew members appeared horrified, so I wish there were more ramifications after that, or Spock having done that contributed to them all being put out to pasture. Kim Cattrall's orgasmic-like screams could've been toned down, but I supposed that added to the horror. IDK, I'm of two minds. They probably shouldn't have done that, but it was so well shot and delivered that I'm only so bothered by the implications, since it is the final movie with the main cast.

 

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Cruella: Like most of the Disney remakes, I've no real loyalty to the original 101 Dalmatians, barely recalling the last time I watched the original. I do remember the Glenn close movie being a big deal - the first of the live-action remakes I figure. But I love Emma Stone, and she looked righteous all throughout this movie. 

Here's what I settled on: it would've been better had she not actually been Cruella DeVille. If she were Cruella's daughter or another character entirely, it would've been great. As it stands, the movie flails at salvaging the morality of a character who had zero to being with. Why exactly are we redeeming Cruella DeVille, a character who never demanded a second look? Between Horace and Jasper being her childhood friends who lament that she's "grown mean" - and not two rando drunks she hired off Craigslist, to the movie balking at the notion that she would ever kill puppies and turn them into coats, it felt like the film was making an argument nobody else was having. That's why it works much better if Emma Thompson's character was the original Cruella, and Emma Stone was someone else. If it's about someone else, the movie's awesome (save for the near-constant insert music and constant zoom-in shots that fill every frame). Because it's meant to be Cruella Deville, what are we exactly meant to get excited about if her raison d'etre is taken off of the table? This "prequel" doesn't excite us over anything beyond name recognition, and it's not like she was such a legendary character to begin with. It really is a weird case of liking it if I don't think that it's Cruella, otherwise I didn't like it.

Batman: The Long Halloween: DC's animated films have been really spotty in the past few years. Between the DCAM universe which started out bad but got better as it went on, with Judas Contract and Death of Superman being their best IMO, and the other various Batman adaptations - with The Killing Joke being universally recognized as the utter nadir to Hush being a half-hearted translation that sought to make a better story by changing the ending, resulting in the film being a decent Batman adventure but ultimately "meh" at the same time - the reliable quality of the old guard that brought about the DCAU as "recent" as Justice League Unlimited hasn't been a thing in a long while. Right now I think the best of DC animation is Young Justice.

Long Halloween is a long-demanded adaptation that frustrated me more and more as it went on. First off, the art design an animation are almost criminally bland. Tim Sale has such a distinctive and striking style, you want that replicated in animation, even if it's difficult. But like with Brian Bolland in the Killing Joke, they didn't even try. Gone are everyone's monkey-like overbites and Batman's long and spindly ears, because everyone has the exact same look on their face in nearly every fucking scene. Beyond looks, this film has only one mood: "ominous". With quick cuts and *very slow* takes between dialogue, the somber atmosphere worked for me at first. But it never stretches beyond trying to be spooky. The characters have zero life to them, all ending up as depressingly broad stereotypes, and I'm including Batman and Gordon in that description. Long Halloween has always been implicitly early in Batman's career, but the movie lays that on thick and ends up being confusing. It's a mix of early days and Earth-One Batman where he's straight up not a detective and *has to learn how to be*. That would be fine...but Batman's not a fucking mook. You can't tell me he's captured all of Gotham's super criminals by just punching their lights out, he had to have used his honed intelligence to figure things out that the police couldn't. So he can't just now be bitching about becoming a detective. He can stress about becoming a *better* detective, but as it is there's nothing to him. Jensen Ackles does okay, but half the time I couldn't get it out of my head that it was Jensen Ackles. Maybe it was the Texas twang.

But going back to the broad characterization, who is The Roman? Just a mobster. They don't characterize the grip they've got on Gotham, and how that grip is being lost by the supervillains. Falcone is just a bigger godfather rip-off than he was in the comics, to the point that dialogue included in his scenes are "sleeping with the fishes" and "offer they couldn't refuse". I'm sorry, are we taking this seriously here or not? And it's the same with everyone. Gordon's not as dogged and sympathetic as in the original, he's just a bland, grumpy cop. We get scenes of him and his family, but nothing surprising happens, they're just there. Alfred's a complete dickhead, bothering Batman about making public appearances and dinner plans when Batman's at his most occupied, taking on gunfire. None of that shit is important, and Alfred  - or the writers - don't seem to know it's not. Catwoman is just silly and one dimensional, whereas in the original she was a wild card who Loeb and Sale had the reader doubt if she was a suspect or not. Here she's just Batman's puck-like girlfriend who almost has no point being in the movie.

