Eastwood's not the only legendary director on this list, but he's definitely the one who's most lost his way. Or perhaps his way had just passed him by, 'cause "The Mule" feels like every classic trait of a great, classic Clint Eastwood film, done about as poorly and tone-deafed to modern eyes and ears as possible.
You know I wasn't gonna put this on the list originally; I had some bigger movies that I wanted to tackle. I know I'm one of like nine people that have seen "Our Blood is Wine", but this movie sucked. It's basically a glorified vacation video to the Republic of Georgia to tour their wineries, which this movie cares and is way more interested in wine then I'll ever be. This is like if Miles got to do everything he actually wanted to do in "Sideways" instead of getting sidetracked by Jack's misadventures and without the sex or appeal of the idea.
The sentence I wrote above is literally the only notes I bothered to write on "Our Blood is Wine". I-eh, look, I didn't outright hate this movie or anything, but I never got the feeling I was watching something that was more than a watching somebody's vacation photos, somebody who I didn't know to begin with and didn't particularly. Which is a bit of a shame, 'cause I actually find wine and the process of making it interesting, as well as the idea of wine-tasting and wine-pairing. I don't know how legitimate the field is, but I think there is something to it at it's core. I know, I feel there's something off when I'm drinking something that doesn't quite go with the food I'm eating, so, yeah it makes sense that certain wines probably taste better with certain foods and certain wines have different tastes as well.
And certain wines are made differently and where they're made should matter a little bit as well. I mean, I somehow I can tell the difference between Coca-Cola and every generic knock-off and they probably have the same ingredients and are made the same way, but somehow I always know Coca-Cola. I'm not a wine-drinker so that's my comparison, but Quinn is a world-renowned Chicago-based sommelier. That's a very impressive title to me, sommelier, 'cause you have to be tested to get that title, and tested blindly to tell the difference between several different wines and be able to determine those quite minor differences. I mean, red wine mostly just tastes like red wine to me, and I know that a lot of wine is actually really similar, and there is something truly inspiring to see it made in the birthland of wine and made in the ways that it's been made for generations upon generations upon generations.
The Republic of Georgia is more well-known in the news these days for having several disputes with Russia, mostly over the South Ossetia region, and the locals do worry that a side effect of this could be having to lose their land and their way of life as they expect/fear the traditional ways of making wine to go by the wayside and being replaced by modern day machines, which, yeah, that does change the taste. The evolution of food and how it's changed over the decades and centuries even is something that actually we should look into more. Like, 100 years ago chickens were the size of turkeys and somehow that's not what we have now.
Anyway, I wanted to like this movie, but yeah, this felt like a glorified vacation to a vineyard. Sometimes the movie felt like a decent PBS documentary on the subject, or something I'd see on Create one night, but I think I'd still see better on there and the rest of it is just, watching others on a glorified vacation. It'd be like watching a movie of me going to a film festival or the Oscars, it'd be interesting for a sketch or two perhaps, but is it a full movie? Eh, probably not.
Maybe it's the setting that's bothering me. The title "Black '47" is reference to the time and location, it takes place in Ireland in 1847, right at the peak of the Potato Famine that took several thousands lives and pushed those who did survive into starvation and poverty, if they didn't somehow manage to get out and immigrate to America. On the one hand I appreciate the details that's put into trying to recreate this era of Irish history, but,...- well, you remember that film, "The Invention of Lying", where there's no such thing as acting so movies were just great narrators retelling stories of history, and Ricky Gervais's character got stuck with the 14th Century from his producers, so he had to write about the Bubonic Plague? That's kinda what I feel like I watched here. I appreciate recreating the setting, but I don't think I wanted to see that.
And I can kinda appreciate the narrative, basically, "Black '47" for all-intensive purposes, is a classic western that happens to take place during the Irish potato famine. A deserted soldier named Feeney (James Frechville) has returned from the wars in the Middle East. His home is now decrepit, his family has been killed or died off, and he decides to take out revenge against everyone involved. Eventually the Crown, who has control over Ireland at this point, and there's a lot of history involved with that better knowledgable historians can discuss, but they hired a disgraced policeman named Hannah (Hugo Weaving) who's currently arraigned for murdering a witness to go out and help the Crown find and kill Feeney. They were soldiers together during the Anglo-Afghan War, the one from the 1840s and he knows how difficult this guy is to take in. Basically, he's the 1840s version of Liam Neeson in all those "Taken" films, only the bad guy.
Eventually, after he's hung a judge and killed several others involved with the family, they realize that his next victim is Lord Kilmichael (Jim Broadbent) and they begin guarding him, as do several of the townspeople after Kilmichael puts up a bounty, I guess the leader of this group is Conneely (Stephen Rea). There's also some good supporting work from people like Barry Keoghan and Freddie Fox, and there's one particular image involving this strange way the ash-like dust comes over his face and beard, that's just creepy. It's really well done, but the effect is that Frecheville looks like an old bust of a Civil War General.
