The Predator

I don’t think I saw the first Predator movie, nor did I see the next one. I did see both Alien vs Predator films though, and of course, Predators, from a handful of years ago.

I think I would enjoy the first Predator movie, it sounds like it is really well made and will have high levels of tension, especially in the end. I will put it on my list. I still know roughly the events of these films, because hey, geek and movie culture.

But to continue the string of very nondescript movie titles. this one is going to be called The Predator, because I guess there is only going to be one. That is some Highlander stealing shit right there. And since it is directed by Shane Black, I can only assume that it will take place during Christmas.

Pred1
Time to hang up the people stockings.

Let’s all head to Mexico! Where there are drug deals, of course! Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is an asshole, but he is our asshole. He is also a good soldier and sniper. Sure it basically cost him his marriage, being all soldier-y and out a lot, but he is still a good soldier. And during a mission, a space ship crashes nearby with a scary creature with invisible capabilities.

So he does what any hard working American would do in that case. He steals some of the monster’s equipment and mails it to his P.O. Box at his home city. Thanks to plot though, they go to his home, so his young autistic son (Jacob Tremblay) can find it and mess with alien stuff.

Through other plot, the alien gets captured by secret space force people. We got a real mean dickhead (Sterling K. Brown, who seems to be getting younger in his roles) who wants to unlock their potential. We got an alien biologist (Olivia Munn) who is surprisingly good at shooting things with various weapons. Hell, we have a whole bus load of “crazy” PTSD soldiers that they are hiding away who are going to be dealing with this thing.

But most importantly, this will end up taking place over Halloween. Damn Shane Black, way to trick us.

Also starring Yvonne Strahovski, Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, Jake Busey, Augusto Aguilera, and Alfie Allen.

Pred2
Well I guess instead of hanging stockings, they are just hanging Halloween decorations. Makes more sense.

The Predator is basically a trash movie. A movie that feels like an incredible waste of time, and did not live up to any of the expectations that I went in with. And honestly, I didn’t have many.

People tried to talk about what the trailer implied, but I didn’t see it, so I didn’t know where they were coming from. Instead, I just know it is a crap film. Why? Well, this film is basically a comedy. It is very much almost a slapstick comedy. Because we have this group of men with zany personalities (because of mental disturbances) they all have quips and one liners. This means everyone, starting with the guy who is supposed to be the joke maker, all the way down to the more serious characters. It is like they wanted to make The Avengers, but you know, PTSD army folks.

Gosh, the humor was so annoying. At no point could a viewer feel threatened or scared by the predators. When everything is a goddamn joke, it is hard for anything to really draw the viewer in. Tense moments are wasted by jokes and by extremely bad cut jobs. This film moves all over the place, and it is hard to judge how time works. We quickly go from a night scene to an early morning scene, a literal night and day difference, in the final action sequences. If there were a lot of practical effects (/people in suits) it is wasted by the other CGI effects. The kills aren’t too great. And the predator v predator fight is not worth any amount of hype.

AND HOW THE HELL ARE THEY GOING TO HAVE A FILM CALLED THE PREDATOR WITH MORE THAN ONE PREDATOR.

This cannot be the movie people were hoping to get. Somewhere a better film might exist, but really, it needs a plot upheaval and most of it to be re-shot with a different cast. Yeah, we just need a different movie.

1 out of 4.

The Book of Henry

Many months ago, when this film was still wanting to come out and exist, I saw a teaser trailer for The Book of Henry and I was intrigued.

Whatever that trailer showed me, it showed me a potentially very cool story. I remembered absolutely nothing about the plot, just that it was maybe cool. And yet, I missed the screener for a different film. Apparently I dodged a bullet though, as this film was then blasted to so many directions.

I didn’t read or hear specifics, just words like bad getting thrown around. Which is enough for me to know I had to watch it eventually.

Eccentric
Just like how we know eventually that plunger had poop touching it.

