Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

I know it’s been awhile, and this isn’t a movie that anyone needs to know my opinion of, because it’s been out for awhile and it’s the highest grossing movie of all time and everyone else has an opinion already, but I’m getting daily clickbait saying the directors have revealed a minor detail that I thought we all already knew, plus this is my website, and Brie Larson is in Avengers: Endgame, albeit briefly, so away we go.

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I don’t know if I need to get into the whole story here, but obviously Endgame is the sequel to Infinity War, and basically the sequel to every Marvel movie since 2008, with a few ancillary TV shows thrown in. It’s a lot to take in for the uninitiated, and now the term “shared universe” has entered the entertainment lexicon. Thanks, Kevin Feige.

So that’s basically where I want to start. As a life-long comic book guy, I have been familiar with groups of heroes teaming up and fighting bad guys together (and often fighting each other, with very little prompting.) But in movies, other than Freddy Vs. Jason and Alien Vs. Predator, which have been mostly, and best, forgotten, there’s never been anything like this ever. and even those were only a couple characters. This is way bigger. Every character from 20 or so hugely popular movies combining into one long story which is essentially about one guy’s quest to balance the universe by obliterating half of it. And the kicker is that it worked.

The only thing even close to being comparable is maybe the Universal Monsters from the 30’s and 40’s, but even that wasn’t really the same thing because the Marvel Cinematic Universe was the vision from the beginning. I mean, sure, if Iron Man works but the rest flop, well, at least they got a couple good Iron Man flicks out of it. But the vision back then was always to build to the first Avengers movie, which was pretty cool in and of itself. But that’s kind of like Walt Disney saying, “Eh, Mickey’s enough.” Nope, Kevin Feige’s idea from the beginning was always to bring the long form story-telling of the comics to the big screen. And with so many things working against this idea, here we are.

I know it’s hard to believe now, but before Marvel was owned by Disney, they, along with Paramount, gambled on Robert Downey, Jr. launching this thing. Of course, it’s a fair bet that the execs at Paramount had no idea what the future held, or who Tony Stark was, but they must have seen some dollar signs, so they made the thing.  It was successful enough that they decided to get working on a second one. Plus some Hulk, Thor and Captain America movies, all the while sprinkling in characters like Black Widow and Hawkeye, just for future reference. A few years later, The Avengers were born. Man, when you look back on it, and then look at how ham-fisted Warner Brothers’ attempt was to get DC’s Justice League off the ground, don’t you almost feel bad for the DC folks? Nah, me neither.

I have neglected to mention a couple things here. A big one is that comics weren’t considered that cool back in 2008 when Iron Man came out. Sure, Christopher Nolan was making some cool Batman movies, and Hellboy was pretty popular, but overall, not a lot of people cared (I even hid my fandom in certain social circles. I know. Hard to believe.) Also, the biggest stumbling block was that Marvel didn’t even have access to their A-list characters. They had sold away the movie rights to their top-tier guys back when they were facing bankruptcy and Kevin Feige was not on anyone’s radar. Unfortunately, Fox had made a couple really bad X-Men films and Sony had made a mess of Spider-Man, leaving Marvel with a bunch of great, but un-mined characters. Basically, characters who never had a Saturday morning cartoon. So, yeah, Iron Man was a gamble.

This is why Endgame is Tony Stark’s story. I know some people were upset that Black Widow didn’t get her due when she sacrificed herself to obtain the soul stone, and I totally get it, but Tony was the catalyst for this whole thing. Without Tony Stark, we have no MCU, both within the world of Marvel and in the real world. I’m sorry Black Widow fans, but it’s true.

So, you don’t have to love the Marvel movies. You can look at them as a bit repetitive, a tad white-washed, just boring action movies, but I feel like you have to respect what has been accomplished here. As a comic book and move buff, this is history. Over twenty movies that are weaved together to create a giant, cohesive story, done so well that, sure, you can skip one if you want, but in the spirit of old-school Marvel Comics, where the goal was that if you picked up any random book, you would be able to tell what was going on, you can see some or all of the Marvel movies and probably not be lost at any point. However, if you choose to see them all, as I have, and remember all of the little details, Endgame makes for a really cool movie.

