ReReview: Female on the Beach (1955)

025192118982OH MY GOSH LADY CALL THE COPS. (throw him out first). (and before that, make him give you back his key.) (and then, buy a gun.) OH MY GOSH. This isn’t going to end well.
EFF OFF, YOU CREEPY LITTLE F*CKER!

Although it’s no wonder he’s got an inflated opinion of himself, if he knows he’s able to drive women to attempted murder-suicide and this isn’t even a chick he slept with….this really isn’t going to end well.

Ladies, when you are talking to a creepy little f*cker, even if he’s managing to be less creepy and explain himself, DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR BEING QUOTE RUDE UNQUOTE. Especially when he’s explaining to you that he’s a gigolo who is chasing you for your money and oh yes he was involved with the previous tenant, who, BY THE WAY, fell to her death mysteriously FROM YOUR BALCONY. Two days ago. I mean, seriously, they haven’t even fixed the railing yet, good grief!

(This isn’t going to end well.)

Zing! I like this detective. He’s going to be the guy who picks up all the pieces afterwards, isn’t he? (Unless he’s the AKTUAL MURDERER, but I doubt that.)

EFF OFF YOU CREEPY LITTLE F*CKER! AND TAKE YOUR PUSHERS WITH YOU…oh good, she sent them packing. BUT NOT HIM, SHEESH LADY. Oh, this isn’t going to end well….Oh. Kay. Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

Getting zinged by the cleaning lady: you ain’t doing well.

Lady, that’s just embarassing. All that? At your age?

OKAY, the detective is definitely smelling fishy, and it isn’t because of the shark hook.

Okay, we have now progressed to a) romantic bridal carrying, b) the detectives now have binoculars. What the heck is up with this movie?

You pimps are annoying.

I’m on Team Detective….

This scene in its native tongue:
– Meow grr hiss.
– Meow?
– Hissss
– Meow, mew, mew, licks paw.
– HISS! HISSSS YOWL GRRRR! YOWL!
– licks paw, cleans ear, licks paw again: mew?
Hissssss, flicks tail, leaves, tail still flicking.
As entertaining as that was, in hindsight, it’s kind of obvious that the writers didn’t actually know how to end this script and were fishing around for an actual villain.

AGGH GROSS IT’S A KISSING SCENE FAST FORWARD IT ewww!

Ugh you pimps are really annoying. Ahaha. Gosh. That guy’s even more of an obvious loser than Drummond is.

Okay, explain to me how you managed to knock him all the way to the floor with one slap? He’s a foot taller than you and made of stacked muscle. Seriously? You also gave him a concussion??

Gah, I really hate you catty lady. Oh no! She switched them! She set them up it was her doing OH MY GOSH!

Oh, and the detective is watching.

(Oh whew she’s okay. ((How did she make it out the water without even getting her hair wet?)))

Ugh gross it’s another kissing scene.

Well, that was underwhelming. I expected someone was going to die.

Rated: it’s a romance, we’ll be generous. 3/5 stars.

Gunsmoke (1953) – Movie reReview

gunsmoke-movie-poster-1953-1020199995Audie Murphy and Susan Cabot, who collaborated at least two other times, in Duel at Silver Creek and Ride Clear of Diablo, are the leads in this lightweight but thoroughly well-made and entertaining movie. Also in it is Charles Drake, the white knight to Audie’s black knight in No Name on the Bullet. All of those are extremely good movies. Just about all of Audie’s works are on the + side of B or at least the – side of A.

This one is an easy A if you ask me.

So, this one is about a young gun, Reb Kittridge, drifting into Billings after having made a quick and escape from Johnson County. He’s got a job lined up in Billings, but the situation grows rapidly murky when someone takes a potshot at him before he even gets into town, he meets the daughter of his presumptive target, Rita Saxon (Cabot), and then declines a gunfight with Old Man Saxon (since he hasn’t actually been formally hired yet.) This sort of behavior endears him greatly to Old Man Saxon–who used to be a hellraiser himself, and remembers what it was like to be a young gun who wants out and just needs a leg up…

Anyhow, the bad guy wants the Saxon ranch; Saxon doesn’t want to sell; Kittridge kind of wants to be done with this whole gunslinging business, blah blah blah…so Saxon “loses” his ranch to Reb in a game of cards (“complete with morgage,” heh.)

