Shmee Is Engulfed In The Infinity War!

It has taken ten years to get here, but Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has finally all come together to take on its biggest bad guy yet, Thanos.  The fact they were able to pull something like this off on this kind of scale is incredible, and the fact it still manages to be a fairly focused movie and not some muddled mess is a minor miracle.  Of course you will have to wait for Infinity War 2 (or whatever the title of May 2019’s Avengers movie is going to be) to get the closure you were hoping for.

Avengers: Infinity War is the movie where Thanos actually does something, and he does it quite well.  For the most part I have never enjoyed overpowered comic book villains.  They are generally just massively powerful so that the comic book has a reason to cram in every hero known to man, and honestly Thanos isn’t any different, but Josh Brolin brings him to life perfectly.  He actually has a character of his own, and while his reason for wanting to kill half of all life in the universe, to stave off overpopulation, is iffy, you at least believe he believes it.  Even though if he hired a population expert, they would have pointed out that Earth, for instance, was at half its current population a little less that fifty years ago, meaning if he succeeds in his dark task it doesn’t buy the universe a lot of time.

The biggest problem for Avengers: Infinity War is that it feels a little like The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.  It has epic battles and cool villains fighting heroes we love, but then it ends before it crosses the finish line, and there are two more Marvel movies we will probably need to watch before we can cross that line a year from now, but if this movie is yet just another setup movie, at least it was a good one.  It shows that Marvel has so far been the only studio capable of doing anything like this, and I am guess next year’s movie is going to be something special.

Shmee Is Ready As Player One!

While Ready Player One was a fine book, I doubt it will go down in history as a literary classic.  It was regurgitation of pop-culture that people either loved or hated.  It got even more backlash after all the Gamergate nonsense because in the book only certain people could be thought of as true “gunters” (egg hunters) if they knew enough 80’s trivia.  Which mirrored the ideas of Gamergaters’ who insisted that only certain people were true geeks.  Everyone else was just posing.  With all of that in mind, I was interested to see how the movie was going to deal with all that baggage, not to mention turn the book in to something filmable.  I am happy to report that Steven Spielberg and Co. did a pretty good job.

The movie Ready Player One changed pretty all of the major set pieces of book, and it cut out a lot of the book’s over the top nostalgia mining moments.  I mean there is still more than enough nostalgia to go around, but no one is reenacting War Games.  Though the movie does still follow Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) and his friends as they try and find James Halliday’s (Mark Rylance) Easter Egg in his virtual world The Oasis, and if they find it, it will give them control of the company that owns the game.

I was pleasantly surprised with all the changes that they made.  Usually I prefer movies that stick closer to the source material, but in this case the source material was pretty thin anyway, and a lot of it would have been downright unfilmable.  Not to mention the film rights for a lot of the stuff would be way to expensive to secure.  Ready Player One the film is a streamlined adventure tale, but with video games and comic books instead of Egyptian hieroglyphs and ancient manuscripts, and it is better for it.

The actors are all fine in Ready Player One, but I don’t remember any standout performances, but what I do remember was all the wild spectacle that Spielberg was able to put up on the screen.  None of it really matters, but it can be breathtaking.  While it may be quite a bit different from the book, it is the same in that it is a large dose of nostalgic action packed explosive cotton candy, but this time it is injected in to your retinas via large format technicolor.

Ready Player One is a fun movie, but it may not be for everyone.  If the thought of large action sequences involving Batman and the Iron Giant excite you like a ten year old playing with his toys, you will like Ready Player One.  If that sounds like nonsense, it is, and this isn’t the movie you are looking for.  I, on the other hand, quite enjoyed myself.

Shmee Visits A Quiet Place!

I am sure when Jim from The Office started shopping around the idea of Signs, but everyone has to be quiet, there were not a lot of takers.  However, after a massive opening weekend Paramount must be glad they took a chance.  While the movie is far from original, though honestly what horror movie is at this point, A Quiet Place makes up for it with its spot on execution and amazing performances.

The quick setup for A Quiet Place is that in the near future the world is overrun by blind monsters with amazing hearing, and they kill anything that they can hear.  A family has learned to survive in this silent world, thanks in part to their hearing impaired daughter, giving them the ability use sign language to communicate.

As I said earlier, we have seen a lot of this before.  Obviously Signs used the hook of a family up against aliens, and just last year Don’t Breathe had everyone trying to stay quiet unless they wanted to get viciously murdered, but John Krasinski keeps everything so tight, tense and focused that the familiarity is not an issue.  Not to mention the family’s struggle to survive is so convincing that you can’t help but get swept away with what is happening on screen.

Obviously Krasinski’s directing wasn’t the only reason this family’s tale was so convincing, the actors get a lot of credit for that too.  A lot of times it is hard for real life couples to portray their real life chemistry on screen, but that did not seem to be an issue for Krasinski and Emily Blunt.  They don’t get all the credit though, their kids, played by Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, also do a fantastic job.  Kids are always great for horror movies because with adults it ticks us off when they do something stupid, but kids, we believe that they will make bad decisions.

