A Slough of Reviews

I’ve been on airplanes a lot lately, getting caught up on my movies-to-watch list. ūüôā

The Maze Runner –¬†Garbage¬†: I was excited for this one since mazes are such a rich subject in fiction, there were so many places for this film to go.¬†The premise is really cool – kids keep appearing (by elevator) at the gates to a huge maze with no memory of¬†their purpose, and there’s a kind of lord-of-the-flies maze-cult society that emerges.¬†I hate giving a bad rating because there were lots of things I really liked about this film, but the big twist reveal at the¬†end was so, so¬†incredibly bad that I felt it ruined the whole thing.

Guardians of the GalaxySuper Fun : If you haven’t already seen it, I thought this was the best spectacle film of the summer. The writing is snappy and fun, the action sequences are well thought out and hilarious, and the visual effects are bombastic. There’s a bit of material in here that I’d be hesitant to show to a young kid, but it’s pretty intelligent humour and there’s some real heart in the film.¬†Hollywood take note: this is the first example of a comic book film I can think of where the origin story of all of the characters doesn’t take up the first hour – we’re willing to take a talking tree, bipedal raccoon, warrior princess and beserker at face value (and even care for them). Please please stop retelling the origin of Spider-Man.

The Italian (L’Italien) –¬†So good : This is a very clever French fish-out-of-water situation comedy about an Algerian muslim man who, in an effort to avoid discrimination, pretends to be an Italian while living in France. The¬†ruse gets tricky to maintain when his father, from his hospital bed, begs him to observe Ramadan. For a film that has something serious to say about racism, this is way more fun than it ought to be. ūüôā The writing is hilarious, and the situations he gets into are totally absurd. Loved this one. Really good.

The Imitation GameReally great : This Hollywood adaptation of Alan Turing’s contributions to decrypting the Nazi ‘enigma’ codes was surprisingly watchable. Even as an¬†secret code¬†enthusiast I was expecting the material to be a little dry, but Alan Turing was such a compellingly eccentric character that there was lots of human story to tell. The film had a more than a few hollywoodisms – this shouldn’t be considered a bio-pic so much as a dramatization of events that really happened. But it was well put together, especially neat to see the replica¬†Cryptographic Bombe machine running.

Ermagherd Revierrws

A bunch of things I’ve seen over the summer:

The Edge of Tomorrow – Neat-o! – This fun sci-fi flick has Tom Cruise repeating the same day over and over – a day where he and his platoon are wiped out by alien invaders. It could have gotten really repetitive, but clever editing and the director’s faith in the audience (thank you for not dumbing this down) let the film maintain it’s momentum while adding a neat sci-fi twist to familiar “storming the beaches at Normandy” film tropes. My only disappointment was that the cool music from the trailer wasn’t in the film!

X-Men : Days of Future Past – Fun! – The X-Men are being wiped out in the future by menacing shape-shifting robots, so they send Wolverine back to the 70’s to change the timeline. It was nice to see nearly the entire X-Men family in one film – holy cameos – and everyone managed to get in on the action in one way or another. Quicksilver steals every scene he’s in – so much fun. If you’re a fan of the franchise you eventually have to catch this one.

22 Jump Street – Funny! – Basically the same premise as the first movie (infiltrate a school looking for drug dealers) but this film knows it’s a sequel and it’s full of self-referential humour and amusing setups. Some of (a lot of) the jokes are a little potty-level, but it’s a surprisingly intelligent film with lots of laughs.

Imposter – So Messed up in a Good Way – This documentary wins all the creep-out awards. A Spanish man poses as a missing American adolescent and somehow nobody seems to notice? This is a super incredibly messed up story about the power of denial and how far you can get taking advantage of people’s hope – BUT THEN THERE’S A TWIST. About five minutes before it’s spelled out, I suddenly saw what was coming, and nearly fell off the couch. Watch this film.

Orange is the new Black – Surprising – This Netflix original series is up for dozens of awards this season and deservedly so. Walking a very weird line between comedy and dark drama, the show alternates between fish-out-of-water “Martha-Stewart in prison” scenarios, to brutally honest tear-downs and violent attacks. Tons of excellent performances by excellent actresses with a lot of material to work with – really rich characterizations and relationships make this a riveting series.

Attack on TitanSo Messed up in a Bad Way – Medieval humans are pushed to the brink of extinction by ravenous man-eating giants in this weird and twisted anime series. The animation is super ugly and disturbing, I think intentionally – but after the first few episodes I was hooked. There’s a lot of neat stuff happening here, particularly the spider-man suits, but the show is almost unwatchably paced – entire episodes are dedicated to explaining soon-to-be-foiled survival plans, major characters are eaten so often you’ll quickly stop caring for the ones left over, and the explanation for major mysteries are always teased but never revealed. After watching the entire first two seasons on Netflix, only to end in yet another unresolved cliffhanger, I’m not sure I want to watch any more.