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War Machine (2017)
Shows well absurdity of the "War on Terror", but flawed as a movie
Netflix just doesn't seem to be able to put it together for a really good movie. This one was a decent shot, with Brad Pitt's charisma carrying the project, playing a well meaning US officer in an unwinnable situation. It shows well the American cowboy attitude in their foreign policy, it's well acted and manages to be entertaining, but the way the story is presented is fatally flawed.
First rule of any movie narrative is show, don't tell. Instead of us understanding what the movie wanted to say through the actions of the characters, it is explained to us by a faceless voiced narrator. So why pay attention to the characters at all?
Hold the Dark (2018)
2/10 stars for 2/10 parts of the story you should have given us
Such a shame. You can see that a movie is technically very well made, camera is top notch, acting is excellent, pacing is slow, but steady. It has a lot of things going for it.
But the movie feels like someone watched 'No Country for Old Men' and thought "This, but instead of giving the audience a story with no meaningful resolution, let's not give them a meaningful story at all". I mean, it's ok to leave out story parts and let the audience fill in the blanks, but you ripped out practically the entire story to the point that the movie no longer has a plot.
I can't recommend this movie to anyone, except as an exercise in frustration. I've let Coen brothers get away with this in 'No Country for Old Men', but Jeremy Saulnier, you didn't earn that right yet.
Get Out (2017)
Excellent directing debut!
Some mild spoilers ahead.
Wow, looking at the review rating, I got to say that this is one polarizing movie. So many 1-star ratings and accusations of racism (not entirely unfounded, mind you) and not one of the negative reviewers paid attention to how well was this movie crafted and with what attention to details. It is so rare to see a movie that didn't skip to explain something important or that left number of unnecessary scenes that really should have been cut.
For instance, Chris wakes up tied to a chair and he tries to untie restrains on his hand using his teeth. At first I was thinking "Ok, this is not a necessary scene", but it turns out it was there to show that Chris can reach his hands with his head, which is important afterwards. Clever, real clever. Though I couldn't deduce everything, for instance, what's the deer symbolism present in this movie? Maybe it makes sense to an American. Few gaffs as well, for instance when Chris tells Rose he wants to leave it's evening, when they enter the house it's already night. And also the big one, why black people? Explanation is because of their superior genetics and I understand what Jordan Peele wanted to say when he went with that, but for the sake of suspension of disbelief (and not to be called racist) maybe he should have went with because they endure the procedure better or whatever.
Movie is really an 8, but I will give it a 9 because it's directing debut and hopefully to anger the people who rated it poorly. It's a movie I would recommend watching if a girl invites you to meet her parents. :D
Total Recall (2012)
A decent movie that nobody asked for
The question on everyone's mind was what was the point of remaking this movie? Verhoeven's peace was a classic in it's own way and his movies are best left alone, as remake of Robocop confirmed as well.
If this movie was not a remake, it could be viewed as quite decent. Even as a remake, it is not bad, though there is way too much action and CGI for my taste and the story was not as developed as well as it could be, though the original movie was not that much better in that department either. The male major roles are decently acted, but two leading female roles are somewhat lacking, though they are not horrible by any means.
I did like the brushes with the original here and there, mentioning of Mars, a familiar lady at the police checkpoint, etc. And I also liked that in this movie it is suggested stronger that everything is fantasy, while in the original it was suggested that it was reality. I am talking about the director's cut, the original theater version was kind of crap and it had a slightly different ending.
I've never seen a bad sci-fi movie that has so many good things going for it. The actors do a very decent job, the directing feels competent, there is a certain 80s feel and flow to the movie, the soundtrack is good...
But the plot is just plain silly. Even if you do your best to emerge in the strange logic of this film, you can't escape the notion how silly the story is. It feels like something that comes to you in a dream, but when you wake up, you realize it doesn't make much sense.
If you get bored half way through the film, it's probably the best to stop watching, it doesn't get better later and there is no great finale resolving everything nicely. But it's not impossible that you might end up liking this movie for it's good sides. I didn't.
