WELCOME once again to What’s On The Grill?, the segment where I blab about my weekly viewing and then turn the mike over to you guys to do the same!
This week I caught Kong: Skull Island, The Forgotten, Olympus Has Fallen, Garfunkel and Oates: Trying to be Special AND The Lone Ranger!
Let’s count ’em down with a brand new format.
KONG: SKULL ISLAND – D-
I wanted to like this movie. Like a lot of folks I wasn’t especially thrilled with Godzilla, but there was plenty of decent stuff going on, not the least of which that it was being played deadpan straight. That must’ve gotten too hard for the second installment in the Monsterverse and Kong definitely happens in a comic-bookish world where this stuff is allowed to happen.
That’s not to say that the film doesn’t shoot for some brutal moments, but basically it turned into the CG monsterfest that I guess everyone wanted, with not much substance to back any of it up. Hearing that this movie was going to involved Vietnam-era soldiers gave the creators license to push out every single movie trope they could think up and duct tape that mess together without context or need. Hiddleston pushes out a passable action-guy and Sam Jackson sure is a through-and-through Army man. I’m still not sure why everyone seems to love Brie Larson.
But saving it from an F- were some cool monster fight scenes and again, I think that’s all anyone wanted or expected from this. Hey, it was better than most Transformers movies.
The Forgotten – C
The curse of the blue tint. I’d compare this movie to 2007’s Invasion in that it’s a great concept with pretty good performances throughout, but feels as though it meanders with scenes blurring into one another under the curse of a dulling blue light. While undoubtedly meant to portray in metaphor the emotional trauma that comes from losing a child, I loved how unknowable and all-powerful the Forces at work are.
The film feels adequately claustrophobic, the characters are insects under a microscope in a world that’s suddenly not theirs any more. Julianne Moore’s Telly is impassioned and barely sane given her circumstances. This isn’t a great film, but I’ve found myself watching it a few times over the years.
Olympus Has Fallen – C-
I made the mistake of watching the sequel London Has Fallen first a few months ago and couldn’t stop laughing at the super-serious chest thumping tone.
The original was a little better but never lets up telling you that This Is Serious Dammit. As I said in the Kong review, I’m a huge fan of commitment to a stupid premise and this film certainly does that right. The plot feels as though it was researched by a writer familiar with the subject matter (or just read and reread every Tom Clancy novel back to back) and we get a badass stabby hero in Gerard Butler.
Hilariously obvious foreshadowing gives us a villain in Dylan McDermott and Aaron Eckhart is suitably Leader-Of-The-Free-Worldish. Look, it’s a humorless action flick that should be ashamed of the Die Hard scene it artlessly mimics. Better to watch White House Down which also artlessly mimics Die Hard, but everyone seems to be having a lot more fun doing it.
Garfunkel and Oates: Trying To Be Special – B
I’m a fan of the folksong-spinning duet of Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci; they have a tone which is a unique mix of comedy, song, existential anguish and an Etsy wishlist. Setting up the premise for their comedy special as being the set up for their comedy special, the girls run through a live performance intercut with clips from when they were traveling around the United States, half finished song ideas and the occasional anecdote.
It doesn’t feel ambitious or novel or ahead of any particular curves, but it’s a great slice of their work and the charm that makes them worth your time.
I have definitely been here before.
The Lone Ranger – F+
Probably my favorite Johnny Depp film is called Dead Man, which is about an East Coast dandy who finds himself in the brutal Wild West; killed by cruel men, he somehow simply fails to die and is guided by an eccentric exiled Native American on a path of justice and preternatural revenge. It’s eerie, beautiful and haunting and cemented Depp in my mind as one of the greatest living actors, no matter how many dumb pirate movies* he makes.
So…The Lone Ranger…
I don’t know if Gore Verbinksi won a bet or if Depp bought the rights to Dead Man from Jim Jarmusch, but something horrible happened and it was painful to watch this bloated mockery unfold. It redeems itself largely in the climactic scene which succeeds in being a riproaring blast of pure silver-screen wild-west goodness set to Zimmer’s typically excellent score. Horses run atop moving trains, bad guys sling hails of bullets at our immortal heroes, fists are shaken and mustaches are twirled. But that was not nearly enough to forgive the endless and long-winded set up that tried to force a work of true art into a Mickey-shaped mold.
*Okay, I don’t hate Pirates that much. But still.
What about you, dear Exiles? What did you get into over the last week? Any shows that grabbed your fancy or made you wonder what someone had over a producer’s family that they could get that garbage made?
Sound off below!