Tag Archives: Movie Review

Pacific Rim: Uprising

The last fifteen years have spoiled us. Back in MY day when we heard that a movie had a sequel we were mildly enthusiastic because we knew it wouldn’t be as good as the first one. Smokey and the Bandit II, and Sister Act: Back in the Habit present themselves as typical examples.

Pacific Rim: Uprising takes me back to those days by being a “2” movie. It positioned itself for further serialization, but I don’t think they’re doing a very good job of serializing it. They simply sequeled it.

Granted, they made a fine sequel. By my “back in the day” standards we’d have been floored by how good this particular sequel was… for a sequel, of course. The movie does a number of things right, starting with fine performances by John Boyega and Cailee Spaeny. There there were several action sequences that were simply delightful, and it even had surprising-yet-inevitabe plot twist. It didn’t clear my Threshold of Awesome, but it certainly didn’t disappoint me.

A Wrinkle In Time

I saw A Wrinkle In Time in the IMAX theater on opening night, and loved it. The film is beautiful, and the younger cast members were absolutely brilliant, especially Storm Reid and Derek McCabe.

It’s been decades since I read the book. In fact, it’s been so long that I barely remember it, so I can’t speak to whether or not the film is faithful to the finer points of the source material. I am, however, confident that the film is quite faithful to the theme of the book.

The film didn’t have as much explanation of tesseracts  as I hoped it would, but there were several scenes that at least paid homage to the various pop-sci explanations of higher-dimensional math. In particular, the shadows of the rafters against the sloped ceiling of Meg’s room created some interesting patterns. The shadows were not mentioned at all—they just existed, and it made me happy to see that somebody framed the shot to display a lower-dimensional projection of a higher-dimensional object.

Some of the dialog seemed a little “on-the-nose” to me, but it worked on me so I can’t complain. A Wrinkle in Time is only the third film I’ve gotten around to seeing this year, and enters my list at #2, just below my Threshold of Awesome, but well above my Threshold of Disappointment.

Annihilation

Annihilation did some magnificent things, but ultimately it didn’t tell a story that I enjoyed very much. I can’t complain at all about the acting, the effects, the camera work, or the sound design, because everything was spot on, and much of it was outstanding. What was missing, however, was a surprising-yet-inevitable reveal that could recontextualize all the alien weirdness for the viewer, giving us a truly satisfying ending.

Annihilation had a lot going for it, but I wanted it to be something other than what it was. I liked it, but I didn’t really enjoy it, and so it slips past my Threshold of Disappointment.

Black Panther

(NOTE: This review is a bit late, yes. My bad. I’ve been super busy.)

I saw Black Panther on Friday afternoon during its opening weekend, and while I really enjoyed it, I must acknowledge that my experience in the theater was different from the experience of a great many movie goers whose skin color is different from mine.

I identified most with Martin Freeman’s character, and loved the way he responded to being an alien in a world he didn’t know existed. Other viewers will likely identify more closely with Chadwick Boseman’s character, or Lupita Nyong’o’s, or Letitia Wright’s. I loved all the characters, but I don’t see myself in all of them, at least not to the same degree.

This strongly supports my belief that the stories we tell should reflect the diversity of us humans. It matters. 

To my eye, the film’s biggest weakness is the plot device it has in common with several Marvel films of the past decade: Iron Man fights a bigger, badder Iron Man. Ant Man fights a bigger¹, badder Ant Man. Hulk vs a bigger-badder Hulk. Doctor Strange vs. a bigger-badder wizard.

In short, Hero fights Villain who has the same suite of abilities as Hero, but is better equipped to use them.

It’s not a bad formula, but it’s gotten predictable. Fortunately, Black Panther had plenty of non-mirror conflicts going on, and the formulaic one, Black Panther vs Killmonger, served really well as a climactic statement of the movie’s central theme. Of the MCU² films using this device, I think Black Panther gets the most out of it.

Black Panther was great, and I look forward to adding the Blu-Ray to my collection for repeated viewings. It was also the first film I saw this year, so it takes my “most fun I’ve had in the theater this year” slot by default, which is a much lower bar than the film deserves to clear.


¹ Yes, both of them were pretty small, but the yellow one was still bigger. Also, weaponized.
² I’m looking forward to
Avengers: Infinity War, but what I really want now is the Shuri/Valkyrie/Gamora team-up.³
³ Directed by Patty Jenkins, obviously.