Entertainment Rex: November 2021

This is… very quickly becoming my “Here’s my recent movie reviews” post, and I am okay with that.

When I started Entertainment Rex this year, the principle was that I’d discuss everything I watched, played, read, and otherwise enjoyed in the last half of a month. But I have been on an absolute movie TEAR of late, and it’s making it hard to do much else but watch them.

I did get a little bit in besides those, but again… this is a mostly movie spree entry. Let’s get into them!


MOVIES

But wait, there’s more!

Scream 4 rounded out my viewing of that series in anticipation of the next entry in early 2022. And it was the easy call for Worst Of This Stretch. So let’s hear it for that. Humorously, having never seen Scream 4, I went into it thinking “They waited a decade to make this one, so hopefully this is the one where they got shit back on track”.

HA! Nope.

Scream 4 starts off with THE most obnoxious opening sequence[s] ever, and then just… never gets any better. I’m absolutely certain Wes Craven thought the opening to this was amazingly clever, but it is… the opposite of that.

This one is also easily the most predictable of the franchise.

Before we get to the massive pile-up at 2.5, let’s look at the lone 2-star flick, Pig. Two stars or not, I love the current stretch of Nicolas Cage’s career where he’s just taking weird ass indie flicks by the handful and doing his level best. I see what Pig was doing; I really do. It sets up this very John Wick-ian story that has you expecting–and WANTING–to see John Wick levels of revenge pour out. And then… it does very much NOT that in the climax, all while holding up a mirror to the viewer and saying “What does this say about you for wanting revenge porn?”. It’s clever. It’s subversive. It’s also a tedious movie at times, and it really drags.

The Highbrow Return of Nicolas Cage - The Atlantic
Imagine this picture, lingering on screen for ten seconds, and they do that, like 52 times across the movie.

In that way, Pig has a lot in common with our first 2.5 movie, A Mighty Wind. Both of them could have been called “60 Minutes Of Plot Stretched Out To A 90 Minute Runtime”. I chuckled several times at Wind, but I also found the middle to be almost insufferably dragged along. The story had one (1) worthwhile angle, but felt compelled to overburden us with, like, three others, anyway. I like Christopher Guest, but this was him at his most self-indulgent, just cramming stuff in without much regard. Here’s Ed Begley Jr and Fred Willard! Why? The movie didn’t need them. But here they are because they are just “supposed” to be in these!

Hey, Eternals was 2.5, and I covered that here.

What else? Sunshine, Resident Evil, the Evil Dead remake… a slew of middling horror flicks. All with their own benefits and warts. Sunshine was tense and brilliantly acted across the board, but the twist makes it all a bit gonzo, and Danny Boyle’s direction and cinematography are hard to stomach here. He tries a lot of tricks and weird gimmicks with the camera just to do them, and it annoyed me more than it impressed. Why are there freeze frames? Why is one character intentionally out of focus? I get that it’s the name, but the constant bright sunlight just washes out what I’m looking at. Movie, why don’t you want me to SEE you? This could have been an audio book.

Resident Evil is just Mediocrity: The Feature Film. It’s fun; it does what it sets out to do. But there’s nothing special about it at all. The music and the action are swell, but there’s no soul to it.

Speaking of no soul, that’s what an Evil Dead movie without humor is. Just another gory, poorly acted horror spectacle. It’s a good scary movie, but a bad Evil Dead movie. I don’t want those to take themselves this seriously!

Antlers and Old are both 3 star 2021 new release horror entries (why am I still watching so much horror in November? Oh, because I always watch horror) with extremely different circumstances. Old is a big budget M. Night Shyamalan thriller about a vacation gone terribly awry. Antlers is a low budget, grimy indie tale of Native American mythology.

Old is actually really good for the majority of its runtime! Sure there is that old “M. Night can’t write dialogue” chestnut, but the story and its goings-on reach out and grab you. Then you get to near the end, and… it’s not like there’s a bad Shyamalan reveal or anything… it just goes all the way off the rails at parts. Two characters die in the span of a few minutes, and their deaths are too silly to take seriously.

Antlers reminded me of The Babadook in being an indie horror with the least subtle analogy ever (“OPIOD ADDICTION IS THE REAL MONSTER!” here), but it does mange to be scary while also cramming in a ton of subplots for Felicity’s character that have zero payoff. She’s a recovering alcoholic! Thrill as that doesn’t matter at all!

