Ghostbusters (2016)

Kristen Wiig

Melissa McCarthy

reviewed by Tom-Tom

starstar

 

The hype for the new Ghostbusters film was epic. There were leaked pictures of Chris Hemsworth, set footage. And let’s not forget the preemptive haters and lovers who argued furiously online about everything from the casting to what may or not happen. Remakes seem the coin of the realm these days with great ones, weird ones, and horrible cringe-inducing ones. Let’s step back and remember the original film for a moment. It was great. A perfect mix of comedy, horror, weirdness, and fun scientific speeches by Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis which was balanced by the pseudo-scientist Bill Murray who was just in it for the girls and cash. His everyman stance put us in the screen powered up by Eddie Hudson’s even more practical and pure everyman “I have seen shit which would turn you white!” Let’s not forget Annie Potts as the underworked (at first) and overworked secretary with the most memorable accent ever and Rick Moranis as the overbearing neighbor with an obvious crush on Sigourney Weaver. Somehow it all worked. I remember when HBO was free and it showed this movie over and over again. Even me, the crybaby of the family could handle its scares eventually except for the skeletal taxi driver. That dude still freaks me out.

The newest Ghostbusters film opens interestingly enough, not a library this time but a supposedly haunted home of an old rich New York family with an insane murderess among its colorful history. It passes on the tradition of not jumping the shark but instead showing us the terror in the face of the witness of the supernatural. The scene changes to Kristen Wiig’s character Erin Gilbert attempting to impress Charles Dance, who makes as convincing a University Dean as a Lannister in his quietly intimidating way. Events lead her to seek out Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon playing Abby Yates and Jillian Holtzmann respectively. Unfortunately this is where the film takes a tip for the worst. I keep imagining some idiotic brainstorming session in which writers, worried about the naysaying stupid white males of the world, decide in a burst of inspiration, “Hey let’s put in some fart jokes and make fun of a guy by saying he pooped his pants. Yeah, that’ll appease the masses.” It takes amazing writing skills to reinvent the fart and poop joke and unfortunately, it ain’t here, folks. It’s a shame, really. McKinnon is super great as Jillian with her off-beat comments and googly eyes through big round glasses. She at least has her character down. Wiig and McCarthy are all over the place with no discernible pattern of their characters other than a past friendship which isn’t really well fleshed out.

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Birdman

Michael Keaton

Edward Norton

reviewed by Tom-Tom

starstarstar

With every passing year, I wonder what really is behind the choosing of movies as Best Picture. Films like Birdman, The Artist, Chicago, and La La Land (which “won” for all of 4 minutes before the fallacy was explained) make me feel as if it is “the movie that speaks to the voters” rather than actual cinematic quality of the movies themselves that clinches the win. The struggle of actors and actresses who make it big will never ever be a foil for the American dream for me. Making travel plans to California doesn’t ensure anything will go well and the starlet/star waiting to be born is a tired tale told way too often and too poorly especially considering how close the makers are to the source material.

      Swingers executed it well without the glamour or glitz but rather with down and out actors commiserating with one another for getting turned down to play even Goofy at Disneyland. The doubt and self questioning there were universal to any job and not the main point of the movie. It’s a testament to our age of perceived entitlement in which films star people who expect to arrive fresh off the bus and then to be sent to the head of the line at auditions and lauded as the best actor ever, much, interestingly enough as the gullible ginger chump in the Sherlock Holmes mystery, The Red-Headed League. The inevitable whining and navel gazing afterwards always gets my blood up. “I’m the main character in this movie, everyone should do what I want.” Continue reading

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2

Chris Pratt

Kurt Russell

reviewed by Tom-Tom

starstarstar

 

In August 2014, something beautiful happened. A Marvel film starring characters most or all of whom no one (no regular movie goers, anyway) had ever heard of came out. They weren’t righteous, moral good doers which is what the pedestrian view of hero used to be but wisecracking anti-heroes, a band of Mad Maxes each out to score, to get money, or to avenge their slain family with ruthless bloodlust. Did I mention that one of them is a talking raccoon and another a talking tree albeit with a severely limited vocabulary? Despite these oddities or in spite of them, really, Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge hit refreshing the tired space opera genre with a perfect balance of humor, eclectic tunes, and a real heart behind it all. However beloved new characters are, the challenge lies in the sequel. Most of the success of films like Shrek, Transformers, and Pirates of the Caribbean lies in the love of meeting the memorable characters for the first time. With the increasingly deteriorating sequels offering nothing much more than a deceptive promise, the promise of drug dealers, politicians running for second terms, and cheating lovers everywhere, that things will continue on/return to their original greatness, and that you will fall in love with the old feeling all over again.

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KONG: Skull Island

Tom Hiddleston

Samuel L. Jackson

reviewed by Tom-Tom

starstarstarhalf star

 

In 2004, Peter Jackson rebooted King Kong. It was a top heavy double feature with half (2/3?) the exploits happening on the mysterious island of Kong’s origin and the latter portion in 1931 New York. The CGI were state of the art for the time but the film had the feel of having bitten off more than it could chew. Skull Island takes a different approach and keeps us on the island which is Kong’s residence/battleground. He is no complacent sovereign, however, but a badass ape in almost constant defense of his rule. It is nice to see another big monster movie after the 2014 Godzilla and while Skull Island takes place in the same world, its timeframe is just at the close of the War in Vietnam. While other reviewers have criticised the foil American military in Vietnam and the mercenary group of American soldiers who enter Skull Island with bombs bursting in air, I applaud it. Godzilla since the very first 1954 film has criticized the use of weapons of mass destruction and Godzilla’s creation and indeed destruction were both due to said weapons. This was revamped in the existence of MUTO’s in the 2014 film who preyed on Nuclear Power and weapons going on a worldwide atomic feeding frenzy pursued by Godzilla. Similarly, I feel the King Kong franchise goes after colonialism and imperialism outlining the fallacy of rushing in where angels fear to tread. The organization Ken Watanabe was associated with in Godzilla MONARCH makes an appearance in this film as well giving the world another possible multi-billion dollar franchise with which to tempt a willing public.

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