Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Man did I screw this one up.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is an exceptionally Tarantino movie. In fact, it might be the most Tarantino movie. The man has been making movies about old Hollywood for his entire career, and that passion for old movies is one of the things I love about Tarantino’s filmography. However, whereas most of his films explore this angle by means of homage, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood instead is more of a fairy tale about a specific bit of Old Hollywood lore. The movie does not just expect its audience to know this bit of lore: it demands it. Aggressively. And if that meta  knowledge isn’t there, then I’m not sure one can say that the movie actually works that well on its own.

And unfortunately, I did not have this knowledge.

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Toy Story 4

Nostalgia is one heck of a thing.

Nostalgia got me, a 27-year-old man, out of my apartment to go watch an animated movie on my own this Saturday. If the previews were any indicator, I am certainly not the target audience for this film. I am not particularly likely to go see Trolls 2. I’m still not convinced that Angry Birds 2 is a real thing and not just a fairly elaborate joke trailer that got shuffled into the promo reel by mistake. I’ll probably see Frozen 2 but like, after it comes out on Amazon or something. But there was never really any question that I was going to go see Toy Story 4. Pixar has their hooks in me pretty good, and I’m not really all that upset about it, to be honest. But apart from the sequels to Cars, this is the first time I’ve felt like they’re pressing their luck with a franchise that should have wrapped up long ago.

That is not to say that I think the movie is bad. It isn’t. It’s just needless. Everything it’s doing has really already been done in earlier entries, and done better. It’s a very lovingly crafted, painstakingly designed, and elaborate movie that nobody really expected or asked for. It’s like all of us finished dinner back in 2010 and felt full and satisfied, and then the waiter comes by with another slice of pie. You’re not upset to see it, exactly, but just what the hell are you supposed to do with it? Continue reading “Toy Story 4”

Jumbled Thoughts: The Last Jedi

“This is not going to go the way you think.”

It’s hard to find a more succinct primer for the The Last Jedi than Luke’s line from the trailer. Rian Johnson knew what he was doing, at least insofar as he was aware of the shakeup he was introducing to Star Wars. I’m not sure he anticipated the extreme response that shakeup would prompt, which was, probably, a bit naive; the toxicity of “fandoms” has been injected with some kind of asshole growth hormone and is out of control these days. And while the vitriol is, as ever, a profound overreaction, it’s pretty undeniable that The Last Jedi is… weird.

Note that “weird” does not mean “bad”. It means disjointed, poorly paced, awkwardly written, and sometimes just head-scratchingly *bizarre* but it does not, even with all of that, mean “bad”. I didn’t love this movie, but I actually enjoyed it, probably more than I did The Force Awakens. I didn’t hate this movie, but I walked out feeling very, very odd about it. Star Wars fans have informed me that I need to react with either white hot rage or slavish devotion and I, as an insufferable contrarian, am rather smugly pleased with my current middle-ground feelings regarding the film.

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Exclusively Foolish

It was recently announced at Microsoft’s Gamescom conference that the next Tomb Raider game will be coming “Exclusively to Xbox One” in Holiday 2015. This immediately (and rightfully) raised something of a shitstorm amongst PS4 and PC users. Will the game ever come to other platforms? What does this mean for the Tomb Raider franchise going forward? What exactly is Square Enix thinking?

To that last one, I think there’s a very simple answer: they hate money.

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A Five Nation Army is Bringing Me Down

So by now, many of you will have heard of this. After operating under a working title of There and Back Again, the third installment in the needlessly-trilogy’d Hobbit movies has been renamed to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, in an Oscar bid attempt to take home the award for “Most Uses of the Word ‘The’ in a Title”.

Already there’s a bit of nerd rage circulating, and while I don’t want to fall too far into the “rage” category, I’m also not super jazzed about the change. Obviously it’s just a title, and what’s important is the content of the film, not how good the film’s name looks on a movie poster. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is kind of a silly name for a film, whereas Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home actually sounds pretty great, but everybody knows that the reality of each of these films is the stark opposite; Khan is the best entry in the Star Trek movie franchise and Save the Whales is possibly the weakest. Titles are not at all an indicator of film quality, though a good title does make things a lot neater. The concern I have about this recent title change isn’t that it sounds dumb or is too long or anything like that. Rather, it seems that this is another bit of evidence indicating that Peter Jackson and company might be losing sight of what the Hobbit is really about. 

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