March 25, 2016, - 3:38 pm
Wknd Box Office: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Eye in the Sky, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, Creative Control
The new superhero behemoth is the worst of the new movies in theaters this weekend. Among the others, there are some decent choices.
* Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Rated PG-13: As I noted in my Thursday review, this long, confusing bore is a waste of ten-bucks-plus and 2.5 hours of your life you’ll never recover. It’s an uninteresting, dark, messy buildup to a short, ridiculous, barely-explained fight between the two superheroes in the title. Read my complete review.
* Eye in the Sky – Rated R: This is a great movie because it does a great job of showing how liberal bureaucrats and their faux-humanitarian concerns get in the way of the West fighting Islamic terrorists. It captures that so well that I highly recommend it (even though it stars the late Jew-hating, anti-Israel schmuck Alan Rickman, RIH). It’s well-done, even if an important twist to the plot line is contrived and unlikely. The movie is also a great indictment of the liberalism that cripples the British government from being an effective actor (though I think the movie is far too charitable in making the U.S. look tougher than it actually is these days, under Barack Obama–and even earlier, under George W. Bush). Helen Mirren gives her usual excellent performance. Also, with one or two exceptions, the movie doesn’t hedge on who the enemies are: Islamic terrorists.
The story: satellite video and intelligence indicate to British military and government officials that several wanted Islamic terrorists have been located in Southern Kenya and may be planning a terrorist attack. A British colonel (Mirren) wants to bomb them immediately, as does a Brit general (Rickman). But British government officials repeatedly hem and haw and delay to avoid making the decision to take lives (even though the lives are those of documented Islamic terrorists who’ve planned and executed terrorist attacks). The movie explores the ethics of using drones and shows that with each ridiculous delay, the situation becomes more and more dangerous and risky.
One particularly liberal (and repulsive) British government official, a woman, is straight out of ACLU central casting. She objects to bombing the terrorist location for every reason she can come up with. First, it’s that the terrorists are not an imminent threat and need to be captured and given a trial (which isn’t possible). Then, when bomb vests are shown and it’s obvious a terrorist attack by these individuals is imminent, the woman insists that because some of the terrorists are British and American citizens, they cannot be assassinated.
When the decision is finally made to strike, a young Muslim girl is now outside the compound, selling bread. The girl just so happens to be the daughter of “enlightened, liberal” Muslim parents who allow her to play with a hula hoop and learn math, both of which are forbidden by the local Muslim terrorists controlling the area. This is the contrivance–in fact, the deceit–of this movie. What are the odds that a “cute, enlightened, moderate” Muslim girl would be outside a terrorist compound selling bread? Hint: they aren’t very good odds. In fact, usually, fellow scumbags and terrorists are outside the terrorist compound. Or Muslims who morally support the terrorists. Or a Muslim girl who is taught by her hateful Muslim parents to hate America, not to hula hoop. And, sadly, the people who run this country often care more about sparing these America-haters’ lives than our own.
What I think is accurate in this film–in addition to the frustrating idiocy of liberal government bureaucrats–is that the American military officers who are to perpetrate the strikes (one of them is played by Aaron Paul) are very sad and filled with anguish over risking the girl’s life. Unfortunately, our Muslim enemies have no such humanity or sympathies.
The movie was nail-biting suspenseful throughout, and incredibly frustrating. Also, I was fascinated by the technological details (I hope the enemy doesn’t learn too much from this, if it’s accurate), such as the mini-drone, made to look like a tiny insect, which is flown inside the home where the terrorists are meeting and films them. That was very cool.
I did not like that the movie made it look like American officials had no problem with the strikes and were very anxious to go forward. That’s the way it should be, but we know that American liberal policy under both Obama and Bush actually rules the day. So, we often don’t effectuate such strikes, to avoid hitting women and children, etc. Take the opportunity we had to strike Osama Bin Laden under the George W. Bush Administration. But Bush didn’t want to hit other guests of Bin Laden–supporters who were Gulf State royalty (as if they had some sort of innocence or merited protection when they hung out with this murderer of Americans). Yes, unfortunately, we are often as bad as the British bureaucrats in this movie.
I also didn’t like that the late friend and enabler of Islamic terrorism, Alan Rickman, plays a courageous, bold fighter of Islamic terrorism (with great, tough dialogue, especially at the end of the film). That’s not irony. It’s BS.
Still, this movie really captured the outrageous, ludicrous handicaps, nonsense, and frustrations the West needlessly imposes upon itself in fighting the enemy. And making it an ineffective, losing fight.
Watch the trailer . . .
