<![CDATA[Nothing To Say Here - Dave\'s Movie Reviews]]>Sun, 17 Oct 2021 02:38:17 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Review of Squid Game]]>Sun, 03 Oct 2021 18:46:32 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-squid-game1
By Dave B.
Picture
​In Squid Game, a degenerate, but kind father is given the opportunity to change his life forever. All he has to do is win a series of children’s games against several hundred other similarly desperate people. The catch? If you lose, you die.  
Picture
Superficially, Squid Game has similarities with movies such as “Tag” and “Battle Royale”, as well as the recent Netflix show “Alice in Borderland”. However, aside from ubiquitous hyperviolence, Squid Game is distinct due to its overtly anticapitalist messaging. Squid Game excels in several areas: it combines fairly detailed character development with an uncanny ability to make viewers sympathize with even minor characters. The games themselves are intense. Despite the results not being particularly surprising, watching how the games play out is often a nerve-wracking experience. Additionally, the mystery of how such a situation can exist and why, plus frequent cliffhangers, make Squid Game very bingeable.
Picture
Despite how watchable, even enjoyable Squid Game can be, its biggest failing is that its completely lacking in subtlety. An anticapitalist message in a show isn’t good or bad in and of itself. But being bludgeoned with that message in the most blatant of ways for hours on end makes the message seem unsophisticated and amateurish instead of thoughtful and compelling. Further, there are very few “gray areas” when it comes to the characters. For the most part (with a few exceptions) someone is either good or evil, generous or selfish, honest or duplicitous. Such stark dichotomies, when combined with ham-fisted messaging, display a lack of respect for an audience’s ability to make moral judgements for themselves. 
Picture
Overall, I like Squid Game. Despite a slow start, it eventually becomes one of the most engrossing shows that I’ve seen this year, and for that reason, I recommend it (at least to those who aren’t squeamish about extremely high levels of violence). But I vehemently disagree with any claims that this show is groundbreaking or subversive. It’s entertaining, and sometimes that’s enough. 
Service: Netflix
Episodes: 9
Approx. Episode Length: 55 Minutes 
Language: Korean (English Dub)
Rating: 6.5/10

]]>
<![CDATA[Review of The Suicide Squad]]>Mon, 09 Aug 2021 22:05:28 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-the-suicide-squad-2021
By Dave B.
Picture
The Suicide Squad is the reboot/sequel to 2016’s “Suicide Squad”. In the franchise’s current iteration, a group of villains are forced to invade a Caribbean island on behalf of the American government. While there, they discover a conspiracy of galactic proportions and must choose between their orders and their own dubious morality. 
Picture
Whether The Suicide Squad is better than “Suicide Squad” is fundamentally irrelevant to me. What matters is if The Suicide Squad is any good. Unfortunately, I’m on the fence about that. On the positive side, The Suicide Squad is visually amazing. One of the best looking movies that I’ve seen in years. The action is good, in the sense that it’s frequent and extremely graphic. And the plot, though ridiculous and predictable, is at least consistent (high praise, I know) and engaging enough that the film’s 133 minute runtime doesn’t feel quite as long as it actually is. 
Picture
However, I found The Suicide Squad to be extremely…pedestrian in some ways. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters. I also didn’t particularly dislike any of them. Frankly, I didn’t give a crap about any of them either way. And that’s odd considering that the performances are actually pretty solid all the way around. But nothing that happened onscreen connected with me at all. Most of the attempts at humor fall flat, the dialogue is completely uninteresting (as are the monologues), the initial antagonists are clownish and the ultimate one isn’t particularly original. Nothing in this movie managed to elicit a reaction from me. 
Picture
In other words, while I don’t think The Suicide Squad is terrible, I don’t feel as if I would have been missing out if I had passed on watching it. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to pay to see it in a theater, and for those reasons, I can’t recommend it. Superfans of James Gunn may enjoy this movie a lot, but if you’re expecting a “Guardians of the Galaxy”-level of energy and enjoyment, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. The Suicide Squad probably doesn’t need to exist, but if you want to completely forget two-plus hours of your life forever and don’t feel like hitting your head against a wall to do so, there are probably worse ways to kill some time than watching this movie. 
Service: HBO Max
Runtime: 133 Minutes
Rating: 5.5/10
]]>
<![CDATA[Review of The Tomorrow War]]>Mon, 05 Jul 2021 16:07:10 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-the-tomorrow-war1
By Dave B.
