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Dave Made a Maze (2017)
Fifty-fifty, maybe less
The gorgeous images deserve that you watch this film.
The dreadful dialogues might ruin the moment for you, however.
Now I'll just develop a bit, so you can skip if it's TLDR : I don't know if the same person conceived the visuals and wrote the text, but the former are wonderful while the latter is unbearable. The maze's sets, effects, even costumes are imaginative and fantastic. They keep the promises that made you curious about watching the film.
The dialogue, on the other hand, is written by a slacker. It's the kind of film where the line you hear the most is "Are you okay ?" surrounded by countless other platitudes and a distinct lack of real emotion. Drivel, simply put. Vapid, out of place, lazy, oafish, and much, much less. That's what makes the story. That's also what makes the viewing an ordeal. Thus I can't be sure about the actors : I have a bud of an opinion, but in their defense they had to work with trash.
Likely, you can't predict if you'll endure the talking, which way it will tip your balance. I'm feeling generous, thanks to the handcraft, and I think Jim Henson would have approved.
Seven Sisters (2017)
Recreation with week spots
As science-fiction, this is pretty fine when it comes to technology, worthless when it comes to the story. This is because social and political elements are set as a plot device only, or maybe as an attempt to be Orwellian for the sake of being Orwellian, not as a coherent and clever vision of the future. Why a fascist regime, for example ? (With a parliament, to make it more awkward.) Why the checkpoints ? Why the repression but obviously no sensible measures to actually reduce births ? This world is all half-assed.
The best example is what the state (or is it a private company ? Not even clear) does to the children. Nonsensical, counterproductive in fact. The opposite of Logan's Run simple and clever take on the subject. Anything but what they do would make more sense, like sterilising parents after their first child, or killing them after their second and confiscating the babies. Or right after the first, why not ?
As entertainment though, the film works pretty good. Contrived but fun. I would give all the credit to the great Noomi Rapace, but several of the scenes are actually quite well shot, with fair bits of tension and suspense. The action becomes overdone, with fight scenes way subpar to others, while the story stops following its own silly rules (sneaking commandos soon replaced with an urban war zone.) However, time flies rather pleasantly.
The rest of the cast is forgettable, particularly Glenn Close who, in addition to looking freakishly out of place as the only old-timer seemingly left in the world, reprises her role from the excellent Girl with all the Gifts, possibly line for line. Here also, she tries to show some humanity. To justify her "hard decisions", hard to someone else of course. Unsuccessfully since her character is utterly insane, on top of being a paragon of unintelligence. A fine actress but a terrible character.
Doctor Who: Extremis (2017)
I don't want to comment when the level of writing is that bad anymore, but I couldn't resist mentioning one tiny little thing that I didn't find in any other review (I even thought all the useful writers of bad reviews had given up when I saw only praise for the amateurish, dreadful Knock Knock.) So here it is.
The Tardis doesn't translate Italian. A glitch, surely, just in time for a pope who doesn't speak English to show up. A secondary effect of this glitch is that the Italian translator, unlike any other alien in the universe including the Pompadour, has a strong non-English accent.
The glitch is very timely indeed, for when usually the Tardis comes near the Vatican's special library (which is not secret, by the way, only restricted, like a bank's vault,) anyone could read any book, in particular today's McGuffin in its forgotten language.
I'll say no more. I can resist laughing about the stupidity of the rest, in particular the VR BS. If it doesn't slap you right in the face, good for you.
Alien: Covenant (2017)
Do not read spoilers because, for the vast majority of 2 hours, we have no idea where the story might lead us. It is true that towards the end, we see it coming, yet it doesn't remove anything from the thrill. It's probably by design. In fact, I suspect it is more terrifyingly enjoyable this way.
Summary for the reader who won't read further: Original, thrilling, intelligent, breathtaking, fascinating, with tons of awesome.
The first part, in space, is so enjoyable that I start to hope the entire story will stay on that line, that is of course until I remember that I came to see a monsters flick. What happens next has all the elements you would expect, and much new material. Ha ! There's even a real scream queen scene, sending me back to the 70s with a smile for a second.
The only reason that I don't rate higher this great theater moment is the last physical confrontation, which I find subpar to the rest, unoriginal on paper, unclear in execution, not engaging as a result. It's just one scene, but it's supposed to be a climax, so in my eyes it counts for more.
I was starting to think that nobody does SF cinema anymore, what with people paying to watch long toy commercials, predigested pointless brouhahas, adaptations of brain dead TV garbage, etc. So thank you Ridley Scott. And more congratulations for achieving greatness inside a franchise, usually the exemplar of film decay.
Magic Dr Who vs Arcane MiB
Written by Mrs Rowling, an author as successful as she is unimaginative, i.e., tremendously, this film happens in a city where wizards form a society of bureaucrats and Gestapo agents. Despite truly immense powers, they fear the non-magical, inferior race and hide from you mere humans, instead of teaching you and making babies with you. Anyway, I'm not sure how this works but I digress: the point is, the movie is full of Men in Black chasing illegal aliens throughout New York and lackadaisically wiping people's memories.
