Monday, August 22, 2016

First Time Watches: July 2016

Did you hear the news?  It’s August.  It’s the last month of summer.  School will be back soon.  But there’s one more thing that comes with August.  The turn of a new month brings a new crop of first time watches.  Since it is now August, I will be writing about the movies that I watched for the first time in July.

I enjoy writing about first time watches.  There are two reasons.  The first is that it gives a better representation of what I’ve watched than the simple top five that I tweet out each month.  The movies get their due.  The second reason is that it allows you to understand why I liked or disliked a movie, and gives me an idea in the future when I wonder why I feel the way I feel.  It’s slightly more in depth than a simple “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it.”  These posts give some reasoning behind that.  They’re a good record to keep.  That’s two points.  Record-keeping and being fair to the movies.

In total, there were seventeen first time watches in July.  Five were movies that I watched in the theatre.  One was a television movie that premiered in July.  Two were for my blog, and three were for reviews.  That’s a lot of movies for one month, and I’m excited to share my thoughts on each.  There was a wide variety.  Why don’t I get started already?

Into the Storm
I kicked off the month with a newer mainstream disaster movie.  I wasn’t expecting too much.  The trailers hadn’t made it out to be anything special.  But when I watched the movie, I was enthralled the entire time.  I wish I had seen it in theaters.  Each time that the storm hit was intense.  Having the movie presented in a documentary style helped put you in the shoes of the people experiencing the disaster.  There was a Twister-like element to putting the ensemble cast through a series of escalating tornado terror, and it never quite lived up to Twister, but it was still a fun ride.  It is a movie I won’t soon forget.

Jim Jefferies: Freedumb
His previous comedy special, Bare, is one of my favourites.  He was able to make light of both heavy and light issues in a way that struck me with delight.  With a new comedy special from him, I was sure to watch it.  It was a great follow up from Jim Jefferies.  He did more of the same with more topics and it was an enjoyable, laugh filled hour or so.  There’s not much more to say other than watch it, if you don’t mind him saying “cunt” a lot.

This is a strange, offensive beast of a movie.  Uwe Boll went all out when he wrote this, throwing insults at gay people, critics, and fat people.  He used his usual stable of actors in Clint Howard, Michael Paré, and Brendan Fletcher to bring an action comedy about a half vampire, half human who fought Nazis.  Normally, I wouldn’t believe this exists.  With the offensive humour and the 1940s setting that still has modern technology and references, it seems like something that would never get made.  But this is Uwe Boll and anything can happen with the guy.  Except for a good movie.  I have yet to see a good Uwe Boll movie in four movies.  This one didn’t change that.

American Ultra
Most of the movie Twitter circle I hang around doesn’t like Max Landis.  He has an obnoxious personality that clashes with many people.  Much like Uwe Boll’s personality coming through Blubberella, Landis’s personality came through the writing of American Ultra.  Everything seemed perfectly fitting of his personality.  How did the movie fare, though?  It was a fun action movie with a good cast.  It’s not necessarily well written, but the action scenes are well enough done to keep the movie entertaining.

Sick Sock Monsters from Outer Space
This is a difficult movie to describe.  It was an experiential science fiction movie starring a bunch of puppets made from socks and rubbish.  The story followed a suicidal mission to deliver some sort of chemical to distant planets.  The story was aided by the inclusion of musical moments.  Sick Sock Monsters from Outer Space was released by Troma, and was perfectly fitting of the studio.  It was a movie that not too many people would see or want to see but still has an interesting hook.  It was unique.  There aren’t many movies like it.  That doesn’t mean it is great.  It’s not good.  It is, however, unlike anything else I’ve seen and that makes it worth the watch.

Hectic Knife
Another Troma release, Hectic Knife was a strange little vigilante movie.  The main character was named Hectic Knife.  He poorly fought people with subpar knife skills.  His main villain was Piggly Doctor, an evil doctor who liked to blow up kids’ heads.  The movie was filled with fourth wall breaking and actors clearly enjoying what they were doing.  It was a fun ride that had me laughing and smiling.  I wasn’t expecting to like it so much, but I loved Hectic Knife and its strange sense of humour.

The first theatrical movie that I watched in July was the Ghostbusters reboot.  It starred four funny women, and featured many other funny people.  I got exactly what I wanted, if not more.  It was like a Marvel movie with ghosts instead of supervillains, and funny women instead of sort of funny superheroes.   I loved almost every minute.  The cameos of the 1980s cast didn’t always work, particularly Bill Murray’s, but it was still a great time.  I will definitely revisit this movie many times.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
This was a movie that adultified my childhood memories.  I remember watching YTV as a child.  Near the end of my YTV watching days, I was introduced to a new host of The Zone named Sugar.  She was in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and she did things that went against how I remember her from childhood.  I know she’s an adult.  I’m an adult now.  That was still a memory changing moment.  Anyway, the movie tried to be raunchy but went so far in that direction that it forgot to focus on the other parts of the story.  There were good moments.  Of course there were.  With that cast, how could there not be?  But a lot of the movie was only okay.  It felt like wasted potential.

