Last Update 5/13/22

 

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

I'll try to be spoiler free on this one, to which I had a mixed reaction. The villain was a bit of a surprise, and I never really bought into the motivation. The ineptness of some of the alternate universe superheroes was annoying although I enjoyed the cameos. Most of the graphics were very impressive. There were some interesting possibilities suggested by the diversity of the multiverse, but none of them were ever explored. The cast was fine. The overall tone was downbeat. The tentacled creature early in the film was marvelous, no pun intended. 5/13/22

Doctor Who 13th Series (2021)

Jodie Whittaker's final season as the Doctor comes to an end with a handful of not very interesting episodes. The best of them involves the Weeping Angels, the best of the new villains developed since the show was rebooted. The episode with the Sontarans, however, is dull. The stories range from Earth to far worlds, from the future to the past, but like other recent seasons there is too much plot packed into too short a time frame. Everyone has to run around frantically and speak too fast in order to get all of the dialogue done, and even then, bits and pieces of important information are left out. I was not a happy camper. This did not feel like the series I have watched for decades. 5/8/22

Spider-Man No Way Hom(2022)

The screenplay for this could have used some editing. For one thing, there is a magic spell that is supposed to make people forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, but it actually makes everyone forget Peter Parker entirely, and it worked correctly apparently. The difference does not seem to have occurred to anyone. And if Parker is completely forgotten, how did he manage to have money and an apartment at the end? All this notwithstanding this was a fun movie. A spell gone wrong brings dead villains from other parts of the multiverse into Parker's reality - Doctor Octopus, the Lizard, Electro, Sandman, and the Green Goblin - but also two other versions of himself, played by the actors who previously played Spider-Man. There are the usual rousing battle scenes, some tasteful bittersweet moments, and occasional bits of genuine humor. Worth watching. 5/6/22

The Drowning Pool (1975) 

Nine years after Harper Paul Newman appeared for the second time as Lew Archer. They took a lot of liberties with the plot. The woman who hires him is his old flame. The daughter tries to seduce him in one of the most illogical scenes Ive ever seen in a movie.  The police are comic book villains who apparently have psychic powers and no respect for the law. The matriarch is exaggerated beyond reality. One of the things I liked about the books is that Archer gets along with the police but that is squandered here. There are also jumps in the narrative that made me think Id missed something. The soundtrack is wonky as well. I turned the sound up to max and still had trouble hearing the dialogue. The murder of the chauffeur makes no sense at all because there is no possible way the truck driven by the bad guys could have found the right car. 4/24/22

Harper (1966)   

The first Lew Archer detective novel came to the screen with a name change and Paul Newman in the title role, in a screenplay by William Goldman. Lauren Bacall, Robert Wagner, Janet Leigh, and others flesh out a good cast. Harper/Archer is a bit more dissolute in this manifestation and his ex-wife is more than just a background detail.  The plot is pretty much the same as the novel, which was a nice surprise. Kidnap plot complicated by a separate murder spree and other criminal activity. Terrible soundtrack.4/18/22

Candyman (2021)

What is going on? Are there no competent people left in the film industry? This is a textbook case of how to take a really promising suspense/horror theme and completely squander it. The first couple of movies in this franchise were great. This one has too many characters, is too diffused, and loses momentum early that it never quite recaptures. This is particularly annoying because it is such a simple and effective premise, and it almost took a conscious effort to turn it into a dull and sometimes irritating movie. There are times when I could not even follow the story. The theme is a primal horror that should be impossible to ruin, but somehow they managed. 4/26/33

The Eternals (2022)

This was the first Marvel movie that I found awful, from beginning to end, with almost no redeeming qualities. The Eternals are a team of superheroes with various powers who supposedly protect humans from Deviants, hideous monsters. But actually they are serving a race that reproduces by destroying planets and everyone living on them. Earth is next. They discover the truth and have to decide what to do about it. There are too many characters, the plot is too confusing, many of the scenes are too dark - literally, and there are no outstanding performances, witty lines, humorous relief, or any of the other elements that Marvel has made use of. It also seems to directly contradict other aspects of the Marvel universe. And on top of all of that, it is way too long. 4/12/22

Scream (2022)

I went to see the original Scream movie because I was bored and not expecting much. It kept me on the edge of my seat, literally, for the entire movie. As much as I like the original Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream was by far the more involving movie. This new entry does not have screeenwriter Kevin Williamson and it shows, but it is still a very compelling movie, despite too many characters introduced too quickly and not developed. Although there are hints of the original atmosphere, the characters are flat, the killer is inept, the background is totally implausible, and there is no real suspense. Did someone possibly think they might have hired a cast with actual acting experience? Apparently not. The original cast make cameos but they should be ashamed. 4/10/22

Monster Python (2022)

I was in the mood for a bad monster movie and this is exactly that. Although it has reasonably decent effects, a good opening sequence, and appeals to my fondness for giant snake movies, everything else is bad. The dubbing is horrible, the acting is overboard, the story is simplistic, and on top of all of that they tried to mix humor with the suspense, and the results are neither funny nor suspenseful. I suspect this is Korean but I'm too lazy to look it up. I managed to watch to the end, but it's already in the trade-in box. 4/3/22

Phase IV (1973) 

The filming of ants is the chief attraction of this film in which some event in space alters the intelligence and behavior of ants. At first they just eliminate rival insect species in a few areas, but this attracts some human attention. Two researchers are studying them and one becomes irrationally obsessed to the point where he no longer cares but the consequences to actual people in the area. The movie is intriguing but marred by the complete absence of a climax. It has the feel of an amateur film mixed with a documentary. 3/31/22

Lancelot Link Secret Chimp (1970)

I used to watch these raptly when I was a kid, and even as an adult, they are surprisingly well done. It's a spoof of Man from Uncle type shows, but the entire cast consists of chimpanzees. The good guys work for the Agency to Prevent Evil (APE) and the bad guys for CHUMP (Criminal Headquarters for Underworld Master Plan). It was dubbed, of course. Some of the jokes are quite clever, but I had to space watching the episodes over quite a long time as they become repetitive and rather silly. The show last two years and was aimed at kids. 3/26/22

Halloween Kills (2021)

I was appalled at how bad this was. There is no real bridge from the previous movie to this one, the name actors don't even appear until late in the movie, and the special effects are not special. There is no character development, essentially no plot, no suspense, occasional incoherence, and no sense of menace. Michael feels more like a prop than a monster. Why would a fireman carry a chainsaw? Why would anyone want to have their name connected with this piece of amateurish nonsense? John Carpenter would be turning in his grave if he weren't still alive. Hopefully he will never watch this. 2/18/22

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