Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

MAY 30, 2019


My heart sank a bit when the ticket taker handed me a pair of 3D glasses for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, as I remember the 3D being such a drag on the first film and have gotten even less interested in the format in the five years since. This was a 4DX screening, which has motion seats and wind/water/lighting* effects to immerse you in the film, but my lone previous experience for it was IT, which was not 3D, so I just kind of had it in my head that all the shaking around would make the extra dimension a bit of overkill and thus they didn't bother with it. Thankfully, the conversion was far more successful this time - I wouldn't call it *necessary*, but I never once found myself distracted or annoyed by it, which is an achievement all on its own.

And that applies to the film as a whole: an improvement on the original. I actually liked the 2014 one quite a bit, despite its nothing of a lead character, but I know a lot of folks weren't into the serious approach and reduced monster action, so I worried this one would just be wall-to-wall destruction porn to appease the people who buy large sodas for 9 am screenings. But it's actually a nice balance of the two approaches - it does indeed have more monster action, but not so much that you become numb to it after awhile, and it still offers enough time with the human characters to give you something to connect to. And they've fixed that too - Aaron Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen are MIA and unmentioned, and in their place we have Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga, two of the best actors in their age group. Chandler's character is a bit like Johnson's in that he just seems to be good at whatever the scene requires, but somehow it goes down easier when it's someone with more screen charisma.

As for Farmiga, her character has created a device that can mimic the "voice" of the various creatures and keep them calm when necessary, and naturally some nefarious types want the device for their dastardly deeds. She's also Chandler's ex-wife; their marriage fell apart after they lost their young son during the first film's Godzilla attack (shades of Batman vs Superman, throwing Bruce Wayne into Man of Steel's climax to tie the new characters into the first film's events), and their surviving daughter is living with mom but trying to retain her relationship with her dad. Thankfully, it's not a Twister kinda thing where they are forced to reunite because of whatever spectacle is occurring and fall back in love during the process - in fact I think they only have two scenes together throughout the movie, and they're not particularly warm. It's more about how they (and the daughter, played by Millie Brown from Stranger Things) have each dealt with the tragedy - Chandler shuts down and hates the monsters, Farmiga wants to understand them, and the daughter just wants her family back.

The other major new character is an eco-terrorist played by Charles Dance, who I spent some time marveling that it's been 26 years since Last Action Hero and this esteemed actor is still showing up and seemingly having a blast playing villains in summer blockbusters. He believes the monsters should be allowed to run rampant and restore some balance to the world (but not wipe us out entirely; kind of Thanos-y in that regard), so it's a good kind of villain where you can almost see his point if you happened to read the news before you entered the theater. The rest of the humans are fine; a few return from the first film (including Ken Watanabe, yay!) and the others are basically filling out stock characters; the nerdy assistant (Thomas Middleditch), the soldier who seems to be present for every major battle (O'Shea Jackson Jr), the guy who spends the whole movie looking at monitors, giving ETAs and the like, and saying funny things (Bradley Whitford), etc. I couldn't tell you any of their names and in a couple months I won't remember which of them survived, but as they were mostly played by actors I like seeing, and never doing anything particularly stupid, I had no beef with any of them. Again, if it was wall to wall action I'd get bored, so spending a few minutes with these folks in between the fights was hardly an issue for me.

But yes, the fights! As the title suggests there are more monsters this time: Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidora all show up along with G himself, who gets more screentime as well. With most of the humans kind of on his side (or at least, not actively trying to kill him) he spends most of his scenes fighting the bad ones (Rodan and Ghidora) instead of knocking down jet fighters or whatever, and like the first film he only starts crumbling buildings in the finale - but not because the director cut away from it. Gareth Edwards has been replaced by Michael Dougherty (who also co-wrote) and the new director had the good idea to set the first few battles in isolated areas (Antarctica and a couple miles off the coast of Mexico) so that we could get our giant monster action fill without watching buildings get knocked over ad nauseum. So when all four monsters collide for the big action finale, it's also the first time they're doing so in a city (Boston, in fact!), treating us to the destruction we've been waiting for without getting blue balls by cutting away from it just before it happened.

