Four Movie Reviews! (I Went a Little Crazy Yesterday)

movie-reviews

Some years ago one of my favorite things to do was have all day movie festivals/marathon. I would go to a theater and watch one movie after another. Yesterday I did it again. It was a joy. Something I hadn’t done in a long time!

So here are my thoughts…. I will try to give Spoiler Warnings, although I am not quite sure how to do it….

BEN-HUR

The 1959 version of Ben-Hur really is one of my favorite movies. If not in my top ten, it is still way up there. No matter how many times I see it, it stirs a plethora of emotions. For over three hours I am on a roller coaster and often on the edge of me seat, especially the famous chariot race, even though I have seen it dozens of times and know how it ends. I am hit by so much of this classic film: joy, anger, heart-thrills, love, reverence and more.

I see in that movie the love between Judah Ben-Hur and his boyhood friend Messala. I was not surprised when I found out in extras that the director told Stephen Boyd (Messala) to treat his relationship with Judah as if he were in love with him. I think even as a kid I saw the erotic passion emanating from the man. I was caught up in so much passion in the film. The desire for Messala to prove himself to Rome, the love between him and Judah, the horror when Judah and his family (at Messala’s own words) are sent to the dungeons and the galley. I was swept up in Judah’s intense desire for revenge and how that desire turned to a burning hatred toward the man he once loved. Then there was his love for the Roman man who adopted the Ben-Hur who was once a galley slave. I felt for Judah when he finally went back to Jerusalem, and found out his mother and sister had leprosy. And how he fell back in love with Ester, a woman who had once been his slave (yes, the Jews had slaves). Oh, and the chariot race! Edge. Of. Your. Seat! And of course Judah getting his revenge on Messala, and finding it empty. And of course the true power in the character of Jesus, and all that went with that. Love, compassion, forgiveness and more—all of which finally bring Judah’s heart back to life. And let us not forget the tears of joy when his mother and sister are cured when a storm brings Christ’s blood to them through the rushing water. So many emotions! So much passion! I love this film!

And then there is the new movie. Not bad. But I am sad to say, not good. I think “meh” would fit. There is absolutely no passion in this film. When all the things (or most of them) listed above happen in this new movie, I was all but yawning. I didn’t believe in any of the characters. They were total cardboard. No passion. I never felt the love between Judah and his best friend. When Judah and his family are hauled off to their awful fates, I didn’t care. When Judah was taken to the galleys and forced to row for Rome for five years, I couldn’t be bothered to yawn. What’s more, when he is freed, he is this skinny guy who doesn’t have the body of a runner. Wouldn’t all those years of hard labor have changed his body? When he meets Ilderim, the man who owns the horses that Judah will ride in the chariot race—it’s boring. When Messala finds out the Judah is alive—who cares? Messala didn’t seem to. When Judah is reunited with both Ester, the love of his life—no fire, no passion at all. When he finds out his mother and sister have leprosy—he only vaguely seemed to be bothered at all. The chariot race, when today’s incredible CGI was just so-so. Not yawn. But nothing edge of the seat at all. Then when Jesus comes back into the story, I didn’t believe for one second that his message turned Judah’s heart from stone back into flesh. Did. Not. Believe. It. For. A. Second. The acting was so…boring. Even that of Morgan Freeman. How sad is that?

I see no reason for this classic movie to have been re-made. Certainly not with this particular version. I cannot recommend this movie. Maybe if it becomes available through RedBox or if you have cable, watch it there. But don’t waste the gasoline money, let alone whatever it cost to see a movie where you live. I was pretty disappointed.

MORGAN

A very powerful and disturbing film and I can certainly recommend this movie to those who are fans of the horror combo science fiction movie. “Morgan” is a scientifically created artificial creation—gone wrong. Lee Weathers is a corporate risk-management consultant who is charged with deciding whether or not to terminate this humanoid being. The other characters are the family of people who created her. And while the characters of Morgan and Lee are cool and emotionless, still far more under the surface feelings come across than anyone in Ben-Hur. Deciding, as a viewer, if Morgan deserves death or not is quite edge of the seat. In some ways this movie reminded me of Ex Machina, another horror/SF movie that I really liked. This movie I can recommend. See it in the theater, even though you could wait. The cinematography was muted and gray and claustrophobic and…powerful. This was the best of the four movies I saw yesterday. It also, I must add, had a great cast, and all were excellent actors!

PETE’S DRAGON

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie! While it is obviously a “kid’s” movie, once again Disney was smart enough to make sure there was plenty to appeal to adults. Adults who will feel like a kid when seeing this movie. I loved this story of a young boy raised by a dragon. You know I have never seen the original, so I can’t say how close it is like that movie, but I was swept up over and over and over again. And the acting! Everyone was so good, especially Bryce Dallas Howard as Grace, the forest ranger, and yes, Oakes Fegley as Pete. This was yet another movie that I believed in the characters and everything they went through. I loved Oona Laurence as Natalie, Pete’s first human friend since his parents were killed in a car crash years before. Robert Redford was wonderful as the old man who claims to have once seen a dragon (and who no one ever believed). And I loved hating (or at least not liking) Karl Urban as Gavin, the man who wants to hunt, capture, and own a dragon. And there were numerous times that my heart simply sored—which sadly it did not once during Ben-Hur. My only question is why they chose to make Elliot the dragon a mammal (complete with green fur as well as a dog like nose and behavior) instead of a reptile. It didn’t bother me. It was just a curiosity…. See this movie! At least on DVD.

