Trainspotting 2, Life, and The Belko Experiment: Three movies you didn't see
What is this? Twenty years after the landmark heroin movie Trainspotting came out, director Danny Boyle brings back the same characters from 1996, to catch us all up on what they have going on in 2017.
The most surprising thing to me about this movie was that five complete strangers from a random Chicago suburb in 2017 decided they wanted to see a sequel to Trainspotting in theaters at 10:55am on a Monday... One person; sure. Two people; that's kind of a coincidence. Three people; that seems outlandish to me. But FIVE? I know I'm included in that number, but how could five people in that close of proximity possibly have that same thought to go at this incredibly weird showtime...? That's more thought-provoking than anything in the T2 script.
How was it? I think if you're a big fan of the first Trainspotting movie, and a decent amount of people are, this is worth checking out. Sick Boy is even more of a jerk, Spud is still weird-looking, and Begbie is still one of the scariest characters ever.
However, I can picture someone who doesn't care about Trainspotting watching this, or even worse, someone who has never *seen* Trainspotting watching this... and I can't imagine a scenario where they don't call it one of the worst movies they've ever seen. Nothing really happens, outside of a revenge plot that would only interest people who liked the first movie. And while the sequel does have some neat scenes, nothing in it is as instantly iconic or poignant as the stuff from the first movie. In fact, T2 goes as far as to constantly play clips from the first movie just to remind you of how great it was.
This sequel kinda feels like a 45-year-old dad who still puts on his spiked punk rock jacket from his younger days and goes to the club talking about how cool the 90s punk scene was until he gets tired and leaves at 9:45pm because he has work tomorrow.
What is this? Continuing the theme of remembering something from over twenty years ago, Life is basically an updated version of Alien, but with a weirder looking alien (it's a flying vagina with tentacles, named Calvin), and some A-list talent for it to kill. It's also shares a title with a completely unrelated board game, a 2007 canceled NBC TV show, a 1999 Eddie Murphy comedy movie about prison, and the acronym for Laser Inertial Fusion Energy, among other things. It's, uh... ...it's not a very creative movie title...
How was it? Ya know, I didn't think this was that bad. It wasn't really anything original, or anything that was executed better than its inspiration (Alien, Gravity), but it had a certain frightening tension to it and a mercifully short-ish run time. If anything, you will get to see some really awful ways to die in space. They nailed that.
I guess a lot of people who saw this (and not a lot of people saw this, FYI) rated it poorly because it didn't really have the ending they wanted. To that I definitively say they are wrong, as the ending is just about the only thing about it that felt unique to this movie, and I thought the ending was pretty good. I'm pretty sure that people just want to be able to escape their escapism, which Life doesn't really give a crap about. Hey, that works when I talk about life in general, too, not just the movie!
THE BELKO EXPERIMENT
What is this? Looking at its box office numbers, I'm 90% sure that you have no idea what this movie is. And to be fair, I only kind of knew what this was before I saw it, and I was wrong. I thought it was directed by Guardian of the Galaxy director James Gunn, which made me excited, until I was sitting in the theater and found out that it was just scripted by Gunn, and actually directed by some dude named Greg McLean. Upon looking up Mr. McLeans IMDb, four of his nine directorial projects have the words "Wolf Creek" in it. Not off to a great start.
Oh yeah, the plot... An office building in Columbia locks down and an evil government organization forces all the employees to kill each other within a certain time frame, or they'll all be killed. If that immediately makes you go "So, Battle Royale in an office building, but probably worse?", you're not that far off. If you said the same sentence but substituted Hunger Games for Battle Royale, then you should probably watch Battle Royale already so that you stop doing that.
How was it? I'd say at best that it's watchable. It's mindless entertainment for the horror/action/thriller movie crowd. Does this even count as a horror movie? That's a good question. It's just about people shooting and bludgeoning each other. There's not really a horror element other than gore. So I'm not sure what genre this really is. Talk amongst yourselves.
On the subject of gore effects, there were some neat practical effects in there if you appreciate that (I do). Too bad the story that leads to the gore doesn't hold up as well. It's entertaining to watch how mercilessly they kill off characters you'd expect to live longer, but the four people you expect to be the final four are predictably the four people who end up being the final four. And on the subject of the pathetic-in-hindsight ending, they shamelessly set up that sequel it's never going to get because barely anyone paid to see this.
Long story short, this is a forgettable movie that you probably were never even aware was ever in theaters.