Movie Diary

I like to joke that Bird Box is just Speed 2 with blindfolds. But actually, it reminded me of Gravity in how I was extremely tense for a good hour or 2 waiting to see how Sandra Bullock got through this ordeal. The most common criticism of Bird Box was that it doesn't show the monster, and it turns out the filmmakers wanted to, but the visual effect they came up with just looked bad so they ditched it, but honestly I was fine with it, I thought it fit thematically with the concept enough that they may as well have planned it that way. Unseen and unexplained things in high concept horror movies don't bother me if the story tracks. And as far as Netflix moving into event movies that get as many viewers in its first week as the biggest box office hits, Bird Box beats the hell out of that Will Smith orc cop movie. I especially liked the way the movie played with your expectations of certain characters, particularly John Malkovich's character.

b) Bumblebee
I like to joke that Bumblebee is just The Edge of Seventeen if Hailee Steinfeld filled the void left by her dead father with a giant yellow robot. My kids are 2nd generation Transformers fans, and it was fun to see my 9-year-old about as excited to see Bumblebee as I was to see Transformers: The Movie when I was a kid. Of course, the Michael Bay movies of my adulthood have not been kind to the franchise, but Bumblebee bests all of them simply by making the scale a little smaller and doing a better job of establishing the human/Autobot friendship that drives the story.

c) Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
I think I was as excited to see this as my son was, and he was really excited, he watched all 3 trailers over and over in the weeks leading up to its release. I loved the animation, loved the story and the way it melded comic book mythology and cartoony humor with more grounded drama and this kind of surprisingly profound idea that if one of the main themes of Spider-Man is him feeling alone in the world because of his powers and his responsibilities, the only way for him to feel understood is to meet webbed crusaders from parallel universes.

d) Avengers: Infinity War
The first Avengers was, I think, pretty high up there among the best MCU movies, partly because it was the first time you saw a lot of these characters all together and things really gelled nicely. Age of Ultron kind of strained under the weight of adding even more togethers, so I was skeptical about Infinity War expanding the scope even futher. But it worked pretty well, I enjoyed all the setpieces in the first half of the movie where you get people meeting that you haven't seen together before like Dr. Strange and Tony Stark or Thor and the Guardins, before it all ramps up. I kind of roll my eyes at the big downer ending because it's still a fantastical comic book movie where death isn't death and most of those characters will be back in future movies, but it played out well.

e) Dumplin'
A pretty charming movie, I loved all the Dolly Parton music and the way there was kind of a twist at the end so it wasn't a too-perfect happy ending.

f) Traffik
A kind of pulpy thriller that reminded me of the Straw Dogs remake in parts, but I thought the ending was done well with the one survivor outsmarting the bad guys.

g) Rampage
Rampage was one of my favorite arcade games to play growing up, and I loved the idea of it being adapted into a big dumb action movie. But as ridiculous as it is to be purist about the movie diverting from the canon of the video game, I have no idea why they changed it from humans that become giant gorilla, wolf and lizard monsters to just three actual animals that get exposed to a pathogen and become giant monsters. That's a way worse story.

h) Tomb Raider
Speaking of movie franchises based on video games, this is probably one of the biggest, but even a slightly more serious reboot that frames Lara Croft more like a female Indiana Jones seems kind of beneath Alicia Vikander given the quality of her other movies. Kind of enjoyable, though, lots of scenery chewing from Walton Goggins and Dominic West. 

i) Pacific Rim: Uprising
I wasn't that into the first movie and invariably you're gonna take a step down in quality when Guillermo del Toro hands the reigns of a franchise to a first time director. John Boyega felt like a better fit than the stars of the first movie, though, I think you really feel how much he enjoys being in big crazy sci-fi movies.

j) Downsizing
I was surprised to see Matt Damon in ads for such a goofy-looking movie about people being shrunk down, and shocked when I realized that Alexander Payne wrote and directed it. Payne's other movies are all very much based in the world we live in and often finding humor in fairly normal situations, so it's so strange to see him make a movie with kind of a wacky high concept premise, especially since the movie quickly stops seeing the humor in the situation and becomes kind of thoughtful and downbeat. 

k) A Bad Moms Christmas
The first Bad Moms movie was an enjoyable enough little by the numbers mainstream comedy, and the sequel took Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell and upped the ante with Christine Baranksi and Susan Sarandon, so it was a decent thing to put on in the background one afternoon around the holidays. 

l) Deep Sea
My bro got my family a Maryland Science Center membership for Christmas so we went there recently with the kids to play around and check out what was playing in their IMAX theater. I was saying on the way that I hoped they'd have an ocean life documentary because those are often my favorites, so I was pretty thrilled that it was this 2006 short narrated by Kate Winslet and ugh Johnny Depp. Some really great footage, some of it of species I'd never head of before. 
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