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El Squibbonator

ElSquibbonator's Review Thread-- UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT

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All right, so now that we have another year's worth of CAYOM entries in the bag, we might as well set about reviewing them. There's a lot of movies this year, so we're going to go about this in an orderly fashion and--

 

WHAT THE *BLEEP* ARE YOU DOING HERE?

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Who are you? 

 

I'M SPUD THE COUCH POTATO, AND I'M TAKING THIS SHOW OVER! NOW GET YOUR *BLEEP* OUT OF THAT CHAIR, OR I'LL KICK IT OUT FOR YOU. 

 

Excuse me, we seem to be experiencing some. . . uhh. . . technical difficulties. As you were saying? 

 

I'M GONNA REVIEW THESE MOVIES, SINCE YOU'RE TOO *BLEEP*ING LAZY TO DO IT! 

 

Wait, what? 

 

YEAH, YOU HEARD ME. 

 

All right. Just one condition. You don't get to review my movies. 

 

WE'LL SEE ABOUT THAT. NOW HERE'S HOW IT'S GONNA WORK. I'LL REVIEW THREE OF THESE *BLEEP*ING MOVIES FOR EVERY MONTH. PICKED TOTALLY AT RANDOM. I'LL GIVE THEM BETWEEN ONE AND TEN POINTS, THOUGH HONESTLY I DON'T KNOW IF ANY OF THEM DESERVE THAT MUCH. 

 

And me? 

 

THAT'S THE BEST PART! THIS ISN'T YOUR SHOW ANYMORE! 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
Spoiler

Winner Takes All

You know how pizza tastes good when you have it delivered fresh, but it's bland and underwhelming when you have it frozen and microwaved? It's still pizza, but it's less enjoyable than it should be. That's what the third Finders Keepers sequel is like. The first two movies were fun and enjoyable in their own, right, but this third movie does a lot of the things they did right, wrong. In fact, I'm trying to actively count the number of times this movie made me laugh, and I think I can count them on one hand. 

So yeah, in a lot of ways this movie is like microwaved leftover pizza. It's barely able to tide you over, and certainly not something you'd watch on principle, unless for whatever reason you're into this sort of thing. All it's really going to do is leave you wishing you had the original version that was better in pretty much every way. 

 

5/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

Super Monkey Ball

Video game movies tend to fall into one of two categories. They're either good in spite of being based on video games, or they suck absolute *bleep* because they're based on video games. Super Monkey Ball manages to be neither. It's good based on its merits as a video game adaptation, which is a compliment I don't think I've given to any such movie, well. . . ever, to be honest. Truth be told, the original game didn't have much of a story to begin with (I don't think, it's been ages since I played it) but the movie manages to make an interesting story out of it without betraying the game's, shall I say, video-game-ness. 

Will kids like it? Absolutely. Pretty much everything in this movie is designed (and by designed, I mean test-marketed) to the ten-and-under crowd. Will parents? Eh, probably. At the very least it's not as saccharine as Molly and Emmett or as much of a toy commercial as Dinosaucers. If you're into this game, or even if you liked it as a kid, unlock your inner 10-year-old and have a blast. 

 

8/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

Interceptors

So, a guy goes up to a talent agent and says "Boy, do I have an act for you!" 

The talent agent says, "What is it?"

The guy says, "It involves a bunch of washed-up actors from the 2000s, a script full of disaster movie cliches, and characters so flat you could use them as placemats!" 

The talent agent is shocked. "What do you call that act?"

"Interceptors!"

So, yeah. Interceptors. Do not like. How do you make a space disaster movie boring? This is the answer. *Bleep* this movie. 

 

1/10 Potatoes. 

 

Edited by El Squibbonator
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@El Squibbonator Heyo! I really love the three random reviews system you're using, because it's pretty unique and saves you some trouble; I will advise you though that you'll eventually need to post scores to every film, and that's something you can do after your Top 25. Withholding some scores is smart because it'll raise suspense as to what's going to rank on your 25! Anyway, you're doing great so keep at it!

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Spoiler

Scales of Justice

Full disclosure here. Can't stand most legal dramas. Just can't *bleep*ing stand them. Maybe it's the overall air of smugness they have, or the way their plots all tend to blur together. But-- and this is a big but-- Scales of Justice pulls it off better than most. The plot zips along at what I'm almost willing to call an exciting pace, and the fact that it's based on a real case-- or at least that's what the Groundswell publicity is telling me-- adds another dimension to it. This is a legal drama for people who don't like legal dramas, and that alone averts a thumbs-down. 

I do have some criticisms to make, of course, and a lot of them have to do with the fact that the script is very bare-bones, and doesn't really do enough with the interesting premise. There's also the movie's rather uncomfortable portrayal of schizophrenia, which would have been annoying at best were it not for the fact that it's a major plot device. Still, I liked this movie more than most in its genre.

