National Treasure

What’s not to like about National Treasure? This one breaks the spirit of the List a little, since I have seen this movie multiple times are remember it fairly well. But also I like it a lot, and didn’t have the heart to reject it when it was suggested. So here we are!

This is a really fun historical heist movie. The DaVinci Code, eat your heart out. I have actually not seen many Nick Cage movies, so this one (and Lord of War) is the foundation for my appreciating of his particular brand of acting. It’s the good shit.

Good:

  • I’m going to steal the Declaration of Independence
  • Using said Declaration as a bulletproof shield
  • Using fire around ancient crumbling documents
  • Rotting wooden stairways that break slowly for the heroes and IMMEDIATELY for bald assholes
  • LIGHTING MYSTERIOUS SUBSTANCE ALIGHT IN ROOM FULL OF CRUMBLING DOCUMENTS

Bad:

  • You don’t hear the bald asshole hit the ground
  • Riley drives on the grass at the end like a fucking barbarian
  • Sean Bean didn’t die

The Mummy & The Mummy Returns

The recommendation for tonight was The Mummy Returns, but watching a sequel as a standalone movie just seems like bad practice, so I decided to watch the two back to back. First up: The Mummy.

I had apprehensions about watching The Mummy Returns. I thought that maybe the movie would be gruesome or scary, but it wasn’t either of those things – creepy at points, but an adventure story at its roots. This movie was one of the reasons my List watching project for so long – I didn’t want to watch this franchise. I was avoiding it. That was totally not justified apprehension.

Good:

  • Dual wielding pistols
  • Good animation on the mummy, especially for the time when this came out. Not what I expected.
  • Smart lady characters who are the only one who can figure out whats going on are a weakness of mine
  • Winston Havelock
  • To be fair to the Mummy, that’d distract me too
  • Literally riding off into the sunset

Bad:

  • Presumably experienced librarian makes really stupid rookie mistake and destroys the entire library
  • Really poor artifact handling practices
  • Scarab-based body horror
  • Flying low to escape a sandstorm seems like objectively the wrong choice
  • Why are treasure rooms always such a goddamn mess?

And then, the Mummy Returned. The protagonists of the last movie, apparently not having learned his lesson from the last movie, are still fucking around in ancient Egyptian burial sites.

This franchise really didn’t need a lore expansion. The first movie was weird, but self contained. If there had been some hints of some of the meta-plot and wider scope worked into the first movie, I’d be less bothered by the sudden expansion of the scope of weirdness. But this is a modern idea, so it isn’t quite right to expect it from these movies – blame Marvel, basically.

They also really didn’t explain why the Mummy wasn’t permanently destroyed at the end of the last movie. Whatever.

Good:

  • And so the dark god accepted, because mortal souls are both tasty and full of fiber and B vitamins
  • Henchmen with really henchman-y accents
  • Those pillars fell over just like the shelves in the lib- ooooooh.
  • The fights are still properly bombastic (this style grew on me during the first movie)
  • Little mummies

Bad:

  • I’m sure the magic visions will totally be explained to my satisfaction
  • They never wanted anyone to find this, let’s open it
  • Just for once, I’d like it to be the male half of the leading duo that gets kidnapped
  • ‘Just because I’m a kid, doesn’t mean I’m stupid’. Uh, yes it does, sorry
  • CGI monster kissing
  • Stormtrooper-level aim (unless your character is named, and then you can’t miss)
  • Character death that came out of nowhere and served literally no purpose other than momentary man pain

Bonus Round: (500) Days of Summer

This movie made me laugh a lot, because most of the jokes were absolutely at the expense of people like me. And I appreciate that. I gave up lying to myself about the nature of my foolishness a long time ago. And the fact that Tom is much worse than me (I fucking hope) helps that as well.

I went from Sweet!bitter on the 50cm bonus round to Bitter!sweet in 500 Days, and it was rough. But it was good. I have a lot of other thoughts about this, but they are all just a little too close to home, so suck it up cupcake, ’cause I ain’t sharing.

