Archive for the ‘movie reviews’ Category

h1

December 2019 Movie Reviews: Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, Knives Out, Christmas Movies

December 21, 2019

Going forward, this is how I’m going to review movies – unless I want to highlight a specific movie I think warrants more discussion (i.e. leaving Parasite off this list). You can expect quick, succinct reviews here that give you an idea of how I felt about a movie and a few strengths and weaknesses, if warranted. I’ll keep track of every movie I watch throughout the month and post my thoughts on them at the start of the next month. This will include rewatches and possibly rating changes. I’ll also post some thoughts on any TV shows if I finish watching a season during the month. My rating system for TV is a little different than for movies because… I’m a psychopath.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019, theaters) – Geez. I’ve never proclaimed to be a big Star Wars fan, so it’s not like I’ve ever been super invested in these films, but… I think I’m over them. There have been eight Star Wars movies released since I was in high school and I’m a genuine fan of two of them (Rogue One and The Force Awakens) and none of them have been dear to me. That’s a lot of mediocrity. The Rise of Skywalker just adds to the list. It was mildly entertaining, but I honestly didn’t care about anything that was happening. As always, these movies are pretty good visually but I just can’t get emotionally invested in the story or find a way to care about these characters.

5/10 (Decent)

Knives Out (2019, theater) – This probably deserves a formal review but here we are. It’s a slick whodunnit with a great cast and plenty of memorable characters and is wildly entertaining the entire way. I give it a strong recommendation and would be happy to watch it again. I can actually see this growing on me and giving it a higher rating in the future.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Thoroughbreds (2017, HBO NOW) – Interesting, entertaining and a bit disturbing with some quality performances from Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy. Also features the late Anton Yelchin in one of his better roles. I recommend it.

6/10 (Recommended)

Klaus (2019, Netflix) – A worthy addition to the staple of Christmas holiday films with a fresh take on the legend of Santa and some unbelievably crisp animation. I thought this was top notch, but I want to see it again before labeling it a Must See.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Home Alone (1990, Disney+) – The most amazing thing about Home Alone is that I’ve probably seen it more than any other movie in my lifetime and yet, I still enjoy it. Even as I enter my late 30s I still don’t mind watching it every single year around Christmas time. This movie is full of plot holes, nonsense, and unbelievably dumb characters, but I still love it and it’s charm is undeniable. A true classic, even if it isn’t exactly a great film.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992, Disney+) – I can’t blame anyone involved for making this, but it’s basically just a retread of the first film set in New York City under even more unbelievable circumstances. I guess it’s still kind of fun, but it doesn’t come close to capturing the magic of the original.

5/10 (Decent)

Fatal Attraction (1987, Amazon Prime) – A movie that has always intrigued me but I never got around to watching. I always thought it was probably just softcore erotica, but Fatal Attraction actually got nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture! Seeing it streaming on Prime, I finally watched it and it was… pretty good! Glenn Close totally makes the movie and plays unhinged and obsessed really well. It didn’t strike me as a film that should be in anyone’s top 5 of any year, but it was definitely worth watching.

6/10 (Recommended)

Us (2019, HBO NOW) – I’ve seen it three times now. After two viewings, I was pretty confident labelling it a Must See, but after a third viewing, I think it’s just a pretty good, but not great film.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable) [revised rating]

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017, Netflix) – I thought this was really mediocre and bordering on bad the first time I saw it, but after being convinced to give it another chance (plus wanting to refresh before the new movie) I found it to be enjoyable this time around as some of the things that bothered me (i.e. Rose) didn’t anymore. I still don’t think it’s good enough that I’d recommend it though.

5/10 (Decent)

The Santa Clause (1994, Disney+) – A forgotten Christmas classic. Whenever the best holiday movies come up, I don’t seem to hear The Santa Clause get mentioned much, but it’s far too enjoyable to be omitted like that. Tim Allen is somehow great casting and this movie oozes charm and holiday spirit.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (2018, HBO NOW) – Total trash. Like… absurdly dumb. It gets called a Final Destination ripoff a lot, but I thought the movie it really wanted to imitate was It Follows. This is almost certainly the single worst movie I’ve watched in 2019 (but note it is a 2018 release).

