Last Update 11/28/23

 

Prey (2022)

This is an unusual addition to the Predator series. It takes place in 1710 and all of the human characters are Comanches - although for some reason they are in an anomalous part of North America rather than an historical one. A young woman wants to be a hunter and has practiced her skills with a hatchet. Unfortunately her tribe is near the site where an alien predator has decided to hunt. There is another anomaly here when the alien kills a dozen or so buffalo for no discernible reason. Supposedly they only hunt other predators. In any case, the conflict begins, with the added confusion that a party of European trappers is in the area with flintlock rifles and a callous attitude toward the local people. Carnage ensues. Despite the quibbles mentioned above, this was a surprisingly effective movie. The star did an excellent job and the rest of the cast was adequate or better. The predator is offscreen for most of the first half of the movie, but very evident thereafter and the intensity level steadily increases. Very enjoyable. 11/28/23

Blue Beetle (2023)

Once again a DC superhero movie proves to be dull, imitative, inconsistent, and silly. The protagonist is a young man who gets exposed to an alien scarab which becomes a symbiote that turns him into a transforming superhero - shades of Venom. He is largely inept and is a passive victim throughout most of the movie as he fights a villainous woman who has a supersoldier lackey. The humorous scenes - which aren't very humorous - are too numerous and too silly. They clash with the occasional serious scenes, making them incongruous. The acting is indifferent - there is no chemistry among the characters. The soundtrack is often inappropriate to what is happening. The special effects are underwhelming. The writing is uninspired at best and dumb at worst. People learn how to use advanced technology in seconds. The climax is disappointing. 11/21/23

Moonfall (2022)

I cannot think of a single good thing to say about this movie. The science is beyond incredible ignorance. The premise is that the moon is a machine, which somehow has gone out of whack and is going to fall onto the Earth. NASA decides to use an EMP to destroy the alien machines which, somehow, will cause the moon to return to its original orbit. The only shuttle has only two of its four boosters operative, but it can take off anyway because the moon's gravity helps pull it up! In addition to the awful science, the internal logic of the story makes no sense. The male astronaut hero has been disgraced because a meteor killed one of the other astronauts during a mission, The acting is amazingly bad - there is no chemistry among any of the actors, their delivery is wooden and awkward, and the dialogue is inane in any case. The special effects are poor to dreadful. I would have walked out of the theater if I'd paid to see it there. 9/28/23

Scream V (2022)

This is a fairly successful attempt at rebooting the series after the abysmal fourth installment. It brings back three of the survivors from the very first movie, and kills one of them off. It has the usual plethora of jump scares as ghost face begins slicing up friends of two half sisters, one of whom is the illegitimate daughter of the original killer. As with the others, it relies heavily on coincidence and avoids trying to explain some of the implausible elements in a script - a completely deserted floor in a hospital, a killer who knows where hidden lighting controls can be found, a villain who takes three bullets to the chest but is later unharmed, technological wizardry that I didn't believe for one second, and other minor problems. The dialogue is not as good as in the originals but isn't bad. The performances are strong but there is a bit of a problem in some of the character differentiation. One of the better slasher movies of recent vintage. 9/22/23

Scream VI (2023)

The latest in this franchise is not actively awful, but the witty dialogue that characterized it when Kevin Williamson was doing the writing is mostly gone. The premise is, of course, that someone else has taken up the ghost mask and is trying to kill the people who survived from the last movie, which I have not seen. A lot of bystanders get killed along the way.  There are multiple implausibilities. Despite the series of very public murders, the police seem to be barely interested. A scene with a psychiatrist reveals complete ignorance of the profession's ethics. At one point, someone manages to substitute a partially dismembered body into an apartment to replace another presumed dismembered party, and does so despite the crowd, the police presence, and so on. A lot of the plot elements are dismissed with, oh, I just guessed right, or I got away with this nearly impossible slight of hand so don't question the writing. The victims repeatedly deliver devastating blows to the costumed villain, who is sometimes even knocked unconscious, but instead of following up - even when they outnumber the killer five to one - they run off to let him recover and chase them some more. The villain - SPOILER - actually villains never show any damage from being clobbered, bludgeoned, punched, kicked, knocked over, struck in the head, and so on. The acting was pretty good and the dialogue, mostly, not awful. I don't regret the time I spent watching it, but I wouldn't recommend it particularly. 9/14/23

Tales from the Crypt Season 5 (1993) 

A predatory salesman meets his match when he is taken captive by a murderous family. The stories include a murderous carnival mind reader and a man trying to dispose of the body of his wife. The episode about dueling theater magicians is awful despite having Martin Sheen and Billy Zane and the one about a fraternity prank at a haunted house is good until the silly ending. The last five are quite good, including a mummy story though it has a bad ending, a confidence trick double cross, a schizophrenic ax murderer, and a voodoo curse. Good casting throughout. This was possibly its best season. 8/27/23

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

Generally speaking, I don't care for fantasy movies. The plots are almost always variations of the same themes - the quest, the usurper, the battle with a monstrous creature, the band of heroes united, the evil sorcerer. This movie has all of those devices and they are as tired and unimaginative as ever. The acting is mostly okay, but frequently over the top, and probably intentionally so. That said, the special effects are spectacular, particularly toward the end of the movie, and there are a few cute scenes sprinkled in among all of the boringly predictable ones. I wouldn't go out of the way to watch this one, but I wouldn't go out of my way to avoid seeing it either. 8/22/23

Meg 2 (2023)

The megalodons are back in this sequel. Jason Stateham is on a routine exploration dive when he finds a hidden mining development. Much violence follows and he is nearly killed - which happens a lot in this movie. Eventually he and his friends mostly manage to escape to the surface, but the ruckus has allowed some of the megalodons to escape and they head for a nearby resort island to munch on the tourists. The surviving bad guys head there as well, along with a pack of creatures I couldn't identify but which seem to be reptilian panthers. How they could function in the subsea environment is not clear to me, but they add to the havoc. There is a good deal of dark humor mixed in with the chomping, shooting, exploding, and other forms of mayhem. It was one of those movies that doesn't make a great deal of sense and leaves a lot of unanswered questions, but it's fun to watch. 8/8/23

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)

The last outing of Indiana Jones starts with a sequence at the end of World War II that is fast moving, but at times it was hard to tell what was going on because the picture was so dark - possibly to help with the illusion of pasting Ford's face onto a stunt double. It picked up considerably when it moved forward to his old age. He is retiring from his teaching position and has been separated from his wife following the death of their son. An old friend's daughter shows up looking for an ancient artifact that, we learn, is able to predict the timing and location of rifts in time. There is, however, a surviving Nazi who wants to go back and kill Hitler so that a more competent leader can ensure a German victory in World War II. It was a lot of fun even if the premise was absolutely ridiculous. 7/5/23

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