As you can tell, I really enjoyed A Quiet Place.  It is refreshing to see horror movies that are made with actual talent, and a will by their creators to make something good.  Instead of the usual dreck that gets made.  Even better, it might be the most family friendly horror movie made in quite some time, so if you have older kids, it is a movie you and the kids can get scared at together.  While not as good as last year’s Get Out, A Quiet Place is a fantastic way to start off the summer movie season.

I Liked Half Of Pacific Rim: Uprising…

I was blown away by the first Pacific Rim.  It was big and dumb and I couldn’t stop smiling when I watched it.  Pacific Rim: Uprising is also big and dumb, but it misses the heart of the first movie.  Which is a shame, because the movie has a promising start, but then somewhere someone decided that the second half the movie had to be a pointless monster fight, and while Pacific Rim is a movie series about giant robots fighting giant monsters, apparently the writers must have had a contest for the dumbest reason for this fight because it defies all logical explanation.

Pacific Rim 2 takes place ten years after the events of the first movie, and the world has obviously changed.  People are rebuilding after the attacks, and the Jaeger program is struggling to continue to have relevance.  Meanwhile, Jaeger tech is booming on the black market as people try to build their own massive robots.  A post Kaiju world is an interesting one.  Sadly, the movie doesn’t continue to explore this, and instead has a series of increasingly dumb things happen until some robots fight some monsters.

I would have loved Pacific Rim: Uprising if had just extended the first part of the movie to a logical conclusion (or at least a more logical one).  While I may have suggested the writers had some sort of terrible contest to decide the ending, I am guessing there was actually more than a little executive interference that demanded a monster v robot fight like the one we got, and the writers had to figure out how to make it work.  Which is what makes this all so aggravating.  Had the whole thing been bad, I wouldn’t have been as upset, but there were some good ideas here that just got squandered.

I am guessing you can tell that I was disappointed with how Pacific Rim: Uprising turned out, but if you like the first movie, the second one is worth a rental, or if you are MoviePass subscriber like me, there are worse movies.  The robots and the monsters are still cool, even if the reason they are fighting is not.  Let’s hope Pacific Rim 3 learns the right lesson’s from Uprising.

Shmee Gets Folded In To A Wrinkle In Time!

A Wrinkle In Time is a favorite from my childhood.  It was read to me when I was very young, and then I read it by myself latter, multiple times, so it was never a mystery to me why it was never made in to a major motion picture.  It is a weird book, and it would take a lot of effort to get right, and it would probably not get a lot of return on that effort.  Unfortunately for Ava DuVernay, her A Wrinkle In Time gets so caught up trying to wow us with magic and wonder that it doesn’t tell an engaging story.

The plot for the movie is similar to the one from the book.  Meg Murry (Storm Reid) has been a troubled kid since the disappearance of her father (Chris Pine) four years prior.  A scientist who believes that you can travel the stars with only your mind.  It turns out that he was right, and he is lost in the stars, so Meg, her brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), and friend from school Calvin O’Keefe (Levi Miller) will go out to look for him with the help of the Mrs.’.  A group of space traveling supernatural beings, and Oprah.

Obviously since I love the book, I have no real problems with the plot of the movie.  The problem is that it is a little threadbare.  We know that Meg has issues, and that she has to deal with them so she can be a ‘warrior’ and find her father, but I am never sure that she really does.  A Wrinkle In Time says Meg does, and she does get less grumpy, but really she just moves from place to place while a giant Oprah Mrs. Which tells her affirming things.  When in actuality it seems like only The Happy Medium (Zach Galifianakis) gives her any useful advice.  Letting her know that it is okay to be scared of the answers to life’s questions, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking them anyway.

You would hope that with the story having issues that maybe the spectacle would make up for it, and they tried.  A $100 Million budget allows you to do whatever you want, but not well enough to not look cheesy.  Someone should have come along beside DuVernay and told her that she should scale things back a bit.  Like maybe have Oprah be normal sized, so the visual effects artists don’t have to do a poor job of digitally painting her on to the scenery, and so she can better interact with the other actors.  It is not just Oprah though, nothing ever looks 100% like it should, which is a shame.

The actors are all okay.  Though they are not given a lot to do except smile weirdly or look amazed while caught in an extreme close up.  So close.  If a child’s face doesn’t fit on a movie theater screen, you need to back up the camera a bit.  Storm Reid does her best to show Meg’s transition from troubled to ‘warrior’, but she doesn’t quite get the scenes necessary to make it work.  However, they did manage to pull it all together for an emotional punch at the end.

I wanted to love A Wrinkle In Time, but instead it was merely okay.  It had parts that worked, but they get lost between the poor plotting and bad CGI.  Kids will probably still like this movie, and it is fine family fare, but this is not the classic that I am sure Disney was hoping for.  That way they could green light the next four books.  I am sure that in ten years Disney will try again, and maybe then they will get it right.