A Bunch of Movies From Februrary
February has passed by and I've only had time to gather another whole month's worth of movies into one post. But what's weird about this month's crop? Well, I saw seven movies, and four of them were sequels. Another "original" one seemed like a cheap money-making scheme. So I thought this month I'd address whether or not these were genuine attempts to make films, or just studio's attempts to print money?
What's This About? Remember The Ring? That remake of a Japanese horror movie from 2002? About the girl with the hair who comes out of a TV when you watch her VHS tape? Yeah, that one. Now she's back, and has access to YOUR SMARTPHONE!!! Talk about a pop up ad you don't wanna see, am I right? Ha! Modern society!
Is It a Cash Grab? Oh, definitely. I'm not sure how this movie came to be, but I think the only possible scenario was a young Hollywood producer was getting bored flipping through original screenplays he didn't want to read, until he buzzed his secretary to send him a list of all the studio's intellectual properties from 15 years ago. I mean, there couldn't possibly have been a random screenwriter who went out of the blue, "Ya know what, what if I wrote another RING movie?!?!" Well, I guess he could have been high...
For the first few minutes, I thought that the filmmakers were actually trying to do something cool, by having Samara ghost attack an airplane (which would have been the second scariest thing to happen to me on a plane, behind the time I watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2), but then it just devolves into a boring rehash of all the boring mystery stuff from the first Ring movie. About an hour into this, I was almost fall-asleep bored.
Any Final Notes? Is this the first real movie of Trump's America? Think about it... It's a re-emergence of something that was popular many years ago, that most of the country didn't ask for, that got released into every theater in America anyway to poor reviews. To go further, look at the plot of the film... It's about an annoying person with dumb hair who just wants people to pay attention to her and she won't stay off of your phone and TV all week even if you unplug your devices. And after too much exposure to her theatrics you want to die.
JOHN WICK 2: REVENGE OF THE DOG REVENGE GUY
What's This About? John Wick is that guy from a couple of years ago who had his dog killed by Theon Greyjoy, so he destroyed the entire Russian mob. Now he's back, and he's destroying a whole bunch more people, kind of still in connection to the first dog. A dog is definitely the catalyst for this whole film series.
Is It a Cash Grab? Can it be considered a cash grab if people actually wanted it? The first one made the studio 4x its budget money back, so I could see the incentive there, even if nobody had asked for a sequel (which they did). To top that off, whoever made JW2 actually did a good job, and it's a pretty cool action movie.
Any Final Notes? Somehow, 52-year-old Keanu Reeves can still play a convincing badass. Probably one of the more convincing of the GAAISOs out there. Oh, that's "Grandpa Aged Actors I'm Scared Of", by the way. Hasn't caught on as a viral acronym, yet.
THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
What's This About? It's about Batman. But he's made of Legos.
Is It a Cash Grab? I was gonna lean towards maybe no, because even *I* said in my Lego Movie review that I would watch a feature-length Will Arnett Batman movie. But the execution of this Lego Batman Movie felt like a made-for-TV knock off more than something I should have paid to see in theaters. Let's just say it lacked the quality of the first movie. And let's just say quality is having Phil Lord and Christopher Miller write and direct it. This movie is 20 minutes too long, and hits some seriously draggy scenes in the middle. The jokes that work are really funny, but I'm not so sure it's worth sitting through the whole thing to experience them.
Any Final Notes? My wife and I spent the entire movie wondering who voiced the Joker. Turns out it was Zach Galifianakis. So, yeah. [awkwardly coughs into hand]
What's This About? ICE CUBE VS CHARLIE DAY. COMEDY. CAMEOS. LOUD JOKES. PHYSICAL COMEDY. YUCKING IT UP.
Is It a Cash Grab? I think despite being a high concept original comedy, the fact that it ended up being such a ridiculously thin plot, with marketing that only banked on the fact that you like Ice Cube and Charlie Day, then it totally became a cash grab. Let me put it to you this way... I'm pretty sure that the entire pitch for this movie was just "Hey, let's have Charlie Day fight an intimidating celebrity... Ice Cube, perhaps?" And Hollywood magic made it happen. Now, considering that it only made $17 million on a $25 million budget (what did that money go into?), I'd say it was a failed cash grab. But a cash grab attempt, for sure.