So now, the burden of the plot is on Audie to get his cattle to market by hook or by crook, with Telford (the bad guy) breathing down his neck and Rita’s bushwacking fiance also causing trouble. Also, Reb’s erstwhile friends have now become business rivals and are now trying to murder him. Better yet, the Saxon ranch genuinely is in a peck of trouble, mortgaged, facing a tight deadline, and low on men and beef both (“That’s your problem, son.” Hehhh.) Oh yeah, and there isn’t even enough money to make payroll for all the men who are about to quit, HAH.

And even better still, Miss Saxon is not at all pleased with the change of management in her home.

And so the fun begins…

– It’s actually kind of a bad look to be picking a fight with a man six inches shorter than you, Curly…
– That being said, Audie (briefly) going berserk on some stuntmen is a definite highlight.
– Rita in some really 50s’ underwear and an incredibly pointy bustier, is also, as Kittridge points out, also worth looking at. I mean…corsets, man. Just…corsets.
– Old Man Saxon has a pretty good role, fatherly, calm, and stalwart…but also slyly running the whole show from the back seat the whole damn time.

There really isn’t all that much more to say about this movie, other than it’s well-written, is acted with distinction and great prowess, moves quickly, is fun and occasionally, genuinely clever. It’s a credit to its genre and you ought to give it a watch.

Rated: See ya round, Johnny.

Movie (re)Review – Remember the Night

maxresdefaultRemember The Night is  a “Isn’t Christmas Wonderful”-genre holiday special, wrapped in a noir-style trench coat and fedora.

The incomparable Barbara Stanwyck (Cry Wolf) and the damn fine Fred MacMurray (Quantez, Double Indemnity) star as a thieving dame who got sticky fingers once too often, and the prosecuting attorney whose job it is to land her in jail.

MacMurray (John Sargent) has something of a reputation to maintain: he’s the best in the department at getting female defendants convicted. Accordingly, when, just before Christmas, he sees the jury about to acquit, he…calls for a recess. The jurors will feel obliged to him for giving them Christmas off, resentful towards Stanwyck (Lee) for having dragged them back to the box, and in the post-holiday gloom are much more likely to give him his conviction. However, there is no heart so cold but knows a touch of pity, and seeing poor Lee fuming and frustrated about spending Christmas in jail, arranges to bail her out.

And then, since she doesn’t have money or a place to stay–or pocket money for a meal–takes her out to dinner. And then, since it turns out they are both native Indiana-ians, arranges to take her home for Christmas. Even though this technically means that he is transporting a felon across state lines.

Hijinx ensue….and they’re going to spend the honeymoon at the Niagara Falls.

There really isn’t any much more to this say about the movie than that, except to add that, did we mention, it stars Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray at the top of their noir-sharp dialogue game and enjoying themselves enormously. Such as when they have to make a fast exit from a hick judge:

Sargent: You threw a lighted match into the wastebasket?
Lee: Well, I wasn’t aiming for the spittoon.
Sargent: You know that’s called arson?
Lee: [faux-aghast] Nooo! I thought that was when you bit somebody!

Or Lee, dismissing the suggestion that it’s kleptomania behind her thieving ways: “Well, they tried that. But you see, you can’t turn around and try to fence the stuff afterwards. They take away your amateur status, then.” Or Sargent’s completely deadpan explanation to his mother that Lee is actually a petty crook who is out on bail….no, Mother, I wasn’t joking. And it’s not even a first offense.

So: good stuff, adroitly packaged, funny, fun, heartwarming, perfectly cast, and perfectly pleasing in every way. They don’t make movie stars like this any more, and they don’t make movies for them any more.

