The Meg

I have established that I will see Jason Statham in anything. This time, I really just wanted to see him punch a shark in the face.

Does plot really matter for a movie like this? There’s a huge ass prehistoric shark loose in the water because science. There are scientists trying to fight it. Plus there’s Statham. Watery mayhem ensues.

I’m gonna be real with you. This is not a good movie by traditional standards. It’s dumb and predictable, and where it could have gone for a full campy vibe or gory horror story, it plays with safe with a non-committal bland middle ground. These are all things that could have been better.

However, I still really enjoyed myself. What the film gets right is that the sequences are hella suspenseful. And they look pretty good, all things considered. They certainly wanna be seen on the biggest screen possible.

Ultimately, this is one of those movies that you just hafta go with. If you walk in with a critical eye and a cynical view, you’re not gonna be into it. But if you’re expecting some mindless fun with minimal expectations, it can deliver a good time. It’s just never gonna be in the same swimming pool as that first big shark movie…

The Meg – \m/ \m/ \m/

BlacKkKlansman

Did I get the capitalization right in that title? Because Spike Lee got everything so right in this movie, I don’t wanna do anything that’s gonna set him back. Seriously, Sorry to Bother You, Blindspotting, and now BlacKkKlansman, this has been a great summer for black filmmakers, of whom Spike Lee has always been king. But if there’s anything these films are trying to tell us, it’s that there’s still so much work that needs to be done in order to get these voices heard. For me, they’re coming in loud and clear.

Based on a story so absurd it can only be true, John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, a black rookie cop in Colorado trying to head up an undercover investigation. His target? The KKK. He places some calls (eventually reaching as high up as Grand Wizard David Duke, played by Topher Grace) that get him in. But how’s a black guy supposed to meet IRL with Klan? Enter Adam Driver, stepping in for the face to face activities as the rabbit hole goes even deeper than anyone expected.

This is easily Spike Lee’s best film in years. For me, it’ll round out his holy trinity with Do the Right Thing and 25th Hour (totally get that some people might prefer Malcom X over 25th, and that’s cool). The film was expertly crafted around a brilliant screenplay. As we were seeing the Klan events unfold, they were often juxtaposed with Black Panther events, showcasing both sides of the story at once. There were bits of dialog that sounded all too familiar in today’s world, and an epilogue that pulled it all into a current context. Every word and scenario was hard hitting (some may say too heavy handed, but I found it necessary) and so effective.

The cast was also incredible. For someone who I’d never seen on screen before, let alone as a lead, Washington owned that screen (musta picked that up from his daddy Denzel). I think the strongest one though was Adam Driver. I know, I hate to be that (half) white person who calls out accolades for the white dude in the black movie, but his character had a tough arc and he played it out with beautiful subtlety (just as we’ve come to expect from Driver).

I also wanna take a second to talk about Topher Grace. I read some interviews with him, where he discussed his trepidation with the role and his discomfort with the words he said. He approached it all with such reverence and respect, and absolutely trusted his director. He was only able to bring himself to say his hateful words with Spike’s blessing, who told him that saying that dialog ultimately served the message of the movie and was essential. The result was worth it.

I walked out of that film blown away, and even a bit disgusted with humanity. Some scenes (especially that epilogue) just cut right thru my soul, because I hate to believe that people are capable of such hate. I really hope this film starts the conversations it’s trying to initiate because this powerful film is one that this divided world needs right now. I cannot recommend this enough.

BlacKkKlansman – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

The Spy Who Dumped Me

Let’s get right into it before I come up with some other excuse to procrastinate. Mila Kunis gets dumped by her boyfriend, over text on her birthday. Her bestie, Kate McKinnon, encourages her to burn all of his crap left at her apt. He comes back to reclaim an item, chased down by assassins, telling her that the item is important for the security of the world and that it needs to be taken to Amsterdam the next day. Of course these clueless American girls are the best choice to do so, yeah?

The plot is silly. There’s no going around it. However, what it gets right, is the action:comedy ratio. That is one of my favorite genre blends, and it’s tough to get right. I think this one ended up being a pretty even split. The action scenes are great, many of which are done by the stunt team behind James Bond. The real winner tho was the comedy side. And that’s all thanks to one special lady.

Kate McKinnon. We are so not worthy of her. I’ve actually found she’s kinda the deciding factor in whether or not you’ll like the movie. I walked out of there absolutely in awe of her, and I very much enjoyed the movie. Most of the negative reviews I saw on Stardust thought she was too much or otherwise couldn’t get behind her. I just thought this was a great vehicle for her to do what she does best.

