Movie Tuesday: Deadpool 2, Downsizing, Game Night, The Man Who Knew Infinity, Rampage, Solo, Christopher Robin, Oceans 8 and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Christopher Robin

Okay, so it’s been a while since TMINE last reviewed some movies (cough, cough, six months, cough, cough). Oh dear. As with all these things, it’s not because I’ve not put the prep work in, it’s just the difficulty of finding the time to do the actual writing. Still, this failing does make Weekly Wonder Woman look like an almost hourly occurrence by comparison. Sigh.

Anyway, here’s Movie Monday (on a Tuesday, which emphasises the problem yet again) to rectify that deficit. After the jump, in varying degrees of sketchiness, six months’ worth of movie reviews. See you in a mo…

Movies

Films Reviews A-Z lists every movie ever reviewed by TMINE

Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin (2018)

One of Disney’s live action remakes of their cartoon classics that sees Ewan McGregor playing a grown-up Christopher Robin (note: Robin’s his surname – he’s not Christopher Robin Milne) who’s forgotten about all his childhood friends in 100 Acre Woods and is now married to Hayley Atwell and raising a daughter in a strict, imagination-free environment. Then, just as evil boss Mark Gatiss tasks him with finding a way to cut 25% from his budget (mostly through firing people), who should appear from a magic tree but Winnie the Pooh to help him rediscover his inner child and sense of fun.

I’ll start off by admitting that I wept buckets at this and that if you’re as sufficiently well versed in the source material (including authorised sequels), you’ll see that actually, it all draws on and fits in reasonably well with what’s been established in both the books and Disney’s own cartoons. The fact that it opens with the tragic close of House at Pooh Corner and features the voice of cartoon Pooh (Jim Cummings) as the now aged Pooh only adds to its poignancy. In our house, lovely wife and I are often found quoting from it, too, and maybe venturing a desire to buy a travel balloon before any given journey as it’ll make us very happy.

However, it is a strange affair, it has to be admitted. The first half is quite dark and nasty, and sometimes even metaphorical, as 100 Acre Woods becomes bemisted, dangerous and deanimaled in response to Christopher Robin’s increasingly hardened imagination. It’s also hard to believe that Christopher Robin would treat his childhood bear quite so badly, particularly once it starts existing in the real-world and people can talk to it and see it move. The second half, by contrast, feels like an attempt to do a quick knock-off of Paddington, as Pooh’s friends come to London and cause general chaos.

It’s also a little hard to see who it’s aimed at. Contrary to popular opinion, Milne’s books are by his own admission aimed at adults rather than kids (read the introduction and the narrative framing to see what I mean) so the first half doesn’t 100% come out of the blue. But the general crushing sadness of ageing and lost childhoods is going to fly over the heads of kids. Similarly, the more slapstick nature of the second half and the trite economics-free answer to Robin’s work dilemma won’t wash with an adult audience, even if the kids might love it.

All the same, it’s perfect in many other ways, even if not the plot, and feels true to the animal characters at least. One for our collection once it’s made available to stream.

Deadpool 2

Deadpool 2 (2018)

Slightly tamer sequel to the R-rated original that sees Deadpool trying to find meaning in life after his girlfriend killed, and ultimately finding it in trying to stop Cable (Josh Brolin), a soldier from the future, trying to kill an annoying Kiwi kid.

While it’s a lot less punk than the original, there’s still a lot to commend in both versions of Deadpool 2 – yes, if you get it on iTunes et al, there are two versions with surprisingly different dialogue in each version – as superhero movies get mocked via fourth-wall breaking dialogue and scenes. There are plenty of sight gags, too, with the cast of certain other superhero movies popping up in surprising places – even Brad Pitt turns up unexpectedly. It’s also quite exciting and downright hilarious.

Be sure to watch the end titles, since there are criticisms of Deadpool 2, Green Lantern and X-Men: Origins – Wolverine that are addressed in those scenes, almost making Deadpool 2 a different, better movie as a result.

Downsizing

Downsizing (2017)

Odd little movie that sees Matt Damon getting shrunk so that he not only has less environmental impact, he also has greater spending power, since a $1 can go a long way if you only need to eat a berry a week. Supposedly a satire on consumerism, however, the last act takes a weird trip over to Norway and into cult territory and the need to be optimistic about the future, live your life and decide for yourself, not follow the pack. Baffling rather than properly satirical.