Here lands an odd but friendly British wizard with awkward manners and a luggage much bigger on the inside. He soon finds a companion and on they go travel-ling through time... no, I'm kidding... through New York, chasing harmless but troublesome creatures. Still, the protagonist is so reminiscent of the Doctor that it could explain why I rather enjoyed most of the film.
I really enjoyed the 4 main characters actually, the good guys; it's all fluff, well played and entertaining running and flirting. For the rest, well, it's not as if the writer plagiarised well known series so as to save her energy for other aspects of her craft: events more predictable than they come, dull villains, loose ends, amateur climax, endless epilogues... At the 2/3rd mark, the Beasts start to outstay their welcome.
Clever, emotional, and patience-testing.
Arrival makes me want to read the book on which it's based. The story is very good. It's the classic trope where extra-terrestrials land publicly and first contact is made. You brace yourself for a disaster since army men put themselves in charge as usual (a major reason why, in real life, aliens avoid Earth like the measles.) And where many writers failed to conclude their own take in a fulfilling manner, Arrival delivers the goods with a clever, emotional, yet simple narrative that explains all what we saw and still leaves a lot to our imagination.
The film thus owes most to its story. It does complement it with great visuals, and decent acting. On the other hand, it does suffer from being unnecessarily slow. Your patience will be tested at times, and is required for you to enjoy your candy at the end. As I said, it makes me want to read the source material much more than it calls for a future rewatch.
Jason Bourne (2016)
Even worse than usual Hollowood incompetence
Amateurish filming, shaky camera work, retarded editing (of course worse during what they call action sequences,) this inexcusable mess looks like an alternation of office and corridor scenes from a banal sitcom, and blurry, epilepsy-triggering fight or chase scenes from any spastic turd (i.e., almost any Hollowood action flick) you can name that was made in the last 20 years.
Migraine-inducing. Unwatchable. Basically, it's just noise.
The writing is on par: Hollowood hasn't created anything new in decades, happy to adapt comics, video games, cheap novels, etc, or to produce unwanted remakes and sequels. Here it's a sequel of some sort, which is probably why it does nothing to introduce its characters. Not only I feel like I'm watching a bad TV series, but apparently I'm also supposed to have watched the previous episodes. Cinema fail 101.
Many of the other staples of Hollowood incompetence are present: they still believe that the CIA can operate freely on any foreign soil (when they don't push the joke to make it the FBI;)they still don't understand how computers and software work; they still show shots of gas pedals during chases... Name your pick for most annoying stupid trope and it's probably there.
Look, I'm just trying to save someone's money here, because this... thing... is so bad it doesn't even deserve a review, only a burial. Wait for the next real JB, the one with the double zero, maybe we'll be more lucky there.
Kiki, el amor se hace (2016)
It took me quite a while to realise that this is a remake of The Little Death, an Australian film that I had seen just a year or so ago. That's how forgettable the original is. I avoid remakes like the plague, but this one caught me by surprise. I watched it until the end, fairly entertained, whereas the original quickly bored me.
Perhaps this is because The Little Death tried to be edgy and failed, when Kiki feels more natural, relaxed, and cute. Perhaps the Spanish acting is better, but I'm not going to rewatch the original to ascertain.
Anyway, it's still not good enough to recommend warmly, although it's possible that I would have rated it 1 point higher if it was not déjà vu. It didn't make me laugh, but it did make me smile plenty.
Intense start but lazy end
This variation of the zombie apocalypse borrows from films like 28 Weeks Later or Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers. That is to say, it relies more on psychological tension than on graphic violence (but still contains some graphic violence.) The first act is pretty good, intense, sharp, adopting a fast pace that dispenses us of the genre's clichés. That won't last as it will turn into standard fare. Finally, in the 3rd act, the writer completely drops the ball and doesn't even bother ending his story properly. He just takes the easiest way out and deserves some boos for it.
Bad storytelling is enough to make a movie bad and a rating low. Here however, I balance it with the impressive beginning and the excellent visuals. Also worth mentioning is Samuel L. Jackson who, for the first time in 20 years, portrays a human being instead of his perpetual annoying caricature.
A superb piece, if graphically imperfect.
This team effort for an ESMA school project might not impress you in the first seconds, because the art certainly lacks the polish of a professional work with an adequate completion time. It is most obvious in aspects like the lighting and shadowing, for example.
Do keep watching however. The design largely makes up for it. The visuals are greatly creative. The soundtrack is superb, all music, no words, gracefully telling the story along the characters' dances. It's a wonderful ballet. This told by someone who fondly dislikes ballets.
And most of all, you'll be treated to a terrific story. The cycles of life and love might feel a little too accelerated to some of you - it's a very short film after all - but it's truly epic in scope and emotion.