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Aladdin (2019)

Aladdin (2019)

Had to see the movie where Will Smith played the genie. :) Wasn't expecting much but maybe a good time, and it delivered beyond expectation!

Will Smith's great. Not only is he ALWAYS great, but he actually looks a lot like the Genie of old too. Facial features somewhat characteristic... no? Charisma the same? Okay honestly I don't remember all that much from the animated 1992 alternative at this point, but I do get a sense of déjà vu now looking back. Maybe I'm just imagining him as the old one too though...

The story otherwise is one of life. An Arabic night epic like no other, starring the ragged street thief Aladdin (Mena Massoud) and the beautiful princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), an impossible love, made all the more impossible by the ambitious but also somewhat nefarious and evil Jafar - advisor and second only to The Sultan.

The Sultan loves his daughter, and ever since her mothers death he keeps her trapped within the castle walls, until the day she runs into Aladdin on the street market. AKA souk.

So maybe there's a little little focus on her being trapped there too, as there's a little little focus on the genie being ditto, as there's a little little focus on a perceptible sense of stagnation when it comes to our main character Ali the one and only, and none of the cast members is really the best singer (first Will Smith bit had me hyped for more though), but they do have dance scenes! And flashiness. And desert dunes, impeccable special effects for the most part (carpet ride hmmmm), appreciable magic, exotic ladies (wouldn't have minded even more exotic costumes though), emotional turmoil and a showdown like no other...

It really surpassed my expectations. Aladdin's wish? Had a blast with this. Probably way more so than if I saw the animated version of it from back in the day right after.

Seen a lot of hate - or at least memery - regarding Will Smith's role but... you know what? He fits perfectly.

Like a genie in a bottle.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Deep Blue Sea 3 (2020)

Deep Blue Sea 3 (2020)

They really brought it back with this one! Could've had a better cover though. Even if I do appreciate the twist. Flipped it around a bit. Changed the angle, though they kept the scene the same...

This one did more than just repeat the first all over again in a new way though, like the last one did. They settled on an exotic little cove, mixed in a little more relatable save-the-world-from-rising-oceans and save-the-sea motives instead of the god complex and science ones, found a great main actress with Tania Raymonde, and a bad-ass bodyguard with Shaw (Emerson Brooks). He really went out with a bang; the best way possible. Feels.

I love the location (south Africa if you're wondering), I love the underwater filming, I love the casual clothing this new milieu allows, the focus on water, the refreshing levels of lighting compared to the previous, the sometimes psychedelic and synthy soundtrack that doesn't seem to directly play on the old Jaws inspirations any longer but actually brings in something new, and the plotline progresses nicely!

Feels like the whole pre-destruction phase didn't really contribute that much, after a while the intrigue started feeling drawn out, and the coastal town destruction showed the budget, but when they're back to the sharks again it's like they found their place, and those essential moments are where this movie really shines. From the first half of a body rolling by to that heavy pressure ending. And when they do have their occasional human dialog swap it's not all bad this time either. The hearing aid bit. Shaw's determination. The final dive. The script felt way better overall, with gems strewn around even the drawn out parts.

Couldn't have asked for a more conclusive finale! They bring it all full circle in a good way, and found a small but solid cast for closure.

I really enjoyed this. Now hope they don't try to milk it further ad wind up disappointing again...

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Justice League (2017)

Justice League (2017)

Watched this movie again to compare to the new Zack Snyder cut, after I started reading up on the controversy surrounding this movie, and the maltreated cast members, and the director who made this, who apparently also had ties to marvel. I won't delve into that here but give it a Google if you like. basically there are two versions. First this - one that was supposedly rushed on time, not true to DC or the characters or to Zack Snyder - and then the new one, where the main man took his time and budget to really do things the right way. His way. So... which way was better? That's the one question I'll try to focus on here.

With this one I like the color. I like the pace. I like the charisma, and character, the continuity and the 'life'. But I do miss a bit of the epicness with Zack's cut... alright, having seen the new one recently, here's a list of pros and cons as to which I prefer.

