The Thangs I Watched In May

Here’s an incomplete list of the things I looked at, sometimes loved, sometimes liked, or simply tolerated this month:

Army of the Dead

As much a s I complain about him, I do actually like Zack Snyder’s movies, and Man of Steel in particular, although I will roll my eyes at certain scenes. I’ve been looking forward to this movie, since I heard of it, expecting it to be great fun. It was, along with some added notes of pathos, and a couple of surprises. Like all of Zack Snyder’s films, there were a lot of great moments, a few good ones, some just okay ones, and sometimes moments of frustration, where I could do nothing but feel exasperated. The plot is a typical Ocean’s 11 style heist, only with added zombie.

All of the spectacle is there. I especially liked the first fifteen minutes, which were some pretty awesome action -packed scenes, along with the title scenes, featuring the fall of Las Vegas, which kind of reminded me of the hilarious opening scenes of the first Zombieland film, only less funny. This however, is not a fun/laugh riot sort of movie, although it does contain the requisite jokes that must be present in all zombie movies. Yes, there is a zombie tiger, her name is Valentine, and she is as awesome as promised in the trailer. There’s a lot of death of course, some betrayal, some great one-liners, and lots of shooting, so the movie had all of the expected things from the genre, but I was still mildly disappointed at the end, mostly because some things I wanted to happen just didn’t, and there was, of course, the required rape threat moment, which is handily dealt with by the other characters. This is something that used to bother me in Zack’s films, but another thing I noticed about such scenes, is that the guys who do it, always die horribly, as if Zack is punishing such characters. There’s a backstory in there somewhere because:

Something which needs mentioning is the relationship between the lead character, Scott, played by Bautista, and his daughter, Kate. Knowing what I know about Zack Snyder’s backstory, this relationship takes on special significance, and I had the distinct impression that he created her character as a tribute to his late daughter, and the conversations they could have, or should have had, and I found myself unexpectedly tearing up! Scott seemed like a stand in for Zack himself, which was kind of heartbreaking. Scott is a touchingly flawed character, who is brave, when it comes to guns and shooting things, but runs away from difficult emotional entanglements, and that cost him his daughter’s regard. It’s interesting to me that some of the character’s decide to take on this heist, not for themselves, but to benefit others. The movie also touches on a lot of other themes, like social media, parenthood, friendship, sacrifice, and the American border camps that existed at the time. You spend just enough time with these characters that you care when they die. One of the more touching moments was watching the German safe cracker, Dieter, a skinny, nervous, white dude, bonding with Vanderone, Omari Hardwick’s traumatized ex-soldier. I wasn’t expecting that, and I thought their relationship was lovely and surprising, especially since it was happening right under my nose, and I didn’t really see it until a second viewing.

Is this worth the watch? Yes! Its not a bad film. It has all the gore you want, some interesting zombies, some great zombie shooting action, zombie biting action, Tig Notaro hamming it up, (I loved her!!!), and lots of explosions. The zombies themselves are interesting, as you get two flavors for the price of one, the fast, thinking zombies, called Alphas, and the slow mindless Shamblers. For those of you who require just a little more emotional substance, it has just enough to make the movie interesting, but I did want a little bit more. I guess I will get more, because the movie is set up for there to be a whole franchise, including an animated pre-quel, about Dieter, all of which will air on Netflix, in the coming year.

Booksmart

I finally got around to seeing this, after putting it on my watch list, some time ago. I was expecting more angst than comedy. I was expecting more darkness, and drama, but the movie claims to be a light comedy, and it actually is, and I found that refreshing. I see why so many people liked this movie. It was smart, and sweet, and deeply resonant ,at least for me. I decided to take the plunge, and watch it this weekend, after I saw a trailer of the two lead characters having a “complimentary” fight, which heavily reminded me of a scene from the movie, Sorry to Bother You.

