I wasn't originally interested in seeing Arrival in my busy schedule because, 1: It seemed like it was long and it was the sort of movie with words more than excitement, which I wasn't in the mood for. 2: My naughty anti-proper-critic muscle told me I wouldn't like it because it stars Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, who starred together in American Hustle, a similarly long and critically acclaimed movie I loathed. Well, you all were right...Arrival really is quite awesome!
So, Arrival is about an alien invasion. But it's not a Race-to-Witch-Mountain or The-5th-Wave kind of movie (I gave an A to both of those movies as well). Well, actually, it's sort of like Race to Witch Mountain in terms of the reaction to the public (The 5th Wave is more like a public extinction film.) Twelve levitating alien ships have landed in several parts of the world with no similarities known on those parts. And nobody knows why they've landed and what could be coming and what they might be bringing but the human race is panicking and their inner violence is kicking in as controversies arise. The government turns to a lady named Louise who teaches geography and interpreting different languages. She is taken over to one of the ships to meet the aliens and find out why they came.
Immediately, something that was very different from other alien invasions, like the films I mentioned before (plus the Transformers movies, and actually a lot of alien movies the more I think about it) is that the aliens don't speak English. Their language is like...well, think of it like someone speaking Spanish trying to learn Mandarin, and vice versa. The movie doesn't have much of a chance to let us visualize the scrolls and interpret the language for ourselves. But that would've either not been a good movie or a movie about 4 or 5 hours. Still, I thought the movie could've given us a chance to have better guesses at what they were doing. But that's pretty much the only thing I was at fault with in the entire film!
Everyone else I've seen who's talked about this movie say that this film really makes you think, and I can't disagree. But it does more than just make you think. It's neat how technically, not much is actually happening, and yet the tension is as high up and sideways as the heroes are when they are up trying to talk to these creatures. It also analyzes, as I said, our instinct for violence and our instinct to divide up in big situations. If aliens came and the government wasn't taking the action you desired, what would you do? Start an angry mob? Post on Facebook? Whether humans were trying to talk to them calmly and interpret like Louise and her assistants are doing or obliterate the aliens immediately with weaponry, both options would've caused rebellions. That's one of the examples of why this movie makes you think.
Most of the tension comes from the aliens we see. I won't spoil how they look but let's just say we are like cockroaches talking up to supposed grizzly bears, and we cockroaches aren't quite as invincible, and yet some of us are just as nasty.
I also think everyone will never see the ending and the resolution coming. Let's just say it gives us quite a mixed reaction about the main character, but for the mood this movie makes, it fits. Arrival is a movie that's able to take a somewhat overused premise and make it its own while simultaneously having a simple premise yet feeling completely original!
I feel like this is more of a C or C+ movie, but I'm giving Passengers this grade not just for my disappointment, but the bad feel it gave me in my stomach. Just thinking about it makes me sick.
This is about a ship called the Avalon, and after some sort of malfunction or something (we assume it's a malfunction because we see some controls showing errors and then them resetting and fixing), but something that isn't reset and fixed is the sleep pod of one of the Passengers: Jim Preston, played by Chris Pratt, of The Lego Movie and Jurassic World. And then the pod of journalist Aurora Lane, played by Jennifer Lawrence. Wait. Let me back up here. The Earth today is overpopulated, probably corrupt, and probably outright stinks. But humans have found a new planet that is 120 light years away, but has the requirements for human habitation, so this ship has put up a manual orbit to this planet and to avoid aging and downright boredom, 5000 passengers who volunteered to go on this life-changing journey. Well, 30 years into it, Jim and Aurora are stranded and they don't know how to get back to sleep or why they woke up! What are they going to do?!
In all honesty, the first quarter of Passengers is a good idea! A ship that is travelling half of light speed to another planet for a chance at new life after the disaster the actual Earth is shaping up to be? Great idea! A man woken up ninety years early? Even better. And the soundtrack as he races through? Boss. But it's as his beard grows that it's like it covers up all traces of a recommendation. He is stranded on the ship for too long by himself and the idea of it just made me sad and grateful this is a fiction movie. And maybe I wouldn't be so mad at this movie if I didn't have high expectations, but the advertising and the slogan: "There Is a Reason They Woke Up" made this an instant priority to see. When you have advertising this false, it seems like the movie is aware of it and just wants to take aim at your wallets. Maybe the movie seemed like a good idea when they were making it with all the special effects. Maybe the writers should've done some double checking. In fact, my beginning summary is a little deceiving. (If you want to save yourself the trouble and hear what it's actually like, comment and ask me and I'll reply.)
