Tag Archives: unnecessary sequels

The Strangers: Prey at Night

Strangers 7-5-17-6620.dngI’ve avoided slasher flicks ever since I was 12 and the idea of Friday the 13th (which I’d never seen but had the plot recited to me on a canoe trip the previous summer) made me run in terror anytime I was alone in the woods at night. Since then, I’ve seen very, very few straight-up slashers (Halloween being a rare exception and a standout) because, honestly, they’re almost always really stupid. The Strangers: Prey at Night is a very good example of “really stupid”, and that is about the nicest thing I can say about it.

Since I really don’t care for this type of movie, I may be dead wrong, but I have always thought the appeal of these films can be distilled down to three basic elements:

  1. Clever kill sequences;
  2. The filmmaker toying with the audience’s expectations, delivering a humourous jolt when we think a scare is coming, or vice versa; and
  3. Seeing idiots get what is coming to them, namely being murdered in some kind of clever kill sequence.

Combine those elements with a memorable mass murderer and you’ve got a franchise on your hands!

The Strangers: Prey at Night has none of those things. Sure, the killers wear weird masks, but doesn’t almost every murderer? Otherwise, these killers just walk around menacingly, more out of obligation than for any particular purpose, and don’t have any discernable motivation, backstory, or personality traits. The only memorable thing is that the killers have a penchant for 80s music. Like, will search the radio presets until they find some, even if there is a potential victim right there for the murdering, so they are pretty big fans.

And there are no clever or humourous sequences, just monotony. The people who die get stabbed. Also, the people who live get stabbed. None of the encounters consists of anything more than that, save for the 80s synth-pop blaring consistently while the fights take place. Worst of all, we are forced to sit through about 25 minutes of family “drama” before the killing even really begins.

So who, exactly, is this movie for? You will have to tell me because it is not for me or for anyone I know.  I also don’t think it would have worried little 12-year-old me in the least, which is the biggest strike of all since back then I was terrified by the very idea of the phantom zone from Superman 2.  Basically, if you are looking for a mix of synth-pop and grisly violence, skip this film and stick with the holy trinity: Halloween, Drive, and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

 

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Mute

mute.jpgFor me, the most memorable scene in Mute was a few-second long callback to director Duncan Jones’ debut, a marvelous little movie called Moon, starring Sam Rockwell, that you should track down immediately if you haven’t seen it yet.  Apparently, Mute is intended to be the second entry in a very loose trilogy, an approach that Netflix seems to be very keen on at the moment (as evidenced by The Cloverfield Paradox along with Mute).  Come to think of it, we saw this same thing happen with Split not so long ago, where two movies really have nothing to do with one another except that they happen in the same “shared universe”, with that link often seeming to constitute a big reveal.

I have asked before and, thanks to Mute, have to ask again: why is it becoming a thing to tie movies together in this way?  What is the point, when Mute is a totally separate story not at all influenced by the events in Moon (and vice versa)?  Why does it matter that these movies occur in the same world at the same time if the events of one film do not impact the other in any way?  Why are we even mentioning this link and including a scene with Rockwell in Mute (other than the fact that he is so hot right now)? sohotrightnow Are people being drawn to Mute because it’s related to Moon?  Did anyone choose to watch Mute because of that link who otherwise would not have?  Is Rockwell such a big box office draw that his inclusion got Mute off the ground?  I have a hard time believing this one little throwaway scene helped Mute and yet, why else even bother?

Really, the only benefit of Rockwell’s inclusion was that it made this review easier to write, because Mute is otherwise forgettable even as you are watching it.  Visually, it is for the most part a shameless ripoff of Blade Runner only it’s bereft of any philosophical discussions about anything meaningful, with the only takeway being that parents should not make friends with pedophiles, a point which, much like the movie itself, did not really need to be made.

Pitch Perfect 3

The Barden Bellas from the first 2 movies are back, but they’ve been replaced. Having finally graduated from college, a new crop of girls is singing acapella at their alma matter and the old Bellas are feeling obsolete. Shitty jobs aren’t panning out and dreams are already broken, and the old Bellas are feeling obsolete (I know! Who would have guessed that majoring in mouth music wasn’t really the best life choice?!). A last ditch effort to reunite comes in an invitation to perform for the troops in a USO show and since the Bellas have literally nothing else going on (except for one unwanted pregnancy), off they go to a warn-torn Spanish resort hotel to do their part.