Game Night

Game Night (2018)

Surprisingly funny and strong comedy version of The Game that sees competitive couple Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams challenged by Bateman’s brother Kyle Chandler to a live action game. But is what happens a game or is Chandler involved with something a good deal shadier? And will Bateman and McAdams be able to work out what’s real and what’s not? Full of funny lines and situations, as well as great performances from the likes of Sharon Horgan (“You’re Irish – that’s the same as British, right?” “It’s really not”) and a decent cameo by Michael C Hall. Definitely one of the best comedies of the year.

Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)

Another movie proving that all Tom Cruise movies are always at least “pretty good” is the second of the Jack Reacher franchise, which sees Reacher trying to help his replacement at the Military Police (Colby Smulders) when she’s arrested following the death of two of her officers in Afghanistan. It’s clear it’s a frame up and that some dangerous army types might be responsible, forcing the duo to go on the run, along with a girl who’s possibly Cruise’s daughter.

A slight departure from the Reacher formula, in that everyone knows who Reacher is and his fighting skills aren’t that impressive when pitched up against even more skilled special forces operators. There’s also a refreshing lack of romance between Cruise and Smulders, who can realistically hold her own but not so much as to be implausible. Nevertheless, despite the smarter approach to the action, there’s never any point that excels and you decide to make this one of your favourite every movies.

The Man Who Knew Infinity

The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)

If you know maths, you know about  Srinivasa Ramanujan. If you don’t know maths, you won’t really get to know about Ramanujan from this weak biopic, however, since it’s all broad strokes, very little about his work. The movie sees Dev Patel playing the genius in question and follows him from his correspondence with Hardy in India through to his arrival in Cambridge and eventual death. While we get a few examples of his work and learn a little about his inspiration, as well as, of course, the famous taxi incident, the focus here is mainly on the racism in Britain he experienced, both outside and inside the university, almost to the exclusion of the maths.

It makes you feel sad for him, of course, but does it inspire? Not at all.

Oceans Eight

Oceans 8 (2018)

Not awful sequel to the successful Oceans franchise that sees George Clooney’s sister (Sandra Bullock) follow in her brother’s footsteps when she gets out of prison, to do one last top heist – steal Anne Hathaway’s jewels. To pull it off, she enlists the help of seven other women, including Cate Blanchett, Mindy Karling, Rita Ora, Sarah Paulson and a surprisingly Irish Helena Bonham-Carter.

The film initially follows completely in its predecessor’s footsteps, just with genders and motivations swapped – rather than trying to get a Julia Roberts back, she wants to get back at Richard Armitage. However, it slowly begins to diverge and find its own feet, with unexpected twists and unexpected James Cordens. It also doesn’t ignore what’s come before it, bringing in several cameos from the previous Oceans movies to tie it to the fathership.

All the same, it does show you the difference between having Steven Soderbergh as your director and not having Steven Soderbergh as your director, as despite the cracking cast and decent plot, it lacks even a tenth of the style of Ocean’s 11.

Rampage

Rampage (2018)

Video game adaptation that sees animals mutated by a genetically modified virus turn into giants and start attacking things. Only the Rock can save civilisation and only if he can convince his now-giant pet gorilla that he’s one of the good guys.

Generally dreadful, but the Rock makes everything better and somehow manages to drag the whole movie out of the “unwatchable drivel” forbidden lands into the “tolerable fun” zone.

Solo

Solo – A Star Wars Story (2018)

Generally pointless origin story for Han Solo that explains everything we already knew or didn’t really care about. We get to see how he got the Millennium Falcon (knew that), watch him to do the Kessel Run (didn’t need to as our imagination was better), meet Chewbacca and Lando (not bad, actually) and get separated from his girlfriend (didn’t care).

The first half hour is pretty unwatchable, but after that, everything improves considerably. Anything with Chewbacca in is great and Donald Glover’s Lando makes you wish the whole movie was about him instead. There’s also a surprising cameo from a fan favourite towards the end who by all rights should be dead.

If your idea of a good time is learning how the Millennium Falcon started to make one particular noise, this is the movie for you; otherwise, don’t bother, not even for a Paul Bettany scene-stealing performance towards the end.