Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Quick and Dirties: October Stuff


Despite all outward appearances, I did watch some non-horror movies during October. That's what this edition of The Quick and Dirties is all about. So, let's get it on...in alphabetical order.

Baywatch
(2017)
All-universe lifeguard Mitch Buchannon (The Rock) is forced to accept former Olympian Matt Brody (Zac Efron) on his team. In the midst of their head-butting, they discover that someone is dealing a serious new drug on their beach. The lifeguards trying to do the work of the police ensues. Like CHIPS before it, this movie wants to be one of the Jump Street movies. Also like CHIPS, it fails at its mission. It throws out lots of crass jokes, but very few land. The best gag gets overused quickly, making fun of the slo-mo oft-employed by this film's source material, the David Hasselhoff led TV series of the 1990s. This includes botching the ultimate payoff, a late film cameo by a certain, buxom cast member. There's plenty more in the show to skewer, but the film never really takes advantage of any of it. Our two leads coast by on their familiar personas and probably could've played their roles while they were sleep. I don't think it's quite as terrible as most others, but it's clearly not good. It's just kinda there and might upset you if you somehow thought you were getting a serious remake of the TV show.


The Dark Tower
(2017)
Eleven year old Jake (Tom Taylor) has been troubled with horrific visions since his father's death a year earlier. He believes they are of another world ruled by the evil Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) with the once-heroic Roland the Gunslinger (Idris Elba) trying to exact some sort of revenge against him. Not only is this all real, but Jake soon finds himself to not only be in this world, but to be the chosen one that can stop The Man in Black. Visually, the movie has lots to offer. In particular, there are the inventive and exciting ways in which Roland can load a gun. My one complaint there is that it might be a bit too monochromatic. There simply isn't enough contrast to really make the visuals pop. The mano y mano waged by Elba and McConaughey is also very interesting thanks to the charisma of both. Elba does world-weary warrior very well. Eventually, he does the same as a fish out of water during some the film's latter scenes. McConaughey exudes a rather cool sort of menace that serves the film well. On the other hand, the movie would have benefited from some better world-building. How we got to this point is all a bit too murky and might be a put off for some. That said, I still enjoyed it. This may be another case where me not having read the source material works in the film's favor. I've no preconceived notions of what this movie should be. And what it was, I found to be solid.


Deuces
(2017)
Detective Jason Foster (Lance Gross) is handpicked to go undercover in an effort to take down a criminal organization run by Stephen "Deuces" Brooks (Larenz Tate). Deuces, however, is working the "one last score" angle and is trying to set himself up to go straight and get into the real estate game. Making his quest more urgent is the fact that he's met a girl, Janet (Meagan Good) and has fallen head-over-heels for her. The key fact we know before anyone in the film is that this presents a major problem for Detective Foster. As luck would have it, Janet is his sister. It's a decent enough crime thriller with an excellent performance by the reliable Larenz Tate. In the end, it's too derivative to stand out from the crowd of other movies where the cop finds himself getting in too deep.


The Hitman's Bodyguard
(2017)
Before a client was shot in the head on his watch, Michael (Ryan Reynolds) was a top-rated, highly sought after bodyguard. A couple years later, he's down on his luck, but still in the game when his ex-girlfriend, Amelia (√Člodie Yung), an Interpol agent, hires him to protect Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), a witness against a ruthless dictator on trial in an international court. The thing is, Kincaid himself is a notorious hitman. The two trying to make it court while being pursued by all manner of henchmen ensues. The abundance of action makes it a fairly fun film even if the script lets it down on too many occasions. The cast picks up the slack, as the loads of charisma on the screen make it watchable. Aside from Reynolds and Jackson doing their regular shtick, we get a very enjoyable turn from Salma Hayek as Kincaid's incarcerated wife and Gary Oldman as the dictator in question. It's not one you need to seek out, but no need to go running from the room should it come on.


The House
(2017)
Scott (Will Ferrell) and Kate (Amy Poehler) were depending on the neighborhood scholarship to help send their daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins) to college. When that falls through, they're in a mad dash to raise the money since she's starting school in a month. Scott's best friend Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) convinces the couple they can get the money they need by opening up an illegal casino in Frank's house, which they will all run together. Hijinks and shenanigans ensue. At the risk of losing my movie snob card, I didn't hate this movie. In fact, I thought there were a number of very funny scenes. I particularly enjoyed the homage it paid to Martin Scorsese's Casino, both overtly and subtle. A nice turn by Jeremy Renner as the local mob boss helps in this area. Unfortunately, the film can't quite hold itself together and ends up less than the sum of its parts. The subplots prove to be too numerous to satisfy. There are enough gags to ensure some work, but story-telling is in short supply. When it ends, we're left feeling that it's not horrible, but should be a lot better.


