Tag: Bad

Mile 22 review

Director: Peter Berg

Writer: Lea Carpenter

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais, John Malkovich, Ronda Rousey

Release date: August 17, 2018


Hi! So you’re interested in going to the movies this weekend, but you don’t know what to see. You do like action movies. So do you wanna see an action movie with good performances, good direction, thrills, a decent plot to carry it, likable characters, and creative action set pieces? You do? Well then don’t see Mile 22 because it has the exact opposite of all the things I just mentioned.

Mile 22 is the latest Peter Berg/Mark Wahlberg outing after Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day. I haven’t seen Lone Survivor, but I have seen the other two. This is by far the worst of the three that I’ve seen. Mile 22 is about a covert group of military operatives known as “Overwatch” (insert Overwatch video game reference/joke here). They’re the option when all other options fail. They do the dirty jobs that would get other agencies in front of Congress. Their latest mission is to extract an Indonesian police officer played by Iko Uwais out of the country, in exchange for information concerning cesium shipments, a toxic weapon that can cause Hiroshima levels of death. It becomes clear that Uwais is more than just a police officer, as the Indonesian government sends its own men after Overwatch to get him back. Also he’s a very good martial artist.

The biggest sin of Mile 22 is that there is not a single character that is even remotely worth caring about. All of them are cardboards with little backstory, and the backstories we do get are completely cliched. Mark Wahlberg’s character is a complete tool who pretty much plows his way through the film with almost no injuries or setbacks, and goes on these obnoxious, pretentious monologues that an edgy 14 year old who just discovered politics would be embarrassed by. Lauren Cohan’s character has a daughter and is a divorcee and apparently that’s enough to make us be concerned when she’s in danger. The one character that comes close to being interesting is Iko Uwais’, who is subject to a completely idiotic twist at the last moment. There are no interesting or likable characters, and I didn’t raise anything more than a shrug when someone ended up dead.

The plot of this film is just boring as its characters. It is totally by the numbers for pretty much its entire runtime. As mentioned earlier the only interesting plot developments come around the end, but they’re also stupid and out of left field. The way this movie ends is also just insulting. It ends on a cliffhanger clearly telegraphing a sequel. Do the research and you’ll learn that this is meant to be the start of a multimedia franchise, with said sequel already in development. Yeah, given the critical thrashing it’s received and the low box office receipts, those plans won’t last. At least with only a 94 minute length, I wasn’t bored for too long.

But hey, it’s an action movie. Maybe the plot and characters are bad but at least the action is good right? Nope. The action in this movie consists of quick cuts, shaky cam, and other tricks to make sure you are unable to see or enjoy anything that is going on. This is especially bad when you have Iko Uwais doing impressive martial arts during his action scenes. They’d be even more impressive if I could see what’s going on movie! The R-rating means that there’s at least an extra level of blood and graphic violence, so I guess that’s something that people can get a kick out of. If this was a PG-13 action movie it wouldn’t even have that going for it.

The acting and dialogue in this movie ranges from dull to comical. Wahlberg and John Malkovich don’t seem to be even trying. Ronda Rousey doesn’t even have a performance in this, much less a good one. She doesn’t even have a lazy one. The only two people who seemed to be doing the best with what they’re given are Lauren Cohan and Iko Uwais. As for the dialogue, it’s so edgy at times it can cut through rocks. F bombs and countless profanities are in the script in a desperate attempt to come across as mature. As mentioned before, Wahlberg’s character goes on pseudo-intellectual monologues that the film thinks are deep. Sorry, but they’re as shallow as a puddle. Luckily, they sometimes manage to cross the line into humorous territory. Not intentionally mind you, but hey take what you can get.

Anything else I forgot to mention? Well I don’t remember the score so that can’t be good.

This is easily the worst movie I’ve seen so far this year. It’s not outrageously terrible, but it is just such a cynical waste of potential. There are talented people involved in this. Peter Berg is a talented director, Mark Wahlberg is a talented actor. If it was more focused on being a good movie instead of setting up a franchise it hasn’t done anything to earn, and tried to be at least a little more creative, it could’ve been good. Instead, what we’re left with is just a boring, sub par action film that wants to start a franchise, but will most likely be forgotten about in a couple of weeks. It is a failure on all fronts and should be skipped. Go see Mission: Impossible-Fallout instead. That’s a good action movie with likable characters, a decent plot, and creative action set pieces.

Score: 2/10


Ready Player One review

Author: Ernest Cline

Published: August 16, 2011


Ready Player One is the first and most famous novel of author Ernest Cline. The premise is that in the future, people escape the miserable reality of a resource depleted, climate change raddled Earth to the virtual reality of the OASIS. The OASIS is a massive multiplayer rpg that has practically taken the place of the real world. The original creator’s will states that whoever can solve a challenging easter egg hunt that he set up himself within the game will inherit control of the whole OASIS and his whole, multi billion dollar fortune. Years pass until a teenager obsessed with 80s pop culture named Wade Watts finds the first clue, and the race is on to reach the prize before rivals and an evil mega corporation can beat him to it.

