Movie Reviews 2020

Bloodshot (PG-13)

Vin Diesel stars as a US soldier in combat overseas. At some point he’s killed (if you watched the trailer you already know too much about the specifics and should curse Hollywood).

But he’s brought back to life with futuristic nanotechnology that heals any future injuries instantly. Yeah, it’s based on a comic book character – which is the deep well Hollywood is pumping dry by the minute. But at least the number of indestructible characters are held to a minimum here as he brings justice down on the wicked.

The special effects are up to today’s expectations and the action level will keep you interested throughout. At one point there is a semi-truck full of flour that overturns in a tunnel. Anyone from the Midwest is aware of grain silo (elevator) explosions. You’d better not have even a spark in that tunnel. Yet here, the bad guys light flares to see through the massive cloud of flour particles. LOL

That airborne flour would immediately ignite like a dynamite charge and kill everyone in the tunnel. It’s called a fuel-air explosion. Regardless of how the script was written, I’ll bet the pyrotechnics guys on the set mentioned it. And anyone involved in the film who stayed awake in high school science class.

Eiza González co-stars as the tough laboratory love interest. She’s solid in the part and was terrific in Baby Driver as the gangster girlfriend. She deserves more work in Hollywood.

Of course there’s also the requisite black comic relief character who’s wicked-smart at coding, so we have all the bases covered to bake this Hollywood cake.

Overall it’s theater-worthy, if you liked other Vin Diesel movies. It’s less raucous than the 27 Fast & Furious films that have made a bazillion dollars. So that’s a plus. 

– See it on the Big Screen

The Invisible Man (R)

As we’ve seen all too often over the last two years, in their rush to get their Hollywood trailers onto the internet ASAP to get a buzz going, the scene depicted in the thumbnail above and all the trailers was cut from the final theatrical release. 

There have been a ton of invisible people movies over the decades. In this version a wife runs from her abusive billionaire husband in the middle of the night and tries to make herself disappear in the conventional way. She later discovers he’s made himself disappear in a much more extraordinary way. After he successfully tracks her down, he leaves her obvious clues to reveal he’s really not dead after all. That’s just one of dozens of silly things about this farce of a movie. 

After going through all that trouble, why leave her clues? Why not just do whatever it is he wants to do to her? Huge plot holes abound and unlike the villain, none of those gaping holes are invisible to us.

We follow long camera shots that may or may not be tracking the invisible man, if he’s even really there at the time. Or, we may be the camera “seeing what the invisible man sees” as he skulks around the house. Maybe. There are too many red herring camera moves to really care by the halfway point. There are times where he must also possess teleportation, or mind reading, or transform into a fly that can dart through a closing door way too quickly for a human to step through. Or perhaps he’s ghost-like and can pass though walls? 

None of it matters a lick. The script is beyond silly. Why on Earth Rotten Tomatoes gave this film a huge thumbs up is beyond me. Rotten Tomatoes has become as irrelevant as MTV.  

If someone calls a cop and tells him his family member is in grave danger, “So go save the day!” – if the cop doesn’t then immediately call the cell phone of their own family member, but instead drives all the way across town to intervene, the year had better be before 2010. After that year, everyone had a decent cell phone within 2’ of them, if not in front of their nose. Especially teenagers. If the cell phone idea doesn’t immediately cross your mind as a faster solution, you should really change your meds.

Furthermore, anyone over the age of ten would quickly think of ways to defeat an invisible man who’s spying on them in their home. A hundred ways. Here’s one.

Grab your cell phone and purse and walk to the coat closet. Open the door and quickly close the door behind you. There. No room for two beings in there (without you noticing). 

If he does squeeze in after you, then go to town on him. There’s a reason people are afraid of dogs and small spiders. They bite! So listen up, gals. Sink your teeth into some invisible flesh, jerk your head around viciously like a Walking Dead zombie and growl loudly like a rabid pit bull. If the flesh tears free in your mouth, spit and repeat. He’ll be kicking a hole in the closet wall to get the hell out of there.

But if he remains outside the closet . . . text your friend where to meet you. The invisible man that you know is in the house (because he gave it away) can’t overhear your conversation and sabotage your text message plans.

Then open the Uber app and silently book a ride. Take note of the Uber plate number and sleep your phone screen. Leave the closet. Go out front and make sure only your door opens when you get in the car. Boom. You’re back on your own now with plans he can’t interfere with. Your million dollar bank account is accessible worldwide. Become a renter, buy some new clothes and move on with your life.

