Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Secret Life of Pets

The trailer for The Secret Life of Pets makes it look like a funny movie, but it is one of the least funny animated films I have ever seen.  I laughed at the beginning and at the end, but everything in-between is dark.  There are animals trying to kill each other, and an underground sewer full of abandoned pets, scary snakes and crocodiles, a psychopathic bunny who wants to kill humans, and just a touch of scatalogical humor.  I am sure that somebody thought that this would be funny, but tone of the film is all wrong.  It felt weird to me.  I might as well have been watching Lethal Weapon.   This gets my vote for the worst kid's film in recent memory.  Don't take your kids to see this movie.  Instead rent Home, which is a far more enriching experience.

However, adults might enjoy the story about Max and Duke getting lost and trying to find their way home.  It is entertaining, although it might seem familiar to those who have seen buddy and road trip movies.  There is just enough of a story here to make it worth watching, but we have come to expect better from animated movies.

I am torn on how to rate this movie, because I enjoyed it, but I think that it is completely inappropriate for children.

Rating:  B-

The movie is preceded by the short "Mower Minions", staring those lovable Minions characters.  However, this short seems unoriginal to me in the sense that if you substitute The Three Stooges in place of Minions, you would have exactly the same story.

Les Misérables

Les Misérables is the most popular stage musical ever, having been seen by over 70 million people.

The events of the musical and film take place just prior to the second French Revolution and are based on the book by the same name.

The movie Les Misérables tries hard to be a beautiful epic musical and only succeeds at being beautiful.  The problem is that the music is not particularly memorable and star studded cast seems to have only average singing ability.  Even the most famous song, I Dreamed a Dream, is not as good as the Susan Boyle version.  The two and half hour movie feels too long for the story that is there.  Without the music it would be half as long.  There is enough good stuff in the movie to keep me interested, but not impressed.

Maybe the stage version is better.  I hope to see it someday.

Rating: B-


When you make a science fiction movie for only $7,000, you would expect it to have some shortcomings.

Two engineers, Aaron and Abe, accidentally invent a time machine.  If they sit in the box for 6 hours, they can go back in time 6 hours, and maybe longer depending upon what time they activated the machine.  At first this works out well for them as they day trade stocks with the knowledge of which ones are going to go up.  However, they start to have physical side effects.  Then suspicion develops between them when someone they know appears to have also traveled back in time.

The shortcoming of this movie is that it is not long and important key plot elements get compressed at the end.  This makes it hard for the viewer to understand what is going on.  I didn't try.  I just understood that things had gotten out of control.  There is a sense of chaos in the last part of film.

This is the kind of movie that after you see it, then you read about it on Wikipedia to try to understand what it is that you just saw.  (For another example, see the movie "Enemy".)  There is much the movie doesn't explain; it doesn't have the budget for it.  According to the Wikipedia article, mutual distrust causes both Aaron and Abe build their own time machines so that they can each go back in time without each other's knowledge.  The cautious Abe feels that things have gotten out of control and tries to stop time travel from being invented.  However, the adventurous Aaron travels back in time to stop Abe from what he is doing, and has at least two versions of himself scheming together for personal benefit.  Both characters start looping the same events over and over.

However, I didn't really understand all of that as I was watching it.  I just enjoyed the movie for its atmosphere.  Apparently the time travel shenanigans are so complex that you need this graph to understand it.

This is the kind of ultra low budget film that is entertaining enough to get remade with a real budget.  I just hope that the remake is a little easier to understand.

Rating: B-

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Wages of Fear

In this highly acclaimed 1953 French film, an American oil company in Mexico hires four down on their luck drifters to drive a cargo of nitroglycerin over a dangerous mountain.  The men are so desperate that they are willing to risk getting killed for a $2,000 paycheck.  The movie portrays how fear can drive men to madness.

The movie stars the popular French actor Yves Montand.

If you skip the first 45 minutes of the movie then you will miss next to nothing.  The problem with the film is that it has a long boring setup.  If you start watching 45 minutes into it then you will see a pretty good movie.