Monday, October 23, 2017

Blade Runner 2049

Alternate Title:  Ryan Gosling's Sad Face
One sentence synopsis:  A replicant blade runner becomes embroiled in a mystery involving Deckard, Rachel, and what befell them after the events of the first movie.

Things Havoc liked:  Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to a very special edition of the General's Post. Why is it very special? Well, because this film represents a staggering milestone, the 300th review on this little project of mine, a number so astounding that I can scarcely believe it's real. Three hundred times, we have sat down to consider the movies on offer from our local theaters, amidst pain, pleasure, rapturous applause and bilious hate. And so before anything else happens here, before we undertake the review that actually lies before us, I want to take an opportunity to thank each and every one of you who are reading this, whether this is your first review or your 300th, for all of your kind words and support, and even for your angry denunciations of my terrible, terrible opinions. I have no idea what has driven me to make three hundred of these damn things, but I know that without you, I would not have even amassed a single one. So thank you all, from the bottom of my cold, ossified heart, and let us now consider a remake of a film made the year I was born.

I was not looking forward to a remake of Blade Runner, and I expect every one of you can easily figure out why. The trailers for one thing made the movie look like an action movie version of the original, but more importantly, the track record for nostalgia-based remake/sequels to Ridley Scott classics is not at all a good one (consider the double-suck-whamy of Prometheus and Alien Covenant if you don't believe me). Harisson Ford has been phoning in all of his older roles for the last few years, so that gave me no hope, and while I like Ryan Gosling and... respect (?) Dennis Villeneuve, that alone wasn't enough to make me excited about the prospect of them ruining another old classic. Still, I confess to having been at least a bit intrigued by the possibility that they might do Blade Runner justice, and went to see it anyway, and... well whatever else the movie is, it is certainly not the Total Recall/Robocop remake-disaster that I was afraid of. Far, far from it.

Set thirty years (obviously) after the original film, Blade Runner 2049 starts things off in an interesting manner right off the bat by giving us a replicant as a main protagonist. Not the is-he-or-isn't-he speculative replicant question that the first movie spawned (something helped by its fifty-seven different "authoritative" versions), but an honest-to-god, established-as-such-right-from-scene-one replicant in the form of KD6-3.7, an advanced, perfectly obedient replicant played by Ryan Gosling and his ten thousand sad faces. This decision immediately makes the film more interesting, as it totally changes the perspective we have on the universe. KD6-3.7, or K for short, is a Blade Runner, tracking down escaped replicants and 'retiring' them by force. A more advanced model than the rebellious replicants of the previous film, K is exceptionally good at his job, which affords him the opportunity to live independently and carry on a relationship with his holographic AI girlfriend Joi (Cuban actress Ana de Armas), a development which, if nothing else, proves that someone in the writing staff saw 2013's Her. Gosling plays the character the way he generally plays every character, guarded, quiet, and with a face made of sadness, but as always, Gosling has chosen his projects well, and this is a movie that befits such choices. His character rapidly becomes embroiled in mystery and conspiracy, as the remains are discovered of a replicant who seems to have died in childbirth, the implications of which are many and disturbing to the status quo. But Gosling plays the character very cool all along, neither affecting a robotic monotone, nor giving in to the sorts of loud emotions that don't really fit a Blade Runner film.

The rest of the cast does reasonably well. De Armas' AI hologram manages to exceed the rather thin material she's given, portraying an AI trying to understand and push the boundaries of her experience. I joked before about Her, but the movie contains a scene halfway through where Joi hires another replicant to be her physical proxy for an evening, a scene far trippier here than it was in the previous film (something helped by the fact that we're asked to imagine Ryan Gosling in the throes of passion instead of Joaquin Phoenix). The corporate interests, such as they are, are played meanwhile by the dynamic duo of Jared Leto, playing the evil (or at least supremely creepy) corporate overlord/replicant magnate Niander Wallace, while his second in command, a replicant named Luv, is portrayed by Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks. I'm still deciding if I will ever forgive Leto for his role in Suicide Squad (probably not), but he tones it waaaaay back in this film, still a creepy bastard of course, but one that seems drawn from a genuine place as opposed to random stupidity and artifice. As to Hoeks, she's a discovery, a chilling, lethal, corporate killer-assassin-replicant, the sort of thing we got to see in all the movies Blade Runner inspired, but not in Blade Runner itself, and Hoeks does an excellent job with the material. Cameos from everyone from Dave Bautista to Lennie James also liven the film, but the best thing in the movie is Robin Wright, who has spontaneously started showing up in all of my movies this year, playing K's supervisor, Lt. Joshi. Where Robin Wright has been all these years, I have no idea, but she's perfect in this, as a veteran LAPD officer trying to keep the city from spiraling out of control, one who plainly humanizes the synthetic replicant who reports to her to a point, but only to a point. It's a nuanced performance that makes me regret Wright's absence all the more these last few decades.

