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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Reflections on The Shining

When we started this blog, the idea was to remember what we’ve seen and what we thought about it at the time. With our Stephen King thread we are watching specifically after having read the book (or rather listened to it). This allows for some deeper analysis and reflection. The Shining seems like a good place to start – it was the first Stephen King book we listened to (before deciding to read them in order) and it is currently the last of the films we’ve watched so far. Warning: here be spoilers!

Continue reading “Reflections on The Shining”

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

Rampage

Emmy says:
Very much enjoyed the monster upgrades and sense of humour from the characters. Not much in the way of story, but who needs that when you have a giant gorilla giving you the middle finger? 8/10.

Jeff says:
The movie seemed slow to get started, but that was because it started contained. If you’re sticking to one big set piece, then that’s the trade-off. The characters made sense in their motivations and it was refreshing to see real humour rather than constant over-seriousness in this sort of film. CGI was mostly done well, and the gorilla out-acted the Rock with more charisma and personality than I expected (real credit to the motion capture actor). For lovers of the source material you could see where they put it in the movie. Great end-credits song too!  Not a perfect movie, but perfectly enjoyable. 8/10.

IMDb

A Quiet Place

Emmy says:
An absolutely gorgeous movie, with limited music and dialogue, and a cast of only 6, I am amazed at what has been achieved here. Skilful playing of the audiences tension and brilliant directing have created a fleshed out story that has no need for flashbacks to explain the situation and only keeps you on the edge of your seat for 90 mins. 10/10.

Jeff says:
There are not enough superlatives for this film. A tense, tight horror/thriller that grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go – as trite as that sounds. We cringed and panicked at every noise – we were right there with the characters. This has excellent direction by John Krasinski (who also co-wrote it), and the hook of using a family familiar with sign language when sound gets you killed works really well – and the deaf family member is actually a deaf actress, so that’s awesome. The monsters work, surprisingly well, and the pacing is well-nigh perfect. The denouement is impeccable and that final scene had me almost literally out of my seat. 10/10 only because I can’t give it more. Possibly the best movie of 2018 so far.

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.

IMDb

Isle of Dogs

Emmy says:
The artwork and animation were spot on, evoking the traditional styles of Japan and bringing life to a world of garbage. Being stuck in the doggo camp having the majority of human characters talking in non-subtitled Japanese was a great experience and made great use of physical features to portray emotion and intent. Greatly enjoyed the story and call this a win for all lovers of dogkind. 9/10.

Jeff says:
This is a strange and quirky film (it’s by Wes Anderson, so that’s expected). Having loved The Grand Budapest Hotel, and been excited by the trailer for Isle of Dogs, I think I might have anticipated it too much and come a way a little disappointed … it just wasn’t as “OMG! Wow!” as I expected. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a delightful film with impressive visuals, voice talent, and overall aesthetic. I’m curious how this will play in Japan, where the artifice of the language barrier won’t be obvious. The bilingual people sitting next to us clearly enjoyed it, so it will likely be fine. I loved it, but love The Grand Budapest Hotel more. 9/10.

IMDb

Lost in Space (1998)

Emmy says:
Dated insults and CG, but an entertaining family story for a family. 7/10.

Jeff says:
This movie doesn’t deserve the hate. It was a product of its time, and has the CG to prove it. A fun romp, that had enough nods to the original for nostalgia value. Lacey Chabert’s voice was the thing I found most annoying. I have a soft spot for this movie and enjoyed introducing it to everyone else. I hope the new TV series, out in a couple of weeks, is even better! 8/10.

(Guest Reflection) Erin says:
Great nostalgic movie that I saw when I was 14. It was a joy to share this with my 13 year old. 8/10.

(Guest Reflection) Erin’s daughters say:
Miss 11: It was amazing! 9/10.
Miss 13: It was ok, not my favourite sci-fi (which is Doctor Who) but it was good. 7/10.

IMDb

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Emmy says:
A fantastic story about stories of the fantastic. 9/10.

Jeff says:
Wes Anderson at his best. Quirky, delightful, whimsical, full of well-known actors who clearly like working for him (since most of them are in the upcoming Isle of Dogs too). Never fails to make me smile. 10/10.

(Guest Reaction) Erin says:
Quirky and hilarious. Worth watching. 8/10.

IMDb

It’s a thing!

After watching movies for many years, we’ve decided we’d like to talk about them. This  also helps us track what we’ve watched, and what we think about what we’ve seen. Sometimes we might revisit films … so it would be useful to know what we thought last time and compare.

For now, we’re focusing on reactions to movies we’ve seen. We have back-filled to the start of 2018. The comments to date haven’t been all that detailed – we started with just ratings out of 10. We intend to expand on this now we have a platform for better content. Down the track we might add other analysis and commentary as it occurs to us. We’re in the middle of a Stephen King marathon – read the book (via Audible) then watch the movie; it’s going to take a while.

Be aware: we watch movies we think we’ll like. We don’t watch movies because we want to review them. While in the cinema we will see a trailer for something interesting and look at each other and go “yes!” We watch those. Don’t be surprised, therefore, if we keep liking the films we review.

We hope you enjoy … and that we encourage you to watch movies you might not otherwise consider.

Jeff and Emmy

The Death of Stalin

Emmy says:
Brilliant cast, hilarious misadventures. Avoid watching the trailers! 7/10.

Jeff says:
Black comedy – didn’t shy away from acknowledging the brutality of the regime. I usually don’t have an issue with trailers and spoilers – but the trailer telegraphs the jokes in the movie making them less funny (they’re still funny though, and some of the best come as a surprise). 8/10.

IMDb

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