Now you might think that being in a war zone is the toughest part of this new chapter, but in fact, to the Bellas, because they’re not crazy AT ALL, the worst part is dimscompeting against bands that play instruments. How dare they! I thought college was supposed to prepare you for the real world but these ladies are literally not even prepared for guitars. Yeesh. (Not to give too much credit to the new “bands”, including Evermoist, led by Ruby Rose, because after seriously mocking the Bellas for being a “cover band”, it turns out they all do covers too! A Cranberries tribute is particularly poignant with the recent death of Dolores O’Riordan.)

Anyway. There was absolutely no call to make a third movie here, and the script strains so hard to justify itself you’ll want to buy it a squatty potty. If you absolutely must watch it, you’ll want to wait until it’s available at home, where you can fast-forward to all the Sia bits and avoid the inane “plot” (though you’ll want to hear John Lithgow sing with an Australian accent at least once, just to say you did). It’s pretty clear that this franchise needs to learn the same lesson the Bellas do: moving on is good.

 

 

The Cloverfield Paradox

GDP-08575.rafSo this is what “straight to video” looks like in the Netflix age. Honestly, I am surprised at the drastic drop off in quality from 10 Cloverfield Lane to The Cloverfield Paradox, if only because I gave 10 Cloverfield Lane a 3 out of 10 and by comparison to Paradox, Cloverfield Lane is a masterpiece.

Basically, the Cloverfield Paradox is a less entertaining, less scary, and less interesting version of Event Horizon, a movie that really let me down 20 years ago, and that I am sure has not improved over time. That The Cloverfield Paradox falls so far short of that (very) (very) (very) low bar is damning indeed.

For a “franchise” that I didn’t much care for in the first place, Cloverfield has managed to sink to new depths of awfulness with each new entry, especially with the two “sequels”, which were clearly written as standalone movies, then got stamped with just enough giant monsterness to justify the Cloverfield name.

At least at this point we can be fairly sure we’ve reached the end of this disappointing series. It is a sad state of affairs that I can’t totally exclude a reboot in five or ten years, but that’s a rant for another day (and one I’ve probably already written out three or four times in other reviews so I’m sure you can find it without too much effort!).

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

636866-jumanji-dwayneThe trailers for this movie set the bar so unbelievably low that I thought Jumanji could not possibly disappoint. The only surprise this movie has to offer is that it is a sequel not a reboot. Otherwise, it is completely by-the-numbers, including lots of CG animal stampedes and even more cliched character growth. In short, it is the perfect counter-programming for liberal propaganda like Spielberg-Streep-Hanks snoozers about fake news. More on that later.

The rules of Jumanji were well-established in the first film and Jumanji so compulsively follows those rules that it’s scary. The only difference between the two movies is that Jumanji 2.0 takes the form of a video game rather than a boardgame. That way, there can be lots of jokes about video games, which comes in handy because the main character is a video gaming nerd so when he becomes the Rock we can be reminded that he is still a nerd and he can explain to the other characters and the audience how video games work.

I can’t remember if Jumanji 1.0 had as much explanation about board games but I feel like even it aimed slightly higher than this. I guess that’s why it is a “classic” that has now spawned a “franchise”. Putting those words in quotes is the only thing keeping my head from exploding.

I hate to play the movie snob card and honestly, I never imagined I would be this guy, but there are a ton of really good movies in theatres right now, it being Oscar season and all, and Jumanji is not one of them. Nonetheless, Jumanji is by far the biggest box office draw right now. That’s not surprising, North America, since we are just the worst right now (LIKE, THE WORST), but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Let’s resolve as a continent to stop making bad decisions in 2018. Let’s do things differently. Let’s stop dumbing things down. Let’s start thinking critically. Let’s challenge ourselves. Let’s watch films like The Post, The Shape of WaterLady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, instead of mindless, vapid and soulless fare like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Saying no to Jumanji is one small step toward a better world.

 

Scraping the Bottom of the Christmas Barrel

12 Dog Days Till Christmas

A boy named Jack is sentenced to community service by Uncle Carl (Reginald Vel Johnson – formerly of Steve Urkel fame). He’s had a “rough” childhood, as evidenced by his medium-bad attitude. He’s a foster kid who hasn’t quite aged out, and he seems to relate a lot to the dogs at the shelter where he’s sentenced to work his hours. They’re unwanted too. But oh no, the shelter’s closing! So when they have the 12 remaining days before Christmas to find homes for 12 dogs, he greets the task with frantic zeal.

The kid who plays Jack is monumentally bad. He’s either someone’s nephew, or he was sentenced community service hours which he must serve by appearing in this very bad movie, which co-stars the woman who was in the Christmas movie about the dog park about to close before the holidays. The dogs are cute, but a couple of nice gifs should prove far more entertaining than the entirety of this movie. In fact, here’s a Christmas picture of my own dogs. If it helps keep you off the Christmas crack of bad holiday movies, it’ll all be worthwhile.