Blade Runner was a revolutionary film in many regards, with a style, visual and directorial, all its own, and here, at the very least, the filmmakers have done their level best to ensure the new film matches up with the old. The visuals are dark and sodden, whether storm-lashed cities and coasts or fog/smoke-shrouded ruins in which men scrape a life together from the detritus of the world. As with the previous film, natural items like wood are a premium, and languages blend together in a mishmash of cultural crucibles. Standard cyberpunk fare nowadays, but Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival) thrives in this sort of setting, delivering a slow-paced atmosphere picture, completely belying my concerns that someone or other along the line was going to have the bright idea to turn Blade Runner into an action movie. Several sequences, particularly the modified Voight-Kampf test that K is made to undergo periodically to ensure his conformity, are jarring to the point of bewilderment, as is the intention, and the film overall has a washed-out, drained quality to it despite the voluminous neon and product placement on display. Affer all, a Blade Runner movie is one of the few circumstances where product placement is appropriate. Overall, Villeneuve delivers an aesthetic that perfectly matches the original film, both in style and in pacing, obviating any concerns that this would be nothing more than another crappy remake.

Things Havoc disliked: In fact, so dedicated is Villeneuve to the desire to stray away from a typical Hollywood style of filmmaking that the end result is... kinda boring.

Blade Runner 2049 is not a short film, well over two and a half hours overall, but it's not the length that's the problem, it's the pace, combined with the resolute refusal to let the characters do much more than march about in an emotionless affect. Please don't mistake me, this isn't The Lobster or something, but the original Blade Runner did have action, have a comprehensible plot, have things happening within it, which seems to have been tossed from this movie under the theory that if nothing happens throughout the movie's run-time, nobody can accuse the film of being shallow.

I mean, that's slightly unfair, because things do happen in Blade Runner 2049, but I will be damned if I can piece together why they happen, let alone what they are intended to mean to the characters involved. The plot, such as it is, seems to wander about largely at random, from set-piece to set-piece, and so much time is taken up just luxuriating in the setting and atmosphere, and so little time taken up with anything actually happening, that what the movie starts to feel like is less a meditative examination of the ineffable and transitory nature of human experience, and more like Salvador Dali's vacation slideshow. Part of the problem is the soundtrack, which in the original was composed by the immortal greek album/film composer Vangelis, but which in this movie is undertaken by Hans Zimmer, a composer whose work I used to love, until he achieved such success with the Inception soundtrack that he decided to basically repeat the leitmotifs from that film (BWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!) ad nauseum for every movie he scored thereafter (consider Dunkirk if you want to see the result). As a result, the music, which in the last film was daring and bold and set an artificial, noirish vibe for the entire goings on, is in this case nothing but undifferentiated foghorn noise that symbolizes nothing (to me at least) except the promise of future migraines.

The plot contains multiple cul-de-sacs, concepts and ideas that are brought up largely for the sake of bringing them up and then forgotten about entirely, such as an underground replicant-rights movement whose existence is revealed to us all of a sudden midway through the film with no setup, who acts as a Deus Ex Machina for two minutes, and then who disappears with nary a mention ever again. There is, in fairness, something to be said for this sort of narrative, wherein the movie is about the main character meeting strange and diverse people who have their own agendas unconnected with the overall plot, but that only works when the overall plot itself is comprehensible, and this one just isn't. Early hints that certain characters may be feeling a particular way beneath the surface about their circumstances are abandoned immediately, lest the actors be made to act, as opposed to standing about like drones serving the purposes of the narrative. By the end of the film, I was having tremendous difficulties determining why people were acting the way they were, what their intentions were vis-a-vis one another, or what the hell was going on in general. This descends into even elementary mistakes on the level of continuity editing or idiot balls. Where, for instance, does one character spontaneously obtain what appears to be a missile-armed attack craft during one of the penultimate sequences, and why do the bad guys insist on knocking our protagonist unconscious repeatedly and then leaving him, unharmed, where he has fallen, without even taking the opportunity to deprive him of the vital clues or transportation he will need to continue to oppose their plan? Everything here, to me, points to a film that was entirely driven by the art department and the director's vision, rather than by the writers and the script, and while there are films for which that approach has paid great dividends (the better half of Tarantino's works, for instance), without proper care, the result veers dangerously close to just turning into a self-indulgent mess.

