This was finally a big month for new releases on my part.
Prior to March, I think I’d only seen two movies actually released IN 2022. I know I follow some other folks that had already been up to thirty new releases this year, and… wow. I have no idea where they are finding things to watch. Very little has caught me eye so far this year. We’ll get there, obviously, but for now? It’s been a year full of watching older stuff so far.
But I finally got a good handful of 2022 flicks in this month, so let’s see how those fared against all the rest!
FIRST TIME WATCHES: Atomic Blonde, The Batman, Creatures From The Abyss, Elvira Mistress of the Dark
Atomic Blonde was an unmemorable female driven John Wick wannabe. I’m really convinced this movie started off with the concept of “I want to make a movie about people smoking. Just… everyone all the time smoking”. And then they just added scenes around that. It is DISTRACTING how much people smoke in this movie. And the camera seems IN LOVE with focusing in on it every time. I spent the entire time thinking “Man, this movie smells terrible, AND Charlize Theron isn’t aging like she is because she fucking smokes; no one buys that”. This felt like it was made by a college sophomore who thinks loving odes to smoking are edgy.
That’s literally all I took away from Atomic Blonde.
I saw The Batman twice, on back-to-back days, and I have talked at length about it multiple times on various podcasts. I did like it more the second time around, obviously. But it’s far too long, and The Riddler was the weakest part of the movie.
I have mentioned before how I get together for a Watch Party on Saturday nights where we check out old F-tier cinema, and that’s what Creatures From The Abyss (aka Plankton!) was. It was very typical of those flicks; fun for a watch with others, but as a movie? Not entirely competently made. There are horny fish having a lot of sex, and a woman gives birth to, like, a thousand fish eggs! Is that what you are looking for in a movie? Is that what ANYONE is looking for in a movie?
Very much in the vein of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Elvia Mistress Of The Dark takes a comical television host and gives them their own feature length film. And also very much in Big Adventure’s footsteps, it’s a wildly fun movie! I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this. It’s basically an extended vehicle for Elvira to be sarcastic and make double entendre jokes, but she’s so charming, it just works. Best joke: Elvira bumps her noggin on a sign; the guy she is lusting for asks “How is your head?” and she responds “Never had any complaints”.
Come on, that’s witty.
REWATCHES: Child’s Play 3, Terminator 2, The Batman (wait, what?), Alita Battle Angel, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Terminator, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back
I spontaneously decided to rewatch Child’s Play 3 out of nowhere this month–I haven’t even seen parts one or two in years! It’s pretty dumb, and the young actor playing Chucky’s new target is frightfully obnoxious. Just… the worst kind of child actor. But it’s Brad Dourif goofing as Chucky, so it’s not the worst way to spend 80 minutes or so.
The biggest question I had when watching Terminator 2 was whether or not to slide it into my personal ten favorite movies ever. As it stands, it’s probably my #11 (and I’ll actually talk #10 in a few seconds here…). Or maybe #10-B. It’s the best pure action movie ever made. But… IS IT a pure action movie? There are elements of horror and comedy and children’s fantasy throughout. It weaves in and out of genres effortlessly. It holds up and has more than earned its rep.
Alita: Battle Angel was a rewatch because someone picked it for an upcoming episode of the Stew World Order podcast. Subscribe on your podcast player to hear my detailed thoughts, but for a short wrap-up: I’m not a fan.
Because it’s bad.
But hey… Robot Quidditch or whatever it is.
This brings me to my current tenth movie on my ten favorites ever list: Pan’s Labyrinth. Is it better than Terminator 2? Man, this is really splitting hairs. It’s DIFFERENT than Terminator! Let’s leave it at that. The movie is gorgeous and imaginative.
My wife and I ALWAYS fight over the ending, too. I believe Ofelia was actually the princess and is welcomed to the Underground at the end. And my wife is wrong and thinks she just died because my wife lacks a soul.
The original Terminator is a good movie, and maybe it’s just how badly T2 overshadows it, but it just feels… okay. It’s watchable. It’s aged much worse than T2–the effects are downright awful at points, but surprisingly really good at others. It’s relatively economical on dialogue, which I had forgotten about, and that adds to the feeling of dread. But… it’s no T2.
Terminator is, to me, very much like Alien. A flawed-but-good movie whose greatest weakness is that its own sequel blows it out of the water.