This film has an original premise, I'll admit. But that's probably because most science fiction stories probably wouldn't dare stoop this low. I kind of wish I actually never heard of this film because the thought of it reminds me of all those stories on the news of someone suffering on a life raft or trapped in a cave with his body fat receding or something. And there are times when it feels that way. The movie is so slow and has such an inevitable feeling that it almost feels impossible. You know, there's a book called Solitary by Alexander Gordon Smith, a thriller that's the second book in his action-packed debut series, and it involves someone trapped in an enclosed space where every second threatens to crush him as his mind goes crazy from being trapped. Passengers is kind of like that, though lighter or worse, I don't know.
There's also the case with the captain's quarters. I mean, seriously. He couldn't open it after all this time?! I bet he could've blasted a hole in the actual ship and into the vaccuum of space and yet whatever he tries drilling through isn't even dented? Whatever metal that is made of, I'm sure bankers and the military would love to know what it is. I also felt like the premise would never actually happen. If anything, the movie makes for a good examination of why a pod like this should be allowed to be manually turned on and off.
The last twenty minutes kept me on the edge, though. In fact, I'll go as far as to say I cared about what would happen and it actually felt like the characters were vulnerable and mortal. If only the rest of the movie seemed that way. It's actually kind of boring. (Duh,duh,duuuuuuuuuh! Boring! A movie + Boring = William McGinn in Arch Nemesis Mode!)
Despite the fact I don't like overall how it ended, I was kept on edge, and I think some filmgoers might like the romance aspect of it. For me it was plainly painful and tremendously stupid. The movie tries to end sweet and they actually succeed here marvellously. But it's like a factor that I wish didn't happen. For example, let's say a movie ends gross, and I say it ends marvellously gross. That's a positive "gross" but there can be other things like "cute" or "suspenseful" or "unpredicted" that would be much better.
Whenever this movie isn't playing its terrific space soundtrack, or showing off the terrific acting abilities from Jennifer Lawrence, or not showing off its action-packed climax, Passengers is, I'm afraid, a complete disaster!
I know Star Wars: The Force Awakens made not just my Top 10 but my Top 2 favourite books of the year list back in 2015, but I didn't write a review because I felt everything that had to be said had to be said. Well, now I'm here to talk about Rogue One. A film that I felt I had to wait to see before I made my Best video list. Huh.
This would be Star Wars Episode III.V, as in 3.5. In Star Wars Episode IV, during the famous first opening, it mentioned rebels stealing plans towards the Death Star. After forty years of people probably wondering how that went down, we have our answer. Meet Jyn Urso, a girl whose parents were taken away from her at an extremely young age, in different ways but kind of by the same person, who, no surprise, has affiliations with Darth Vader. But anyway, you already know the goal of the film; Jyn and a team have to break into a gigantic fortress in a planet completely harbored by Storm Troopers and the Star Nazis to send blueprints and instructions to the rebels on how to destroy their most powerful weapon, The Death Star, and Jyn thinks she knows what it'll take.
So was I impressed as the movie started? Uh...honestly, not really. The movie starts off a kicker introducing us to Jyn as a little kid and shows us she's basically a homeless who's in jail and refuses to be a part of any rebellion whatsoever, but there was still something missing. It was when G arrived that things got better. A 3PO-like robot with some positively extravagant one-liners. And other than Jyn and Cassian, did I remember any of the names of the other rebels or side characters? Sadly, no. But I remembered a lot of their characteristics, especially the blind Chinese dude. He steals every scene he's in, not because he's handsome but because he's so good at dodging lightsabers and lasers from those lightsabers that he can make the whole movie seem cartoonish for a little while, and it rocks!
Still, the movie is occasionally slow and sometimes just...there on the screen. One thing I was confused about was this decision Cassian makes concerning someone who's very important to Jyn, and I was actually praying it would turn out okay for this character, all the while me being confused about what side he was on. But the movie still finds chances to take advantage of its own slow run, with Jyn giving an inspirational and completely truthful speech about how rebellions are built on hope. I'm not going to forget that anytime soon. Not to mention the big battle feels very realistic.