2/10 (Painful)

Noelle (2019, Disney+) – Apologies to Truth or Dare, this is the biggest piece of shit I watched in 2019. Unbearably cheesy, misguided, and not even remotely funny, my wife and I both thought this was unwatchable. I’ll give Dina credit for making it to the halfway point – and I was going to power through if she wanted to – but when she quit it, I figured I probably shouldn’t spend my last hours of 2019 watching the worst movie of the year, and I turned it off about 50 minutes in.

2/10 (Painful)

TV SHOWS

Big Mouth (s2, 2018, Netflix) – A guilty pleasure, I guess? It’s raunchy animation focused on middle school kids going through puberty and all the emotional and physical craziness involved when your hormones start taking over. This show is NOT for kids though. It’s a hard rated-R – and possibly even worse – with absurdly graphic sex talk and even shows the kids naked sometimes. I almost feel bad even watching it. Some of the characters are way too over-the-top and gross (Jay, Coach Steve, the Hormone Monsters). On the other hand, it’s also pretty damn charming and plenty funny, plus I think it does a good job of really digging into the difficulties and wonders of discovering your bodies at that age. Nick Kroll does some excellent voicework and I really liked the addition of The Shame Wizard in this season. I’m a bit ambivalent about how I feel about this show, but I guess I like it overall and have to admit I enjoy it.

3.5/6 (Decent/Good)

The Mandalorian (s1, 2019, Disney+) – I’m going to say it… this is the best thing to ever come out of the Star Wars universe. I’ve already mentioned I don’t hold any of the films dear to me, so when I make this statement, it’s not coming from someone that is in love with the franchise. I kind of went into The Mandalorian wanting to not like the show, but it didn’t take long to win me over. Everyone knows about Baby Yoda by now and that was a goddamn stroke of creative genius. Baby Yoda is a level of cuteness that has possibly never been seen before and adds a serious mystique to the show. It’s not a spoiler to say that this character is never referenced in the trilogy that just wrapped up, so… I’m extremely curious to see where this story is headed. I think Baby Yoda makes the show, but there is plenty to love about The Mandalorian. From a technical standpoint, it’s as spectacular as any show I’ve ever seen. The sets, sounds, costumes, and creatures are all elite. I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what Jon Favreau and co. have in store for season 2.

5/6 (Must Watch)

Rick & Morty (s4 pt. 1, 2019, Adult Swim) – I got into Rick & Morty either this year or last year, so I was late to the party, but it didn’t take long to win me over. I devoured the first three seasons and by the time I was done with them, I was on board with the sentiment that the show was all-time levels of awesome. Season 4 is the first time I’ve watched the episodes as they came out and I have to say, I was a little disappointed with the first half of season 4. They have released five episodes so far and I thought two of them were great (episodes one and five), while episode four (with dragons?) was one of the worst of the whole series. To be fair though, the bar for the series is insanely high, but that episode was a bit of a head scratcher for me. The other two episodes I was a bit lukewarm on but still liked overall. Considering the consistent level of greatness this show has operated on for three seasons, having two cool episodes and a weak one in the first five of season four seems like a step in the wrong direction.

4/6 (Good)

Don’t F*** With Cats (2019, Netflix) – An insane story about how a bunch of internet nerds formed a Facebook group to track down some kid that made a video of himself torturing and killing a cat and then posted it online. It’s pretty crazy how the group figure out who the person is and then watch in horror as he escalates to actually murdering a human (also posted in a video online). I guess I’m confused about how the internet works because it seems like it would be extremely easy for law enforcement to find out exactly where a video was posted and track down the person that made it, but maybe these are advances in technology that have mostly be fine-tuned in the 7+ years since these events took place. Still, this is an unreal and extremely fascinating story. There are three episodes and once you start the first one, you won’t want to stop watching until you are done.