Final thoughts:   I sort of respect Blade Runner 2049 more than I actually like it, respect the achievement in producing it, and in adhering to a vision that is in many ways daring, though not in the same ways that it was back in 1982, respect the sensibility that went into trying to ensure that as a sequel to a nostalgic classic, it had a duty to try not to ruin the memories of the original with Hollywood pap. But all that respect does not really translate into me recommending the film unreservedly. It is a long sit, even for the time it actually takes up, and if your patience for staring at dim visuals while listening to atonal electronic music is limited, there is not going to be a lot here for you. I saw the film with two companions, one of whom quite liked it, and one of whom hated it, and that, I think, is a microcosm of the reaction that this film can expect to engender. It may, on some fictional objective level, be a great film, but here on the temporal plane, as a piece of entertainment, it is unavoidably inadequate on several levels. Whether those levels are minor nitpicks to you, or outright dealbreakers will depend entirely on what purposes you have for film overall. For my part, I'm glad I saw Blade Runner 2049, but it's not a film I have any need to experience again, let alone the nineteen different "authoritative" versions that may well be coming over the next few years.

Oh, and for those wondering why I didn't once mention Harrison Ford's reprisal of his original character in the review above, as either a good thing or a bad one, well it's because it is neither. Harrison Ford is in the movie, playing Harrison Ford. Like so much of the rest of Blade Runner 2049, whether that is a good or a bad thing depends entirely on how desperate you are to see Harrison Ford continue his farewell tour of all of his old classics.

Final Score:  6.5/10

Next Time:  Jackie Chan does Taken... 'kay...

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Victoria and Abdul

Alternate Title:  Most Unorthodox!
One sentence synopsis:  An aging Queen Victoria befriends a young Indian servant, who becomes her teacher while earning the enmity of the rest of her court.

Things Havoc liked: In 1997, British director Stephen Frears made a film called Mrs. Brown, starring Dame Judy Dench and Billy Connolly as, respectively, Queen Victoria, and John Brown, her confidant, friend, and rumored lover in the years following Prince Albert's death. Mrs. Brown was a fine little movie, as are most films that ask Judy Dench to play imperious royalty (her role in Shakespeare in Love was good enough to earn an Oscar nod, despite receiving all of nine seconds of screentime), so much so that twenty years later, we find ourselves with an unofficial sequel of sorts, once more focusing on Victoria's relationship with the next in what appears to have been a long list of friends and confidantes that she amassed throughout her reign. It's good to be the queen.

In 1887, as Victoria was preparing to celebrate her Golden Jubilee, every component nation of the British Empire showered her with gifts from all corners of the world, and sent pages and representatives without number to present said rarities. Among these was Abdul Karim, a Muslim prison clerk from Agra (site of the Taj Mahal), who found himself roped into being sent halfway around the world to present a commemorative coin to the Empress of India, and who of course would come to do much more for the sovereign than that. In the film, Karim is played by Indian actor and model Ali Fazal as a wide-eyed young traveler who isn't quite sure what he's doing in the far off land that he is presently inhabiting, but who is happy to simply make the most of whatever happens, neither intimidated by royalty or the trappings of Empire nor shy about babbling semi-coherently about his homeland and the things about it that fill him with joy. This would probably be insufferable, but the film wisely supplies Karim with a fellow traveler in the form of the world-weary and cynical Mohammed, played by The Big Sick's Adeel Akhtar, whose role it is to suffer from the English climate, food, and imperialism, and to despise all three in equal measure. All comedy is based on pain.