I'm a bit torn on this one, 'cause there is some really strong execution here, and this is a decent setting for this story, but this story is just not compelling. At all. It's not entirely predictable, but the movie is focused on where and when it's taking place, that I just don't care why it's taking place. The idea of a classic-style western in this world and timeframe, that can work. It's worked in literature before, and I know John Ford tried to adapt Liam O'Flaherty's "Famine" once or twice; Ford, on top of western occasionally made films that took place in Ireland like one of my favorites, "The Informer" and most notably "The Quiet Man", and they were essentially western stories but in Ireland, but not this era of Ireland, westerns. Lance Daly is an Irish filmmaker; I can see why this appeals to him, but this is just a slog to get through. Somebody's gonna eventually remake this story, and tell it well. Somebody's gonna start with a compelling characters and backstory, and then they'll enter into this period of history, and that would be more fascinating as opposed to, starting with this desolate, death-ridden, era of Ireland, and then try to force a western narrative into this world. The way this storytelling is done in this movie, is just so wrong, that it completely bogs down, a lot of what's good about both the narrative and the setting. And the crafts of the movie as well. This is one of those movies that was a pain to sit through because I just did not want to be here, and it's not because of how ugly and horrid this part of Irish history is, it's that this movie didn't compel me enough through the way it told it's story to convince me to want to stay here with it.
Years later, the king of the Mezaerte forces a marriage to Maquia's best friend, Lelia, in order to increase the life expectancy of the Mezaerte. Her boyfriend Krim tries to interrupt this, but after Maquia becomes pregnant, he ends up going to the human world where he connects with Maquia, who's constantly struggling to raise her growing son, who is beginning to seem troubled and confused by his origins.
This movie is hard to describe honestly. I like the look of it, in theory, the pastel watercolors look is a detailed and interesting approach although I'm not entirely sure how much it adds and while it's okay, it's not Studio Ghibli-level or anything. A lot of the ideas in it, especially the idea of a story about a single mother raising a kid, that's honestly the best stuff of the movie, and frankly, while it might have some significance to some, I felt like I was watching some really antiquated royalty bullshit played over fantastical worlds and peoples that I just couldn't get behind. This might be me, and my biases, I've noticed anecdotally for instance, that women, in particular, seem way more interested in Henry VIII as a character then I do. A know there's a lot of important history there, but good god, if you actually dig into the details, it is so much ado about nothing in hindsight. "Oh, I need a son; I need a son, to carry my name, and all you wives can only give me daughters!", well guess what, the daughter took the throne, things kept going, and it wasn't always peachy, but even then, most of that was his bullshit they were cleaning up. (Shrugs) I felt a lot of the fantasy stuff was just that kind of old-time trivialness. Honestly, I think the movie would've been more interesting without any of it.
The movie it reminded me of the most was "Where the Heart Is" and that's a film that also mostly worked best when it shows the evolution of a young woman as she deals with young motherhood. "Maquia..." got caught too caught up in this world it was creating which, honestly, I just found confusing.
I get the main idea of one group wanting to get control of the other one that had more eternal life, but it's actually more layered and complex then I'm explaining and, it just-, like in order for it to really matter it had to be built up more in the beginning, but it also had to be a lot simpler then it was here. I hate to pan the movie because of it, there's a good idea for an epic narrative about motherhood, but by the end of the movie, I felt like I was lost in someone else's story. I'm interested in seeing what else Mari Okada and P.A. Works might do in the future, but for the time being, this was mostly a disappointment.
"The Party" is a barely-70 minute long snore where a bunch of people gather for an event, there's a few revelations and a couple things happen. Now, in the right setting, this narrative can be amazing. Here, however,- well, it really is much ado about nothing.
There's talk of things, politics and life theories, political correctness, relationships all get mentioned and thrown around, but you never get the sense that there's any meaning behind these topics. Apparently, Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) has just been placed in some high political position, while Bill, she learns over the night, is dying. What political position? It's never specifically explained, although it seems like this is a left-wing collective group. We have a pregnant lesbian couple for instance, Jinny and Martha (Emily Mortimer and Cherry Jones) as well as an eccentric opposites attract couple with the philosophically extreme April and Gottfriend (Patricia Clarkson and Bruno Ganz), she's a left-wing radical totalitarian who criticizes everything and everyone, most especially her husband a flightly life coach who seems to think the right records can help bring people back to life. Then there's Tom (Cillian Murphy), the rich banker drug addict, who's high on coke the whole night, and causing his own mild chaos wherever he goes.
I don't know, like, I can see, maybe Richard Linklater taking similar characters and materials and making a compelling narrative out of this, but he's used to restrictive settings and he loves discussion of high-minded subjects from several different perspectives. Potter just seems annoyed by it, everything's vague and nothing matters here until Bill announces his upcoming death and even there, there's-, the movie begins and ends with a character, pointing a gun at us and shooting, just like the end of "The Great Train Robbery", there's no need for that gun or any gun to even be in this movie. This isn't a movie that needs that kind of Chekhovian planting and it doesn't even payoff at the end.