4.5/6 (Good/Must Watch)

h1

Queen & Slim (2019)

December 15, 2019

Queen & Slim (2019)

Director: Melina Matsoukas (Insecure, Master of None)

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith

Anticipation Level: Strong

How Was It? Good. I had never heard of this movie until I saw the trailer for it and thought it looked fantastic. I liked the idea of modernizing Bonnie and Clyde by incorporating Black Lives Matter and police brutality into the story and thought there was a lot of potential for something great here. I have to admit I was a little disappointed as the film didn’t reach the highs I thought it could. I honestly think it peaked before the opening credits and the scene that sets things in motion is by far the most tense and impactful part of the entire film. And then there’s another two hours of movie to watch. I thought the writers did a poor job with Daniel Kaluuya’s character. For a movie that’s probably supposed to feel empowering for black folk, they sure have him making some really questionable decisions. I don’t want to spoil anything in this review, so I’ll just say… gas station scene… wtf… There were multiple moments like this (although this was the most egregious) that really took me out of the movie and had me shaking my head.

Overall though, I did like Queen & Slim. I’ve never seen Bonnie & Clyde, but this did remind me a lot of Thelma & Louise and I’ve always loved that movie. I think both leads did a good job. I’ve become a big fan of Daniel Kaluuya over the last few years. The writers did a really good job of building the relationship between the two main characters, taking them from a failed Tinder date and creating a bond that few couples could claim to have reached. Also, the soundtrack for this movie is pretty awesome (and includes the return of Lauryn Hill!). I give this movie a recommendation but I was honestly hoping for more. It didn’t hit me the way I was expecting it to.

Replay Value: Well, I’d rather watch Thelma & Louise for the 10th time than watch this for the second, so there’s that…

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: There’s already controversy surrounding this film’s lack of Golden Globe noms – apparently the Hollywood Foreign Press Association didn’t even attend the consideration screenings – so it’s not likely to garner any Oscar attention either. While I think it’s garbage that the HFPA isn’t even watching the movie, I don’t really think the film is award-worthy myself; the script just isn’t good enough.

6/10 (Recommended)

h1

Marriage Story (2019): Best Picture Favorite?

December 13, 2019

Marriage Story (2019)

Director: Noah Baumbach (The Meyerowitz Stories, Frances Ha, Greenberg)

Starring: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson

Anticipation Level: High

How Was It? I’m not going to lie, this movie wasn’t even on my radar a month ago, but it didn’t take long for the hype to build and make me think there might be something special here. I thought Marriage Story was absolutely fantastic. It’s a tight little story about a family going through the divorce process as the adults try to pursue their careers on opposite coasts while playing tug-a-war with their only child. I could really feel the authenticity in everything that was happening – from the recollection of happier times to the disbelief that someone you used to love more than anything in the world could suddenly become your worst nightmare, the film rang true and will probably feel familiar to anyone that has been through a difficult breakup. I didn’t think there was a phony moment in this movie. Also, while it’s a tearjerker that will pull at your heart strings, it also made me laugh more than most of the comedies I’ve seen this year.

Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson give absolutely sensational performances. I was blown away by both of them and there were multiple scenes throughout the film where I was enthralled by their acting. They are already both nominated for Golden Globes and both are locks for Oscar noms also, with Scarlett looking like the favorite to win right now to me. Laura Dern is also great in this movie as Scarlett’s divorce attorney. I’ve always thought of her as the actress from Jurassic Park but after her work here and in Big Little Lies on HBO the last few years, it’s pretty clear she’s become an elite actress. She has a Globe nom for this movie also and is certainly drawing live at an Oscar nom as well.

Marriage Story is definitely a difficult and sad movie. I watched it while my wife was sleeping next to me and I was so moved by the film that I gave her a long hug of appreciation for what we have while thinking about how happy and grateful I am to have her in my life. Marriage Story is a good reminder to not take things for granted and to not autopilot your way through life, work, and your relationships. I’m not a highly emotional person and usually movies that have an affect on me just make my eyes water up a little bit, but this one actually made me spill tears.