Back to Dougherty, if you are coming into this movie as fan of his as opposed to a Godzilla one, fear not - his mark is intact! For obvious reasons it's more mainstream than Krampus or Trick r Treat, but he works in some dark humor (there's an ejector seat gag that had me laughing for a solid minute) and - yes! - a nod to John Carpenter, as the Antarctic post where one of the monsters was found is known simply as "Outpost 32", making it a neighbor to MacReady and the rest of the guys (he also retains his signature credit font, itself a modified version of Carpenter's usual one). Similar to Krampus, some folks might get restless waiting for the spectacle to start, but as with that film he makes it worth the wait, though to be fair I am *from* Boston so making it the center of all the climactic action may have given me a bit of a bias. Seeing Godzilla fire his iconic atomic breath past the equally iconic CITGO sign made me wish I flew back to watch it at the theater I used to frequent just a ways up from Fenway Park - the crowds there must have gone apeshit.

This is a good a place as any to mention the 4DX presentation, which was terrific and probably added to my overall enjoyment of the movie. For those unfamiliar, the seat shakes and tumbles along with the on-screen action, and environmental effects are also tossed in for good measure. So when Godzilla punches a monster in the water, your seat jolts with the impact as a little mist of water sprays your face and air blasts fly past your ears. It's a gimmick, yes, but an effective one, and I found myself laughing at this or that seat motion more than once. The only downside to it is if you're a snack eater/drinker - if you're caught off guard, you will spill your stuff, so keep both hands on your drink when sipping and a firm grasp on your bag of popcorn to prevent any disasters (I'd also avoid coffee if that's your go-to). There's one moment in particular where a monster makes an appearance out of nowhere, and the 4DX folks take full advantage of the opportunity, with the seat suddenly lurching after a period of stillness - never assume you'll be safe from spillage for a few minutes!

In fact I only have two real complaints about the narrative. One is that, as with the first film, it seems some character moments have been dropped for pacing or whatever. Jackson and Whitford's characters in particular seem to have had their introduction excised, because all of a sudden they're just there, when both are played by actors you'd expect to be given a more fitting debut in the narrative (Charles Dance definitely gets a good one, for the record). Chandler's character also seems particularly attached to Jackson's, another thing that doesn't seem to be properly established before it just IS, where they're risking their own lives to save the other when it seems like they barely knew the other one's name.

The other is that it spends a few too many moments reminding us that this is part of an ongoing "Monsterverse" that includes Skull Island; while Kong doesn't show up properly they do mention him/his home like a dozen times, and at one point stops cold to introduce us to Joe Morton as the grown-up version of Corey Hawkins' character from that film, a scene that is in no way necessary. More obnoxiously, the same scene introduces Ziyi Zhang as the twin sister of her other character (who is part of the main story, playing Watanabe's partner), a "Huh?" type development I assume will pay off in next year's Kong vs Godzilla. Skull Island was at least nice enough to confine the world building stuff to the post-credits, so I wish this one had followed suit or at least reigned it in a bit - it got grating after a while.

Some of my colleagues and friends go all in for the Pacific Rim movies (well, the first one at least) while finding these to be snooze, but I dunno - the Godzillas are just more interesting to me, despite their occasional hiccups. Even though the Pacific Rim films have a better reason to keep cutting to humans (since they control the giant robots that fight the monsters) I have never cared about any of those people or their scenes, something that's not the case here. Would I like it even more if they cut 10-15 minutes of dialogue out and replaced it with another big monster fight in the woods or desert (two unused locales that would also keep collateral damage to a minimum)? Perhaps - but I never found myself waiting for them to show up, either. The original Godzilla films always had plenty of human-only scenes too, so I'm unsure where this criticism comes from. Trust me - two straight hours of monster fighting would get dull after a while, and it's much better to make those scenes count when they appear.

What say you?

*They also do olfactory effects, but as I have no sense of smell I can't vouch for them. Feel free to let me know in the comments what Godzilla smells like.


Brightburn (2019)

MAY 26, 2019


As movie concepts go, "What if Kal-El became Michael Myers instead of Clark Kent?" is kind of a great one - it allows the filmmakers to use a story everyone knows and then pivot into something different. It's basically the same as Marvel's "What If?" series (as I'm not a big DC reader, I don't know if they had something similar - forgive me if they do), where you'd get something like "What if Spider-Man saved Uncle Ben?" or "What if the Fantastic Four all got the same powers?", and get a quick glimpse of what that'd be like, per the imagination of that issue's writer anyway. It's such an interesting idea that I almost wish Brightburn had made tens of millions of dollars this past weekend, because maybe it'd launch an anthology series of films that had the same core idea, and then one creative team would do something more exciting beyond the one line concept.

