January 24, 2016, - 12:47 pm
Hope to be back on track with earlier, more timely movie reviews next Friday, but you didn’t miss much in this weekend’s new releases. It’s January, the second pet cemetery for bad movies (the first is August), where Hollywood studios send bad movies to die. Two of the movies are okay, and, ironically, the one not screened for critics isn’t all bad. I did not see “Dirty Grandpa,” which was also not screened for critics, and about which I heard awful things, unless juvenile penis jokes courtesy of Robert De Niro are your thing. As for the rest . . .
* “The 5th Wave” – Rated PG-13: This was yet another post-apocalyptic/dystopian/end-of-days movie of which we’ve seen plenty. Sometimes I like those, sometimes I don’t. This fit more into the former category. It wasn’t bad, and I’m surprised it was released in January.
Chloe Grace Moretz stars as a teen girl in a world taken over by alien space ships, a world in which most humans have died. It begins with Moretz’s character asking how she has quickly become the teen girl who kills to survive, from what was, shortly before that, the girl who was a normal fun-loving, obedient American teen. Then, the movie flash backs to what happened.
First, alien spaceships began to appear in the sky in major cities all over the world. But aliens never descended form them or communicated with humans. Instead, there were “waves” of destruction that followed. First, electricity stopped working (along with cellphones, wifi, etc.), and cars stopped functioning. Not sure how aliens can magically do that, since not all cars are electric, but it’s aliens–so you suspend your disbelief, knowing it’s science fiction. Then, there is a plague of bad weather. Floods and typhoons strike Moretz’s Ohio neighborhood, even though the area is largely landlocked. Tsunami-like tidal waves hit coastal cities and instantly take down skyscrapers and other buildings (though other scenes after this destruction, show the buildings entirely intact–an inconsistency). And, then, there is a plague of disease. Many humans die from illness, including Moretz’s mother.
With her father and younger brother surviving, Moretz’s family goes to a nearby refugee camp where other survivors go. Eventually, U.S. military personnel show up at the camp, stating that the aliens have taken human form and are occupying the woods as snipers to kill the few surviving humans left. Also, the survivors are told, the aliens can’t can’t be detected easily, except among children. The commanding officer, a general played by Liev Schreiber, informs the people that he will take the kids, first, to nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, drop them off, and then come for the adults. At first, I thought this movie was anti-U.S.-military, but when things are explained, that’s actually not the case. As with any good thriller, things are not what they seem. Moretz is rescued and helped by a handsome stranger who is also enigmatic.
I thought the movie was a little violent for the youthful audience at which it’s aimed. That said, there are clear “good versus evil” delineations once the movie progresses and things are explained. So I’d probably let my young teens see it, if I were a parent.
I enjoyed this movie, as it was entertaining, full of action, and has a tightly-crafted story. That said, it isn’t original. We’ve seen this story with slight variations before, and I’m sure we’ll see it again. And like many of those movies, this is based on a series of best-selling young adult novels. This movie ends with more than a hint that the story continues and that sequels will soon be served up. That’s Hollywood.
Watch the Trailer . . .
* “The Boy” – Rated R: This was not screened for critics, usually a bad sign. And there were no Thursday night early showings, an even worse sign. But it wasn’t bad. And as creepy movies go, this was extremely creepy and well done. As scary movies go, it was kind of scary, though I’m jaded because I’ve seen so many allegedly scary movies that very little of what used to make me jump and scream, frightens me anymore. I had an inkling of what was really going on here at some point early on in the movie because, again, I see so many of these that it becomes less difficult to figure out. Still, I thought it was decent for the kind of movie that it is. And I’m surprised they didn’t screen this, as I’ve been “treated” to screenings for many movies that are far worse.
The story: an American woman, Greta (the British Lauren Cohan, who does an English accent well–see her work on “The Walking Dead”), goes to the UK to escape an abusive boyfriend back in Montana. She applies for a nanny job for a couple’s son at their giant mansion in the countryside. When she gets there for the interview, she meets the couple, who are old and seem too old to have a young son. Then, she “meets” the son–a creepy ceramic boy doll. The couple tells her she has all kinds of rules of things she must do for the the son: wake him every morning and dress him, read to him, play music very loudly, feed him, help him learn piano, put him to bed, etc.
Greta thinks the whole thing is ridiculous and finally learns from the local grocery owner (who delivers the food) that the couple’s son died in a fire when he was eight. The couple have dealt with their grief by believing that the boy is this doll that appeared soon after their real son died. While Greta believes the situation is comical, she decides to accept the job and stay to stay away from her violent ex-love back in the States and also to get paid for an easy job of reading to a doll.
Soon, the “parents” of the doll announce they are going on vacation and will leave Greta at the creepy mansion to take care of Brahms (the “boy”/doll). They leave her with a set of rules. Great still believes this is silly, but soon strange things begin happening at the mansion. And, then, she starts believing that the spirit of the dead boy is actually embodied in this doll. The film is a great example of how easily a reasonable person–even a jaded, skeptical one–can be convinced to believe the unbelievable.
This movie was engrossing and entertaining. And you actually suspend belief, unless you figure it all out. Either way, for a creepy, scary movie, this does the trick. And wasn’t that the point?
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Mojave” – Rated PG-13: The storyline for this was a good idea in theory, but not in the way it’s practiced in this boring disaster and complete waste of time.
The story: a successful, wealthy, young movie star (Garrett Hedlund) who drinks, does drugs, and cheats on his wife, is frustrated. So he briefly leaves his Hollywood home to hang out in the Mojave desert. But he drives so erratically that his jeep turns over and he can’t turn it back over. What might have been a quick sojourn turns into an overnight camping trip, though it appears he did plan to spend the night camping, anyway, as he seems to have the necessary supplies. Hedlund builds a campfire and thinks he is alone in the desert on a dark night. But, soon, another man (Oscar Isaac), who seems to be a lone drifter or homeless person, comes upon Hedlund’s camp. He tries to befriend Hedlund and sit at his campfire, but Hedlund doesn’t want that, as he is very suspicious of the stranger. Soon, they are in a physical tussle, which the larger Hedlund wins. And Hedlund gets the drifter’s rifle, pointing it at him and demanding he leave.
Later, Hedlund goes inside a cave of sorts and falls asleep. He wakes up in the morning with a national park ranger or Border Patrol agent looking down at him from the cave, and without thinking, Hedlund shoots the guard with the rifle, instantly killing him. Hedlund, in shock over what he has done and desperate to get away with it and not get caught, flees the desert and gets back to Los Angeles. He leaves the rifle in pieces, except for one wooden portion of it, and he’s careful to wipe his prints off of everything.
But the desert drifter finds Hedlund’s overturned Jeep, and learns who he is from the registration left in the vehicle’s glove compartment. The drifter hitchhikes to Los Angeles, robs and kills a wealthy gay man whom he entices, and then the drifter meets up with Hedlund, blackmailing him . . . or, rather, attempting to.
Nothing really ever happens in this very slow, uninteresting film. It just sits there. And at the end of the movie, you wonder, “Is that all there is?” Sadly, yes, that’s all there is. On the other hand, thank G-d it’s over. 1.5 wasted hours of your life you’ll never get back.
Watch the trailer . . .