2017 log (5)

(3 May) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017, James Gunn) 93
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(6 May) Jurassic Park (1993, Steven Spielberg) 68
[ The casting of Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum is inspired, the John Williams score is iconic and there are definitely a few riveting set pieces (the first T-rex attack, the velociraptors hunting), but it takes almost an hour of alternately interesting and corny exposition to get to the good stuff. Solid entertainment, but not on the level of Spielberg’s best work. ]

(7 May) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017, James Gunn) 93 94
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(10 May) Alien: Covenant (2017, Ridley Scott) 41
[ Reviewed on Extra Beurre ]

(12 May) Jumanji (1995, Joe Johnston) 61
[ Hadn’t seen this since it came out on VHS. It’s nice to see the late great Robin Williams, plus Kirsten Dunst as a kid. Very silly and rowdy, especially early on and towards the end (second act is mostly a bust). Uneven CGI. But fun more often than not. ]

(19 May) The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997, Steven Spielberg) 58
[ This film proves that nobody directs a blockbuster like Steven Spielberg. The script is lame, the storyline is ridiculous, it’s predictable, there is some cheesy sentimental BS, but it’s still mostly entertaining thanks to Spielberg’s magical touch. The special FX are awesome, even better than in the first film. And there are a whole lot more dinosaurs! The attack scenes are killer, with some effective suspense and clever gags. The cast is excellent, even though the likes of Vince Vaughn and Julianne Moore are kinda wasted in nothing roles; Jeff Goldblum remains super cool, but his character’s preteen gymnast daughter almost ruins it all. One of the things I dug is the people getting eaten, smashed or killed by dinos – there is a lot of (implied) death for a PG-13 film! One almost-classic Spielberg set piece is the truck-hanging-over-the-cliff bit. The T-rex chase in San Diego is great as well. Definitely flawed, but it still works pretty well as a popcorn movie. ]

(20 May) Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003, Gore Verbinski) [ review ] 65

(21 May) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006, Gore Verbinski) 53
[ Turns out I quite like the universe of these movies: the open sea, the tropical islands, the ships. ‘Tis a pity said movies tend to be overlong and overstuffed. Plus when this second film finally ends, it doesn’t, really, settling instead for a frustrating cliffhanger. Still, I love Johnny Depp in drunken cartoon mode and there are a few wonderful gags-and-stunts sequences, notably the one on the island with the cannibals and the bit with the watermill wheel. Plus there’s the slimy Davy Jones and his gang of sea monsters, including the mighty Kraken! ]

(25 May) Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007, Gore Verbinski) 44
[ These movies keep getting longer and messier, throwing in endless, confusing double-crosses. At the same time, this is truly epic Hollywood filmmaking, with stunning special FX and some inspired bits here and there, like the goofy/surreal scenes with multiple Jack Sparrows. Oh, and Chow Yun-Fat as a Singapore pirate lord! And a Keith Richards cameo! So basically, flawed as they may be, I’m still into these flicks and curious to see what comes next. ]

(26 May) Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, James Gunn) 92
[ I first saw the year’s most popular movie at an early private screening and loved it then, but it was when I saw it again at the big Fantasia International Film Festival premiere in a packed house of enthusiastic geeks that I completely fell in love with it. This is close to being my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movie so far, give or take “The Avengers”, thanks to witty writing and dynamic direction by James Gunn, the best soundrack of the year and a totally awesome cast of actors having a great time playing some instantly iconic characters: Chris Pratt as the cocky Starlord, Zoe Saldana as the lethal Gamora, Dave Bautista as the humorously humorless Drax, Bradley Cooper as the badass Rocket Raccoon and Vin Diesel as the irresistible Groot. Some people are all about Cannes-approved international cinema or they can’t get enough of middlebrow Oscar-bait biopics. To me, there’s not much that can be as satisfying as a perfectly well-oiled Hollywood blockbuster firing on all cylinders. This is why we go to the movies.

Note: this is a repost of a blurb written in 2014. ]

(27 May) Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2011, Rob Marshall) 27
[ Rob Marshall is no Gore Verbinski. I mean, Gore Verbinski is no, say, Steven Spielberg, but his Pirates trilogy, despite the movies getting increasingly overlong and overstuffed, was always somewhat enjoyably epic and full of impressive FX and fun gags & stunts. Whereas this here totally pointless after-the-fact sequel is oh so dull, tired, cheap and ugly, like a bad TV movie. I don’t think that Penelope Cruz has ever been more boring, and even Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow has completely lost his spark by now. ]

(28 May) Freaky Friday (2003, Mark Waters) 61
[ Like with such other live-action Disney pics as “The Parent Trap” or “Lizzie McGuire”, I didn’t expect much from this, but once again I’m surprised by how dynamic, funny and even touching these girlie flicks can be. The body-switching story is one of the oldest in the book, but Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis are both a hoot when acting like the other and director Mark Waters keeps everything bright and giddy. Good times!

Note: this is a repost of a blurb written in 2004. ]