Because sadly, if you've seen the trailer for the film, you've basically seen every idea it has - there's really nothing to it beyond which I've already described. It takes the core origin of Superman that you've seen in any number of movies (including/perhaps especially Man of Steel, more on that soon) and gives you a Cliff's Notes version so that they can get to the R-rated switcheroom but then never gets any more ambitious after that. For those who have somehow never seen a Superman origin story, the setup is this: the childless owners of a farm (played by Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) find a crashed spaceship in the woods behind their house one night, and it has what looks like a human baby. They raise it as their own, and as he grows up he discovers he has powers: super strength, heat vision, flight, etc., but to them he's still their son and they want to protect him. In the DC comics and movies, he of course becomes Superman/Clark Kent, a man of justice and principal who uses his powers for good.

In Brightburn, he uses his powers to melt a guy's head, or fly someone up hundreds of feet into the air only to drop them. As to WHY he does these things, the movie never bothers to explain that, but unlike Michael Myers I feel this time we kind of should know what exactly turned him into a murderer. Since the origin is so clearly taken from Superman's, it's puzzling why this film's primary character (named Brandon Breyer) turns out so different from Clark Kent. If it's a nature vs nurture thing, fine, but as we don't ever see the home planet or even learn anything about it, we have to just assume it's an... evil planet? I guess? Banks and Denman are seen to be great and loving parents, even after he starts doing terrible things, so I guess we have to just assume that it's simply in his nature to be an alien killer, and the planet is playing a long con by dropping him to Earth and waiting 12 years for him to do anything murder-y.

It's one of the many things that the film could have taken the time to explore, or even hint at. Instead it just lets Brandon discover a power, use it to kill someone, lie about his whereabouts to his only somewhat suspicious parents, and then repeat the cycle again. Worse, there's no real connective tissue from one sequence to the next, as if everyone just kind of hit a mental reset button in between scenes. At one point early on, Brandon lashes out as his father for not letting him have a birthday gift (a rifle), ruining his birthday party and rightfully pissing the man off - but in the next scene everyone's hunky dory again. And it extends to the other characters too; Brandon visits a classmate who is already afraid of him, and when she mentions her mother not wanting him anywhere near her, he says he'll take care of it and disappears. You'd think the girl would warn her mother, or at least mention it to the cops when the woman turned up missing (it's the lady in the diner you've seen in the trailer), but nope! She's barely even mentioned again.

And that is very frustrating, because each scene on its own is fine, sometimes even quite good, especially when it concerns a character whose fate WASN'T spoiled in the damn trailer. But they don't really add up to much, so as the film went on I found myself less and less interested and basically just mentally checking off when each thing from the trailer happened and in turn what would be left ("Where's that bit where Banks runs to the door to see a cop just as Brandon flies by and whooshes him off? Oh, there it is."). Even the film's closing scene was given away in the spots, so it almost felt like I was watching an extended cut of a film I already saw instead of being engaged by a new story. Such a flimsy narrative can be saved by strong/memorable characters, but that's a miss too; characterization is so thin that at an hour into the movie, Banks' character comes home with a name tag on and it was the first time I was aware she even had a job (what exactly it is is still a mystery).

Also, while the gore gags are great (there's one involving a jaw that KNB, Savini, etc. must be jealous they didn't do first), the stalking parts aren't particularly scary or suspenseful, killing much of the "It's a superhero slasher" appeal for me. If you're a fan of the later Jason movies where you rooted for him and they doubled the body counts, you might be into it, but as I prefer the older ones where the filmmakers were still trying to have some real tension in there, I found it lacking in that department. There are some nice shots here and there, like one of Brandon standing (flying?) at a window as the drapes blow him in and out of visibility, but the stalking is pretty much always the same - he is standing in a spot, then he's gone, then he's right next to the target and kills them. The gimmick gets old after two kills, and the script never bothers to introduce any real wrinkles or surprises. Banks discovers a weakness, but it's a non-starter, and there are no equally powered heroes for him to fight or anything like that - he just does his thing over and over until the movie hits a 90 minute mark, at which point it ends.

So really, the only thing that really kept me engaged was my amusement that producer James Gunn (his brother and cousin wrote the script) convinced Sony to give him a few million bucks to make fun of Zack Snyder, his "partner" from Dawn of the Dead (Gunn's script was rewritten by others once Snyder came on board; I'm not sure if the two ever actually collaborated in a traditional way). Snyder's version of Superman has been (rightfully) criticized for being kind of an asshole, without much regard for the human beings around him, so it seemed to me like Gunn and his crew had the idea of taking it to the next level and turning him into an actual serial killer. Which is very funny, yes, but probably would have worked better as a Funny or Die short film or the one-shot comic book I described. For a feature film, as good as that joke may be, it ultimately wore too thin for me. It's a fine enough one-time watch I guess, but this concept deserved a lot more meat on the bone.

