Review: Logan

It is well publicized that Logan is the last time Hugh Jackman plays Wolverine.  It is less well known that Logan also marks the end of the original X-Men movie timeline started in year 2000 (assuming we’re not watching a parallel universe).

Previously, X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) felt somewhat shallow despite the CG spectacle, but this movie is a good drama with an emotional core – however, that comes at a huge price.  At the beginning, we’re told most of the mutants are already dead in 2029.  Wolverine takes care of the old and mentally deteriorating Prof. Xavier.  A girl with powers exactly like Wolverine shows up and is hunted by an evil corporation.  What follows is brutal and is unlike any of the previous X-Men movie at all.

I thought The Dark Knight (2008) was really dark, but Logan surpasses it to become tragic.

Note: There should be an extra scene before the movie.  However, in my place, there is no extra scene before and after the movie.

Review: Passengers

Passengers (Blu-ray release 2017-3-14) trailer shows a man and a woman woke up 90 years early from hibernation in their space journey, with no one else except an android bartender, and no way to go back to hibernate.  Unfortunately, the trailers hid an early twist that ruined the romance developed in this movie.  The screenwriter made a really bad decision – without it this is merely an average movie, but with it this becomes an unacceptable story.  Note: many reviews spoil it.

Review: The Girl with All the Gifts

The Girl with All the Gifts (Blu-ray release 2017-1-23) is a zombie movie that is unlike any other.  The protagonist is a clever second-generation zombie child who tries to suppress her human-eating instinct, and help her beloved teacher and others survive in an apocalyptic world.

The originality of this plot is what makes it fresh.  The pacing is good, and there is sufficient tension in several zombie attack scenes.  The ending is interestingly unconventional but fits the theme of its evolutionary view of human and zombies.  In particular, it achieves what I Am Legend (2007) failed to – the actual meaning of the title of the latter movie.  Considering the relatively little budget this movie has, it looks excellent and is a truly worthy zombie movie, with the exception of the simplistic style of make up for zombies.

Review: The Lobster

The Lobster (Blu-ray release 2016-8-2) is a drama with a unique setting: every single adult is sent to a “hotel” and given 45 days to find a romantic partner, or gets transformed into an animal.  At the other extreme, those people who escaped from the hotel form a group which disallows any romantic relationship.

This movie is intriguing primarily because of this setting.  The second cause is that some characters are very odd – that includes the protagonist, who chooses to make bad decisions that clearly normal people would not make.  Unfortunately, the plot depends on such stupidity to move forward.  The ending does not make sense from a practical point of view.

Review: Manchester by the Sea

In Manchester by the Sea (Blu-ray release 2017-2-21), the will of the brother of the protagonist specifies him to be the guardian of his nephew, who lives in Manchester.  He does not want to move back to his hometown because of something happened before – which we eventually find out through a series of flashbacks.

As a movie about grief, despair and guilt, it does an incredibly good job of injecting humor into it.  In some ways this helps, because otherwise the tone could become even more depressing than it already is.  This is most certainly not my type of entertaining movie.  In spite of universal acclaim, it violates my rule for movies – if a problem is brought up, it needs to be solved.  To me, the alternative means that it achieves absolutely nothing.

P.S. Winner of Academy Award for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay

Review: Mission Milano (偷天特務)

偷天特務 Mission Milano (Blu-ray release 2017-1-12) is yet another Hong Kong / Chinese movie made up of scenes of comedy, close combat fights, along with a few cleavages, joined together by some kind of senseless and forgettable plot.

This time it’s about a scientist having invented a “seed of god” which can grow into a fake CG fruit tree on sand or sofa in no time.  For reasons I fail to comprehend, this is something that threatens the world.  The bad guys steal it, and our protagonists try to get it back and thereby saving the world.  We even get a Resident Evil (2002) style laser hallway.  Although the plot and the action sequences are nothing to write home about, at least there are a few jokes that work.

Review: Death Race 2050

Death Race 2050 (Blu-ray release 2017-1-17) is reportedly more similar to the Death Race 2000 (1975) than the Death Race (2008) remake.  Not having watched the 1975 original, I found the 2008 remake and its sequels to be reasonably entertaining.  I was wrong to expect this movie to be similar.

This movie is a political satire, and reintroduces the rule of killing pedestrians to gain points – an idea dropped from the the remake.  In terms of fun, car designs, plot, excitement and characters I find this movie to be generally unsatisfactory.  Its production quality is very low – it seems to me that swimming goggles are used as VR device in 2050.  The AI car is incredibly dumb.  Someone compared this to Hunger Games, I think that’s an insult to the latter.

Review: Corpse Party: Book of Shadows Movie

The Corpse Party: Book of Shadows (Blu-ray release 2017-1-11) follows directly from the original movie.  One of the survivors has a sister, who happen to know many secrets about the school in the alternate dimension, happen to be able open an inter-dimensional hole to go there, happen to be able to incant something that drive monsters away, and happen to have an actual bone of the little girl who created the whole curse.

The survivors decide to use the bone to go back to the school and travel back in time in the hope of saving everyone.  Since this is a slasher horror movie, it would not be a spoiler to say that all this means is that we get to watch the people die again, at slightly different times and in slightly different and less interesting manners.  If this sounds dull, yes it is.  So the movie adds two new antagonists – the major one is far less fearsome than those in the previous movie, the other one should be more powerful but have little screen time.

In spite of the Book of Shadows being in the title of the movie, its subplot does not begin until near the end of the movie.  I can only say this subplot is as much a disappointment as the rest of the movie is.  Although the previous movie had a relatively rich story, the new elements introduced in the sequel are just senseless.  The movie also inserts shots of fake gore that have no relation to the plot.

Review: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls (Blu-ray release 2017-3-28) look like a fantasy fairy tale but it really is not.  It is about a poor boy who has to face his mother’s terminal illness, and has constant nightmares about his mother dying.  To make things worse, he’s lonely, has no friends, is bullied in school, his father only sees him occasionally after divorce, and his grandmother does not seem to be nice.

For those who appreciate this subject, this movie may be good in its lesson about facing terminal illness.  However, I don’t.  This is exactly the kind of movies I avoid – I watched it only because there is a monster in the poster.  I cannot understand how this subject can be a children’s book.

Review: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

As far as mindless action movies go, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter does a fine job in providing plenty of action from start to finish, with different types of zombies and monsters, and jump scares.  There are some supporting characters whose only purpose is to show up and die quickly, without having their faces or names being remembered by anyone, but that’s to be expected.

If I treat this as a standalone movie, I actually like its story – it is almost reasonable as far as a mindless movie can be.  I also love its final twist.  Unfortunately, for this story to work, this movie retconned the history, the creator of the T-Virus and most importantly, the daughter of him.  This is especially unfortunate because this part of history was told in Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), which was widely regarded as one of the best movies in the series.  Even more unfortunate is that even with this retcon, this movie contradicts its prior entries in many ways.

Note: I didn’t stay till the end of the credits, but supposedly if we do that we’d hear the Red Queen says something.  She is played by Ever Gabo Anderson, the real-life daughter of Milla Jovovich.