December 23, 2018
MBW and the HA flew to Mexico several days ago. I will join them briefly for Christmas before flying back. Oh, what joy, flying on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, two of the most relaxing travel days of the year. But what this enforced solitude at home means for purposes of this web log is that I caught up on several movies many of you saw months ago.
Time, then, once again for me to provide my pointlessly late opinions.
First up we have Ready Player One. I wished to see this solely in order to watch the Tomb of Horrors scene. It soon appeared that that part of the book did not make it into the script. Though there was an Easter egg reference to it in the form of a graphic on the back of a van later on in the film. My goodwill, however, is not so readily purchased. The virtue, such as it is, of the novel is the borderline fanatical concentration of eighties nostalgia. The film makers, wisely I suppose, endeavored to broaden the appeal by seeding the movie with a wider range of pop culture ephemera. I could see myself watching the movie frame by frame to catalog all the cameos I could recognize: that is, I could see myself doing this had Ready Player One been a better movie. As it is, I can’t see myself watching it again. The cast is generally bland. The story is even less interesting than the novel’s thin plot: of course that is generally inevitable when adapting a long form work such as a novel into a the compressed duration of a film.
Positives? The effects are generally top notch, and the action, though perforce video-gamish, is fun enough. There, I said something nice.
Second was Deadpool 2. Heh-heh. As I near fifty years of age I am relieved to discover fifteen-year old Ken is still alive and well. I will say Deadpool 2 adhered a trifle more to conventional storytelling than did the original. There appeared to be less anarchic fourth-wall breaking. But that is a minor complaint, and one that perhaps might be disproved by a back-to-back comparison. In other words, I could be wrong, shocking as that might be to some of you. If you are in the target audience for this sort of film you’ll enjoy the hell out of it. If not, best to steer clear. I don’t think there’s a lot of middle ground here.
Third up was Avengers: Infinity War. It started off a bit bleak, but soon the humor and playfulness we’ve begun to expect from the Marvel films reasserted itself and I began to enjoy the film. Admittedly it dragged at times, the price the viewers must pay for the apparent requirement to include roles for almost every character shown on screen to date. The ending was also rather bleak, but every viewer over the age of twelve understood it merely as the prelude to the next film Avengers: The Reset Button.
Fourth was Solo: A Star Wars Story. I grew up with Star Wars. For me, other than the initial trilogy of films, Han Solo was defined by the Brian Daley novel trilogy. This character — this slight, feckless, ineffective character — portrayed in Solo wasn’t Han Solo, despite the coincidence in names. Now, with the understanding that this was merely an action-comedy heist film notionally set in the Star Wars universe, Solo is a fun, engaging flick. The acting and the action are both well done. I enjoyed the homage to Firefly in the train heist scene. There is something almost incestuous about it in a meta-fictional sense, given Malcolm Reynolds archetypal descent from Han Solo.
A lot of people hated Solo. I understand that. I guess when it comes right down to it, I don’t care enough about Star Wars to be bothered by what can be viewed as disrespect to beloved characters. So I was able to watch with very low expectations, and the film exceeded them.
Fifth was Ant-Man and the Wasp. This is a masterclass in creating a light, fun, probably forgettable movie. I had a great time watching this. It provided everything I wanted from a superhero movie. It made me laugh. The action scenes were inventive and well-executed. The actors all seemed to be having a good time, with the exception of one of the villains, who would have been fired from the role had she displayed much pleasure. I’d watch this one again.
There you have. All the movie reviews you’ll get from until next time I’m left Home Alone.