This movie gets worst the more I think about it, honestly. I can appreciate the attempt at doing something like this, by a natural experimental filmmaker, but this is so far away from Potter's strengths that I'm confused at why she was even trying to make this. There's not much else to say, this was a boring, uninteresting, bad barely a blip of a movie, and I'm shocked that somebody as great as Sally Potter made this.
I know some people, some very important people in the film critic community who actually really liked "Green Book" and I can see why they might. Again, it's- it's almost never about the story that's told, and this isn't a bad story. It's in how its told, and I'm sorry; I know some people didn't like other Best Picture nominees this year; I thought it was a weak bunch myself, but this was the worst of the nominees and well- not the worst Best Picture of all-time, to me that distinction goes to "Gigi", but this is a bad one, and the first time that I've even considered putting a BP winner on this list, since-eh, oh god, maybe "Gladiator"?! Maybe?
The majority of the backlash to “Crash” came after it won, “Green Book”’s backlash was long before it even got the nomination. In fact, I don’t think I predicted it to get nominated it was so severe, much more so than the previous year’s troubling film with pro-racism undertones, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”, and like that movie, the one thing everybody agreed on were the greatness of the performances even if the messages were conflicted at best. “Green Book” does have it’s strong defenders though. One of my FB friends is Sasha Stone of AwardsDaily.com and she’s very much in the movie’s camp. I respect her opinion quite a bit, as well as a few others who also like the movie.
Look, I’m just gonna be blunt here, this was a tough movie to sit through. I really struggled with this one. Part of it, is expected, the movie is about race relations in the South in the early Sixties, I mean, yeah, this shit happened and probably quite a bit, and frankly it’s relevant now, as every other week there’s some new racist idiot video taping themselves trying to kick an African-American family out of a pool, or whatever the hell racist assholes are doing now. Also, I don’t necessarily think the premise of the movie is bad at all. There’s some who complain that the movie isn’t from Don Shirley’s (Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali) perspective and that’s a valid point, but I don’t necessarily think that its in turn a negative that the movie’s instead from Tony “Lip” Vallelonga’s (Oscar nominee Viggo Mortensen) point of view either. I mean, is it bad that a white man’s perspective changes, especially if it’s a bad perspective to begin with and needs to be changed?
I mean, I wish it was more earned and I can feel my eyes rolling as I write this. Still, the problem isn’t the subject matter, it’s a good story that I can see an argument for being told. The problem isn’t that the perspective isn’t the greatest; it could’ve been and it could still be a good movie that’s both, from the perspective of a white protagonist while still being about the troubles, trials and tribulations of racism in the South. Look at “In the Heat of the Night”, that movie pulls it off incredibly well and I don’t hear too many people complaining about that film these day. Does, “Green Book” pull that off?
No, it doesn’t. It-, it just doesn’t. There are clearly many issues with the execution but, I’m putting Peter Farrelly’s feet to the fire first. Farrelly is a comedy director, him and his brother, and they’re good ones. They haven’t been lately admittedly, but if anybody’s ever watched a PBA event recently, you’ll know that “Kingpin” is the most influential sports movie ever made.... That’s probably their most underrated and greatest work, and of course, “There’s Something About Mary”, is a classic, but I want to think a bit about their other great comedy “Shallow Hal” It's probably much more problematic than I remember, but it was also about a white man overcoming his prejudice, in this case,-, mostly fat and unattractive people. It’s premise, however, involves its main character getting hypnotized into only seeing peoples’ appearance based on the quality of the person they are, so Jack Black sees Gwyneth Paltrow in his love interest best instead of the overweight girl who breaks chairs when she sits on them. It’s a funny movie and there’s actually quite a few good layers to it, that said, yeah, he only sees the reality in people, once he’s hypnotized to not see his preconceptions. It works for that genre, although now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t remember any African-Americans in that movie, or for that matter, most of their movies, like, at all, including “Shallow Hal”. Hell, the aforementioned “Kingpin”, half of that movie, as great as it is, is just making fun of the Amish. He’s got a comedic sensibility, and that’s good for a break in the action, but trying to shift that into a narrative about race relations?
Alright, I’ve been bouncing around it, but the fried chicken scenes just pissed me the hell off. Like, I can see the genesis of the idea and why they might think it was a decent idea, and the timing is right with the rise of KFC as it became a National brand and you know the history of the recipes and how it’s changed from it’s early days,- I know way more about the history of “Kentucky Fried Chicken” than I really should, but I can just see the scene being pitched and Farrelly going to it’s natural conclusion, and I guess it’s funny in that little box, but then, when Dr. Shirley’s an invited dinner guest for a rich white family who’s holding his concert, they then specially make fried chicken for Dr. Shirley ‘cause it’s the only thing they believe African-Americans eat, it just doesn’t play well. The whole thing is a set-up to show how racist it actually is, and it’s a play on how-supposedly-everybody-likes-fried chicken-joke. Well, my mother hates fried chicken, so that’s not true either.
