Black Panther

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).

Arrival

A movie review from The Movie Snob.

Arrival  (C).  The critics are giving this cerebral new sci-fi flick a lot of love, but I just can’t join the chorus.  The set-up is one you’ve probably seen before: giant alien spaceships suddenly appear in several different locations around the globe.  They appear to resist or ignore our efforts to communicate with them–at first.  A serious army guy (Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland) recruits a top-notch linguist (Amy Adams, Man of Steel) to help with the communication efforts concerning a spaceship in Montana.  She teams up with a physicist (Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker) who is somehow also supposed to be able to help crack the aliens’ language.  Meanwhile, military guys around the globe are getting really itchy trigger fingers.  Although I agree with the critics who are lauding Adams’s lead performance, the movie as a whole just didn’t really do it for me.  I liked director Denis Villeneuve’s last effort, Sicario, much better.  But maybe I just wasn’t smart enough for this one.

Toys in the Attic

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Toys in the Attic  (D).  This is one weird movie.  I gather it was made in the Czech Republic a few years ago and then somehow this dubbed English version got made.  Some beat-up old toys are moldering away in some Czech attic somewhere.  Woody and Buzz Lightyear they ain’t; there’s a patched-up old teddy bear (voice of Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland), a freaky Don Quixote-like marionette called Sir Handsome (voice of Cary Elwes, The Princess Bride), a grotesque little dude made of clay called Laurent, and a nice doll named Buttercup who makes cakes for the other three.  It turns out that there’s a land of evil toys somewhere nearby, and they kidnap Buttercup while the other three are off at work.  For the rest of the movie (which feels long even though the whole thing is only 80 minutes), the good toys (aided in particular by a toy mouse called Madam Curie and voiced by Joan Cusack, School of Rock) try to rescue Buttercup.  The stop-motion animation and the visuals in general are nothing short of psychedelic.  Nothing makes sense, and every other scene comes out of left field.  The evil toys in particular give off a pretty creepy vibe, and this is definitely not a movie for kids.  I’m not sure who it is for, really.  I do give it some cleverness points for having Cary Elwes voice a character who’s on a quest to rescue someone named Buttercup, and I was startled to discover that Buttercup was voiced, and the English-language version of the film was co-directed by, Vivian Schilling of MST3K fame (Soultaker, to be specific).  That said, I cannot recommend that you actually go watch this movie.  It’s just too bizarre.

The Last King of Scotland

From The Movie Snob:

The Last King of Scotland (B+). I have avoided seeing The Departed because I tell myself that I don’t like violent movies. Yet, now I have seen three pretty violent movies in a row, and liked them all. This one is getting Oscar buzz for Forest Whitaker’s (The Crying Game) portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, and he does turn in a typically fine performance. However, I also thought that James McAvoy (Becoming Jane) did a very good job as a young Scottish doctor who goes to Uganda more or less on a whim, by sheer coincidence gets brought into Amin’s inner circle, and ultimately is very, very lucky to escape from the murderous dictator with his life. The fact that Amin died in comfortable exile in Saudi Arabia only a few years ago is a travesty of justice. Good movie, but be prepared for some pretty gruesome violence.