7/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

Whinge and Cringe

Live action/animation hybrid movies tend to be either really good or, far more often, absolute dog*bleep*. Last year's Funny Business, from Fossil Record, tried to make a commentary on the cutthroat nature of the animation industry-- a laudable goal, I might add-- but was an unfunny mess of jokes that never quite landed. Whinge and Cringe is in its own way just as bad. A thirty-something bar employee buys a living cartoon character and more or less treats him as a slave, and despite said character causing incredible amounts of death and destruction, we're still meant to see their relationship as heartwarming. Neither of the protagonists are relatable-- Harold is a selfish jerk, and Whingey crosses the line from cartoonish slapstick to outright abuse. This movie is supposedly a comedy, but I hardly ever found myself laughing at it. If this is what people's idea of adult animation is, I weep for the industry. 

2/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

Landslide

This movie would have been a lot more fun if it weren't so shamelessly ripped off of recent events. Taken purely for what it is, it's not a bad idea-- an Die Hard-style action movie with white supremacists as the villains-- but the setup of an attack on a government building to disrupt an election is in questionable taste. That being said, if you don't mind that sort of thing-- and I have it on record that quite a few people seem not to-- it's a serviceable movie. The Rock is, as usual, the quintessential modern action star, and Wyatt Russell is surprisingly menacing as Todd Scott. However, I couldn't help but feel a bit detached from Alisha Boe's Abigail Keaton. And considering she's the main character in this movie, that's not a good look. 

Overall, not terrible, but nothing to write home about either. If you like watching white supremacists getting blown into bloody chunks, and listening to long speeches about how conservatism is "the disease killing America", this is the movie for you.

5/10 Potatoes

 

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Posted (edited)
Spoiler

Alakazam!

This is the platonic ideal of an animated movie. And I don't mean that in a good way. What I mean is, it's pretty much everything that comes to mind when you hear the words "animated movie"-- a comedy aimed at the twelve-and-under set that occasionally throws a bone or two of adult humor to the parents in the audience. A stage magician finds himself switching bodies with his rabbit and now has to escape from the titular city of magic hidden inside his top hat-- admittedly, you could do worse as a premise for a movie. I was actually interested to see what they'd do with it.  

It's a *bleep*ing shame, then, that the answer was "nothing out of the ordinary". If you've seen any other animated kids' movie, you've seen this one. "Kids won't mind!" I hear you say. But this is a family movie. As in, it's aimed at all ages, not just kids. I've seen some good family movies in my day, and Alakazam! never rises to the occasion. At best it's a moderately passable diversion for kids, but any adult-- or even kids over the age of 12-- will probably find it to not be quite so magical. 

 

4/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

Bug-catcher Boys

Remember movies like The Goonies and The Sandlot? Movies that were, for lack of a better word, about kids just being kids, in an age before we had the internet, social media, and COVID? Did you ever wonder why no one makes movies like that anymore? This is why. Bug-Catcher Boys is about two bug-obsessed pre-teens who jump at the chance to save their town by capturing all of the invasive Blue Birch Beetles that have been destroying the town's trees. The town exterminator, naturally, is portrayed as a cackling, mustache-twirling villain who hates insects, even though he's just doing his job, and by the movie's own logic, the beetles are a non-native species anyway. A paper-thin plot, heroes you can't quite root for, and a message that falls apart if you pull on even one thread of it. What a lovely combination. OK, maybe this movie isn't why that trend is dead, but it definitely shows that some movie genres are better left in the past. 

 

2/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

Warmth

I'm not sure what I was expecting going into Warmth. All I know is that I wasn't expecting it to be anything like the kind of movie it is. The plot? There isn't one--at least not the kind I can adequately summarize. This isn't a movie you watch for the plot. The main character's arc consists of a series of spiritual quests, culminating in musings about the nature of war and the human life cycle. I'm almost at a loss for how to judge it as a movie. I mean, *bleep*,  at least bad movies like Interceptors and Whinge and Cringe were bad in obvious ways. But Warmth is something new-- it's a totally different beast from the mass-produced output of modern cinema. And for that alone, I can respect it. 

A lot of the artistic choices made in Warmth, like filming it in black and white, feel like they were put in for the hell of it rather than because they served any real artistic function to the movie, but that's my only major gripe with Warmth. Perhaps I might not be so forgiving towards it if I had different expectations of it, but as it stands, I didn't really have any expectations at all. 

 

8/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

American Spy

Spy movies pretty much come in two types. You have your martini-flavored ones, with the gadgets and the femme-fatales and what-not, and then you have the stale-beer-flavored kind that hew more towards "realism", or so they tend to claim anyway. American Spy falls very much in the latter category, perhaps too much for its own good. It's perfectly competent at doing what it sets out to do, but when you watch it, an odd feeling starts to creep over you. Is this movie trying to be exciting, the way you'd expect a spy movie to, or is it trying to be something more serious than that? I have the same reservations with it as I did with Landslide, at least in the sense that this movie seems to be exploitative of its subject matter instead of truly respecting it. 

 

6/10 Potatoes

 

 

Edited by El Squibbonator
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Great round of reviews, @El Squibbonator. However, the calendar changed sometime ago and was never updated and the calendar in the movie submission page is slightly outdated. Warmth opens in October.