Rated: …we’re at Niagara Falls right now, darling.

Quik(re)review – The 13th Letter (1951)

the-13th-letter-md-webSo I (re)watched The 13th Letter – a 1951 movie directed by Otto Premiger (you know, the name you know from lots of better movies such as Fallen AngelLauraWhere the Sidewalk Ends and…River of No Return? Huh.) and starring an underwritten Linda Darnell, a bored Charles Boyer, and Michael Rennie’s cheekbones as the hero.

It’s about a (very) tall, handsome, young, unmarried doctor who has set up in a small Canadian town and is just starting to settle himself and his clock collection in comfortably. The settling-in process is interrupted by a series of poison pen letters accusing him of an affair with Charles Boyer’s wife. This is, of course, nonsense, because Rennie has Linda Darnell throwing herself at him in a negligee and it’s getting harder and harder to dodge. But things get decidedly serious when one of the letters’ receivers commits suicide on being told he has cancer. Everyone is a suspect now–from the incompetent hospital nurse who is Boyer’s spurned ex and Boyer’s sister-in-law, to Darnell’s snide younger sister, to Linda Darnell herself. And what is the terrible trauma which lurks in our hero’s past…?

The reveal is two-fold, and actually rather more satisfying than you’d expect. It’s even been cunningly foreshadowed by Boyer’s doctor character explaining to another about this weird psychological condition known as folie a deux…

All that said, it’s still a bit underwritten. There’s enough story here for a TV episode, not really for a movie. Linda Darnell has barely anything to do except look alternately sultry and sulky, and there’s nothing whatsoever to make the romance between her and Rennie interesting other than both parties’ good looks. The central mystery is, fittingly, the most intriguing part of the story; but it’s a little hampered by the fact that there are really only two strong suspects and neither of them get any focus. Inserting more plot–such as making the “investigation” less laughable–would have provided more interest, and more room for all characters to explore and expand. It didn’t, it wasn’t, they couldn’t, and ultimately this movie is….a bit underwritten, and its cast members–who totally did have the ability to take what they were given and deliver on it–were good-looking but underserved.

Rated: I’m going to do something productive with my day any minute now. Annnny minute now.

Misc + QuikReviews: No Time to Die, Oblivion

The area my parents are from has an industry based on three things: cows, chickens, and flea markets. That being said, it does pay to patiently check all the bookshelves when you browse your way through:

  • The Conquest of Mexico – Bernal Diaz del Castillo
  • The Horse and His Boy – C. S. Lewis (apparently I’m assembling a Narnia collection piecemeal)
  • Hank the Cowdog: The Case of the Double Bumblebee Sting – E. Erickson (to be delivered to the homeschool group, which will ignore it because those kids are hopeless.)

We also watched:

  • Oblivion (2013) – For a non-scifi person, The Mother of Skaith is rather surprisingly good at picking out the influences of one movie and another.
    • “They stole that from Star Trek!”
    • “This is like that other movie! The one with Sean Bean and whats-his face!”
    • “Sandpeople!”
    • “When was this made?”
  • No Time to Die (2021) – I have several thoughts about this movie.
    • The Mother of Skaith had thoughts about this movie, too, and they are:
      • “I do not like him as James Bond! He is an ugly person!”
      • “That is not Q! That little student person is Q? Q should be a distinguished figure.”
      • “What! James Bond does not have a child! That is not Bond.”
        “He probably has multiple kids, you know.”
        “James Bond does not have kids.”
    • Anyhow, this isn’t a very good James Bond movie. It’s an okayish “grizzled ex-spy gets pulled in for One Last Job” movie, but that still leaves it with some fundamental structural problems.
    • It’s aimed at a female audience. Female audiences are interested in things like feelings, emotional speeches, characters making emotional connections with each other, and families. They aren’t interested in things like: spycraft, cars, motorcycles, helicopters, gunfights (loud), tactical weapony procedural stuff (boring), problem solving under pressure (scary!), or stuff blowing up (ugh, come on). That stuff is boring, and they like to skip past it as quickly as possible to get back to the good stuff.
      • Mind, having emotional connections and character growth in your movie is good stuff, don’t mistake. Fights do get boring when there aren’t any personal stakes involved–such as people that we care about being endangered….and we have to legitimately care about them. My personal favorite action scene in the movie is where Bond attempts to draw off pursuit from his love interest and daughter. Bond legitimately cares about these people, and so, consequently, do we.
      • Bond and Paloma taking a moment for drinks in the middle of a gunfight was also a nice classic-film-Bondish moment.
    • The fundamental structural problem with skipping to the good stuff is that the conflicts are set to “easy mode.” The climax of the movie is Bond trying to a) stop the bad guy, b) rescue his family. a) is pretty simple. b) should require some effort, as both love interest and kid are in separate places under guard. But easy mode kicks in and all three manage to wander into each other without having to think, plan, ask questions, or work towards it as a goal.
    • It does not integrate the required male-audience interest stuff well enough to make it a truly unisex viewing experience. If it had it would have been….quite a lot better. And it is possible, at least in my opinion.
      • Seven Swords (2005) is a wuxia movie that is extremely female-audience-oriented. It’s got handsome guys with long flowing hair; shirtless scenes; elaborate costumes; at least two love triangles, one of which is a not-too-bad-looking villain obsessively in love with one of the main characters and the other of which is star-crossed; the action scenes are pretty much all filmed from the POV of the female characters as per the director’s commentary; not to mention that there are multiple well-written, female characters to begin (and end) with. And there’s oodles of wuxia violence, sword fights, fist fights, sword fights with weird swords, fights with weird weapons, fights on horseback, fights upside down between walls, fights where everything is on fire….and so on. So it is possible. (Is a very good movie.)

I also watched:

  • Two Weeks Notice (2002) because I’m still recovering from sickness, OKAY
    • Hugh Grant is actually really good here, making his upper class twit character a charming, intelligent upper class twit. Sandra Bullock is also good; her part is rather obnoxiously written but she makes herself completely likable. Unfortunately, after the first fifteen minutes or so, the script loses headway and never really makes it back up.
    • Although
      “Do you know what other games I like?”
      “Pokemon?”
      “Strip chess.”
      “….that is also a good game.”
      was pretty funny.

The Mandalorian – Eps 1-3 – (Re)Reviewed

mandalorian-poster-detail-cropEp 1: “Ok, so, you have to watch The Mandalorian.
The Mandalorian. You know, I can’t believe you! Why are you even watching that–that–garbage!? You know it’s bad. You know what Disney has done to Star Wars.”
“No, it’s actually surprisingly decent.”
“…”
“It is!”
“How can it be Star Wars when it ain’t even got none of the original people in it?”
“What? Look, just watch this gunfight at the end. Watch it!”
[…]
“Wait, wait, wait, why does this look like a Western?”
“Yeah!”
“No!”

Ep 2: “Look, it’s Baby Yoda.”
“Oh my gosh are you buying into that Baby Yoda cr–craziness? It’s aaaaaall over Facebook. All the time. Baby Yoda. Baby Yoda. Baby Yoda. Gah! It’s annoying! What is the big deal with Baby Yoda!?”
“People like Star Wars when it’s done even, y’know, half-way decently well!”
“Baby Yoda. Oh gosh. I can’t believe you.”
“Heh, see, he’s chasing the frog thing. And Mando tells him to spit it out. ’cause, y’know, babies.”
“Oh [hork], he ate it!?”
“You’re acting as though my niece did not just try to eat a dead fly off the windowsill.”
“…that was only once!
“And look at the Jawas! I always liked the Jawas!”
“I can’t believe you.”
“You gotta watch the whole thing, there’s a bit where he’s fighting this creature and he goes through each of his weapons–he goes through his rifle, and then his sidearm, and then his flamethrower, and then the mud-horn is y’know, getting ready for the charge and he’s like all beaten-up and on one knee, and all he can do is pull out his knife and get ready for it–and he’s so tired and his hands are shaking, and so he has to steady the knife with both hands as the creature is barreling down on him. It’s awesome.”
“…I don’t get it.”
“…y’know, we can always watch some little Barbie Disney Princess movie if you like instead.”
“Shut up.”
“We can watch My Little Pony!”
“SHUT UP.”