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Christmas Kiss 2

The title implies that there was a Christmas Kiss 1 and I can scarcely believe it was so well-received that it merited a sequel. It’s about a woman who seems to get non-consensually kissed by her boss until she falls in love with him. It co-stars the male lead of that aforementioned dog park movie. It seems that multi-picture deals seem to be big business in the horrible holiday movie racket. I have my suspicions about the kind of person whose IMDB credits include ONLY Christmas made-for-TV movies, but I’m going to keep them to myself. No one in this movie is any good at all but oh my god, the woman hired to play the “hot girlfriend” is god-awful. You might think she was hired solely for her looks, but haha, no. No.

And here’s a fun fact about Christmas movies: in 99% of them, someone is a millionaire, maybe even a billionaire, but usually a secret millionaire, and yeah, it’s usually the guy. Only none of these Christmas movies have the budget to convincingly portray a millionaire’s lifestyle. It’s half-hilarious, half-depressing.

Holiday Breakup

Man, this one really makes you work to get to the Christmas part. It’s about a couple who meet on the Fourth of July and breakup by Halloween but then have to fake a relationship through Christmas in order to…I don’t know, really, fend off awkward questions, I guess? I mean, they were a couple for less than 4 months, I doubt anyone was overly invested in it, EXCEPT FOR NANNA WHO’S ABOUT TO DIE, yet they really pursue this terrible plot because they settled on a title first and the script just followed, for worse or worse still.

An actual quote from the movie: “You used to call me ridiculicious.”  “Maybe I’m tired of your ridiculosity.”

 

Okay, one more just in case you need it.

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The Worst Thing on Netflix

There’s good stuff on Netflix, and plenty of bad, and then there’s the stuff that only Sean could find during his endless scrolling – find, and watch. What he subjects me to on Netflix could probably be defined as spousal abuse, and there’s no better evidence than Pup Star: Better 2gether.

Now, as the rest of you can probably guess from the “clever” use of the number 2 in the word together, this is a sequel. Have we seen the first? No we have not. Did we even know that a first one exited? No we did not. Did we start with the first? Of course we did not: we jumped right in to the complex world building of the Pup Star universe and took our chances.

Tiny is an adorable little Yorkie who apparently in a previous film, won the hearts of MV5BZTk4MjMwNWEtMmVhNy00YTdmLWIzNmYtNWE5MDU5OGNmYWU5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDQ0MDI4OA@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_America and the Pup Star singing competition. This film she’ll have to defend her championship BUT some gangsters are getting in her way! They dognap Tiny and replace her with a street-smart rapping Yorkie who looks identical, called Scrappy. Scrappy says “yo yo yo” a lot, usually in front of “rap lyrics” that sounds like they’re being read directly from a Hallmark card. But anyway, Scrappy’s a ringer who will pose as Tiny only to throw the competition at the last minute. Meanwhile, Scrappy gets pretty comfy cozy in Tiny’s lavish lifestyle, and Tiny makes some new friends hanging with Scrappy’s rap crew.

This is NOT a cartoon, folks. They’re real dogs with moving lips superimposed onto their faces. They speak English and are understood by humans. There are dog characters with racially-based personalities and names like Guido and Rasta. There’s a disconcerting amount of human-based slapstick. And there’s a very confusing ‘cameo’ by Dave Coulier. I found I could only take the nonsense for a max of about 10 minutes at a time so we actually watched this movie over a series of 7-10 nights, over a period of maybe 2 months.

Why though? Especially when we have our very own cute and cuddly Yorkie at home.

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That’s Fudgie. He was a unicorn for Halloween. He’s an amazing dancer.

 

 

What’s the worst thing you’ve been duped into watching?

Daddy’s Home 2: A Bad Dads Christmas

I made up the subtitle to this film, but the sentiment stands. Just like A Bad Moms Christmas, Daddy’s Home 2 takes a middling comedy and churns out a sequel that nobody wanted or deserved, and sets it during the holidays just to ruin one more thing while they’re at it.

MV5BZmZiNjE1YWMtNzZhNy00OTdkLTk4MWQtNTUxM2U5OWJhNjdhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjA4MDAzNTg@._V1_Brad and Dusty are in a pretty healthy place since we left them in the last movie. They’re successfully co-parenting their collective brood. But when the kids complain that two Christmases tend to halve the joy rather than double it, they plan a “together” Christmas that will likely be the death of them all – especially because their dads get in on it too.