But ok, Tony Stark isn’t the only person in Endgame. There’s a certain Oscar-winner who starred in her own Marvel movie back in March. Although she only appears in 15 minutes of the movie, it’s an important and impressive 15 minutes. At the beginning of the movie, she saves Tony Stark from certain death while he and Nebula are marooned on the Milano in space. The movie then kind of explains her away when she says that there are other planets in the universe that need her help in the wake of The Snap, so she is not seen again until the final minutes of the climactic battle between Thanos’ forces and the reborn, but rather decimated, heroes, when she does some decimating of her own. There’s also this moment, which has become an internet sensation:

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Captain Marvel obtains the Avengers’ new gauntlet from a rather spent Spider-Man, and,

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I must admit, I thought this was the denouement. There’s no way that Thanos will get that thing back now. Captain Marvel is ridiculously powerful, right? 

Not so fast, in a brilliant bit of story-telling, while wrestling with Marv over the gauntlet,Thanos grabs the power stone, the real difference-maker of the bunch, and KO’s her, allowing him to reclaim the infinity stones (or technically, claim them for the first time, but don’t get me started on time travel), which leads to Iron Man’s big moment. It’s a cool, small moment. Marvel is still pretty awesome, and one-on-one, she probably beats Thanos, but the power stone changes everything. Captain Marvel remains strong for her big sequel, and for whatever else is in store for her in the next phase of Marvel movies. What? You’re not tired of them already, are you?

Of course, Brie Larson is only one piece of this large, shared universe, but since Tony Stark is gone, Captain America is old, Spider-Man is now out of the MCU, and Thor is kind of fat, someone’s gotta pick up the slack. You wouldn’t hear any complaints from me if it’s her.

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I had planned posting this just after seeing the movie, but then life happened and so, here I am. Just pretend like this is all new and exciting.

And so it has come to pass… After all these posts about Brie Larson movies, good and bad (the movies, not the posts. They were all bad.), we have come to the ultimate Brie Larson movie, her big-budget, franchise-launching, starring role of Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel. And after all the stupid, silly, inane controversies (Smile-gate, Rotten Tomatoes’ review trolls, the cat’s real name, etc.), the movie has arrived, and kicked all those asshole, do-nothing crybabies right in the nuts, to the tune of a $911 million worldwide gross (so far).

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And what did I think, after all these long-winded posts? In this day-and-age of everyone with a website or Youtube channel spouting their opinions, do you really want to know? Well, if you’re still reading, I guess you do, so here we go: this white guy enjoyed it.

Now, I will be the first to say that there has never been a perfect movie, and this isn’t the first one. The middle gets a little slow, as a lot of movies do. Some of the jokes fall flat. A few of the nineties songs from the soundtrack are too on the nose (I’m looking at you, No Doubt!). But overall, the action was great, the pacing of the movie was exceptionally good, and it fits very well into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a franchise that has a powerful new hero… and it’s a girl! The great thing to me was that she just happened to be a girl. The over-arching theme, the fact that she had been under the thumb of her Kree brethren (who weren’t her brethren at all, really), and that her mentor (Jude Law) was keeping her from reaching her true potential, could have easily happened to any protagonist, regardless of gender. I’ve seen and heard reviews where people are delighted that Captain Marvel had a female bestie, or how cool it was that she had no male love interest to drive her to greatness (a’la Wonder Woman). But that’s not really the point of the movie for me. Let’s face it, in just about every movie with a female protagonist, the main character has a female best friend, and every movie with a male protagonist, he has a female love interest, so whatever. It’s all Hollywood window dressing. Why try to make it into some kind of beacon of hope for feminism?

The point of this, and hopefully, most action movies, is to tell a decent story with relatable characters and make it fun. I spend a great part of my life over-thinking movies, mostly because I know how much work goes into making them, so when I’m disappointed, I’m really disappointed. But even this film snob can just kick back and be entertained for two hours. That’s why I like so many Marvel movies. (As a sidenote; two hours and eight minutes was the perfect length for this movie. For the story they were telling, any longer would have been too much. Much shorter and it would have seemed like something was left out. By comparison, Wonder Woman, at 2 hours and 21 minutes, seemed way too long. The entire climactic battle seemed like it lasted almost three hours.)

