Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men has become, since its release, renowned as one of the best science fiction films ever made, which meant that Cuaron had a lot to live up to with his follow-up Gravity. Years in the making, Gravity‘s previews promised a scientifically accurate thrill-ride of a movie, and I’m pleased to say that the film delivers on that promise. Gravity is a taught, edge-of-your-seat, white-knuckle movie with one of the most chilling depictions of outer space ever seen in cinema, and proves that the greatest threat about space isn’t aliens or meteors or a sun about to go supernova; it’s space itself. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are basically the only two characters in the movie, and even though I’m not usually a fan of either actor, they both deliver great performances here. The characters don’t stray too far outside of their archetypes, though, but that can be ignored, because the real star of Gravity is its special effects. Cuaron ups the ante from his famous long, unbroken takes in Children of Men, and I think that there are maybe a total of 10 shots in Gravity‘s entire running time. The effects on display here make the film a magic show – you find yourself wondering “How did they do that?” as the invisible camera flies around the characters, seamlessly dipping in and out of their helmets in shots that last fifteen minutes at a time. It’s been a long time since I’ve genuinely experienced the wonder I felt watching Gravity in a cinema, and for the first time I can remember, I must recommend that Gravity be seen in IMAX 3D. It’s an experience that is easily worth the extra few bucks. The only reason this movie isn’t getting top marks is because I don’t know how well it will hold up on a smaller screen, but as an exciting big-screen experience that actually justifies gimmicks like 3D and IMAX, Gravity succeeds. See this in theatres before it’s too late!
4 out of 5

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
I quite enjoyed the irreverent Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and so I was hoping that the sequel would deliver the same kind of goofy fun as its predecessor. Unfortunately, it falls quite flat, and doesn’t seem to know what kind of film it wants to be. The first act is a very obvious lampooning of tech mega-corporations like Google and Apple, with the antagonist being obvious from the moment you see him, but the second and third acts are essentially Jurassic Park with creatures made of food, except less interesting. Watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, I got the impression that the filmmakers just wanted to make a bunch of food puns, because food puns take up the majority of the movie. There are also some strange moral questions posed about the nature of living food creatures. Do the creatures made of meat eat the creatures made of vegetables? *SPOILER ALERT* And why is it such a problem that the villain wants to kill the animals made of food to turn them into food bars? They’re food, right? I wouldn’t call these head-scratching moments plot holes, but they didn’t make a lot of sense. All told, I’d file this film alongside Despicable Me 2 as an animated sequel that fails to live up to the original. But hey, at least they tried something new.
2.5 out of 5

Machete Kills
I’m surprised that Machete Kills got a theatrical release, because the movie feels a bit like a cheap straight-to-DVD sequel. It’s a lot more digitally polished than Machete‘s grindhouse design, which is fine, but it looks significantly more low-budget…something that should work in the film’s favour, but ultimately doesn’t. Many of the things I enjoyed about the first Machete movie are back – Danny Trejo still kicks ass as Machete, the stuntcasting (in this case Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson) is well used and effective, and there’s so much gore that it actually seemed as though the filmmakers started running out of ideas about how to use it. The biggest misstep Machete Kills makes, though, is to show the trailer for Machete Kills In Space before the main feature. Machete Kills In Space looks like a way better movie than Machete Kills, and so you find yourself spending the entire movie wishing you were watching the one shown in the phony trailer. Bad move, Robert Rodriguez. Ultimately, I can only recommend this to fans of low-budget camp. As a b-movie it’s fun, but it’s not all that remarkable.
2.75 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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