But let's be honest with ourselves here, this movie exists and always existed from inception to showtime, as a showcase for Judy Dench at her Judy Denchiest. Reprising her role as Queen Victoria, Dench is covering old ground in this film, but she's so damn good at playing the tempestuous, impatient, power-addicted queen, that she basically knocks everyone else off the screen. Short-tempered, imperious, and capable of cutting men dead with a single disgruntled stare, this is and has always been Judy Dench's best sort of role, be it as a literal queen or empress, or some sort of substitute figure of unmatched authority (there's a reason she lasted longer in the Bond movies than Pierce Brosnan). Over half the movie is spent with Judy Dench cutting dead a slew of officials, servants, and officious busybodies who are, to a man, scandalized by the fact that she has dared befriend an Indian (the repeated mistaking of Karim for a "Hindu" by officious twits who know nothing is both hilarious and on-point for Victorian Britain). As an excuse to give Judy Dench scenes in which she destroys people with her cut-glass speeches, it's a fairly transparent device, but it's a good deal of fun for that, particularly when the said official is her son, the future King Edward VII (or as he's known in this film, "Bertie"), played by none other than Eddie Izzard, almost unrecognizable under mutton chops and morning dress.

Things Havoc disliked: The problem with a film that's so transparently about giving an actress known for being good at a specific thing a chance to do that thing, is that the film cannot, almost axiomatically, be about much else, particularly with a run-time of less than two hours. As such, the film rather breezes over a lot of material that would probably have been useful to have more of, such as a better sense of what Karim's life in India was like, and a more detailed process of just how it was that he was able to get Victoria's ear in the first place. As it stands, Karim takes the first opportunity he can to start running off in fifty directions about whatever seems interesting to him today, while VIctoria patiently indulges him, something she seems rather uninterested in doing when it comes to anyone else. I understand what the filmmakers are going for, that Karim's wide-eyed innocence is a breath of fresh air when it comes to the stifling atmosphere at court, I just wish it was better established is all, rather than forcing me to rely on the fact that I've seen this movie made fifty times before. There are occasional scenes, such as one between Victoria and Abdul alone on an island in the Scottish Hills, wherein Dench is allowed to give her character more emotional range than "Head Bitch in Charge", but they are few and far between.

There is, of course, also the question of historicity, which is a subject you are all sick of hearing about, and that is just too bad. I normally have little patience for reviewers who excoriate a film because its political content doesn't match with their opinions in every way, but in fairness, there is something to the claims that the film is mired in historical revisionism. The movie goes to extreme lengths to paint Victoria as a liberal, forward-thinking pan-humanitarian, which is, to put things mildly, an... 'interesting' take on the life and opinions of one of the most rabid imperialists in British history, a woman who once threatened to resign her office and retire in disgrace to Germany because the British government was being dilatory in their conquest of the Sudan. The movie professes, among other things, that Victoria was unaware of the provenance of the Koh-i-Noor diamond (captured during the second Anglo-Sikh war of 1849), and so detached from the events of the Indian Mutiny that she was unaware of what role the Muslim people of India played in it, neither of which seems likely given Victoria's obsession with her Empire. I am not a stickler for absolute historical truths in every film, despite my reputation, and I both understand and support the concept of being able to tell a simple royalist fantasy once in a while (to say nothing of one who's primary message is one of tolerance for and by Islam), but there is some part of me that sits poorly with a film that not only does all this, but then contrasts it with the thuggish, racist, and reactionary behavior of Edward VII, who in reality was one of the most forward-thinking (and wildly popular) monarchs of his or any age, a man who once publicly upbraided the German Kaiser for his (widely held) opinions that Europeans were of superior bloodstock to the subject races of the colonial Empires.

Final thoughts:   Lest I start sounding like the very reviewers I have no use for, no, Victoria and Abdul is not some gross insult heaped upon the altar of history. It is a semi-fantastical story about an old queen and a young clerk and the friendship that develops between them, one that is, in all but tone, fully grounded in historical fact. Abdul Karim existed, did become close friends with Victoria, did teach her to speak and write Urdu (which she was fond of lapsing into during conversations with impenetrable bores), as well as give her lessons on Islam, the Koran, and Indian history. Efforts were made to erase his contributions in the years following Victoria's death, by a government none too interested in having him remembered, efforts which were, until only a few years ago, entirely successful. The impetus to want to record such an event in film, not to mention take the opportunity to allow for Judy Dench to do her thing, is one I understand well. So when all is said and done, register my objections as mere... uneasiness with some of the elements of the film, and not a rejection thereof.

Victoria and Abdul is not the best film of the year, nor the best film to cover such well-worn territory. In some ways it is profoundly flawed. But's a fun little fantasist view of the last days of a legendary queen's life, and of the young man who made them richer, and it needs no further justification for existing than that.