Picture
Soldiers from 30 years in the future travel back in time and deliver a dire warning: aliens have arrived and humankind is on the verge of extinction. They need people from our time to travel to the future and help fight the nearly unstoppable scourge. Dan Forester (Chris Pratt), a former special forces operative and current disillusioned science teacher, is one of the many civilians drafted and sent to the future battlefield. While there, he learns that there is only one way to defeat the enemy: to stop them before their onslaught begins.
Picture
I may as well start with what worked in The Tomorrow War. Unfortunately, that isn’t a lot. The big battle sequences are visually impressive. The acting is decent enough not to be worthy of extreme criticism (although Pratt’s performance felt surprisingly unenergetic throughout). And the overall plot is moderately interesting. In an of itself, The Tomorrow War could have nearly been a good movie. But it has some issues that really bugged the hell out of me.
Picture
For starters, the movie is at least 30 minutes too long. Because of that, the action sequences feel too few and far between. I’m not saying that The Tomorrow War is boring. But it’s pacing feels off and I couldn’t maintain full attention to it all the way through. A bigger and more fundamental issue is that I still dislike most time travel movies and televisions shows because the ones that are not sufficiently thought out tend to gloss over glaring contradictions and paradoxes. The Tomorrow War is particularly and spectacularly egregious in this regard and that had me silently fuming for nearly the entire film.
Picture
​If you’re looking for some relatively harmless (and mostly mindless) fun, The Tomorrow War could be a decent diversion, if you don’t think about it too much. However, if you’re like me and prefer that your time travel continuity actually makes sense (or at least have it clear that some thought and effort went into it), then this movie is not worth your time. I certainly can’t recommend The Tomorrow War. It’s only reaffirmed for me that it takes true talent and care to craft a good time travel tale. If time travel done right is something that you’re interested in, I still recommend Hulu’s “Future Man”. It’s stuck with me for years, unlike The Tomorrow War, which I intend to forget immediately. 
Service: Amazon Prime
Runtime: 140 Minutes
Rating: 5/10
]]>
<![CDATA[Review of Army of the Dead]]>Sat, 22 May 2021 00:33:26 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-army-of-the-dead1
By Dave B.
Picture
Las Vegas has been overrun by zombies. The surviving heroes of the desperate, doomed struggle to save the city find themselves down on their luck. When they’re presented with the chance to make the score of a lifetime by robbing a casino vault, they can’t resist and head into the heart of the infested city. But they soon discover that they’ve underestimated their enemies, both living and dead.
Picture
Look, when it comes to Army of the Dead… it is what it is: a zombie, bank heist, action flick. If you go into it expecting more than that, you’ll be sorely disappointed. That said, it’s mostly entertaining. The action scenes are good, and frequent enough to keep the movie’s excessive runtime from feeling oppressive. The dialogue is okay and occasionally witty and some of the performances are actually decent. And I fully admit that the fall of Las Vegas montage near the beginning of the film is absolutely brilliant. 
Picture
The primary area where Army of the Dead struggles is plot. It’s overly convoluted, but also completely generic and predictable. While Zack Snyder’s take on these zombies is fairly unique, he overdoes that uniqueness to an absurd extreme. And its really a shame that a movie that does an above average job of conveying tension also manages to be completely predictable throughout. 
Picture
Despite its flaws, if you’re willing and able to turn off your brain, Army of the Dead generally succeeds at providing some mindless zombie fun. If you’re a fan of zombies, action movies, and/or Snyder, then I definitely recommend this movie to you. If you’re not interested in any of those three things, it’s certainly best to avoid this film. Personally, I appreciate the escapism that Army of the Dead provides, although I wish that it hadn’t taken up so much of my day. 
Service: Netflix
Runtime: 148 Minutes
Rating: 5.5/10
]]>
<![CDATA[Review of Jupiter’s Legacy]]>Sat, 15 May 2021 01:24:07 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-jupiters-legacy1
By Dave B.
Picture
What if great power doesn’t come with great responsibility? That’s one of the questions posed by Jupiter’s Legacy (Netflix) as it follows a family of superheroes searching for their place in the world. Sworn to uphold a code that stipulates they will never kill, a new generation of heroes find themselves at odds with rules and responsibilities that don’t fit their current world. Society balances on the precipice as hidden threat surfaces to shatter the foundations of the world. 