Just a couple other quick notes before Dursin’s Final Thoughts; I didn’t love the fact that Nick Fury lost his eye to a cat scratch. It was predictable and silly (but I suppose if we didn’t see how he lost his eye, people would have complained about that, too.) I did like that they brought back the Tesseract as the maguffin here, as that has been a thread running through three Marvel movies now, until Thanos just crushes it to reveal that it houses an Infinity Stone, which makes him seem that much for of a bad-ass to me. I did not love the whole Supreme Intelligence thing. I guess I get the fact that they didn’t want to animate a gross, green blob and say that it was the representation of the brains of all the Kree, or whatever. And having it be a manifestation of someone you know fit with their story, but they probably could have come up with a better way to reveal Carol’s true origin. “Supreme Intelligence” seems like some they came up with in the comics in the 70’s that just doesn’t translate to movies in 2019 (Hell, they changed “Cosmic Cube” to “Tesseract” because it sounded cooler. They couldn’t come up with something cooler than “Supreme Intelligence?”

Finally, I loved the fact that there was no knock-down, drag-out fight at the end between Marvel and Jude Law. as cinema-goers, we’re sort of conditioned to think that it should happen, so to have her just blast the heck out of him not only was a nice surprise, but it fit with the story that they were telling (that he was keeping her down all this time, and she really is that damn powerful.) Not only did it make sense, plot-wise, but it made sense cinematically, because a long, drawn-out fight that you know she is going to win anyway would have just slowed everything down and made the movie longer and less fun (Sorry to pick on you, Wonder Woman, but that is where you fell apart for me.) Prove that she is mighty, and move your movie along to the end. Everybody wins!

In the world we have constructed for ourselves, people like to talk about stuff, and I’m the first one to fall for click-bait like, “Brie Larson says she hates white dudes.” And I honestly don’t know anyone who saw this movie and felt like it changed society’s mind on female representation in movies. Maybe they’re out there somewhere, and I’m sure they will be a sequel before too long, so that’s probably a good indication. But what I have heard is a lot of people saying that this was just a basic, decent, fun story. Of course, there are critics, as there always are. But with all the controversy coming in, “Do No Harm,” was a pretty good bar to set, and I think it beat those expectations by quite a bit. I feel like if you like most of the Marvel movies, you will enjoy this one. If you don’t, or if you’re an angry white guy who too much free time, then you should skip it. Obviously, the movie didn’t need your money, anyway.

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Honestly, I don’t know what else to say. I found Captain Marvel entertaining, and am anxious to see her in Avengers: Endgame next month. So, good on ya, Marvel! You got me!

 

I don’t think it will change anyone’s mind on feminism, or even lead to more diversity in the film industry, but we really shouldn’t rely on our action movies to make societal changes, anyway. Let’s just enjoy them for what they are.

This is the end of my Brie Larson blogging for awhile (unless her directoral debut blows me away). It’s been fun analyzing movies and movie culture through her work, but it’s time to move on. Check back for some new stuff, if I can come up with anything. Thanks for reading, which you probably didn’t. But if you did, I hope it gave you a little food for thought.

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Hmmmm…

 

 

 

If some people think I’ve been too kind to some of the Brie Larson movies during this project (even though I bagged on Trainwreck and Digging for Fire pretty good, and really crapped on Spectacular Now. Man, have I actually liked any of her movies?) I figured I would throw this one out there and get it over with. Why not? It sure seemed like the people who made it did.

MV5BMTUwMzI5ODEwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjAzNjI2MDI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_Kong: Skull Island is the 2nd movie in what is the latest attempt to copy the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by having a stable of monsters who all inhabit the same space (or MonsterVerse, as I believe it is known by the seven people who care). 2014’s Godzilla was the first, and I found that movie quite enjoyable, as a fan of giant lizards stomping on things.I do wonder, though, as this shared universe goes along, when people will start wondering how Peter Jackson’s King Kong fits in, and why didn’t they bring back Matthew Broderick for these new ones. But that is for another column.

