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Scoring (for real this time)

I made another scoring post a while ago but mostly just ranted about…something. I’m not even sure, anyway:

0-0.5: F/F+ (examples: Red Psalm, Dangerous LiaisonsMovies that either fail on all counts (except for one specific thing for the 0.5 score) or I honestly don’t understand the movie or its purpose

1-1.5: D- (examples: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Birth of a NationMovies that are enjoyable in at least some way but something about them drags them down, way down.

2-2.5: (examples: Manchester by the Sea, My Own Private IdahoMovies that only mostly fail.

3-3.5: D+ (examples: The Towering Inferno, High Plains DrifterGets into the territory of a good film, but is dragged down by certain creative decisions.

4-4.5: C- (examples: Avatar, Gone with the WindMovies that usually remind me that I’d rather be watching other movies

5-5.5: (examples: Titanic, Midnight CowboyMovies that pass the movie quota set forth by movie-dom.

6-6.5: C+/B- (examples: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, SerpicoFilms that are on this side of good but there are better movies out there

7-7.5: (examples: Guardians of the Galaxy, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate FactoryGood, but not great, films

8-8.5: B+ (examples: Ghostbusters, Toy StoryYou know that phrase, 90% of everything is crap? This is where that other 10% begins.

9-9.5: A- (examples: The Cabin in the Woods, AlienMovies that are truly great in terms of movies, with very few other films better

10: (examples: Psycho, The Grand Budapest Hotel) Films of their own calibur that will be watched forever until the last human dies

10+: A+ (examples: Back to the Future, Inglourious BasterdsFilms of an even higher calibur that will be talked about forever until all the aliens who study our culture die

NOTE: Movies that get a negative score (like Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer) are B-Movies. They should be considered the equivalent of their positive equivalent, but for ENJOYMENT FACTOR ALONE! Otherwise, they are worse than the worst movies on this, or any other, list.

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MCU: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Captain America the First Avenger.jpg

Rating: 8/10

Steve Rogers is a young, skinny boy with asthma who wants to fight against the Germans during WWII. He gets his lucky break when Steve is selected for the Super Soldier Serum by some scientist. Meanwhile, the Red Skull is creating an organization to take over not only the Nazi party but the rest of the world too.

Captain America is a movie that does the best that it can on what feels like a limited dime. It was a strange time for superhero movies. Iron Man had been made and they announced that Disney was going to put out multiple movies which would then come together in the Avengers. Though everyone agreed that Iron Man was pretty good, no one was sure what this movie was going to be like or if any of it was a good idea.

Well, we all know that it all worked out in the end. But how do these early MCU movies stand up after so much time has passed? I’m happy to say that this movie is still pretty darn good. It has it’s flaws, it’s rare to find any film that doesn’t, but it’s still fairly enjoyable from beginning to end. Also it has a very catchy song written by Alan Menken.

One of the problems that many of MCU origin films have is the villains. They are almost always super evil with no real depth of character, and their powers are usually just a stolen version of the hero himself. This isn’t untrue here, but Hugo Weaving does such a good job of being a villain that you hardly notice.

This movie is a bit long, and it does a little meandering. Right after the first act, when Cap gets his powers, instead of getting to the action finally it goes through a bit where he gets to be famous and star in movies? Is this some kind of commentary on Chris Evans starring in this movie? I dunno, just a bit weird.

SCORING:

+7: A bit slow at times but a good start for Captain America

+1: Hugo Weaving’s performance

-0.5: Meanders a bit after the first act

+0.5: that Menken song is just so damn catchy…

Boxo Rando: Power Rangers (2017)

Power Rangers.jpg

Rating: 2/10

A group of teenagers have magical stones fall in their lap to make them Power Rangers! Okay that’s a good enough synapsis.

This movie had a good first 10-15 minutes. It had some flashback that had a bit of action, then came to the present and introduced the main character Jason very well, and seemed to be on its way to becoming a non-stop thrill-ride. At one point, I even said “this movie is written more competently than I would have thought.” It was after they showed a couple scenes that Jason broke a knee that still acts up and ruined his high school football chances. And it did all this without ever explicitly stating any of it through showing and not telling. Unfortunately that’s about the end to this movies cleverness. It feels like someone else wrote that part, but I don’t know anything specifically, according to Wikipedia, it looks like this movie was being written by Max Landis before they fired him, but again, I don’t know anything.

Okay, after the first ten minutes, it gets pretty lousy really fast. It plays heavily into cliches, it has a bunch of plot holes, it basically stretches out the plot to an insane degree. This movie should have started at the beginning of the THIRD act. Because that’s when they discover their powers, get the Zords (the giant robots they fight in), and really do anything in terms of plot. Okay, actually I would have been fine with it happening right after the training montage which happens about 30-45 minutes in. But instead they just stretch out that they can’t seem to “morph” into the titular Power Rangers, the reason 100% of the audience actually wanted to watch the movie for. Instead it’s all jam-packed into the last half hour of the movie, and when they actually get to the action, it’s pretty lackluster. Definitely not worth sitting through an hour and a half of the movie for. And it makes the whole thing feel like a waste of time.