Ready Player One may have an interesting premise, but that can’t save it from its badly written characters, plot, and prose. The biggest example of this is the protagonist Wade Watts, easily one of the most shallow, wish fulfillment characters I’ve seen in years. He’s flat and I can barely remember what personality he has in the story. Apparently in the world of the novel, just having an obscene amount of knowledge regarding 1980s pop culture is enough to get you to succeed in life, which is exactly how Wade gets through the plot. Thanks to his obsessive knowledge of everything 80s, he starts off a broke, low level high school student and eventually becomes a rich, high level world famous celebrity. Whatever struggles he has or could potentially have are completely glossed over and just told to the reader rather than shown. For example, Wade eventually has some falling out with his best friend Aech, and he just tells it without us ever seeing it. He also has a romance sub-plot with Art3mis, the main female character that has next to no chemistry in it and has some rather creepy undertones to it.

The side characters really aren’t much better written. The love interest Art3mis is supposed to be this strong female character, and to her credit she is a more interesting character than Wade is with some cool moments. It still doesn’t fix the fact that she’s completely overshadowed by Wade and his shallow personality. The other important side characters are pretty flat as well, with Wade’s best friend Aech having barely any personality themselves or anything interesting about them at all aside from a completely preachy and clumsy reveal about their identity that makes you think the novel is deeper than it actually is. The antagonist is at least charismatic but he’s just a stereotypical evil businessman.

The plot has a quick, page turner pacing to it that will get the reader moving smoothly along from one event to the next due to the chapters’ short length. The quick pacing is the one good thing I can say about the plot because like the characters, it is shallow and badly written. The premise has the potential to be really interesting but it doesn’t seem concerned with actually exploring it. Oh it sprinkles some concepts to make it seem deeper than it actually is, like the evil mega corporation cheating to win the contest so they can control the OASIS and charge a subscription fee and insert advertisements into it being reflective of the net neutrality debate. Yet this, and the other issues the book stamps onto the plot aren’t actually explored with any nuance or even reveal something meaningful about the characters. The ending tries to have this message about not using escapism as a means of always avoiding the world, but it comes off as cheap and doesn’t really hold up considering Wade saves the whole world real and virtual via escapism

Lastly the writing style ranges from bland to insufferable. The dialogue is riddled with outdated slang that was already going out of style at the time it was published and is now just embarrassing to read now. The characters will actually say “noobs” and call the enemy faction called The Sixers the “Suxorz”. You know, because they suck (that is an actual line in the novel). If that wasn’t bad enough, the novel will usually stop the plot to explain a reference to 80s pop culture it makes because it assumes you care or are an idiot who can’t just look it up. The worst instance of this is when Wade spends a whole three pages bragging about how much 80s trivia he knows. If you grew up with 80s movies, games, comics, and books I guess you could forgive it but I found it to be needless and eye-rolling. At least the action scenes are described well.

Ready Player One is not the worst novel ever written, or even that I’ve ever read. It’s bad, but just bad. It’s like Sword Art Online: an interesting idea brought down by bad writing and characters. At its best it is a good airport book, but I found it to be mindless and didn’t think it worked as entertainment. My hope is that Steven Spielberg can manage to make a good or even great movie out of this sub-par novel, since he’s managed to do so before. As for Ernest Cline’s other novel Armada and his plans for a sequel, I have no interest in either.

Score: 4/10

Death Note (Netflix 2017) review

Director: Adam Wingard

Writers: Charles Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides, Jeremy Slater

Cast: Nat Wolff, Willem Dafoe, Lakeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley, Shea Whigham, Paul Nakauchi

Released: August 25, 2017


Wow did this movie suck badly. I mean, I know people were expecting it to suck since it’s an American live action adaptation of an anime/manga series and those have a pretty long history of sucking, but WOW, they really managed to do something that no movie has done in a long time and actually make me angry, and not in a good way.

There will be spoilers in this review because this movie is so bad I don’t feel the need to keep any major plot points a secret. If you really don’t want spoilers though: it goes too fast, the cast and their performances are mostly bad, has none of the source material’s heart and spirit, has an insane number of plot holes, and manages to be incredibly boring for newcomers and disgusting to the fans of the anime/manga series.

Netflix’s Death Note is an adaptation of the popular anime/manga series of the same name. I just want to be upfront that the series is very close to my heart, I haven’t but plan on reading the original manga, but I have watched the anime. It’s an extremely engaging psychological thriller with two of my favorite characters and rivalries in anime history with Light Yagami, the diabolical villain protagonist who is known to the world as “Kira” (Japanese for killer) with ambitions of godhood and his dynamic with L, the world’s greatest detective. Their polar opposite views of justice and equally strong conviction in their beliefs leads to an intense cat and mouse game where both try to discover the other’s identity while trying to keep their own hidden.

I just want to be clear about two things: that I did not go into this movie expecting to hate it like it did or even just dislike it and that my issues with it aren’t solely due to the changes it made to the source material. Making changes when adapting a work to another medium are necessary, I totally understand that. In fact, all signs pointed toward this movie being a good adaptation of Death Note. The first trailer was good and it had a great casting with Willem Dafoe as Ryuk and a director with a good reputation in Adam Wingard. There’s no reason for this movie to have been as awful as it was, both as an adaptation and as a standalone movie. The story of Death Note is universal with its themes of the differing viewpoints of justice, so it can definitely be adapted to American audiences. Yet everything that could’ve gone wrong, went wrong. Netflix’s Death Note not only disrespects its source material in every way imaginable, but disrespects its audience as well.