 

On 6/2/2022 at 12:08 AM, SLAM! said:

Temporary Updated Y9 Schedule

 

So this updated schedule is meant as a way to keep track of new posts on the submission thread for the time being; the schedule on the other thread may be updated in the future, but this schedule will tide over players eager for an updated top-down look at how the year's shaping up so far. This is a living post that I plan to update as more films get submitted in the lead-up to the June 27th deadline. Whenever films are posted in the submission thread, I'll add them here, and if you have any other requests about the schedule, you can tag me in this discussion thread and I'll make changes; my goal is to do either of those tasks within twenty-four hours of the film getting posted or the request being made. 😎

 

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Friday, January 3rd

Winner Takes All - Thriller/Black Comedy - Directed by Stefan Schwartz - R - $12.5m budget - 3,088 theaters


Friday, January 10th

Socksucker - Romantic Comedy - Directed by Paul Fieg - R - $25m budget - 3,278 theaters


Friday, January 17th (4-Day MLK Weekend)

Interceptors - Sci-Fi/Action - Directed by Simon West - PG-13 - $100m budget - 3,625 theaters - In IMAX (2 Weeks)

Super Monkey Ball - Animated Comedy - Directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn - PG - $91m budget - 3,770 theaters


Friday, January 24th

Go-Kart Gottlieb - Drama - Directed by Tom Tykwer - PG-13 - $40m budget - 2,370 theaters


Friday, January 31st

By The Seaside - Teen Romantic Comedy - directed by Karen Maine - PG-13 - $25m budget - 3,433 theaters
Grand Theft Auto - Crime/Thriller/Action/Satire/Drama - Directed by Liz Friedlander - R - $60m budget - 3,883 theaters - In IMAX (2 weeks)

Friday, February 7th

The Crummy Shindig - Comedy/Musical - Directed by Ol Parker - PG - $30m budget - 3,317 theaters


Friday, February 14th (4-Day President’s Day Weekend)

Landslide - Action/Thriller - Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber - PG-13 - $70m budget - 4,022 theaters - In IMAX (12 weeks)

Whinge & Cringe - Live-Action & Animation Hybrid/Black Comedy - Directed by Peter Avanzino - R - $75m budget - 3,179 theaters


Friday, February 21st

Scales of Justice - Legal Drama - Directed by Scott Frank - R - $30m budget - 3,160 theaters


Friday, February 28th

Death Is Not My Friend - Surrealist Drama - Directed by Emily Harris - PG-13 - $25m budget - 2,589 theaters

Friday, March 7th

Bugcatcher Boys - Family Comedy - Directed by Thor Freudenthal - PG - $15m budget - 2,877 theaters
Deep Sixed - Action - Directed by Patrick Hughes - R - $30m budget - 3,432 theaters


Friday, March 14th
The Last Victim - Horror - Directed by André Øvredal - R - $30m budget - 3,150 theaters


Friday, March 21st

Alakazam! - Animation - Directed by Sarah Smith and J.P. Vine - PG - $125m budget - 3,875 theaters


Friday, March 28th

American Spy - Spy Thriller/Romance - Directed by Ava DuVernay - PG-13 - $45m budget - 3,289 theaters


Friday, April 4th

Bikini - Drama - Directed by Kelly Reichardt - R - $10m budget - 1,475 theaters

Molly and Emmett - Animation/Family/Children's - Directed by Dan Walker - G - $10m budget - 1,500 Theaters


Friday, April 11th

Heart of the Amazon - Nature Documentary - G - $5m budget - 2,491 theaters

Friday, April 18th (Easter Weekend)

The Boy Who Hated Books - Family/Drama - Directed by Thea Sharrock - PG - $42m budget - 3,356 theaters

Devil Bean - Action/Comedy - Directed by Doug Liman - PG-13 - $75m budget - 3,361 Theaters

Friday, April 25th

Shadow of the Comet - Action/Science-Fiction - Directed by Harold Kingsley - PG-13 - $25m budget - 2,086 Theaters


Friday, May 2nd

Martian Manhunter - Superhero/Sci-Fi/Action - Directed by Matt Shakman - PG-13 - $155m budget - 4,287 theaters - In IMAX (Three Weeks)


Friday, May 9th (Mother’s Day Weekend)

Kirby and the King's Caper - Animation - Directed by Pierre Perifel - PG - $100m budget - 4,042 theaters

Friday, May 16th

AeroMobil: The Future Is Now - Documentary - Directed by Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer - PG - $5m budget - 2,115 theaters

The Man of the Jungle - Action/Adventure/Drama/Musical - Directed by F. Gary Gray - PG-13 - $175m budget - 3,956 theaters


Friday, May 23rd (4-Day Memorial Day Weekend)
Revenge Ex - Romantic Comedy - Directed by Will Gluck - R - $37m budget - 3,925 theaters

Rocket Hero - Action/Thriller - Directed by Christopher McQuarrie - PG-13 - $110m budget - 3,657 theaters - In IMAX (2 weeks)

Friday, May 30th

Fatal Error - Horror/Sci-Fi - Directed by M.J. Bassett - R - $15m budget - 2,842 theaters


Friday, June 6th
Matilda and the Night Children - Computer Animation/Fantasy/Musical - Directed by Ashton Corbin and Everett Downing - PG - $135m budget - 4,239 - In IMAX (1 week)