I actually saw this with a group of my co-workers, and I was terrified that it was gonna be a horrible movie and no one would like it. I felt kinda relieved when I thought no one was gonna show, and then had a minor internal freakout when I found out our group was gonna be as big as six (on the larger side for these outings). Turns out, I needn’t have worried because it was smiles all around coming out of the theater. The humor was very clever and it broke thru even some of the harsher critics in the group. I’ll take that girl power.

The Spy Who Dumped Me – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n

Christopher Robin

Okay so Christopher Robin has grown up to be Ewan McGregor and he hasn’t thought about Pooh or his other furry friends in years. Then Pooh shows up in London, asking for help in finding his pals that are lost somewhere in the Hundred Acre Wood. Workaholic Christopher now has to put aside the big project he’s trying to complete (that he’s always pushed his family away for) in order to return to his childhood playground.

That paragraph certainly got less and less original as it went on, didn’t it? That’s kinda how I felt thru the movie. Interesting starting point, but then it didn’t go anywhere interesting. It was all cliche and unoriginal. I was so bored.

As a Disney kid, I get that these characters are sacred to some. Personally, they haven’t been too high up my list (although my Mom insisted on buying me a ton of Eeyore crap back when I had an Eeyore cell phone case). But yeah, if these critters are meaningful to you, then their cute antics might be enough. I need more than that tho. Especially when it comes to the House of Mouse, I expect a lot more. This just felt lazy.

Christopher Robin – \m/ \m/

Mission Impossible: Fallout

You know what’s impossible? Being the sixth film in a franchise and still maintaining the momentum and quality that’s brought the series this far. You know who can do the impossible? Tom Cruise.

Does it even matter what trouble Ethan Hunt has gotten himself into? The fun is in watching him try and get out of it. I will say, this is more of a direct sequel to Rogue Nation than the stand alone style that this series has previously held. It’s also our first repeat director (Christopher Mcquarrie) so that’s prolly got something to do with it.

The reason to watch one of these films is the stunts. What makes the M:I movies stand out in this space is that we’ve got practical stunts AND Tom does the work himself (I gripped my pillow–I was at a fancy theater with blankets and pillows–so tightly when we got to the stunt where he broke his ankle). As a result, it looks and feels more real than any of those other action flicks out there. These sequences are well crafted, showing that our filmmakers are thoughtful and also highlighting the intelligence of our hero. Sure, Ethan is winging it sometimes, but the ones that he’s planned out are brilliant.

I really don’t know that there’s much else to say on this. Again, you watch these for the action, and the action is as good as it gets.

Mission Impossible: Fallout – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n

The Equalizer 2

Sometimes I watch movies out of a misplaced sense of obligation. I just feel like I have to watch a particular movie, even if I’m not excited about it. I’ve been getting better about letting those go, but when I’m staring at too much of the weekend stuck at home (don’t get me wrong, I do need a lot of couch time to recharge) it’s tougher to skip the movie outing. I love me some Denzel and genre wise this should be my kinda thing, but I didn’t care for the slog of the first movie and the buzz wasn’t good. I got to the theater really not wanting to be there. Aaaaand then I proceeded to fall asleep for the first hour of the film.

So I can’t entirely tell you what this was about, only that it had to do with Denzel going after some bad guys cause they were bad or something. There was a teen he took under his wing, which gave him a few scenes to show off his acting skillz. But it was mostly him going after bad guys.

Even though I slept thru the entire set up, I was still able to pick up on what was happening. Turns out, not a whole lot. Chatting with some Stardust friends, it sounds like that set up was a drag to get thru anyways. My nap allowed me to cut right to the payoff, and it wasn’t that great of a payoff. Some slow burn suspense, but nothing extraordinary and all entirely predictable.

It’s prolly unfair to rate this film, but what the heck, it’s my block and I’ll do what I want.

The Equalizer 2 – \m/ \n

Teen Titans Go! to the Movies

I’ve never seen the tv show, so I was intrigued that the film would give me a chance to check this out. Then the trailer dropped, and I was completely unimpressed. The humor was just too juvenile for me (understandable since this is aimed directly at the younglings). So I was ready to pass. Then the buzz started pouring in, and people were raving about how hilarious it was. Specifically they were saying how meta and self aware it is, and how much it makes fun of superhero movies–DC in particular. Now you’ve got my attention.

