Cargo

Cargo has a promising start but tries to fit just about every post-apocalyptic trope into one movie which makes the plot and film direction a mess.

The first twelve minutes of the film set up what could have been a decent post-apocalyptic thriller but derails itself by overuse of common tropes. The filmmakers manage to try and fit man low on time, modern society poisoning earth causing earth to fight back with a disease, horrid decision making under pressure, country survivor who immediately lost all humanity, sound attracts the zombies( but only when it advances the storyline), zombies needing to hibernate, all into one movie. Predictably the end product is a jumbled mess. The film never manages to focus itself on a few storylines, which is a shame because a few could have been expanded on to success. Strangely, the main emotional pull other than Martin Freeman doesn’t start playing a real role until two-thirds into the movie. Thoomi doesn’t have enough time to create a bond with the audience so her part during the finale falls short. For a thriller, it’s not scary whatsoever. It isn’t engrossing enough to suspend belief of its

To Cargo’s credit, the setting is new you don’t see South Australia often. The set pieces in the final third are clever, leading to an enjoyable ending. Susie Porter her role well, even if she is in the movie for about fifteen minutes. Cargo isn’t long, but the time could have been better used focusing on Thoomi and the Aborigines storyline instead of Martin Freeman experiencing every post-apocalyptic trope possible.

You should skip Cargo unless you really like post-apocalyptic movies and don’t care about overused tropes. 1.5/4 Stars

Ready Player One

Ready Player One

Ready player one is a teenage adventure story centered on a young man, Wade Watts. Set in near future Cincinnati, the majority of the movie is actually set within a virtual reality world of the Oasis, where the titular hero must solve several challenges as well as prevent the IOI Corporation from taking control of the Oasis itself. Predictable in a Spielbergian type of way. Visually pleasing, and depending on what era you’re from, crammed to the brim with relateable pop culture.

 

I should preface this review by mentioning that I have not read the 2011 Novel this film was adapted to although I have checked out a summary to determine the differences after having seen the film. The main critique that seems to be floating around regarding this movie is that this film isn’t garnered towards any particular audience and that the story was difficult to follow. This didn’t resonate with me. I recognized references left and right and felt the story was straight forward and easy to follow, if somewhat contrived. Now when I say that I was recognizing characters left and right I don’t necessarily mean that as a good thing. I scoff at the amount of nostalgia that the Disney’s Star Wars attempts to scrape dollars with in recent years, and I felt the same level of shamelessness in the amount of references they tried to invoke. I do give Ready Player One more of a pass however given that nostalgia and pop culture is a central theme of the overall set piece. The movie is visually stunning and I am perfectly fine with the decision to tell the majority of the story through the CGI generated Oasis. It was what I was expecting going into the movie and I wasn’t disappointed in that regard. This isn’t actually that big of a compliment considering every big budget film looks so good these days, but the set pieces they chose were more than interesting enough to keep me engaged. The story moves forward pretty seamlessly from plot point to plot point and I never felt bored with the exception of the last 20-25 minutes. The ending ran along the same lines as the atypical marvel movie in that no matter what can be occurring within the plot (See Black Panther) there has to be a contrived large battle. I don’t hate it, but would have liked to see something more original for an otherwise unique plot.

 

2 ½ stars

The Brothers Grimm

 

The Brothers Grimm

 

The Brothers Grimm is a self-aware adventure Schlock film set in French occupied Germany when fantastic tales and faux history collide. Distracting accents, excellent costume design, and boredom were the main points I remember from watching this film. If I had it my way I would have forgotten more.

 

I had seen the Brothers Grimm when it first arrived in theatres in 2005. Long before I developed a sense for what I did or didn’t like in a movie. At that point I wasn’t even deciding what I had for breakfast so it’s understandable that a film like this didn’t retain the stark disdain that it deserves. I decided to re-watch it expecting mediocrity but after 15 minutes in I was dreading the remaining hour and 45 minutes. That’s right this movie is criminally long at 116 minutes total and most of it is plainly put, forgettable. The thing about the Brothers Grimm is that it deserves to be forgettable. With the exception of a few interesting set pieces (the torture chamber scene for example) the movie just doesn’t hold my attention. When it is holding my attention it’s because I’m distracted by the poor performance and accent by Matt Damon, the flat and predictable comedy, and everyone’s exceptional dental care. The costume design is pretty spot on and most of the special effects hold up reasonably well 13 years later but that wasn’t enough for this movie in 2005 and it certainly isn’t enough now. More than anything else this movie is boring, the score is forgettable, the characters are flat and uninteresting and apart from a brief scene between Matt and Heath I had zero investment in any of their well being. Skip this one or waste your time.