Picture
Jupiter’s Legacy was nothing like what I was expecting. I’ve seen a lot of superhero shows and movies with big fights, resounding music, etc., etc. But Jupiter’s Legacy isn’t really a superhero show. It’s more of a family drama in superhero wrapping paper. In and of itself, that’s an approach I can appreciate. And the show’s overall story is interesting enough to keep viewers relatively engaged. When there are fight scenes, they tend to be good. And a decent amount of the many, many philosophical questions raised by the show are pertinent to our world today. But…
Picture
For the most part, Jupiter’s Legacy is a boring, disjointed, disorganized mess. In each episode, it repeatedly hops from the present to the 1920s/1930s, completely shattering any sort of narrative momentum the show may have been building. To make matters worse, none of the philosophical questions that the show brings up get addressed in a satisfactory way. Answers aren’t required, but the television version of navel-gazing is frustrating to watch. 
Picture
Sometimes, structural flaws in a story can be made up for with strong performances, good pacing, and likeable characters. Well…while the performances are generally decent, the pacing of Jupiter’s Legacy is atrocious. It fails to strike a balance between character/story development and plot movement. There are episodes where basically nothing happens. Constant action isn’t mandatory, but truthfully, the season could easily be half as long as it is and be much better off for it. The fact that none of the characters are remotely likeable is a further slap in the face, but not caring what happens to any of them is a blessing in disguise, as it spares viewers from having an emotional investment in Jupiter’s Legacy that the show does not earn. 
Picture
This review may sound harsh (and I suppose it is) but Jupiter’s Legacy isn’t terrible. It has all of the ingredients to be a good meal. It was just prepared by some incompetent chefs. Scale back on the flashbacks, improve the pacing, and make a few of the characters even a tiny bit more tolerable, and Jupiter’s Legacy could be a good show. As it stands, it isn’t and I don’t recommend it. However, I also won’t warn you away from it. It’s flaws outweigh it’s positives for me, but Jupiter’s Legacy is close enough to nearly decent that others may feel it falls on the other side of the quality line. 
Service: Netflix
Episodes: 8
Approx. Episode Length: 45 Minutes
Rating: 5.5/10
]]>
<![CDATA[Review of Mortal Kombat (2021)]]>Fri, 23 Apr 2021 23:41:58 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-mortal-kombat-2021-1
By Dave B.
Picture
If you’ve ever played any of the video games, you likely know the general plot of Mortal Kombat. Tournaments are held between Earth and Outworld and if Outworld wins 10 in a row, they invade Earth and enslave humanity. In this reboot of the franchise, Outworld has won nine consecutive tournaments. But instead of risking his nearly certain victory on the outcome of a the battles between Earth’s and Outworld’s champions, the soul-stealing sorcerer and leader of Outworld, Shang Tsung, decides to cheat and eliminate Earth’s competitors before the competition can begin. A past-his-prime cage fighter and the remainder of Earth’s heroes must fulfill destiny and defeat the sorcerer’s assassins.
Picture
Mortal Kombat starts off very well. The action begins nearly immediately and the violence is exquisite. For a moment or two, it looks as if the film might actually contain a moderately compelling  plot. And the CGI is solid, initially. However, the movie slowly starts to deteriorate in every way. The decline is gradual, but inexorable. You don’t go into Mortal Kombat expecting Oscar-caliber writing and performances, but the dialogue is ridiculous and the acting falls somewhere between shockingly bad and atrocious. Even the action, which held immense promise in the beginning, is often lackluster. The movie gives the impression that everyone involved in making it just gave up halfway through production. 
Picture
My critique of Mortal Kombat would likely be less harsh if it hadn’t begun so promisingly. That led me to be more disappointed than I otherwise may have been. At least with “Godzilla vs. Kong” there was never any glimmer of hope that it might actually be more than it was expected to be. But Mortal Kombat clearly could’ve vastly exceeded expectations, briefly tried to do so, and then completely and utterly abandoned the effort. And that’s a big part of why I can’t recommend this movie. Not even to fans of the franchise. The only way to really enjoy Mortal Kombat would be to set and maintain your expectations at the lowest possible level and then find yourself pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t quite as bad as it could’ve been. In other words, you can safely pass on this film.
Service: HBOMax
Runtime: 110 Minutes
Rating: 4.0/10
]]>
<![CDATA[Review of Godzilla vs. Kong]]>Sun, 04 Apr 2021 18:57:04 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-godzilla-vs-kong1
By Dave B.
