A List of Film Reviews as the Season For Movies Begins

Using an iPhone only, she seems to be able to manipulate any device that contains a piece of copper wire.

–from the review of Girl in the Spider’s Web 

There can be no question that the quality of summer films has deteriorated. It is understandable when you consider the money and talent (the talent goes where the money and the work is) has migrated in a big way toward the mini-series model. The switch-over names are getting bigger (e.g. Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Emma Stone) every season and the theater productions are increasingly less appealing.  I did manage to see a few films and so will do a quick review for each. The best movies of the year will probably be released over the next several weeks.

Hunter Killer–This  Hunt for Red October ripoff has a very few moments’ worth of good action, but the idea that team of special forces could penetrate a Russian Military base is simply absurd. Eat the popcorn and shush your doubts if you insist on watching it on DVD or at the value cinema.  But do watch Red October again if you haven’t seen it in a while–one of my favorites.

Bohemian Rhapsody–If you are over 40, you have a better chance of having listened to Queen–as I have. The music always had energy and–especially with the eponymous title song–some Art.  Having watched a number of biopics like Ray (Ray Charles) and Get On Up (James Brown), Jersey Boys (Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons), and Walk the Line (Johnny Cash), I continue to be amazed at the steep arc to success and stardom of these performers. It was a good story, and though there seemed to be gaps in the plot, the music and concert footage made it all well worth it.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web–I had some issues with this one. While this series was part of the vanguard in making movies that feature strong women as protagonists and warriors, I had the same kind of credibility issues that I had with Hunter Killer: in this film, our tough but tiny protagonist routinely defeats thugs twice her weight and then, using a smartphone only, seems to be able to manipulate (hack) any device that contains a piece of copper wire.

All that said, I think prefer Claire Foy as the new face of the role.

Crimes of the Grindelwald–After Fantastic Beasts seemed to me to be too, well, zoological, I was relieved that this sequel  to that earlier film (and this prequel to the Harry Potter films) returned the focus to the battle between evil wizards and good ones. I didn’t even mind that Johnny Depp joined the cast: I think he identifies with the Brits as much as with any other group.  Because I did not watch the entire earlier FB film, I wish I had learned more about the structure of the magic system (i.e. aurors and ministries of magic, etc.) going into the movie. I suppose that is where reading the books would have helped.  The costumes and settings were a treat in addition to glimpsing and learning about  the younger Albus Dumbledore.

Widows–This heist film covers some extra ground while we get to watch a good cast that includes Viola Davis, Robert Duvall, Liam Neeson, Michele Rodriguez, Daniel Kaluuya, and Colin Farrell. The pace is slower than you might expect in spots, so it takes on the elements of a suspense film at the same time it builds up suspense for the robbery. I expected more action, but was not disappointed. I was not “bowled over” either.



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