This week in movie reviews I’ll be observing the expectations of the new movies I recently watched, followed by the reality of what they were actually like. Kind of like the expectation that this Dino Bone post will be as good as the last one you read, which if you haven’t been around this site for very long, you will soon discover to be a disappointing reality.
JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK (…to what?)
Expectations: I have never seen the first Jack Reacher film, and in fact I knew literally nothing about it other than it was a Tom Cruise action movie. I didn’t know if he was an assassin, a special forces police officer, a magical vampire, an Australian super spy… No idea. In fact, I only remember one split-second image from the trailer of the first movie, and it was Tom Cruise sitting in a car. Don’t even remember what he was doing in the car, or even what color the car was.
However, just based on word of mouth, I heard that Jack Reacher 1 was a really solid movie. People were talking about it like it was a Liam Neeson old guy revenge movie or something. I’m down with that. I’ll watch Tom cruise break people’s collar bones. Sure, why not? Rather than doing any research into the first one, I’ll just go into the second one blind and hope it’s awesome and accommodates for people new to this character.
Reality: What the hell is this, and why do people like it? This was the most droll, dialogue-heavy action movie I’ve seen in quite some time. I guess he’s a homeless military cop? Or he just busts crooks for fun? I never really understood whether or not he actually worked for anybody? Anyway, the brief action scenes weren’t even done in an all that exciting way. They were short bursts of so-so action. This movie is what I imagine the Da Vinci Code movies are like. An old, unenthused actor solving mysteries through INTENSE amounts of exposition. Read carefully: I did not say explosion. Which would be been much more awesome.
Honestly, and I am being 100% serious here, my favorite shot in the entire movie was this five second shot of Tom Cruise hunched over on a hotel room bed quietly eating a sandwich. I literally laughed out loud at the shot, and so did one other guy. On top of that, the young actress who played his daughter was not very good at acting, and the scene-to-scene transitions were super lazy. Tom Cruise and Cobie Smulders were trapped in a food truck, completely surrounded by police cars… Then it cuts to a shot of them driving a stolen police car… Wait, what? How did they manage to pull that one off? How did they get out of the food truck unnoticed while surrounded? SHOW ME. Then they are driving the stolen police car, and they say they have to ditch the cop car somehow, so they pull into a parking garage, and the movie cuts to a scene of them running in a field. Ok, c’mon, what…? They did this so many times. When pitted with a dead-end in the plot, this movie repeatedly decided to solve those problems simply with a “HE’S JACK REACHER, BRO, JUST ROLL WITH IT.” The problem is, though, with people like me who don’t know or care who Jack Reacher is; it just feels like crappy writing.
If anything, this movie really makes me want to watch Jack Reacher 1 now, just so I can have the *slightest* idea what the basic appeal was to make this crappy, boring sequel.
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
Expectations: I was pretty pumped for this film, it being the follow-up film to Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows (which I thought was a top 10 movie last year). At the very least, it will have the awkward, deadpan New Zealand humor that I already know that I enjoy through years of watching Flight of the Conchords.
Reality: I guess it was less laugh out loud funny than I thought it would be? I did chuckle a lot, though. But nothing that made me laugh as much as the best jokes in Shadows. Wilderpeople had 200% more whimsy than I was expecting, though, and infinitely times better cinematography. Opposite of Jack Reacher 2, this movie had one of the best teenage actors I’ve seen in a while, and he had great chemistry with a grizzled Sam Neill. I miss Sam Neill. And I say that knowing that he’s been in eleven movies in the last five years, none of which I’ve bothered to see. But I’m happy to see him here.
I don’t know if the average moviegoer will enjoy this very much..? It’s kind of a little too strange for, say, your Kevin Hart loving aunt to enjoy. But if you’re into the New Zealand comedy scene (which is definitely a thing), then this is worth checking out. If anything, it will make you very excited/curious that Marvel is letting a director this weird make the next Thor movie!
Expectations: I remember wanting to see this movie when it came out in theaters, but it was during my busiest time of the year, so I never got a chance to. And I didn’t even know what it was about, really, it just looked like a drug kingpin movie starring a mustachioed Bryan Cranston. That’s all I really needed to know. However, was there any word of mouth on this thing? Does anyone even know what it is? The lack of visible hype for it had me lowering my expectations to a reasonable simmer when I rented it last week.
Reality: It was definitely a smart move to lower my expectations before watching this. Not that it was bad, really, but it was certainly kinda MEHHHH. I had to watch it in three chunks, because I fell asleep after 45 minutes, and then got distracted about 75 minutes into it; if that’s a quick indicator of its quality. It seems like an interesting story, and the cast does a good job for what it’s worth, but it’s just not that mind-blowing of a film. There’s not a scene or character or plot point that felt like something I had never scene before in a1980s drug movie, or an in-over-your-head undercover cop movie. This movie seems maybe like something Bryan Cranston should be above doing, but John Leguizamo and Benjamin Bratt are a perfect fit for.
Expectations: The response for this movie has been really positive, and I’ve seen enough Christopher Guest mockumentaries to know exactly what to expect. If I didn’t see Fred Willard being a spacey old guy and a married couple having a breakdown, I would be genuinely surprised.
Reality: This is almost exactly what I expected. It has the usual improvisations mixed with wacky characters obsessed with a very specific talent. It doesn’t have Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, Catherine O’Hara, or Eugene Levy, though, which was a bit strange. But some of the newcomers like Chris O’Dowd and Zach Woods do alright in their place. Some of the bits work better than others, but the mascot routines at the end of the movie definitely put a smile on my face. It’s a decent feel good movie. And it’s free on Netflix! Free, of course, assuming you have your in-laws’ Netflix password.
See you next week for a spooky Halloween post (probably)!