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Movies you've seen lately

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The Wasp Network

I dowlnoad with no prior notice from RARBG and liked.
With Penelope Cruz

I watched Mortal Engines (2018) recently.

The basic premise was interesting: Huge vehicular cities which travel the earth consuming other cities for resources. Visually, it was quite an enjoyable spectacle. I've heard some people say the effects were terrible, but I thought it looked really good for the most part. It had a nice steampunk aesthetic, but also with some sci-fi, futuristic technology.

It takes place a thousand or so years into the future. I don't recall if the exact (or approximate) date is mentioned elsewhere, but during the movie they make a joke about a Twinkie that has a "best if eaten by" date of 2118 and one of the characters remarks with disgust that the Twinkie is "over a thousand years old." It's a funny joke about them supposedly lasting forever, but it's sullied by the fact that a woman refers to one as an "inkie" (because the label has been partially worn off the packaging) as if the guy she's talking to should know what that is, and also implying that she's seen more of them before. But that would mean that every package of Twinkies she's ever come across all had the "Tw" worn away from the packaging in a similar way. Yeah, I know that's a minor plothole nitpick. :)

Even though I was intrigued by the basic premise, the overall story shown in the movie wasn't very interesting to me. I'm not sure if it was ever explained why the cities roamed the land. I missed some of the exposition at the beginning because it was done in a distorted, raspy voice which was a little hard to understand over the din of people getting settled in to watch while the TV volume wasn't quite high enough. I think it just said that there was some kind of an apocalypse which eventually led to the "predator" cities being created. But the world looked fairly verdant and rich in resources to me, so it wasn't clear to me why they thought their cities couldn't remain stationary like the cities of "the ancients" did (in our time).

The acting was fine for the most part, but there was never anything in the story that got me to care about any of the characters. In fact, the only character I felt any real sense of empathy for was a robot which was supposedly devoid of any feeling, supposedly designed with pure malice and hatred, and I think they said it was created for the express purpose of killing. (Spoiler alert: it turns out that seemingly none of that was true, at least for this particular robot.)

The movie was about two hours, which felt long to me because I just kept waiting for it to get good, and it never really did, IMO. The first ten minutes featured a somewhat exciting chase scene which I hoped gave me some preview of what we'd be seeing more of, but when it was over the movie just fell flat and never really delivered any more of the whole "predator city" chasing down "prey cities" or battling other predator cities.

In short, it was a movie with very nice production values, good acting (for the most part), really good special effects, and basically had everything going for it except that it failed to tell a compelling story with compelling characters. So I just didn't really care about what was happening, to whom it was happening, or why. Pity.

P.S. I just went and found and watched the trailer so I could link to it in this post, and it basically shows/tells the entire story of the movie.

Now that I know it's "spoiled" in the trailer, I'll say this: In about the first 20 minutes the bad guy is revealed to be the bad guy without any doubt. I feel the movie would have been much better if he didn't immediately show his true colors, and insisted there was some kind of misunderstanding which he regretted and wanted to clear up or somehow make amends for. Instead of him pushing Tom off the city, the city could have rolled over a big bump or something and he could have accidentally fallen. Then we could have spent the majority of the film wondering who was telling the truth and if the bad guy was actually as bad as Hester (the girl with the red scarf who attacks the bad guy, and who I spent the whole movie thinking was named "Esther") was making him out to be.

And in fact the story may have been even better if the bad guy actually was telling the truth and wasn't a bad guy after all. But that would have completely changed the main conflict of the movie (stop the bad guy from taking over the world!) and I'm not sure what it would have been replaced with. There was a subthread about a group of people who hated the moving cities and wanted to stop them. Maybe the movie could have been more about the conflict between those two groups. Maybe both groups could have had roughly equally valid viewpoints which they didn't see eye-to-eye on, and so there would be conflict and war there, without requiring the plot to have the "singular evil scientist wants to take over the world" trope. Or maybe the main conflict could have been the same, but it would have been someone else who was the mad scientist trying to take over the world and Hester and Valentine could have had a reconciliation.

But if any/all that would have been too hard to do, then I think I would have preferred to just see a movie about roaming cities battling each other. Like a giant demolition derby or BattleBots on a huge scale or something. Just some good looking but brainless action schlock on par with Pacific Rim would have been more engaging than the movie they released as Mortal Engines.

Supposedly the book is much, much better than the movie was. But I suppose that should go without saying.

Sputnik (2020)

At the height of the Cold War, a Soviet spacecraft crash lands after a mission gone awry, leaving the commander as its only survivor. After a renowned Russian psychologist is brought in to evaluate the commander's mental state, it becomes clear that something dangerous may have come back to Earth with him.
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Slow moving story line, (well, the events of 2 weeks or so compressed into 2 hours), not heavy on action or SFX but I never found it boring, I think it moved at a good pace and I enjoyed it.

Russian cinematography always seems to look better than it's western counterpart, maybe it's the lack of over-reliance on CGI.

American Hero

Kind of a cute flick.  Nothing profound.  A way to pass some time.  Eddie Griffin has the main supporting role in this buddy flick with a super power(telekinesis) thrown in for laughs.  Stephen Dorff is the hero.

The Eight Hundred (2020)

:o :o

From the acclaimed filmmaker behind Mr. Six comes a riveting war epic. In 1937, eight hundred Chinese soldiers fight under siege from a warehouse in the middle of the Shanghai battlefield, completely surrounded by the Japanese army.
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It's like... Band of Brothers meets Dunkirk... in China! Okay, okay... it's not quite as good, but really good if you can overlook that it was clearly (mostly) made for a Chinese audience.


Guan Hu had been preparing for the film for 10 years. The Eight Hundred is the first Chinese and Asian film shot entirely on IMAX cameras. The production team had built a real scene of 68 buildings with an area of 133,333-square-metre (1,435,180 sq ft) in Suzhou, east China's Jiangsu province.
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That's impressive, and I bet had something to do with that square meter number.  8)

This sums it up:

Maggie Lee of Variety describes the film as "monumental, if sometimes unwieldy" and comparing The Eight Hundred to Dunkirk, "the saga does share similar sentiments of survival, grit and triumph in defeat" to Dunkirk (2017) and "it too plunges audiences into both the intimacy and magnitude of brutal war spectacle while immersing them in a stunningly mounted period canvas."

Cath Clarke of The Guardian praised the film, characterizing it as an “Ear-rattling, breathtaking battle for [the] Chinese Alamo” and stating that “Guan goes hammer and tongs with the special effects, delivering stupendously, joint-rattlingly-loud battle scenes and combat sequences edited to the lightning pace of a superhero movie.” and “with so much intense focus lavished on the action, there’s none to spare for the characters’ emotional lives, and it’s hard to care much about who lives or dies.”

Michael Ordoña of the Los Angeles Times criticized the film’s character development, stating, “Unfortunately, “Eight Hundred” skips over the whole character-development part, along with the logic of many choices and scenes. “ and “Yet somehow, we don’t get to know any of these folks. The sort-of protagonists are a collection of deserters and draft-dodgers forced to aid with the defense.”
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