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Crunching the Numbers: Crazy Eights

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My review thread.

 

Because some months are a bit light on movies, I am re-arranging procedure to instead review by quarters. There are four quarters to the year, and I will randomly pick 4 films from each quarter to be reviewed.

 

After reviews are done I will read everything else and then do a Top 25

 

The drawing will begin once Blank posts Avatar.

Edited by 4815162342
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So, here are the randomizer results for the films I will be reviewing for each quarter:

 

 

Quarter 1

 

Spoiler

Gunman Clive
Funny Business
Flightless Bird: The Downfall of the Boeing 737 MAX
Kings of the 6

 

 

Quarter 2

 

Spoiler

 

The Insect God

Walking with Dinosaurs: The Cinematic Experience

Rhino Riders 2

The Wild Thornberrys

 

 

 

Quarter 3

 

Spoiler

Meme Th(II)evies
The Gnashing
Animal Crossing
The Million Dollar Jacket


 

Quarter 4

 

Spoiler

Everything We Miss
Returning from Hell
The Castaways
Christmas Shopping

 

 

 

So, it seems a handful of quite major films dodged a bullet.

 

 

Review Schedule will be posted tomorrow.
 

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10 minutes ago, 4815162342 said:

So, here are the randomizer results for the films I will be reviewing for each quarter:

 

 

Quarter 1

 

  Reveal hidden contents

 

 

Quarter 2

 

  Reveal hidden contents

 

 

Quarter 3

 

  Reveal hidden contents


 

Quarter 4

 

  Reveal hidden contents

 

 

 

So, it seems a handful of quite major films dodged a bullet.

 

 

Review Schedule will be posted tomorrow.
 

*Sees castaways gets priority* oh hi shame

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Okay so the slightly changed review schedule will be:

 

Quarter 1 Quartet- Wednesday night

 

Quarter 2 Quartet- Thursday night

 

Quarter 3 Quartet- Friday night

 

Quarter 4 Quartet- Saturday morning or afternoon

 

The Four Elements Test- Monday

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Funny Business

 

You can tell it is heavily inspired by films such as Roger Rabbit, and coming on the heels of Toons vs. Reality last year it does feel a little derivative, but Funny Business does have a more cynical and foul-mouthed streak that keeps things for the most part fresh. The reliance on mostly professional voice actors and fresh faces also puts more of a spotlight on the animation and characters themselves, rather than just stick a big star in a role they would generally sleepwalk through. Things do suddenly wrap up a little quickly and simplistically in the third act but for a new studio in the CAYOMverse it is a solid start.

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Flightless Bird

 

A sharp, incisive, and cutting documentary that pulls no punches and relentlessly digs into the background of a company's negligence, recklessness, and lack of regard of human life causing tragedy, and the strings it tried to pull to dig itself out of its hole. You'll probably leave this film feeling angry, frustrated, and confused that things could go that far, which means this film has done its job exactly as it should.

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Kings of the 6

 

tenor.gif?itemid=14126049

 

It doesn't do anything that remarkable or go too deep into well, but it's a decently engaging sports documentary.

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11 minutes ago, 4815162342 said:

Kings of the 6

 

tenor.gif?itemid=14126049

 

It doesn't do anything that remarkable or go too deep into well, but it's a decently engaging sports documentary.

The commentary from the TNT team was so much better than what Canada got

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The Insect God

 

This is a kind of a weird hybrid of a movie, since it's a mash-up of several different concepts into one outing (A Boy and His Dog, Jungle Machete Adventure, Creature Horror, Environmental Allegory, etc.) and it doesn't quite gel together since there's a bildungsroman at the core that gets mashed up with some gruesome events that narrowly stay on the right side of PG-13, and there's not much development to the characters, which makes the way the climax is resolved feel unearned. It does get credit for being ambitious, if a bit wildly so.

 

Spoiler

Also, just found it odd that the Insect Army travels from off-shore of Hawaii to Chicago of all places to invade.

 

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Walking With Dinosaurs: The Cinematic Experience

 

An immersive and engaging exploration of the lives of a handful of dinosaurs, telling a tale of what it might have been like for these species in their heyday. While educational and geared towards younger folk, the film does not shy away from depicting harsh events and occurrences, all a part of the natural order of things so many millions of years ago. The film is a tad overlong, but the shifting perspectives between different dinosaur clans helps keep things from getting too bogged down.

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Rhino Riders 2

 

8e9d44e004fcc12ef8d657fe2ce5fa9b62a08d33

 

So....the film just stops, like halfway into the second act. It's like Peter and the Starcatchers, but this time instead of missing an act, it's missing an entire second half.

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The Wild Thornberrys

 

A modern live action update gives The Wild Thornberrys the XJ-9 approach. That film had a lot of visual ambition and kinetic energy, but also floundered a little under its own weight. How does this movie fare?

