Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

Sorry To Bother You – A Fascinating Mess

Posted 28 Jul 2018 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead 

Sorry to Bother You, USA, 2018

Written and Directed by Boots Riley

It is often lamented by casual movie fans that “Hollywood has run out of ideas.” In fact, the seeming lack of originality in the mainstream movie pool has more to do with a fear of taking chances on those new ideas, which certainly do exist. Why gamble when you can pretty much guarantee a huge opening weekend with a sequel to, or adaptation of, an already beloved existing property? With that in mind, it’s rather amazing that this debut feature from writer-director Boots Riley, a founding member of legendary Hip-Hop group The Coup, ever got greenlit. I mean this in both a good way – because Sorry to Bother You is full of original ideas, sharp satire, and great performances – and in a somewhat more negative way, because it often feels so overstuffed with interesting concepts that it can’t possibly come together as a wholly satisfying, coherent narrative.  Read More

Surprise Dinosaurs! Can Make Any Movie Better

Posted 14 Jul 2018 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay

By Ezra Stead

On the cult-classic two-season animated sitcom The Critic (R.I.P.), one of the half-dozen or so fake movie clips recycled in the opening credits throughout the series depicts a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers-style black-and-white ballroom dancing scene suddenly interrupted by a full-color Tyrannosaurus Rex devouring the dancing couple. The show’s protagonist, Jay Sherman (voiced by Jon Lovitz), responds with his usual catchphrase (“It stinks!”), but every time this particular clip comes up, I can’t help but think he’s dead wrong about it. That would clearly be one of the greatest movies ever made, because nothing can improve literally any movie like the sudden, unexpected appearance of a prehistoric creature or two. In other words: surprise dinosaurs!  Read More

Kong: Skull Island – A Big-Budget Sandbox

Posted 29 Mar 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

Kong: Skull Island, USA, 2017

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Nothing can destroy one’s enjoyment of a new movie like anticipation, and this type of (sometimes) misplaced enthusiasm is never more likely to occur than when it is attached to a new version of a beloved property. As excited as audiences might have been about, say, Jurassic Park in 1993, the anticipation for its sequel a few years later was bound to be even higher, leaving open the road for diminishing returns down which that particular franchise has been barreling ever since. 60 years before that first Jurassic movie, there was a little black-and-white classic without which Spielberg’s masterpiece likely never would have come to exist; that, of course, was the original King Kong, and if you’re not a pretty huge fan of that one, I’m kind of surprised you’re even reading this.

Needless to say, going into Kong: Skull Island, I had mixed feelings of hope and despair, balancing out to a sort of cautious optimism. Kong’s last big-screen outing, at the hands of Peter Jackson and company in 2005, was certainly reverent of the source material and technically impressive overall, if perhaps over-ambitious, and certainly a bit bloated at over three hours. Luckily, Skull Island has all the technical prowess of its predecessor with none of the awkward self-seriousness. It is a wildly entertaining romp from start to finish, and without a doubt my second-favorite Kong movie yet (I’m pretty sure most fans of the 1976 version are really just fans of young Jessica Lange).  Read More

Ezra’s Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2016

Posted 22 Feb 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

Well, here we are again, folks! Every year since 2001, I’ve made it my self-imposed obligation to see at least 100 new movies (104 in 2016) and then attempt to rank my ten (or more) favorite ones against one another. Notice I didn’t say these were the “best” movies of the year, but my favorite ones; the distinction is important, lest anyone mistakenly expect a shred of objectivity herein.

Anyway, this year, in the interest of championing underdogs and holding a light to some movies you might not have been constantly hearing about since November or so, I have decided to exclude any of the Academy’s Best Picture nominees from my top ten. If you want to know how I felt about those films, you can find my favorites, unranked, in the Honorable Mentions just below the main list, and if you want to know more than that, there’s always the annual MoviesIDidntGet.com Oscars Podcast, which you can listen to on this very site, very soon.  Read More

Toning Down The Terror – Stephen King At The Movies

Posted 01 Nov 2016 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay

By Ezra Stead 

carrieFew authors in the 20th century (or any time, for that matter) have been more frequently adapted for the movies than Maine’s favorite son, Stephen King. This Halloween season, instead of presenting a cross-section of my month’s viewing as I have in years past, I thought I’d offer a look at some (not nearly all) of those movie adaptations and the ways in which certain elements were changed from page to screen. More importantly, we’ll be exploring why those elements were changed (at least, to the best of my speculation). Specifically, many of these movies tend to tone down two things: violence (especially directed at children) and overtly supernatural elements.

