Opinions Subject to Change

 

Everyone has opinions here are some of mine.

For my movie reviews I try to keep it spoiler free (my notes pages may have spoilers) and written from my perspective. As a christian, husband, father, and clean comedian I consider the story, acting, audio, cinematography, sets, humour, violence, course language, drug use, and sexual content.

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Mortal Engines

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Review

 
 
 

On Earth sometime in the future there was a sixty second war. Further in the future steam punk cities roam Europe.The amazing technological advancements required for these cities on tank treads are offset by numerous loses in communications and weapons technology.


I fear mentioning any more plot details or character motivations as I may be accused of spoilers. Very few specifics are learned in the opening moments of the movie. Although there seems to be a protagonist, Hester Shaw, her motivations are questionable at best. Determining who was supposed to be good seemed more about how they were introduced rather than how they actually behaved. On my second viewing I decided “Mortal Engines” would be a very bad place to try and learn morals. In the large cast of characters, there are only two, perhaps just one, that seem to have altruistic actions. I kept thinking “I can see why this guy is bad, but is this other guy good?”.


The structural problems of the film stem from some significant world building problems. The world is very complicated, and we learn enough to know it’s complicated, but not enough to know why anyone does what they do. Not just the main characters, but the societies as well. That might be realistic and true to life, but it makes a hard film to get emotionally connected to. There are moments clearly meant to be emotionally impactful that, for me, just aren’t.


The plot chugs along in a mostly pleasing way in a visually very impressive world. If you have a 4K tv you want to see what it can really do “Mortal Engines” is a great film to test it out with. Right from the start the movie has highly detailed very realistic looking sets. Even when you see something and know it must be computer generated it looks real. On my 5.1 system the surround is pretty good. The soundtrack is fitting, but not memorable.


There’s not much course language or sexual content, but there’s plenty of violence. Most of the violence is around the same level as Harry Potter except one brutal scene.


“Mortal Engines” is a lot like “Avatar” beautiful, but shallow. It’s exciting at times, but burdened with an overly complex world that either needed to be explained less, or a lot more.


My review sounds pretty bad doesn’t it? I think there are pretty good odds I’ll watch this again someday and I give it a 6/10. You could watch it while folding laundry without your kids.

 


posted by Logan Smith at 12:12 pm - 0 comments

Love Guaranteed

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Review

 
 
 

Susan Whitaker is a saintly lawyer working pro bono for the poor and underprivileged. So much so that her firm can’t afford water. So when, the apparently wealthy, Nick Evans arrives with a big cheque to sue the dating website “Love Guaranteed” Susan reluctantly takes the case.


“Love Guaranteed” is more of a romantic movie that happens to have a few jokes in it than a romantic comedy. As a collector and supporter of physical media, I found one joke about DVD players particularly irksome. Overall the movie is pleasant with no surprises. The purity of the lead leaves no real room for character development and the romantic chemistry is lacking. That said, I did enjoy the movie. I don’t have anything to point to say “this is why I liked it”, but I don’t regret watching it.


The biggest upside of “Love Guaranteed” is its near complete absence of objectionable content. It may be the cleanest romance movie I have ever seen. I’m not willing to call it Family Friendly because I’m confident my mini-reviewers would find no interest in it at all, but you could watch it with anybody and not have to worry about any cover your eyes moments. 


I try to watch all movies twice before reviewing them. I was not looking forward to watching “Love Guaranteed” a second time. I did enjoy the movie the first time, it just doesn’t have anything special to bring you back.


I give “Love Guaranteed” a 6/10. I did enjoy it, but I’ll probably never watch it again. If you are looking for a romance movie to watch with your teens this is probably a good choice.


Thanks.

 


posted by Logan Smith at 12:03 pm - 0 comments

Isn't it Romantic (2019)

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Review

 
 
 

Natalie is a skilled professional that feels invisible and disrespected by her associates. Once a believer of the wonderful world of romantic comedies, she believes “all those movies are lies set to terrible pop songs”. We even get treated to a stand-up routine about how toxic they are.


After a quintessential New York moment she awakes in the Matrix for lonely women, New York with a beauty filter on. Her life becomes a parody of PG-13 romantic comedies. And it is a fun parody. Very funny and hits all the staples of the genre. Which gives kind of an odd feeling to watch. Am I watching a parody or a romantic comedy in a pure form?


The opening is hilarious and brutal the ending is what the whole picture paints toward. The flow of the movie sometimes feel more like a coming of age story rather than about a fully fleshed out adult. It is fully wrapped in a romantic comedy package.


The movie pushes the PG-13 rating with significant cursing and  sexual conversation.