SUICIDE SQUAD

Sadly, I can’t say too much about this movie again. I don’t know what DC’s problem is in translating its characters and books to the big screen, but they just can’t seem to find the magic that Marvel Comics has generated in its translations. At least this movie was better than DC’s last few attempts. It’s no Green Lantern thank goodness.

The set up was eternal. It was confusing as well. Maybe you have to be a fan of the comic book? But to that argument I say what I say in every other instance of book/comic book/television series/etc being translated to the big screen. I shouldn’t have to be familiar with the original material! The movie should tell the tale all one its own. It is one thing to better appreciate a movie if you are a fan of the original and able to find all the Easter eggs placed there for fans. But I should be able to understand what the hell is going on.

Yes I understood that Amanda Waller has come up with an plan to deal with a world that now has Supermen in it. That with his death, she is concerned that if the next “Superman” is evil, that there must be a way to deal with it. Her idea is to bring the worst of the worst, the most villainous characters (who are all in prison) together and make them a team to fight threats (by placing explosives in their necks to keep them in check). And there is some actual good acting. Will Smith was surprisingly good (he has been so blah for about ten years now, constantly playing Will Smith over and over) as Deadshot, the man who cannot miss. Viola Davis was terrific as Amanda Waller. And Margot Robbie stole that show as Harley Quinn, the totally insane lover of the Joker! I mean, wow! And Jared Leto as the Joker? Why I just can’t decide. I will give him this. He played him far, far, far closer to the comic book version of the character than any other actor to date. And he was scary crazy. Not at all the campy version of Cesar Romero, the stupidly over the top version by Jack Nicholson (who simply plays Jack Nicholson), or the chillingly crazy version by Heath Ledger. What I didn’t like was how they made him visually. Tattos and metal teeth and the like. So I will have to think on him to see how I feel. And the acting by the other actors? Sadly, even Jai Courtney (Boomerang), who I really love seemed bored out of his mind.

The major problem with the film is what has happened with so many other DC films. First, I don’t believe in any of them and can’t identify or sympathize with them. Not even Diablo—the man with a tragic past—or Deadshot—who has a huge love for his daughter.

See, I can identify with Peter Parker/Spider-Man, the everyman. Even a man with super strength and the powers of a spider is still a simple man, who has everyday problems—just like us. Daredevil might be blind and have impossible radar-like powers, but he’s just a guy, and I can feel for him—and root for him. Even Thor, a god, has to learn humility, earn the respect of his father, and fall in love. So many of us have to learn the same lessons.

But how do you identify with Superman, who is invincible and can do anything? Or Batman, a billionaire who is arguably as crazy as the villains he fights? Or Wonder Woman, who wasn’t even born, but made of clay by Queen Hippolyta and brought to life by Zeus? As well as most of the characters in Suicide Squad? How do I identify with Killer Croc, a man slash crocodile? And the movie does little to help with that dilemma.

This translates to the villain and the threat of the movie. The Enchantress and her brother, six-thousand-year-old gods who want to wipe out all life of Earth. It was all kind of silly and never felt like any kind of threat. Cara Delevingne spends most of the movie undulating and sorta of hula hooping/hula dancing while trying to scare us. I found myself laughing out loud.

And over and over again the movie just seemed to get lost—forever seeming to forget what it was about. I left the theater unmoved or excited.

My recommendation? See the movie on RedBox while friends are over and pay sorta attention to it while eating hors d’oeuvres and having cocktails. It’s all the attention it really deserves—but Harley Quinn is so much fun, she deserves the chance to be seen.

And there you have it. My review of the four movies I saw yesterday. Opinions may vary. I’d love to hear what you think?

Movie Joy!
B.G. Thomas

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2 thoughts on “Four Movie Reviews! (I Went a Little Crazy Yesterday)

  1. Thanks for these reviews. I am sure I will have to watch Ben Hur with the hubby ( thankfully we buy or watch on Pay per view at home. This is his type of movie as is the second one you mentioned. We will probably watch Pete’s Dragon though I wonder why it’s been remade.The Dragon sounds like the one in the Never-ending Story it was kind of mammalish with a dog face too. I am not a big movie watcher as I would rather read but Hubby has me watching a movie with him most days now. Last night we watched one believe it or not it was Japanese and fully in caption, but it was cute and funny sort of like No Batteries required and shows like that with a little funny Alien and some sad parts. I was shocked how good even though I had it read itLOL

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