Susan Carpenter (Naomi Watts) is a single mom, struggling to get by on her own with her two sons: Henry (Jaeden Lieberher) and Peter (Jacob Tremblay). Even though she struggles, she really shouldn’t, because Henry gets to be a super genius level kid at 11 or so. He is taking care of their funds, their bills, everything. She just needs to work and be a mother.

And sure, that is weird. But hey, whatever works. Speaking about “whatever works,” their neighbor (Dean Norris) is the head of the police force also, with a stepdaughter, Christina (Maddie Ziegler), in his custody, for whatever reason. Henry is super sure that she is getting beat up by her stepfather, but people won’t listen to him, for the lack of proof thing. Fucking A.

Long story short, Henry gets a fast moving cancer, totally dies, and has left behind a big book of instructions for his mom to kill their neighbor.

Also starring Sarah Silverman, Lee Pace, and Tonya Pinkins.

Gun
Oh. Well. Um.

The Book of Henry started out very okay, without a lot of bad or good things really going on. Just a story, intelligent and nice kid trying to do good. The death switch up? That was sad and a bit strange. The book? Well, that is when the movie quickly nose dived into stupid, stupid, stupid territory.

In general, I often have problems in movies for the character who is so goddamn smart that he has predicted things from real people eight actions in advance. The master planner, even in superhero things, usually makes me sort of glare at the screen and find it disbelieving, unless they also had an actual psychic ability.

And we get all of this in this film, but it is actually supposed to be realistic, and it is a goddamn kid. Because in this book, with tape recorders, he has so many instructions for his mom to listen to while walking around. While this is happening, the mom character will talk back, make snide remarks, whatever, which Henry totally predicted and he will respond thusly.

Oh my goodness, it is so terribly dumb to watch. On top of that, the plot is stupid from the get go at that point, and the ending is a few steps worse.

The Book of Henry might have had a good concept, but it was then thrown away and instead we were given this turd burgler of a film. Nothing deep and philosophical to see here, folks.

0 out of 4.

Wonder

As a middle school teacher, Wonder is a book I have seen before existing that I have blatantly ignored. It had an interesting cover, sure, but a guy can’t just go and read everything that is hip and cool with the kiddos.

I was still excited for this one, as I knew a lot of librarians and English teachers and students who talked highly about the book. So sure, I would watch it and hope for the best, and not worry about comparing it to the book.

Oooh, I wonder wonder what’s in a wonder film.

Family
Maybe that helmet is full of wonder balls.

August “Auggie” Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) is a boy who had a lot of problems right out of the womb. He has been in the ICU, and has had many surgeries. There were many problems, and basically, he now has a really different looking face when compared to other kids. Because of his issues, he has been homeschooled his entire life by his mother (Julia Roberts), who put a degree on hold. His dad (Owen Wilson) works and tries to keep the humor in the house, and his older sister, Via (Izabela Vidovic), just has to deal with most of her problems on her own.

His family thinks it is time for him to finally join the real world. It will be hard for him to go to a real school, but it will be harder the more they put it off. So he is signed up for an academy for middle school that starts in the fifth grade and does a lot of advanced science work. Auggie loves science, dreams of being an astronaut, and has been using a space helmet to hide his face when going out in public.

Middle school is going to be a hard adjustment for Auggie. But he doesn’t realize is that many kids are finding it to be a hard adjustment. And that school itself is a hard adjustment, across its various levels. Auggie will realize the value of friendship, betrayal, and more, and that he also is not the center of his own universe.

Also starring Noah Jupe, Mandy Patinkin, Bryce Gheisar, Elle McKinnon, Daveed Diggs, Ty Consiglio, Kyle Breitkopf, Millie Davis, Ali Liebert, Danielle Rose Russell, Nadji Jeter, and Ben Ratner.

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When they recreate frame by frame that scene from Deliverance? A bold choice from the director.

My first initial thought about Wonder: The movie only made me cry three times, what a shitshow. A good film needs five cries minimum.

