Midnight Special, a science fiction film about a boy with special powers, could have and should have been a better film. But, it’s decent in its own right. The positives to this movie are the cast, the acting, and the shots (even though there was a noticeable smudge on the camera lens in one scene where they were driving). The negatives are that it gets relatively boring after an interesting setup in the first act to first half of the movie.
Grade: B-

Spoilers below

Many people online seemed dissatisfied with the ending. I thought it tied things up fairly nicely, so I’m not sure what the issue is. What I find odd, though, is the filmmaker’s commentary on it.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/adambvary/midnight-special-ending?utm_term=.rmokL5XQG#.ocAYWO8nG
It seemed fairly straightforward to me with the bright light emanating from the boy and the beings of light revealed to be living in a world on top of ours watching us that the boy and these beings are angels. But Jeff Nichols, the writer and director, calls that a “red herring”.
Regardless, it’s clear the filmmaker was shooting for a “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” level of film, but falls short of that. Still worth watching for science fiction buffs, though.

(WordPress if fucking up the line breaks and I don’t feel like trying to figure out why)

Suicide Squad came on HBONow last Saturday and I figured I needed to watch it, especially since I had just seen Batman V. Superman. I guess I should review it too. Unfortunately, I found Suicide Squad to be inferior to Batman V. Superman, even though everyone was in love with the Suicide Squad trailer, as compared to their hatred for the Batman V. Superman trailer.

The positives of the film are Will Smith’s performance as Deadshot and Margot Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn. Interestingly, this is the first time I’ve seen Cara Delevinge on the screen, who plays an archaeologist who gets possessed by a witch named the Enchantress. Delevigne is in an upcoming film of interest, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and I have seen the trailer for that. She was hardly in the movie as the archaeologist and that performance was fine. The Enchantress performance seemed mediocre at best, but I think the primary problem was the dubbing of audio over top of her lip syncing, or something. Something wasn’t right about it at all and it took away from her performance and the scenes with the Enchantress.

The visual effects weren’t bad, but in spots weren’t necessarily good either. As for the true negatives – the story, the direction, the Joker hardly being in it. Perhaps the biggest problem with this movie is the attempt at making unlikable people likable, some of whom do unlikable things throughout the entire movie. While it generally works for Deadshot and Quinn, it fails miserably on everyone else. The other characters are completely useless too; Jai Courtney sucks as usual as an Australian named Boomerang, a guy who uses a…you guessed it…boomerang to kill people. There’s also a crocodile guy or something, a Japanese woman who uses a…you guessed it…sword to kill people and then there’s the guy that can turn his body into a flamethrower, Diablo, but then sits around most of the movie brooding while refusing to use his powers. Lame. But even lamer, there’s one guy who can climb buildings real fast and then gets killed immediately. Not even in battle. LAME.

Grade: D

I brought back my subscription to HBONow a day into the flu to get some new things to watch when I wasn’t dead in bed. Here’s some brief reviews, none of them of brand new movies or shows:

Westworld: The best series I’ve seen. Better than Game of Thrones, which jumped the shark at the very, very end of season 5. The blonde woman with the snake tattoo, played brilliantly by Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, is absolutely lovable in her badassery, even though it’s a pretty small part. Everyone else does well too. I also liked seeing Tessa Thompson again, who I first really saw in Creed. I ended up binge watching the entire season over two days thanks to it being so good. Grade: A+

Batman V Superman: I finally saw it thanks to the subscription and while it wasn’t a great film it wasn’t terrible either. My issues with it were the length and the odd tonal shifts where they tried to shoehorn in items for the next Justice League movie. While a lot of people were harping on Affleck being Batman when it was first announced, my issue at the time was with Eisenberg being Lex Luthor. I’m happy to say his performance as Luthor wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Grade: B-