What say you?


FTP: Single White Female (1992)

MAY 15, 2019


Like any good horror/thriller fan, I saw Single White Female when it came out on video, and maybe once or twice more over the following months, but never again - I remember it being enjoyable but not the sort of movie I needed to watch over and over like Buffy and Lethal Weapon 3 (to use examples from that same summer of 1992). All I really remembered was that Bridget Fonda got a roommate who started mimicking her hairstyle, borrowing her clothes, even muscling in on her boyfriend, and that eventually things got deadly - which I could have surmised from the trailer if I watched it. But a friend of mine had recently referenced it a couple times in regards to a friend who was kind of doing the same thing Jennifer Jason Leigh does in the movie (albeit without the violence, thankfully - just the more harmless stuff), so I dug it out of the dreaded pile to give it my first look as an adult.

Well unlike some other childhood movies that I revisit, my memories weren't way off or anything - it is indeed a perfectly decent thriller that doesn't benefit from repeated viewings. At 107 minutes it's a bit drawn out, which doesn't help make a rewatch all that enticing, especially when you consider how unambitious it is. The New York setting is largely wasted; I'd estimate 75% of the film takes place in their apartment, with minimal and non-descript exceptions like the hair salon and Fonda's office. Fonda apparently only has one friend, a gay neighbor who lives in the apartment below, and despite being a gorgeous woman with an interesting job she apparently has no other romantic prospects beyond Steven Weber, the fiance who cheated on her (with his ex no less!) and forced her to take on the roommate in the first place. Honestly, the thing could be adapted for the stage with very few revisions.

And while Leigh's creepy "I'm gonna be just like her" moves are engaging to a degree, they're kind of deflated by Fonda's reluctance to do much about it, chalking it up to "I feel sorry for her" kinda stuff as opposed to being unsettled as she should be. If she doesn't feel threatened, why should we? Plus she takes Weber back instantly (before Leigh has even really done anything nutso), so you spend the movie thinking "If she took an extra couple days to put that 'roommate wanted' ad out she wouldn't have needed one anyway". That movie The Roommate was a big ol' ripoff of this one, but at least the college setting gave the sense of being truly stuck with someone like that. Why doesn't she just stay wherever Weber went after she kicked him out?

But Leigh's performance keeps it going; the stiletto kill still works like gangbusters, and in the #MeToo era the subplot about Fonda's sleazy boss (played by Stephen Tobolowsky!) probably works better now than it did in 1992, as both women get a chance to give him exactly what he deserved (Fonda hits him in the balls, Leigh kills him). And I couldn't remember how it ended exactly, so the finale gave me the requisite number of thrills, especially the great bit where Leigh thinks she's got Fonda trapped only to discover it's a ruse. Plus, a computer with networking capabilities plays a part - it's always fun to go back and see how things we take for granted like "sending out an email to silently report an intruder" used to be a massive undertaking that the person on the other end might not even fully understand.

Scream Factory's blu has a bunch of interviews and a commentary, but alas Fonda and Leigh are MIA (they got Weber though, who admits to getting aroused during a makeout scene with the former). The one with the writer is funny because he says he was inspired by seeing The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, which can't be correct as they shot the movie before that one was released (maybe it was Pacific Heights?) and also that he didn't really remember the book he was adapting, only using its major plot points and whatever else he recalled from his single reading. Good thing he wasn't hired to adapt Game of Thrones, I guess.

What say you?


FTP: The Binding (2016)

MAY 8, 2019


It must really suck to be a devout Christian. Despite being raised Catholic I don't follow much of it these days (though "Thou Shall Not Kill" is a pretty good idea, I must admit), so if I came home one day and my wife said that God told her to murder our kid, I wouldn't hesitate to grab him and get the hell out of that house as quickly as possible, then call the cops and tell them a crazy person was in my home and please have them removed. But the heroine of The Binding, married to a minister who indeed tells her that God wants him to kill their child, chooses to stick around and try to get him some help, while usually leaving the child right there in the home with them - because the rules of her religion basically tell her to obey the minister and have faith in what he's saying.