I have actually not seen all of Brie Larson’s movies yet (and here I am talking about them as if I know everything, amiright?), but of the ones that I have seen, this may be the worst one. I mean, I’m sure 21 Jumpstreet was rough, and yeah, Spectacular Now was really annoying, but they seriously didn’t even try here. Tom Hiddleston, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson are all great actors, and even they could not save this turnip of a movie. I mean, they probably didn’t know how badly it would turn out, of course. I’m sure Sam Jackson just figured he’d yell a lot like he does in every other movie he’s in and everything would be fine. Well, it wasn’t.

Here’s the skinny, if you can’t figure out the intricate plot. Hiddleston plays a “monster-hunter” of sorts, and is hired to find out what’s the deal with this uncharted island. He is joined by some scientists, and Larson, who is there to take pictures. Jackson and his team of military guys show up to blow everything away, and they encounter John C. Reilly, who crash-landed there years ago and has since gone insane. They run afoul of some crazy lizard creatures, King Kong shows up to battle said creatures, and a bunch of people die, and eventually Kong wins and the survivors leave. It’s basically the beginning of every other King Kong movie that has come before, minus any intrigue.

That is the bare bones plot, but there are obviously other things going on. For example, Larson’s character is actually, according to wikipedia, “pacifist photojournalist Mason Weaver, who believes that the expedition is a secret military operation, and intends to expose it.” I honestly didn’t remember that at all. I just remembered her with a camera. It’s clearly just a device that they came up with to have a female lead and give her character a little weight, but is never followed up on and means nothing once the monsters show up. Let’s face it, that’s all anyone wanted to see, anyway.

At the risk of sounding like my old gym teacher, there’s nothing worse than not showing effort. I guess, when you’re a high school gym teacher, that’s all you have. But he obviously never had the filmmakers behind Kong: Skull Island in his classes. It kind of hurts to say that, really, because I’ve been on a few movie sets in my time, and I can say without reservations that it takes a lot of people working long hours to make even one scene come off well. There’s lighting, multiple cameras, sound engineers, actors, extras, green screens, and everything has to be in the exact proper place for it all to match up. So the fact that a movie gets made at all is a kind of a minor miracle, let alone a movie that is any good. Maybe it would be more appropriate to say that this movie comes off like it was made with no effort, because I’m sure a lot of people worked long and hard on it, and I do feel bad for those people. But they got a paycheck, so…

There is certainly that old Hollywood chestnut that you always hear: “Some you do for money and some you do for love.” And I’ll never forget seeing a Q & A with Bruce Campbell, and when he was asked why he did the movie Congo (in which he was killed in minutes), he responded by saying that he got paid to go to Africa for two weeks, but he worked for two days and surfed the rest of it. So, I get it. And I get that this is one cog in Legendary’s greater Monsterverse wheel, but it doesn’t mean that you have to phone it in. Where would we be today if Kevin Feige said, “Well, let’s just throw in the towel on this Iron Man movie, because really we just have to get to Avengers.”? Well, technically, they might have done that with Incredible Hulk, but still, you see my point.

The real crux of all this isn’t really “why do good actors make bad movies?” And it’s not even “How did this get made?” There’s already a podcast for that. It’s more about how the system works in general. Here’s how I envision it (but if someone from Legendary Pictures knows the real story, I’m all ears.): High-ranking studio execs decide that there’s money to be made with their stable of characters. They decide that they should make a Godzilla movie, then a King Kong movie, then maybe a couple more, then they want to do King Kong vs. Godzilla, because, like me, they saw it when they were kids and loved it.  And how could they not?giphy (2)

So, they get a screenwriter (actually three, plus one person who gets “story by” credit.) After those four people have written something that the studio execs approve of, it is given to a director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, who then sets about to making it with a modest (by today’s standards) $186 million budget. Jordan, of course, does not work alone. There are ten producers with probably varying levels of involvement. There’s a cinematographer, an editor, a huge art department, literally hundreds of visual effects artists. and on and on (Seriously, have you watched the credits of a movie lately?) I pasted just the crew list from IMDB into a spreadsheet and it was over 1500, and that’s not including the actors. So, the real question is, did even one of these people show up to work one day and say, “Hey, Jordan, so, this isn’t good.”