Its about two best friends, Molly (played by one of my favorite actresses, Beanie Feldstein) and Amy, on the cusp of graduating from high school, who decide they need to go buck wild for their last day/night of school. (These are two of the cutest friends in filmdom. I loved watching their relationship and spending time with the them.) Molly decides she needs to do something wild and crazy, after she realizes that some of the other kids managed to get into Yale and Harvard, just like her, while doing the one thing she refused to do, which was have lots of fun. As there will be a number of parties the night before graduation, Molly decides she and Amy need to attend, and that Amy should put the make on that hot skater girl she’s been eyeballing all year, and that she should let the class vice president know she’s infatuated with him. The two of them have a series of wild adventures while trying to make it to the party. It’s essentially the plot of the 90s movie, House Party, for white girls, so it has less violence.

I kinda fell in love with all these silly characters, and the school was not unlike the school I attended, (a small, arts school, in the Midwest, which only had a graduating class of about fifty people!) You can tell this movie was written by women, because all the girls talk so much like girls. In fact, all the teens feel like how teens actually might seem. Sure, there are cliques and rivalries, and some people are more dramatic than others, but over all most of the students get along and/or like each other, or at least, try to. I kept expecting something really embarrassing, or horrible, to happen to the characters, because I like to fret, but the most horrible thing to happen was the party being interrupted by the police, after Molly and Amy have a difference of opinion. My favorite character however was Gigi, and her friend Jared, who were like the movie’s spirit people. Gigi kept showing up everywhere, and being really, really strange, yet oddly supportive, of the lead duo, even though she spiked some fruit she gave them, with a hallucinatory drug, and their reaction was one of the movie’s highlights. I’m still not entirely clear about GiGi being a real person, and not an hallucination herself!

This movie was a lot of fun, and if the director, Olivia Wilde, comes up with something else, I’ll be happy to give it a look-see. I watched this on Hulu.

Cells At Work

OMG!!!! This series is sooo cute! If you liked the movie Osmosis Jones, (and I did), this is just like it, but in anime series form. I remember watching Osmosis Jones with my little sisters, and explaining to them that the movie was a simulation of how the human body actually worked, and really enjoying those conversations because it was one of my favorite films. Cells at Work takes this one step further, by following the lives and adventures of the blood cells in the human body. This series is based on the Manga of the same name, and features a red blood cell, who keeps running into a hard-core white blood cell, whose job it is to kill germs in the body.

I love the way all the cells are depicted here, with their personalities suiting their function in the body. The T-Cells are helpful, the white blood cells are hard line warriors, the red blood cells are kind of naive, but the highlight of the series is watching these cells fight off intruders to the body, and mapping that with how the body actually treats germs. I had no idea what this show was about, until I saw a doctor on Youtube, who was asked to review the series. The series is basically teaching kids Human Biology 101! It talks about different diseases attacking the body, and how the cells might deal with them, while including a touch of drama, with the cell’s relationships to each other. Some of the episodes address medications, venereal disease, and yes, vaccines, so its a little more in depth than Osmosis, and I loved it. I haven’t finished the first season yet, and there is a second season. The show airs on Netflix.

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Let me get out in front and state that I have not read this book, although I have read some of Dicken’s other works. It s basically the story of David’s life, and the rise and fall, and rise and fall, of his fortunes, as a young man living in Victorian England. Dev Patel turns in a great performance, although at least a couple of the other actors outshine him, because all of the characters are very, very strange people. I mostly liked this movie, but since I never read the book, I can’t speak as to the accuracy of the plot ,and although I’ve enjoyed other books by Dicken’s I have no plans to read this one. The casting for this movie is …inspired, and true version of totally colorblind casting. They really just went after the best actors for these roles, completely disregarding race or color, although I do wish there had been more Asian actors, as Gemma Chan would have been a delight to watch. I just like seeing Asian actors in European historical films, I guess.

Mortal Kombat

I have mixed feelings about this movie. I really wanted to like it ,and its got some great moments in it, but ultimately I walked away dissatisfied. Although, I understand some people really liked it, it didn’t really work for me, beyond the first,and maybe the last, fifteen minutes, which I thought were awesome. I feel like the movie mad a number of missteps that could have been rectified if they’d just let Hiroyuki Sanada’s character, Scorpion, carry the entire film. I have nothing against Lewis Tan, but I don’t think this was the best vehicle to showcase his talents. I thought his presence was entirely unnecessary, especially since he wasn’t in any of the games I played. I think his character was made up for the movie.

