Film review: Tenet

Hey everyone, it’s been a minute or 5 months since we had more than a handful of new films to talk about. I sure as hell wasn’t paying $25 for Bill and Ted 3, King of Staten Island, or the Mulan reboot. But thankfully, on 9/4, theaters in NJ reopened and I made sure I was at the earliest possible showing of Tenet so as to avoid large crowds of people that talk amongst themselves or spread contagion.

This was one of the films I had circled as Nolan ALWAYS gets my $15 but as we’ve said on http://www.guttingthesacredcow.com podcast (And for god sakes, go to the website to buy a shirt, bag, hat, etc as well as follow our articles every M-F. Shame on you if you’re missing out on the best movie podcast out there. And Kevin Israel and I have guested on enough to know we’re better than all of them.) that we were both worried about Tenet from the trailer.  Hell, even the actors in the film didn’t understand the story.  https://screenrant.com/tenet-movie-plot-time-travel-inversion-confused-actors/

I mean, that can’t be good but hell, that’s not stopping me.  And even Nolan’s last 3 films (we’ve done Interstellar and Inception on the podcast, make sure you give them a listen!) were beautifully shot but man, those story lines missed the mark.  So even with all the odds stacked against it, I anxiously awaited this along with the opportunities to eat overpriced pretzel bites with synthetic nacho cheese in a semi-reclining chair.  So what did I think?

So what is Tenet?  It’s a combination of time-reversal and inversion.  It’s kinda sorta like the Matrix where you can manipulate physics.  But unlike the Matrix, I can’t fully explain how Tenet works.  John David Washington (Denzel’s kid and boy, does he have the same voice as his old man) plays, “The Protagnosist” who passes a test to be recruited for the Tenet organization.  He needs to meet up with an arms dealer and is escorted by Robert Pattinson, without diamonds in his face for a change, to Mumbai.  Then they need to break into a holding area for an artwork at the Oslo airport but hell, let’s use an airplane crashing into said area as a diversion.  Huh?  Why?  

And then, this story becomes even more convoluted than Interstellar and Inception combined.  Then the Protagonist and Edward the vampire goes after Russian arms dealer because he found as a teenager in Russia a missing plutonium case placed back in time by the Tenet organization to create an algorithm to destroy the world? Yeah, that was a run on sentence as this whole plot is a complex, run-on MESS.  You know what else they don’t have in this film?  Character development.  Insanely little backstory regarding their arcs so you feel nothing for them or care about them in the least.  

 I’ve never walked out of a theater with more questions in my history as a film fan.  I must’ve said to myself, “huh, what, why” in that order at least 10 times throughout this film.  Nolan went ABOVE and BEYOND testing my patience with all of these subplots, backstory, and choices he made.  I’m not going to list all the questions I had because if you see this, you’ll have the same ones I did.  I think I’m a reasonably smart guy but I was lost from the end of the first act onward.  I picked up a few things here and there but the majority of this film, I spent trying to piece together the answers.  I suppose if I see this again, I’ll have a better understanding.  But EVEN with all of the answers, I highly doubt the payoff is worth it.  I looked at my watch at least 5 times through this 2.5 hour affair.  At least Inception and Interstellar had some very cool effects/scenes whereas this one doesn’t.  We’ve seen time reversal in Dr. Strange.  And notably absent from this film is Hans Zimmer as Zimmer chose to score the Dune reboot instead of this.  Not saying that Zimmer’s score would’ve saved this debacle by any stretch.  I promise you that the people who say they love this didn’t understand the process but want to seem intelligent to others by liking it.

I absolutely hated this film and wish my return to the theater would’ve been more enjoyable but hey, even Babe Ruth didn’t bath 1.000.  Let’s cross our fingers that the new Bond meets expectations.

I give this a 3/10, major disappointment and easily Nolan’s worst film to date.   Here’s hoping he breaks his 4 game losing streak with his next project.

Film Review: Ralph Breaks the Internet

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Death, taxes, and Disney.  3 surefire constants in life.  Disney has made a TON of quality films: Toy Story 1-3 (Pixar but still under Disney umbrella), Lion King, Duck Tales Movie (You better believe that counts), Little Mermaid, the list goes on.  And hey, they’re allowed to have a Black Cauldron,  Chicken Little, or Meet the Robinsons every so often.  Then what happens?  Disney buys Star Wars and fires out films faster than Alexandra Ocasio Cortez fires out her lack of knowledge regarding government structure.  SHE ACTUALLY THOUGHT SHE WAS GETTING INAUGERATED??!! Anyway, some of the Star Wars films were solid (Rogue 1 and Episode 8), and a couple that weren’t (Solo and arguably Episode 7).  But Disney is that guy you want up to the plate with bases loaded and down by 3 in the bottom of the 9th.  They’ll bring it home and make more “feel good” memories for you 8 times out of 10.    

So when they announced a sequel to one of my favorite recent Disney films, Wreck it Ralph, I was immediately ecstatic.  How perfect was the mix of 80’s/90’s video games, humor, and even a message of acceptance for people with physical issues that doesn’t constantly hit you over the head.  I laughed throughout the first film and had to rewatch to see all of the characters walking in the background of all the scenes.  How did I think the sequel holds up?  Well…

Ralph and Vanellope (John C Reilly and Sarah “I don’t mind watching Louis CK beat off as long as that ginger juice doesn’t get on me” Silverman) are back in Litwak’s arcade, hooping it up when Ralph accidentally contributes to the breaking of Sugar Rush’s (Vanellope’s game) steering wheel.  Uh-oh!  A replacement steering wheel costs more than Sugar Rush takes in a year so all the characters escape from the now shutdown video game.  Vanellope and Ralph make their way into the wi-fi router and head to eBay so they can get that replacement steering wheel and save Candy Crush from being taken out of the arcade.  Cue the spam/pop up add jokes, the google autofill jokes, and various internet gags.  After Ralph and Vanellope win the auction for the Sugar Rush steering wheel, they learn that Ebay does indeed cost money.  Ralph heads off to make goofy videos and becomes a viral star with the help of the algorithm, YESSS (Taraji P Henson).  Meanwhile, Vanellope heads off and gets tied in with bad girl/wannabe Fast and the Furious racer, Shank (Gal Godot).  Vanellope wants to drive and Shank tells her that maybe Sugar Rush is not longer for the place for her.  Enter internal conflict of staying with her best friend or leaving for her dreams.  

At this point, this film is solid and just about as enjoyable as the first.  I must say that when Vanellope goes to the Disney section of the internet is HILARIOUS.  She runs into Star Wars characters, priceless.  But when she mets all of the princesses of the Disney films is when this film takes the cake.  Tons of shoutouts, tongue in mouth jokes from Snow White to Mulan to Elsa.  That writing couldn’t have been more sharp.  But I have to say, this film disappointed me when Ralph tries to sabotage the internet with a virus.  It really lost me in the end and I think the payoff was subdued because I wasn’t really on board with that final act.  Is this a fun film?  Yes.  Did I like it?  Yes.  But is this in the same ballpark as its predecessor?  Absolutely not.  

I give it a 6.5 out of 10.