“Isn’t it Romantic” is a beguiling parody filled with impressive background details. Complete with lovely cheesy pop songs. For me it comes off as a love letter to romantic comedies rather than a rebuke. I give it a 7/10 Worth watching without kids.


Thanks.



posted by Logan Smith at 4:26 pm - 0 comments

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Friday, January 29, 2021

Review

 
 
 

As we approach Valentines Day I’m going to cover three romantic comedies. First is “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” from 2003 starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughy.


Andie is a fashion magazine writer that wants to make a difference, but first she has to do one last job. Ben is an advertiser trying to expand his advertising categories, but first he’s got to make one last sale. Not a terribly relatable pair of characters and the plot revolves around their very unrelatable relationship. They grapple with the much more relatable themes of what makes us fall in love and what is it worth?


The opening credits give a cute introduction to our leading lady that doesn’t over explain her back story allowing the film to quickly get into the meat of her current motivations. Ben get’s a less elegant introduction, but he too has clear goals and well defined character. These strong motivations make the rather ridiculous set up for their relationship feel plausible, if unlikely, rather than contrived. Throughout the film they never waste time explaining things that can be reasonably understood or assumed by an adult leaving plenty of time for the many hilarious vignettes our couple end up in. The movie is only let down by its typical ending which brings nothing new to the genre.


Throughout there is a fair amount of sexual conversation and foul language, mostly undirected, making this more appropriate for date night than family night.


The fitting tagline of the movie is “One of them is lying. So is the other.” This makes How to Lose a Guy like watching a poker game on tv where you can see both players hands. We can see the characters bluffing or being sincere even when they and their friends may not know it. Each lead has two friends: one quirky and one generic. The best of all of them is the droll Thayer played by Thomas Lennon. The friends are all believable and plain. The very clear balance between the leads enables us to sympathize with both making neither a villain or a fool. This rare balance and side splitting moments make “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” one of my favourite comedies regardless of category.


If you’re looking for a romantic comedy to watch with someone that might be resistant to the genre it’s hard to do better than “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”. I give it a 7/10. Watch it.


Thanks.

 

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is available on Amazon Prime Video, DVD, and Bluray.

 

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posted by Logan Smith at 5:41 pm - 0 comments

Mulan

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Review

 
 
 

Mulan is a woman striving to bring honour to her family while being true to herself.

 

Mulan is gifted with a strong Chi. In this film Chi seems to enable individuals to do all sorts of incredible things including feats of strength, agility, possession, and transformation and is connected to being a warrior. But it is culturally unacceptable for girls and women to use chi or become warriors. So Mulan doesn’t fit in her place.

 

The very small village looks wonderful like the rest of the sets throughout the movie. The costumes are excellent and seems appropriate to someone that doesn’t know much about period clothing, like me.

 

When China is under attack Mulan disguises herself as a man and takes her aging Father’s place in the army. Hijinks ensue. Nope. In fact the small amount of humour in this film falls flat. There are lots of opportunities for jokes, but the filmmakers declined to take them opting to make this a fairly serious movie with few distractions from the mood. For me this is a serious detriment to the overall feeling. I think they could have made more subtle  jokes without hurting the overall tone of the film. In Lord of the Rings, other serious films, there are lots of humorous bits mixed in to the serious and tense moments that, for me don't detract from the mood. I think Mulan could have made better use of their opportunities for humour.

 

Character continuity is a real problem here. In the intro we see a young, playful, and mischievous Mulan trying to catch a chicken. If you don’t like this character, don’t worry, you’ll never see Mulan like this again. This is far from the most egregious instance of character flaws. The worst soured the climax for me when a character seems to forget their skill and make an absurd choice. I think to try and create an emotional moment that brought rolling rather than watering eyes.

 

The ending is dragged out without resolving the various elements that are touched on in the post climax minutes. Leaving an unsatisfied and dull feeling as the credits roll.

 

I think children may not mind these character inconsistencies, but the serious tone and significant violence make me wonder who this film is for. The vanishingly small audience old enough to see the violence and understand the serious tones of the story, but not notice the incredible lapses of judgement in the characters. 

 

I give Mulan a 4/10. Don’t bother with this one.

 

Thanks. 

 

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posted by Logan Smith at 5:10 pm - 0 comments

You Only Live Twice

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Review

 
 
 

My opinion subject to change on the 1967 007 film You Only Live Twice. Sean Connery's "last" James Bond movie with some questionable choices.

With a screenplay by British author Roald Dahl, 1967’s “You Only Live Twice” starring Sean Connery really shows it's age. That said, it has an excellent plot and story. The plot revolves around James Bond needing to solve a mystery described as “the big one”, just like every other James Bond movie, before the villains can start a world war. It works. It's a great story that is exciting and fun to watch.

