May 5, 2019
MBW was out of town on business for the last week and a half. And that means my frequenting the RedBox to rent movies you all saw long ago. Now I shall comment upon them.
Aquaman. Underwhelming. The submarine kingdoms were pretty. Jason Momoa makes for an affable lead, a sort of bearded Dwayne Johnson. The story itself was nonsense. Few of the other characters made much of an impact, there to pick up a paycheck. Though it was nice to see Dolph Lundgren and it seemed like his King Nereus was a bit of a wasted opportunity, both with respect to the plot and character development.
The Predator. I went in armored with low expectations. The film started enjoyably enough, but soon I found something off in the tone and character motivations. Then it hit me: this was a comedy. The only thing missing was Bruce Campbell. Once I’d had that genre epiphany everything fell into place and I settled back to enjoy the flick. Have a couple of beers, turn your brain off, and you’ll have a decent 90 minutes of entertainment. Otherwise, watch at your peril.
The best film of this batch was the only animated flick, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This one I can recommend unreservedly. It was genuinely entertaining, funny, clever, and with something to say about second chances.
Sicario: Day of the Soldado is a perfectly serviceable action flick. It maintains a somber and dour tone throughout its running time. Jeffrey Donovan — Michael Weston from Burn Notice — provides the only real touch of humor. The movie works for what it is. That it is largely forgettable doesn’t mean it doesn’t occupy your attention while it is on.
Bad Times at the El Royale is an ambitious film. Its debt to Quentin Tarantino is apparent, but it is no slavish imitation. The acting is all top notch. For whom should you root? Who is doing what and for what motivation? Why are they all at this hotel? Even the more admirable characters fit somewhere in the gray zone of the morality spectrum. The film carries its mysteries well, keeping the viewers guessing. Ultimately I don’t think it entirely succeeds, but I’m willing to give it a pass because it is so ambitious, it does try for novelty, misdirection, and unexpected revelations. If you let this one slip by, you might want to give it a chance. I think it is worth your time.