Joshua Sheetz's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Deepwater Horizon
22 hours ago via Rotten Tomatoes

It's hard to critique a movie like Deepwater Horizon without tripping over the same clichés and points that I have made about a dozen other similar films over the last few years. It's a sound and sturdy yarn about blue-collar professionals who do their job and do it well, but are undone by unchecked corporate greed. Much of it focuses on all-American family man Mark Wahlberg, who is the chief engineer of a hardscrabble oil exploratory crew contracted by an increasingly profit-concerned BP, represented by John Malkovich in a slimy, but somewhat fun performance. I'm going to go against the grain here and posit that the series of increasingly stupid decisions that led to the disaster were more interesting than the action scenes later on, as I felt they were pretty average and typical for the genre. To be honest I was somewhat disappointed with Deepwater Horizon, expecting a bit more meat on its bones. I appreciate how it did avoid pointless melodrama, but there is very little characterization or reason to care for anyone on screen beyond the protagonist and his best friend and boss Kurt Russel (a case of perfect casting). There's also little mention of the incredible environmental and ecological damage done to the Gulf of Mexico as a result of this shitfest. But I'm nitpicking a movie that was probably not intended for viewers such as myself - general audiences prefer straightforward, no frills flicks. I'm still curious why this movie didn't take off with that in mind, but I suspect that this will do well in the home video and streaming markets in the months to come. Flip a coin on this one people.

The Girl on the Train
3 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

In what was a blatant and thinly veiled attempt to become this year's Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train forgets what made that film memorable - superb performances, a shocking twist, intricate themes, commentary on domesticity and marriage, an ambiguous ending, and David Fucking Fincher. Instead it opts to be a higher production 90's era Lifetime movie saved by the presence of Emily Blunt. Based on a best-selling pop novel by Paula Hawkins, The Gone Girl with the Train Tattoo concerns an alcoholic wreck of a woman who sees a perfect couple on the train everyday to Manhattan and then tries to play amateur detective when one of them goes missing. The protagonist doesn't really "detect" anything, she just meanders around town making things notably worse. And as she meanders, so does the plot. It only gets resolved when she finally remembers something and then throws herself into danger in order to raise the stakes of the third act.

But to its credit, Girl on the Train looks fantastic and does manage to remain interesting for most of its runtime, despite its paper thin premise. Emily Blunt (swoon) is the reason you're here and her character is quite interesting in that she is a complete and pitiful mess who indulges in substance abuse - a notable departure from a typical female film protagonist. Though the movie takes pains toward the end to walk this back a bit and make her more sympathetic, which is a cop out. Props must also be given to Haley Bennett as missing white woman #34,069 who often ends up being the more interesting character on screen. This is a movie you swear you have seen before and done better. I alluded to it earlier, but this sort of trashy material works best in the hands of a director like David Fincher, who can elevate it to the point it becomes a reflection on the entire genre. Worth a viewing at home for Emily Blunt, but otherwise it's a bit of a wash.

The Magnificent Seven
18 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

An alright remake in its right, The Magnificent Seven does exactly what it needs to do - a taut, entertaining action film, with just enough heft to make it worth the price of admission. The original Magnificent Seven was not (in my opinion) a true classic on the order of High Noon, The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, or Once Upon a Time in the West. Instead it was a damn good popcorn movie that happened to be a remake of the near perfect Akira Kurosawa film, Seven Samurai. So it's fitting that the new Magnificent Seven ends up being a competent picture but fails to compare to modern epics such as Unforgiven, True Grit (remake), The Proposition, or Open Range. This is a not a meditative post-modern deconstruction of the western genre. But it doesn't need to be. With a few details changed and more ethnically diverse cast for the twenty-first century, Mag Seven follows the rough beats of the story you've seen before with a tad bit more violence. Denzel Washington does well in the Yul Brynner role, reminding us that he is still one of the last face-on-the poster stars left in Hollywood that can make a western do blockbuster business. Chris Pratt mirrors Steve McQueen a bit and it's shocking he has not done more westerns until now. All of the title characters are interesting and cool, and it's always a damn shame when it's time to kill one off. The villains are pretty average, but the film's opening ten minutes do a good job of making the audience want to see them meet elaborate deaths. Which they do. An excellent rental choice, but if this doesn't strike your fancy there is still the best version of this story, Seven Samurai, available at a local library near you!

Blair Witch
Blair Witch (2016)
20 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

People most often remember The Blair Witch Project for popularizing the "found footage" horror genre, the incredibly effective and downright fraudulent viral marketing campaign, and for being OH MY GAWWD SO BORING. And that's a shame because Blair Witch Project was a triumph of low budget, gonzo, independent guerilla filmmaking at its finest. The actors were terrorized and placed in the elements to suffer and the film had an uncomfortably realistic quality to it. Pretentious to be sure, but it was subtle and still vastly superior to what ACTUALLY got found footage movies going - Paranormal Activity aka The Nadir of the Artform. But what is important to note is that audiences fucking hated this movie. (Yeah how about that?) And they hated its odd and truly terrible sequel Book of Shadows even more. So any attempt to make another entry in what is a BEYOND dead franchise is a questionable venture at best.

So here we are with a direct sequel practically two decades later, helmed by Adam Wingard, an overlooked director responsible for indy gems You're Next and The Guest. Blair Witch recycles the plot of the first film as another group of documentarian 20-somethings head into the forests of rural Maryland and find themselves at the mercy of the supernatural. Gone is the subtlety and atmosphere of the original. In its place are jump scares and overproduced effects that are intended to be EXTREME, but are merely off-putting. The final act does feature one of the better produced haunted houses in recent cinema and an incredibly uncomfortable scene that will engage the claustrophobia that you didn't realize you had. The characters are unlikable and forgettable, with the exception of our two main leads whose tender and romantic moments provide the only humanity this movie has. And after it was all said and done, I ask you this question. What was the fucking point of any of this? No one saw this movie. No one liked it. Demographic data and common sense would have revealed that no one was looking forward to it fucking years ago. I've seen far worse movies, but never one with less reason to exist than Blair Witch. Skip it and watch The Witch instead.