Independence Day: Resurgence: Not good. There was mediocre CGI, bad green screen, lame plot. And that was in the first 30 minutes because I fell asleep after that. So, I can’t really say I saw the movie. Another noteworthy item – “Madam President” is introduced within the first few minutes of the film, instantly dating itself to the dark times of the mid-teens where Hollywood was simply assuming the next President would be Hillary Clinton and was helping pave the way. Grade: D (from what I saw of it)

X-Men Apocalypse: While it was nothing that hasn’t been seen before, it was a decent movie and it being set in the 80s was fun. Sansa Stark, I mean Sophie Turner, played a young Jean well and I liked seeing how Charles Xavier lost his hair. Truthfully, there’s been so many X-Men movies, I have no idea if this is supposed to be in an alternate timeline or not compared to others from the 2000s as well as others from this decade. Regardless, it was a fun movie. Grade: B

Spoilers?

I rented and streamed The Devil’s Candy this past weekend based on a review by Chris Stuckmann and the fact that most reviewers are giving it positive reviews. Unfortunately, I found the film to be mediocre. The issue I had with it was that it basically seemed like a standard slasher flick. Yea, it’s an indie film and some may like the artsy take on it, but all I found that part to be was an homage to heavy metal music. And that’s pretty much all the film was – a crazy guy killing children to the backdrop of heavy metal music. Even the climactic ending seemed like it was simply an homage to heavy metal music videos and album covers.

That having been said, I liked the performances of all the actors involved especially the three family members (Kiara Glasco, the teenager, is definitely one to watch for a good film career in the future), but unfortunately, Pruitt Taylor Vince, the killer, plays his typecast character the same as most everywhere else he’s been. Which is to say very well, but I’ve seen the exact same actor playing the exact same character in movies a couple of times before (the first one being 2003’s Identity with John Cusack).

Also, Vudu had streaming problems Saturday evening when I wanted to watch the film and I ended up having to watch it Sunday evening. Lame.

Grade: C+

P.S. I found the creepiest scene to be the one where the killer appears in the girl’s bed.

The movie Red Dawn is a guilty pleasure of mine and I watch it every few years. I’m talking about the original 1984 film, not the shitty 2012 remake. The premise of Red Dawn, where Cuban troops, backed by the Soviet Union, suddenly invade the heart of America via Mexico, is preposterous, although people who lived in that time period and analyzed military strategy would love to tell you the sequence of events portrayed at the very beginning of the film and the attack vectors used by the invading troops were entirely plausible.

I find the ridiculousness of it mainly to be that the invasion happens without warning with the town’s residents seemingly oblivious to the fact that Mexico and the rest of central America became communist states and NATO had basically been dissolved in their timeline. Then there’s the fact that high school students help lead the resistance to the communist invasion magically learning war strategy and technology along the way and finding the time to write WOLVERINES all over everything before heading back to the mountains to camp. As one review at the time put it, “for too much of its running time, it’s just a childishly simplistic masturbatory fantasy for right-wing hebephrenics…”

But it’s still an entertaining movie and it’s one the left loves to hate. The recent hyperbolic hyperpartisan hyperventilation tm about Trump and his staff’s links to Russia makes me long for the days of the 1980s where the ridiculousness of Red Dawn pales in comparison to the current narrative of the mainstream media and the left. To review, the left believes that Russia has effectively performed a coup d’état of the United States without the use of military force by turning Trump and his staff. This isn’t a straw man argument given the articles and headlines I’ve read. The recent resignation of Flynn and Sessions being in the news is all the left needs as proof that this has happened. This is remarkable news for a couple of reasons, because under this theory:

A) the United States no longer exists, and
B) it represents the greatest intelligence failure or silent corruption, of any country’s intelligence community, ever

The theory first presented itself the day after Trump won the presidential election, which would mean at least some in the (former) United States intelligence community had to have known about it prior to election day and simply allowed or were forced to allow it to happen. Surely, someone would have spoken out the day before the election? No? Nevermind the ridiculousness of it all and that the left is now behaving worse than 1950s McCarthyism, I’m curious what the left’s movie treatment of the great Russian takeover of the United States will be like. I imagine it could be a thriller, like one of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novel-turned-movie treatments, like the Hunt for Red October where Alec Baldwin sniffs out the Russians.

