What I Watched June 2016

Movies

The Do-Over – This stars David Spade and Adam Sandler; it’s a comedy, right? Then why weren’t there any jokes? I laughed twice during this films runtime, and gave it half a star for each. Really, this movie is just lazy and bad. I guess it being gross and stupid is supposed to be funny, but it just isn’t. *

The ‘Burbs – Joe Dante, man. Joe Dante. Between this and Gremlins, I don’t think anyone does horror comedy better than him. I love this movie. It is primarily a comedy, but it does its best to be just creepy enough the whole way through that you can’t quite settle in. The cast is great, from Tom Hanks to Bruce Dern to Corey Feldman. That fact that it doesn’t let you know if anything actually creepy is going on until the last few minutes is just great. The speech that Hanks shouts at his neighbor after everything blows up on them is one of my all time favorite movie speeches. This is just a great movie. ****1/2

All-Star Superman – My favorite comic turned into a pretty good animated movie. It necessarily loses something in the adaptation from the comic to the screen, but it captures the spirit and heart of the book. It is a decent telling of the best Superman story. ****1/2

His Girl Friday – Sometimes exploring stuff on Netflix really works out. This is a lot of fun. It is clearly adapted from a stage play, with its limited sets and rapid fire dialogue. I loved every second of it. It seems awfully progressive for the time to be about a woman valuing her job over a man and being rewarded for it. It is just impossibly good. *****

3:10 to Yuma – An easy little western starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. They both do enjoyable work, Bale as a hard up rancher with limp and Crowe as a charming rogue. It really isn’t anything special, but I greatly enjoyed it. Westerns are few and far between these days, and this one played it straight enough that it was easy to just enjoy. I think there are good reasons this movie has largely been forgotten despite its two big stars, but it is a pretty exercise in the genre. ***1/2

Bucky Larson – I caught most of this early in the morning on TV. Fuck this movie and everyone responsible for it. No Stars.

The Green Hornet – This is a perfectly fine sort of superhero spoof. It walks that line between being a true spoof of the genre and just being a straight superhero movie. It tries to have it both ways, which is one of its big failings. It is too goofy to feel like a real take on the genre, but it isn’t funny enough to just be a comedy version. Still, it is largely amusing and fairly fun, so I can’t bring myself to hate it. **1/2

Robocop (2014) – I am not a fan of the original Robocop. I recognize and acknowledge its quality, but I do not enjoy it. That goes for pretty much all of Paul Verhoven’s movies. That being said, at least his movies have a voice that I can dislike. This remake seems like it might have had something to say at one point, but all the thoughtful parts got sanded off before it made it to its final state. There is some updating of the concept to deal with the changes in the world over the last 25 years or so, but it never quite gets anywhere with it. Still, it isn’t badly made, just blandly. **1/2

Warcraft – see review here. *1/2

Love & Friendship – see review here. *****

Hail, Caesar – see review here. I got this on Blu-ray and it definitely holds up upon rewatching. ****1/2

Mission Impossible 3 – I had missed this, and with how much I enjoyed the series’ last two outings I wanted to go back to it. It turns out it is really unnecessary. It is perfectly fine, but it points the series in a direction that it doesn’t end up going. It did introduce Simon Pegg’s Benji, which is good, but the rest is just there. Marrying Hunt off, then basically pretending his wife doesn’t exist for two movies is a strange choice. It just seems an odd fit with the rest of the series, and lack the imaginativeness of the first and last two movies. ***

Central Intelligence – see review here. ***

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – There is a great chemistry between the two leads here and I feel like I’ve seen all of this movie’s best scenes stolen for other movies or parodies. Still, there is a lot to like here. Not the musical choices or some of interminable montage scenes, but the rest is great fun. ****

Fast & Furious 6 – I had kind of filed this movie away as the bad one, not as good as Fast 5 nor as straight up bonkers as Furious 7. In some ways that is accurate. It isn’t as good as Fast 5 and it’s not as bonkers as Furious 7, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a damn entertaining movie in its own right. It feels like the series finishing shedding what the series was in the first 4 movies to become what it started to be in the fifth. It is no longer a movie about cars, it is a movie about action frequently featuring cars. It isn’t the best or most natural fit, but they make it work and they make it damn fun. Also it is crazy that a movie with car chase that has a tank and the good guys pulling a giant plane out of the sky with grappling hooks can be described as less bonkers that something else, but that is the world in which we live. ***1/2

She’s Just Not that Into You – An okay romantic comedy that I stuck on because I saw Scarlett Johansson and Bradley Cooper. This movie has an expansive, interesting cast, but it isn’t really anything all that interesting. It wasn’t bad. **1/2

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – It has been a long time since I saw the first Sin City, but this feels like leftovers that have been sitting since that movie came out. Despite the stellar cast, the whole thing feels cheap and amateurish. Were the effects this bad the first time around? I remember them looking much better. Ugly, cheap and dull; I can’t think of anything to recommend about this movie. Maybe Eva Green’s breasts. *

Finding Dory – see review here. ***1/2

TV

Outlander S2 – The show has pivoted from its early season intrigues in France to full on war in Scotland in the second half. And as usual, it is doing it with an amazing combination of serious thought and melodrama. The melodrama is an essential part of Outlander’s charms. For all that it takes time to get historical stuff right and create realistic, believable characters, it frequently puts them in situations that are frankly unbelievable. Stuff like Claire dealing with PTSD from her experiences in WWII or Jamie having to find ways to reign in his uncle Dougal now that Dougal in under his command are interesting. But Jamie having himself flogged to show that he stands with his men or Claire making deals with Black Jack or most especially the whole plotline with the Duke of Sandringham are out there. The show relies on a delicate mix of the two and so far it has combined them excellently. There is only the finale left and I couldn’t be more excited.

Voltron The Legendary Defender – The people behind Avatar getting a chance to revive Voltron sounded like a winner, and it was. Mostly. It does take way too long to get up to speed, though I expect that will be less of a problem if the show gets another dozen or two episodes. As it stands the nearly the whole first half of the series is learning how to be Voltron and rarely actually doing anything. A more substantive problem is that much of the humor falls completely flat. The dialogue on the whole is just plain bad, even when it is not trying to be funny. It is still a lot of fun to watch, and it gets progressively stronger as it goes. I am eager for more, I hope it is on the way.

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