 

There's an excellent helicopter sequence and some pretty good fight scenes as well. There is, however, some pretty bad stuff too. The acting it is mostly OK. In large fight scenes the acting is terrible. They would fit better in Adam West’s comedic Batman series than in the serious moments of 007.

 

The ending climax is way better than I expected in the context of the film. It's exciting, fits just right, and ends exactly as a Bond film should end.

 

The sets and cinematography are very good for the most part. There are some great action moments and the helicopter sequence is superb, except for the miniature work in it. The miniatures themselves look good, but the footage of them often looks very bad. In some shots the motion of the miniatures looks unrealistic while in others the cinematography is so bland it is jarring. The intro is a miniature heavy sequence that looks just terrible. It's supposed to be building tension and it was mostly building laughter in my house. The green screen work here is often obvious. There's a moment that I believe James Bond's arm disappeared. He's wearing short sleeves and his arm wasn't visible below the sleeve.

 

There is the misogyny you would expect from James Bond but, some of it is played so blatantly that I think it must've been meant as a joke at Bond’s expense. When “You Only Live Twice” was being filmed it was meant to be Sean Connery's last 007 film. He was getting frustrated with the character and he didn't like that people were saying “Sean Connery is James Bond”. It seems reasonable that there would be moments in this movie that are poking fun at Bond.

 

The racial depictions in this film are … mixed. Some of them are good and some of them are very bad. I think this film could be generously described as racially insensitive. Most of it takes place in Japan. I’m no expert on Japanese culture but, it seems pretty exaggerated here. In many parts it seems the filmmakers were trying to be respectful while at other times they were either fetishizing or mocking the culture.

 

The worst moment though is when Bond is “turned Japanese” in order to disguise himself to infiltrate a small Japanese village. It makes sense in the context of the story that he would disguise himself as a local, but it’s terrible. The disguise is very bad and could only fool someone at great distance. It's hard to see it as not racist. The only possible explanation, other than racism, in my mind is it was meant as a joke. It's done so poorly and it’s done as a sort of makeover montage with lighthearted music. I think it may have been meant to be funny. If it was meant to be a joke, it doesn’t land today. If they remade this film today they would take this “turning Japanese” part out and the plot would hardly change. It makes so little impact on the story it’s a shame the filmmakers put it in at all. 

 

The language in the film is pretty clean including, as far as I can tell, no racial slurs. I was really expecting that there would be some slurs. Again, that suggests to me that they were mostly trying to be respectful to Japan in this movie.

 

Smoking and drinking are scattered throughout. The sexual content is pretty tame for 007 and there is a moment where Bond actually accepts no for an answer. That’s more than can be said for the previous film Thunderball. Innuendo is pervasive.

 

I give this movie a 6/10. If you like James Bond, watch it. If you don’t, don’t watch it. If you haven't seen very much, here. “You Only Live Twice” is not a good introduction to the series. I think you would probably not continue if this was the first 007 you saw.

 

Thanks

 
 


posted by Logan Smith at 5:33 pm - 0 comments

Soul

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
 
My opinion subject to change on Disney's Soul. Spoiler free review about the animated movie.


“Soul” is a story about a man that believes he has not reached his real potential. He is a middle school music teacher that thinks he could do more and wants to become a full-time professional musician. This is his journey to achieve that goal and how it affects the people and the world around him. 


It’s sincerely told and a lovely story. Visually it looks very nice and the visuals are probably the best part of the movie. There is a comical look to the characters, but not distractingly so. More impressive than the characters are the locations. There are a few quite different regions with very distinct appearances but, they're all still clearly connected in the same universe.


The music is somewhat less than I expected. I thought that music would feature more prominently in the film. Most of the music is pleasant with some very annoying parts. Those are meant to be annoying though, so it’s good. I'm not really a jazz person so maybe this film has really good jazz in it. I can’t really tell between really good and moderate jazz. If that’s what you’re looking for you’ll need  to find someone else to be a critic on the music. It sound tough to play and I wouldn’t be able to do it.


I have heard the story called unique and original several times and I really don't see it that way. This really seems like a Pixar version of the 2001 film “Down to Earth” with Chris Rock. Maybe if you switched Chris Rock out for JoJo Siwa. It's not as funny as “Down to Earth” and come of as a less funny Pixar remake.


I give “Soul” a 6/10. Maybe watch with your kids. My mini-reviewers liked “Soul” more than I did, but they would prefer to Watch “The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two” so you’ve got to take that for what it’s worth.


Thank you.

 


posted by Logan Smith at 5:57 am - 0 comments