Friday, June 13th (Father’s Day Weekend)
Xenoblade Chronicles: Power of the Monado - Sci-Fi/Adventure - Directed by Wes Ball - PG-13 - $150m budget - 3,850 theaters - In IMAX (7 weeks)

Friday, June 20th
The Next Good Day - Drama - Directed by Tom McCarthy - PG-13 - $15m budget - 2,820 theaters

Friday, June 27th

Second Dimension: Last Hope - Action/Fantasy - Directed by Chloé Zhao - PG-13 - $160m budget - 4,105 theaters


Wednesday, July 2nd (5-Day Independence Day Weekend)
Heremias - CGI Animation/Fantasy/Adventure/Drama - Directed by Brenda Chapman - PG - $150m budget - 4,185 theaters

War on Drugs: America's Modern Conflict - Documentary - Directed by Lyric Cabral - R - $5m budget - 2,150 theaters

Friday, July 11th

The Mirage - Western/Horror - Directed by Fede Álvarez - R - $20m budget - 3,664 theaters


Friday, July 18th

HOOOOOPs - Sports Comedy - Directed by Charles Stone III - PG-13 - $25m budget - 3,392 theaters

Friday, July 25th

Hearts of Fire: Vengeful Heart - Action/Thriller - Directed by Natália Grimberg - PG-13 - $30m budget - 3,123 theaters


Friday, August 1st

Dinosaucers - Animation/Fantasy/Children's - Directed by John M. Carrigan - PG - $45m budget - 3,104 theaters - In IMAX (4 weeks)

Friday, August 8th

Gran Turismo - Sports - Directed by Jamie Babbit - PG-13 - $60m budget - 3,462 theaters


Friday, August 15th

The Excursion (Limited Release) - Portuguese Drama - Directed by Sérgio Graciano - PG-13 - $942.6k budget - 3 theaters

Someone's Grace - Faith-Based - Directed by Roxann Dawson - PG - $10m budget - 2,824 theaters

Friday, August 22nd
The Excursion (Limited Expansion #1) - Portuguese Drama - Directed by Sergio Graciano - PG-13 - $942.6k budget - 10 theaters

The Talons of the Hawk - Horror/Thriller - Directed by Gareth Edwards - R - $50m budget - 3,170 theaters

Friday, August 29th (4-Day Labor Day Weekend)

The Excursion (Limited Expansion #2) - Portuguese Drama - Directed by Sérgio Graciano - PG-13 - $942.6k budget - 567 theaters

The First Water War - Family Comedy - Directed by David Bowers - PG - $20m budget - 3,201 theaters

Scythe - YA Dystopian/Thriller - Directed by Matthew Vaughn - R - $100m budget - 3,845 theaters - In IMAX (4 weeks)

Friday, September 5th

Acne - Body Horror/Psychological Drama - Directed by Jake Hammond - R - $7m budget - 3,231 theaters

Seals of Honor - Nature Documentary - Directed by Drew Fellman - G - $5m budget - 2,491 theaters


Friday, September 12th

Home Invasion: Part IV - Curtain Call - Directed by Joe Carnahan - $35m budget - 3,029 theaters

Tumbleweed - Western/Slow Cinema - Directed by Gus Van Sant - $10m budget - 2,545 theaters

Friday, September 19th

Raven Island - Animation/Fantasy/Family - Directed by Rebecca Daintree - PG - $20m budget - 2,055 theaters


Friday, September 26th
Invader Zim - Animation/Sci-Fi/Black Comedy - Directed by Owen Dennis - PG - $120m budget - 3,701 theaters - In IMAX (2 weeks)

Friday, October 3rd

Fore! - Comedy - Directed by Tom Gormican - PG-13 - $30m budget - 3,036 theaters

Warmth (Limited Release) - Drama/Fantasy - Directed by Alfonso Cuarón - R - $45m budget - 4 theaters


Friday, October 10th (4-Day Indigenous People’s Day/Columbus Day Weekend)

Mechamen - Sci-Fi/Action - Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra - PG-13 - $150m budget - 4,019 theaters - In IMAX (7 weeks)

Warmth (Limited Expansion #1) - Drama/Fantasy - Directed by Alfonso Cuarón - R - $45m budget - 500 theaters

Sleepy Hollow - Stop Motion/Animation/Thriller/Mystery/Horror - Directed by Henry Selick - R - $70m budget - 3,925 theaters

Friday, October 17th

Guinea Pigger - Comedy - Directed by Ron Oliver - PG - $7.5m budget - 3,019 theaters

Warmth (Wide Release) - Drama/Fantasy - Directed by Alfonso Cuarón - R - $45m budget - 666 theaters

Friday, October 24th

Red Rabbit - Spy/Drama/Thriller - Directed by John Madden - PG-13 - $60m budget - 3,544 theaters

#Spooked - Horror/Comedy - Directed by Jeff Wadlow - PG-13 - $10m budget - 3,432 theaters

Warmth (Wide Expansion #2) - Drama/Fantasy - Directed by Alfonso Cuarón - R - $45m budget - 1,478 theaters

Friday, October 31st

Grace and Mercy - Dramedy - Directed by Stella Meghie - PG-13 - $20m budget - 2,754 theaters

Warmth (Wide Expansion #3) - Drama/Fantasy - Directed by Alfonso Cuarón - R- $45m budget - 2,978 theaters