The Birdcage is our sole 3.5 before we get to another logjam at 4.0! I never noticed it growing up, but Robin Williams’ son in this movie is the worst protagonist ever. He’s just the pits. Eminently unlikable, and it made me WANT the plot to fail.

That said, did Nathan Lane really not win approximately thirty Oscars for this performance? Shame on you, Academy Awards!

Almost There: Nathan Lane in "The Birdcage" - Blog - The Film Experience

Four-mania: Total Recall, The Host, Last Night In Soho, Deep Murder, and To Wong Fu…(etc)! Pleasantly, these were all new watches except for one (Deep Murder, which I’ve written about before here). I know, I know… how did I never see Total Recall before, right? I have weird blind spots.

Anyway, yeah, Total Recall is great. Really ahead of its time, and a decent mindfuck. I actually somehow knew very little about this going in (I knew it was about Mars and that, like, heads blew up, but nothing about the plot), so it worked for me the whole time. I wonder if I’d have appreciated this if I watched it when I was younger? Oh well. I appreciated it NOW.

To Wong Fu, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar. Not a great title! And yeah, this movie is simplistic and idealistic. But I also LOVED the way it made me feel. It just brought me such joy. I loved the world it built, I loved the actors all taking it seriously, and I loved the sugary sweet, unrealistic resolution. More movies need to make me feel like that. Also, the Chris Penn stuff consistently made me laugh out loud. “Places For Homos”, ha!

I’m going to lump my other two four stars in with my one 4.5 entry, Hunt For The Wilderpeople, because watching it, The Host, and Last Night In Soho all in short succession allowed me to embrace that Taika Waititi, Bong Joon-ho, and Edgar Wright are my top three filmmakers.

Last Night In Soho has some third act problems, but the ride there is terrific. Thomasin McKenzie is a god damn star. The movie kept me guessing and intently involved in everything going on. I really appreciate Wright showing he can do something that isn’t comedy or action.

The Host is an older work of Bong Joon-ho’s, but it holds up even better nowadays in our post-COVID world (it’s hilarious seeing a movie where the United States is attacking another country for their handling of a virus, but then you realize it’s just them blaming an Asian country again, and…). Nobody blends genres as well as Bong; The Host is, at turns, scary, intense, hilarious, sad, and tragic. But it all feels like it belongs together.

Then we have Hunt For The Wilderpeople, and what a tremendous flick that is. Not as emotionally impactful as Jojo Rabbit, but equally good at being funny and getting the best out of a young lead actor.

All in all, this stretch was another win; I just had so many 4 and 4.5’s here, and considering they weren’t old reliables I was just rewatching, that’s always great!


TELEVISION

Doom Patrol Season 3 Pre-Review | Batman News

Pretty much just Doom Patrol season 3 to talk about here, but we did wrap that up.

I absolutely loved season 2 of this show. Did season 3 measure up? Well, not entirely. This was a confusing season (time travel, man; that just muddies everything!), but I feel like if I watched it again, episode one to episode ten, I’d notice everything paying off, and all the hints it dropped along the way. When it was finished, it did end up feeling well put together. But it was less enjoyable as a ride as season 2 was.

I will say I’m getting a LITTLE tired of Crazy Jane’s ongoing story. It feels like one of those syndicated storytelling things where the show just keeps manufacturing drama inside her head. Really after the Miranda story in season 2, Jane should have a LOT more leeway than the other personas give her here.


READING

DC Comics Proudly Presents 'Blue & Gold' by Dan Jurgens and Ryan Sook! | DC

A couple of newer comics here, but not many.

The above pictured Blue & Gold #1 (of 8) seemed worth a pickup because who doesn’t love Booster and Beetle? It’s just the preliminary issue, but it seems the plot will be that Michael and Ted piss off an alien race when they thwart their plans to abduct the JLA. We’ll see where it goes, but it’s Jurgens writing these two, so I’m in.

Additionally, I got issues seven and eight of X-Men Legends, a book that has brought Larry Hama back to tell a story from his era writing Wolverine. There was a long time in my childhood where that was one of my very favorite titles. So far, it seems like a mashing together of nostalgia (Wolverine! Jubilee! Lady Deathstrike! Sabretooth! Omega Red!), but issue nine promises a big four-way brawl, and who can deny that?


All right, that’s it for the first half of this month. It’s actually conceivable, but not likely, that I hit 200 movies before November ends, which is NUTS.

Until next time… take care!

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