 

 

1 star

Kodachrome

 

Kodachrome

Kodachrome is a road trip redemption film with a groovy analog aesthetic and a solid triumvirate of performances from Jason Sudeikis, Elizabeth Olson, and Ed Harris. Yet the film is held back from being a memorable one by its ham-fisted and predictable screenplay.

You could say the cinematographer Alan Poon is the real star of the movie by creating an embracing warm color scheme accentuated by close up shots using natural lighting. The director Mark Raso also isn’t afraid to shoot important scenes in low light which highlights this films cinematographic range. This warm color scheme is matched by a soundtrack populated by classic rock hits that are always a crowd pleaser. The marriage of music and lighting creates such a groovy aesthetic it keeps the film enjoyable throughout.

The screenplay is the predictable at best, the writers certainly don’t subscribe to the iceberg theory of writing. It honestly feels like the writers think the target audience are stupid. Every time they manage to make a subtle point through action or dialogue, Elizabeth Olson character then explains that point in detail. This ham-fisted approach to the writing is also perpetuated in how predictable the movie is. The director mine as well have had flashing text fly across the screen reading “Foreshadowing” or “character life symmetry” at multiple points throughout the movie.

This type of writing inherently makes the characters dry and predictable as well, but even with their limitations, they are played very believably by the actors. Elizabeth Olson does very well as her character is easily the most shallow and least thought out. Jason Sudeikis and Ed Harris have more dynamic characters as the movie revolves around their father-son relationship. They start to build a nice chemistry, which is necessary as all the conflict is dialogue driven between them. Unfortunately, it feels like they build that chemistry too late. The first two-thirds of the film is slow as the interaction doesn’t have much emotional gravitas. The final third achieves that emotional stimulation but the ending is so predictable it almost cheapens the entire experience. I found myself really wanting it to be over in the last five minutes.

 

1.5/4 Stars   Available on Netflix

 

 

Pacific Rim Uprising

Pacific Rim: Uprising

Pacific Rim Uprising is the melodramatic, half competent sequel of Pacific Rim. Once again the title has almost nothing to do with the plot of gigantic monsters fighting massive man-made machine counterparts. Stunning visually, humorless (although not without trying), and altogether as forgettable as its characters. I found Pacific Rim Uprising to be needless and without any entertaining value with the exception of the graphic design and CGI.

 

The first thing I need to say about this film is that I came in knowing what to expect. The story is an almost childlike premise of hilariously large monsters and robots fighting each other, held together by mostly forgettable and flat characters who have one or two distinct traits but lack any actual depth. I don’t know if this is because so much of the film is devoted to action sequences or if the writing is just stale and reeked as if it had come from an assembly line. The movie runs 111 minutes and perhaps I’m expecting too much from a film that is clearly devoted to exceptionally produced CGI robots and monsters clashing across cities and landscapes alike. And that concludes everything good I have to say about Pacific Rim. In Actuality I do appreciate the attempt at an original story told during a sequel. Most sequels attempt to ride the coattails of what made the original successful and while Uprising is no different I felt there was at least some creativity in how the two movies tied together plot wise. While the visuals hold up in spectacular fashion the same cannot be said for the sound. Usually I don’t have much to say regarding sound design unless I am struck by a particular score, however the sound in the movie from start to finish was grainy, hollow, and poorly mixed with the exception of scenes exclusive to dialogue between a few characters. Being so devoted to over the top action sequences, one would think the proper mixing of sound effects, to dialogue, to the punching yet synth like soundtrack would be something an audience aren’t supposed to notice because it’s seamless. Instead I found myself highly distracted and put off from the moment I noticed it until the credits. In conclusion I found myself feeling almost pity at the ad-libbed humor dotting the film’s dialogue in what I have come to expect from any major block buster. I appreciated the attempt at the lighter hearted interactions between characters but can’t help the fact that every single joke fell flat for me. Maybe it’s John Boyega’s inability to act or seem natural without coming off as campy and slapstick. Personally I blame the writing.

 

1/4 Stars