Ghostbusters has left a lasting impression on many people.  Ghostheads followed a few people who took up the mantle of the Ghostbusters in real life.  They weren’t people who hunt ghosts.  They just dress up like the movie’s characters to help their community or to feel meaning in their lives.  The documentary was okay, but I feel like it either needed to go more in depth, or take a different angle in what it presented.  It put too much focus on nostalgia and not enough on the people who were keeping the legacy alive.  Perhaps it is worth a watch.  I won’t see it again.

Junk Bonds: The Return of Junkbucket
Some filmmakers create movies to pay tribute to what inspired them.  Junk Bonds was clearly inspired by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.  The story feels similar to its inspiration.  Characters share names and looks with people involved in the older franchise.  This was a fun, darkly comedic take on a classic horror movie.  Instead of straight cannibalism, it took a sexual turn.  People ate genitalia.  People attacked breasts and genitalia.  It was graphically sexual.  Yet it was still a blast.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
I’m the opposite of most people.  The normal trajectory that I’ve seen is that the second movie is the best and the series falls steeply after that.  I actually like the movies more as they go on.  With each installment, my enjoyment rose.  The final movie ended up being my favourite, taking the hunger games concept and putting it into an uprising.  It was a war movie with the traps of the hunger games.  I felt bad when characters died.  I was hopeful whenever there was a hint at success.  It was everything I hoped for and I was completely satisfied.  Minus the final scene.  The final scene was terrible.

Few movies can be compared to Ishtar.  It’s so terrible, but at the same time it is entirely watchable.  It isn’t enjoyable.  I didn’t like watching Ishtar.  It is watchable in the way that you can’t look away from an accident.  If two cars crash, you don’t want to see the carnage.  At the same time, you can’t look away.  You need to see what you don’t want to see.  That is Ishtar.

Star Trek Beyond
If you wanted to see something that felt like an episode of the show but with a modern big budget backing, this would be your movie.  It starts and ends with star log speeches.  The story is self-contained with the only continuing story thread being the possible addition of a new character to the crew.  The chemistry between the actors was great, and the action was fun.  The only thing that didn’t feel quite right was the obnoxious winking at the camera when Sabotage played.  Everything else was good, if not great.

Lights Out
The original version of Lights Out came out a few years ago and quickly garnered the title of one of the best horror short films ever.  It was only a matter of time before they put out a feature length version.  There was no way that it would live up to my high expectations.  That doesn’t mean it was bad.  The scares landed and the performances were solid.  The only real issue I had was that the ending was messy.  I felt let down by the events that stopped the horror.  It was not satisfying at all.

Everyone has been saying that Nerve feels like a version of The Game made for the teenagers of now.  I agree.  I enjoyed the hell out of Nerve.  It had the tension and the almost non-stop kinetics that I wanted.  It also had an interesting neon look that helped to make everything stand out visually.  There are better movies than Nerve but it managed to find all the right beats for me to fall in love with it.

Sex Tape
To quote myself from Twitter, “Sometimes you just need a dumb comedy, and how dumb it is doesn’t matter at all.”  That’s the kind of thought that led me to watch Sex Tape.  I had only heard bad things, but I wanted something dumb and funny.  It was the perfect choice.  There were great moments.  Each great moment was filled with a lot of dumb stuff.  It made me laugh, though.  I laughed a lot.  I think I needed that.  The laughing helped me somehow that I’m not quite sure about.

Sharknado 4: The Fourth Awakens
This was a disappointment.  I’ve been a fan of the Sharknado franchise for two years now.  I still don’t really like the first one, but Sharknado 2 and Sharknado 3 are among my favourite movies of their kind.  They don’t take themselves seriously, but they also manage to not go so far off the rails to be too insane.  Those two managed to find a sweet spot that was easily digestible and loads of fun.  The fourth installment went the too insane route.  Sharks were practically forgotten as they followed different dangerous types of tornadoes.  There was a tornado of fire and a tornado of nuclear waste.  The sharks were no longer the main threat.  Also a problem was the character growth.  The second and third movies had actual character arcs.  The fourth movie was the family thinking April was dead, April thinking the family was dead, and everyone discovering they weren’t dead.  The only real character arcs were a rich guy proving his worth, and the new Shepard son wanting to be like his dad.  The movie was a dud, with even the locations feeling like a waste.  A whole movie could have been set in any of the cities they went to.  But no, they squished them all together.  The potential of each place was shot with quick nods.  This could end up being my least favourite in the franchise.

And with that disappointment, July came to an end.  There was no more time to watch movies.  A new month came along.  July was a fun month.  At some points it was disappointing or underwhelming.  At other points, it was a whole lot of fun.  To make things even better, the month was bookended with tornado movies.  Into the Storm kicked off the fun, and Sharknado 4: The Fourth Awakens ended it.

August should bring another slew of interesting movies.  I’ve already seen a few, since it is currently halfway through the month.  I watched The Jerk for the first time, and I finally checked out The Big Short.  There are some horror movies in there, and a movie that almost killed John Travolta’s career.  You’ll have to come back in a month if you want to check out what movies I saw for the first time in August.  For now, I’m done writing about first time watches.  This post is done.

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