I think ‘Resident Evil’ is a fair assessment of the situation at this point. The sixth live-action film in this franchise since 2002 which hasn’t actually been able to achieve a modicum of quality since that first installment – and that’s being generous – ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter promises to sever all ties with a franchise that feels as though it has just sort of always lingered in the background. Or at least I thought it did.
We’re back, just as I was beginning to forget what a bad movie actually was, R.J. Cutler bombs the red carpet with “If I Stay”. A movie starring Chloë Grace Moretz where one thing happens that is worthy of note. The plot is just about there enough that it could have flourished as one of those short films they show before a Pixar movie, but I guess a movie where most of the cast is comatose throughout wasn’t a hit with younger audiences. “I have it!”, says R.J. Cutler, “You know what this depressing plot needs? An equally depressing run time” and so from the depths of the malignant Hollywood money barrel comes “If I Stay”. The latest film about comas that accomplishes the esteemed and highly sought after achievement of making you envy the Sleeping Beauty played by Moretz herself.
“Lucy” didn’t last long before I began to re-evaluate my expectations.
“So this is a movie about a girl who uses 100% of her brain to get really smart? Is Luc Besson treating us like idiots with this banal flashback of a rat walking into a trap on purpose? Maybe he is trying to tell us how dumb we are right now… but later on the film will get really smart as Lucy (Scarlet Johansson) gets smart?”
There are no surprises anymore. Not here, anyway. “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” returns us to the Autobots and the Decepticons as they battle it out to save planet Earth. Megatron (Hugo Weaving) thankfully isn’t the sole antagonist this time but that hardly makes things what the suits call “interesting”. Shia LaBouef is back as Sam Witwicky, the focus of the film despite his inescapable irrelevancy. I suppose I should say something like “I loved the special effects!”. I also love tea, but God forbid you serve without milk.
One of Marvel Comics darkest characters, Frank Castle AKA “The Punisher” is unlikely to be back on the screen for a while due to the success of the family Marvel movie. He doesn’t have the star power to attract viewers, and if it isn’t appropriate for parents to bring their kids too, who will see it? The Punisher is a character that will only succeed on the screen if he gets out of comic territory and instead goes for a gritty story similar to how Christopher Nolan managed it with Batman. This rendition of the character — the first of three so far — is dark, brooding, and yawn inducing.
In my review for “Speed” I wrote about how not all movies need to have deep characters and spectacular artistic direction to be great. “Speed” is the perfect example of a dumb movie which is just superbly done, and masterfully embraces what it is. It has no pretense of being more grand than it is, which paradoxically makes it far greater. “Starship Troopers” has fallen into the trap, it’s a dumb movie that tries to be smart and then stumbles over its own dumb limitations. Did you notice my subtle repetition? Felt quite forced didn’t it, sort of like the satire “Starship Troopers” attempts to sandwich between its own buns of stupidity. Hopefully my opinion has been hammered home sufficiently by now.
Here it is, the fifth and the last of the original “Planet of the Apes” franchise. “Battle for the Planet of the Apes” is an utterly useless exercise and finally drags the series down to the levels of the truly terrible, instead of the simply unremarkable. I can’t tell you how much I really wanted the series to go out with a bang. Literally, I thought this could potentially be a film that perhaps lacks in good characters and cinematic competence, but makes up for it in just pure large scale visceral carnage between the two warring factions of the apes and the humans. Regrettably, I report to you that “Battle” is neither. There is nothing worth talking about here, but I can be quite artistic with wasting my time.