Marriage Story is an absolute must see movie with some knockout performances. It’s currently among my top 3 movies of the year and definitely has a chance to win the Best Picture Oscar. Check it out on Netflix streaming right now.

Replay Value: Not really the kind of movie that people will want to watch repeatedly, but I think I will enjoy it again before Oscar season.

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: Definitely. The film got six Globe noms in all and all three nominated actors will probably get Oscar nods as well. I’ll say a Best Picture nom is a lock and the movie should have a shot at writing, directing, and score noms.

8/10 (Must See)

h1

Movie Reviews: The Irishman, Terminator: Dark Fate, The Lighthouse, El Camino, and more

November 22, 2019

This seems to be a growing trend for me. I get so backed on up movies I haven’t reviewed that I just spew them all out in one lazy, abbreviated post. I have to admit, I don’t feel much like writing in depth reviews for movies anymore – unless I’m really inspired to do so – but I’d like to find a way to streamline the process one movie at a time. Hope to figure it out soon. Until then…

The Irishman (2019) – I’m going to give this another go when it comes to Netflix next week because I was expecting a total masterpiece and what I got was… a very good film. The acting in this movie is pretty high level, especially from Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. De Niro is good also, but I’d be kind of surprised if his performance gets Oscar attention. This movie centers around the mob’s involvement with the Teamsters and the events leading up to Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance (which I don’t know much about) so the story spans many decades and the filmmakers had to use a de-aging process on the actors and I think for the most part it looks pretty great. There was one scene where De Niro’s character is in his 20s or 30s and gives the business to a shop owner and he’s roughing him up with all the ferocity of a, well, 75 year old man. I think The Irishman is technically sound and will probably get plenty of Oscar attention, but the movie didn’t wow me and the story didn’t really move me. Also, at 3.5 hours, the run time isn’t exactly ideal and after one viewing I’m not sure it needed to be that long. I’m hoping to change my mind after watching it again and discover that it’s actually a great film.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) – I liked that they took the Halloween approach and ignored the last three movies and made this a direct sequel to Judgment Day. In fact, I watched The Terminator and Judgment Day in the days leading up to seeing Dark Fate and, uh, I’m pretty sure that was a mistake. Those films are just so much better and the drop in quality is impossible to ignore. Also, I absolutely hated the opening sequence of this movie. I was literally like wtf before the title even showed on screen. I didn’t find myself very invested in the new characters, as Arnold and Linda Hamilton provided pretty much all the highlights in this film. If the franchise plan is to move forward with the new group and leave Arnie and co. in the past, they are going to be in trouble. I suppose the action in this movie was pretty decent, but I checked out early on in the film and it only brought me back when Arnold was saying funny things. I thought it was strange that the future would send back a human-cyborg hybrid that had so many, uhm, red flags health-wise – the most excruciating moments of the movie were centered around trying to revive her. Give me a T-800 all day. I thought this movie was pretty middling and continues a nearly 30 year run of mediocre Terminator movies, but a couple of my friends assured me it had “top 5 sound all-time” (in case that’s something anyone cares about).

5/10 (Decent)

The Lighthouse (2019) – Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are great in this, but… it was too weird for me. I didn’t really get it and had to read about it on Wikipedia to try and figure out what I missed. I felt the same way about director Robert Eggers’ last film The Witch. It kind of bothers me when something is critically lauded and I find myself scratching my head while watching it. I generally find that if something is universally acclaimed, it is usually pretty good, so when I don’t feel the same way, it makes me feel like I don’t get it. That makes me hesitant to say a movie like The Lighthouse is bad because I don’t really think that it is. The acting and cinematography are top notch, and it’s a rather beautiful looking film, but… the story appears to be over my head and I didn’t enjoy it much. I’m going to give this a 5 out of 10, but be warned, many of you out there could very well hate it.