Ep 3: “Wait, so he never takes his helmet off?”
“This is the way.”
“His skin must be horrible.”
“…”
“I mean, imagine if he has dandruff. His hair must be sooo greasy and then he has to keep putting the same helmet back on again. It would never get a chance to get better. Ew.”
“…”
“Maybe he has like a beanie or something he wears under it and he can change that out. Like a helmet liner. Do they have helmet liners? Why are you looking at me like that? He’s the one who said he don’t ever take his helmet off!”
“SO THE GUNFIGHT HERE IS REALLY COOL, YEAH?”
“Yeah, it’s okay. But it’s still not as good as real Star Wars.”
“It’s the best we’re gonna get, and they were making an effort. They’re actively trying to do the story right, and, and, when they do insult your intelligence, it’s unintentional.”
“But there’s no lightsabers. It can’t really be Star Wars without lightsabers!”
Star Wars is technically–”
“It ain’t Star Wars unless it’s the original movies with the original cast, with the original director making it.”
“The movies had different directors.”
“You know what I mean! No lightsabers, no Star Wars! No George Lucas!”
Star Wars is science fiction. You don’t need lightsabers. You just need spaceships and blasters. And George Lucas sold out to Disney for four billion dollars.”
“Hmph. And also! There’s no Jedi. And there’s no Luke or Leia. Or Han.”
“You have Mando! And Baby Yoda! They are introducing new characters to Expand the Universe! And
can you imagine how they’d screw it up if they did have Luke and Leia?”
“Oh. Well. Yeah.”
“And Baby Yoda is very cute.”
“It looks realllllllly fake.”
“Yeah, it really does.”

Watchlist Headcanon

  • Niagara (1953) – Marilyn Monroe had the perfect breakout role: large enough to get the audience’s full attention whenever she was on-screen, but without obviously trying to make something of her. Joseph Cotten is also very good. ‘s a good little movie.
  • Destination Wedding (2018) – While actually not a bad movie on it’s own merits, it’s exponentially more funny if you regard it as a very stealth prequel to John Wick.
  • Mission: Impossible III – Eh.
  • The Sky Riders (1976) – Why did we stop making movies like this?
  • Top Gun: Maverick (2022) – The Mother of Skaith liked it.
    • She claimed.

QuikReview: Alfred the Great

alfredthegreatdvdcover_front_1200x1200(reposted)

When making an epic, several ingredients are absolutely necessary. One of them is faces that look authentic for your era and location, or which, in a pinch, just look authentically something. Another is a slightly ponderous style which modern-day Hollywood has forgotten. Long takes in the middle or far distance are essential, especially long takes with a moving camera and natural lighting (nice scenery is a plus). Then you need actors who can hold up to this style, maintaining their poise and staying in-character through extended moments of silence. If they can continue to actually act during those pauses, so much the better. Then, a script of the sort which must be enunciated clearly and with good diction. A really great soundtrack is an absolute must. Quite important is color and set dressing. Historical accuracy is not all that important.

This movie scores highly but not perfectly in almost all categories. It’s soundtrack is not particularly great (in fact it’s barely there at all), and the script has occasional clunky stretches which no amount of dignified, clever diction can save. Otherwise, I give it an 8/10. All the faces are well-cast and suited to their roles, the actors commit to their lines; the camera moves slowly and smoothly; costumes and sets are convincingly medieval without being uniformly muck-brown (thank God.) I’m not really worked up over this movie, but it’s worth a watch and perhaps a rewatch.