Now, I do realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder here, and in fact, if you want to believe Rotten Tomatoes isn’t total BS, it has a 75% critics score and 60% audience score, so it’s technically Certified Fresh. So why do I dislike it so much that I would waste a whole column talking about it when the only real reason I have for it being bad is that it just is? Because potential, dammit!

When the original King Kong was released in 1933, it was an allegory for the slave trade, which is really driven home when he is brought to New York via ship in chains. He is then put on display for rich people to enjoy, and there’s a line, “He was a god in his own lands, and we have brought him here today for your own amusement.” Obviously, since this is a prequel of sorts, this never gets brought up in this movie, because Kong doesn’t leave the island. Still, it is a pretty essential part of the Kong mythology that they just leave out. I get that it was 1933, and that maybe doesn’t work for 2018, but would it have killed them to add some depth?

There’s also the whole “T’was beauty that slayed the beast” part of King Kong, where he was killed trying to protect a white woman, who had actually grown to like him despite his appearance, that was pretty much expunged. Kong does pull Larson out of the water after she fell in trying to help him, but other than that, I don’t remember the two of them having any interaction. It’s just a shame because other than that 30 seconds, it could have been a nice callback to the original.

This is the issue I have with this movie. and I have a final story to hopefully illustrate it. When I saw this movie last March, I saw it in digital “Lie-Max” which is movie-nerd slang for what theaters call IMAX even though the movie is only showing on a slightly larger-than-normal screen. Here’s my account:

I did experience a first here as the movie froze at one point, and we could hear it but the image was not moving. Naturally, I was the first person in the theater to get up and go tell the usher, because while I don’t know a lot about the science of movie projection, I do know that someone isn’t just sitting in that little booth watching the movie to see if something goes wrong. When I came back, it went right to where the sound was instead of going back to where it froze. Obviously, I missed some big story point while I was in the lobby, because one minute they were escaping the island, and the next Tom Hiddleston was saying, “We’re going to rescue Kong!” 

I was only in the lobby for a couple minutes and the entire movie had changed, with almost no prompting. And you know what I have to say about that, don’t you Deadpool?

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So, hopefully, the next Godzilla will be better, and then King Kong vs. Godzilla will be even better. But since this movie took place in the early 70’s, and Godzilla was in present day, will we see Brie Larson in any future installments? It’s not listed on her IMDB page, but to be honest, her career might be better off if she skips it, anyway.

Before I start talking about the movie being focused on in this post, I wanted to call attention to the post-credit scene for Avengers: Infinity War. If you haven’t seen it, well, what the Hell? If you have, then you know what I’m talking about, but just in case, yes, Nick Fury was “paging” Captain “Brie Larson” Marvel. And for anyone who thinks that maybe she’s not cut out to be a super-hero, please click here. It’s literally a 20-second video, but you’ll be impressed.

But this post isn’t about Cadownloadptain Marvel. It’s about a very different movie, in fact; the Joseph Gordon-Leavitt/Scarlet Johansson (with some great Julianne Moore on the side) vehicle Don Jon. If you are unfamiliar with this movie, it’s definitely worth your time, and probably not what you were expecting from the trailers, which made it seem like this lovely, little rom-com where a guy meets a girl and they go through the motions and end up together and happy at the end. So, if you’re looking for something a little different, here we go:

Jon (Gordon-Leavitt) is one of those Jersey guys who loves his nice car, his swank apartment, his crazy family (and who wouldn’t? His Dad is played by Tony Danza), and his hot women. His friends constantly marvel at the fact that he meets “a ten” literally every weekend. Unfortunately, when all is said and done, the pleasure that he gets from these women pales in comparison to the pleasure he gets from watching internet porn. Seriously, guy watches a lot of porn, and goes through a lot of tissues. Not sure if he’s an addict, but he’s at least bordering on being one.