Picture
When Godzilla goes on a seemingly unprovoked rampage in Florida, Kong and his human allies trek to his ancestral home in an attempt to uncover a power source that will stop the King of the Monsters. But some of the people involved in this mission have another agenda and they’ll put the world at risk to accomplish their aims. 
Picture
As a fan of science-fiction and fantasy, I often have to suspend belief and just accept certain elements of imaginary worlds. And that’s ok. It can help one to fully embrace a story and enhance a welcome sense of escapism. But Godzilla vs. Kong doesn’t just ask viewers to suspend belief. It requires them to turn off their brains, and that’s rarely a good thing. Frankly, the Godzilla vs. Kong plot doesn’t make sense, the story is poor, and the character development is just about nil. On top of that, there are so many inconsistencies that it boggles the mind. How did this guy learn to expertly pilot an experimental aircraft in like three seconds? How did this company build an underground maglev system under the entire world, but not spend a dime on basic security? How did this guy who was seemingly in Florida a few hours ago meet up with his daughter in Hong Kong in the blink of an eye? I’ll probably never get answers to these questions, so it’s likely for the best that the movie wasn’t interesting enough for me to get too worked up about them. 
Picture
That’s not to say that Godzilla vs. Kong had nothing going for it. The movie is relatively family-friendly, which is a plus for those with families who may want a little break from fare directed at the youngest of children. The monster fights were all pretty entertaining and the CGI is definitely good. But I can’t help but think that, considering over $150 million was spent making this movie, it may have been wise to have spent more than a few cents to develop a decent story that is at least moderately compelling and internally consistent. Brian Tyree Henry as Bernie Hayes is a bright spot as far as the performances go, but it’s abundantly clear that the Hayes character (a paranoid conspiracy-obsessed podcaster) is the only character that received even a bare minimum of thought and effort from the writers, so it’s hard to blame the cast for lackluster results in that area.
Picture
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Overall, Godzilla vs. Kong is bad. It’s saving grace is that most people who would take the time to watch it likely have fairly reasonable expectations about it. So long as the action is good, most viewers will probably be content. But for me, that’s not enough, so I am not recommending this movie. Unless you’re completely emotionally invested in the Warner Bros. multiverse, watching this movie is going to feel like a waste of your time. 
Service: HBOMax
Runtime: 113 Minutes
Rating: 4.5/10
]]>
<![CDATA[Review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League]]>Sun, 21 Mar 2021 21:51:34 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-zack-snyders-justice-league
By Dave B.
Picture
​If you’re reading a review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League you likely already know enough of the film’s history and premise, so I won’t go deeply into them. In short, it’s a superhero team-up featuring DC comics stalwarts Aquaman, Cyborg, The Flash, Superman, and Wonder Woman. They square off against the villain Steppenwolf and his master, Darkseid with the fate of the Earth in the balance. 
Picture
I prefer to judge a film on its own merits, so I’m going to do my best not to compare this with the previously released version of Justice League. That said, claims that Zack Snyder’s Justice League is some sort of masterpiece are exaggerations in my view. It’s a decent movie. It’s tonally consistent (meaning nearly unrelentingly dark and foreboding). The action sequences are good, and help prevent a four-hour long movie from feeling excessively long (unlike, let’s say, “The Irishman”). And frankly, Zack Snyder’s Justice League likely would have been a good foundation for the future of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) because it does a good job of setting up future threats in a way that makes one want to see the future of this fictional world. 
Picture
However, in no way, shape, or form is Zack Snyder’s Justice League a great movie. While it’s runtime doesn’t feel oppressive, it still does feel a bit bloated. A great movie attempts to balance complete storytelling, a compelling narrative, and concision. The film fails at the third of those. Furthermore, the performances in this movie mostly range from “decent” to “annoying” to “wooden”. It’s hard to feel an emotional connection to the movie because too many of the actors don’t seem to feel one. 
Picture
Fans of Zack Snyder and his previous DC movies should definitely see this version of Justice League. It’s a true interpretation of the director’s original vision for the film and the fact that it’s available to audiences at all is a minor miracle. That said, if I had paid to go see this film in a theater, I’d probably be a bit pissed. It’s not good enough to justify sitting in public for four hours, and nothing anyone says will convince me otherwise. The fact that it’s on HBOMax is the only reason that I can recommend this film (even if somewhat tepidly) to viewers beyond diehard fans. If you aren’t a fan of comic book inspired movies in general, or the DCEU in particular however, you can safely give this movie a pass. 