5/10 (Decent)

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie [Netflix] (2019) – Well, that was quite unnecessary. Breaking Bad is a top five show all-time for me (and maybe as high as #1), so I’m eager to dig into any additional content, but Jesse’s character was never the reason I watched the show and if they made a spin off series based on his character, I’m not even sure I’d tune in for that. This movie tells Jesse’s story immediately following the events of the series finale of Breaking Bad and while I guess I found watching this movie to be somewhat enjoyable, it was also a largely forgettable experience. Jesse Plemons reprising his role as Todd was by far the highlight of this movie. Something about that guy is just hilarious. Obviously, if you loved Breaking Bad you should probably watch this, but I can’t say it added much to the lore and for continued Breaking Bad content, Better Call Saul is far more entertaining.

5/10 (Decent) – and that might be generous

The Art of Self-Defense (2019) – This movie was hyped up to me and I had hopes that it would be a surprising dark comedy, but I thought it got pretty ridiculous about halfway through and it totally lost me as a viewer. The first half of the movie is quirky and funny, but it falls off a cliff when Jesse Eisenberg’s character becomes entangled in the seedy operations of the dojo he enlists at. I suppose it’s worth a watch, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

5/10 (Decent)

Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019) – Cowabunga! A 1990s 12 year old’s dream come true! Unfortunately, it’s 2019 and this movie is about 25 years too late for peak impact. Still, even though these aren’t the Turtles of my youth, I was pretty impressed with this mash up. I thought it was funny and entertaining and not nearly as cheesy as I expected. I’ve seen it twice now and enjoyed it both times. My only real gripe is that it seems like seeing Batman’s rogues gallery get infected by the ooze and turn into Manimals would be really cool, but the results are pretty disappointing. Overall though, this was a pleasant surprise, especially considering the poor run Batman’s animated feature length adventures have been on.

6/10 (Recommended)

h1

Movie Reviews: Hustlers, The Addams Family, Aladdin, and more

October 22, 2019

Hustlers (2019) – I don’t get it. This movie is at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes and has a 79 score on MetaCritic, with one critic even calling it “era-defining”, but I could barely stomach the whole film. It’s not an atrocious movie, but the characters are so hollow and the story so boring, I thought about leaving at multiple points to do something else with my day. Yes… a movie starring Jennifer Lopez as a stripper is somehow nearly unwatchable.
4/10 (Forgettable)

The Addams Family (2019) – Sometimes I go to the movies just to go and this would be one of those times. I’m not necessarily a fan of the old show or the movies from the ’90s, but I appreciate the dark humor and horror themes of the franchise. This movie was mostly forgettable, with Wednesday played by Chloe Grace Moretz providing almost all the highlights. It’s a decent first installment, but I can see eventual sequels being a lot better.
5/10 (Decent)

Aladdin (2019) – I suppose it works. The 1992 original is a top 3 traditionally animated Disney movie for me and I think this remake works largely as a function of the source material being so good. However, much like every other Disney live action remake so far save The Jungle Book it lacks the magic that made the original so special. Yes, the songs are all here and they are still great – even with some slight changes – but they just don’t feel the same. Asking Will Smith to live up to the vocal performance of Robin Williams as The Genie is an impossible task, but he actually does a fine job and certainly isn’t a negative in the movie. Something that absolutely doesn’t work for me in this movie is the casting of Jafar. It’s astonishing that a big budget company like Disney and a capable director like Guy Ritchie could actually think this version of Jafar is even remotely acceptable.
5/10 (Decent)

Ready or Not (2019) – This is a lot of fun, with a star-making performance from Samara Weaving. I wish they didn’t spoil some of the best scenes in the trailer, but I still found the movie plenty enjoyable. Weaving is hilarious and this movie is certainly worth checking out.
6/10 (Recommended)

The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) – One of the surprise films of the year and arguably Shia LaBeouf’s best performance of his career, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a heartwarming story of a man with Down syndrome that runs away from his nursing home to pursue a professional wrestling career and finds himself making some unlikely friendships along the way.
7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Booksmart (2019) – I was expecting more… like one of the better movies of the year more. Instead, I found the far less mature Good Boys to be the more enjoyable Superbadesque raunchy coming-of-age comedy this year. This is still worth watching though and I think Beanie Feldstein has a bright future.
6/10 (Recommended)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) – A fine, somewhat worthy sequel, but everything about the first one was waaaaay better.
5/10 (Decent)

h1

Joker (2019)