Made by James Cameron.
I’m suddenly more interested in Avatar 2 than I was five minutes ago.
That leaves Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, a movie I’d long considered one of the best comedies of this century. It doesn’t have anything to say like so many of Smith’s previous movies did, but it makes up for that by being ludicrously quotable. And yeah, a solid 30% of the jokes in this movie are gay jokes, and that sucks to relive in 2022, but the movie also outwardly attacks homophobia and the people who MAKE gay jokes. So that’s… better?
But I still laugh at this. I’m a bad person, I know.
FIRST TIME WATCHES: Frankenstein, Jocks, The Adam Project, Turning Red, Bride of Frankenstein, Minority Report, X, Battlefield Earth
I watched both the original Frankenstein and its sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, within a few days. Those old Universal horror films are crazy. Even combined, these two are well under three hours. Movies used to be so good at cutting unnecessary crap! The first is a well made classic horror feature; the second adds in some of the more comic elements that James Whale displayed in The Invisible Man.
Also! And I loved this! THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN HERSELF does not show up until their are four (4) minutes left in the movie! She’s barely in it! HER OWN MOVIE!
Jocks was another watch party flick, this one starring a young Mariska Hargitay and a [slightly] scrawnier Jackson from Bloodsport. And it’s about tennis! Didn’t you always look at him and think “I bet he can play tennis”.
Well, he can’t.
But a movie can kind of edit it enough to make it look like he almost could!
There is some really great heart and emotion in The Adam Project that is sometimes buried under a lot of wannabe Star Wars sci-if action and meta jokes. Vaporizing faceless minion guys is pfft… whatever; who cares? But scenes like the one with Ryan Reynolds and Jennifer Garner just talking in the bar? I am here for that. That was so damn potent.
Turning Red was another new release I caught on streaming on the same day I watched The Adam Project. Is it bad to ding Pixar for just being… very good? I mean “very good” Pixar is Pixar on cruise control. It’s like Onward. I saw Onward. I liked Onward! Then I forgot everything about Onward. Turning Red will be a little more memorable than Onward, but… maybe not by much. I did love the animation and the characters in this, but nothing really hit me emotionally or humorously.
Oh, Minority Report. Where to begin?
-Flushing psychics down a giant drain!
-Unwieldy and entirely useless jet pack technology!
-A Radioshak reference IN THE YEAR 2054!
-A “don’t remove your bandages!” angle with no payoff whatsoever!
This movie is too absurd for words. It’s awful, but gloriously so. I kept laughing out loud and yelling “Movie, what are you doing? Why are you making these choices?!”. I was shocked–bewildered even–when I checked out the reviews after I watched it and found out this flick is HIGHLY REGARDED.
How can that be?! It’s such a goof!
It WAS fun to watch, though. I laughed and laughed.
I left X not entirely sure how I felt about it. It’s certainly memorable! And it tries to make the viewer uncomfortable (and succeeds!). I cared for the characters and was invested in the plot.
The movie felt like it was trying too hard. Weird editing choices. Funky camera work (though one overhead shot of a lake is marvelous). It felt like a lot of trying to be avant garde for the sake of it. MAYBE that was a play on the porn the characters were trying to shoot? Maybe I missed the THEME of what they were doing by trying to come across as artsy? If so, that’s on me.
Or I’m projecting.
Or I’m just done giving A24 the benefit of the doubt.
Battlefield Earth is everything you ever heard it was. The story is incomprehensible. The characters are all terrible. It’s silly, but not FUN silly. And it is needlessly two hours long. There is SO MUCH runtime padding here.
REWATCHES: Land of the Dead, White House Down
I thought I remembered Land Of The Dead being better than it is. It’s not. Turns out that giving Romero a big budget and recognizable actors kind of kills the soul of his movies. The movie itself is fine since it makes sense after what Day Of The Dead showed us 20 years earlier, but it just feels generic.
WHITE HOUSE DOWN IS VERY EXCITING! I don’t know what else to say. I’m surprised this one has average reviews. First of all, it’s WAY better than Minority Report. Second of all, it’s not original in any way, but it takes an established action formula (it’s basically The Rock… the Nicholas Cage movie, not the actor), and works it to near perfection. Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, and Joey King are all terrific in their roles. It has humor, but stops short of being an action-comedy. It’s just a very fun action flick, even if it has nothing new to say.