Things I liked with this one:

- Wonder Woman's introduction. Felt a bit more realistic with the briefcase throw instead of it being flown all the way up - low on time wasn't she? Not just the bomb but with the bad guy. There's no unnecessary break where the villain just loafs around and seems incompetent here. Though I do miss at least a little of the epic slow-mo in the other.
- The Aquaman intro. Felt like he was a bit more in character here. Trademark attitude. Good conversation. They clue in a bit more of the three boxes too.
- The face paint scene at the prison - I loved that! Simple but suitable little details.
- Victor's introduction. He knew his powers here. Explained them. Seemed a little less like a victim than in the new version.
- The Amazons didn't stand around looking unnecessarily silly before things really started happening herer.
- Flash got a better intro too! Realistic dialog flow. Plus extra entertainment bit.
- More focus on Gal Gadot's butt? I hope I'm not just imagining this now. There's that Diana/Flash interaction too.
- Awauaman was way cooler at the bridge. A little more revelation as to the alien presence here too.
- The nuclear reactor they took over wasn't in the middle of a ghost town this time. Adds life, again.
- Alfred's 'Do I know you?' sounded almost exactly like the uncle in Oni in the final level! Unexpected déjà vu.
- Their motherbox/reviving Superman discussion: Way better. 'Technology is like any other power. Without heart. Without reason. It destroys us.' That conversation went on longer, but watch the movie, you'll see.
- The graveyard talk was better too. Victor shows some personality.
- Diana and Bruce's talk... that one as well.
- Aquaman sitting on the lasso of truth. Classic.
- Superman and Flash having a race. Awesome.
- The brunch bit!

Things I didn't like with this one:

- The very misplayed 'Booyah'. Though I wonder if I would've noticed as much if I hadn't read the article on that controversy detailed above. That 'Booyah' was a part of it.
- Wonder Woman flirts maybe a little too much? With everyone in the team at one point or another.
- The TV interview bit about the alien probe. A little unnecessary? Feels like the wrong realm. They could've done that in the Marvel one.

I also do feel, especially in the beginning, that they don't give moments the time they really need to make an impact. Or sink in. Like after the cleaner sweeps away the curtain in the lab. Like after the first motherbox awakens. Like... a little less of these moments later on. They start feeling better and better timed as we go...

Steppenwolf being more human didn't seem like a bad thing at first here. In the new one he seemed a bit like a beast of DOOM. Something not right there. But here... he seems both good and bad. On the one hand he's stronger. On the other he ends up weaker. On the one hand he's not just an unfortunate victim. On the other he certainly has a more unfortunate end. And Darkseid's gone... this is getting strange. It's too inconsistent. What happens after this? Do the bad guys make a league or does Superman really go rampant? Loose ends.

Both versions of this movie were great in their own regard, but if this wasn't the cut that was meant to be they shouldn't have done it in the first place.

I like a lot of elements in this, just like I like elements in the other, but that there's not just the one feels wrong. And knowing Ray Fisher's story I'm noticing things of the newer one now too. Like did they just add in the black girl in the beginning to add in more black people in the movie? If so they did a lousy job. It seems they forgot about her entirely after the intro. Nobody's commenting on that. To me it felt like one of the bigger loose ends with the movie. She should've come back around somehow. Full circle with the girl. Can't include something like that just for kicks.

The special effects were definitely better in Zack's version, though. There's no argument there. As were the sound-effects. We have some Transformer-like vibes here. I didn't notice that the first time. They really improved on those.

But the world is also definitely more colorful in this one. Everyone has more personality. The dialog feels real, and the script (for the most part) feels good and right.

Some mmorable quotes I'm not sure carried over: "We're asking people we don't know to risk their lives." "We have families. Why does everybody keep telling me that?" "A motherbox destroys as it creates. It's a cycle of life, but a million times faster." "Seeing the engine of the world when it still ran."

There's a sense of urgency more than desperation here. There's more of a team effort. Ironically - considering the dialogs were so much longer in the other version - it feels like there's more dialog here too. Even when the pace is faster they manage to talk things through.

Having seen both these versions in close proximity I'm left feeling this, though. Ultimately: This is no passion project. This was rushed, yet with Zack's cut it feels like he simply puzzled together pieces from the original in a Zack-like way. It doesn't feel complete either. It feels drawn out instead. Intentionally different. Overworked -though also much improved in the process, and untrue to the original, or to the realm at all.

It seems they somehow split my liking as they split this movie... I like both versions for different reasons.