Any Final Notes? There's actually kind of a decent defense of teachers' rights jammed into a scene, told in Charlie Day screams, if you can make it that far into this when you inevitably rent it from Redbox.
FIFTY SHADES DARKER
What's This About? It's the sequel to the massively successful book series adaptation about a boring rich guy with no personality who dates a chick who wants to do nothing but change everything about him, except his good looks. Seriously, though... Imagine if Paul Giamatti played Christian Grey. I don't care how insanely rich, powerful, or kinky that character is; Anastasia Steele ain't putting up with all of his weird flaws and issues if he looks like Paul Giamatti, JUST SAYIN'.
Is It a Cash Grab? Well, considering even the book was a cash grab publication based off some Twilight fan fiction, which is probably one of the cash grabbiest series of all time, I would call Fifty Shades Darker a cash grab, yes. And perhaps these movies are more about the little nuances (?), but I'm pretty sure only like two major plot points happen in this whole movie. The rest is just sexy foreplay stuff and people staring at each other.
Any Final Notes? My favorite little touch (probably unnoticed by most) in the entire movie: When we get a glimpse of Christian Grey's childhood bedroom, there's a *framed* poster of The Chronicles of Riddick on the wall. Made me chuckle.
A CURE FOR WELLNESS
What's This About? A guy goes to a Swedish "wellness center" for rich people in order to bring back a business associate who checked in . But it's moooore thaaaan meeeeets the eyyyyeeeeeee...! I mean, did you expect him to just go there and everything would work out nicely? It's from Gore Verbinski, who has directed three Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Rango, The Lone Ranger (I guess he likes Johnny Depp), and The Ring! Remember The Ring? From up higher in this post? That remake of a Japanese horror movie from 2002? About the girl with the hair who comes out of a TV when you watch her VHS tape? Yeah, that one. Now she's back, and has access to YOUR SMARTPHONE!!! Talk about a pop up ad you don't wanna see, am I right? Ha! Modern society!
Is It a Cash Grab? I would say a 2 and 1/2 hour slow burn psychological mystery starring Dane Dehaan prooooooobaaabbblyyyyyyy isn't a cash grab...?
Any Final Notes? This movie is pretty weird to begin with. But when you see the direction it takes the "twist", you will think it's downright goofy. But it's entertaining, and has some decent cinematography. I'd recommend for a bored afternoon rental down the road.
What's This About? A girl brings her black boyfriend from the city to her parents' suburban house for a visit, and it slowly starts to appear as if the white townsfolk might be up to no good. No good in a really strange, racist way. And it has Bradley Whitford, who I know is an accomplished actor who has starred in many projects; but he will always be Eric from Billy Madison to me. "Madison Hotels is as good as MINE!"
Is It a Cash Grab? I'm gonna go on a limb and say that merely repeating that it was written/directed by Jordan Peele (of Key & Peele) isn't quite a cash grab move, because he's not even in it, and it's not a comedy (though, it does have many funny moments). In fact, I think it would have done well in the box office regardless of mentioning who directed it, because the trailer looked good and audiences flock to horror movies anyway. Annabelle, that Conjuring spin-off that was terrible (29% on Rotten Tomatoes), made almost $300 million at the box office. As of this writing, Get Out has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, which should get more butts in the seats. So, long story short, I think that a passion horror project from a semi-famous comedian is probably the most genuine thing on this entire list. And it's good.
Any Final Notes? I think this might end up being this year's Green Room for me. A small budget, simple, violent, ultra-effective thriller that cracks into my top 10. They both have that visceral 'tude that I like to see in these kind of movies, and a punk rock mentality that doesn't feel the need to adhere to the cliche garbage that a bigger budget studio film would try to force in there. I think I might be coming across as a hoity toity jag right now, and might be accidentally lumping the movie in there with me. Let me get this straight, I think Get Out is something that people who like "films" and people who like "movies" can both enjoy together.