* My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 – Rated PG-13: To say I didn’t like the original My Big Fat Greek Wedding is an understatement. So, 14 years later, I expected to hate this sequel. But, while some of it is really dumb and some of the jokes are gross or fall flat, I laughed a lot and was mildly entertained by this. It’s not bad. And, guys, if you must take your significant other to a chick flick, this is one of the most bearable ones. Plus, where else will you hear Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” sung in Greek? That said, if I were Greek or they made a movie like this about Jews, I’d be offended.
While the movie (made by Greeks) is about a traditional, immigrant Greek family, it could be–like it’s first installment–about any ethnic immigrant family to America, still green and feeling its way around American culture, while trying to hold on to old world values, mores, and idiosyncracies. And about half of the actors playing Greeks in this movie are Jewish or Italian or from some other ethnic background. SCTV alumna Andrea Martin, who is of Armenian descent, is the real star of this, reprising her role as Aunt Voula. She’s hilarious. Without her, the movie would mostly sink. Also good is Mark Margolis (Margolis is a Jewish surname, not Greek), whom you might remember from “Breaking Bad” as the old Mexican gangster in the wheelchair who helps blow up drug kingpin Gus.
The setting of the movie is nearly two decades after the original takes place. Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos, who also wrote this and, along with Tom Hanks and his Greek wife Rita Wilson, executive-produced it) is back. But now, she and her “white bread” American husband Ian (John Corbett), are the parents of Paris (the beautiful Elena Kampouris), who is nearly 18 and applying to colleges (all while she is embarrassed by her “boater” family). Her parents and the rest of the extended family want her to stay in Chicago. Also, Toula and Ian are trying to bring back the romance to their marriage. At the same time, Toula’s parents (Lainie Kazan, also Jewish, and Michael Constantine) discover that they are not legally married under the Greek Orthodox church because the priest who married them back in Greece, never signed the marriage certificate. Now, they must decide if they want to get married again to make it legit.
Throughout all of this, Aunt Voula (Martin) dispenses her very blunt, hilarious advice. Also Toula’s dad (Constantine) asserts that virtually all of Western civilization came from Alexander the Great, and he tries to prove he’s Alexander’s descendant.
Not a “great” movie, or even the best comedy I’ve ever scene. Not even close. But it’s light and entertaining, fun stupidity. Relative to most chick flicks, this one is cute and funny. And you needn’t have seen the first one to fully appreciate this one.
Watch the trailer . . .
* Creative Control – Rated R: This independent, low-budget movie is produced by Amazon.com and Mark Cuban’s Magnolia Pictures. It was not screened for critics, so I went to see it on my own. It’s high on style, less so on story. But, still, it does have a slightly interesting concept and story idea, though the execution of those isn’t as interesting. The movie also moves slowly with very little payoff at the end. I definitely wouldn’t pay ten bucks to see this (and didn’t have to–the theater I went to lets me see movies free, as a member of the Detroit Film Critics Society). The movie probably isn’t for anyone 60 or over, and it has stark sexual themes.
This movie takes place in the future in Brooklyn. The movie is mostly filmed in black and white for a reason: so that virtual reality features, functions, and AI creations can stand out in color. David (Benjamin Dickinson, who also wrote and directed this) is an executive at a pretentious hipster New York ad agency. He and his girlfriend Juliette (Nora Zehetner), a yoga teacher, are bored and complacent in their relationship and their lives. David has a thing for his best friend, Wim’s fashion designer girlfriend Sophie (Alexia Rasmussen). Wim (Dan Gill) is a fashion photographer and isn’t faithful to Sophie. He’s cheating on her with the models he shoots.
One day, David is assigned to an account for a company that produces virtual reality glasses (a la Google glass). He begins using the glasses and soon creates a female virtual reality lover with the face of Sophie and the body he himself designs. And the virtual sexual affair begins. In the meantime, Dan is also trying to have a real-life affair with Sophie. While she seems slightly receptive, the virtual reality version is much more receptive.
As Dan has his virtual reality affair with the image created via the glasses, Dan and his real-life live-in girlfriend Juliette grow apart. And things being to fall apart for Dan at work and in his social life, too. Dan is assigned to make an ad campaign for the glasses using real-life avant-garde hip-hop/soul artist and actor Reggie Watts. But Watts is all over the place and doesn’t make something that is usable. Plus Dan, obsessed with his virtual reality life, isn’t on top of things.
Dan falls further and further into an addiction with his virtual reality love and it ruins all other aspects of his life. Or does it?
The movie’s sudden ending is fine. I like that kind of thing when it’s done right. It’s just that this movie wasn’t that great leading up to the ending. And I felt like, “Is that all there is?” when I walked out.
Again, the ideas here are interesting (especially as virtual reality becomes more and more a part of our lives). The execution of those ideas, not so much.
Watch the trailer . . .