Robin and his gang of titan teens seem to always be on the outside of the superhero world. What they really want more than anything is their own movie (all the other supes have them), but first they need to be taken seriously. And in order to be taken seriously, they hafta find a nemesis.

Now there were some brilliant moments of satire in this film. However, that wasn’t enough for me. It turns out my initial instincts were right. The rest of the film ended up being really ADHD kids stuff, and I wanted to claw my eyes out (didn’t help that my limbs were super sore, presumably from yoga, so I really wanted to run outta there). And I get that that’s what this series is, and it’s just not meant for me, and that’s cool.

I was actually sitting behind this little kid with his dad. The kid was eating up every second of the film. He was cheering and laughing and clapping and having the time of his life. I found him far more entertaining than the film itself. As heartwarming as that scene was, I personally related more to the mom who walked in late. She was guiding her daughter forward with one hand and holding a giant glass of white wine in the other. I know how you feel wine mom. You had the right idea.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies – \m/ \m/

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

My my how can I resist ya? It’s ten years later in real time, lord only knows how much in movie time (I was struggling to figure that out), and we’re back with a sequel to the discotastic musical.

Does the plot of this matter? The writers seemed to think they needed to cram a whole lot of plot in there, and it mostly seemed forced. We had flashbacks to matriarch Donna’s hot and wild summer of ’79, where she met the three fathers of lovely Sophie. Meanwhile in the present(ish) day, Sophie is reopening Donna’s dream hotel a year after her death, and things are going badly.

Yeah, I was right, plot doesn’t matter. A movie like this is about the musical numbers. The better known songs made for better production numbers, especially the ones that had big choreography. The rest, just fell flat.

The performances were good (I saw a review that basically referred to this as celebrity karaoke). Well, most of them were good. I didn’t feel too thrilled about the flashback boys, and didn’t sense any chemistry between them and flashback Donna. She, however, was incredible. I found myself rather captivated by Lilly James, who I’ve previously been rather ambivalent about. Otherwise, the rest of our A list cast brought their A game as expected, but it was just that: expected.

Oh and they didn’t utilize the Greek Chorus the same way as before. They were just generic background dancers, so that was a bummer.

For the most part, yeah it was fun, but I think this can be categorized as yet another unnecessary sequel.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again – \m/ \m/ \m/

Blindspotting

Sometimes the best movies are the most unexpected ones. I’d made a last minute switch in my plans to prioritize Blindspotting. Something about the film (Daveed Diggs maybe?) just drew me to it (even if the trailer didn’t do much for me). I’m so grateful I went because this turned out to easily be one of the best movies of the year. I can already predict it’ll be a good contender for my top five come December.

Daveed Diggs (who also wrote this film with real life BFF and costar Rafael Casal) is a convicted felon with three days left on his probation. On his way home, he witnesses a white cop kill an unarmed black man. He struggles to process this as he works at his moving company job with his bestie, while dealing with the gentrification of his Oakland neighborhood, and just trying to keep his head down and complete this time.

This has to be the best screenplay of the year so far. It’s so smart and slick and funny. The humor is an incredible tool that unsettles you, and then drives home what it’s really trying to say. And oh man, is this movie trying to say something. A lot of somethings actually. There are so many important conversations that this film is trying to start, and like our protagonist, it’s bursting with thoughts and emotions and tensions.

There’s this one scene towards the end that everything has built towards that is one of the most powerful scenes I’ve ever experienced. I literally moved to the edge of my seat and held my breath as I watched Daveed spit out the words he’d been holding in for the whole film. But really, it’s something he’s been holding in for his whole life. It shows, and it’s powerful

Blindspotting – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

I don’t know why I was so insistent on seeing this. Okay, I know why. I love anything involving vampires, and this found family of monsters are so cute. The billboards and trailer and posters are total cute overload.

After two films in the monster hotel (I don’t know if I ever even saw the second one) Dracula, Mavis, Frank, Blobby, Murray Mummy and the whole rest of the gang (I don’t know that I can even name them) head out for a monster cruise. Unbeknownst to them, the woman running the cruise is the descendant of Van Helseing, and is hellbent on destroying all monsters. To make matters worse, Dracula zings on her (monster-speak for love at first bite, er, sight)

As far as the cute, it delivered. There were moments here and there that I loved, mostly sprinkled in between the jokes for the kids. It didn’t have much else to offer besides that. At some point, the film remembered it had a story it was trying to tell, and it just wasn’t as interesting as the individual moments. Kids in the audience seemed to like it. Adults seemed to endure it.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation – \m/ \m/