 

The film does get off to a bit of a sluggish start with an extended look at where Eliza is now, and has some domestic struggles, but the movie slowly picks up steam as it goes, though it does move a bit in fits and starts with some travel vignettes that eventually bear relevance to the main story, even if they rely on some plot contrivances. The relationship between Eliza and Diane is one of the film's strongest points, though it does take some time to bud and flourish. The film is definitely stronger and more exciting once it reaches Botswana, with some fun jungle-crawling and dungeon-delving setpieces, even if it also features a shoehorned coincidence of a way to get half the family back into things.

 

Probably the weakest aspect of the movie overall are the villains, who are either a grandstanding oaf who has really zero reason to be involved in this whole thing, and a stock evil brute.

 

Overall, it's a fun ride, probably could have used some tightening up in the first two acts, but aside from the family drama introspection it doesn't quite do enough to really stand out.

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Meme Th(II)eves

 

If you were not a fan of the first one, nothing in this sequel will change your mind. It's earnest, positive affirming themes of friendship help save it from being a totally insipid mess.

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The Gnashing

 

This reaction contains spoilers.

 

The initial premise of the film is nothing new. 6 teen colleagues who cover a diverse array of archetypes find something supernatural, and problems ensue from their ignorance.

Spoiler

 

Bruce pulls out the book he found and explains what it says: that the book damns those whose names are written inside of it to Hell. 

 

Not the most efficient way of getting people to go to Hell, since the people writing their names don't get a benefit prior to losing their soul. It's a one-way Do Not Pass Go Do Not Pass $200 venture. You'd have to be an idiot to do this.

 

Bruce interrupts everyone, telling them that they should all write their names in the book simply because it would be a "fun bonding experience." 

 

Ok, well there you go.

 

ent clarifies he did write his name in the book—but he misspelled it. Lisa asks him what he’s trying to prove by that. Trent explains that he studies religion in his free time

 

And if you studied religion, literature, fiction, basically anything, you'd know that the intentional misspelling loophole probably isn't going to work.

 

Caitlin tells Lisa not to worry about it because there's a very good chance that the book is completely fake

 

So Caitlin is acknowledging she thinks there's a chance the book is real, and she still wrote her name in anyway for the lulz. Remember what I said about idiots.

 

ory swallows some of his dad's prescription drugs. He’s chilling in his room when he hears the sound of cabinets opening and closing downstairs. He gets up to investigate but falls down the stairs, breaks his neck, and dies. 

 

A little disappointed we didn't get a Final Destination style death.

 

Rory stumbles to the door and opens it, and he stares in horror as an endless space of fire flails beyond the door.

 

Who could have possibly seen this coming?

 

Then Lisa tells them she’s holding a pizza party at her house. She knows Bruce won’t say no to pizza

 

On the one hand, it is an obvious trap for Bruce. On the other hand, it's pizza. Well-played.

 

Natalie, in a brief monologue, compares the steam, burnt cheese, and orange grease to what hellfire might look like. Trent touches the crust, nods, and says, “it feels like hellfire too—let’s give it a minute to cool down.”

 

This was a weird beat.

 

he says, "if I knew your name, I'd write it in the book. "

 

Okay I think Bruce really doesn't understand how this works. This isn't Death Note, you don't get to damn other people's souls for them.

 

While greeting everyone, he reaches to touch Lisa's hair,

 

Seriously Bruce, you'd think you failing to assault Lisa earlier would have clued you in she is not interested.

 

Rory’s name isn’t being erased. It’s as if it’s not being erased at all. Caitlin sees this and freaks out, taking Trent’s pencil and attempting to erase her own name. But the eraser doesn’t work on her name either.

 

Told you.

 

Cut to Bruce in the midst of realizing something, and Trent tells Natalie (while she dials 911) that their best option, if they can’t erase the names in the book, is the burn the book in a fire. 

 

Yes, because the book with the powers of Hell is definitely going to be vulnerable to fire.

 

ut to a Bruce's room. His phone lays on a pillow, displaying a photo of Lisa. Bruce is lying in bed, and he's...

 

Come the hell on Bruce, SHE IS NOT INTO YOU

 

Lisa: Bruce? What’s so funny?

Bruce: Today, I decided I write your names in the book myself. And don’t worry, Trent—I also fixed that spelling error of yours.

 

THIS IS NOT HOW IT WORKS.

Also, Bruce, you are the worst.

 

Then to his horror, she walks to the desk and looks at the two books. She's discovering too much. Bruce's mom slowly comes to a realization--then Bruce swings a baseball bat at her head. 

 

Correction, now Bruce is the worst.

 

Bruce: I’ll gladly hand it over, Lisa. But I want something in return.

Lisa: What?

Bruce stares at her longingly. Lisa figures it out.