Harvey Dent does get the best treatment in this, with Josh Duhamel doing a very good job voicing him. But there are also scenes of him acting weird too early on that are uncalled for and unsubtle. Gilda acts like a weepy zombie, which I remember only being a thing halfway thru the book as things got escalated. This movie only covers 4/12 chapters, so it doesn't feel like much is happening. There are inserted action scenes that anti-interesting like Joker and Falcone's bodyguard, or Batman and some guys in Chinatown. And car chases aren't really fun to watch in animation, especially when they're rendered in 3-D and look way slower like they have been for the past 20 years.

I didn't go into this excited exactly, last time I re-read Long Halloween it didn't hold up terrifically and I like Dark Victory a lot better, but this thing completely bled out all the style and cool that book had. I want to re-read it again just to remind myself that people know how to depict tension and suspense in a story. This movie's totally swallowed up in its own pride of being "The Long Halloween" that it can't get out of its own way and actually be good.

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I haven't kept a running total, so that's out for 2021. Anyway:

Superman: Red Son - Very different in a couple plot points from the graphic novel... which I can't include because I can't find the spoiler button. The Luthor/Superman relationship was compressed from the comic version. Still worth watching, but if you can only pick the movie or the graphic novel, pick the graphic novel.

Domestic Disturbance - I meant to watch this when I saw the trailer in 2001. Finally got around to it, and it is... OK. The movie does not technically fall into the "There Are No Police" trope, but the police are so incompetent that they might as well not be there.

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Shadow in the Cloud: Very interesting filming choice for a large part of the movie, with Chloe Grace Moretz alone in a very confined space.

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CGM hanging off the bottom of a Flying Fortress while it is above the clouds was laughable. I don't care who you are, that's no happening unless you have superpowers. You're going to freeze and be blown off.

At one point, she falls out of the plane though a small hole and then is propelled back into the plane when a Japanese fighter plane explodes.

No. You're dead.

Overall, worth watching, even if Maude Garrett is a Mary Sue.

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The Gift: I had never seen this before, and Stacy and I wanted something light to watch in the hotel room. Edgerton (who directs, writes and produces this as well) is compelling as the creepy stalker. Jason Bateman is good too. Solid thriller.

Get Out: Oldest wanted to rewatch this with me when his brother was at work so we did. Still a great movie, but it shows its cracks a little in the rewatches. US is still a far better film.

Predator: watched this with the boys. They both fell asleep. Losers. This is both a pretty great action movie and a pretty great monster movie. It's a unique experience. The last act is incredible. 

Fear Street Part One: 1994: I guess it's time for my 90s nostalgia coming of age horror story. 

Fear Street Part Two 1978: a wonderful homage of the summer camp horror subgenre. Plenty of Sleepaway Camp and Friday the 13th (especially part 2 of both of those...huh...just realized that).

Can't wait to watch the third one. 

Andre The Giant: finally watched this HBO doc. It was really well-done. Focused on his career because it was the sports division of HBO that put this together and I'm glad. Man, seeing Andre in the 70s is a sight to behold. 

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Hobbs and Shaw: I could tell 10 minutes in that my nitpicking brain was going to be firing like crazy the entire time I was watching this. How did this series get so far from illegal street racing? I have seen none of the others. This is my first Fast & Furious movie.

In a flashback Shaw and his sister are shown to be a couple years apart, yet the actress playing Shaw's sister is 21 years younger than Jason Statham. Could they not get an actress maybe a little bit closer to him in age?

Math is hard, I guess.

This was two hours and 17 minutes. They could have very easily chopped 30-45 minutes off the runtime without taking anything away from the story. This did not need to be more than 90 or 100 minutes.

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Fear Street Part Three 1666: what an interesting little series. It works as an homage to several things, but manages to be its own kind of animal. A slasher movie really hits differently when you give a shit about the characters is the real lesson this trilogy brings me.

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