Tag Archives: Movie Review

San Andreas

SanAndreasI really enjoyed San Andreas. I went in expecting to see a ridiculously over-the-top depiction of an earthquake, and I was not disappointed. There was also a surprisingly good human story in there—surprising because while I could see the formula, and while everybody played straight to type, I didn’t care. I was engaged, and had a good time.

They did screw up the last line of the film, missing a great opportunity that probably wasn’t obvious to them until after all the set dressing had been added, but still, they missed it. Oh well.

San Andreas enters at #8 on my “how much fun did I have at the theater” scale for the year, and the unexpectedly enjoyable character story (visible recipe pages notwithstanding) squeaks it above my Threshold of Awesome.


The cautionary tale, in which we are warned that something bad might happen, is one of science fiction’s most venerated traditions. Another one, of similarly honorable and established pedigree, is the sense of optimistic wonder.

TomorrowlandTomorrowland is both of these, and more because it pits them against one another from the very first act. It’s also many other things, including, and I’m not sure how I feel about this, an opportunity for Disney to turn “It’s a Small World” into a ride more like Pirates of the Caribbean with the aesthetics of Space Mountain and retro-futurism.

It’s troubling, and delightful, and though it clumsily wields plot devices, and is downright silly in some places, I found myself sitting back at the end and realizing that the tropes and absurdity were there on purpose, and the clumsiness was more akin to that drunken master martial art.

Tomorrowland is definitely a film that my tribe of futurists and science fiction aficionados should see, and I expect us to argue passionately about it under the right (wrong?) circumstances. This film was made with us in mind, and while it’s not exclusively for us, there are things in there that the pop-culture, Johnny-come-lately science fiction fan will miss entirely, and I really like a film that will go out on that kind of a limb.

It clears my Threshold of Awesome and comes in at #4 on the fun-in-the-theater scale. More than that, however, it spoke very powerfully to Sandra and to me, and it’s one we’ll be picking up on disc when it’s out.

For the record, I want one of those pins. Not because I want to go to Tomorrowland (though I do) but because I want to be seen as somebody who wants to go there (which I most certainly am.) It’s silly, perhaps, but it’s one of a very few brands I’m actually willing to wear.

Mad Max: Fury Road

This is the Mad Max movie I didn’t know I had always wanted until I saw it. Tom Hardy plays Max as crazy-mad instead of angry-mad, and it’s the “seeing things that aren’t there” crazy instead of merely being angry with grief (though, he’s that too. And unhinged.) Also, we see him employ some skills beyond simply driving, taking a beating, and shooting things (though he does plenty of all three of those.)

MadMaxFuryRoadMax’s world is a familiar sort of wasteland, but it has an economy of sorts, requiring a bit less suspension of disbelief. Which is good because we’ll need that stuff for more important things than “how are people still alive at all?”

Plot-wise, I loved how the fairly straightforward, convoy-on-the-run story has some actual, human motivation beyond “let’s steal gasoline.” I say “fairly straightforward” because there are a couple of twists in there, but I liked them, too.

MadMaxFuryRoad-img2I’ve heard that some folks are complaining that Charlize Theron’s character was somehow too bad-ass, and was upstaging Max. I looked for that, and am happy to report that Max was every bit as awesome as I hoped he would be. If his star seems to shine a little less brightly, it’s because that wasteland is chock-full of crazy-capable bad-asses (including Theron’s Imperator Furiosa,) which makes sense since these are the people who are still alive.

Still alive at the beginning of the movie, anyway.

I love comprehensible action scenes, and MM:FR was full of them. The camera gives us several “savor the moment” shots where the action is so iconic we need to slow down a bit and soak it in before the flames and the dust muddle it up.

The post-apocalyptic aesthetic of the film has its roots in the original Mad Max film, obviously, but that aesthetic has passed through a number of hands over the years, so that by the time it arrives back home in the Mad Max franchise you can taste all kinds of things in the dust, including Fallout: New Vegas, Defiance, and Borderlands. I did not hate that one bit. If Gearbox ever makes a Borderlands movie, I expect it will look like Mad Max: Fury Road with better weapons and more hockey masks.

Mad Max: Fury Road comes in at #4 for me so far this year, clearing my Threshold of Awesome with room to spare. Extra headroom was added by the guy playing a flamethrower guitar while chained to the  front of a stack of speakers on top of a vehicle that has an entire kettle-drum battalion banging away in back.

(That dude convinced me that post-apocalyptic role playing games have room for a bard, provided he has an electric guitar that shoots fire.)

Galavant: Just Buy It Already

My oldest daughter came back from college and told me I needed to see something called “Galavant” on the television. We don’t do cable in my house so I Youtubed some trailers, got hooked, and checked it out on Amazon Instant Video.

Galavant is a trope-ridden medieval fantasy comedy musical. How such a thing existed without me knowing about it without the help of my children reflects poorly on me.

If you enjoyed the musical episodes of Buffy and Community, if you sing along with Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, you should buy Season 1 of Galavant on one of the services where it’s available (Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes.) I bought the HD version on Amazon and have now watched the whole thing three times through.

I’m not a fan of the streaming model, where I pay “own the whole thing” prices, but can’t actually watch unless I have a persistent connection and a DRM-ish browser window. Galavant is good enough that I’m perfectly happy to tell myself that I paid $20 to rent it. I got 176 minutes of great programming. I’ve spent more than that for movies half that long, and no lie, if Galavant were a theatrical release I would rank it above everything I’ve seen so far this year, including The Avengers. In fact, I came home from The Avengers excited to hurry up and write a review so I could watch Galavant.

Seriously, when it comes out on Blu-Ray I’ll probably buy it again.

Am I gushing? Yes. I don’t do this often.