FIRST TIME WATCHES: Training Day, Encino Man, Eat Brains Love, Sicario, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, Arachnophobia, The King’s Man
Come for Denzel’s Oscar winning performance in Training Day, but stay for… hmmm. No, you’re just here for the performance. But WOW is a good one. Oscar well-deserved, sir. His character is slightly more nuanced than I was always led to believe, and I dug that. He THOUGHT he was doing right, even if he knew was being dirty to do it.
Sean Astin’s character is an ASSHOLE in Encino Man, but I guess he is supposed to be so that he can learn. But he’s NEVER likable, and I didn’t care if he improved. On the other side of things, Pauly Shore was surprisingly acceptable here, and I guess that explains why he had a career for a hot minute in the 90’s. His shtick actually works. He’s the best part of the movie. Wow.
Eat Brains Love is an indie zombie flick from recent history with an admittedly neat conceit: Zombies are only zombies when they are hungry or mad. The rest of the time, they have their full cognitive function. The characters are a joy in this, too, but the writing does it no favors. There are plot elements that either go nowhere or change as the story needs them to.
Sicario marks the third Dennis Villenueve movie I’ve seen. Better than Prisoners. Not as good as Arrival. That said, the direction and cinematography are truly the stars here against a completely unoriginal plot. Villenueve makes Sicario look gorgeous from beginning to end. And the camera work and shooting just pull you in, man.
Up next… so wait.
In the 1940’s, there was an actual, honest to goodness serial killer in the real world called The Phantom Killer.
And in 1976, there was a movie ABOUT The Phantom Killer coming back called The Town That Dreaded Sundown.
And THEN there is this movie, also called The Town That Dreaded Sundown, in which the 1976 movie is a… movie about The Phantom Killer that took place in this movie’s real world in the 1940’s?
That’s intriguing. So we have REALITY (us), HALF-REALITY (this movie?), and SECOND LEVEL FICTION (the 1976 movie).
Ambitious! For that and the lead actress doing damn good work, you get 3/5, slasher movie.
With Arachnophobia… I can’t stress enough how little I enjoyed this. It tried to be funny, but it wasn’t. It tried to be scary, but only accomplished that by cheating (Jeff Daniels is put in a LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE scenario in the climax, but survives, so it all felt like so much cheap plot armor).
And holy mother of god, is the first half an hour or so a CHORE. You could have cut 20 of the first 30 minutes EASY and had a tighter, more engaging movie. Let’s compare Arachnophobia to Sicario. The latter’s opening twenty minutes are like being hit by a train. That movie puts you in a headlock and drags you around the room with its intensity. Arachnophobia’s first thirty is like being in a train’s sleeping car with the lights off.
I’ve never seen the second Kingsmen movie, but now I’ve seen the first and The King’s Man. It does some stuff right, mostly the inter-character relationship dynamics and emotional beats, but the action is underwhelming. And some of the attempts at having a fun soul are just goofy instead (lookin’ at you, Rasputin Dance-Fighting scene).
REWATCHES: Inside Man, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Edge Of Tomorrow
I’ve seen Inside Man many times. I just really love it. It’s probably my favorite heist film of all time. Denzel and Clive Owens, guys! I’m in.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992), starring Paul Reubens, Ben Affleck for like 5 seconds, and Kristy Swanson’s third act cleavage. Reubens and Swanson’s cleavage do their best, but this is a stinkball. I would never have believed it got rebooted as a classic TV show.
I cherish the idea that Tom Cruise spent AT LEAST one whole day/life in Edge Of Tomorrow walking around to everyone and convincing them to tell him about their second grade teachers just so he could persuade them in future discussions. These Groundhog Day genre movies always leave those uneventful lives out of the story, but you KNOW they are there.
Cruise and Emily Blunt are what happens when you are building your custom characters and set Charisma to 10, so no problems whatsoever with their castings. The story is fun. Good stuff here.
As you can tell, I’ve given up any delusions of having a modest year of shooting for 250 total movies watched. I’m on pace to easily exceed 300, and I figure I might as well embrace that. So don’t expect these articles to get any shorter, folks. My current pace is…
Thanks for being a part of the journey with me, though!
Until next time… take care!