Movie Review

Review: Ready Player One (5/10 stars) [Heavy spoilers]

First I will say that I have not (yet) read the book, I do own it but I don’t exactly have a lot of free time these days. That said, a movie should stand on it’s own merits and that is how I will review it.

Overall I would say the movie is borderline worth the money to see.

There are three main issues I have with it.

First the main character comes off as kind of dull. I mean that in the sense he is kind of boring and that he is kind of stupid. For example he assumes that the people he meets conform to the age and gender of their avatar. This is after he gives an onscreen narration about one of the good things about the Oasis being that you can have any avatar you want. I can understand a convention developing that for conversational purposes you assume people fit the age/gender of their avatars but no one would assume that its real.

He “falls in love” after less then an hour of conversation with a avatar of a young women who does nothing more then pay attention to him. I mean I am not saying that is unrealistic, but it is not endearing.

He just was not a great protagonist.

Second, there were two protagonists that were, in theory, important but were never given the screen time. In the book I am sure they are given enough but in the movie the scenes with them are just wasted. They should have either been written out or expanded.

Third, and the big one for more, the world was just not developed enough. The movie is set in thirty or so years. Despite this we have roman style debt slavery (you become the slave of the person you owe money to until you work the money off). A game company has what looks like a swap team that operates so openly they wear company logo’s. We are told names of wars and stuff but we are never given context. It is implied that getting jobs is hard, but never stated.

Thirty years is enough time for a lot of stuff to change, but not enough for you to make such basic changes to everything without any explanation.

The game company that has a swat team has their CEO personalty try to kill someone. Me, I assumed this meant that they had so much power and influence that he was above the law. Even if a cop saw him do it, he would just pay them and they would look away. Yet he was dragged away by the cops.

Review: A Wrinkle in Time (3/10 stars)

The first thing I will say is that A Wrinkle in time is not a Science Fiction movie, but a Science Fantasy movie. That means I will not fault it for any bad science, or even using magic as science.

I also will say that while I have read the book it was more then fifteen years ago, when I was in early high school or late middle school. So ya, don’t really recall much about it.

That out of the way I will say the movie has several problems, which kept me from really liking it.

The first is that all three of the human kids were not really good characters.

Meg, the main character, who is looking for her father, is a depressed and troubled teen who cares about her father and brother. That really is her entire character. We are told, but never shown, that she is smart and capable. I never really cared about her. This was not helped when the first part of the movie (before they left earth) dragged on waaaay too long.

Charles Wallace, her kid brother, had similar issues. We were told he was very intelligent. But like Meg they never really showen it. Worse they used every stupid cliche they could to try and rub our faces in the fact he is smart. EVERYONE called him Charles Wallace, not charlie, or even just Charles. His teachers when they were talking privately, his sister when she was running through a wind storm looking for him. Even his father, who had left earth before he was born. He acted more like an adult then a kid. A smart kid is still a kid, he still should act like a kid.

Calvin was the third, and was at best forgettable. A loner with a father who liked to yell at him for not getting A’s he started following Meg around because she stood up to a hateful girl at school. He was so forgettable that when he was left behind somewhere I did not notice it for two scenes. He spent most of his time standing quietly in the back then propping up Meg’s ego when needed.

I admit I may be too hard on the three of them. However I am judging them against the real interesting character, Meg’s father. He is more interesting them any of the three of them yet has hardly any scenes, and most of them are set before he does the really cool thing that makes him interesting.

The second set of problems is with “tessering” (teleporting from one planet to another).

When they first talked about it they showed Meg’s father with some equations, talking to NASA (where he and his wife worked). He said that he could teleport with the power of his mind.

The thing is that the movie went back and forth between Tessering being a mind over matter thing, and a math/science thing. From the talk Meg’s father gave it sounded like a science/math thing, but he had no evidence or reason to believe he was right. It he had SOMETHING, even something small and near-useless it would have been one thing, but he had no reason to believe he was right at all.

Then throughout the movie they hinted, then outright said that how you think influences the tesser. Then they had someone tesser who had no math know-how at all.

If they had stuck to quasi-science that would have worked. Or they could have stuck to mind over matter, and that could have worked. But they wanted to have it both ways.

Review: Black Panther (4/10 stars)

The world building in Black Panther was obviously important, a central part of the movie. Sadly it failed.

The basic idea is that a small African country gained access to a literal mountain of Vibranium, and a lot of plants and such that were altered by it. They used this to advanced their tech several centuries ahead of us. They have stuff like cloaking hover-ships and countless other things.

The problem with this is the writers tried to keep the African vibe while having them be a high tech society with progressing technology. There are certain attitudes and ways of doing things that all cultures that progress have, things they did not seem to have.

For example they implied that the direction of all R&D was controlled centrally. That just does not work, there is a reason the USSR was not ahead of the US in scientific research.

When they showed the market it looked like a normal African market with a few gadgets. The idea that that level of advancement would have so little effect on them beggars belief.

This extended to the final fight, which was for the fate of the country. Yet it had people using high tech spears. I kept waiting for the cos-players to leave and for the army to show up, but it never happened.

The country itself was a semi-hereditary absolute monarchy. Even if such a society would keep such a government (name one technologically progressive country with an absolute monarchy I dare you). The fact they would allow a trial by combat makes it even worse.

I thought at first it was ceremonial, but no it was shown to be real. It makes you wonder how the former king, who was both old and overweight, stayed in power. Given that any member of any of the five royal families could easily have taken power, how would ANYONE keep power after they stopped being able to win fights?

I am only harping on the world building because it was a central focus of the movie. The movie had to do that well to work, and I don’t think it did.

The plot itself had problems, and I think they mostly came down to the villain.

First he was talked up as being very knowledgeable, capable and intelligent. Yet when he was in charge he started spouting nonsense that no one who is both intelligent and knowledgeable would say.

He was talking about the world like it was the 1800’s saying that “colonizers” were ruling the world, and how the white man was keep everyone down. The only reason for this I can think is that he wanted an excuse to doom the world (giving superweapons to anyone with black skin who wanted them).

If he was serious he was even more hypocritical, given that his job was destablizing governments, he was railing about..himself and his actions.

I mean I get it if he was just bullshiting, but they should have said so. Even just one moment where he said he knows what he officially said was stupid and nonsensical, but he had to have a “reason”.

A good villain has good reason for what he does, and that was not the case in Black Panther. The final fight between him and the King was also something that has been done thousands of times before, people with the same powers fighting each other, but the bad guy has a slight edge.

The only reason it was not 2 or 3 stars is that the main character was interesting, I just wish he was given a better villain and world to be in.

Review: Star Wars the Last Jedi (4/10 stars)

Before anything else I will say that you should keep in mind that The Last Jedi is the middle move, it is not really a whole story, its the middle of one. It is very hard to judge from that. This being a review I will do so anyway, but you have been warned.

First I am going to say the movie was slow, they quickly established a plot line that I thought was going to be over in the first third or so of the movie, it was dragged out for the whole thing. They did this by having a lot of failed attempts to resolve the central problem, where the heros make no progress at all.

It just felt that everyone spent the entire movie very slowing going forward, things that could have been done in five minutes took twenty.

Luke also seemed to go back and forth, we never got a good sense that he had defined goals, and was working to go there.

I won’t give anything else away but I will say that for me one of the defining characteristic of Luke in the original movies was his ability to see hope where others saw only despair. Where others saw a murder and war criminal he saw a man who was in pain, and who would, if it came down to it refuse to kill is son. He risked his life, he risked everything on that hope.

That man….was not in the new movie.