Film reviews: It and Kingsmen: Golden Circle. And oh yeah, theater etiquette

 

Finally, 2 films worth seeing in the theater.  And I have to take a brief timeout to make the following declarations/observations.  I don’t remember movie theater behavior as bad as it has been in the last 10 years.  When did we regress as a society?  When in doubt, shut the fuck up.  No one who paid 15 bucks wants to hear you or your friends’ “witty” retorts as the film goes on.  You don’t need to repeat the funny lines either.  Just shut up.  You wanna ask someone what they just said, you get a, “one time” for the entire film.  We don’t need a running play by play.  And when it comes to food, chew with your mouth closed.  No one wants to hear you chomp like a cow chewing cud.  And if you are dumb enough to overpay for movie theater candy, open it before the film starts.  Or just RIP it open, don’t try and jiggle it open.  The crinkle sound it makes everyone in the theater want to follow you to your car and slash 3 of your tires.  Isn’t it hilarious how theaters preach silence but sell the loudest food and boxes with the nosiest packaging?  And people wonder why video piracy is on the rise.  You can put lounge chairs and improve the food but until you start screening out retards from talking in the theaters, you can expect lower profits.  You want people coming back into the theater?  Have someone in the theater who will throw you out after one warning.  And any person who works for a theater who sells tickets to parents bringing in a kid under the age of 10 to an R rated film after 9pm should be fired.  Then whipped.  Then set on fire.  And then have DYFUS called on the parents.

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A Stephen King film makes its way back to the cineplex.  And not soon enough as King’s recent string of films made from his novels have been straight up abortions.  His last good film was, “Misery”, which was 1990.  Yeah, the last time he made a good film, the Dallas Cowboys were good.  THAT long.  If you don’t know the story, a group of misfit kids discover a clown by the name of Pennywise (fantastic band) has been terrorizing Derry, Maine for almost 100 years by killing kids every 27 years.  I didn’t read the book (I will now) but I did see the miniseries on ABC from 20 plus years ago.  Obviously, you can get away with a lot more in the theater with an R rating than on channel 7.

Bill Skarsgaard plays said clown while a bunch of nobody actors play the kids.  My favorite kid of the ragtag bunch is the character, Richie Tozier.  He’s a mini Stiffler from American Pie, whipping out literal LOL moments throughout the film.  And he plays Street Fighter in the movie theater arcade?  My kinda guy, you’ll love him.  Here’s why “It” works.  It doesn’t resort to cheap jump cuts with a sound effect to scare you.  The plot itself is legit scary, even the B and C plot lines.  The drama generically builds and you enjoy the ride and even though you may not jump, the horror in itself is also in what these kids go through in their home lives.  The overbearing mother.  The pedophile dad.  The brother of the deceased kid.

Here’s what else I loved about the film, it takes place in 1989.  And you see TONS of nods to the era.  The local theater is playing Batman and Lethal Weapon 2 and later on, Nightmare on Elm Street 5.  The arcade has Street Fighter.  And a few funny callbacks to New Kids on the Block.  Richie Tozier is wearing an Airwolf t-shirt (love that show.  The nostalgia brought a smile to my face when they weren’t being chased or chasing a demonic clown.

Fair warning: you’re not getting the whole story in this film. You’re only getting the kids experience Pennywise as they’re doing a separate film when the adults fight the clown.

This is a smart and well done horror film.  It flows nicely and being the books is longer than most, it was wise to break this into 2 films as it would’ve been too jammed to do it all in one.  I didn’t read the book but I will.  I’ve been told by those who love the book that aside from a few details that had minor impact, this film is very true to the book.  I thoroughly enjoyed this and look very forward to the 2nd half.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

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Next up, the only other film I looked forward to seeing in the Sept-November timeframe. I loved the first Kingsman film.  The tongue in cheek factor, smart writing, irreverence, and ORIGINAL spy/action hero themes made for a fantastic film.  So when they announced the sequel, I was enthusiastic.  Everyone is back, even Colin Firth who “died” in the first one.  Without spoiling, I felt his explanation of returning from the dead was a bit lazy.  It wasn’t, “That was my twin brother” lazy but still, unremarkable.  Julianne Moore plays a Pollyanna-esque drug lord who created a small city of 50’s themed diners/theaters.  The Kingsmen are nearly completely destroyed sans Eggsy and Merlin.  They discover they have American cohorts, The Frontsmen, and visit them for help against Moore’s poisoning the world through narcotics.