Another character who was in the games is Kano, and I do think there is such a thing as there being too much of a good thing, because he could have shut up at any time, and I would have been relieved. He’s not a bad character, although he is a villain, but he just talked too damn much, and I kept wishing he would just be quiet. I liked the other characters okay, and I enjoyed seeing Liu Kang, Jax, and Raiden, for sentimental reasons, abut I didn’t get any emotional connection to any of them, and the movie could have spent less time with Cole and given us more of the rivalry between Sub Zero and Scorpion. My favorite character was Kung Lao, but the movie didn’t do anything interesting with him, as far as the plot, and I was disappointed at how his character arc played out.

I guess this version is as much worth watching as the original film, even if its only for the first fifteen minutes. I probably won’t watch it again, although its not a “bad” film. I just wanted more from it than I got, and your expectations may be different.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

This is a movie that deserves its own post. I was never one of those people who were loudly clamoring for the Zack Snyder cut of this movie. I liked the first edit okay, but I feel this was the better film, as it incorporated more of the director’s authentic vision, and I don’t hate Zack Snyder. Really!

I watched it, and I genuinely liked it, but the reasons why are complicated, and tied up in my current distaste for Joss Whedon, so I’ll have to get back to y’all on this one, but I will say, that I enjoyed this immensely. Even if I wasn’t one of the people calling for its release, I’m good with it.

I also watched the first three episodes of:

Yasuke

I didn’t finish this series, and there are some things I wanted from it that I’m not getting, but its okay. I like the animation style, and unlike some reviewers, i was okay with all the fantastical elements in the plot, like robots, were-bears, and general magic. Its the kind of stuff I like in a movie, although I wish it were live action. Like most anime, your liking of this will depend on what you want, vs. what you get.

The Eternals

The trailer for Chloe Zao’s The Eternals just dropped. It has an epic feel, kind of like the new Dune, and its a gorgeous looking film, unlike some of the other MCU movies. How different it is from the other MCU films remains to be seen, but I liked this trailer okay ,and I hope the movie lives up to this promise. I also wonder how they’re going to square the existence of The Eternals, with what happened in The Avengers. ( I have heard that in the comic books, Thanos is, or was one of The Eternals, and yes, half of them died during The Snap too, but this is just a rumor I heard.)

Yes, the very same Thanos who snapped half the universe into oblivion in Infinity Gauntlet (and more memorably on screen in Avengers: Infinity War) is actually a member of the Eternal race. And a member of their opposing force, the Deviants. It’s very complicated.

Its interesting to see Disney hiring other types of directors, besides straight white guys, which is refreshing. They can hire those guys to do movies about straight white heroes, but I feel they’re doing the correct thing here, by hiring women and PoC to direct films about other types of characters.

Movies I’m looking forward to:

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard – This looks really funny. I always like when Salma Hayek does comedic roles, and Morgan Freeman and Antonio Banderas are in this, too.

The Green Knight – More Dev Patel, because I’m alright with watching him do anything, in a movie.

Snake Eyes : GI Joe Origins – This looks like what Mortal Kombat should have been. Its interesting to see Hollywood catching on to the idea that Americans want to see Asian Action heroes. Now if we could just get Hollywood to cast them in things other than martial arts action films….not that I mind this, but I want to see them in Horror movies (John Cho) and dramas (Steven Yeun), too.

2 thoughts on “The Thangs I Watched In May

  1. I am a huge fan of “Directors Cuts” because usually their ego is better for a film than a studio Executive’s thirst for $$$…not sure where Zack Snyder’s sense of humor went, but he is as ponderous at times as Christopher Nolan…in other words, I will watch both of the Snyder films with a cautious eye, and I haven’t met ANYONE who liked or understood “Tenet!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved Tenet, though!!!😄😄😄

      I’ve watched it multiple times, however. One piece of advice is not to try to parse the movie for comprehension. You gotta go into it with the idea of “feeling” the plot and the characters. I loved the “experience “ of sitting through it! It’s an intuitive sort of movie, if you get my meaning.
      But also I’m a firm believer that people watch movies in different ways, for different reasons, and some films are just meant for some people, and others, not so much, and I think Tenet was meant for people who watch movies the way I do…

      Like

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