He meets Barbara, (Scarjo) and is flummoxed when she plays a little hard-to-get by not sleeping with him right away. This drives him to want to be with her even more. She is from a more affluent upbringing, however, so she tries to mold him into something a little more respectable. She encourages him to take night classes to better himself. The relationship progresses and they finally sleep together, but Jon still prefers the porn (because he can “lose himself.” Also, he doesn’t have to have actual conversations with the porn actors.) Barbara catches him watching a porn video, and is livid, but he claims that it was just a joke sent to him by a friend. She tells him “no more porn,” but that only lasts until the moment he discovers that he can just watch it on his phone. There is a classic moment when he is caught watching a video on his phone by Esther, one of his classmates played by the amazing Julianne Moore. Instead of judging him like Barbara, Esther laughs and says, “Oh my God! Are you watching porn?” and it actually helps them forge a cool bond.

Barbara and Jon continue to have issues (She feels that him cleaning his own apartment is beneath him, for example.), and eventually, she breaks up with him when she checks his browser history and sees that the one video that was supposedly sent to him as a joke was not an isolated incident. Man, even his noob friends point out that he really should have deleted his history.

After the break-up, Jon begins a bit of a downward spiral, and Esther begins to lend him her wisdom. She also lends him a video that she says has a more realistic depiction of actual sex: a Danish erotic film from the 70’s that she says is “pretty hot.” That only pushes him to initiate sex with her. She then encourages him to maybe quit the porn, and even try masturbating without it. She suggests that maybe he could lose himself in a real person. This ends up being pretty life-changing, as he eventually does lose himself in Esther, after learning that she lost her husband and son in a car accident, and discovering what a strong and incredible person she is for overcoming all that, and he can have sex with her and not have to run to his computer after. So, there you go. That’s his arc. End scene.

But wait, “isn’t this a blog about Brie Larson?” you may ask. Is she even in this movie? Of course, and she has a pivotal role. She plays Jon’s sister Monica, and Brie, a future Oscar-winner, and Marvel Cinematic Universe flag-bearer has all of one line in Don Jon. But it’s still a very important role. See, Jon is very close to his family, and they all love Barbara when he first brings her home. But as the relationship progresses, Monica has some thoughts about how it’s playing out. She doesn’t reveal them at first, as while the rest of the family continually discuss the topic, she spends most of the movie like this:

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Naturally, I thought it was a bit of a waste of a good actress, and they were trying to make some kind of comment on millennials always being on their phones while life passes them by. I was foolishly missing the fact that she is clearly observing what’s going on, but clearly letting everyone figure out their own problems. When it comes up at a family meal that Barbara and Jon have broken up, and Jon’s mother goes ballistic because all she wants is grandchildren, causing his Dad to also go ballistic, Monica finally speaks amid the chaos, at first drowned out by the TV, and says:

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Monica is the only one who consoles her brother by rightly pointing out that Barbara wanted a guy who would just do whatever she wants. She also looks Jon right in the face and tells him that it’s “a good thing” they broke up. In their family dynamic, it was all about getting married and having a family, and Barbara was the right girl for that, even if Jon wasn’t sure he wanted to do all that now. I personally know many marriages that went down this way, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

As fun and compelling as that scene is (and as fun as it is to watch Tony Danza play the angry old, Dad), what really worked for me was the movie’s take on porn. The IMDB parental advisory warning says

  • This move might be difficult to watch since there is such an extremely strong portrayal of desire for women in “porn” as objects for gratification without consideration of the feelings of the women however there is a corresponding portrayal of a healthy attitude about sex and women.

I have to admit that I find this mildly amusing, and even though I’m not a parent, I guess I understand the rationale there. I am picturing a very concerned stay-at-home Mom, not unlike Jon’s mother, perhaps, sitting at her keyboard typing that, feeling the need to tell the world that this movie portrays the women in porn as “objects,” as if we didn’t know. Because of course, we should all consider the feelings of women starring in the porno video in a fictitious movie. Joking aside, yes, we should not look at any women as objects, and despite this poster’s lack of correct punctuation, we should definitely applaud them for pointing out that the movie also shows us “a healthy attitude” about women and sex, which I guess was Esther’s role. I’m not sure that’s what the writers of the movie were going for exactly, but at least this person didn’t go on IMDB just to rip on the politics of Don Jon.

