These posts are almost caught up. I’m starting this one as we transition from May to June, which means I’m only a month behind. This is the post for the first time watches I experienced in April. There weren’t too many as school was winding down for the year. It was busy time, with final projects, exams, and lots of studying.
All in all, twelve movies were seen for the first time, and they crossed all kinds of genres. There were a couple superhero movies in there, a movie rooted in virtual reality, some movies involving aliens, and a movie about a gigolo. April was a month of variety, and it was a month of movies that won’t be forgotten. Let’s get into them without wasting too much more time.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
After the campy fun of the first Street Fighter, this one was a bit of a letdown. It took itself too seriously and ended up being goofy because of it. Neal McDonough tried his best to make something good, but there’s no saving whatever the hell Chris Klein was doing. It was about Chun-Li getting vengeance for what M. Bison did to her father. She took on a mentor, joined up with the police, and did whatever she could to take down the crime boss of Bangkok. The action was as crazy as the performances, though neither was intentionally that crazy. The only good thing to come out of it was a bunch of still images of Chris Klein’s facial expressions.
Ready Player One
Stephen Spielberg has made great live action films his entire career. He proved in 2011 that he could also make a great animated film with The Adventures of Tintin. Ready Player One was an attempt to blend the two through the world of virtual reality. It didn’t land too well. Though both the in and out of virtual reality were enjoyable enough, it felt like the stakes were put in the wrong place. The story was about solving the puzzles that the game’s creator had put into the game upon his death. It was about saving the game by using the friends made in the game. Yet, for some reason, the stakes were made greater in the outside world. The stakes of the game world were simply having to restart without the resources that were made. The real world was life or death. The story was focused on the game. There’s no getting around that, and it made the movie fall apart. It was still a fun ride. Messy, but fun.
Having seen The Babysitter and When We First Met, I wanted to finish off the group of movies that I considered a creative Trilogy. The DUFF was the first one to come out, but the third in my viewing order. It was pretty much what I expected. A girl had issues with her looks and found love in an unexpected (for her) place. Mae Whitman should definitely star in more movies. She brought the character to life in a way that I’m not entirely sure anyone else could have. The rest of the cast was pretty good too. Whitman was the driving force, though, pushing everything forward to entertaining heights.
Ballad of a Soldier
One of the best movies we watched in film class was this Russian movie about a soldier traveling home on leave to help his mother fix a roof. The relationship he built with a stowaway on the train was one of the more captivating examples of a blossoming relationship that I’ve seen put to film. The ending left me wanting more, even though it was the perfect place to close things out. I want more, but I wouldn’t change it. It’s a great movie.
For a few years, it was tough to talk about horror films without hearing about how great The Babadook was. It has the reputation of being a modern horror classic. I finally got around to checking it out and it didn’t work for me. The kid was super annoying to the point where I wanted to shut it off and not continue watching at any point. I’m a person who will keep watching something if I’ve started it. The ending didn’t quite land either. All in all, it was a disappointment.
The Gleaners & I
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. That’s the lesson to be learned from this artistically made documentary. Gleaners are people that take what other people don’t want. They’ll take the harvested fruit that isn’t good enough to sell, and is instead discarded on the ground in orchards. They will take furniture that people leave on the street. Some of them even forage in the garbage of grocery stores and restaurants. The people were strange, as was the storytelling, which made the documentary stand out. I wasn’t a huge fan of it though. It was too off-putting.
To finish off the school year, our film teacher showed us Midnight Cowboy. It was a Hollywood example of the French New Wave techniques that he had been in love with. Many of the elements were there. It switched between colour and black and white. There were jump cuts. The storytelling played with time. Had more of our lessons been laid out like this, where we saw the inspiration and later visited what it inspired, I would have appreciated the class more. This might be the best performance Jon Voight ever put in, and the direction was superb. I couldn’t get past Dustin Hoffman’s accent, though. Oh well. It’s still pretty great.
