Mar 15, 2023

Winter Movies Recap



Regal Cinema
Hazleton, PA
We spend a lot of theater, and I don't always think to write a review (or whatever passes for a review on this blog) for everything that we see.  With that in mind, here is a brief recap of some of the movies that we've gotten to see throughout the winter that I haven't mentioned before.
Regal Cinema - Hazleton, PA
I'm not sure how to explain my thoughts on movies like this, so I usually avoid writing about them altogether.  It's the same way I feel about most comic book movies, which is to say that I enjoy them while I'm watching them, but I usually forget all of the details about the characters and the plot after a day or two, and I have no desire to watch the movie a second time.  This isn't how I feel about every big budget action adventure or comic book movie, but it's true about most of them.

Before we went to see the second Avatar movie, I couldn't remember the names of any of the characters, or the race of native people of the planet, or the animals on the planet, or even the name of the planet itself.  The only thing I could remember is that the mineral was called "unobtanium", and I only remembered that because it was ridiculous name.



I saw the first Avatar movie on January 15th, 2010.  It was a visual spectacle and I enjoyed it, but I thought that the story was a beat-for-beat copy of Dune that used a rainforest planet instead of a desert planet.  You've got a group of the wealthy elite landing on a planet with an unfamiliar environment to strip it of a rare and valuable natural resource.  Their presence is a threat to the native people of this world who live in harmony with the environment, but one of the newcomers adopts the native's way of life and is later found to be the "chosen one" who is destined to lead the natives to fight off the group that brought him to the planet.  This "chosen one" wins the trust of the native people by adopting their customs, falling in love with a native woman, and taming one of the wild creatures that is held in a spiritual regard.

Avatar: The Way Of Water is just more of the same thing I saw in the first movie, but with a little family drama and sibling rivalry sprinkled on top.  It still looks as visually stunning as the first film, but we're all used to it now so it doesn't feel as special.  The story is alright.  The acting performances are alright.  The whole movie is just... alright.  It's worth watching, but I can't imagine anyone over the age of 9 would ever say it's their favorite movie.

This is one of the reasons I didn't write about Avatar 2 after we saw it, and why I didn't write about the first movie for that matter.  It comes across as negative or overly-critical, but it's just the way I feel and I'd be lying if I said anything else.  Movies like this remind me of a Big Mac - I'm glad they're available and I enjoy them once in a while, but it's just not something that I can get too enthusiastic about.  If I didn't have the Regal Unlimited pass, I probably wouldn't have gone to see it at all.



One positive that came from the release of Avatar: The Way Of The Water was their partnership with a children's charity called Variety.  The theater was selling these pins, with the proceeds helping to provide equipment and services to children who live with special needs or who are disadvantaged.
 


I'm a big fan of M. Night Shyamalan's films; even the ones that people don't seem to like.  For example, I loved The Happening, even though it's mostly remembered these days for the asinine memes shared by people who either didn't see the movie or didn't understand what it was meant to be.  The same goes for The Village and Lady In The Water, despite the fact that the latter has a role played by the director that is the very definition of self-indulgent nonsense.  This is the first time I've seen one of his movies that I really can't get behind.

Knock At The Cabin has an interesting premise, but really poor execution.  Spoiler alert: four people show up at the cabin of a gay couple and their adopted daughter to tell them that one of the members of their family has to sacrifice their life to prevent the apocalypse from happening.  If they don't, there will be a series of cataclysmic events that will kill every human being on the planet except for the three of them.

Before I go any further, please know that if the plot of this movie ever plays out in real life, and the four strangers choose my house as the one that has to make a sacrifice, then you can kiss the human race goodbye.  I don't like people very much to begin with, so the idea of knowing for a fact that my family will survive and that we'd have the world all to ourselves after all of the chaos is over sounds like a good deal.  Judge me for that if you want to... I don't care.

Anyway, the home invaders are doing all of this because a dream told them to, and every time that the family they are terrorizing refuses to sacrifice one of their own, the home invaders kill a member of their own group which unlocks one of the plagues that fall on the human race.  Doesn't that seem kind of stupid?  Let's set aside that these morons are only doing this because a dream told them to.  Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say that god himself came down from the sky and told them what they have to do.  According to their own rules, the plague only gets released on humanity when the little terrorist gang kills one of their own members.  So... um... maybe just don't do that?  Seems like a pretty easy way to avoid the apocalypse, dontcha think?

The whole film is just absurd, and not in a fun b-movie kind of way.  The premise is stupid, the special effects are cheesy, and for all of the praise that's been heaped on him, I think Batista sounded like a guy who had never acted a day in his life and was reading his lines off of cue cards.  I really wanted to like this, or to find some redeeming quality in it after it was over, but it's just an all around stupid movie.



There's not too much that I can say about this movie other than the fact that I enjoyed it.  I probably would have gotten more out of it if I saw the first and second Ant-Man movies, but I understood enough of what was going on to have a good time watching it, and the characters kept me interested enough to make me want to circle back and see the first two films of the trilogy.



This movie was truly something special.  I went into this knowing absolutely nothing about it except for the fact that it was set in Post-WWII London.  It was beautifully filmed with perfect pacing and a performance from Bill Nighy that brought a tear to my eye several times.  I don't want to say too much about the plot because I don't want to spoil it, but also because it's the kind of story that isn't going to sound appealing on paper, but if you've ever felt like things were hopeless or meaningless, either in your life or your work, this movie is going to appeal to you.
 


The previous movie in the Scream franchise was a master class in how to bring a beloved franchise from the past into the next generation.  Scream VI took that ball and ran with it by continuing the story of the "Core Four" and put more distance between the current film universe from the Wes Craven originals.  Everything you're expecting from a Scream movie is present and done well: brutal kills, a "whodunit" mystery, some laughs ,and a lot of meta commentary about the horror genre and movies in general.

The movie listing didn't make it clear that the 5:30 screening was in 3-D, but when they told us that it was, we just said the hell with it and paid the upcharge.  There's no reason why this movie should be in 3-D.  It didn't add anything special to the film, and there were no scenes that really took advantage of the technology.  If you go to see it, save yourself a few bucks and go to a regular screening... you won't be missing anything.



They didn't have these at my local theater, but if you're interested in a Ghostface popcorn bucket, it's not too late to order one from Cinemark.  The one that I ordered isn't being delivered until August, but I'll still have it in time for the second half of drive-in season this year.
 


The first time I saw the trailer for 65, I jokingly called it "Jurassic Planet"  It's the story of two travelers from another planet who crash land on Earth 65 million years ago, just before the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck the Yucat√°n Peninsula.  They have to work together, despite the fact that they don't speak the same language, to find the escape shuttle that broke off of the main ship and escape the planet before it's too late.

This is a very fun action-adventure movie, but since it isn't a sequel, or a reboot, or a movie based on a comic book, it's getting unfavorable reviews.  I'm not going to pretend that it's an Oscar-worthy masterpiece, but with the exception of Living, I enjoyed 65 more than any of the other movies in this post.  It's an original idea that is well executed, and Adam Driver does a great job as the lead of an action flick.  If you can't have fun watching a movie like this, you have my sympathies.



...and that's a wrap for now.