In this adaptation, Light Turner is a high school student bullied and mistreated by both other students and the various authority figures of his school. On a rainy day, Ryuk, the death god or Shinigami as he’s called, drops the Death Note, a notebook with the power to kill anyone in any plausible way just by writing a person’s name in it while thinking of their face, at his feet to tempt Light to use it for his own purposes. Light uses the notebook to kill a bully and then the man who killed his mother but got off on a technicality. From there Light and his girlfriend Mia Sutton decide to rid the world of crime as the vengeful god “Kira” while avoiding his identity being discovered by the Seattle Police Department, which his father is a part of, and Interpol’s greatest detective known only as “L”.

ANYONE who has even some familiarity with the source material would know that Netflix’s adaptation doesn’t understand its source material at all. Light Yagami was a handsome, highly intelligent, charismatic big man on campus who had everyone wrapped around his little finger, which is why no one except for L suspected that Light was Kira. Light Turner is an outcast who is bullied and is not shown to be particularly smart. The only indications of his intelligence are a scene in the beginning of the movie of him doing someone else’s homework and an absolutely out of left field gambit twist in the movie’s last act where he manages to outsmart L, kill his girlfriend Mia, and completely wipe his hands clean of any evidence that has no buildup or payoff whatsoever since we’re never shown him being a genius beforehand. If anything Light is an idiot since he talks about the Death Note is public. Loudly. With people around. With his partner in crime/girlfriend Mia Sutton right next to him. Light’s motives in this movie have no consistency whatsoever. First it seems like he’s going to use the Death Note for justice like the original Light was, then he seems to do it because his mother was murdered by a criminal, then it appears that he’s doing it to impress Mia, who comes off more like Light Yagami than Light Turner does! Light Yagami was so compelling because he was a narcissist who had an extremely black and white view of justice. He didn’t have a personal loss driving his actions, he was someone totally convinced in the justice of his cause. The series was so entertaining because of his personality and his genius strategies and gambits. Not helping is Nat Woolf’s performance is completely forgettable with some unintentional comedy on his end, and absolutely zero chemistry in the relationship between Light and Mia.

Character motivations and personalities in general are completely botched. Ryuk, instead of merely being a passive observer who takes no sides in the anime, is a malevolent evil spirit who actively pushes Light towards using the Death Note to kill as many people as possible. This change to the source material wouldn’t be so bad if there were some actual meat to Ryuk’s role, and to his credit, Willem Dafoe is an excellent casting choice for the part, but there isn’t anything for him to go on. He’s reduced to being more or less a supernatural troll who only really does anything of consequence around the end of the movie. L fares by far the worst of the characters. He’s turned into an easily provoked, overly emotional idiot instead of the calm, methodical world’s greatest detective. Lakeith Stanfield is clearly trying whatever he can with the material he’s given, but he can only do so much. His introduction was very promising and gave me hope that they at least got L’s character right, but as soon as a major setback happens for him with the disappearance and death of his father figure Watari, he completely loses all ability to use logic and acts only on impulse.

I wouldn’t be complaining about the changes made for the adaptation to such an extent if the film had any merits on its own worth mentioning, but it doesn’t. At an hour and forty minutes, it tries to cram too many plot points from the original series into too little time, resulting in a rushed mess that manages to feel longer than it actually is and opens a number of plot holes. The characters aren’t memorable or well written at all, the performances by most of cast are completely forgettable, it looks very cheap for a 40 million dollar movie, the editing and cuts are extremely sloppy at times and will leave you wondering if a something was cut on the editing room floor, and other than L’s introduction features no scenes that are particularly impressive on a technical level. It feels more like a really bad teen romance movie set in the Final Destination universe, with all the deaths being laughably convoluted in execution. I can’t appreciate this movie on its own merits because it tries to use the source material as a clutch by making some winks and nods to the fans of the source material (L eating candy and sitting in an awkward manner, Ryuk eating apples and saying at the end “Humans are so interesting”) but is more concerned with jamming as much of it in as quickly as possible rather than doing it justice or making the adjustments needed to make it work for newcomers, leaving both parties unhappy. Oh, and the soundtrack sucks. It’s just generic synth music with nothing you’ll ever remember one way or the other.

Netflix’s Death Note just sucks and sucks badly. I went into this movie wanting to give it a chance, and ended up being let down at every turn and by the end I was utterly disgusted by the movie’s cliffhanger ending that leaves us with the question of whether or not L will use the Death Note to kill Light. It wants a sequel so badly but doesn’t earn it at all. I can’t even recommend this on a so bad, it’s good recommendation. This movie is so bad, it’s insulting. Instead of watching this movie, read the manga or watch the anime. Or just do anything else. If there’s one thing I’ll give this movie credit for, it’s that it gave me the motivation to stop procrastinating and finally revisit the series.