Stuart McCunn's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Your Name (Kimi No Na Wa.)
3 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Your Name is a great film. It has two carefully drawn leads who receive approximately equal attention and a body-swapping and supernatural plot that really grips you. You really care about the characters by the end, and you have to enjoy them as they try, Sam Becket-style, to come to terms with their situation. The animation is absolutely first rate. I've rarely seen such beautifully rendered scenery and environments.

I think my biggest disappointment is that the film is actually a bit of a bait-and-switch. The basic lure is the body-swapping thing, and it's handled well. It deals with the awkwardness of interacting with the world as someone of the opposite gender, but more than that as someone from a very different background and environment. That's what everyone came to see. But about halfay through the film it switches to being something completely different. Don't get me wrong: it still works as a movie (and by that point you're involved enough to really care) but I enjoyed the earlier bits more and kind of wished the film had dealt with the issues raised there instead of looking for new ones.

Kong: Skull Island
3 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Pretty much exactly what you'd expect is how I'd describe this movie. You get Kong, you get lizard creatures, you get a plucky blond heroine. It's all so pat I don't even see what the point of making the film was. Haven't we seen exactly this before done better? Tom Hiddleston is about the most wasted lead character I've ever seen. Nothing against his acting, but with his scrawny body he can't really pull off the big badass marine character. They needed a Stallone type. But even if he had been bigger and tougher, he serves no purpose. Or to put it another way his character has no agency. He's never the one making decisions or being proactive about their situation. Instead, he's always reacting to what other characters do. I'd rather have followed Samuel L. Jackson's crazy general dude the whole time.

The one interesting aspect of the film is that it was (as my friend described it) Apocalypse Now with gorillas. The military guys are basically drafted into this mission and are crazy Vietnam vets who just want to go home. I'd wondered why this film was set in the '70s (seems a bit pointless, no?) but that part really worked. And the characters here are everything our putative lead isn't. Each of the main soldiers has their own personality and character quirks that humanize him and distinguishes him from the pack. It was done a hell of a lot better than it needed to be for secondary characters, and I really appreciated them for it. It just further intensifies my belief that the army guys were the ones to follow. Them and John C. Reilly, who's funny as hell as an old WW2 pilot trapped on the island for the last thirty years.

But yeah, basic plot is standard kaiju fare. Come to island, meet monsters, realize monster's actually not as scary as other monsters, get saved by monster from bigger monsters. Wasn't that the plot to the latest Godzilla? Kong's neither distinct on his own nor memorable enough in his usage to leave much of an impression. As I said, we've seen this all before.

Logan (2017)
23 days ago via Movies on iPhone

Bleak is the best word to describe this film I think. It's not utterly hopeless in its race to the finish, but it does bring home the consequences of every action with a lethal brutality. The main theme is one of failure and decline, in which Logan must find a renewed sense of meaning. It's gloomy, dark, and brutal. And as a result the struggle feels more real than it did in any of the previous cookie cutter outings. Actions have consequences. Everyone dies.

This is the first Wolverine film to be rated R, and it makes up for previous restrictions and then some. One of the prime beneficiaries of this new bloodlust is the girl Laura, who despite being eleven goes on a murder spree the equal of Logan's. And she's really great at it. Partly thanks to her, the action scenes are a real highlight of the film. But she sells the emotional scenes perfectly as well, with her mostly dialogue-free opinion expressed through her eyes. This is the second badass eleven-year-old girl within a year. Awesome.

Mostly the film is great for its exploration of Logan's character and the rage that drives him. The same rage that prevents him from growing as an individual or opening himself up to new people is what keeps him alive and in battle. But he no longer has any suitable outlet for that rage and so it comes out in bitterness and general selfishness. When that selfish impulse is confronted by the interventions of Charles and Laura he resists. And some of the results are downright lethal.

Space Station 76
33 days ago via Movies on iPhone

A film set in a crazy '70s idea of a space station seems like an idea just crazy enough to work. And indeed, the absurd anachronisms are a big part of what works about this film. But there is no main plot. The entire essence of the film is the social commentary, and it's just too on the nose. Nobody's particularly likable here, and by making the film about '70s social issues means that it has little relevance to today. At best, we can just point fingers and laugh at how dumb the '70s were, but that's not a plot it's a subplot at best. And in the end we're left with no substance, no resolution, and no interest.