There are some good scenes here of course. I like the scene where they call a lawyer to get them out of jail after an altercation with police. Both of these men are interesting characters and I don’t think that we’re supposed to naturally think that just because Tony Lip had this great road adventure with Don Shirley in the South that suddenly he’s all cured of his own bigoted tendencies, although they do mention at the end that they remained friends until their passings a few years ago and I’ve heard some varying reports that disagree with that description of their relationship.
Still, it reads badly. It’s a culture clash that frankly doesn’t put any culture in the best of lights. I’ve heard that this film’s been compared to another Oscar-winning Best Picture that they have a lot in common with, “Driving Miss Daisy”; I actually watched "Driving Miss Daisy recently, I'm not gonna pretend there's not problematic elements to that film either but that's actually a movie about a complex friendship that builds over decades, and there's still loads of tenuous nuances involved in it. I wouldn't even call it a road trip movie, there's much more going on and while I don't necessarily think that it should've won the Oscar either, I can see why it did; it's not a movie about racism being "ended" because of a friendship, it's a movie about a friendship that grows and evolves in spite of apparent racism and despite some of the clear biases of the characters and the social injustices built into ours and theirs socioecominc world. However, to go back to “Crash” for a second, while I think “Crash” is trying to understand a real problem, I don’t get the sense that “Green Book” is trying to learn or understand anything, if anything, it seems a bit smug.
Admittedly, part of that might be the disturbing way that Peter Farrelly put up one finger to the camera at the Oscars after winning the Screenplay Oscar, almost like he knew they were going to win; there’s an arrogance over “Green Book”, that’s undeserved that “Crash” doesn’t have. And to compare it to “Three Billboards…”, as well, that movie was made by a Brit who was playing with motifs and tools from an outdated genre, and that’s why that film's insinuations are somewhat more forgivable, even if their implications are really troubling.
Farrelly should know better, but this isn’t his natural genre. There’s nothing wrong with going outside that either, Blake Edwards made “Days of Wine and Roses” for Christ’s sake, it’s not impossible for a comedic mind to shift his attention to more serious subjects and make a great movie out of them, but I don’t think he did turn off his comedic mind the way I believe he thinks he did, or if him and the creators of the movie think that’s what they did, then they probably have more problems with themselves (And that does seem to be the case as it seems like all the white male filmmakers behind this project have had to back out of, in some cases, incredibly stupid statements over the recent year) much less, problems with society at large, and I’m not sure how he knew so certainly he was going win more than one Oscar that night but yes, this film’s Oscar definitely deserves the derision that it’s gotten.
It’s not the worst movie of all-time or anything, and I can’t entirely put my finger on it, but this movie feels like it was made in bad faith. Even the parts that are good and show that there is something here…. I mean, it’s got details that are interesting, and I do like the idea of a major African-American performer traveling and performing into the South with a white driver he’s hired as protection, who’s got to travel through the Green Book, the underground travel guide for traveling in the South for African-Americans. I mean, there’s definitely something there, I can think of several details about African-American performers and the travails of traveling they endured and the performances are strong enough, but the execution of the story is not worth it. I was tempted to recommend it even despite all this, but what would I be recommending here, a half-ass version of the same problematic movie that we’ve all seen several better versions of for the last thirty years? Admittedly, I can think of some worst versions as well that did better than they should’ve at the Oscars, but still,....
Also Italian aren’t that damn obsessed with food! And seriously, I hope that was Farrelly's addition as well 'cause, since it was Vallelonga's relative that co-wrote the screenplay, I hope that that wasn't one of the only major details you remember about him.
I'm bringing this up because it's way more interesting than anything I can talk about with this movie. I struggle to put it on the aforementioned Worst Baseball Movie list, since I'm barely certain that it's even worth counting quite frankly. It's barely a baseball movie. It's barely a movie at times. I'm actually still watching it while I'm writing this review, 'cause it's just too painfully bad to actually sit down and let the movie play all the way through; I can only put up with the strange camera choices like the awkward panning between shots in one scene where a camera moves from one set of character to the other that's talking, instead of doing some kind of two-shot, or the weird OTS shot I'm looking at now of the lead actor talking to, I think it's his sister about his old high school girlfriend...- It's not even sure its either of those character's shoulders; it's like somebody shot a master from an OTS of the most annoying side character in the film, for no reason, and just kept it. I can't entirely blame the aimless directing, the confusing over-plotted script isn't helping. The actors are,- well, I guess Jean Smart can never do anything wrong, but they're not given the best to work with, although I'm hard-pressed to think of "Brampton's Own" as a well-cast film either. I mean, this movie couldn't even find a Major Legue ballplayer to play the Major League ballplayer for a cameo scene. Like, they didn't have to get Ichiro or anything, but you couldn't convince one Seattle Mariner to be in a scene? Like you don't have to get Felix Hernandez or anything, but I mean you couldn't convince Edwin Encarnacion to be to do a page of dialogue? I mean, the main character plays for the Tacoma Rainers, that's a real baseball team; they're the real Seattle Mariners' AAA affiliate! Like, c'mon here!