Aliens vs. Titanic
People love versus movies. Freddy vs. Jason put two slasher favourites against each other. Alien vs. Predator brought two space originated creatures into a battle. Batman v. Superman bonded two superheroes over their moms being named Martha. Aliens vs. Titanic had a lot to live up to. It wasn’t good. There’s no way to say it could be. It was sort of fun, though. The story got so dumb that it was tough to not enjoy it. Aliens possessed people to mate with them and take over the human race, but they were on a deserted planet. One woman had psychic powers and one man had pills to make people horny. It was ridiculous. There was no Titanic. There was a spaceship called the Titan-1C. Goofy fun.
This sequel to the 2010 science fiction movie vastly improved on its predecessor. The first movie had been about people trying to escape from an apartment building while aliens were outside. This sequel put the people on the offensive. They weren’t just trying to get away anymore. They were fighting back. Frank Grillo led a cast that included Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian from The Raid. It was a solid cast of action stars fighting aliens in Los Angeles, Laos, and the spaceship itself. It might not be the greatest action flick to come out in the past few years, but it’s still a hell of a time. If you want to see the guys from The Raid or the guy from the Purge sequels doing their thing against aliens, this is the perfect movie for you.
Sometimes a movie will come out that subverts all expectations. I went into Suburbicon expecting an action movie set in a 1950s style suburbia. That’s not what the movie was. Not at all. Suburbicon was about a kid unravelling a conspiracy involving his parents and his aunt, while a race riot was about to break out because a black family moved in next door. There was a little bit of action, but the movie was mostly about sleuthing out answers for a situation that seemed wrong from every angle. What seemed like it would be a Matt Damon movie was about a kid trying to figure out what Matt Damon was doing. It was darkly humorous and highly enjoyable. It got a bad reputation when it came out. It’s better than that.
Avengers: Infinity War
Ten years of Marvel movies have led to this moment. That’s what we had been told in the months leading up to the release of the third Avengers movie and nineteenth in the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe. Audiences have gotten to know many of the characters through the years over many movies. Even the newer characters are beloved. Marvel brought most of them together for this battle against Thanos, a guy working to gather all of the Infinity Stones so that he can wipe out half of existence. It’s not the best Marvel movie, though it has one of the best villains. Thanos thinks that what he is doing is right. And he has a background that can back up his stance. It was fun seeing the Earthbound heroes interact with the more cosmic characters, and the way all of the heroes worked together was the best instance of Marvel having different superheroes working together with their varied powers. It’s a solid superhero action movie, and I’m excited for the follow up.
Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD
The 1990s were a strange time for comic book movies. DC was making the biggest movies with the Batman series. Meanwhile, Marvel was letting anyone take their property and make movies. That’s where that weird Captain America movie came from, and why there is a low budget Fantastic Four movie out there somewhere. There were television movies, too, including this movie about Nick Fury, the SHIELD agent that we all know and love from Samuel L. Jackson’s performance in the MCU. David Hasselhoff took the mantle in this one and chewed as much scenery as he did cigars. It wasn’t a terrible spy/action movie made for television screens. There’s something to be entertained by in it. There have been much better, though. This pales in comparison to other superhero movies that came out soon after, including X-Men and Spider-Man. Still don’t regret watching it.
April came to close on a couple of movies based on the Marvel comics. One was pretty good and the other was okay. They were only two of the movies I watched for the first time that month. All around, things weren’t too bad. They weren’t great, but I had a good time watching movies. That’s all you can ask for.
The month that followed was one where life hit me hard, which meant I only got around to eleven first time watches. That may be the least amount of them since I first began writing these posts two years ago. Of course I saw the new Star Wars movie. I also saw an older Star Wars movie. I’ll get to those in the next post, though. I’m not there yet.
Before I end this post, I want to toss a few plugs in here. As always, you can find me on Twitter here and here. I write the Sunday “Bad” Movies posts every week. Check them out. I also write about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers sometimes. For other people to check out, maybe try my bud Jaime Burchardt. He’s a good guy who sometimes does some writing. He does the Netflix Weekly posts for Cinepunx where he writes about whatever Netflix release he wants to. Check out a post he once wrote for Handsome – A Netflix Mystery Movie. You could also head on over to Talk Film Society, a group of great people who like to write about everything film. The staff recently came together to write a post about their favourite performances from the Ocean’s 8 cast. That’s all I have for now. See you next time.