Final Score:  6.5/10

Next Time:  How do you remake a Ridley Scott film?  You give it to the Quebecois.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Alternate Title:  'Murica!!!
One sentence synopsis:  A devastating attack by a mysterious assailant forces the Kingsmen to enlist the aid of their American cousins, the Statesmen.

Things Havoc liked: 2015 was one of the best years in this project's history, and of all the films that graced it, the one that was the largest surprise to me was unquestionably Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman: The Secret Service, a movie in which Vaughn continued his career policy of only making movies adapted from the comics of legendary indie comic author (and gargantuan asshole) Mark Millar. This is a very strange policy for a director who previously made excellent films like Stardust and X-Men: First Class, but the results have been uniformly great, so who am I to complain. Kingsman was a smash hit by every metric, so it's not surprising that a sequel should have been commissioned, and given how flat Kick-Ass 2 fell without Vaughn's direction (even though I liked it), it's not a surprise that Vaughn should be tapped to actually direct the followup this time. And thus here we are.

Eggsy (Taron Edgerton) has certainly come up in the world. Not only did he save the world during the events of Kingsman 1, joining an elite organization of super-spies dedicated to world peace and making off with riches and panache in the offing, he has since become one of the foremost agents of the Kingsmen, pursued his relationship with the Crown Princess of Sweden, and is otherwise enjoying his life as the world's foremost throwback to James Bond (and who could blame him). Obviously it's no spoiler to state that his idyllic existence is about to be upended, but Edgerton remains an excellent actor who can handle both the camp and the serious aspects of the film with aplomb, and his mugging for the camera is helpfully supplemented by the addition of a half-dozen other actors who are just as good at doing so. Mark Strong returns as Merlin, the Q-analogue of the Kingsman world, who is brutally and violently promoted into active status with a sudden, devastating assault on the Kingsmen from assailants unknown. Any casual reader of my reviews knows that it is my concerted opinion that Mark Strong is the man, and the man he remains here, with a running joke of his character's appreciation for John Denver of all things being used particularly well. Colin Firth returns as Galahad, a surprise the trailers themselves could not wait to spoil, and which I shall as well. It's unquestionable that his character's presence in this movie is a massive plot shoehorn designed to let him play again, but at the same time, his performance in the first one was one of the best thing Firth has ever done, and I'd be very churlish to object to more. Firth retains his refined Mr-Darcy-as-James-Bond charm from the first movie, and it's just awesome. If, like me, you simply loved the first movie and wanted more of it, Golden Circle offers just the dish.

Which is not to say that there aren't new elements here, nor that those elements are uninteresting. For one thing, Julianne Moore (I got her name right this time!) plays a villain drawn directly from the same stable as Samuel L. Jackson's Mike Tyson/Steve Jobs crossover from last time. Her character is Poppy Adams, a fifties-obsessed Pleasantville escapee who has reconstructed an amalgamated theme park version of the 1950s in the Cambodian jungle, and uses it as the headquarters of her worldwide drug empire. If this sounds absurd, that is because it is, and the movie wastes no time in having her find a number of dogs to kick to establish her off-brand evil, even as she prepares a diabolical plot to poison the very drugs she is pumping out abroad to force the world to legalize her product. Moore and I have not had the best of relationships in movies before (I was so mad at the last Hunger Games movie that I accidentally started ranting about a completely different actress), but this is her sweet spot, where she can play a totally deranged killer with a dose of syrupy sweetness, perfectly fitting with a movie like this. And the fact that a major element of her evil plan involves kidnapped Elton John (playing himself), and forcing him to play his greatest hits at gunpoint certainly does not detract.

But the biggest addition is the Statesmen, the American cousins of the Kingsmen, and this, right here, is the movie's strongest element, because the Statesmen are insane and ludicrous in all the right ways, a campy send-up to the most American stereotypes imaginable. Front and center are agents Tequila and Whiskey, respectively Channing Tatum and Pedro Pascal. Tatum is a veteran of super-campy movies, of course, and as a fine character actor, does better, I find, the more ludicrous the role (see Hail, Caesar! for evidence of this). But oddly, given the billing, Tatum's role is far less important than Pascal's, whom I've been a huge fan of since Game of Thrones' fourth season, and who in this movie is awesome, a drawling cowboy who does battle with six shooters, a retractable bullwhip, and an electric lariat that can saw people in half. Pascal is awesome, he's been awesome in everything I've ever seen him in, and so having him play the lion's share of the Statesmen roles in this round is no slight whatsoever. Rounding out the Statesmen are Halle Berry and Jeff Bridges, the former playing Mark Strong, and the latter playing himself. Just think about it, and you will realize that this is perfect.

