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…

I was severely let down by Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated movie Interstellar, and I recognize that part of my disappointment probably has to do with expectations. From Memento to The Dark Knight Rises, I enjoyed just about every one of Nolan’s films, with Insomnia being the weakest of the bunch but still a fine movie. So while I wasn’t keen on Interstellar, I will still acknowledge that it’s a well-made movie, especially from a technical standpoint, but the script was a hack job. At no point were the actors allowed to emote – instead they literally said every thought and feeling that their characters experienced. There is a moment in the film, which I will attempt not to spoil, where two characters get into a fight. One has clearly won, and then he says “I thought I could stay and watch you die…but I can’t.” before turning and walking away. Call me crazy, but could that line not have been told using actions instead of words? There are countless examples of Nolan both showing AND telling, and the result is that Interstellar leaves no room for interpretation. Its effects are spectacular, but it’s not the puzzle that films like Memento or Inception were, where you exit the theatre itching to dissect them. Perhaps the greatest problem with Interstellar is that the praise-worthy elements, such as the incredible visuals of other planets, were solid, but its complaint-worthy elements were so numerous and overpowering that I couldn’t really look beyond them to see the good stuff. I think it says a lot about a film that Academy Award winning actor Matthew McConaughey’s character was less memorable than a character whose is a robot and who literally looks like a large black slab. You let me down, Nolan.
2.5 out of 5

I honestly cannot believe how well this movie did, considering how stupid it is. I guess Scarlett Johansson has some pretty serious star power, because her presence in Lucy is about the only good thing there is to talk about with the film. Lucy is a woman who gets suckered by her boyfriend (I think? It’s never really clear who this guy is) into delivering a package of drugs to a shady businessman played by Choi Min-sik. The villaionous businessman then decides to turn her into a drug mule by surgically implanting the package into her abdomen. The package ruptures, she injests the drug, and becomes…like, a superhero or something? It’s like that movie Powder, but on crack. Lucy goes from being a complete wimp to robotic and unstoppable in maybe ten minutes, and we aren’t given any time to time to get invested in her character. Morgan Freeman shows up from time to explain the pseudo-science that the movie is trying to pass off as serious, but not even his gravitas and awesome voice can lend credence to the stupidity. And to top it off, the whole film is based off of the ludicrous premise that we only use 10% of our brains, and then theorizes that if we used 100% we could control time or levitate or kill someone just by looking at them. It’s really dumb, to the point where I couldn’t even enjoy it on a so-bad-it’s-good level. The only place I could recommend watching this movie would be on an airplane.
2 out of 5

The BoxTrolls
I am an unabashed fan of Laika studios’ beautiful stop-motion films. To me, they are true movie magic, as the filmmakers at Laika are literally bringing inanimate objects to life right before your eyes. After ParaNorman stole my heart so thoroughly, I was ready to love their follow-up The BoxTrolls, but unfortunately, although the animation is beautiful, the script was severely lacking. While watching The BoxTrolls, I was reminded of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. Whereas The Nightmare Before Christmas had been this amazing, large-scale stop-motion film where an entire world was brought to life on screen, Corpse Bride only had a handful of underdeveloped characters, and very little about it was memorable to me. ParaNorman had all of this interesting history and lore behind its world, and while the central cast had maybe a half-dozen characters, there was still an entire town full of secondary characters who were all memorable and interesting. The BoxTrolls, by comparison, only had maybe five named characters total, and they all felt pretty one-note to me. I don’t mean to make this sound worse than it is, though, because the animation is still magical and the film is still very entertaining. But without a great script to support it, everything feels just a little lackluster. I enjoyed The BoxTrolls, and wouldn’t turn down watching it a second time, but I’m unlikely to seek this one out again any time soon.
3 out of 5

See you next Sunday for more thrilling short reviews!

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