Friday, November 7th

Land of the Crescent - Period Adventure - Directed by Mohamed Diab - $90m budget - 3,933 theaters

Mother Knows Better - Comedy - Directed by Tyler Perry - PG-13 - $20m budget - 3,785 theaters


Friday, November 14th

Tongue Tied - Fantasy/Romantic Comedy - Directed by Armando Iannucci - PG-13 - $60m budget - 3,215 theaters


Friday, November 21st

Runaway Train - Biographical Drama - Directed by James Mangold - R - $35m budget - 3,132 theaters

Wednesday, November 26th (5-Day Thanksgiving Weekend)
Inspector Gadget and Penny - CG Animation/Comedy/Action - Directed by Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath - PG - $85m budget - 4,023 theaters

Ultraman: Dark Future - Superhero/Sci-Fi - Directed by Jonathan Liebesman - PG-13 - $110m budget - 3,973 theaters - in IMAX (5 weeks)

Friday, December 5th

Father III - All Hell Breaks Loose - Horror/Thriller/Action - Directed by Anna Foersted - R - $25m budget - 3,666 theaters


Friday, December 12th

The Baddest of Them All - Concert - Directed by Bruce Hendricks - PG-13 - $7m budget - 2,450 theaters

SSX - Action/Sports - Directed by Aaron and Adam Nee - PG-13 - $100m budget - 4,253 theaters


Friday, December 19th

Dancing in the Doghouse - Thriller/Drama/Romance - Directed by Karyn Kusama - R - $85m budget - 3,301 theaters
The Queen Who Never Was - Fantasy Drama - Directed by Michelle MacLaren - R - $200m budget - 4,013 theaters

Thursday, December 25th (4-Day Christmas Weekend)

Among Us - Comedy/Mystery - Directed by James Gunn - PG-13 - $100m budget - 3,850 theaters

Vixen and the Castle of Doom - Animation/Fantasy - Directed by Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, and Gianluigi Toccafondo - PG - $15.8m budget - 2,867 theaters

 

 

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4 hours ago, El Squibbonator said:

In that case, I'll edit this post to have a different review. 


Warmth can be one of your October reviews though, so you’re not doing too much extra work. 🤷‍♂️

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On 8/1/2022 at 2:37 AM, El Squibbonator said:
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American Spy

Spy movies pretty much come in two types. You have your martini-flavored ones, with the gadgets and the femme-fatales and what-not, and then you have the stale-beer-flavored kind that hew more towards "realism", or so they tend to claim anyway. American Spy falls very much in the latter category, perhaps too much for its own good. It's perfectly competent at doing what it sets out to do, but when you watch it, an odd feeling starts to creep over you. Is this movie trying to be exciting, the way you'd expect a spy movie to, or is it trying to be something more serious than that? I have the same reservations with it as I did with Landslide, at least in the sense that this movie seems to be exploitative of its subject matter instead of truly respecting it. 

 

6/10 Potatoes

 

 

 

Spoiler

With all due respect to your opinion and your review, I feel like this is a bizarre approach to criticizing American Spy. Yes, it's a spy thriller that leans more towards realism and thematic exploration than it does suaveness and crazy gadgets. I fail to see what's wrong with that. I guess you're trying to say that you're not sure if the movie is trying to be exciting or serious, to which I answer, "why can't it be both?"

 

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3 hours ago, MCKillswitch123 said:

 

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With all due respect to your opinion and your review, I feel like this is a bizarre approach to criticizing American Spy. Yes, it's a spy thriller that leans more towards realism and thematic exploration than it does suaveness and crazy gadgets. I fail to see what's wrong with that. I guess you're trying to say that you're not sure if the movie is trying to be exciting or serious, to which I answer, "why can't it be both?"

 

 

Spoiler

It's a bit of a personal issue I have, speaking as myself, not as Spud the Couch Potato. I'm not a really big fan of movies that can't seem to decide on a consistent tone, and I'm also not big on movies that treat complex real-world issues simply as a backdrop. American Spy, unfortunately, has both of those issues. It's still a very competent and well-made movie, which is why I let it off with a 6 out of 10-- and I might amend that to a 7, to better reflect how much I actually enjoyed it. But it still contains two major things I don't look for in a movie. 

 

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I made American Spy the third March review.

 

Spoiler

Heart of the Amazon

Theatrical nature documentaries are like professional wrestling, and that's not a compliment. Everyone who watches them says they're real, but anyone with half a brain can tell they're staged, and frankly it's insulting to the intelligence of people who insist upon real science in their documentaries. The animal characters in Heart of the Amazon-- each one, of course, played by multiple individuals-- are charming, but the saccharine stories that the narrator tells about them make me wonder who, exactly, this piece of *bleep* is aimed at. Is it for children? I should hope not. We live in a society where people are still trying to wrap their heads around the idea that the Earth is billions of years old; the last thing we need is so-called documentaries dumbed down to the point they are devoid of all educational content. 

Oh well. At least the animals are cute. 

