Darke Reviews – The 5th Wave

So the first review of the year. January release. Not good usually. Examples? Sure!

Let’s face it January is mostly garbage so the Oscar bait at Christmas and whatever other studio juggernaut came up at the end of the month. *stares at Star Wars* It just isn’t a good month for film. You can fully expect that the studio just dumps something they have no faith in and hope they get another Cloverfield.

Did they get it here?

 

Based on a YA sci fi novel by Rick Yancy, the film covers the story of a young teenage girl who survives several waves of an alien invasion and her quest to save her brother. The first wave is an EMP that takes out technology, the second is an earthquake/flooding to take out coastal regions, the third disease, and fourth …well watch the movie to learn about the 4th and 5th waves. It’s not a bad setup and the overall execution is pretty solid on the narrative with the story taking place in two places with simultaneous arcs happening with the girl and her brother.

The novel was adapted for the screen by Susannah Grant (Erin Brokovich, Pocahontas – yes that one), Akiva Goldsman (Insurgent, I Am Legend, and…and), and Jeff Pinkner (Amazing Spiderman 2 and a lot of TV). Most of these guys are also producers in their own right and spent a lot of time with the TV crowd.  They have a pretty good pedigree of things just above mediocre as the group with Grant being lauded for Brokovich. So with that in mind how is the overall plot so…Ok? I mean the dialogue is Ok. The Plot is  Ok. The contrivances are  Ok. It’s Ok. Ok?

Maybe it’s the director? J Blakeson, who gave us the less impressive sequel to The Descent. I can see so much in the writing and direction that wants to be more than it is. There’s nuggets of something more here that just don’t come to fruition. One of the plot points requires everyone’s IQ to drop by about 50 points. The entire row of people in front of me in the theatre had the same reaction I did in one of the moments with a Spock level eye brow raise.

SpockEyebrow

Sense. That made none.

 

That being said, it annoyed in the moment and was gone. That is because of the actors involved. Chloë Grace Moretz leads the cast in admirable fashion bringing a natural charm and humanity in what typically is a blandish role without much character. She (with some help from the script) deftly avoids some tropes and charms us as she glides into others. Helping the movie along is also Nick Robinson (the older brother from Jurassic World); and while his role is largely reserved he does a lot with a few expressions which keeps him from being a cardboard cut out with lines. The same cannot be said of Alex Roe, who tries. He really really tries and just can’t be more than the stereotype his role gave him.

Production wise? The effects are just slightly better than average. The flooding is getting to the point of being over used. Since the Japan disaster a few years back and Sumatra before that everyone is in awe and fear of the Tsunami so any disaster needs one now that we can see what they look like. A few other tricks aren’t bad, not great, just not bad. There’s very few eye rolls from the effects side which made me happy. Some of the transitions were done fairly well. I had to admit there was a good colour palette from the cinematographer to reinforce which of the two arcs you were dealing with. Very intentional and very functional. The music does what you expect, but otherwise is simply pleasant.

TL;DR?

Despite how middle of the road this sounds, the movie was kinda enjoyable. I had moments of fun amidst moments of meh. While this may seem like a compromise (and it kinda is), I am ok with that. I do expect more of movies. YOU should expect more of movies. But if I even have a bit of fun I have no problem rewarding the film with that faint praise. It’s better than a meh and that means something since at least I felt *something* about it.

It does some things I haven’t seen before. There is inspiration here, I think if the Three Writer rule had not been invoked it may have been an even better film. Something more than Ok.

Though for a January? OK is good. I will take the win I can get.

Will you buy it?

Actually – yeah. I think I will. There’s stuff to the main characters arc I really enjoyed seeing handled.

Do you recommend it?

Ahhhh maybe. If you like Young adult style films? Sure. Go right ahead. You’ll probably like this more than some Hollywood has tried to give.

 

So that’s it. First review of the year. Could have been A LOT worse.

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Darke Reviews – The Hateful Eight (2015)

My official last review of the year 2015 comes in 2016, I didn’t get to see until yesterday in a double feature starting with that and finishing with Star Wars The Force Awakens again. Yes, a third time seeing that. I have to admit some irritation that some markets got this particular film on Christmas Eve and Tucson didn’t get it until New Years Eve. I understand that he also filmed this in classic 70mm which for the true film buffs is an awesome thing. Sadly my viewing was in standard digital format.

But should you see it in any format?

Quentin Tarantino has been hit or miss for me on his movies and my overall appreciation of them since the beginning. I missed Reservoir Dogs on its first outing and have since seen and loved it. Pulp Fiction I fell asleep during the first two times I watched it at the theatre in Towson; though to be fair they were both midnight screenings after long days. I have come to appreciate it since. Kill Bill Vol 1 amazing slice of flashback Kung Fu theatre. Kill Bill vol 2 was ok after that with the superman speech being kind of fantastic. Inglorious Basterds was incredible and Django was…ok.

No one can argue that he is an unconventional director that has brought and/or revitalized certain styles of film making back into popularity with only his compatriot Robert Rodriguez able to truly ape the style with any particular success. I had the realization during the Kill Bill saga, that what Tarantino writes is the internal monologues we all go through during conversations, but he allows them to be external dialogues with the appropriate reactions to them. No one and I mean no one in my life talks like they do in a Tarantino film – aside from those actively trying to be Tarantino esque. In addition the concept of non linear storytelling has become his bread and butter that we have come to expect and appreciate.

I go through this explanation of that which is Tarantino and what I see, understand, and appreciate from him to say that in this case he failed miserably. The dialogue is atrocious, none of the characters are likable or even remotely charismatic while being prats. Tarantino has reached full parody of himself in this film and it seems both intentional and ignorant of this change. He has become the child who has learned a bad word and uses it repeatedly to the point of discomfort and making it a punchline. He is trying to make a word ok while being as offensive as possible about it and it just is not working. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should.

Yes, I used the Goldblum

None of the dialogue in this film worked for me in any real way shape or form. This isn’t to say the actors didn’t do well. We all know these are well trained, gifted actors, who turn in remarkable performances otherwise. So with that in mind everyone performed well with the role they were given and direction they were given. No one stood out, no one fell behind, even Michael Madsen – who looked surprisingly aware of his surroundings in this one. The violence was well violent but not necessarily more or less graphic than Kill Bill or Inglorious Basterds was. Perhaps I am desensitized or just perhaps he didn’t quite hit the mark of over the top he was shooting for. It was bloody but kinda meh on the amount? There is supposed to be suspense in the film and there isn’t. There’s supposed to be a mystery and there isn’t. It just does not work for me.

All of that said, the movie SOUNDS and LOOKS amazing. This is some of Tarantino’s best cinematography to date. He really captured the Spaghetti western style of film making he was going for with gorgeous wide shots and intense tight shots of the cast that worked with the ensemble. Even within that he doesn’t always frame shots for the best impact against the type of ensemble he is shooting. Musically of course he made the brilliant choice to use Ennio Morricone as his composer.

TL;DR?

I am the contrary opinion. I do not like this movie. I do not recommend it. I did not find it enjoyable.

From a film making standpoint the movie is well done. It could be analyzed on MUTE from any film making class. The moment you add dialogue…the movie fails horrifically.

If you enjoy this movie I am glad. I am curious for those who read my reviews and liked it, if you sound off to why. I want to see what I missed.