October 5, 2019

Joker (2019)

Director: Todd Phillips (The Hangover movies, Old School, Road Trip)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy

Anticipation Level: Epic

How Was It? Honestly, I thought a one-off Joker movie that had nothing to do with the current DC movie universe being directed by the guy responsible for The Hangover movies was a pretty terrible idea. But then Joaquin Phoenix was cast in the lead role and suddenly you had to wonder what this movie might be because Phoenix is a generational talent. And then the first trailer dropped and I was completely sold. By the time Joker won Best Picture at the Venice Film Festival and the first critical reactions started rolling in, Joker was my my most anticipated film of 2019.

And it totally lived up to the hype. It’s my favorite film of the year with just under three months left in 2019. It almost feels cliche to make that claim since everyone knows I’m a diehard Batman fan (my nickname is Dark Knight, for crying out loud), but it’s just phenomenal. All the praise being lauded on Joaquin Phoenix is well deserved. He’s incredible. It’s hard to imagine anyone giving a performance that can even hold a candle to what Heath Ledger did in The Dark Knight, but Phoenix does just that in this movie. I think Ledger’s Joker is more in line with what comic book fans have come to expect of the character (i.e. genius psychopath/criminal mastermind), but the Joker in this movie is perhaps even scarier because he’s born out of mental illness and neglect and, well, there’s nothing supernatural about that. In fact, it’s easy enough to imagine that some people in the real world are actually out there boycotting this film right now because they are worried about its potential influence. You know… because it’s so different than all the other violent movies and video games out there that it deserves its own special spotlight. *eyeroll*

Joker is a very unsettling film. I mean… I loved it. I absolutely loved it, but I would not say it is an easy watch. It is a difficult and disturbing film. Joaquin Phoenix dives so deep into this role that I saw one reviewer say, “I’m worried about him” and that person wasn’t trying to be funny. He’s so good I can’t imagine anyone else winning the Best Actor Oscar this year. The only way he loses is if this role is too dark for the Academy or if they have some sort of recency bias against handing over a statue for the same role twice in just over a decade. Taron Egerton was great as Elton John in Rocketman but Joaquin Phoenix is simply better.

The cinematography and score are also Oscar-worthy in this movie. The film is beautifully and intimately shot, keeping the viewer highly invested in what’s happening on screen and the score ratchets up the tension and never lets up. You will be on edge the entire time and if you are concerned about what might happen, you probably should be.

My problems with this movie are pretty minor. Obviously, Joker takes place in Batman’s world, but this film never really feels like a comic book movie. The story occurs long before Bruce Wayne donns and the cape and the cowl and while the Waynes are a presence, Bruce is just a young kid and his influence on the story is pretty minimal. That’s fine. This movie is about Joker, not Batman. Still, it’s hard for me to imagine this Joker being Batman’s biggest foe 15 years in the future. Joaquin Phoenix is almost 45 and there’s no indication that Arthur Fleck is much younger, so… this Joker is going to be 60 when Batman starts showing up? Uh, okay. But that doesn’t really matter as this movie is a standalone film and Todd Phillips has indicated that Phoenix’s Joker will not be appearing in any upcoming Batman films and setting up that future rivalry is not the point of this movie anyway.

Joker might not be the most enjoyable film experience due to its dark and disturbing nature, but it’s my favorite movie of 2019 so far and Joaquin Phoenix gives another remarkable performance that just might earn him his first Oscar.

Replay Value: It’s a tough watch, but I’m ready for Round 2 and it’s a must own film for me.

Sequel Potential: A Joker movie that happens before Batman becomes Batman? How could there not be a sequel? Because Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t do sequels and I don’t expect him to appear as Joker again.

Oscar Potential: Phoenix is a lock nominee and my favorite to win Best Actor right now. I think the cinematography and score also have a chance to get nominated. I’d put it in the Best Picture race myself, but the fact that 30% of critics have given it negative reviews isn’t very promising in that regard.