So, the guy who seems the most responsible for this is Michael Donager, he's a Writer/Director, this is his second feature directorial effort after something called "This Thing with Sarah" from seven years ago, however he seems to have gotten the most acclaim from co-writing and being a lead actor in a film called "The Escort" that actually didn't do horribly on the festival circuit. That movie had a different director though, a guy who has a lot more credits, mostly in television, but still, that's the first advice I'm giving this guy; he needs to put the camera down. There's a few scenes that are kinda well-written here, so I don't want to bash him too much. Although the use of the phrase, "I want to eat you like a watermelon", um...- yeah, oh boy, yeah, if that scene doesn't damn this movie to a future "MTS3K" episode.... I get it, we're all struggling filmmakers, it's a mini-miracle anything ever gets made and he's trying. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that this film probably was something that was supposed to be grander and more epic and austere than this, and for whatever reasons, budget, producers perhaps, it just ended up like this instead, but even then, this movie at best feels like a part of well-worn ideas from other movies. And not always better movies either.
You have the longtime Minor Leaguer, Dustin (Alex Russell) who's never made the Show, and instead of staying on, he's come home to the titular small town where he's still somewhat of a folk hero, but now, after twelve years, shockingly, everything's change! His mother, is engaged and moving in with a new boyfriend, Bart (John Getz, who's also decent in limited work here) and who has a son Dustin now befriends named Cody (Carter Hastings). There's the old high school girlfriend Rachel (Rose McIver) who's engaged to the town's new local dentist but might still feel for Dustin, but doesn't want him to keep chasing his dream of playing in the Majors...- Who still holds onto his past memories as a high school star...-. There's some other friends from his past...- there's a lot here, way too much.
There's a way to tell a story with these elements, even a way to make it new and fresh; "Brampton's Own" just trying to be a tire-old nostalgia-esque romance of Americana. Small town, baseball, apple pie, high school sweethearts,.... It's not adding anything new to this and it's not well-done enough to make the classic tolerable.
Patrick H. Willems is wrong too about this film I might add; this movie is not significantly better then the original. I don't actually know which is worst; they're both awful; I double-checked my 2008 list, and surprisingly, the original "Mamma Mia", would not have made my worst list had I made one that year, but it would've been like, 11th; I saw a lot of bad movies that year. Maybe if I had seen more bad films this year, this might've been pushed aside, as well as everything else, but you know what, I doubt it. If you ask me, almost everything that was, I wouldn't say good, but "watchable" about the first movie, is basically taken away here and it's-, oh, this one is painful to sit through.
That said, the sequel, got surprisingly good reviews across the board, much moreso than "Mamma Mia!" which actually did split critics badly... I can kinda see, sorta what they're talking about to some extent, but if I'm being honest, as bad as I thought the original was, this sequel, is just pointless.
It's begins stupidly. There's no other way to put it, this movie doesn't know how Valedictorians work and one of Sophie's dad is apparently busy, getting an award for, and I'm not making this up, "Greatest Swede of All-Time"! Yeah, that pretty much triggered me to tweet. (I mean, I don't know who the Greatest Swede actually is, but-eh, off the top of my head, Alfred Nobel comes to mind. He comes to mind in particular because he actually has a Prize named after him that tends to give out awards for greatness in several fields.) Anyway, I do have to believe that this is just a weird difficult project to begin with. It's a movie musical sequel of a movie musical, that was a movie adaptation of a Broadway musical, that was based on the music of a disco group, and by the way, the original wasn't that great to begin with. What the hell do you even try to do for that?
Well, I guess they decided to, tell what us about the "Dot, dot, dots!" from the first movie were. (They're called ellipses btw, movie.) So we get the flashback to Donna's (Meryl Streep) youth (Lily James) and the inexplicable reasons that she is so drawn to this magical Greek isle and decides to run a hotel on the island. And we get, of course, Young Harry, (Hugh Skinner) Young Bill (Josh Dylan) and Young Sam (Jeremy Irving) the young version of Sophie's (Amanda Seyfriend) three fathers. (Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgaard and Pierce Brosnan, respectively) that she met, because she invited all of them to her wedding in the first movie, where they all met her and reunited with Donna after a couple decades time.
That's the flashback aspect of the movie. The current day aspect, is that Donna has now died, and Sophie has taken it upon herself to remodel and reopen, the hotel (I'm not sure why it was closed even after Donna passed, which is also stupid on it's own, but we'll get to that.) , 'cause, that's just what she wants to do now. Her husband Sky (Dominic Cooper) is in New York training in the Hotel business... (I probably would've picked Vegas, but New York works too, I guess... [Hey, it's the one field my college has actually been listed as the best program in the world at one point; I'm taking the shot! Go Runnin' Rebels!]) and apparently he's so good at his stoge that he wants to stay in New York and work there permanently, while Sophie, who btw is now pregnant, because of course she is, although her kid only has one father, doesn't want him to leave and she wants Sky to come back and run the hotel with her in Greece.