Will Ferrell’s dad is played by John Lithgow and Mark Wahlberg’s dad is played by Mel Gibson and together they got one single laugh out of me, and spoiler alert: it’s the same exact laugh from the trailer. There’s just the one in the whole damn movie. The fact that the other audience members laughed at all made me wonder if they weren’t all ringers, plants Paramount to trick me into thinking this was a slightly better film than the piece of complete crap it is. I’d rather get coal in my stocking than this movie on Blu-Ray.

 

Transformers: The Last Knight

why-critics-say-transformers-the-last-knight-is-2017s-most-toxic-movie (1)I wrote a whole other review of this horrible, awful, infuriating movie and then accidentally deleted it.  Honestly, my review was unremarkable for the most part so it’s not a huge loss.  This movie makes no sense, it’s the fifth movie in a tired franchise that was only ever enjoyable if you, like me, liked seeing robots decapitate other robots in slow motion (and which stopped being awesome four movies ago), and it’s got Mark Wahlberg doing his usual “acting” by which I mean that he talks really fast in a whiny voice when he is under pressure and otherwise just stands around flexing his biceps and looking confused.  In short, it is the worst Transformers movie yet, and the next one will probably be even worse.

But there was one part of my review worth saving, and it’s this: Mark Wahlberg was clearly born to be in Michael Bay movies.  It is the perfect match of all perfect matches.  These two eventually found each other, but there are so many Wahlberg-less Michael Bay movies, and isn’t that a shame?

So…what if Michael Bay made special editions of his back catalogue, George Lucas style, and digitally inserted Wahlberg into all his “classics” as a way to link all his movies together?

Think about it!  It would be the greatest shared universe of all time.  We could have Bad Boys fighting bad robots under the supervision of Wahlberg and his good friend Joe Pantoliano, the space shuttle in Armageddon could be a robot who owes a favour to Wahlberg and who figures out a way to save Bruce Willis as payback, and Wahlberg could help bring Sean Connery and his estranged daughter Claire Forlani together while at the same time helping Nicholas Cage foil Ed Harris’ plot to steal that face-meltingly-deadly VX gas, this time without losing Michael Biehn’s whole SEAL team.  And then Wahlberg could assemble a team of one million Ewan MacGregor clones along with the time travelling pilot duo of Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett to destroy the Transformers once and for all, saving us all from ever having to see Transformers 6: Shia’s Revenge.

This needs to happen.

 

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

kingsman2You know when a movie has a really cool part that blows your mind and then you know the sequel will try to recreate that part a hundred times over? Then, when you see the sequel do exactly that, it’s still pretty good even if it’s not quite as good as the first time? Remember when I said almost exactly the same thing about the latest addition to the Fast and the Furious franchise, earlier this year? Well, call this the sequel to that review. For a moment I thought about reusing that same review but I didn’t, because clearly I have more respect for my audience than do those Hollywood big shots who keep greenlighting all these sequels.

Getting back to the subject that I’m supposed to be writing something original about, it is somewhat alarming that the level of ridiculousness that took the Furious series eight movies to reach only took the Kingsman franchise two films to equal.  Kingsman gained so much ground so quickly because it is over the top every chance it gets, right from the start, with one slow motion action sequence after another, all set to some purposely eclectic song choice.

But in all its efforts the Kingsman sequel never comes close to the fever dream that was the church sequence in Kingsman the first, which was the part that totally blew my mind. I realize it would have been cleverer if I had found a way to tie the head explosions at the end to the mind blowing language, but honestly nothing beats the church scene for me.

Even though it doesn’t achieve the same peak level as the first film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is an enjoyable movie that comes out a little ahead of Furious 8 in the stupid yet enjoyable unnecessary sequel category (which I am quite sure will be an Oscar category starting this February).  Kingsman gains the edge over Furious in this important head-to-head showdown by being consistenly funny between action scenes, a result of both its gleeful over-the-topness and the wacky tone it carries over from its predecessor.

Be warned that the film occasionally veers into sheer creepiness (um, a mucus membrane tracking device???). Also, be warned that you will be creeped out much more often than once if you are in any way adverse to people being ground into hamburger (literally) or chopped in half by electric lassos (which is also a thing that actually happens in this film for what I am guessing is the first time ever).

The occasional incident(s) of creepiness are easily forgiven, by me at least, because Kingsman: The Golden Circle is frenetic, confident, and surprisingly touching at times.  The highlights for me were Mark Strong covering John Denver and Elton John finally letting loose on stage after years of self-inflicted repression. Those scenes were more than well worth the price of admission by themselves.

I give Kingsman: The Golden Circle seven country roads (taking you home) out of ten.