In reality, Jon’s porn addiction is clearly a cover-up for deeper intimacy issues, and I was pleasantly surprised that the movie didn’t portray him as some sickie simply because the dude likes his adult flicks. He’s actually a nice guy who is very religious, loves his friends and family, but is feeling such enormous pressure to get married and have kids, that he is having trouble connecting with anyone on an emotional level. That’s what he sees in the women in the videos he watches; they’re not necessarily “objects,” but they are women that he never has to connect with in real life. A lot of movies have men with these kinds of intimacy issues, but I can’t think of too many that handle it this way. Just like a lot of movies have male characters obsessed with porn, and almost all of them are portrayed as one-dimensional, horny assholes. That’s where this movie gets it right.

This is all exemplified by Esther. She doesn’t judge him for his porn-watching, his station in life, and she certainly doesn’t judge him for cleaning his own apartment. She’s like a Manic Pixie Dream-girl without the manic (and ok, without the pixie, but she’s pretty beautiful.) She does not judge him, but in fact, tries to show him a better way. And succeeds, as does the movie. Jon and Esther are then free to lose themselves in each other, and we’re freed from another boring romantic comedy.

To wrap things up here, Brie Larson was still a couple years away from an Oscar, but she was definitely starting to make waves. I’ll be back soon to recap more of her journey to the big time, but until there, watch that workout video. Seriously.

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Movies Since Last Post: 

St. Elmo’s Fire
Stop Making Sense
True Stories
The Night Before
Wonder Woman
All Good Things
Nightmare on Elm Street (orig.)
Children of Men
Live Free or Die Hard
Dear Mr. Watterson
Stories We Tell
Outatime: Saving The Delorean Time Machine

That may look like a lot of movies, but a couple of them were shorty documentaries (That last one, about restoring the Delorean, was probably more suited as a DVD Extra, but there was still effort. I still had to pay attention.) I’m really having a hard time finding stuff that fits in with my goal here. A couple of these were things I always wanted to see, but mostly I’m just watching these so that I can say I’ve watched a lot of movies.  I also watched Children of Men because I got it confused with Children of God. At least Stop Making Sense was awesome!

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Same as it ever was

I wanted to talk a little about Wonder Woman in this post, and the world’s reaction to it, but as can be the case with most of pop culture these days, a lot of people have already forgotten about it by now. All I’ll say is that I’m glad people enjoyed it, and it was really entertaining until the last 20 minutes or so, and then I completely lost interest. Why do movies have to be so damn long these days? Especially when the climax was so overblown and ridiculous? Just kill the pasty, old white British dude and be done with it. And before people think that I’m just some DC-hating misogynist, I said the same thing about Guardians Vol 2. You’re making great movies, guys. I just need about twenty minutes less at the end.

What I really want to cover this week is a completely different aspect of movie consumption, which is not seeing the movie at all. Obviously, thousands of movies don’t get seen, for various reasons, but the main reasons I don’t watch a given movie is because it doesn’t appeal to me for one reason or another. Sometimes, though, even if the movie itself should appeal to me, I don’t see it, because it looks like it would be a horrible waste of my time. And so, I give you: Tom Cruise’s The Mummy.

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That’s about as excited as I was about this movie

If you think calling it “Tom Cruise’s The Mummy” is a snide, you’re right. It’s an old joke from my movie theater days when we used to refer to the movie Sister Act as “Harvey Keitel’s Sister Act,” especially amusing since it came out the same year as Reservoir Dogs.  Nobody deserves to have their name above a movie’s title, but if you’re going to do it, do it with some sass. Plus, in this case, it makes perfect sense, because casting Tom Cruise in this movie suddenly turns it from a monster movie into a Tom Cruise movie (a different kind of monster, I suppose.)