Here’s what I liked: the way Firth needs to remember how he was a Kingsman was pretty slick.  The action is fine and of course, more dirty humor makes this different than most spy films.  They definitely try to zag with the script when you think a zig is going to happen.  I also appreciated the Frontsmen and Jeff Bridges as their boss works great.  They set it up nicely for future collaborations.

But here’s where the film misses.  The victim stance on drug users is overly propagandistic and at times, a bit much to swallow for a film that you just want to sit back and shut off most of your brain.  And Moore’s villain backstory, I’m not buying it.  I get that it’s hard to be original when it comes to the origin story or reasoning with super villains trying to blackmail the USA.  Which is why I loved the theme in the first film where Samuel L gave away free phone access via a chip implanted into peoples’ heads which in turn made them violent zombies.  That was a more fun take on society, showing how we are almost helpless without our phones.  But in the sequel, poisoning the drug supply felt like an easy way out.  And this film clocks in at just under 2.5 hours but it DRAAAAAGS.  They could’ve whittled 15-20 minutes off of this and not spoiled the end product.  Lastly, the Elton John cameos were a bit much.  They have him fighting off bad guys in the end?  He’s a flamboyant piano player, I just didn’t feel it fit and become a tired act after seeing him in more than 2 scenes.

Did I like it?  It’s fine but definitely not better than the first.  You’ll want to see if you liked the first but you’re not walking out with the same warm feelings that the first one gave you either.  I think if they make a third; it’s going to be REALLY bad, despite the nice setup the Frontsmen gives another film  Cash those chips in and move on, Matthew Vaughn.

I give it a 6.5 out of 10

Film Review: Logan Lucky

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After doing some quick math, I think I saw double the number of films this summer vs last year’s garbage dump of cinematic “attempts.”  Logan Lucky is going to wrap up this crop of summer’s films and then it’s time to get ready for the usual onslaught of awful films from September-Thanksgiving.  However, I can see 2 early exceptions to this rule: Stephen King’s IT (that clown looks scarier than the Jets chances of making the playoffs) as well as the sequel for the Kingsmen.  If you haven’t seen the first Kingsmen film, do so.  It’s insanely well done and director Matthew Vaughn RARELY misses (see Wanted with Angelina Jolie as said exception.)  Anyway, on to Lucky Logan.

I must have missed the memo but apparently, Steven Soderbergh went into retirement for a little while but now he’s re-emerged with the hillbilly version of Ocean’s 11, Logan Lucky.  Soderbergh recasts one of his usual suspects, Channing Tatum, to play Jimmy Logan, a West Virginia good ol boy who just lost his job and comes up with a scheme to rob the Charlotte motor speedway.  Joining him is his one handed, bartender brother, Clyde, (Adam Driver who needs to wear his Kylo Ren mask wherever he goes, he’s one ugly dude) and his hairdresser sister Mellie (Riley Kelough).  Katie Holmes plays Jimmy’s ex wife with whom he’s constantly battling over their beauty pageant daughter.  I must say, she hasn’t aged well.  Watch an underrated film called, Go, from 1999 and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  Although my vote for scene stealer goes to Daniel Craig who plays Joe Bang, a demolition expert that’s current locked up in the hoosegow.  He’s hilarious and you can see him having fun with this character and accent.

This film has a slight “Dukes of Hazard” feel to it with the Yee-hah, state fair, NASCAR lovin’ country folk.  The only thing missing was a Trump reference but thankfully, Soderbergh doesn’t go down Stereotype Boulevard with that.  And just like Ocean’s 11, there’s a crew involved.  But the differences start here because I felt myself more attached to the Ocean’s crew than the Logan group.  It’s not that the characters do anything to inspire the audience hatred, I just didn’t smile as much or wanted to see or hear more of their characters.  If you’ve seen any of the Ocean’s films, Soderbergh uses his usual visual and musical clues for the audience to make sure that they pay attention to said clues.  He also put it best in an interview: this is a crew using “rubber band technology” as opposed to Clooney’s group having state of the art gadgets.  That does fit this group more soundly as it would be weird with a Boss Hog type using lasers to cut through glass.

The critics are loving the bejesus out of this film but I wasn’t as on board with their praise.  I felt the payoff in the end didn’t pack as powerful as a punch as it could have.  Hillary Swank comes in late as an FBI investigator and I felt she really didn’t add anything to the film.  Was this film fine?  Yes.  Is it as good as the reviews are?  No.  Should you pay $15 bucks for it?  Up to you but I’ll bet you’ll walk out saying, “Not bad, not great either.”

I give it a 6/10