But, I fear the movie would be more like Brokeback Mountain where Putin and Trump grow to have a love affair after they both meet on tumblr and discover they are gender fluid or something. I’m not sure who would portray Putin, but Trump would be played again, by Alec Baldwin, of course. In the movie, Rebels wearing pink vagina hats and pant suits repeatedly scream and shout “NOT MY PRESIDENT!” while furiously posting to social media that they are literally shaking, then Putin and Trump realize the errors of their ways in a heart to heart and give the United States to Hillary Clinton, the rightful and just dictator, as they ride off into the sunset back to Russia with everyone who didn’t vote for Clinton. I’m sure that’s a masturbatory fantasy of the current left-wing hebephrenics.

The movie is then nominated for an Oscar, but the wrong winner is announced.

P.S. I admit it, I had to look up what the hell a hebephrenic was.

Further Reading:  https://medium.com/theyoungturks/the-basic-formula-for-every-shocking-russia-trump-revelation-e9ae390d9f05#.l45kgmqfg

Misunderstood Movies discusses movies that I assume one has seen. Thus, there are spoilers.

Reading reviews of The Forgotten, a 2004 film starring Julianne Moore, reveals that not many people like it – they found the premise and ending laughably bad. I found it to be a fresh take on an old science fiction trope, though, and while I didn’t think it was a great movie, I didn’t think it was all that bad either. The director, Joseph Ruben, had another interesting science fiction movie to his credit, Dreamscape, 20 years earlier.

The main character (I’m just going to straight up call her Julianne Moore), Moore, wakes up one morning to not have a nine year old son, even though she is sure she has one. The film sees her psychiatrist tell her she had a miscarriage and that she is suffering some form of psychosis as a result of the miscarriage years ago. Her husband, trying to be supportive, says basically the same.

Moore, intent on investigating, finds that not all is what it seems. She tracks down a man she remembers had a daughter and eventually he remembers his daughter. Together they go on the run while agents pursue them. Several scenes telegraph that it is aliens who are doing this to them. By the end of the film, it is revealed that it is indeed aliens doing it to them. The film ends.

Yep, that’s pretty much it. But the film is more a psychological thriller and it’s more the journey to the conclusion that makes it a fairly likable film to me. Reading reviews and people’s thoughts on the film reveal that nobody understood the fact that the film is portraying humans as laboratory rats even though everyone understood it was aliens who were the experimenters. The humans are literally laboratory rats, as seen in the scenes where they are suddenly pulled into the sky. It’s as if there’s an unseen tail on the human that suddenly gets yanked and the rat gets pulled away out of the experiment.

It’s even said by the psychiatrist (played by Gary Sinise) towards the end:

“They’ve been doing it for years. Maybe forever…We just try to minimize the damage…You’ve held on and they don’t know why. You’re just a lab rat to them.”

Also, when the alien presents itself, she’s in an airplane hangar. But look closer and it’s really just a rat in a maze and the alien experimenter is continuing to try to guide her. Seeing reviews and comments on the film, I don’t think many people got this. For example, Roger Ebert casually mentions it as if the hangar scene is simply a cliché:

I could easily be wrong, though, with most people having gotten the rat thing and laughing at the premise anyway. I also enjoyed the hangar scene because the actor portrayed the alien rather creepily throughout the film and I liked his “You…need…to…FORGET!” and his wipe of her memory of her child being born.

Also, the scene where the agents come out of nowhere and ram her car was very effective and is something that was copied immediately after the film came out and continues to be copied to this day. I specifically remember a set of Volkswagen commercials trying to copy this, but they weren’t nearly as effective.

It also doesn’t hurt that Moore is easy on the eyes. That’s all I’ve got for The Forgotten.