Monday, December 18, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

This is spoiler free review. Spoiler review will come Thursday.

The Last Jedi is best Star Wars movie since original trilogy. Right after the movie I wasn't sure if I would put it before Return of the Jedi. After some time to think I say it is not on level of Return of the Jedi. It has too much problems. Main ones being there is too much from Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi which makes it have too much content. It is too much like Star Wars fan film. Unlike The Force Awakens this has something of its own.

I will get to too much content part in spoiler review. Explaining what I mean requires spoilers. Story follows bit too much of Empire Strikes Back. It even brings some of the Empire's problems. Getting into that in spoiler review.

I liked what was new and different from earlier movies. Rose was great addition to main cast. Her introduction was one of the best scenes of the movie. Heroes making errors was fresh addition. Usually in this kind of movies heroes can do nothing wrong. It made movie more interesting when you knew they could fail. Few jokes could have been dropped. They made it movie feel too much like parody of Star Wars.

The Last Jedi goes bit too much of epic route. It would have been epic with less epic scenes. Some scenes lose impact they needed because there were too many epic scenes. John Williams' music saves most scenes but too much was too much even for one of the greatest film composers. Some scenes worked only because of John Williams' music.

The Last Jedi gives you everything you expect from Star Wars movie. It could have been on level of Empire Strikes Back if it didn't give everything you expect from Star Wars movie. It is still enjoyable movie. It will probably be best of the new trilogy JJ Abrams will return for next one. His work with existing franchises have been copying old material with minor changes. Sometimes making things worse in process. The Last Jedi left everything open for something new. Thanks to JJ Abrams I expect next movie to return to same old.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Let's Be Evil (2016)

Terrible name. Interesting premise. Doesn't work. Somewhere along creative process the point was lost. Premise is much more interesting than what we got. I might be painting too bad picture but I didn't like how movie ended without answering anything. The whole story was there to showcase what director can do and ending was "It was me all along Austin" level disappointment. There were moments when movie looked like it started to work but then all hope was taken away.

Let's Be Evil follows three young adult caretakers in top secret underground facility. Facility tries to unblock intellectual potential of its child subjects. Inhabitants of the facility have to wear augmented reality glasses all the time to see anything. Once movie enters the facility everything is seen through augmented reality glasses. There were couple scenes where writers understood what potential this setting had but there were only those couple moments. Which makes me think they were lucky those times.

Highly intelligent children taking control of high tech facility was clever idea. Making these kids physical threat to adults wasn't. It made big dramatic scenes look ridiculous. Showing everything through augmented reality glasses made movie look like video game. I though that was point and it would pay off. Movie never used the fact everything characters saw was augmented reality. There was one point where it look like it used but I guess that was mistake. Augmented reality glasses were there as cameras and on plot wise their only function was to let characters see in facility.

I wanted to like this because of the premise but this was horror movie in science fiction setting. Science fiction movie with horror elements would have worked better for me at least. As it is movie drops interesting science fiction concepts to use its time creating horror elements with visuals and audio.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Space Truckers (1996)

Space Truckers has really boring name and quite low IMDB score. I was bit interested but not enough to watch it before this. It is low budget scifi movie about one independent space trucker. Movie is mix of comedy with some action and horror elements. It looks like average low budget scifi movie at first. Until half way point it is that with some clever bits. When action starts it start to work better.

Space Truckers have better world building than story arc. Story arc is quite simple story of space trucker, his love interest and youmg space trucker taking mysterious cargo to Earth. It is enough to make us care and take movie to different places. Those places and characters there make movie interesting. Main arch is pretty lighthearted. World where it happens is not. It is really dark world where little people try to manage somehow.

I would put this somewhere along Outland (1981) as a lower key science fiction movies. Unlike serious Outland this is lighthearted action comedy but both have this same unspectacular science fiction feel. Science fiction isn't about big visuals and grand space battles. Worth checking for any science fiction fan.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Chronicle (2012)

Josh Trank will be remembered from this movie and Fant4stic. This is his first feature and Fant4stic could be his last. Fant4stic was disaster but people who had seen Chronicle said it was good. After seeing it I can understand why people like Chronicle. And I can see why having Josh Trank directing big budget superhero movie might sound good idea. But that movie shouldn't have been Fantastic Four movie.

Chronicle is found footage movie. It doesn't have too much shaky camera. Most of the footage is from protagonist's camera. Some footage comes for other sources but it is always camera which would shoot these events in real life. I am not sure if found footage is correct term because no-one would get all this footage. It is the style where all footage look like characters shot them or it came from security cameras.

Protagonist is guy who is abused at home and school. He starts to shoot video of everything in his life. One night his cousin and cousin's friend find mysterious hole in the ground. They want him to shoot it. They went into hole and gained superpowers. Three become best friends when they learn to use their powers. Chronicle likes to play with audience's expectations of superhero movies. It pretend to go into regular superhero movie way until it starts to miss some expected beats or twist them little bit.

I don't want to spoil the twist. It is twist if you expect regular superhero movie. Movie is slowly going there all the time. It is a twist if you expected something else. It sets the movie apart of other superhero movies. First hour didn't work for me that well. It is build up without much payoff. Last half hour work thanks to all the build up of first hour. Found footage gimmick hurt first hour and some of last half hour.

Things making Chronicle good movie are the things which made Fant4stic bad Fantastic Four movie. Fant4stic had other problems too. It was wrong source material for Josh Trank. His style works on darker stories. Fantastic Four should be bright positive adventure. I hope Trank can make more movies which suit better for his strengths. Chronicle is good movie but I expect he could do better with right story.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Another Earth (2011)

I am not sure if I like this or not. It wasn't what I expected. This is one of those science fiction movies which are dramas set into science fictions settings. This is much more drama than science fiction. Science fiction is there to give closure to the story. Another Earth is there from the beginning but it is on the background all the time. Sometimes literally.

If you liked Solaris (2002) or Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind you might enjoy this. I love both movies but I wasn't enjoying this all the time. Movie has same tone as both mentioned movies. Phasing isn't as good and budget is much smaller. Budget wasn't the problem. Phasing was. It was like watching a car crash slow motion at times. It was clear where the movie was going. You just wanted it to get there faster for it to be over.

Story was too slow at the times but I wanted to see what will happen with another Earth. Getting to ending was drag. Ending was ok. I not good enough to make this a good movie but it had idea. Maybe not the most original idea. It is almost there but not quite. Like the rest of the movie. Soundtrack had moments but something was missing. Same with cinematography and story.

They had nice science fiction concept suited for drama like this but something was missing. This is kind of movie I usually love. It was close there but not quite. I don't want to get into spoilers. Wondering where this is going made the journey better. It might be better less you know about it before watching it.