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Rating History

Ready Player One
17 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

This is a moderately fun adventure movie... just don't expect anything more than surface-level entertainment. The film tells two concurrent stories - one in the fantasy world and one in the real world - and unfortunately, only one of those stories is interesting. After some lengthy (and somewhat clunky) voiceover narration establishes the setting (a future world where all of society is dominated by a virtual reality game called "The Oasis"), the movie dives right in to the story that takes place within the game. This is where the movie really shines. It's wildly creative and the "quest"-type storyline really appealed to the gamer in me. The first hour is almost entirely GCI, but it doesn't matter because the CGI is amazing and the virtual world is so detailed and immersive, it really feels like the best video game you ever played. I was all in. But the fun tapers off when the story moves into the real world and starts to draaaaaag. For a story about the dangers of becoming too disconnected from reality, it's so much more interesting when it's all about the fantasy world! I had become really invested in the characters' in-game avatars, but the characters IRL (that's "in real life" for you noobs) were totally flat and bored me to tears. The "real world" story is disappointingly trite - the typical "good vs evil" constructs on which the story is built are predictable and dull. All the heroes are poor little guys, and the villain is the embodiment of corporate greed (even the skilled Ben Mendelsohn as the Big Bad couldn't give that character any depth). I was praying for the film to find an excuse to go back into the virtual world - and it did eventually oblige me, but even then, it never recaptures the magic that made the first hour so cool. The overall story has a juvenile feel to it that targets kids, which is a bit of a paradox as a huge part of what makes this movie fun is the constant stream of 80's pop culture references. I fear that much of it will be lost on younger viewers who may not have seen those movies/shows... woe to the viewer who was born after 1990! But for Gen-Xers, it's a delight to identify the cornucopia of "easter eggs" (which are a major plot point of the story) planted all around this film... it would require many viewings to catch them all. Despite that, the movie is too long and the story was not consistently engaging enough to sustain my interest. By the end of the third act, nearly everything that had me invested in the story had slowly crumbled away, culminating in one of the lamest endings of all time. The movie is fancy and looks great, but it has no heart... and without that, it's just a fairly run-of-the-mill popcorn flick.

Justice League
17 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Ya know... I actually liked this movie. I can't say it's a GOOD movie, but c'mon, it's fun! It's not as good as "Wonder Woman" but it's leagues (heh) better than that piece of shit "Batman vs Superman"... that movie causes me pain by its mere existence. Yes, it's rampant with the same plot inconsistencies that plague nearly every superhero movie, but the ensemble worked and the film does a decent job of setting things up for what's to come in the DC Extended Universe... though its desperation to keep up with Marvel is palpable. The characters were fun, if underdeveloped, and I found all of them to be at least marginally interesting. The exception to this is the Batfleck - I guess it's a testament to how bad BvS was that he was the best thing about that movie, since he is the worst thing about this one. He needs to take a page from Lego Batman's book and learn how to lighten up already! Gal Godot brings the same tenacious spirit to Wonder Woman as she did in her solo outing, and the new recruits are all worthy additions. I liked Cyborg better than I thought I would, and Jason Momoa (sploosh!) was perfectly cast as a modernized, supercool Aquaman... though he didn't play as big of a role as I would have liked and was pretty much a non-entity in this film. But the absolute scene-stealer of this movie is Ezra Miller as The Flash... gimme more of that guy! He is definitely the best part of the movie, thanks to his impeccable comic timing and the eager energy he brings not only to the character, but to the whole team. As much as I love to see Wonder Woman finding her footing as a leader, he really is what makes this team click. The villain was decent with just the right amount of menace - formidable enough where one of our heroes could not have defeated him solo, but not too formidable that he can just squish them all into dust. He's a suitable foil for our novice heroes, it's just too bad that he looks so lame... when he shows up, it's like a cartoon wandered onto the set. Not that that is any different than the rest of the film. I get that a movie like this is going to be CGI-heavy, but damn, there is hardly any actual footage in the whole movie. To make matters worse, some of the CGI is, like, really really bad. That greenscreen... yikes. Anyway, it's over the top and silly and borrows too heavily from Marvel, but it's still a good time. Just sit back and enjoy, and don't think about it too much.

The Post
The Post (2018)
23 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I was hoping for another "Spotlight" with this movie, but while I did like it a lot, it fell a little short for me. While it is interesting and engaging throughout and sports excellent performances, the story is a little dryer than "Spotlight". I was expecting a movie about the story that was IN the Pentagon Papers, but this movie is about the battle between freedom of the press and national security. The story behind that fight is way more interesting than the fight itself, so I would have preferred a movie about that (if anyone knows if there already is one, let me know in the comments!). Nonetheless, Spielberg is a master story-teller and always keeps things interesting. I loved that Meryl Streep's character is not the "take-no-prisoners business woman" cliché that you'd expect; rather, she is a woman who is a product of her times and is paralyzed by her own insecurities, and it was lovely to see Streep play that kind as character. This movie really exists as a giant middle finger to our current government, the message about the importance of an un-censored media is less than subtle. They may as well have looked straight at the camera and said "We're talking about YOU, Trump!". This is a quality movie, but given Spielberg's incredible body of work, it's not one of his best.

Phantom Thread
23 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I liked this movie more the longer it sat with me. It tells the story of a fictional high-fashion clothing designer in the '50s... like a behind the scenes episode of Project Runway 1950. There isn't much of a narrative, it just follows the hot/cold relationship he has with his muse/paramour, which eventually devolves into a codependent mess. What starts as a love-letter to high fashion and true craftsmanship turns into a portrait of a pathologically unhealthy relationship. The pacing is slow and the film leans towards the boring side, but it's the performances that make this movie stand out above the rest. Most of the characters are totally unlikeable (especially the lead character, who is a total pill), but they are all divinely acted. Daniel Day Lewis never fails to amaze me with just how fucking good he is. The supporting performances by Vicky Krieps and Lesley Manville are also excellent, they both hold their own against DDL's powerhouse performance. There is a dreamlike, almost haunting quality to the film, punctuated by its beautiful, lilting score. It also has a lot more humor than you would expect from a movie like this. But overall, I don't really think this movie deserved a Best Picture nod.

The Shape of Water
23 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Of all the Best Picture nominees of 2017, I was the most excited to see this movie, and was thus the most disappointed when it turned out that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. It's good, yes, but not nearly up to the caliber of Del Toro's incredible "Pan's Labyrinth". It's a lovely little fable about two outsiders who find each other and fall in love against all odds, and it's all very sweet. But honestly, this story could just as easily been told as a Disney animated film. The story is unoriginal and the characterizations are one dimensional. Everyone in the movie is either a really good and moral person or a raving sociopath (I'm looking at you, Michael Shannon! But oh, doesn't he always play that raving sociopath role to perfection?). It's all very basic and predictable. I did love the imagery - it's a romance that looks like a horror movie, and it really worked for the story (all the direct references to "green" were a little much though... yes, we get it, the movie is green). But at its core, it's a parable about "otherness" in a world in which you do not belong, and the loneliness that this breeds. It's sad, but sweet at the same time. But there are too many eye-rolling moments for me to call this one of the best films of the year.