There’s 99 more where that came from.

I found it odd that they would cast such a homely actress for this role. Like we’re reverting back to the Glenn Close days of casting. But the long still camera shot at the end explains it. We’re now all set up for the inevitable P.C. sequel, The Invisible Woman. (Like all P.C. sequels these days). And we even see who her Lethal Weapon Danny Glover-like sidekick will be!

But this time Hollywood learned from their past mistake with Jessica Alba in The Fantastic Four bomb. If you’re going to cast a hottie to help fill the theater seats, you can’t make her invisible for half the film! 

Way to go, Hollywood. I guess.

– Wait for HBO

After Midnight (Something Else) (R)

Sometimes people can pull off a low budget horror movie (Paranormal Activity) to create a truly enjoyable event. Most times they can’t – like with After Midnight (Something Else).

This dud misses on almost every aspect of what makes a movie decent – horror or not. It starts out with a scene that smells of first semester film school dialogue and acting. Long riffs of mundane dialogue ensue and then it switches to a drunk who’s dealing with a girlfriend who left him and monster who suddenly decides to visit and terrorize him in his old shack of a home every night. 

He lives in a house filled with wired telephones, old radios, tape decks, record players and plenty of beer. (Study the photo above carefully). Even if that’s the way you really live, unless you’re eighty-years-old you still need a smartphone in 2020. No one seems to have a smartphone. The cars give away the fact that it’s set in today’s world. 

The movie soundtrack is like the director’s teenage kids are in a basement band making up really bad White Stripes knock-off songs. These awful tunes lead us back and forth to constant (annoyingly frequent) flashbacks of the couple years ago when their lines were poorly written and their feelings superficial. All the while they swill cheap wine. Constantly. Eventually they buy the town bar. 

Makes sense.    

Back to the scary stuff (there really isn’t much of that) we have another guy in a movie who is being attacked by a really bad-ass monster (nightly) so what does he do? Drinks like a fish. We’re talking passed-out drunk with the sofa barricading the front door and a shotgun in his lap.

Now I’m no survivalists, but I find it hard to believe any guy would choose the path of inebriation when personal defense is paramount. But that’s not the worst of it. Virtually everybody in the movie that isn’t pregnant is swilling wine, beer or hard liquor in every scene. I’m talking swilling liquids like they’re all stuck in a black tent in the Algerian desert. If you like the thought of sitting in a room listening to endless dialogue between drunk folks while the camera rolls for ten minute stretches without a cut, this might be a gem. The actors certainly learned their lines. Endless tirades of dialogue. A lot of bickering dialogue. Angry couples dialogue. You know, the fun stuff to listen to as it happens in front of you.

I don’t know any therapists – so I don’t know anyone who wants to listen to that.

It was yet another movie where I was rooting for the monster – to save me from any more of it. 

– Avoid!

Extracurricular (R) 
We’ve seen plenty of movies with goth high school teenagers doing bad things, but this might just take the cake. These four high schoolers meticulously plan murders and then coldly carry them out. It earns the R rating. 

Contrary to the hype and what most people around the world might think about American high schools today, it’s ridiculously unlikely you could find 4 psychotic mass killers in any one high school (even in Baltimore) much less two girls (that would be a first) much less all friends with one another. But as bad kids pretending to be normal kids goes, the acting here is first rate. (The two sidekick cops are poor actors but thankfully they aren’t the focus of this movie anyway). 

It is a Hollywood movie, so we’ve got the necessary P.C. boxes checked:
Mixed couples – check.
“Lethal Weapon” cops casting blueprint. Check.
LGBTXYZ appeasing lesbian couple. Of course!

As intensity goes it builds to a 10 about halfway through. So it delivers the goods. 

There are technical quibbles:
It’s one thing to have a filthy BMW on a backwoods road trip – but not the windshield. German carmakers and the people who drive them are finicky about windshield cleaning mechanisms. And often even the headlights have cleaning nozzles. C’mon, man!

Car alarms don’t sound all night. They all reset after one minute. All of them. Every single brand. And you turn a car alarm off with the key fob. Not inside the car. C’mon, man!

Cops don’t whoop their sirens for no reason in quiet neighborhoods at 2:30 AM. C’mon, man!

The trailer gives too much of the plot away. Perhaps a niche genre, but you know if this movie is for you or not. 

– Wait for Rental

End of 2020 Movies.

Go to 2019 Movie Reviews