Good:

  • I lost my shit and laughed aloud at the top of my lungs at the opening dedication. Perfect.
  • Lemony Snickett style narration.
  • Zooey Deschanel
  • The lady dothn’t.
  • ‘No jobs, I’m still unemployed.’
  • Han Solo reflection
  • I didn’t know most of the music in the soundtrack, but it had that classic feel that I appreciate regardless
  • Tom was right.

Bad:

  • This is why I never want to go to an open mic karaoke bar
  • I guess its only a walk of shame if you aren’t a dude
  • Wisdom of the ages from the younger sibling (this is Bad because I’m pretty sure she’s right)
  • It’s a free country
  • Denial
  • Infinite cringe
  • Look at camera, roll credits

Juno

I’m pretty sure that I had decided before watching Juno that I didn’t like it. It wasn’t a conscious thing, but in retrospect I was definitely not looking forward to watching this movie. Which is probably why its been a month since I watched a List movie, come to think of it. I was wrong though – Juno was a pleasant surprise.

So many of the characters in this movie seemed like archetypal caricatures at first glance. Every time a new person came on screen, I made that first impression snap judgement, and the movie consistently spent about five minutes allowing me to think my assumption was right before beginning to add nuance to them and make them into a real person. It was a neat trick, and I’m a sucker for falling for it literally every time.

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Good:

  • The store clerk has a very punchable face. And voice. And manner.
  • Hamburger phone
  • McMansion Montage
  • I kept looking for a character to hate but couldn’t find one
  • ‘When will you guys learn that tots can’t ice skate?’

Bad:

  • ‘Honest to blog’
  • Michael Cera, as that one character Michael Cera always plays.
  • Ding Dong Ditch
  • ‘Thunder cats are go!’

A Scanner Darkly

At first, I wasn’t sure I liked the gimmick of this movie, the veneer of cell shaded animation over the top of film. But, I got used to it, and overall it fits the tone and fuzzed perceptions of the main character really well. As stylistic choices go, it was risky but it paid off. I don’t think I would have liked this story nearly as much if it had been presented in live action. It would have been a little too gritty I think, and that is an aspect of heavily drug related movies that usually irks me.

Post production must have been hell though. Obviously this started off as a cell shading filter over film, but there was a lot of handwork in the crafting of the final product, and it shows.

What a plot though. I surmised that this had to have been based off a book – movies this odd are almost always based on a book. Certain things, like the way the camouflage suits work, just don’t get written for screen. Pragmatism gets in the way. Fiction authors are not so restrained.

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Good:

  • Everyone wants the (substance) D.
  • Animated Keanu
  • The one monologue (probably from the book) which had to go into the movie unaltered
  • Grim dystopic twist ending
  • The dedication at the end. Ouch, my feels.

Bad:

  • That is a very complicated way of making someone unidentifiable
  • Cell shaded breasts
  • This might be a third type of stoner movie, somewhere between the two extremes
  • Sex scene in an animated movie

 

Robocop

I think I can see why they wanted to remake this movie. I may not have seen Robocop before tonight, but I definitely knew 90% of the plot and major moments before sitting down to watch this one. Its a touchstone. Of course, remaking something so iconic is risky, and I hear it didn’t work out. Seems like a shame to me.

I like me some near-future cyberpunk dystopia, and this is a good example of it. The world is terrible, and the Evil Corporation is evil, but some regular folks are alright. Not many, but enough. All good tropes of the genre. Though given just how widely know this movie is, I do wonder if any of those genre staples originated here.

The thing that surprised me most is how well all the special effects stand up. I mean sure, they show their age, but they look old without looking bad. They have aged gracefully.

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Good:

  • The future of law enforcement is a terrible murderbot
  • Scientist bedside manner
  • Drum beats for footsteps
  • Fake 90s commercials
  • STAIRS, MY ONLY WEAKNESS

Bad:

  • Body horror
  • If you’re wiping his memory, why bother with organic components at all?
  • Not turning off the malfunctioning cyborg while you have the chance
  • More body horror

10 Things I Hate About You

I’m so glad I wasn’t sober all the way through this movie.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m pretty sure I would have enjoyed it anyway. It was a good movie, with a decent plot, and actors that I recognized (but weird, younger versions of themselves. very off putting in a way). But it is SO VERY 90s, and I’m pretty sure if I’d been watching it with a more critical eye I would have judge it for that.