Thoughts:

Oh, that’s neat. The first battle is set at the the Uffington White Horse!

Alfred to his father-in-law: “If you try to run away, I shall have you executed.”
Father-in-law: “By God…ah think ye mean it! [to self, rubbing chin]…but that’s if he can find me…”

As total burns go, “The son she bore you calls him father,” has got to be one of the worst there is.

Hey….is that Michael York under that moustache?

WAIT A MINUTE, THAT IS DEFINITELY IAN MCKELLEN! OH MY WORD. HE YOUNG.

If you need one character to give a lengthy monologue to empty space to make their feelings clear to the audience, your script isn’t good enough.

There’s a pitiful lack of wild-haired savage sidekicks in fiction these days. Wild-haired savage sidekicks are the best.

Rated: An tara an tara tan!

Movies With Others – Pride & Prejudice 1995 – Get Cultured (repost)

vaxwpk857xbpaeosvkrsfmbokpl[A/N: this is back from my days in the tiger pits. No mothers were involved in the making of this post.]

“Riders, are we gonna get cultured tonight?”
“Yeah!”
“Wait, what are we doing?”
“Getting cultured. We’re watching Pride and Prejudice.”
“And Zombies?”

“A2, come get cultured!”
“….what?”
“We’re watching Pride and Prejudice.”
“But no zombies.”

“It’s kind of creepy that he’s just staring at her. I mean, he was awkward in the other version but this one–”
“Even more awkward.”
“Yeahhh…”

“So…what she just said was, ‘I heard you’re into this guy and I’m gonna tell it to you straight,’ but then she said, ‘you gotta be careful, he’s poor’?”

“He still staring at her?”
“It’s so awkward!”

“The mother isn’t going to be like this the whole movie, is she?”
“Yep.”
“Oh my g*d. I hate her already.”

“I like how the dad is just out of it. He’s so chill.”

“So awkward.”

“Homegirl is sassy! I love it. I like this girl. I hate everyone else, but I like her.”
“Well, what about Jane?”
“Oh, Jane is OK.”
“And what about the dad?”
“Oh, well, sure, I like him too.”
“What about Darcy?”
“Oh, well, I love Colin Firth, so sure. Even though he’s a creepy awkward dude who stares at girls instead of talking to them.”
“Hey, talking to people is hard.”
“…fair.”

“Oh my gosh. Is this the cousin guy?”
“He’s definitely more weasly. And possibly more ratlike.”
“I think he’s less ratlike but more weasly in this one.”
“You guys, he’s creepy!”

“THIS GUY! He’s so creepy!”
“He’s supposed to be like funny in a pathetic way.”
“He’s so creepy, it’s like–it’s like actually making me physically uncomfortable to see him.”

“Ooo, ooh is this gonna be the scene where he finds her in his house? DUDE. I cannot imagine how it would be if I came home and the person I asked to marry me and who turned me down was there IN MY HOUSE.”
“I hope this scene is as good as the other one, because that was deadass hilarious.”

“I feel like I need to read this book.”
“You need to read the book.”

“….so awkward.”

“What did I miss?”
“I wish I could catch you up, but…”
“….culture. You missed getting cultured.”
“Oh. That makes me sad.”

“When are the zombies going to show up?”

QuikReview: Oblivion (2013)

So I watched Oblivion, a 2013 movie scifi movie starring predominantly Tom Cruise.

Now, I’ve opined at length as to the fact that straight scifi movies tend not to be very good. This is because a) filmmakers are stupid, b) they think their audiences are stupid, too. Most SF movies only achieve greatness synthetically, by cribbing off other genres, especially Westerns, but occasionally also horror, or even war-stories. (Pssst, has anyone noticed that Aliens is actually a Western? Everyone thinks it’s an action movie, but it’s got the Red Injuns, the cocky cavalry detachment with the inexperienced leader and the experienced and knowledgeable civilians….)