SpoilerAlertLet’s start from the beginning. Carrie was King’s first published novel and, within two years’ time, the first movie adaptation of his work. Brian De Palma’s 1976 film is still the best adaptation that has been made of the book, and one of the best of all S.K. movies in general. However, even bloody Mr. De Palma softened the blow of Carrie’s destructive rampage a bit, though probably more for budgetary reasons than anything else. In the movie, we see Carrie burn down her school and blow up a car on her way home, but in the book she pretty much destroys the whole goddamn town on that walk home. The novel actually includes an official body count of 409, “with 49 still listed as missing,” which seems significantly higher than what we see in the movie. Read More

Ezra’s Top 10 Favorite Movies Of 2015

Posted 27 Feb 2016 — by Ezra Stead
Category Animation, Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

This is always a difficult thing to do, and this year, just like every other year, I left out plenty of movies I really like, even from the Honorable Mentions. This is a particularly interesting year in that I actually really like all the Oscar nominees that I’ve seen, which is relatively rare for me. Anyway, of the 107 new movies from 2015 I managed to see in time for this list, these are my (completely subjective) favorites.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a movie in the glorious pulp tradition of Robert E. Howard and Heavy Metal magazine, but it never feels derivative, even of its own source material1. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – it’s always a treat to have really high expectations for a movie and then to see them exceeded. George Miller’s return to the wasteland of his career-defining trilogy is a perfect example of this phenomenon. The first time I saw it, though, Fury Road appeared to only meet my expectations, a rare enough feat in its own right. It was the second viewing that made me realize that this was not only my favorite movie of the year, but also my favorite Mad Max movie, and quite possibly my favorite movie of the last two decades. Then I saw it three more times in the space of about two weeks, and I noticed something new about it every single time. The rich, detailed world-building not only rewards but demands multiple viewings, and it’s a testament to Miller’s craft that the movie doesn’t rely on a lot of expository dialogue and other hand-holding devices to make sure the audience can keep up. Max Rockatansky’s world of “fire and blood” has its own language that is every bit as evocative and original as its eye-popping visuals: War Boys, Blood Bags, Bullet Farms, etc. This is a movie in the glorious pulp tradition of Robert E. Howard and Heavy Metal magazine, but it never feels derivative, even of its own source material (The Road Warrior being the original Mad Max movie it most closely resembles). What seems to be overlooked in all the talk about its incredible visual effects and stuntwork (which makes a better case than any movie I can think of for an Oscar category devoted to the people who risk their lives to make movies awesome) is the quality of the writing and performances. Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult are especially great, but there is also a surprising tenderness and depth to Tom Hardy’s performance as Max, a man of few words and great stoicism, and Melissa Jaffer managed to break my heart with just a few minutes of screen time as the Keeper of the Seeds. Critics and skeptics say this movie is just one long chase scene, which is reductive, but even if that were strictly true, complaining about that misses the point of how amazing it is that a movie this compelling could be made from a single long chase. Others might say it doesn’t belong in the Best Picture Oscar race because it’s not serious and important enough, but its themes of feminism and environmentalism are extremely relevant; they’re just not belabored to the point of didacticism. Fury Road’s vision of the destruction of the Old World, in which water was plentiful and “everyone had a show,” seems all too plausible, despite its over-the-top visual antics, and there’s a funny/scary comparison to be made between the film’s main villain, Immortan Joe, and a certain current Presidential candidate. I have no doubt this movie will ride eternal in Valhalla, shiny and chrome. It is perfect in every way.  Read More

The Unearthing – A Student Film Makes Waves In Minnesota

Posted 15 Feb 2016 — by Jason A. Hill
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

maxresdefaultThe Unearthing, directed, produced, edited, and flat-out hustled by Tristan James Jensen, is a coming-of-age, supernatural discovery film done on a shoestring budget that surprised a lot of filmgoers at this year’s Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Film Festival. The movie stars local actors Riley Yearly, Angelina Masciopinto, and Kaleb Miller. It was filmed on location in Stillwater, Minnesota. You can watch the trailer here.

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