I mean, it's not like the original movie wasn't contrived, it was blatantly contrived, but this is such a non-conflict here; I'd call it a celebration of the original, but even a celebration of an original work, like "Rocky Balboa" still had like, stuff going on. Sure "Mamma Mia" and "Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again" are basically just an excuse to have a bunch of people perform ABBA songs; that's always what it's been, and for some that's enough, but by that same token "Singin' in the Rain" was just a vehicle for a bunch of 30-year-old Arthur Freed songs. This is just a derivitive of an excuse for ABBA songs, and it's not like they held back before. There's a couple new songs there, but there's a lot of the same ones as the original. And even less context for them. In fact, sometimes they're not even like musical numbers, songs just happen whenever, without setup or reasoning. I mean, I guess some of them fit with the theme and the situation, but it's so dour for most of the movie; at least with the original, they were blissfully stupid with the musicals. Mostly though, any justification I can stretch with the original's reasons for existing, I can't find here. There's not a twist, or a new narrative; there's new actors playing the same roles we saw before and the old actors playing the same roles as before, only without the conflict.
And one of the characters' dead for no reason. Let me get to Meryl Streep's role for here for a second, this- I'm sure there's some reason for this shit, maybe Meryl just smartly decided to get the hell out of this thing before it did actual damage to her career, but I'll say this, Meryl Streep's performance was my favorite part of the first "Mamma Mia!". She was the best character, gave the best performance, and even in crap like this, I like Meryl Streep's lighter side. We don't see enough of it; we don't see her in comedies as much, we are finally seeing her in musicals more, which, btw, she was a trained opera singer before she was an actress, so singing isn't actually like a new skill for her, and she had the most memorable and iconic scenes and movie. This movie, she's dead the whole time, but completely omnipresent, until the very end where there is, what I'm presuming is a heaven-like dream sequence, where she's there and she's alive and she performs... (Sigh)
Look, I'm just gonna say, this is her Burt Reynolds in "Smokey and the Bandit Part 3" role. Remember the third one of those? For those who don't remember, Burt Reynolds isn't in it. He was too big to keep playing Bandit at that point, and admittedly, probably for the best. Basically, Jerry Reed, dresses up as the Bandit, and pretends to be the Bandit throughout the whole movie until one of the final scenes when Jackie Gleason confronts him after he thinks he's finally caught Bandit, and then Burt Reynolds gives like, the worst green-screen cameo, because Smokey just thinks he's the Bandit despite all the obvious signs to the contrary. This isn't that bad, but it's almost there. Here's the thing though, why is she dead? I mean, sure she dies, but this movie could've existed with her still being alive? Even with the same plot! In fact, it would add more conflict if she were alive. She's retiring to go off and live with Sam somewhere and now Sophie's getting the keys to the hotel and making it her own and that's distressing the mother and now Sophie's fighitng with her mother and her husband, and there's the setup for the big opening coming...- like, that would've actually made sense. Just to kill her off, makes none actually.
It certainly weakens the Cher subplot which-, I'm not even gonna get into all the stupid plot points that leads to Cher being in this, but Cher's in this one, she plays Donna's mother, which, (sigh) fine, but I don't know why this was an added element to the film. She has a weird duet with Andy Garcia who has a minor role and not enough of one as well, I might add. (Shrugs) Fine, I love Cher. She's Cher. She basically can't do wrong; she's literally teflon at this point. However, even when I am happy to see her in something these days, like on "Will & Grace" when she makes an occasional surprise appearance, or when she's hanging out with Kathy Griffin, or having regular residencies in Vegas, she's amazing and fun, and brilliant; but she's also just Cher!? She's not playing a part or anything, which is sad 'cause she actually is an amazing actress, but all she does now is show up in situations where it would just be cool for Cher to show up at, even when I am happy to see here, that's basically the only times I ever see her. When the stars align and there's something in the air that night, and suddenly here's Cher.
I'm happy to hear Cher cover ABBA, but she has no real reason to be in this thing either. She's basically in this because there's a lot of correlation between Cher and ABBA/"Mamma Mia" fans and she's taking advantage of that. (IDK, either that or maybe she owed Meryl a favor from when they were in "Silkwood" or something too...?) I honestly don't know what to make of her presence; it feels so weird.
This whole movie is weird, and not in the same way that "Mamma Mia!" was weird either, but just as bad. Maybe on a technical level it's better than the original, but I can't justify it's existence, and better than the original isn't good enough to recommend a movie.
Seriously, why couldn't everybody just be fighting each other for cultural reasons or political or economic or historical reasons between everybody? Instead of that, we have powerful rings which turns what could be a really powerful story ABOUT how the struggle and fight for power between those at the top and how it hurts and involves everyone else, which is more in tune to many mythological stories, and makes it, well, a second-rate treasure hunt. I like treasure hunts, but not like that.