Service: HBOMax
Runtime: 242 Minutes
Rating: 6/10
]]>
<![CDATA[Review of Terminator: Dark Fate]]>Sun, 14 Mar 2021 19:07:22 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-terminator-dark-fate
By Dave B.
Picture
Terminator: Dark Fate (2019), the latest instalment in the Terminator series, serves as a reboot of the long-running franchise. It introduces a new savior of humanity, a new bodyguard, and some familiar faces, battling against another artificial intelligence bent on wiping out beleaguered human survivors in the future by altering the past. 
Picture
Die-hard fans of Terminator movies are likely to dislike Dark Fate, if for no other reason than it represents a SUBSTANTIAL departure from canon. In fact, viewing it as an alternate timeline is the easiest way to fit this film into the Terminator universe. That said, despite the changes to the franchise, Dark Fate is okay. It’s action sequences and visual effects are good, the movie mostly has good pacing, and the acting performances are enthusiastic. That makes for a movie that is entertaining throughout. 
Picture
Where Dark Fate stumbles is in the areas of plot and character depth. Both are generic in a way that has become all too common with the Terminator movies that came after “T2: Judgement Day”. Roles are static and the plot is absurdly predictable. No matter how entertaining a movie’s action scenes may be, if you know exactly that a thing going to happen, when a thing is going to happen, and who is going to do a thing, that movie can’t fairly be considered “good”.
Picture
I see Terminator: Dark Fate as a nearly ideal “Sunday Hangover" movie: it doesn’t require much mental effort to watch and if you find yourself unwilling  (or unable) to change the channel while it’s on, you won’t mind too much because all the chases, explosions, and general carnage are mostly fun. Dark Fate doesn’t deserve any rewards, and it’s understandable that some people may have a strong aversion to the franchise’s new direction, but if you’re in the mood for some mindless fun, this is a movie that I would recommend to you. 
Service: Currently on Amazon Prime
Runtime: 128 Minutes
Rating: 6/10
]]>
<![CDATA[Review of WandaVision]]>Sat, 06 Mar 2021 17:32:14 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-wandavision1
By Dave B.
Picture
​Following the events in “Avengers: Endgame”, Wanda Maximoff is bereft over the loss of her love, Vision. Eventually, she ends up in the town of Westview, somehow living the life of her dreams. Unbeknownst to her, the town has been cut off from the world, the residents mentally enslaved and living false lives, and her activities are being televised. As her idealized life begins to exhibit a dark underbelly, Wanda must face her past in order to embrace her future. 
Picture
First of all, I want to give credit to Marvel for its risk-taking. WandaVision is a weird show and it could have easily flopped. It initially takes the format of a 1950s-era sitcom and subsequent episodes are formatted as sitcoms of the following decades. It’s a weird way to present what is fundamentally a superhero TV show and I’ve never seen anything quite like it. That said, it’s extremely effective at holding viewers’ attention and mostly effective as a means of conveying the deep emotional trauma that Wanda is struggling with. The show is filled with humor, love, excitement, and despair and all are presented with a deft touch that I found extremely compelling. To be honest, after the second or third episode, I found myself craving Fridays so that I could see what would happen next in the town of Westview. 
Picture
That said, WandaVision is lacking a some things that would have made it a great show, instead of just a very good one. Most notably, the end of the series is not emotionally satisfying because there is no real sense of redemption. The audience is meant to empathize with Wanda’s plight, and we largely do. But there is no public accountability for her horrific actions (despite those actions not being entirely her fault). Viewers have come to expect a catharsis when we’re given stories where heroes stumble. Not providing that catharsis can be ok when it is intentionally withheld and serves a larger point. WandaVision’s omission in that regard feels more like a cop-out than anything else. The show ends on an exciting note, but not an emotionally satisfying one. 
Picture
Initially, I wasn’t initially expecting much, but it turned out that I liked WandaVision. A lot. There’s nothing that I crave more than a unique television show or movie that is also entertaining and WandaVision definitely checks that box. I highly recommend it to pretty much anyone, especially fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But despite the creativity that suffuses the series, it’s hard for me not to feel a bit let down that the strong emotional thread woven through the show becomes a bit frayed at the end. 
Service: Disney Plus
Episodes: 9
Approx. Episode Length: 40 Minutes
Rating: 7.5/10
]]>