But there's more to like here than the characters. The whole aesthetic of the movie is genius, as it was in the last film, but moreso here. The Kingsmen are, after all, a hyper-stylized version of both what
the world sees of Britain, and what Britain sees itself as. As such they are invincible super-spies in impossibly well-manicured bespoke suits, their entire look and feel being that of Saville Row and Buckingham Palace. Only such a mentality could have resulted in a film in which the protagonists' main weapons are cuff links and umbrellas. The Statesmen, existing in the same universe, are the equivalent hyper-stylization of what Americans see of themselves, and what everyone else sees of them, and thus they are cowboys and gunslingers, their entire aesthetic being firearms and mahogany, not Saville Row but a hunting lodge. The Statesmen are headquartered in a Kentucky whiskey distillery, their weapons of choice the tools of cowboys, their affect a southern drawl, even when the actors themselves can barely manage it. Every element of this is perfect, over-the-top, sensationalized, steriotypical, awesome, and deeply appropriate. Keeping its eye forever on the salient themes of the series, the movie never allows itself to forget that this is a universe in which it is a completely normal part of human existence to have Colin Firth and Elton John battling killer dog robots with bowling balls.

Things Havoc disliked: The plot is a mess, of course, but that was also true of the first one. It may or may not be a bit more of a mess here though, with plot cul-de-sacs galore, such as the question, awkwardly brought up and resolved, of whether Halle Berry's Agent Ginger Ale can be promoted to a field agent, or Pedro Pascal's Agent Whiskey's motivations for his actions throughout the movie. Various characters, some from the first film, some brought in specially for this one, have very little to do, either being killed off rather unceremoniously, or in one case getting literally stuffed in a refrigerator to wait for the film to end. None of these things are truly crushing blows to the film's overall quality, don't get me wrong, but they do speak to a somewhat larger problem at work here.

Kingsman 1 was, in many ways, a very complete story, not leaving us with much leverage in terms of sequels, and Kingsman 2 really never manages to get over that particular hurdle. A lot of elements in the film, from Colin Firth's presence in it at all, to the extended action sequence that starts it off, do not seem to exist because they're integral to the story (as opposed to the plot), but because they are the sort of thing (in some cases the literal thing) that was in the first movie and that people responded positively to, and so by God we have to have it in the next film as well. Fanservice of this sort can work, certainly, but it's not generally the place that great storytelling emerges from, and there just isn't much great storytelling, or even really... any storytelling going on in this movie. Plenty of stuff happens, don't get me wrong. Things explode, people get the crap beaten out of them in hyper-cinematic fashion (a fight sequence in the end shot in a dizzying long-take is pretty damned epic), people die, some of them with significant send-offs, and we even get some mechanistic plot advancement for some of the characters, but the entire enterprise is spectacle. Spectacle is good, don't get me wrong, and in fact Vaughn knows how to produce it better than most, but it isn't a proper substitute for a full fledged story arc, and the entire film, no matter how well made it is mechanically, does unavoidably feel like a contractually-obligated sequel at a number of points.

Final thoughts:   I adored Kingsman: The Secret Service, if only because of the tremendous surprise that it was, coming at a bad time on top of a bad marketing campaign and looking like nothing more than a generic action film made to fill space on a calendar. If only by virtue of heightened expectations, Kingsman: The Golden Circle simply can't match the astounding impact of the first film, being neither as astonishing, nor (to be frank) cored around as signature a sequence as the infamous Mr. Darcy vs. The Westboro Baptist Church scene from the original (a sequence that was so jaw-dropping that my first comment thereafter was "I can't believe that someone committed this to film"). It does, unavoidably, carry a hint of empty spectacle within its shooting and exploding. But lest I sound too negative, it is masterful empty spectacle, a ridiculous, campy, ultra-violent, very fun little movie that I did enjoy pretty much start to finish. Is it a great movie? No, ultimately it is not. But it is a good movie, perhaps a very good one. And one should never let oneself get so spoiled, even in an excellent year, that you start objecting to that.

Final Score:  7/10

Next Time:  Judy Dench Judy Denches.

The General's Post Summer 2018 Roundup

Let's get back into the swing of things, shall we? The General's Post Summer 2018 Roundup Ant-Man and the Wasp Alternate Ti...