Stuart McCunn's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Very Important Person
2 days ago via Movies on iPad

Comedy doesn't age well. While we're obviously meant to be amused by his bloated ego, it's not always obvious now what the joke is. And when he's such a pompous sexist asshole it's hard to want him to succeed, as we're obviously meant to.

Dunkirk (2017)
3 days ago via Movies on iPad

A hell of a ride. They should call it Funkirk.*

The entire film is told from three separate timelines that only gradually come together as one. The soldier's story takes place over the course of an entire week as he struggles to get himself off the beach and onto one of the rescue boats. If he can find one that won't explode. The civilian sailors' story takes place over a single day as they are recruited to evacuate the army from Dunkirk. The pilots' story takes place over a single hour, which is all the time they have for dogfighting over the battlefield before they have to return home and refuel.

Obviously each of these stories is completely different in style and tone. The soldier's story is straight disaster film, with everything he touches exploding or getting shot out from under him. The civilians are more conventionally heroic, heading into battle despite the risks. It's treated a bit like a conventional adventure, though the personal cost is made clear. Tom Hardy's fighter ace is a much more pragmatic and practical tone. He says very little, but is given a series of obstacles which he proceeds to fix with very little fuss and a logical approach.

There is very little blood here for a war movie, which seems like selling out until you realize that the greatest danger these guys face is not getting blown to pieces or shot up but drowning. And drowning produces very little gore. Same with getting your plane shot up or running out of fuel and crashing. Which doesn't prevent the film from being terrifying. The action scenes are amazing and occupy basically the entire film. The aerial combat is something very different from what we've seen before. It's almost completely lacking that dancing in the air appearance you see from airshows, and instead the Spitfire feels very powerful and solid. They feel like a real vehicle, not a fantasy craft.

If I have a complaint, it's that we never really get to know the characters. That's fine for the pilot and the civilian crew (who probably get more exposition than anyone) but we are told nothing about the soldier. They don't even tell you his name until the end credits. Yeah, you learn something about him through his actions (a bit of a cheater but loyal) but with little to no dialogue it's hard to say who he is. I mean, it's nice that we're spared the talk of girls back home and the horrors of war, but they still need something for us to connect with beyond just somebody with a will to survive. When you reach the end and start seeing the survivors return home you realize just how little you know of them. Getting home was their only goal, but who are they now that they're back? It's the everyman taken to extremes, and it means that when they read from Churchill's famous "we shall fight them on the beaches" speech you have absolutely no idea what they feel about it because you know nothing about them. All you know is that they want to return home.

* Under no circumstances should you call this film Funkirk.

Spider-Man: Homecoming
5 days ago via Movies on iPhone

Tom Holland is the best Spiderman yet, managing that difficult blend of immature angst and enormous fun. Michael Keaton's great as the Vulture. And Tony Stark manages to appear in exactly the right number of scenes to establish the conflict while not intruding unwelcomingly on the main plot. It's still all about Peter. The plot of the film is kinda weak, being more a series of vignettes than anything else, but the character arc is good. There are so many times I groaned and muttered to myself that this is the sort of situation that only Peter could get himself into. Screw the Vulture, Pete's his own worst enemy here. The high school context really works and for the first time, he really feels like a teenager.

War for the Planet of the Apes
5 days ago via Movies on iPhone

The film is grand, epic, and amazingly good at drawing the maximum emotion and connection out of its cast of cgi creations. The apes are as real as the humans, and far more sympathetic. And the addition of Bad Ape (played by Steve Zahn) is exactly what the movie needed to provide some comic relief from the bleak plot without derailing the whole film. I did enjoy the film, but I think it's still my least favorite of the three. The prison escape aspect didn't thrill me as a plot. What I really want to see is the apes building their new society. How do they adapt their biology to their new culture and society? What sort of planet will they build? And the intrusion of a still belligerent mankind onto their land should provide an impetus for the study of that rather than merely being a starting point for a POW revenge drama. But whatever, it's still a good film.

The Mummy
The Mummy (1999)
32 days ago via Movies on iPhone

Sure, it's an obvious Indiana Jones knockoff, but it's a GOOD Indiana Jones knockoff with a style of its own and a more horror-based kick. The film's got more of an epic quest feel to it than Indy, and does a good job merging genres. Brendan Fraser's really excellent as Rick O'Connell, who's tough and brave but also a bit silly. Rachel Weisz is equally impressive as Evelyn, who's serious and naive but super smart and competent. Merge the two together and you have something like Indy, but having the two elements of his soul at odds with each other makes for some good drama. And the comic relief brother Jonathan is really great. Unlike Indy, the villain is supernatural, and this allows for some truly one-sided escapades and scary scenes. And no Nazis in sight!

The archaeological scenes in this film are really played up well. When you think about it, Jones doesn't actually do much excavating, but here we spend half the movie hunting for treasure and then investigating it. Pacing is near perfect. At no stage does the film overstay its welcome and just when you're starting to tire of one plotline the film switches focus to another. Seriously: war movie to investigation of a mysterious artifact to race to excavation to mummy attack to apocalypse to counter-attack. Each leads logically to the next while being interesting on its own. The movie is fast paced and doesn't dither.

The CGI is probably the most dated part of the film. It hasn't always hung up well. But even as an obviously CGI creation, the Mummy's pretty scary. The design is cool and inhuman enough to work regardless of how plasticky it looks, and the fact that it's frequently portrayed in the shadows helps. It's not a monstrosity like the Scorpion King. The sand face still impresses after all these years. In general, while it's obviously fake, the film still looks good. And a good adventure can help you forget about questionable effects anyway.