 

3/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

Devil Bean

Stop me if you've heard this one before. There's a magical bean that grants superpowers, and all sorts of weird people are trying to get their hands on it. And they have names like Hippoman, Robo-Jojo, and Bambang. Devil Bean is one of, as they say, those movies, and it's all the better for it. This is a movie where you check your common sense at the door and just enjoy the ride. You might call me a hypocrite for recommending this movie after I trashed Interceptors, but there's a difference. Interceptors is horribly derivative, ugly to watch, and just plain boring. Devil Bean, to its credit, is none of those things. I certainly couldn't predict many of the story choices they made with this one, and the character designs are a lot more memorable too. What I'm getting at is, I don't like it when dumb movies think they're smart. Luckily, Devil Bean is under absolutely no delusions about what kind of movie it is, and it succeeds at that goal splendidly. Give it a watch, there are worse things to do. 

 

8/10 Potatoes. 

 

Spoiler

Bikini

Ah, the 60s. A time when the feminist movement as we know it today was just getting started. This is the world that Vanessa, the heroine of this odd little movie, lives in. But the progressive themes here are misfired and shallow. Sure, Vanessa acts the part of a prototypical 60s feminist, but her boyfriend Shawki feels like an uncomfortable stereotype of a conservative, anti-feminist Muslim. It would have been fascinating for the movie to explore him going on a journey of cultural awakening parallel to Vanessa's, but we don't get that. Likewise, her friend Angie's past pregnancy could have been used to add some depth to her character, but we don't find out enough about it to care. Even Vanessa herself doesn't change much over the course of the movie-- no big revelations, no self-discovery, nothing like that. Things happen to her, sure, but for the protagonist of a movie about feminism, she seems oddly passive. Bikini definitely gets points for trying, but that's it. 

5/10 Potatoes. 

 

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1 hour ago, El Squibbonator said:

 

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It's a bit of a personal issue I have, speaking as myself, not as Spud the Couch Potato. I'm not a really big fan of movies that can't seem to decide on a consistent tone, and I'm also not big on movies that treat complex real-world issues simply as a backdrop. American Spy, unfortunately, has both of those issues. It's still a very competent and well-made movie, which is why I let it off with a 6 out of 10-- and I might amend that to a 7, to better reflect how much I actually enjoyed it. But it still contains two major things I don't look for in a movie. 

 

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I respectfully disagree that American Spy is either tonally inconsistent - it's very much trying to be a grounded spy movie, with some sexiness and some action, but mostly focused on the character growth of Marie Mitchell and her views on the world around her - and treating complex themes like a backdrop - the sociopolitical ideologies and morphing of self-made perceptions of the world around Marie are literally the main focus of the film.

 

However, I do respect your opinion and criticism and thank you for reading the film and taking time to review it. I also apologize if I'm coming across as stuck up in any way, I don't meant that or to offend you in any way :)

 

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2 hours ago, MCKillswitch123 said:
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I respectfully disagree that American Spy is either tonally inconsistent - it's very much trying to be a grounded spy movie, with some sexiness and some action, but mostly focused on the character growth of Marie Mitchell and her views on the world around her - and treating complex themes like a backdrop - the sociopolitical ideologies and morphing of self-made perceptions of the world around Marie are literally the main focus of the film.

 

However, I do respect your opinion and criticism and thank you for reading the film and taking time to review it. I also apologize if I'm coming across as stuck up in any way, I don't meant that or to offend you in any way :)

 

Spoiler

Well, at the very least I can't say I was able to gather that from my reading of it, so make of that what you will. I knew this would be one of my more contentious reviews, since other reviewers seem to have liked this movie, but it just had too many issues for me to give it a high score. 

 

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AeroMobil: The Future Is Now

"Where's my flying car?" If there's any question that sums up our disappointment with the present compared to our predictions of the future, it's this one. Our parents and grandparents thought that in 2022, we'd be zooming around like George Jetson in personal aircraft, but as they say, reality bites. In light of that-- along with the fact that the titular flying car has been in development since 1990, and is no closer to production than it was then-- the optimism on display in AeroMobil: The Future Is Now seems more than a little misplaced. 

Half of the movie is more or less a history of previous attempts at personal aircraft (the movie is careful to avoid the term "flying car" for some reason), from the 1940s to the present. This makes up the more interesting part of the movie, and if you dig that sort of thing the historical anecdotes and interviews might be enjoyable. The second half, unfortunately, is not like that. It more or less consists of AeroMobil founder Stefan Klein boasting about the wonders of his flying car (hey, even if the movie doesn't call it that, I still can!). It's easy to get sucked into the hype in a movie like this, but ultimately there are better ways to learn. 

 

6/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

Fatal Error

There's a thing I call the Taco Bell Effect. Basically, it means that a domestic imitation of a foreign commodity is never going to do well with fans of that commodity. It's that way with Mexican food and Taco Bell, and it's also that way, it seems, with Japanese horror movies and American imitations like Fatal Error. This movie's flaw is that it tries far too hard to imitate Japanese horror movies like Ringu or The Grudge, but this leaves it without any narrative or creative identity of its own. Watching Fatal Error, a sort of "uncanny valley" reaction starts to creep over you. Why the *bleep* am I watching this? What makes it different, let alone better, than the Japanese movies it's blatantly ripping off? 

