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Favorite Edit of the Year (FEOTY) Nominations for 2020 are now open! Submit your entries here.
Horse Girl. Despite a terrific performance from Alison Brie, I found this movie to be a missed opportunity. What starts as a quirky comedy moves into a serious examination of mental health. Unfortunately the movie doesn’t pivot successfully and it ends up feeling like it trivializes the issues.
I watched New Mutants last night. Not the best X-Men movie but far from the worst. I would have liked to have seen them actually use their Mutant names, and I would have liked to have seen Sam/Cannonball use his powers in the final fight (or did I just miss it?). I also think Illyana/Magik's powers could have been a bit better explained on-screen. Otherwise I thought it was perfectly fine, if not amazing. Pairing them up with McAvoy's Xavier in the next movie to take on Essex Corp/Mister Sinister would have been fun, but we'll never see it now.
I "watched" these while I was doing other work during the week.
Clear and Present Danger (1994)
One of my favorite political thrillers. Harrison Ford is the quintessential Jack Ryan. The cast is perfect. The acting is great. It doesn't pretend to be anything more than what it is, but what it is is a fantastic film. 10/10
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)
I like Chris Pine and think he could have been a great ongoing Jack Ryan, but alas this movie is lack luster and struggles to take cold war era stories and bring them into current day. Branagh plays a convincing creep of a baddie here, but ultimately characters aren't really given any development throughout. The hallmark of C&PD and THfRO are that they didn't try to be action flicks. They were great movies that had some elements as a result of the story they told. This one tried too hard to be Bourne and ended up being a run of the mill action espionage movie without much soul. 6.5/10
The Sum of All Fears (2002)
I found myself not even glancing much at the tv while this one was on, unless Morgan Freeman was on screen. The movie became noise for the background, and not much at that. I'm not an Affleck fan and this movie reiterated that for me. Morgan Freeman is great as always, but even he couldn't help me like this Jack Ryan outing. 4/10
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
Iconic. Without this one we wouldn't have any of the others. The format and presentation of this film influenced many others. James Earl Jones is great and shows why he stuck around for 3 films. Baldwin's portrayal of Jack Ryan is a little too confident and uppity for my personal taste. That's not to say that he didn't do a good job, he's just not my preferred Jack Ryan. I always find it funny how Connery has that thick Scottish accent and is a born and raised Russian commander. Sam Neill, Tim Curry, all the cast are on their A games here and do a fantastic job. This 30 year old film is far more engaging than the mindless action flicks of today and attempts to ground itself in reality to create its suspense. 8/10
Jack Ryan rated from favorite to least favorite: Harrison Ford: It's Harrison Ford. He's confident, but not cocky. He's flawed, but has integrity. He's unsure, but resolute. John Krasinski: His portrayal is similar to Ford's, but in an updated present day way. While I don't so much care for the series he is in, he's the 2nd best Jack Ryan in my book. Alec Baldwin/Chris Pine: These two are on par for me. I prefer watching Pine more than Baldwin, but Baldwin is more Jack Ryan in my mind than Pine's rendition.
oh yeah, Ben Affleck played Jack Ryan....his character in what we get here is basically the same as any other role he's played. Yes, Ford and Pine are similar in this regard, but I feel like I'm watching Affleck act whereas I'm watching Ford and Pine portray their interpretation of a character. I always feel Affleck roles are characters as Affleck when it should be the other way around.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
I still didn't care for this movie, but I realized this time that it wasn't made for my generation. I grew up with the Tobey Maguire Spidey and he still remains the purest Spidey of the live actions, imho. This movie was ok and I found myself realizing that Andrew Garfield was actually probably a better in costume Spidey in terms of fitting the iconic look of Spider-Man from the comics. I get why they would want to move quickly through the origin story as we've all seen it before, but I wish they would have just dropped us into a story and then worked more on the characters and how they relate to each other. For example, Flash goes from Peter's bully to best friend without any explanation. The CGI was eh...The story was eh...Definitely not the best, but not the worst super hero movie I've seen. 5.75/10
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
The music in this was SO distracting. I love Hans Zimmer and Mike Einziger, but this was just too much bombastic synthy superman ripoff techno crunch for me. I also felt the Phillips Phillips song was a little on the nose and tv sitcom-ish. Characters here are hollow and connections to Harry are unexplained and ultimately lacking. Everything happens too quickly and Gwen and Peter are magically back together at the beginning after being split at the end of the first outing...Oh and even Spidey couldn't have survived all of that current. Speaking of, Jamie Foxx's talent was grosely misused here and he was reduced to a side note....in fact there isn't even a real main bad guy in this movie. The main antagonist seems to be the relationship between Peter and Gwen. This movie was like a slimfast shake trying to pretend it was a 1950's malt shake. Chalky and synthetic. 4.5/10
You sir, are wrong Gaith already responded well about your thoughts on ASM1, and my upcoming ASM2 defense video will respond to your thoughts on that one Amazing Spider-Man 2 is sooo misunderstood and underrated
Again, I gotta disagree, especially when compared to Spider-Man '02. Anyone is of course perfectly entitled to prefer the various characterizations of that movie, but, if one were counting screen time and distinct character beats, I think one would find that ASM1's Ben, May, and Gwen all get objectively more development than SM1's Ben, May, and MJ. (Connors and Norman Osborn probably get similar amounts of development, and I'll freely admit Connors' characterization lifts a lot from SM2's Doc Ock.) And, I think the Peter-Gwen relationship is far more built up and credible than Maguire and Dunst making drippy faces at each other, particularly since ASM1's Peter doesn't gaslight his crush by maintaining his double identity.