But then I got over my not super salty cheeks and thought about the film and story as a whole. The film isn’t just about a dude with a messed up face learning to cope. It is about his whole family moving on with his condition. It is about his sister finding herself, i is about his friends realizing their own fuck ups. Shit, it is even about his sister’s friend realizing she is a fuck up.

It is a really easy conclusion to come to as well, because the film is formatted in a way to (quite obviously) show several different point of views. I have been told the book does it more frequently and better, but I did really appreciate it when it happened in the film. I got giddy with each iteration. If anything, one of the reasons the rating isn’t hire is because the film didn’t go deep enough in this method. Don’t introduce point of views and do it half-assed. Basically every time it did so, it did it only once, and then didn’t do it for enough characters. Let me see all of the other side characters who acted weird, go all in damn it.

I was able to connect with a lot of the characters, including Auggie, despite only having a minor facial deformity myself. Except the deformity I have made me really really attractive, so I guess people stared at me for other reasons.

Acting is swell, and honestly, a shout out to Wilson. He was more than a generic joking dad. He had some really sweet and tender moments as well, less than the mom character, but he did a lot with his lesser screen time.

3 out of 4.

Room

I could have seen Room months ago, in October. I didn’t. I didn’t know what Room was about. I just knew it was based on a book, maybe a thriller, maybe a romance. Who knows.

I didn’t know I had made a mistake. I didn’t know that choosing Burnt over Room would put me in an awkward situation for months. Mostly because I didn’t know Room would only be a limited release. So despite eventually wanting to see it, knowing just what it was about with rewards hype, I found it an hour and a half away from my home. Too far just for a film.

So I apologize to the entire cast and crew. How dare I slight them for Burnt. How dare I delay my end of the year best of list for a film very hard to find.

In the future, I will make sure I make movie watching choices based on the number of locations the film is shot in. The lesser, the better.

Hope
I will only watch “bottle movies” from now on.

Seven years. That is how long Ma (Brie Larson) has been living in Room. She was 17. A high school track star. And she was also a super nice person, and would help strangers. And that landed her in Room.

Oh, and now it is Jack (Jacob Tremblay), her son’s, fifth birthday. Do the math. Yes, you figured it out correctly. Jack has only known Room. A couple chairs, a bed with his Ma, a closet, and this guy, Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). He comes in most nights and Jack has to sleep in the closet while he is there and sharing a bed with Ma. Jack doesn’t know a lot about Old Nick, but Old Nick gives them food and supplies.

Ma doesn’t want to be in the room. She had many years outside the room and knows the reality of her situation. Jack has only known Room. The idea of anything else is scary and wrong and can’t be true. If Ma doesn’t get him out, at least to save her boy, he might grow up and never be a sane kid.

Can she? Will she get out? And if she does or he does, how will they be able to go on with their life? The world is very different and most people would have assumed Ma to be dead and not even know about Jack’s existence.

Also with roles by Joan Allen, William H. Macy, and Tom McCamus.

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William H. Macy plays the role of the egg shell snake, of course.

Oh Brie Larson. I haven’t seen a lot of your work, for sure. You were a side character in Scott Pilgrim, and Tanner Hall was pretty average. But then you were in Short Term 12 and I realized you had some acting chops.

And then Room happened, and I, and everyone who saw it, was completely blown away.

Now, obviously it wasn’t Larson working alone to deliver an amazing performance. The script/plot and directing had to allow her to shine and this film offers the full wonderful movie package. Acting, directing, dialogue, plot. Hell, even the make up was on point, when it comes to the way they looked being locked in a room for so long. And guess what? Little Jacob Tremblay does an incredible job as well. There is lots of talk about Larson being nominated for Best Actress (and I am officially here saying she will win it for this), but Tremblay is also someone who deserves just as much praise.

I don’t know if they are trying, but if so, they will probably push him towards Supporting Actor despite being slightly more of a main character than Larson. Go big or go home. I won’t say he would win Best Actor if nominated, just that his performance is worthy of losing to Leonardo DiCaprio this year.

Room is a fantastic movie. One of the years best. And yes, it makes me want to read the book. Well done movie. Well done.

4 out of 4.