Andrew is right; the movies that have come out lately are largely blah. They’re not good enough to rave about, but they’re not bad enough to criticize. That said, I do have a few thoughts on some movies I’ve seen recently, just not enough to warrant an entire article on any one. Here we go:
The Butler (2013)
I liked this movie better when it was called Forest Gump. This is your typical nostalgia piece, rolling through the decades over the shoulder of a simple protagonist who had the smarts to go with the zeitgeist while everyone else was fighting it. Things to look for: cameos by big name actors doing pitiful impersonations of former presidents; Oprah reprises her role as Oprah.
Fant4stic Bore (2015)
This snooze fest handily steals the title of Worst Superhero Movie Ever from Catwoman. The Halle Berry vehicle merely squatted over the source material before kicking sand over it. Upping the ante, Fantastic Four forgoes even telling a story and has no characters in it. Oh sure, there are actors doing stuff and calling each other names that aren’t theirs, but who are these people? What do they want? What do they care about? Why does a black man have a black son but a white daughter? None of these things are addressed even as ugly John Cusack, the slut from House of Cards, the other Michael Jordan, and grownup Billy Elliot cross the streams and turn into X-Men—or something like that.
Lest you think I just plan to rag on every movie, this one is really cute and I recommend it. There’s just not a lot to say as it is essentially a feature-length cartoon in the spirit of Tom and Jerry or Sylvester and Tweety. I loved the score so much, I bought the soundtrack on my phone before I even left the theater. Buying soundtracks is not a typical move for me.
Ex Machina (2015) / Terminator Genisys (2015) / Transcendence (2014)
A.I. is bad and it will kill you.
Actually, I enjoyed the Terminator sequel for what it was. Actually, maybe this is a reboot. With the messed up continuity of the Terminator franchise, who can tell? An interesting tidbit: the producers of Genisys didn’t have rights to reuse footage from the 1984 film, so they copied some of the original scenes.
Oh, look! It’s Capt. Jack Sparrow! Again… Seriously, the only thing more tired than Depp’s drunken sailor routine are his claims that somehow each of the characters is based on something different.
While neither of these movies warrants a full review, they do deserve a quick comparison. Obviously, Vacation is the official successor to the Chevy Chase franchise, with Ed Helms playing a grownup Rusty Griswold trying to relive his childhood road trip to Wally World. It tries, vainly, to replicate gags from its parent, but it is held back by PC sensibilities, overt partisanship, crude bathroom humor, and zero chemistry between the cast. Worse, a joint cameo by Chase and Beverly D'Angelo only kills what little momentum the movie has.
Conversely, the Millers feel much more like spiritual successors to the Griswolds. Jason Sudeikis plays a low-level weed dealer who, to get out of a bind, agrees to smuggle a “smidge” of marijuana into the US from Mexico. As cover, he recruits a stripper (Jennifer Aniston) and a couple of teen delinquents to form a fake All-American family on an RV roadtrip. Everything about this film is better: it’s funnier, it’s fresher, it’s edgier, it’s not driving any agenda, and most importantly, there’s excellent chemistry among the actors.
If you like nostalgia, dinosaurs, and Chris Pratt—and I know I do—you’re sure to like this movie, because it has those things. Is this the best Jurassic Park movie yet? Not on your life. But it is an enjoyable time waster. I really like the direction they went with the backstory: Jurassic Park has become a commercial success to the point where both park management and visitors have gotten blasé about giant carnivores and safety protocols. That’s not so good. They don’t go too deep in the weeds about it, though, which is fine. Because what we really want to see are big dinos and Chris Pratt.
Well, those are some movies I’ve seen lately. There were others, but they were so unremarkable that I didn’t. In other viewing, if you haven’t watched Netflix’s Stranger Things, you should. And what’s wrong with you? Haven’t you heard everybody raving about it!?
Have you seen any movies lately that did nothing more than bring you 110 minutes closer to death? Feel free to drop a one, two, or three sentence review of a movie you don’t recommend.