Anyway, my point being is that “LOTR” did this better, and the Infinity Gauntlet is an even stupider Maguffin. I mean, I get the idea of Thanos (Josh Brolin), the insane sociopathic powerful madman going from planet to planet and galaxy to galaxy and causing massive destruction and genocide all over the universe under some misguided belief that destroying the universe is the only way to preserve, protect and ultimately control it, but he can’t just be really powerful, everything has to be surrounding these stones? I know this has been set up for like a gazillion more movies than necessary, but that doesn’t make it any less dumb. You’re telling me a universe with space pirates, gods and a smorgasbord of superhuman beings and an insane amount of technology can’t just put up a fight against this menace and have that be compelling, without also having to add this metaphysical bullshit gauntlet crap? I’m fairly certain one of the early seasons of “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” did this better. I can’t remember if it was the Lord Zed or the Machine Empire season, but yeah, one of them had already taken over like seven or eight solar systems and the Milky way before the ruled the entire universe and now the Rangers were the only ones getting in the way? Where’s those teenagers with attitude when we fucking need them?!
Alright, so, Thanos, he’s been the big guy behind a lot of the destruction and antics through many of these movies in the past. He seems to already be a pretty powerful godlike figure, but now he wants to gather these stones into this gauntlet made by a dwarf Eitri (Peter Dinklage) who apparently also made Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) hammer. He’s collected a couple of these things already, and it’s six stones to rule them all, so he’s got four to go. He’s got an alien army to attack Earth, he’s taken out Asgard entirely, his home planet, Titan, which I think is actually a moon, but whatever,- anyway, he believes that, overpopulation is humanity’s biggest problem and he wants to end it.
I’m not gonna say he’s not entirely off-base with this; Thanos, is a representation of,- let’s try to find a way without offending some cultures,- well, the purge. The periodical purge that humans have gone through of peoples and civilizations over the millenniums of existence. This doesn’t have to necessarily representative of (INSERT GENOCIDIAL DICTATOR HERE) either, this could be diseases like the Plague or the Spanish Flu that wiped out as many people as wars did, or it could represent collateral damage from environmental changes that wipe out societies. His home planet it’s noted by Quill (Chris Pratt) is eight inches off it’s axis, that’s the kind of change that would be destructive to all of Earth if that were to happen, all with a snap of a finger. This is a good villain for the Avengers to combat, even if this whole thing basically amounts to his stupid goddamn glove.
The real problem is, the Avengers themselves. The more this movie goes on, the more it feels like that I’ve just spent the last decade or so being forced to pay attention and follow these characters has been nothing but a waste of time and energy, only for them to be sacrificed, literally, for plot and story convenience. Hey, remember Scarlet Witch and Vision (Elisabeth Olson and Paul Bettany) from that last “Avengers” movie that sucked? Well, they’re back, and suddenly important. Or, all that great majesty that came with Wakanda and our introduction into Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman)’s whole secret world an universe, that’s a technological Atlantis that remained hidden in Africa for centuries, undisturbed from the progresses of Western influence, including any/all past/current African conflicts as well as all the excavation of the continent of its resources, including several mass enslavements and forced removal and deportation of it’s peoples? Well, it’s just a battlefield for this movie, forget all that depth and importance that that movie put into this universe.
Or how about, that one whole movie “Captain America: Civil War”, where all the superheroes fought each other and broke up into sections over stupid laws they were way too powerful to ever actually let them be enforced if they wanted to that lead to the permanent break-up and separation of the Avengers group, that’s all, even more completely pointless and relentlessly useless than I originally thought it was now?
....Seriously, real talk, if they were all just gonna eventually get back together when a threat that required all of them were to come at the first beckon call, then why the fuck does that movie exist in this franchise to begin with? Here, get rid of the stupid law and the infighting, just say, “We’re greater-than-humans, superheroes known collectively as “The Avengers”. Sometimes, we’re together against a major foe, sometimes we’re separate from each other.” BANG! I just eliminated one stupid film from this franchise in two sentences or less, minimum, and saved about a billion dollars in production and advertising. If I could get everybody’s three hours of their life back for that damn thing, I’d be really happy. ([Probably more than that if I think about it.]) Hey, can’t they do that, ‘cause doesn’t Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) have some kind of time travel power or something?
I have to ask also, what is the point of creating any of these fantastical, amazing worlds if the only ultimate endgame requires them to either be destroyed or saved from destruction? Can’t there be something in between these extremes that’s just as compelling, or even moreso? I’m sure a lot of people came out of this movie feeling like they were kicked in the gut, I did too, but it wasn’t a satisfying climatic kick that crushes your guts that blows your mind, and breaks your heart; it’s the kind of kick that happens to you, when you’re already beyond the point of physical exhaustion, and suddenly, everything that you’ve spent your time working on that made you so excited, suddenly completely falls and shatters, like a long, elaborate computer project that you’ve been working on all day and night, and suddenly, your computer crashes and it’s not saved; all that wasted time and energy that you spent pouring out your soul, for what?