Shimmer Lake
(2017)
We follow small-town Sheriff Sikes (Benjamin Walker) as he investigates a bank robbery. Like lots of other local yokels, he 's being forced to work with the FBI on this matter. There are a couple things that make this case different from most. First, we find out that the sheriff's brother Andy was involved in this robbery. Second, we learn that during said robbery, the sheriff was shot in the arm. As viewers, there's still something else to separate this movie from the rest of the pack. Our story is told backward. The movie begins on a Friday, and works in reverse through the week detailing the events surrounding the crime in question. It's intriguing from the beginning and manages to make its sequence of events work. The credit should mostly go to director/writer Oren Uziel, making his feature debut. His deft writing makes getting to the beginning of a story as thrilling as it often is getting to the end of one. He gets solid work from a cast that includes Rainn Wilson and Rob Corddry. Still, it's Uziel who is the star here. His movie is a well-crafted piece of cinema that takes its time developing, but never drags and gives us a payoff that's more than satisfactory.


Transformers: The Last Knight
(2017)
Apparently, there were Transformers present in England during medieval times and, at the urging of Merlin the magician, came to rescue of King Arthur. Since this is a Transformers movie, there has to be a magical, all-powerful doo-dad. This time around it's a staff that...well...who cares? Fast-forward to the modern day, Transformers are continuously dropping out of the sky and everyone of them, is trying to get their hands on it. Optimus Prime is being turned heel by some evil floating legless female bot who says she's his god. Mark Wahlberg is back to play the human hero, and Michael Bay has found a lady with enough of a resemblance to Meagan Fox to make her the new love interest. If you can't keep all that straight, no worries. I wrote this synopsis and can't keep track of it. In other words, to justify it's typically lengthy run-time the plot is needlessly convoluted and chock-full of terrible jokes. It has an A-list cast. Aside from Wahlberg, there's Anthony Hopkins, Stanley Tucci, John Turturro, John Goodman, and Steve Buscemi. If you're counting that's three Oscar-nominated actors plus Turturro, Goodman, and Buscemi, all of whom you could argue should already have a nomination or two. And every one of them is in full-blown paycheck mode. Director Michael Bay does his thing. We get more jive-talking bots and other stereotypes, shit blowing up real good, and a slow-motion shot of a 14 year old girl running while wearing an impossibly low-cut top. Sigh. Just know that it's two-and-a-half more hours of indistinguishable giant robots crashing into each other and decide accordingly.


14 comments:

  1. I've heard how disappointing Baywatch was as it wanted to be all things but never knew what it wanted to be. Transformers: The Last Knight is a film I will never see. The clip from Mark Kermode's review alone made me not want to see it as the editing was just horrendous. Bay had five editors for that shit. I so hope he's the next guy to be busted.

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    1. Yeah, skip it. The diamond in this rough is Shimmer Lake. Check that out instead.

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  2. I added Shimmer Lake to my Netflix queue, that one sounds interesting.

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    1. It is. That's the one I'm pushing from this batch.

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  3. I haven't seen any of these. Of them, Shimmer Lake is the only one that seems even remotely interesting.

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    1. Please see that one. Feel free to skip the rest.

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  4. I lost track a long time ago how many Transformers there are. Will there be more?

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    1. This makes five. And there will definitely be more. Number six is already in the works, and apparently, so is a Bumblebee solo flick. Help us all.

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  5. Shimmer Lake sounds right up my alley. And I'd heard The Dark Tower was getting disappointing reviews, but I'll probably watch it based on your recommendation. I haven't read the book either. And nothing with McConaughey and Elba (especially Elba) could be a complete waste of time.

    I watched two dark movies tonight: The Dinner and 1922. I thought 1922 was solid (though unspectacular). I actually loved the novella, which may have worked against the movie. The Dinner had spectacular performances all the way around and is the kind of movie that will make you hate humanity. LOL.

    Oh, and I did watch The Babysitter on your recommendation. God that movie was SO bad, in a campy, kinda fun way. :-) Exactly what I was expecting.

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    1. I wouldn't say go rushing into The Dark Tower, but the two big stars do make it at least watchable.

      I've been planning on watching 1922 for a few weeks, now. I hope to actually get to it soon. I hadn't heard of The Dinner, but that sounds like something I need to check out. Once.

      Glad you had fun with The Babysitter. No need to take every movie seriously.

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  6. Of those here I've seen (Baywatch, Hitman's Bodyguard, Dark Tower, Transformers), the one I had most fun with was Ryan Reynolds and Sam Jackson. Haven't even heard of Shimmer Lake but that does sound an intriguing proposition. Might have to check that out!

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    1. Yeah, this lot is a big bag of meh, with Shimmer Lake being the only one that I'd legitimately call good. Really good. Hope you like it.

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