Random Thoughts: I used to like the Power Rangers a lot growing up. It’s really corny, but I think that’s part of its charm, and it captures the essence of Voltron, after-school specials, Godzilla, and Ninja Turtles, all in a half-hour television show (super cheesy, like I said). This movie thinks that deleting EVERYTHING that’s come before it and turning it into something entirely different is the best way to go. I’m just sorry this was so bad it probably means there won’t be anymore Power Rangers movies for a while. Though I guess if this is the quality of Power Rangers films moving forward, I’m not that sorry.

SCORING:

+5: Right in the middle, quality-wise

+1: I enjoyed the first 10 minutes

-3: I did not enjoy anything else

-1: more padding in the plot than I think I’ve ever seen in any movie (but don’t quote me on that)

0071: Trouble in Paradise (1932)

Trouble in Paradise.jpg

Rating: 6/10

A conman, Gaston, and con-woman, Lily, get married and try to con a woman so rich during the Great Depression she spends $125,000 on a handbag, Madame Colet. If only she weren’t so gosh darn nice.

The movie has a few twists and turns I appreciate, starting from the beginning where it acts as if it’s just another romantic movie from the thirties until you realize that most of the characters are really lying about who they are. Then Lily robs Gaston as Gaston robs Lily, and they fall madly in love. And this is all in the first ten minutes.

It’s all fairly entertaining, until it isn’t really. First the guy falls in love with his mark, Colet, then starts cheating on his wife with her, and things just go a bit “Huh?” with the plot in the second half of the movie. It’s still interesting but it feels like the plot’s climax is really in the first part of the film and the actual ending just falls flat.

Why you should watch it before you die: It’s exciting and different, but outside of an interesting premise and some pretty entertaining scenes, it’s not anything I’d say go out of your way to watch.

SCORING:

+7: Entertaining, until it isn’t anymore

+1: Interesting twist at the beginning

-2: The writer ran out of ideas and it shows

Box o’ Rando: Let’s Be Evil (2016)

Let's Be Evil.jpg

Rating: -3/10

Okay, This wasn’t in my box. I actually watched this on Netflix, but I decided it randomly to watch something “scary” for Halloween. So it’s close enough in my book.

Let’s Be Evil is about a small group chosen by a company-that-is-definitely-not-Google to test out a new line of augmented-reality glasses. It’s so high tech that they’re put in a cave deep underground with no light whatsoever and the reality around them is simply created through their glasses.

This movie simply falls flat. It starts with a decent premise, but doesn’t seem to be able to decide on its tone, genre, or even what the plot should be. It feels like they had a decent script and was starting to turn into a story about what kind of terrors could happen should we rely on technology as much as they do here. But then, about halfway through, it gives up and decides it’s just simply a horror movie after all. Except it never goes all out. I started watching this movie hoping there’d be blood and stabbing or at least a bunch of jump scares but it fails on all counts, mostly. One person does burn to death right in front of us but the only other on screen death is basically just a group of kids lightly touching someone to death. I’m not even kidding.

Random Thoughts: I wanted a movie with so-bad-it’s-good qualities but instead got a movie that was trying too hard to have messages that it just doesn’t have the skill or the maturity to handle.

-3: I tried to like it at first but it devolves into a big mess

0041: The Crowd (1928)

The Crowd.jpg

Rating: 6/10

Johnny and Mary, after knowing each other less than a day, get married. They’re madly in love and become perfect for each other, but this match made in heaven has problems of its own as Johnny tries desperately to find a job during the Great Depression.

The story centers around Johnny and begins at his birth on July 4, 1900 and follows his life until he meets Mary. They fall in love, get married, have kids. Johnny has trouble with work, then quits after a tragedy. This tells a story that is close to the people of the time period, those that struggled through the Depression, or lost a loved one in a tragedy, can relate to Mary and Johnny.

This movie was strange for me, but only because I started having familiar feelings when it changed suddenly from a comedic scene to a tragic one, and then back again, throughout the movie. Feelings I couldn’t quite place for a moment because I didn’t expect to see it in a film made this early. This film is Oscar-bait, not on purpose though. The first Oscars weren’t until a year later so how could they have known? But that’s exactly what it is.

