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Films watched in 2021


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Pet Sematary (2019): It wasn't as bad as I feared it would be.  There's a few changes from the book but for the most part the story is the same.  It's nothing special really but was an OK watch.

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I watched Point Break (the original, obvs) for the first time. Technically I watched the last hour (it was another watch-along and I was late). 

I very much enjoyed what I saw; although I was a bit disappointed that Keanu and Patrick Swayze didn't make out at any point. 

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MONSTER HUNTER (2020)

2.5/5 (Mild spoiler)

The holy trinity of Paul W.S. Anderson, Milla Jovovich and Capcom returns once more for yet another videogame adaptation. And this one was surprisingly fun...at least for the first hour as we're presented with a cross between STARGATE (1994) and HELL IN THE PACIFIC (1968) but after that things take a drastic dip and the film never recovers making this an uneven mess.

The film introduces a bunch of soldiers complete with typically cheesey macho banter but like a lot of Anderson's films the side characters are basically doomed random monster fodder leaving Jovovich to showcase her cartoony one-man-army skills. Tony Jaa shows up, probably tempted by the fact he doesn't have to speak English in the film but I can't imagine what the appeal for Ron Pearlman was. Once again the fanboy in Anderson borrows from the action films of the 80s/90s he grew-up with most notably the soldiers vs bugs carnage of STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997) and the gunpowder self-surgery of RAMBO III (1988). 

The ending feels pretty rushed and a desperate attempt to set-up a sequel. The cliffhanger ending doesn't work as not enough story or characters have been introduced so far for anyone to give a s*** including the giant bipedal CGI cat! Milla's reaction says it all. I can tolerate a lot of Anderson's films but when the cat showed up I just lost it.

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GODZILLA VS. KONG (2021)
3.5/5 (No spoilers)

I didn't care much for the Monsterverse apart from KONG: SKULL ISLAND (2017) so was happy to see King Kong back again compared to Godzilla who I always felt lacked characterization. But despite Zilla's short-comings, GODZILLA VS KONG didn't disappoint although it did feel like chunks were missing and Big G was quite side-lined.
 
I quite liked the plot - everything felt justified but it was obvious we were skipping-over what Kong had been doing since his last film set 50 years prior. Similarly, there's a backstory involving Alexander Skarsgard's dead brother and another with a little mute girl that Kong has bonded with - both of these plot-points could've been expanded to make the humans more developed but they're reduced to just a couple lines of exposition. The same goes for the sudden discovery of the Titans' home and ancestral history - it was fascinating to learn about their origins but again, it needed more time spent on it.
 
The fights are the best thing here; they look spectacular and we're treated to many bouts and not just with Big G or Kong. The rumbles are everything you'd want from giants like these easily surpassing similar scenes of destruction in the TRANSFORMERS or PACIFIC RIM films. Furthermore, Godzilla and Kong finally facing-off actually feels like the grand historic cinematic event that other 'VS' films should have been. The battles look gorgeous and its easy to see why the finale is set in Hong Kong with all those lights but the close-ups of Godzilla's face looked a bit too "man-in-a-suit" and unintentionally funny.
 
The film could easily have been a mess since there's three narrative threads running; one for Kong, one for Godzilla and another for the three human conspiracy theorists which the film could've omitted since they took the focus off the monsters. The "Journey To The Center Of The Earth" was by far the most interesting part of the film so hopefully we'll see more of that in future installments but now that the two big bads have finally fought I'm not sure there's much more story to tell in this franchise.

 

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SOUND OF METAL (2019)
3/5 (No spoilers)

Describing a film about a heavy metal drummer going deaf as "quiet" is an ironic criticism. But that's the whole point of this Oscar-heavy film as director, Darious Marder, tries hard to make the audience see and hear the story from Ruben's (Riz Ahmed) point of view by using its sound design and (non-use) of subtitles to tell the story.

The plot is straight-forward but as often with films with such simple premises, I found myself thinking, "OK so he goes deaf, now what?" I felt similarly about THE FAREWELL (2019) in which a dying grandma's family throw a secretly fake wedding banquet to honour her - like that film, SOUND OF METAL also has a very unsatisfying ending where you're asking, "oh, is that it?" The flat ending also makes much of the 2nd act seem rather pointless OR very relevant depending on how you see it. What should have made the film is how Ruben comes to deal with his condition and forms friendships within the deaf community and its inhabitants - the film focuses on this for a while and you start to feel glad for Ruben's progress but the 3rd act just changes everything and so its easy to feel betrayed by our protagonist.

Of course without much sound or music in the film the audience's patience will be tested as the pacing of the film is compromised. The sound design has been praised for being 'inventive' but when you see the film, isn't it an obvious choice to let the audience hear things from Ruben's point of view? The use of sound design and subtitles here is hardly rocket-science and shouldn't be a surprise at all.

I really wanted this film to be about the triumph of the human spirit or over-coming great odds - I think the film wants to be those things but I don't think it really hit the nail on the head. What we get instead is a story about a man wanting to fix himself. Like Joe, the deaf community leader says in the film, "We're here to fix this (*points to forehead*), not this (*points to ears*)."

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