Quick Hit: Some sporadic moments of comedy but nothing that ever shone like it could have.
Kate McKinnon has a very particular brand of funny. Honestly, it’s very hit or miss for me. There are times that she really knocks it out of the park, and she has been doing more voice acting recently as well (her work on a PBS show called Nature Cat is very fun for the kids). But she also has moments where I think her comedy doesn’t work as well. Luckily here, I thought it played well, especially to Mila Kunis as a straight. It’s similar to the dynamic that worked out in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
The difference between this movie (eh) and that one (great) though is myriad. There is better dialogue there, and the plot doesn’t feel so stuffed. Here, the plot hurries along, which is good, but you never really get a good feel for the characters themselves. Mila Kunis seems to be playing a character that is a sad sap, but it’s awfully hard to buy. McKinnon plays her typical crazy with crazy parents, but if you look deeper and try and understand why these two may be friends, or why Kunis is so desperate, the whole things starts to fall apart.
The plot does give a lot of humor though, and it slowly builds until it implodes on itself at the end. There’s a lot of mess there, which involves murder, mystery, an ex-boyfriend, and of course, a death at a circus including some crazy trapeze work from an Eastern European (and Kate McKinnon). There’s a lot going on, and like the rest of the movie, it’s pretty hit or miss as to whether it creates tension, creates laughter, or just falls flat.
I will state that the action scenes in this movie are frequently tremendous. There’s a lot of action, some of it at the expense of the women, but as the movie goes on includes them as partners and equals. That is one of the best things for me – the movie truly was led by the women in it. With a little more careful execution you would have had a very good action movie spoof. As it is, the movie falls a bit flat. I’d still say that fans of McKinnon’s off-beat humor or Kunis’s continued bonafides as a comedic actor will leave with at least a smile and a chuckle. I’m giving this one a “C”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: An interesting idea and a stellar cast goes mostly wasted as the film struggles to decide where to go.
I remember following news about this film on sites like Bloody Disgusting, and was extremely confused when I found out that it wasn’t even going to be released. It was already on our list of things to watch, and so it languished there, transferred from list to list as we attempted to find a way to watch a film that only got a very limited DVD release. Eventually, we found it, and we watched it, and I understand why the studio decided to pull the plug. The movie doesn’t have much in the way of a plot that is consistent and thorough so much as someone that had a lot of ideas but very little execution.
In some ways, Patient Zero is the incredibly weird zombie movie that you want it to be. There’s a doctor (hahaha see what I did there?) played by Matt Smith that is a partial zombie, and he can communicate with those that are full zombies. This is never fully explained besides “science”, but I’ll give some grace here. He also has a wife he is trying to save who is a full zombie, and he has a brilliant scientist girlfriend? Who is played by Natalie Dormer. At some point, Stanley freaking Tucci shows up as a zombie that was captured. The scientists, who have been trying to track down “patient zero” aka the first person to become a zombie, are entranced by Tucci because he displays an ability to converse and control the disease, just like our Matt.
The movie doesn’t do justice to just how crazy that plot sounds, instead choosing to move from plot point to plot point with the speed of a 1960s zombie. As you expect, eventually the two sides of humanity clash, as they both want to rule the world. It’s unfortunate, because at times the movie almost could play as a prequel to something like Daybreakers (if it was about zombies instead of vampires) – intelligent creatures that just have a new difference in biology. A new phase of humanity, if you will, but instead, the movie just focuses on screaming and zombies that don’t like music? And we never go in and explain this more than saying they don’t? Or look at the implications of such a thing in warfare? It’s just lazy plot.
The acting follows suit. Tucci, who is good in everything, still manages to bring the plot up a bit, but it is too little too late by the time he shows up. All the side characters are cliché, and outside of a poorly paced bite scene that features the typical nerdy best friend, there’s very little in the way of excitement. Even that you can see coming.
Patient Zero is a film that had a lot going for it, and instead just didn’t get all the pieces together. It’s main points are still enough for genre fans to warrant a watch, but they’ll probably leave disappointed. I’m giving it a “D”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: Nearly its predecessor’s equal, but lacking some small details to gain it there.
I fell head over heels for the first Incredibles movie when I first watched it. It has continued to be one of my favorite movies, and I’ve passed on the love of it to my sons. The sequel was heralded as a success in my household, though one of my boys has also deemed it as “Scary”. And indeed, there are some frightening moments in the movie – but what I think is most impressive is just how on point the movie is, and how Brad Bird manages to wrangle the heart of a movie that is 14 years old and push it into this year’s sequel.
The movie starts literally where the last one ended, with the UnderMiner attacking the city and the Parrs stopping them. But afterwards, amid the wash of property damage caused by the stop of the villain, Bob (Craig T. Nelson) and Helen (Holly Hunter) are approached to be the new face of superheroes as legislation is pushed forward to make superheroes legal once again. The catch – they want Elastigirl first, not Mr. Incredible, because of her ability to control property damage. This relegates Bob to Mr. Mom duty, and Helen learns to function in her own realm without her children.
Now if you’re worried this is a straight forward breakdown of gender roles, allow me to assuage you. There are only a few jokes that lean down this well-traveled road, and instead, we get to see a woman becoming empowered by her own choices. We get to see a man learning to spend time with his children and helping them grow, despite the fact that parenting is exhausting. One of the little choices that you can notice in this is just how alive Helen looks compared to the first movie, where she seemed like a worn down mother. Now, Bob has a look akin to his first movie, but it’s a happier look – he may be just as tired, but it’s not dragging on him like his insurance job.
The kids are still great, supplying a lot of heart. But nothing in this film beats Jack Jack, who steals literally every scene that he is in. Finding not just one power but a multitude of them, Jack Jack has battles with raccoons, jumps dimensions in search for cookies, and eats flame retardant. He is the true joy that Brad Bird lets out about being a super powered being. Essentially, if the rest of the Parrs are the Watchmen, struggling with their existence in the universe, Jack Jack is essentially StarFire – happy to be super.
There is tons of super action here – there are some new ones with fun powers that will be familiar for those that have read/watched X-Men – but I think that scene that shows us exactly what superhero animation can be is the scene where Elastigirl is chasing down the runaway train. She uses her body in so many different ways, it actually takes multiple viewings in order to be able to catch everything. It’s fun and the animation here is superb, and shows when you apply the right format to things that you can get some truly amazing visuals. It reminds me a bit of seeing Man of Steel for the first time and seeing Henry Cavill fly off into the air.
Despite all this, I think that Incredibles 2 has a bit of a villain problem compared to Buddy/Syndrome from the first movie. Screenslaver just doesn’t hold up when compared to that. Though the “twist” is something that most adults will see from about 20 minutes in, it probably holds up for kids – but the true deficiency is in the development of the character. I think we gained a lot from having a character like Mirage in the previous film, because it gave more room for Syndrome to be mysterious. Here, with everything essentially on the table from the introduction, there isn’t that same growth.
So I think Incredibles 2 is probably one of the most successful Pixar sequels. It’s right up there with the Toy Story sequels in my book. I’m giving it an “A-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"