2019 In Film Day 5: The Very Good

Now we get into the “seriously?” stage. The one where people wonder how I can be so petty to put a film in this category just for something inconsequential. Truth is, there could be an argument for any one of these being in the next blog (the amazeballs). But this is the most personal, the ones which I really really liked, but for whatever reason, just didn’t make me love them. For most of these, in fact, it will be really hard for me to find negatives about them, to the point where I’m going to come off as a really picky mother-fucker. Some of these films are BEAUTIFUL, and there’s at least one I’m genuinely surprised didn’t get more Academy Award nominations.

Ad Astra

Oddly enough, this film is timeless. Yes, it’s about space, but really the story it’s telling could have been written hundreds of years ago. It’s a story about exploration and isolation. Replace “space” with “Ocean” and “spaceship” with “regular water-based ship with cannons and things” then this story would still work. It came at just the right time for me, I had just seen *shudders* Wolf and needed something to reaffirm my faith in cinema. This was perfect for that, a fantastic CINEMA film. Sadly you don’t seem to get as many of them any more, films where you really gain something by watching it at the cinema (and to those who say “Endgame”, f*ck off, you’re wrong. I watched that on a plane and didn’t lose anything from the movie, unlike the time I tried to watch A Quiet Place on a plane and it just did not work). How this didn’t get nominated for more Oscar’s is a genuine mystery to me.

Original review here

+The sense of scale is awe-inspiring

-Lacks emotion at times.

Beautiful Boy

I kind of want to put this in its own section. Because it was better than good, but it wasn’t as good as Ben Is Back, which wasn’t good enough to be awesome. It’s a shame that this film came out the same year as Ben Is Back to be honest, as it means comparisons will be made between the two. And when you do that then this film can’t compare. It’s a shame as this film is still really good on its own merits. The central performances are believable, and it looks great. It’s a great depiction of the effect addiction can have on families.

Original review here

+Breaks your heart at times

-Everything it does well, another film does better.

Ben Is Back

So damn good. In the last few years I’ve come to really love the work of Julia Roberts. Her work in this is superb, the emotional frailty is there to see, but you still recognise her as a badass. This film does a great job of humanising addiction and showing us why it happens. Importantly it’s the first film in a long time which talks about the role of the medical profession in causing addictions.

Original review here

+Will break your heart

-I appreciated it more than I loved it.

Blinded By The Light

A film which had a genuine love for Springsteen. This film showed the power of music, just how it can affect peoples lives. Music changes everything, and this film shows just how. At times it was genuinely heartwarming. So what stops it being awesome? There are quite a few moments which seem pointless, particularly the opening. There are also moments where you get the feeling the film only had the budget for a select few Springsteen songs so there’s quite a bit of repetition. It’s a shame as with a few tweaks this could have been great.

Original review here

+The general feeling it gives you.

-Viveik Kalra’s performance is occasionally flat.

Captain Marvel

This film is not just good, it’s also incredibly important. When I originally reviewed it I said:

I did genuinely love this movie and it’s likely to be one of my favourites of the year.

I was wrong. Now I’ve had time away from it the flaws have become more apparent. The big one is the complete lack of narrative tension. We know she survives this movie, so we always knew she’d be fine. The CGI was ropey at times, and the soundtrack was just not good (one scene, in particular, was made a lot worse by the choice of music). On the plus side, it was a lot of fun, and Brie Larson is pretty much perfect in it.

Original review here

+A great popcorn movie

-The turn is super obvious

Good Boys

Very, very funny. It’s marked down because of one scene which totally took me out of the film. Sat there watching it and thought “they should definitely be dead”. It’s also excruciating to watch, but in a good way. It reminds you of how much of a dick you were when you were younger. If, by the way, you’re reading this and thinking “I wasn’t a dick when I was growing up” then that means you’re still a dick now, and just haven’t realised it. Sorry, those are the rules.

Original review here

+It has a refreshingly suitable attitude to women. The women in this film aren’t just props, they’re fully developed characters. That’s depressingly rare in this genre.

-The one scene.

Joker

Yeah, that’s right, I’m putting it in this blog, not the amazing one, come fight me. Actually please don’t, I have the muscle mass of a damp tea bag. The more distance I have from this the less I like it. I don’t think it would have the audience it does if it wasn’t for the batman connection, but those parts are the weakest of the film. Yes, Phoenix is amazing as the lead, but the rest of the cast are sorely underused to the point where it seems like a waste of a lot of good talent. It’s also incredibly unsubtle and derivative to the point where it doesn’t so much wear its influences on its sleeves, but fashion an entire suit out of them. It in no way deserved all the academy awards it was nominated for, I don’t get how anyone can genuinely say the costume design for this was better than Rocketman for instance. This film reminds me of Fight Club, in that a lot of the audience is made up of angry white men, and if you mention anything bad about this film they do not take it well at all. Seriously, mention to someone that you don’t like Fight Club and prepare for a lecture on how you’re wrong and it’s the best film of all time you’re just too stupid to understand it, it’s the same with this. And I don’t want to be part of a fandom filled with that mention assholes.

