The Boy

Emmy says:
Great psychological thriller, that didn’t go where I expected. The small cast allows for good character development and the film isn’t cheapened by opportunistic jump scares. Very enjoyable. 7/10.

Jeff says:
I like to think I’m a fan of horror films, but there are some that just don’t “do it” for me. These are the so-called “torture porn” films, slasher films, or ones involving creepy dolls.  Having said that, this was very well made and had some surprising twists and turns that were unexpected. I’m not sure it rates high on character believe-ability (there are “people being stupid” issues), but if you buy the premise it’s not too far-fetched. Pacing is good, it’s more a psychological thriller than horror. I’m still not sure it’s really “my thing”, but as an example of the type it was quite good. 5/10.

IMDb

The Void

Emmy says:
The emptiness left behind after losing someone is raw and messy, exactly what is shown with this film. The script comes across a touch messy, but the repetition of phrases is something we all do when we think we haven’t been heard, or when we try to convince ourselves of something. Talking over the top of one another when there is a group of people who have no clear idea on what is actually going on is reminiscent of real life. The monster that is loss is wonderfully presented in all its bloody glory. A true work of love. 7/10.

Jeff says:
I heard about this from Good Bad Flicks in his Top 10 Best and Worst Films of 2017 video (ranked #7 on the Best list). Described as a Lovecraftian horror genre film, I was eager to see it. The film turns out to be a low budget independent film, and it shows, but the effects looked much better than the budget would have suggested. The story has that realism factor that I look for – no ‘people being stupid’ for story purposes. Some of the twists and turns are either well signposted or abrupt changes that give you whiplash. This gives the movie an uneven tone, but that’s strangely appropriate for the location and situation of the people involved. Sound design was mostly excellent (some of now cliched loud thrumming noise I could have done without). Acting was realistic and believable, so were the effects. Well worth watching.  6/10.

IMDb

Westworld

Emmy says:
Interesting story. Fascinating to see how far movie making has come in 45 years. 6/10.

Jeff says:
A low budget early 70’s film written and directed by the author of Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, Rising Sun, etc. It shows. The story is interested, but the mystery is not solved. The “70’s future” aesthetic is in full force when it’s not trying to show off “history recreated”. As medieval re-creationist, I can say that was NOT 1300’s Europe in Medievalworld. The movie moves at quite a slow pace but packs a lot in. Cliched filming styles are used to great effect in set pieces that were meant to be clichés. Worth watching. 7/10.

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Kong: Skull Island

Emmy says:
To use a quote from the movie – it really does show that you can always find monsters if you go looking for them. A good story with great visuals. The fight sequences were very well done. 8/10.

Jeff says:
It’s a cliché in many monster movies that the worst monster is man. This movie serves us that homily in spades. The characters (even the bad ones) are well-realised and very believable, the creatures are amazingly details and show intelligence (even if just animal instinct). I made the point to Emmy that the fights between giant monsters in this movie were more believable than the ones between humanoids in Justice League (she agreed). This is a worthy prequel to Godzilla and I’m curious to see how the “Monsterverse” develops from here. 8/10.

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CHIPS

Emmy says:
Fun ride with over the top characters and stupid conversations. Much explosions 6/10.

Jeff says:
Uneven tone throughout – buddy cop comedy based on a 70’s TV show with some very graphic violence and gratuitous nudity. The ‘buddy’ angle worked, but their characters didn’t. Felt like a wish list of “cool things” that didn’t work cohesively. The main villain wasn’t believable in terms of behaviour vs. background. I might be asking too much of a silly comedy-action film, but I used to love the TV show … it’s a shame it was ‘re-imaged’ as this. 5/10.

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The Thin Man

Emmy says:
Brilliant script, delightful characters, absolutely adorable interaction. Such a fun movie 10/10.

Jeff says:
Thanks to MovieBob‘s review of this movie for his Good Enough Movies (GEMS) series, we sat down to watch this 1934 classic. Based on a Dashiell Hammett novie, but played with more comedy focusing on the Joie de vivre of the main characters (the ex-gumshoe and his society heiress wife), this is a fun film that shows a happily in love couple being silly and supportive. The murder mystery is almost overlooked, but still wrapped up well enough for that sort of crime drama. Thoroughly watchable and hard to finish without a smile on your face (although people who’ve had to deal with alcoholism might not see it the same way). 9/10.

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Justice League

Emmy says:
Oooh Shiny! Look at that cool special effect! Just check out the Pec & Panty cam and you won’t notice that the characters are all one note and the plot very thin. 4/10.