And you know? I was kind of surprised how far they took this premise. But after a while, it became sort of tedious and actually sort of depressing, and I couldn't help but wish a different approach was taken, and one where I felt was possible. What they do is actually a kind of weakness and strength simultaneously, doing stuff that the Star Wars universe has never seen before and has a feel of the realism of war and yet I wasn't entirely transported the same way the other Star Wars movies did. It also didn't help I was squirming in my seat for a large portion of the movie and it was sometimes too predictable and repetitive.
In the end, I'm giving a positive grade to Rogue One, but I'm probably not going to watch this again and The Force Awakens is 20 times better! I think it's worth seeing once for all it tries to do, like the way it goes is kind of inevitable.
Before I start this review, let me reveal some secrets. Before I turned on this movie, I was giving The Secret Life of Pets a try, but I gave up because it just seemed too too familiar. So I decided to give this movie a go. And another thing? I was very close to giving this an A+ and I probably would've if I hadn't felt like I'd already seen it. But maybe that's just the mood I'm in right now. The last week of class is underway and I feel I need to get back to The Blacktop Brothers 5 soon. But anyway, that's my diary. Into the review!
Money Monster is about a broadcaster named Lee Gates who hosts a show called Money Monster that talks about all the happiness and private parts of the universe, including the fact there was a glitch in some sort of algorithm, and 800 million dollars vanished. The next day, a man sneaks onto the stage and while on tape shoots a gun into the air and forces Lee to put on a bomb vest that will go off if his thumb leaves a button he's just pressed down. He says he lost 60 thousand dollars, and Lee says with honesty he can get that for him, but he says he wants, you guessed it! 800 million dollars. Actually, he wants to know what happened to that algorithm, and he's pinning this on Lee because of something he said on Money Monster that was more comedy than documentation. Now, the police have to find a way to intercept Kyle without him blowing up the building, and Lee has to decide whether to stall or help the guy out.
Remember my C review of The Big Short? Well, I think I'm pumping my review up to a B or B-. The first time I saw that movie, it seemed to just go too fast for me to really grasp everything and went too long. But now I do. I feel that movie is better off being watched in chunks rather than the whole thing at once at 2 hours. When it goes like that, apart from a few story problems I had, it's pretty damn good. And The Big Short has a bit bigger of a mystery to tell as it goes along: What is with those numbers, what aren't the people in the big banks telling us, and how did the overall financial crisis happen? This movie doesn't have that same mystery exactly; in the sense that we don't know the face, but we know the idea. The minute when Kyle Budwell steps on, we know what the villain is going to be like. That sense of familiarity has apparently given a lot of critics mixed reviews on it, but I have to admit, until we get to that part, the movie is so good that I might have to apologize to George Clooney for how harsh I've been on his movies lately (The Descendants, The Monuments Men, Hail, Ceasar!) George Clooney finally packs the punch we know he could! And I had a lot of fun watching this movie!
I was also impressed with the way I actually had mixed feelings about Kyle Budwell. He's clearly hurt but also clearly violent. It's fun watching him know when someone is lying and George Clooney's (Lee Gates) conversations feel realistic, and we feel like Lee is a very good person and not just some satirical airhead like we thought he was. And as the police approached, I had no idea if I wanted Kyle dead or not. Probably not mostly because that wouldn't have been a good story, but Jack o'Connell magnificently plays Kyle so monstrously you really don't want him to turn around. The soundtrack's not too shabby either; it doesn't stay on for the entire film. Movies where someone is being hled captive usually don't have much music during the captivity scenes. But there is a small soundtrack that feels like a vehement showing of the journalism world, and a funky and funny Wall Street rap credits song.
Many people didn't enjoy the climax much, but I found it almost as suspenseful as the airport fight scene in Captain America: Civil War. Almost. I won't tell you what happens, but so much happens all at once and for what it was, it was tugging, and the end result is a movie that's obvious but still just fun. (Though there's a scene involving money amounts and I don't think it would've gone down the way it did in real life. Ah well.)
Money Monster is like watching a ton of people put together a heavy jigsaw puzzle in a time limit. You know what the final product is supposed to look like, but it's a lot of fun watching them race around trying to get it done and trying to cheat their way through. If this movie had an actual big mystery, I think I would've given this film an A+.
is the maker and blogger of Weldon Witness, plus the author of The Blacktop Brothers series. He likes to call himself "the junk food author."