Technically, the movie is fine. The story is decent, if standard for its genre. And that, I suppose, is the issue. Fatal Error is so dedicated to copying the visuals and narrative choices of other, better movies that it's left without anything to really make it distinct. The best thing I can say about Fatal Error is that if director M. J. Bassett set out to make the American equivalent of a J-horror movie, then he definitely succeeded. Unfortunately, in doing so, he created a movie that's a pale imitation of what it's trying to be. 

 

3/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

Revenge Ex

I'm not usually a fan of romantic comedies. The jokes rarely land with me, the plots tend to blur together, and as someone who eschews romance in my own life I feel like there's a big part of it I'm not in on. So it might come as a surprise that I actually kind of like Revenge Ex, and not even in an ironic "so-bad-it's-good" way. That's not to say it's a flawless movie-- far from it-- but I found it far more engaging that most other romantic comedies I watched. Tom Holland and Zendaya provide excellent chemistry, and their characters Emma and Jonah are a great odd couple who are fun to watch. 

If this movie has a weak spot, it's the structure. It suffers from a bad case of what I call "ending fatigue", where the story seems to have wrapped up a good half-hour before the movie actually ends, which left me kind of wondering what the rest of it was actually building towards. Will Gluck is definitely having fun with this one, and a lot of things in this movie seem to have been put in purely to ensure an R rating. If you must watch any romantic comedy this year, you could do worse than this one. 

 

8/10 Potatoes

 

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Xenoblade Chronicles: The Power of the Monado

Full disclosure, I've never picked up a Xenoblade game in my life, which perhaps makes me a more impartial judge towards this movie than I might be otherwise. Good adaptations of any source material need to stand on their own, and not simply sell themselves on a brand name. That goes double for video game movies. Last year's Pokemon: The Case of the Orange Outrage understood that, and so did this year's Super Monkey Ball. But every so often, you still get a turkey. Xenoblade Chronicles is in the latter category. Technically, the movie is fine. But unless you're already a scholar of Xenoblade lore, you'll probably be completely lost. Half the dialogue consists of jargon that anyone unfamiliar with the series won't get, and there isn't an engaging enough plot to balance it out. 

Unless you're a serious Xenoblade completist, give this one a miss. It's not really worth your time. 

 

3/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

Matilda and the Night Children

There are a handful of animated kids' movies this year that emotionally moved me. Fossil Record/Workshop's Raven Island was one. Matilda and the Night Children, from Endless Animation, was another. It's an emotional, sometimes tragic, always heartfelt story about a woman who discovers her true worth not just as a mother but as a human being with the help of the spirits of several children. The storytelling is, I want to say, Pixar- or Ghibli-tier, and the animation is beautiful, as is typically the case from Endless. My biggest compliment, however, goes not to the movie itself but to its production staff, for the detailed research they did with the Barbados setting and consulting the people living there to make the movie feel so authentic. 

Matilda and the Night Children is a prime example of what good animated storytelling can do, and if more animated movies were like this, I'm reasonably sure the world would be a better place. I've always had a special place in my heart for Endless Animation's works, and Matilda and the Night Children simply reaffirms that. This is a true all-ages animated movie that does not talk down to its audience in any way.

 

10/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

Second Dimension, Last Hope

A lot of people either really like Second Dimension, Last Hope, or really hate it. I'm honestly neither. It runs into some of the same issues that Interceptors did, namely a threadbare plot, characters as two-dimensional as the title, and gratuitous special effects at the expense of good storytelling. Unlike Interceptors, however, it's at least watchable most of the time, and the ending left me genuinely curious what a sequel might be like (assuming it does well enough for GMS to greenlight one, that is). In other words, Second Dimension, Last Hope is more or less the textbook definition of a popcorn movie. You watch it for two hours to see crazy explosions and cheesy one-liners, but nothing more than that. 

If I were judging it by those merits alone, it would probably get a high score. But judging it as a work of cinema as a whole, it's. . . well, not abysmal, but certainly not something I'd recommend on principle. If you want to watch it, fine, but don't waste a theater ticket on it. Buy this one on DVD or wait for it to come to streaming. 

 

4/10 Potatoes. 

 

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Thanks for the Matilda review. I’m very ecstatic you enjoyed it. Though I’m not from Barbados, both of my parents are. As a kid, I always wanted to see a animated movie set in the Caribbean and had been wanting to do a Bajan set animation since Y4 on here in CAYOM as it originally went through a lot of ideas before coming up with the story. I’m very happy with Matilda’s reception so far as it’s been a passion project for me, especially because the story is inspired quite a bit by my own mother. 
 

I do plan on doing another Barbados themed movie next game year, but it’s mostly live action and adult focused.

 

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War on Drugs: America's Modern Conflict

Is it common knowledge that the "war on drugs" we were all taught about in high school was really just a big pile of racist *bleep*? I'm pretty sure it is, but that's not going to stop this Spike Lee documentary from exploring why. Granted, it's a lot more interesting than I expected it to be, especially because, contrary to the title, it isn't just about America. A lot of the movie is spent comparing America's history of drug use and management with that of other countries, most notably Portugal, where drugs have been decriminalized since 1999. However, the movie also doesn't seem to want to go so far as to actively blame any specific person or group of people for the state of things in America. There's no convenient "villain" here, just the cold, unfeeling forces of history. 