(And, again, I gotta ask: why are Peter and Harry such close friends in SM1, such that they share an apartment? What do a rich lout who's flunked out of several private schools and a painfully shy nerd have in common? IIRC, the movie cheats by having them start out as best friends, albeit for no discernible reason.)
Though I mostly agree with you Gaith I gotta say SM1 has great characterizations for both MJ and Harry. Gwen blows them out of the water, sure, but MJ and Harry in SM1 (and Harry in ASM2) certainly deserve more credit. Especially in comparison to Ned and Michelle. Bleh. I think HiTop Films put it very well in his Raimi vid as well.
What I like best about this film is that you don't spend half the movie screaming at the leads to do the obvious thing. They don't even scale up gradually, they pretty much directly deal with the conundrum they're in the most dramatic way possible right at the start. The downside is that the film then goes in a direction which was less interesting to me. Spoilerific thoughts here.
You Were Never Really Here (2017)
This might be the film that disappointed me the most this year. Finally got a chance to watch it, and it's about 70% Phoenix moping around looking traumatized. Props to director Lynn Ramsey for realizing he was her greatest asset and spending all that energy filming him from artistic angles, but I wanted more story to this. Recommend Joker instead.
I have to agree with DigModiFicaTion's assessment of the Tom Clancy films. I'm a long time fan of the books, and for me Harrison Ford is the quintessential Jack Ryan. He nailed how I imagined the character reading the books. Affleck is a total miss. I also think Krasinski is a good follow-on to Ford's portrayal. I actually am enjoying the series; IMHO it's done a good job of taking the '80's cold war setting and moving to the modern day.
Now on to my own recent watches. The Irishman A long movie, but it's worth the view. I enjoyed it even though I had to watch in bits and pieces after the kids all went to bed. I expect the fanedit breaking it up into four episode will work well.
Jingle Jangle This is a fun musical. It's nice that it's not trying to simply retread an existing movie. It's holiday-ish, centered on a toy maker/inventor generally in winter, but no overt Christmas references.
Spy Game (2001)
This movie is great. Redford and Pitt are fantastic together and the internal espionage mirrors the more traditional field espionage incredibly well. They don't make movies like this anymore. It's right up there with Clear and Present Danger. A film that stays grounded in reality and doesn't seek to go over the top. This is a story driven film that doesn't depend on gotcha moments, but instead focuses on developing characters through a narrative that highlights some of the ethical and moral dilemmas of espionage. Muir and Bishop's characters are almost like looking glasses into each other's future and past which allows the story to have a duality of depth that is also singularly connected. If you like Redford & Pitt and enjoy story driven espionage movies, you'll probably like Spy Game. 9/10
Honey Boy (2019)
One of Shia's best performances, and I'm not even really much of a fan. The scenes with him as his dad across from his young self really shine, though the movie as a whole is a bit of artful aimlessness. Perfect for him. More here.
The Invitation (2015)
Shot well but I can't figure out why this got so talked about. The performances, story, etc., are all just a cut above average. Thoughts about foreshadowing here.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2020)
SJW propaganda! I kid, I kid. It is actually a smart and probably necessary decision to base so much of this film on Borat's daughter, despite the trend of sequels supplanting their male leads these days. This all works into a pretty tidy story that has a lot more thematic resonance than anything found in the first film, surprisingly. More here.
I watched Aliens and Alien 3 for the first time. I didn't enjoy Aliens, most of the soldier guys looked the same to me so I couldn't really get invested or care about the characters. The stuff with Ripley and Newt was great, and I liked Bishop, but for the most part I was bored. I generally like Bill Paxton, but put him next to Michael Biehn and I have no idea who is who.
As far as Alien 3, I really quite liked it. I understand not liking it as a follow up to Aliens, it's not much like it and the beginning just ruins everything, but considering I didn't like Aliens none of that bothered me and it was overall a very enjoyable experience. And it had Bishop!
I'm currently listening through the audio drama of William Gibson's Alien 3 script, it's interesting.
I’ve got a strange take on the franchise. I think Alien is the best movie, but I like Aliens more. I’m just more of a fan of sci-fi action than horror. Those first two movies I think were classics of their genres but they represented different genres. Prometheus was so disappointing to me because I assumed the genre was going to be “heady” or “smart” sci-fi.
Want a real horror movie? Forget nuns or blind old men or living STDs, what's really scary is the Rosenhan experiment once US insurance companies get involved. Unfortunately this suffers from being filmed as an experiment in making iPhone movies look good (spoiler: it doesn't). More here.
I don't think that's at all uncommon. I'd partly co-sign it myself, though I'd venture that Alien and Aliens are equally great in their distinct ways. I recently watched Aliens for the third time (and the second time projected/not on a piddly laptop screen), and loved it more than before. I didn't grow up with it like I did T2, but it's a stone cold masterpiece. When Cameron forces us to wait (along with Ripley) for the elevator to sloooowly arrive to take his heroine down to the power station's depths - just genius. What other filmmaker would risk irritating the audience with such a banal obstacle so late in the film? And yet, it increases the tension, because of that ticking clock. Moreover, that Blu-ray picture... it's a weirdly stunningly beautiful film.