 

Correction to my Correction, NOW, Bruce is the worst

 

Bruce: This isn't anything like the Hell I imagined. I thought there'd be parties, I thought there'd be fun... If I had known

 

HOW HAVE YOU MISSED EVERY SINGLE DEPICTION OF HELL EVER

 

The Extinguisher steps away to exchange its pitchfork for a giant soup ladle, and Bruce emerges screaming Bloody Mary, and we see his skin and flesh being melted off of his body. The camera dollies out as the Extinguisher stirs the cauldron with solemn resolve.

 

This is some pretty gruesome body horror, but the nonchalant soup stirring is kinda funny.

 

She tosses the book into the fire. To their delight, the fire eats away at the book, burning it to a crisp.

 

Hmm, it can't actually be that easy, can it? I guess it is.

 

Could it be? It’s Natalie! But wasn’t her name in the book?

 

Because the movie realized that it doesn't work if you don't write your name yourself.

 

 

 

All in all, this was a solid film, though it did feature its fair share of teen idiocy and hysterics. Bruce truly was the worst, though the film goes a little overboard in the third act to constantly top itself as to how much the worst he is. Hailee Steinfeld gives a good performance as the lead, but the film stumbles with Trent, saddling Ryan Potter with so much portentous dialogue and exposition and gnattering that every scene where he gets a big talking scene to show how much learned he is bogs things down.

 

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Animal Crossing

 

The plot for the movie is almost non-existent and at times it seems like the film is veering off to be totally plotless and just about the vibe of a fresh start in a new town with some of the obstacles and many of the benefits of meeting new people, learning new trades, etc. But this easy breezy mood only occurs in fits and starts, because the film is crowded to the brim with vignettes that shoehorn in gameplay elements masquerading as story beats, and it just becomes kind of a tiresome slog, and the movie is under 90 minutes! I think they had some good ideas, but let a stubborn and stodgy faithfulness to the source material get in the way (similar to some of the problems the first Pokemon had).

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The Million-Dollar Jacket

 

It's a fun and cutsey comedy that doesn't quite fully embrace the screwball aspect, but it's a decent way to spend an afternoon.

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Everything We Miss

 

Marriage Story 2: Existential Dread Boogaloo

 

If there is a word to describe the tone of this movie, it would be uncomfortable. Discomfort is the aim of the movie, as it slowly and methodically shows the fraying of the emotional bonds between a couple, aided and disrupted and observed by ethereal and disturbing creatures of the dark, while their fellow human beings wander through their lonely and despairing lives, oblivious to both the others around them, and the deeper layers of existence that is always there, watching and intervening. Anchored by two strong lead performances, the film constantly hurls emotional trauma at the audience, packing a lot of problems in a short running time. There are a few points where the pacing slows as the film detours from the actual story to show isolated vignettes that while thematically fitting, do sometimes feel like filler.

 

All in all, it is a compelling and fascinating animated entry that provides plenty of fodder for discussion.

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Returning From Hell

 

This was a film where perhaps I had different expectations going in than intended, since some of the marketing for the movie jazzed up the "nuclear revenge" aspect which led me to think this would be more of a thriller or a dark revenge comedy, so when about half of the movie is a progressively bleak drama that is mere prologue to the actual premise of the film, I was thrown off a bit. I do think the film should have tightened up that first half, since some aspects of the increasingly traumatizing and helpless youth of Sarah started to get a bit repetitive as other characters repeated things they'd already done, just in different circumstances. I also think devoting so much upfront to the backstory results in the film's pacing being a bit sluggish. Perhaps starting off with Sarah's leaving and going forward, with targeted flashbacks to key moments in her youth to show how she got to that point, might have been a bit more effective.

 

Awkwafina is well cast in the role, showing the transition from passive victim to active enforcer of her will and destiny with every instance of pain and hopelessness marked on her face. I do think the second half of the film suffers a little in that while it devotes a lot of meticulous step by step unfolding of the revenge, it loses sight of Sarah's personal growth once freed, such that a couple things that occur later on feel sprung on the audience without any natural buildup.

 

It's a good film, but I think it's a handful of structural and and character choices away from being a great one.

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Castaways

 

It's a fun ride that in many ways is the opposite of many franchise starters, in that it errs on the side of too little exposition and world-building instead of too much. There's not that much explanation or pre-amble before we're suddenly dumped into things and have to pick things up as the movie flies along. I perhaps would have liked a little more character development, especially with respect to Victor, and while Pandora is menacing and relentless, the villain is a blank slate and we're merely told about it rather than truly shown anything deeper. So the film is a bit thin, but a couple pretty nifty action sequences involving uses of portals help sustain the energy and momentum, and it should make for good holiday entertainment.

 

Oh yeah, and the credits scene certainly raised my eyebrows.

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