Original review here

+Phoenix is amazing.

-Tremendously overrated.

Jumanji: The Next Level

Actually really enjoyed this movie. The cast improved upon their performances from the first one. It’s exactly the same as the second one, but bigger. The stakes are higher, there are more characters, it’s all a very natural progression from the previous one. Plus it makes me really excited to see what’s next, so it has to be deemed a success. The downside? I don’t think I’m going to purchase it on DVD until after the next one has come out.

Original review here

+So funny.

-A bit obvious in places.

Long Shot

I really enjoyed this film. It’s incredibly smart and funny, and it’s just what’s needed right now. It has a lot to say about gender in a supposed “post-feminism” world. It does a great job of showing how “but we’re all equal now” is bullshit. It helps that it’s REALLY funny. On the downside it is a bit long, the opening especially feels like it drags.

Original review here

+Incredibly important.

-Very predictable. You’ll be able to guess the whole story by the trailer.

The Lego Movie: Part 2

Not as good as the first one, but I feel part of that might be due to expectations. Nobody had any expectations of the first one being any good, so it’s thought of as being better than it really is (don’t get me wrong, it is still REALLY good). This one had the expectations of that already there, plus of The Lego Batman movie (which I personally love). I would consider this better than the first film if it wasn’t for the opening. The first half of the film is incredibly dull. The second half is amazing though, full of emotion and incredible depth. It’s the first film I’ve seen which seems to realise that being overly serious is not the same as being adult. Not enough films will outright state that that is just as juvenile.

Original review here

+The message is incredibly important, and one I haven’t seen in a film before. It’s essentially “it’s okay to enjoy things. Being happy is valid”

-The first half doesn’t really work

Zombieland: Double Tap

If you liked the first film, you’ll love this. That’s all there is to it really. The pacing is a little off and one of the sub-plots really feels like it drags the film down. One of them has a pacifist character who is really underdeveloped and we’re not really sure how he’s survived that long, could have been interesting to find out. On a plus side; the chemistry is still there between the leads, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

Original review here

+Bill Murray’s ending cameo is perfect

-Not necessary. 

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

Film reviews can be many things: they can be an analysis of the techniques used, a discussion on the relevance of the film subject in a modern world, or even a way to showcase hidden depths within a media some might think of as shallow. Well, professional reviews are anyway, with me, they are basically a long pretentious way to answer one question: Should I see this movie?

With this, I’d say yes, with a but (lol, I said “butt”). I’d see the second one first, if you didn’t like that, you won’t like this (but also, what the hell is wrong with you?), if you like it, you’ll like this. It has the same flaws and brilliance. I found my mini-review of it (before I started doing a review of every cinema film) in which I said this:

“Holy hell this was a lot of fun. I think I actually might prefer it to the original. Got some of the loudest and most consistent laughs from other people in the audience out of any film I’ve seen.

+The performances. All the main characters are basically avatars of other characters. So they have to be played the same way the original characters are (think the scene in Harry Potter where Hermione pretends to be Bellatrix, like that, throughout the entire film). Not the easiest thing to do, but they all do it really well. Jack Black, in particular, makes a fantastic teenage girl, and Karen Gillans “no idea how to flirt” scene was hilarious.

-The entire film you can’t escape the feeling that you miss Robin Williams”

Okay I was kind of wrong with “the performances” part. Yes, Jack Black and Karen Gillan were great, but Kevin Hart was just playing himself, and The Rock didn’t throw himself into it as much as you felt he could have. They completely fix that with this, you occasionally have to remember that that actually is The Rock, and he hasn’t actually been possessed by Danny DeVito. Same with Kevin Hart and Danny Glover; Kevin Hart completely nails Danny Glover’s mannerisms and demeanour.

The addition of DeVito and Glover to the cast takes some getting used to (there are moments where it feels like they’re stretching certain jokes out until they become unbearable), but they do end up (about a third of the way in) meshing into the dynamics of the film and wondering how the previous one managed without them.

Other than that, this film is basically the last one, again, but bigger. It’s just as funny, just as great to look at, and the music is really good (something I hadn’t noticed before was how good the score is). So yeah, I would recommend seeing it, seeing it in 3D isn’t completely necessary, and didn’t seem to make much of a difference, so just see it in 2D if you want. You won’t regret it, it’s funny, heartwarming, and has a REALLY subtle link to the first one, with a returning character who you might not even remember. The story isn’t great, and anybody who has ever seen a film will guess one of the “so that’s her powers” moments before it happens, and is so obvious I thought there was no way they would actually do it. Some character motivations aren’t entirely consistent and there are moments which are just done to forward the story. But it doesn’t matter, the film is fun enough to make you forget that. Plus it sets up a sequel beautifully, and a sequel you actually want to happen.