This film was a played straight high school love story. Several of them even. Now, I’m sure that actually happens. Totally. But it didn’t happen TO ME, so I console myself by tell myself that it is a rare and magical thing. Like unicorns. So sue me.

But, 10 Thing I Hate About You (obviously the title of the poem at the end, by the way) was a lot of fun, to the point where I actively chose to pause it when I was getting distracted by social media so that I didn’t miss the nice guy getting his due (ugh) and the tsun melting (aww). This was a good feel good movie. It appealed to my romantic aspect immensely. Simple fare, but good for it.

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Good:

  • This feminist rant predates tumblr, right?
  • Can you ever just be whelmed?
  • Have you seen the unwashed miscreants that go to that school?
  • I heard he ate a live duck once
  • Don’t ever let anyone ever make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want
  • You know, you’re not as vile as I thought you were
  • Paddle boasting
  • Happy endings

Bad:

  • Budweiser
  • Nice Guy-dom actually working. Fuck you, movie.
  • I’m actually a little sour about the Nice Guy getting the Cute Girl at the end. I mean. It was nice, but I feel like if the this movie were to be made now they’d find an different but equally cute way to end that particular plot thread.

Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer was really fucking cool (if you’ll excuse the pun).

Simple but compelling world set up. Interesting and diverse cast. Excellent and varied action. Beautiful CGI work. I am actually struggling to find more things to write. I have nothing bad to say about this movie, and most of the good things are best experienced rather than talked about. Go watch Snowpiercer.

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Good:

  • Rattling Arc is an excellent name.
  • Oh, I’m bleeding. What does it taste like?
  • Frostbite
  • ‘This is size ten chaos.’
  • I don’t think that fish is really the best way for you to get your point across right now
  • Well, I guess that’s why the movie is called Snowpiercer.
  • ‘We go forward.’
  • Immortal henchman
  • Willy Wonka moment
  • ‘Nice.’

Bad:

  • Worldbuilding by audio newsreel, immediately reiterated by on screen text

Alien

Alien is a slow-burn suspense horror movie, which is usually not my cup of tea. Turns out though, watching this sort of thing with friends and shit talking all the way through it goes a long way to blunting any discomfort I might have otherwise had felt. Who knew?

I do have to recognize that it was well executed though. I’m pretty sure I would have liked Alien even if I had been watching it alone and in the dark – though possibly for different reasons. I know I probably missed one or two reveals and ‘aha’ moments over the course of the movie, at least, and that is the sort of thing that usually redeems suspenseful movies for me.

I quite liked that almost every mistake the crew makes that started and perpetuated their little alien problem are perfectly explainable with ‘its a space truck, these aren’t exactly the best and brightest’. Taken in that context, everything done and said more or less fit together nicely.

Jones

Good:

  • Obligated by law to investigate potential distress beacon
  • I assume that cat was also in stasis
  • Our ship stubbed its toe and now everything is on fire
  • Doctor that doesn’t give a fuck about the risk to the patient once someone else says they’ll take responsibility
  • Eat my drive cone, bitch.
  • Mr Jones lived

Bad:

  • Not immediately leaving as soon as it became clear the ship wasn’t human
  • Not leaving the damn eggs alone
  • Fake out jump scare
  • Actual jump scare
  • WHY IS IT RAINING ON THIS SPACE SHIP
  • Space truck with a self destruct mechanism

Trainspotting

This was not a movie about trains and the watching thereof. I’m not sure if I’m disappointed or relieved.

This is another one in the ‘drugs are fucked up and bad things happen’ genre of movies that I have very mixed feelings about. I mean, I don’t relate to them, at all. No context. But on the other hand, they are always interesting (in either a good way or a bad way). Trainspotting was good because it didn’t spend too long on the surreal (which I tend to tire of quickly), and what trips they did include were more a change of pace rather than just an excuse to put some fucked up bullshit on the screen.

Train-Engine

Good:

  • Suppositories
  • Unintentional statutory rape, followed by blackmail
  • ‘Being Scottish is shite’
  • ‘One thousand years from now there will be no guys or girls- just wankers.’
  • The kitten was fine

Bad:

  • Demon hallucination baby
  • I probably missed about 10% of the dialogue because of how Scottish it was