Documentaries are always tough to review because they require a different frame of reference than regular movies. It's hard to imagine something less suitable for a family night at the movies than War on Drugs: America's Modern Conflict (well, unless your family's name is Addams or Manson), but at the same time I personally liked it. This is a thinking person's documentary.

 

8/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

The Mirage

Be real with me, guys. How long has it been since we've had a straight-up Western? Not a "Western satire", a "sci-fi Western", a "horror Western", or whatever. I feel like it's been a really long time. Even if it hasn't, and I'm just imagining things, The Mirage is probably the next best thing. It's definitely not a straight Western-- there's a lot of horror and even a little magical realism in its DNA-- but you can definitely tell where most of the goods come from. Glenn Powell plays an arrogant, cocky bounty hunter who is tasked with finding a missing girl, only to be drawn into an adventure involving zombie coyotes, bird-mask-wearing cultists, and a woman who seems to exist in two places at once. 

The Mirage is like its namesake, difficult to grasp the true form of and seeming to operate on a completely separate plane of existence. It's brilliantly, madly incoherent. And I love it for that. If the Western genre has to merge with other genres to survive, then at the very least, those movies should be as creative and enjoyable as this one. That isn't to say that The Mirage doesn't have problems, of course; Glenn Powell's protagonist Ralph Thompson is a difficult character to like, but the story more than makes up for it most of the time. 

 

8/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

HOOOOOPS
 

For HOOOOOPS, my succinct review would have been as follows: "Decent effort, 5 out of 10, nothing to write home about." I don't like to spend more time than I need to writing about movies that honestly aren't worth the effort. HOOOOOPS (and yes, that is the real *bleep*ing title) is one of those movies. It's produced by Infinite Studios, the company that previously gave us turds like Johnny Test and Meme Thieves. Judged by that standard, it's probably safe to say this is the best movie Infinite has made so far. But a good movie from Infinite is pretty much the same as a mediocre one from any other studio, and I'm not going to play favorites. 

Plot-wise, the movie is predictable. It's every sports movie you've seen before, which I suppose is a good thing, since it means the movie doesn't have room to be truly bad. At worst, it's mildly annoying, and at the very least it's watchable, which is more than I can say for anything else from the same studio. I'm optimistic that this is a sign of good things to come from them, and not just a fluke

 

5/10 Potatoes

 

Because I've been slacking off, I'm going to do August today too. 

 

Spoiler

Gran Turismo

 

This movie is supposedly based on a video game. I say supposedly because the marketing and the movie itself seemed to intentionally downplay that aspect of it, instead selling it as a generic racing movie. And "generic" might be an understatement here. Even though I've never played any of the Gran Turismo games, I could predict the plot of this one just from seeing the trailers. Boy meets girl, boy and girl bond over racing, boy and girl have fallout, boy loses girl big climactic race, boy gets girl. That, in and of itself, is not a problem. At least, not a big one. The problem is that there's no real reason for this movie to be a Gran Turismo adaptation. You could tell that exact same story with original characters, and nothing would change. Now, I understand that the Gran Turismo games themselves don't exactly have much in the way of lore that could be adapted into a movie, but this movie does the bare minimum in terms of adaptation. It's essentially a boilerplate racing movie with the Gran Turismo label slapped on because that's a brand that sells. 

 

4/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

The Talons of the Hawk

 

This is a sinister, wickedly effective horror movie-- not just for the nature of its villain, but because it invokes a much more everyday fear that many people have, that of flying. Far too many horror movies seem to think that if you put in a scary enough monster, then it automatically makes for effective horror. Not true. Good horror, at least in my opinion, plays on fears people have in real life, and at this The Talons of the Hawk succeeds splendidly. That's not to say that the more supernatural elements are an afterthought. On the contrary, I found David Dastmalchian's role as the monster to be visually arresting in a way few horror movie monsters are anymore.

Unfortunately, I can't say I approved of the choice of David Mazouz, who does not have autism, to play autistic character Donavan Hume. In an age when autism is becoming more and more visible, if not more accepted, movie studios should be willing to meet them halfway. However, this does not detract from the quality of the movie itself, and it is well worth seeing. 

 

9/10 Potatoes

 

Spoiler

Scythe

 

Scythe is a refreshingly original and engaging entry in the formulaic YA dystopia genre. Eschewing the deadly games and love triangles popularized by the likes of The Hunger Games and Divergent, it asks the opposite question: "What if nobody died?" You see, in the world of Scythe, medicine has become so advanced that death from natural causes is unheard of, and people regularly live for centuries. To keep the world from being overpopulated, special killers called Scythes are employed to periodically kill people at random. The movie itself-- based on a series of novels by Neal Shusterman-- follows the story of a pair of Scythes-in-training, who must learn the secrets of their trade while also discovering a conspiracy that threatens to upend everything they thought they knew.

This is a dystopian YA movie done right. Instead of simply aping more successful entries in the genre, it asks real, philosophical questions. What is the reason for death? Is it right for humans to try to overrule nature? Would a world without suffering be a world worth living in?

 

10/10 Potatoes

 

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