I had a blast with this, and I had a blast with the other one, and I do think that overall Zack's version is the better one, but he also had an additional four years to make it better, whereas I'm impressed with what they managed here with the time they had, and I'm disappointed that Zack didn't carry over the strengths from this one too.

It feels like a betrayal on two levels somehow. Each one doesn't do the other Justice.

Yet I really should appreciate them both, because they're both out of my League.

I thought I'd seen this one already btw but... no review? Maybe I hadn't.

 rated 4.5/5: almost awesome

Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)

Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)

Now this one's a loooong movie. Like really long. Four hours almost.

With lots of CGI. And lots of Gal Gadot. And lots more (I feel) Marvel emulating magic.

Someone reminds me a bit of Thanos, someone a bit of Iron Man, someone a bit of Spider-Man (in his demeanor more so than powers), and there are the Old Gods too, looking like a combination of the guys from 300 and that alternative Asgardian realm in that parallel franchise... not to say Marvel were first with any of these alternations, but they were first with the movies, and to me this is all starting to feel a bit like an Avengers rip-off at this point. And generally not as good. The villains in particular feel shallower. Their motives simpler. Light and dark. Power. Toxins. Darkness. Evil. Anti-life. One artifact to rule them all.

Their legions look somewhat DOOM-like too come to think of it. In the Bethesda way. The new way. Not the best way there either.

I'm struck by how little character a lot of the characters have though, and that's maybe the sad part. That might be why (I keep trying to figure out what the defining factor is here) Marvel seem to have gotten the upper hand. And maybe it was the ever so prolific and wonderful Stan Lee. The legend. The always so involved and inspiring front man for that whole franchise... I'm glad they got their movies out in time.

Zack Snyder? This name rings a bell but... I'm just not overblown by this.

You can clearly see how heavy a budget they had for it. The filming's impeccable. I have no qualms or complaints with the directing anywhere, it's just... not as personal. Not as unique. Not as FUN. And isn't that what superheroes are supposed to be? To some extent?

Feels like the Justice League is on a very different path here than with the animated counterpart of their Darkseid confrontation too. I honestly almost liked that one better. They seemed to have more character there.

 rated 4.5/5: almost awesome

Boys From County Hell (2020)

Boys From County Hell (2020)

American Werewolf in London-like with a little Shaun Of The Dead comedy? Not THAT much, mind you, but still.

The running blood effect in the beginning freaked me out a bit, but how they manage that is one of the good things about this. Props on that. On the props. It's nice to see those and special effects both intermeshed so well.

The villain's unfortunately a bit of a disappointment in the end, but I can't say I wasn't expecting him to be that either. You still appreciate the showdown. It ends in a good way, though maybe not the ideal one. Like... the girl and all? A little ambiguity is a good thing though, even if a Hollywood end would've been nice. I don't think I'd rated lower for it...

Overall this was a creative scary movie in a refreshingly natural; grounded; small-town milieu. With a solid cast. Characters with character. And unconventional but highly relevant focus on construction. And economy. And family and all. You might like this in particular if you too have grown a little tired of the mainstream stuff and big city thrillers; look for something that scales things down in a more personal way.

Nine Mile Hill seems like both the perfect little utopia and a pretty scary place to live...

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

They're Playing With Fire (1984)

They're Playing With Fire (1984)

A married college professor decides to seduce her student, whom she hired as a handyman for her yacht. The hesitant student succumbs to his buxom professor, but their romance is interrupted by her corrupt husband and a masked murderer.

Sounds alright right? It's a softcore thriller starring mainly a student (that'd be Eric Brown) and a teacher (Sybil Danning), and another teacher (Andrew Prine), and a fortune, and a psycho... you'll see.

Eric Brown does seem like a dimwit occasionally, but when it's all over I think I'm glad he did. It just made the ending all the more enjoyable. Plot twist. I'm surprised. I'm impressed, too. I'm a little curious how they handled it all with the cops - an element most 'real' thrillers seem to make sure to bring in at the end but... it's not bad like this either.

I'm surprised they didn't delve all too deep into the action either. Neither kind. It felt wholesome. Not too much of any one thing or other, though Sybil really is the star of this show. Wouldn't be as much without her.

Refreshingly classy. Refreshingly unpredictable. Refreshingly dreamy too.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

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