A movie review from The Borg Queen.
Bumblebee (B+). After the original Transformers movie (2007), this would easily be the next best movie in the bunch. Directed by Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings), this movie takes place in the late 80s as Bumblebee first makes his way to Earth. The movie has nostalgia, humor, heart, a little drama, and just the right amount of action. Hailee Steinfeld (The Edge of Seventeen) does a great job carrying this film. Even my mom liked this movie. Check it out.
A new review from The Movie Snob.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (C-). I saw the original Star Wars when I was about 10 years old, so I should be the perfect audience for an origin story about the coolest dude in a galaxy far, far away: the one and only Han Solo. Sadly, I was bored. I think Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!) is probably a good actor, but his Han is unfortunately bland. Emilia Clarke (TV’s Game of Thrones) is pretty but otherwise makes no impression as Solo’s love interest. Donald Glover (The Martian) does a little better as a suave Lando Calrissian, but I could never forget I was watching Donald Glover, who was so funny on TV’s Community. Woody Harrelson adds another major franchise to his collection (Hunger Games, Planet of the Apes), but he doesn’t really give the story any juice either. In sum, Solo is a forgettable movie. My favorite pop culture podcast, The Weekly Substandard, has devoted two whole episodes to Solo, and I’m looking forward to hearing what those critics have to say about it.
The Movie Snob is back.
Rifftrax: Space Mutiny (B+). Ahoy, gentle readers! I have not blogged in a while, owing to various family-related issues that have kept me out of the theaters. But my sister was in town last week, and we managed to hit the multiplex for the latest Rifftrax live show. You can catch a re-broadcast of it this coming Tuesday, June 19, and I give this one a hearty thumbs-up. The opening short was pretty lackluster, something about a boy and his dad visiting a mysterious magic shop that may actually be magical! But the main event is Space Mutiny, a 1988 sci-fi cheesefest that was actually riffed on Mystery Science Theater 3000 back in 1997. The riffers did a fine job, but the movie alone would have provided plenty of laughs. The plot is largely incomprehensible, but it’s something about a mutiny aboard a giant spaceship that happens to look exactly like the 1978-79 era Battlestar Galactica. Don’t miss it!
A new review from The Movie Snob.
Annihilation (B-). This new sci-fi movie starring Natalie Portman (Thor) is loosely based on a novel from just a few years ago. I think I liked the book better (see my review here). As in the novel, a weird phenomenon kind of like a dome has descended on some remote, swampy area (Florida maybe?), and weird stuff is going on inside. The government occasionally sends a team into the mysterious area to investigate. (Almost) no one ever comes back. Portman plays a soldier–biologist named Lena who joins the latest mission, a five-woman expedition led by psychologist Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Margot at the Wedding). Once they venture into Area X, it turns into sort of a horror movie, so don’t go if you’re squeamish! Anyhoo, I didn’t like it as well as director Alex Garland’s previous effort, Ex Machina, but Annihilation still held my attention.
I saw Annihilation at a new Alamo Drafthouse here in Dallas, and I caught most of the pre-show. It included a couple of old music videos of a children’s rock band that featured . . . a nine-year-old Natalie Portman! It was pretty entertaining.
A new review from The Movie Snob.
Black Panther (C). I don’t know, maybe it’s just comic-book-movie fatigue, but this flick left me feeling like I’d just watched a 135-minute-long video game. Chadwick Boseman (Captain America: Civil War) stars as King T’Challa of the poor African nation of Wakanda. Only it’s not really poor; it’s sitting on a mountain of an alien metal called vibranium and has mastered all sorts of advanced technology, including some sort of cloaking device to conceal it all from the outside world. But bad guys in the outside world are trying to get a hold of some vibranium, so T’Challa (who is also superhero Black Panther) and a few sidekicks leave Wakanda to stop them. And then they have to deal with another bad guy after the first bad guys. It all felt so weightless that I just couldn’t bring myself to care about any of it. Also stars Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) and features Angela Bassett (How Stella Got Her Groove Back), Forest Whitaker (Rogue One), and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug).
The Movie Snob heads for a galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (B-). Okay, Episode VIII in the ongoing space/soap opera about the Skywalker family is here, and the critics are generally loving it. Put me down with the small band of dissenting critics. On the plus side, it is better than the last installment, The Force Awakens, if only because it is not a slavish remake of an earlier movie. On the down side, it is still somewhat derivative of its predecessor The Empire Strikes Back, with an evil empire on the march, a rebellion on the run, and a would-be Jedi seeking training from a wise mentor. Worse still, it is a solid two-and-a-half hours long, with as many false endings as The Return of the King from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Still, I appreciated that writer–director Rian Johnson did try to throw some new wrinkles at us. Mark Hamill (Star Wars: A New Hope) is a surprisingly crotchety Luke Skywalker. The late Carrie Fisher (When Harry Met Sally) presents a stoic Rebel leader but doesn’t really have that much to do. And our quartet of new main characters (Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, and Poe Dameron) gets split up for most of the movie, which means a lot of jumping back and forth. I think the movie would have been much better if the first half had been trimmed a bunch, and the exciting stuff at the end stretched out a bit. But it’s already made almost a billion dollars worldwide, so what do I know?
A book review from The Movie Snob.
Acceptance, by Jeff VanderMeer (2014). Well, I thought this final volume of The Southern Reach Trilogy was a bit of a letdown. The first two books (reviewed here and here) were pretty entertaining, in a mysterious and slightly creepy way. In the near future, some strange, possibly alien, presence has set up shop on Earth (in an area that sounds like Florida). Scientific expeditions occasionally go into the zone, known as Area X, but they don’t always come back. Readers expecting all the weird goings-on around Area X to be explained in Acceptance are bound to be disappointed. There are hints and flickers of explanations, and there’s lots of backstory fleshing out some of the characters we already met in the first two books, but I didn’t find the “resolution” of the trilogy particularly satisfying. Oh well, the destination wasn’t great, but the journey wasn’t bad. And the first book in the series, Annihilation, is being made into a movie starring Natalie Portman as The Biologist. Check out its IMDB page.