Anyway, much to my surprise, Oblivion is a straight scifi movie, and it’s….good! It has a simple and unexceptional but solid plot, and it relies on its characters and worldbuilding to reveal that plot point by point and–crucially–twist by twist (there’s a reveal about halfway through that made me actually sit up and grin.) Now, at a certain point it largely gives up on the thoughtful, measured approach and leans hard into the by-golly-I-have-an-explodey-things-budget-and-I’m-gonna-use-it syndrome, but please note I said “leans” not “dives” and entirely omitted “headlong.” The second half of the movie had more than enough built-up good will to keep my attention, but the thing with scifi movies is that they should never try to explain themselves out loud. See a), above. This movie did very, very well when it showed its protagonist–and its audience–what was going on; it only started to fumble when it switched over to telling.

What is there to show, then? Well, Tom Cruise is Jack Harper, Tech-49, who with his communications officer/lover/partner Vika, are the last humans left on Earth after an absolutely devastating war with the alien Scavs that, among other things, destroyed the moon. Most of the human population is on Titan, and some of it is on the orbital space station, the Tet. They have been mind-wiped prior to their mission, because….

Jack maintains the drone fleet that protects the ocean-water-sucking thingies that are destroying what’s left of the earth for power. (Why not just mine some comets, asks no screenwriter ever.) There are still some remnant Scavs on Earth that attack the drones and the power platforms. Vika is his mission control and interface with Command. The two are an effective team, but there are still some conflicts. Jack has dreams of the future and thoughts of the past; Vika resolutely suppresses such things. Jack has a relaxed view of orders and is fully aware that Command has them on a very long leash; Vika has a much stronger belief in regulations.

And then, a signal beamed from Earth brings an ancient spacecraft back to ground….a spacecraft containing living human crewmembers. Living, that is, until Jack’s own drones destroy all but one of the sleep-pods, utterly ignoring his orders to stand down. The sole survivor is Julia, a woman who refuses to reveal anything more to Jack, Vika, or Command until she retrieves the flight recorder from her ship…and shows them the truth. At about this point, Morgan Freeman also enters the picture, and I do have to ask: if Earth is that destroyed, where’d his cigars come from?

And so it goes with the movie, having accumulated this many questions, starting to tip over into revealing the answers (except the one about the cigars.) And so it goes, with the one problem that it reveals rather too many answers and in rather too bald-face a manner for my views.

Other good stuff: the cinematography of this film is really good. Like, I watched it entirely on my phone and I was watching for those little triggering points that normally break my suspension of disbelief (s/a: mysterious, additional light sources when there should not be light sources), and I noticed how good it was. Apparently a chunk of the movie was filmed on location….in Iceland, lending a barren, surreal, beautiful backdrop that works very well indeed. The sets and designs are also very good. Tom Cruise does an expert job as the personable, handsome hero; Morgan Freeman, well, Morgan-Freemans his way through dialogue that is 99% exposition as only Morgan Freeman can or could. Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko are incredibly outmatched in this movie, talent-wise, which is a shame, but they do their best and, in Riseborough’s case, mostly match up to the challenge.

Okay so, although I’ve spent a long while in this review complaining about the movie when it shifts focus to the action, I will also state that the action scenes themselves are largely quite good….at first, when they don’t involve humans. The drones are an incredible threat / weapon / ally, and  it’s an annoying waste of potential that the movie ends up ultimately wimping out and choosing the cheap (explodey) way of making those bits be exciting. That being said, the cinematography still makes everything look good, the characterization makes them be tense and engaging, and, yeah, it’s pretty good.

Overall, I do think that the movie could have been better if it maintained a better balance between its initial, more thoughtful tone and the faster-paced finale (honestly, delete half the expository dialogue and you wouldn’t have to change another thing else), I still have to admit straight-up that, yeah, it’s pretty good.

Rated: Oh wow, you’re in luck, Julie. There’s two of them for you now!