Look, I really don’t want to seem as bitter as I am, but these movies, this franchise, they’ve just annoyed the hell out of me over the years. Even when I like them, I just find myself pissed that this thing keeps on going. I feel I’m being forced to suffer through all the worst parts of superhero comics. Crossing over every universe so it takes place in one world, superheroes battling superheroes instead of the bad guys like they should be, having to sit through origin stories of every character in this damn thing, most of those movies that I usually like, only for them to be meaningless because they get impacted by these grand event comics that has nothing to do with the story they’re telling but this big story needs to supposedly involve every superhero from every universe, so everything’s put on hold, or outright ended…! (Annoyed grunt)
To go back to “Power Rangers” for a second, and I don’t know why I’m suddenly interested in them so much, I was never the biggest fan of them either, but you know why they work as a multi-superhero universe? Cause they were always a team. There was a bad guy, so those five or six people, or however many in one year there were during their whatever seasons, they were teamed up to destroy evil together. Okay, it doesn’t work perfectly there, cause of a bunch of dumb crossover with teams and whatnot, but still, for the most part, the idea is that in this universe where superheroes exist, the villains are too great for there only to be one superhuman to protect them, hell it’s a major aspect that’s built into the mythology of both the American and Japanese versions of that series. It’s not a requirement for a multi-superhero universe to do this, “Watchmen”, somehow gets away with it by creating it’s own unique full universe to explain it, and I’m not the biggest “X-Men” fan, but at least symbolically within the text there’s reasons for mutants to co-exist in the same world as men. But in “Avengers”?
Superheroes all seem to co-exist in this world because somebody wants this world that’s just full of superheroes, and that’s never sat well with me. It’s sorta the same questioning I have with “Game of Thrones” as to why, if the history of the narrative is pretty heavily influenced by the actual Wars of the Roses, then why create a fantasy world to tell this story at all, but even with that example, I get why you would do that, especially if you’re creating a world from scratch.
The Avengers are established characters in their own worlds most of them, on their own heroic adventures and journeys and going through their own experiences, they’re not brought together because there’s a powerful outside force out to destroy the world, there’s always a powerful outside force that’s out to destroy the world. Just because it’s fun to imagine a bunch of our favorite superheroes and characters coming together, doesn’t mean it’s good narratively. I mean, it certainly could be if done well, but these aren’t done for the purpose of telling a great story, they’re done because, the people, the fans want to see it.
Look, it’s not simply that I’m not a superhero guy and it's not like I want Hollywood to start making movies of franchises, characters and plots that I’m more drawn to instead, I don’t; it’s that I know for a fact that just because you think you want something doesn’t mean that once you actually get it, that it’s gonna be good, or for that matter, exactly what you wanted or how you wanted it. If you’re just kowtowing to what the majority wants, you’re still not going into their head and make everybody happy; sometimes what we think we want is not actually what we want and sometimes we don’t know what we want until we see it. I once a told a friend something to the effect of, “You think anybody was clamoring for a story about a millionaire who goes on vigilante streaks at night dressed like a bird until they actually saw it?” No, of course not, of course they didn’t. It was somebody's artistic vision that people saw and liked after it was in someone’s mind. Comic books are a real example of this effect, one of the best ones in fact but this is what happens when they’re not treated as such and are instead treated as our own creations to do with and manipulate as we please.
“The Avengers” movies, all the ones with the title “Avengers” in the beginning of them, they’ve all been terrible. This one’s the worst yet; (Ugh, and I know I have another to go at some point.) it’s the one I’ve been fearing would happen. It’s absolute proof to me that the notion that combining these worlds and universes together into an epic storytelling experience, doesn’t make it greater, grander or for that matter, even any good at all. If anything, this might be the worst of the bunch because of how it makes everything else before it worst, by showing how manipulative and little they actually were, pawns on a chessboard, easily taken out at will. This was planned for years, why was I made to care? Thanos might be destroying in order to create and ultimately rebuild (Granted, that’s giving him credit to think that far ahead) but the MCU I now recognize is just a bunch of creating, in order to destroy. Perhaps if I had a stronger connection to these movies, I’d be more emotionally elegiac, but I don’t think so.
Comic books, for all intensive purposes, are fairly cheap to make, and these stories work better in that medium because of it, because many people who do love comics can afford to dive into these several pieces of media that they can read relatively quickly, and it doesn’t require a giant, grand effort to write, draw, color, and publish them, especially if they’re coordinated under an all-around vision at a publishing house like Marvel, and those creators are given as much time as possible to create as complex a narrative and universe as they possibly can, literally, anything they can possibly draw with pencil and paper, as much of or as little as they need, but these are movies. They take longer to make, and even if these were all made as cheaply as possibly, which they’re not, they’d still be more of an undertaking than any comic books or scenes that they’re depicting. It can take just a handful or two of people to create a comic book, it take thousands of people to make these movies, each one of them and the time, money and man hours involved in such an undertaking is overwhelming, and that’s wasted with a film like this, that makes this film feel like a waste of time but makes all those other movies and all that was put into them feel like a bigger waste of literal time and energy that’s been building up for years, then yeah, in that case, I’m not just pissed at them based on concept or their overreach into Hollywood and pop culture, I’m just pissed off at them now, period….
And there’s still a movie to go
And superhero movies to go before I sleep
And superhero movies to go before I sleep….
NO! I say no, do not aim to please the fans, ever! You're artists, first you create, then they like what you do, not the other way around. You're artists, if they're real fans, they'll like what you're doing and nothing much else will matter. If they want to control the art then they better become artists and create their own work.