Thankfully, the movie is more or less about her growing concern that maybe he's a nut and, furthermore, some of their religious ideas are a little insane, rather than go along with it blindly. But it doesn't change the fact that it's dreadfully dull and hard to get into, because it takes her so long to finally put her foot down; it's one thing to yell at Laurie Strode for dropping the knife at the end of Halloween, because she's been smart up until that point and now you love her and want her to survive. But when the main character (Amy Gumenick, who played young Mary Winchester at one point on Supernatural) is "dropping the knife" (so to speak) for the entire runtime, there's no real "in" to the story. Perhaps to devout Christian viewers this would be more terrifying or at least involving, because they might have trouble reconciling their long-standing faith with an immediate danger they can see with their own two eyes, but I spent 85 minutes rolling my eyes at her for not leaving, calling the cops, etc. I just don't understand the mindset of anyone who'd put religion over their child's well-being; quite frankly I was hoping child services would come and remove the poor girl from both of these morons.

Anyway, the movie is more or less in a loop until the final 10 minutes: the wife has a vision or nightmare of something happening to the child, the husband comes home from work or whatever and says something cryptic, they bicker, they talk to someone (a fellow priest, a shrink, etc) to try to help him, it doesn't take, a truce is called, and the cycle begins anew. She briefly lets her mother take the kid out of the house for a bit, but before long she's back in danger in her own home. For a thriller there isn't a lot of thrills outside of the obvious nightmare scenes, and most sane viewers will have checked out long before the husband finally decides to start acting on the plan he's convinced God has tasked him with. Oh, for those not caught up on Bible stories, the title refers to Isaac, a tale in which God commands Abraham to offer his son (that'd be Isaac) as a sacrifice, to which Abraham complies by binding him to an altar and then murdering him. Luckily, he only gets through the first part - God just wanted to see if he had enough faith to actually go through it, and stops him just in time.

Well (spoiler ahead) the husband chickens out at the last second and stabs himself instead, letting the baby live... but turns out he wasn't crazy after all, and God, apparently pissed off, brings upon the end of days (or at least shuts off all of the electricity in Los Angeles) as punishment for the guy not having more faith, I guess. Had this been the halfway point of the movie they might have been on to something, but why wait until the last 10 seconds to do something interesting and daring? This could have been an indie horror Knowing, instead of a lifeless thriller where most viewers won't be able to connect to its main character. I admire the "he was right all along" approach (shades of the underrated End of the Line), but it's too little too late - a cherry on top of a gross ass salad instead of delicious ice cream. Oh well.

What say you?

P.S. Rare for Scream Factory's modern indie releases, the Blu-ray has commentary and deleted scenes. However, "pile" movies need to be better for me to bother with their supplemental stuff, so I didn't watch any of them. Just letting you know it's a special edition should the above have you thinking it might be worth checking out!


The Intruder (2019)

MAY 3, 2019


A few years back, Screen Gems was making some decent money with a series of annual (September releases, usually) thrillers that cast black actors in the roles that would have been played by white actors in the 90s films they often emulated. None of them were particularly great, but they served as decent time-killers and offered some more grounded thrills before the more elaborate horror movies came along to cash in on the Halloween season. But after 2016's When The Bough Breaks failed to hit the same level of grosses as its predecessors, they took a couple years off, and only came back now with The Intruder, which picks up where the "series" left off - for better and - alas mostly - worse.

Michael Ealy (who was the villain in one of their other ones) and Meagan Good are a San Francisco couple who decide to buy a house in Napa Valley so they can start a family and let those children play outside. For reasons we're not privy to, they entertain no other options and zero in on a house owned by Charlie (Dennis Quaid), who has refused other offers because he didn't like the people who wanted to buy it. But he has a "good feeling" about these folks and sells it to them, only to keep showing up as if he still owns it. At first he's just helping them mow the lawn and reminding them when to tend the garden (it's a huge estate), but then Scott (Ealy) starts finding him to be a creepy nuisance, while Annie (Good) seems to enjoy his company and feels bad for him. Guess who is right about him?

I mean, even if the trailer didn't give away everything, you'll know he's a psycho before they even make an offer on the place, so in this current climate it feels like a huge step back to have Good's character spend so much of the movie oblivious to Charlie's nature. Had the roles been switched, allowing Scott to bond with Charlie as a sort of father figure while Annie was suspicious, maybe it would have gone down easier, but the movie's practically over by the time she finally realizes that Charlie's insane. And it's not helped by the episodic nature of the plot: Scott goes to work or something (he commutes back to San Fran every day - it's a two hour drive at rush hour), then Charlie shows up with some food or to offer a hand with the Christmas lights or something, and Annie lets him in, never once questioning why Charlie is still hanging around for TWO MONTHS (at least) after they bought the house from him. Scott comes home and says "I don't like that guy, I don't want him here" and she seemingly agrees, only for the cycle to repeat again the next day or week or whatever.