Really, really good
I started watching this movie expecting nothing, but boy was I surprised! As someone said, this is finally an Americanised Korean movie done right! To me it feels as if '1984' and 'Brasil' had an unholy child together. I was a fan of both of those films, so I warmly salute their offspring. I'd rather not tell anything about the plot, this movie is better enjoyed without any spoilers.
To the people pointing out plot holes and lack of realism: people, it is obvious after 10 minutes that this is a surrealist peace. It's like complaining at the lack of realism in '12 Monkeys' for crying out loud. Enjoy 'Snowpiercer' for what it is!
Killing Season (2013)
A movie that could have been very good
For starters, the movie gets absolutely everything wrong about events of the Bosnian war, but since such ignorance is expected from Hollywood, there is no reason to hold it against this particular title.
The premise of the movie is good, the basic story is decent, but the script could have been better written, the two main characters' stories never get satisfyingly developed. If this was directed by John McTiernan as originally planned, this would have been a great movie. Sadly, instead we got the guy who did Daredevil and he once again delivered a bland, uninspiring product. Acting is OK, Travolta did his best to hold a consistent accent (it was the wrong accent, but hey!) throughout the movie, while DeNiro looked more like he was only concerned with the paycheck.
All in all, the movie is not terrible, I guess it wouldn't kill you to watch it if you have nothing better to do for an hour and a half. The sad part is that this could have been a much, much better movie, perhaps even a classic.
Cloud Atlas (2012)
Amazing that a movie like this was actually made. So much money, such expensive actors to create what essentially is a philosophical drama. The movie is not as complicated as some say, it should not be too difficult to understand, nor would I call it pretentious. Several Oscars are guaranteed, not that anyone should care.
Acting is just amazing, several Hollywood heavyweights managed to outdo themselves. Makeup is amazing. Story is beautiful and touching. Do not miss this movie. It is long, but in the end I craved for even more.
Cloud Atlas is also not without it's flaws. With 6 stories being so different, some of them you won't find as interesting as others. The quality of the story drops or slips into cliché here and there, but since this is truly one of a kind movie, I will reward it with a perfect 10.
Just plain bad movie
After watching this movie, all that I can say is that Angelina should not try to direct again. The movie is bad on so many levels, but it's the directing that clearly failed the most.
First, the few positives about the movie. Casting is solid, actors do a decent job even with the awful script they had, but they clearly struggle to act in English. Camera work is solid, every now and then we see an interesting shot.
Now, the negatives that are too many to number. The script is god damn awful, many times it makes no sense at all. It's trying to portray complexities of the main characters, but does it in a horribly cheesy and uninspiring way. Making this kind of war drama that braids the story of few characters with the broader context of war is very hard, but when done successfully, it has resulted in some of the world's most memorable movies. This is not one of them. It starts with a good idea, but then it fails in so many ways. First, it is horribly historically inaccurate and I don't mean just in the way that Serbs are wearing Hungarian throwback uniforms (because Bosnian authorities angered with insulting script have kicked the Angelina's crew out of Bosnia and the movie had to be shot in Hungary) or the wrong color of Yugoslavian passports, or the wrong weaponry which is used the wrong way, or the wrong number of reported war victims mentioned in the movie, etc. Movie manages to go into whole new, almost metaphysical level of historical inaccuracy. For instance, every Serb that we see in the movie (that we know is a Serb) wears a uniform. There is not a single Serb civilian in the whole movie. Even at the start, when two main characters go on a date, the Serb is wearing his police uniform. My god Angelina, do you know that policeman are not allowed to wear uniforms off duty? And what cop would want to go on a date wearing his beat uniform? Somewhere around the half movie finally manages to pick up a little and establish some sort of narrative flow, which is why I won't give it 1/10. But even that little good about it gets ruined by the end. Since this was supposed to be a spin on the old Romeo and Juliette tale, it made a lot of sense to finish the story in the similar way, but no, Angelina opted for the least logical ending possible.