Now, Oscar-bait is a term that gets thrown around a lot and probably means different things to different people. To me, it’s any movie that has a story that is so character driven it feels it doesn’t need an actual plot. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, per se, but I definitely recognize the formula when I see it. It’s a film that centers around one person. Sometimes two, though one is always more main than the other, like in this movie. And it’s about the person’s life, therefore the tone of the movie changes just as much and as randomly as the person’s life does. When done well, this type of movie makes you feel for the character just as close as you would had they been your best friend for many years and provide lessons to its audience about what it takes to truly live in this world. When handled poorly, they feel disjointed and at points nonsensical as things randomly seem to change and the only message to be obtained is “sometimes things happen for no reason at all.” That’s only in the most extreme cases though.

Here, the film does a decent job of telling us Johnny’s story. Though there are a few scenes that feel like they only happen because “life is random.” I guess being that this movie is super ahead of its time, and the Oscars weren’t even a thing yet. It’s just one director doing his thing without trying to win anything in the process. Though I may not like it when things happen for no reason on screen, I can applaud this film for its originality for its time.

Why you should watch it before you die: If you like character-driven stories, and don’t mind silent flicks, I’d recommend it quite a bit. Otherwise, I’d probably say you can pass on this.

+5: Decent acting, story is just okay

+1: Very good music

The Flash Season 2

The Flash Season 2.png

Rating: 8/10

The Flash takes on a Super-Speedster-From-Another-Planet named Zoom who’s so much faster than Barry he’s used his speed to take over an entire other Earth from another dimension!

This season is much better than the first. Not that the first season was bad, really, it just kept getting bogged down with certain things like relationship drama and scenes that didn’t do much for the overarching plot, but here those are gone, and instead as the Flash tries to get faster, it seems like he’ll never be fast enough to defeat Zoom.

Personally, I think this season of the Flash kicked season 4 of Arrow out of the water. Better twists and turns, also, where Arrow falters with a sense of hopelessness over the season, the Flash seems to flourish in it and it just makes us root that much harder for him. He’s the only person who can save the city from a threat as large as Zoom, but he’s not strong enough to do so. But, unlike Queen who feels like he’s on the brink of just giving up sometimes, Barry knows he’s powerless to stop Zoom, but at the same time he always rises up to try, even when he knows he’s going to fail. It’s just interesting to note that one show’s weakness can be another show’s strength.

SCORING:

+7: Fairly entertaining season with pretty high stakes

+1: Impressive villain

Arrow Season 4

Arrow Season 4.jpg

Rating: 6/10

This season of Arrow, Oliver Queen faces his greatest threat: Damien Darhk. A wielder of magic who’s so ruthless he’d destroy cities on his quest for more power.

The villain throughout this season is great, and it feels like the actor who plays him, Neal McDonough, is having the time of his life. It’s just as much fun watching him being evil and doing awful thing as the character seems to be just loving what he’s doing. I just wish I could say that about the rest of the season.

The major problem is that it’s just so frickin’ melancholy. It starts by cutting forward to a point in the future with Oliver mourning at someone’s grave. Something it keeps doing throughout the season as it keeps hinting that someone is going to die. Now, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but this series has a very bad habit of killing off my favorite characters. So if you like someone on this show, don’t get your hopes up that they’re going to stay alive. But you can also probably expect said dead person to come back in some way, even if it’s just them from another dimension for an episode or two, but still, dead but not gone seems to be the major rule of this show.

Outside of showing us an upcoming death constantly, Oliver spends an awful lot of time moping around in this season. So much so it seems to trickle out to every other character, even Damien Darhk a little bit. I mean, when Oliver’s mom died in the second season, we didn’t need the characters to mourn for her, and they hardly do from what I remember, though it is still sad. And that was a permanent death, something rare for any of these series. Here they have a cloud hanging over the whole season that just breaths depression, affecting every character to some degree, and this starts before anyone actually died! I know that Arrow has made a name for being the superhero show that’s darker with higher stakes than any of the other CW shows. I mean, you can pretty much expect at least one major character death per season.

Let’s consider Batman for a second. Batman, like Arrow, has no superpowers, is darker than most of the other comics in the DC universe, and you can expect the stakes to be higher. But Batman also has an iron will. He never gives up, even when he has to do something that seems impossible, like taking down Superman in the Dark Knight Returns or the Injustice series, he doesn’t quit. And one thing he never does is resort to hopelessness, and neither, as shown by this season, should Arrow. I know they’re obviously not the same person, but Arrow had a similar die-hard attitude in the first three seasons that he seems to drop out of here for a chance for him to be mopey and emotional so we can see a side of him, and pretty much every other character, that personally I could do without.

And then it brings it all back in the last few episodes when Darhk really raises the stakes and both Arrow and Oliver Queen have to be heroes to save their city. So, kind of a mixed bag, some of the best and the worst things I’ve seen in this show so far come from this season.

SCORING:

+5.5: I’m feeling fairly mixed right now

+1: Damien Darhk is just damn fun to watch

-2: why is it so damn melancholy throughout this season?

+1.5: really intense and exciting finale (too bad it takes so long to get there…)