8/10 (Must See)

h1

It: Chapter Two (2019)

September 6, 2019

It: Chapter Two (2019)

Director: Andy Muschietti (It, Mama)

Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Bill Skarsgard

Anticipation Level: High

How Was It? Honestly, the only thing that kept my anticipation level below epic levels was the initial reactions of the critics. A 71% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes wasn’t what I was hoping for. Still, I absolutely adored the first movie and while It (2017) may not be the horror classic I initially made it out to be, it at least deserves to be mentioned with the best genre flicks of the last several years.

The audiences seem to be loving Chapter Two and Twitter is going pretty crazy over this movie – especially over Bill Hader’s performance – but I’m going to make a prediction right now: in 2-3 years, everyone is going to realize this movie wasn’t very good. Think about Avengers: Age of Ultron. Most people liked it when it first came out. I even gave it a favorable review. Nowadays, it’s rare to find anyone that liked it and most agree it’s one of the weakest installments in the MCU. I have a feeling It: Chapter Two is going to follow a similar path. Everyone is overreacting now, maybe because they are in denial, and in a few years, this movie will be universally regarded as a dud.

Because… it’s a serious slog. I can’t imagine someone being genuinely entertained by this for three straight hours. It’s soooooo long and the running time seems to be born more out of ego than out of necessity – like director Andy Muschietti and the studio think they can get away with making this some horror epic because the first movie was so successful. I mean… they are probably right. Chapter Two will probably do big business, but I think the length and drop in quality will hurt its legs over the long run and I’d be surprised if it outgrosses the first movie.

I think the biggest problem with this movie is the source material. When I revisited the novel in 2017, I was surprised at how weak the story gets when I got to the adult portion of the book as I’ve always regarded It as one of the best novels I’ve ever read. It’s just not good. I actually think the filmmakers did a laudable job of adapting King’s work in Chapter Two and I like some of the changes they made – it’s funnier and the characters are way less annoying than in the novel. For instance, I couldn’t stand the adult Richie Tozier but Bill Hader makes him the highlight of the film in Chapter Two. Actually, the casting of the adult characters is pretty solid overall. Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy seemed like perfect casting, but honestly, no one is going to remember the adult versions of Beverly or Bill in this movie. Hader and James Ransone (as adult Eddie) are great though. If it weren’t for them, this movie would be completely forgettable. They arguably save the whole thing and make it worth watching.

The biggest problem with Chapter Two is that the kids made the book and the kids made the movie in the 2017 film. The adult story just isn’t nearly as good. Muschietti seems to understand that and I think that’s why we get a three hour movie here: the kids get a lot of screen time and it doesn’t really help the movie… it just makes it unnecessarily longer. With that said, any time young Eddie or young Richie are on screen it is usually a good thing. Those two characters and actors are the heart and soul of these movies.

When it comes down it, I just didn’t enjoy this movie. I guess it was okay. Maybe it will even grow on me over time because I’m so dissatisfied right now. I think it would have been a tough watch as a two hour movie and it’s an hour longer than that! I was pretty forgiving of some of the questionable CGI in the first film – mostly because the actual movie was so good – but it’s harder to ignore here. I just don’t have a lot of good things to say about Chapter Two other than praising the performances of Bill Hader and James Ransone.

Obviously, everyone is still going to go see this… especially if they loved the first one like I did. So I won’t tell you not to watch it, but don’t be surprised if you walk out feeling disappointed.

Replay Value: I’m a horror buff, so I’ll still be adding this to my movie collection… and I’ll watch it again… I’ve seen a lot of bad horror movies multiple times… but none that are three hours long!

Sequel Potential: If this movie crushed, I wouldn’t put it past Hollywood to write a sequel that doesn’t exist as a novel.

Oscar Potential: BILL HADER FOR BEST ACTOR! Yeah right. He has NO chance. I thought he was great in this, but that is crazy talk.

5/10 (Decent)