So you're just waiting for her to finally catch on so the fun stuff can really begin, and the limited cast keeps it from ever coming to life before that point. There are only two other people of note in the film: Scott's business partner Mike, and Mike's wife, who stop over every now and then. The wife disappears without fanfare, but Mike is tasked with "doing some digging" and discovers Charlie's past, so you know he's a goner. Unfortunately he's the only obstacle - the police are a non-entity, there's a brief subplot about Scott having a wandering eye that goes nowhere, and we barely even see him at work. Part of the fun of the movies that this one is ripping off (Unlawful Entry and Pacific Heights seem to be very much on the mind of the screenwriter) is seeing the villain make the heroes' lives fall apart, but other than running Scott off the road while jogging (resulting in the vaguest injuries I can recall seeing in a major film - he seems to just be... kind of upset by getting run over?) Charlie can't be bothered to do much beyond kind of annoy them.

Even his backstory is bland - turns out he made some bad business deals and owes a lot of money, which is why he had to sell the house (which his great grandfather built and is the only one he ever lived in, which is why he's so attached to it). We see that he has two kids but we only briefly meet one of them, who confirms to Scott what he already knows (that Charlie's insane), in a scene that feels like it should be a big reveal but comes off more as a reminder for audience members who might not have been paying attention. But at least she has a reason to be offering up this information, because Scott called and asked - a big difference from when he's first tipped off in a coffee shop, where a guy in line who we've never seen before basically says "Hey you just bought Charlie's place huh? Isn't it great? Charlie's got secrets and probably killed his wife there. OK, see ya!" I mean I'm paraphrasing but that's 90% the gist of it, and then the guy disappears - we never see him again. It's the clunkiest and most shoehorned scene I've seen in recent memory; it's so out of place that it doesn't even surprise me that as of this writing his character isn't even on the film's IMDb page.

Ultimately there are only two reasons to watch the movie, with one being obvious: Quaid's performance. He doesn't play too many villains, and you can tell he's stoked about the opportunity - every now and then we get to see him on his own, where he practices smiling in the mirror and talks to himself, and I couldn't help but wish the movie was entirely from his perspective instead of the forgettable main couple (whose occasional marital problems never seem to extend into the following scene; much like their thoughts on Charlie, it's like a reset button gets pressed every time they go to sleep). It's only in the last 20 minutes that he really gets to cut loose, but it's great - he even pulls a couple Michael Myers moves, appearing/disappearing behind Annie like Michael did behind, er, Annie in the original, and also slowly lowering himself from a hiding spot above like in H20. The man's in his 60s, but he looks great (he's shirtless a few times, ladies!) and chews the scenery selectively, making it count when he does.

The other may have been unintentional, but let's pretend it wasn't for their sake. As explained, the movie is about an unhinged man, ravaged by bad business decisions, who fully snaps when a black man takes over the house he wants for himself - and he wears a red ball cap for good measure. A bit of a reach perhaps, but I was looking for anything to make the movie more interesting until it got to the inevitable showdown, where at least there was a chance Charlie would kill Scott, or inadvertently destroy the house and kill himself, or maybe Annie might finally do something besides offer Charlie some wine (seriously, between the three characters we see like ten bottles get consumed over the course of the movie). But until then, Quaid's tics and the amusing idea that the filmmakers were taking a few shots at 45 were the only life the movie really had.

I didn't bother to look at the credits beforehand, and there weren't any up front, so it wasn't until the movie was over that I discovered it was directed by Deon Taylor, who also "blessed" us with Chain Letter and Meet the Blacks, aka two of the lousiest movies I've ever suffered through (I even dubbed the latter one of the worst movies to ever play in wide theatrical release; not even sure if it's hyperbole). This is at least an improvement on those goddamn things, because it's at least mostly competent (though he still seems to believe smooth editing is for chumps; there are any number of occasions where there's a cut and the characters are clearly in different spots/positions than they were in the previous shot), but this guy is clearly not on my wavelength. A movie that holds my interest only because I am waiting to see the stuff I was promised in the trailer (namely, Quaid finally cutting loose and Good finally being less dim) is not a particularly valid use of my time.

What say you?


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