In a recent podcast interview I conducted with avid monster movie fan, Sam Furst, I was asked why I didn’t want to see the movie, and I said Tom Cruise was the main reason, which was true. Tom Cruise, Mark Wahlburg, Johnny Depp are names that instantly give me pause when it comes to movies, because the movies instantly become “star vehicles,” and whatever characters these guys are playing automatically take a back seat to the characters these guys play in real life. It’s not necessarily a story that they fit an actor into, but rather an actor that they fit into the role. In this case in particular, however, Tom Cruise seemed like a really bad choice, and not just because the movie’s gross has been incredibly disappointing. Although, it is falling about as fast as this chick:

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Universal, in their attempt to keep up with Disney and Warner Brothers, was using The Mummy to jumpstart their Dark Universe, which will apparently be comprised of all their old monster characters, like The Mummy, The Wolf-man, Frankenstein, etc. By casting Tom Cruise, you have already taken the focus off of the actual Mummy and put it on the star, and nobody had even seen a minute of the movie. I mean, does anyone go to see a Mission: Impossible movie because they were fans of the TV show? And to make matters worse, they also have Johnny Depp on tap to play The Invisible Man.

All that aside, I maybe would have suffered through Tom Cruise and watched The Mummy if I thought it looked like a good movie. Unfortunately, it did not. In fact, it looked horrible (and I’m not even talking about the trailer that they mistakenly released that had no sound effects. Just Tom Cruise screaming a lot.) The actual trailers looked pretty bad, and then there were even these really annoying vignettes that played in the theaters where Nick Miller and the girl with the knife legs from Kingsmen: Secret Service would not only talk about how great the movie was, but how great Tom was. I was really excited that the movie was finally coming out just so I wouldn’t have to watch those anymore. It’s hard to say for sure, but I’m willing to bet that even with a different actor, I would have been a little nervous after seeing these trailers. But, I admit, I prejudged this movie based on Tom Cruise and some bad trailers.

Now, good movies can have bad trailers, and a bad trailer doesn’t necessarily mean the movie is bad, so sometimes you have to resort to other means to gauge a movie. Fortunately, we live in the Internet Age, and we have Rotten Tomatoes, right? Well, yes, but that may not be the most accurate method. When I pointed out to my podcast guest that The Mummy had a rather poor 17% rating, he said that that was merely the critics score (which has since fallen to 16%), and the audience scored it at 43%, which is still not amazing but much better than those dastardly, snarky, jerkface critics, right?

Not so fast! Because I was slightly suspicious of this score (call me crazy), I did some digging. While there are a lot of positive reviews, as well as a lot of people who said it was crap, there was also a disturbing amount of reviews from people who said, “I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m giving it five starts to counteract all the people who are giving it bad reviews who haven’t seen it yet.” Wha-wha-whhaaa?

Ok, while it is strange that someone would go on Rotten Tomatoes to leave a bad review for a movie they haven’t seen, it may be even stranger to leave a five-star “review” for that same movie because you feel bad for it somehow. When did movies get feelings? There are also a lot of people (Like Daniel T) who seem to want to post good reviews simply because so many other people are posting bad ones (“Don’t care what anyone says, I thought it was really good” Daniel spouts. And good on ya, I say! Take that stand!) And, as I alluded to in my last post, we’re not talking about some small indie flick that could really use the good publicity. We’re talking about a Tom Cruise movie. (Sadly, the audience review section for The Mummy on RT only goes back a couple weeks, so those reviews appear to be gone, even though there were supposedly 71 pages of them, I could only read up to page 51. Just take my word for it.)

The point is, all the good will I was feeling after my Manchester by the Sea review has been undone by people who leave good reviews simply because other people have left bad ones (and the one guy who said that all the critics are just “Trump supporting morons.”)  It seems that, no matter how many avenues we have to watch and review movies, there’s no real way to tell if a movie is worth watching unless you actually watch it, which kind of defeats the purpose of reviewing it, huh? In the end, I really have no idea what to think of The Mummy. I guess what it all boils down to is that I don’t think I will ever watch it, until I do.

What say you, Brie?

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RUN!