Jeff says:
Not as bad as I feared. Not as good as it could have been. The interaction between the characters was engaging and ultimately I bought the camaraderie. Jokes (I’m guessing Joss Whedon’s work) mostly landed. The action was a CGI-fest that didn’t feel like there were any real stakes (isn’t everyone an unbreakable superhuman?) The villain was a zero who was merely a macguffin for forming the team and the antagonist needs to be more than that. While I don’t want my two hours back, I would have been disappointed  at the waste of money if I had seen this in cinemas. What’s really noticeable (as Emmy alludes to) is the difference filming Wonder Woman between directors. We actually had to check if her skirt had shortened because of all the voyeuristic shots. We were surprised to find it hadn’t. I prefer Patty Jenkins’ vision to Zac Snyder’s any day. 6/10.

IMDb

Godzilla

Emmy says:
Gorgeous kaiju. Emotional investment build early through social-norm shortcuts let the action start sooner without feeling rushed or detached from the people being followed. Some surprises, like changing direction on who seems to be an important character, leaves you off-balance in a good way wondering what else might happen. A good ride, well done. 8/10.

Jeff says:
Visually superb film with excellently-realised kaiju. Sound and light used remarkably well to build tension and create atmosphere. Unfortunately (or perhaps unsurprisingly) it was the human military aspects that were unbelievable (a bomb that was supposed to so massive that it would kill three kaiju explodes and there’s NO consequences for the  nearby city? yeah, right). People making sensible decisions is delightful to see in a disaster movie, and this had many of them. A worthy entry in the Godzilla franchise. 8/10.

IMDb

Annihilation

Emmy says:
Visually stunning, not sure that makes up for the lack of story depth. The mutations are beyond beautiful and terrifying and the movie is worth watching for this alone. Watching the movie for the plot will leave you disappointed. 5/10

Jeff says:
I don’t know how to talk about this movie – which is awkward for a review/reaction blog. It was spectacularly shot with amazing visuals. The central story (although quite different from the book it’s based on, it seems) is definitely interesting. It has a unique approach to the idea of the ‘other’ and in those terms, I think it’s possibly the modern-day equivalent of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Specifically, there’s an ambiguity to ‘the other’ that makes it hard to get a handle on the motivation which is part of the suspense. Emmy said to me that she felt detached from the characters and I get that, but 2001 feels the same – so that’s not a mark against it in my book. Tense, with interesting ideas, no punches pulled on the visuals (including realistic violence when needed) and an ending that leaves you with more questions than answers. I’ll be thinking about this one for a while. 8/10.

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The Shining (1980)

Emmy says:
The piercing suspense music is obnoxiously loud and drowns out dialogue at times. It is seriously over used and grating; I found myself covering my ears at times during the film. The characters are thin copies of those from the book, if you hold them just the right way and squint you can see the connection. I’m disappointed in the translation of the characters from book to screen. The ‘shining’ is mostly glossed over and although an integral part of the book seems to just be a convenient hand-wave in the movie. I miss the personality of the hotel itself, the way it communicates with the Torrance family. I feel the film forgets to tell the audience that it’s the hotel itself that’s evil. Disillusioned 2/10.

Jeff says:
The book gave me nightmares when I read it as a young teenager, I don’t mind admitting. The movie didn’t (when I eventually saw it), but I still remember it being a good film. Watching it again this time, I found … it wasn’t. The soundtrack was screeching and over-loud. Shelley Duvall’s portrayal of Wendy was entirely wrong, and Danny was hardly there. It could be the version we watched, but there was so much missing from what was in the book (it was the 119 minute European cut), and yet strangely lots of things added. I love many Kubrick films, but this was terrible. 3/10.

IMDb

John Wick: Chapter 2

Emmy says:
Very pretty sets and lovely detailed costumes, pity 3/4 of the script is pew pew pew. Thin plot with everyone being part of their world. Does everyone in that world speak all the languages? Good movie for watching fights 6/10.

Jeff says:
Visually impressive, with consistently good fight sequences (including consistently on-point weapon work), however it just doesn’t have the emotional resonance of the first film. The world is interesting, but a little unbelievable (everyone knows everyone, everything and seemingly always in the right place). The fight scenes, while excellent and more believable than most, weren’t my reason for wanting to watch the sequel and therefore the film was a bit of a let down. I’ll watch Chapter Three to see how it pans out, but with less enthusiasm. 7/10.

IMDb

Firestarter

Emmy says:
A very faithful adaptation although the largely abbreviated story line left out the bits of the characters worth engaging with. Even after setting aside the cheesy 80’s “suspense music”, I only give it a 3/10.

Jeff says:
A faithful adaptation indeed. The things they trimmed made sense for the format – how DO you make 6 months becoming addicted to the knockout drugs worth watching, for example? I would say they managed to accidentally leave out the emotional connection, but honestly I’m not sure it was there in the original novel. Stephen King even said this was “flavorless; it’s like cafeteria mashed potatoes” but the original story was like that for me too – I just couldn’t enjoy it. That being the case, it’s a very good translation to screen: a bland movie version of a bland novel. 3/10.

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