Movies You Watched in May 2018
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This is a geeklist to discuss the movies you watch throughout the month of May. Please feel free to post them as you see them, or if you prefer post a summary of all films at the end of the month. Also you can comment and discuss freely as others talk about films they've seen.

Enjoy...

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1. Board Game: Pinball Showdown [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:7087]
Board Game: Pinball Showdown
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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Firstborn
(1984) =

If you tune into the Lifetime Movie Network at any time of year other than Christmas you could find at least a dozen movies that are reminiscent of Firstborn. This movie is classic movie-of-the-week fodder that focuses on a lonely mother who takes up with the wrong guy, so it becomes a frustration for the kids, and eventually so bad that the son will have to take matters into his own hands. Firstborn was also the introduction of Corey Haim, so I guess some pre-teen girls in the 90s would have gone crazy over that aspect, but I never thought the famous Coreys were ever good actors. It’s a struggle to express how little I cared about the plot in Firstborn, because it was so predictable from the moment Peter Weller is introduced. It doesn’t help that I have decades of not trusting Peter Weller ingrained in me (unless he’s wearing the Robocop costume.) Teri Garr is in the movie as well and doesn’t do anything to elevate it. Her talent lies more in the comedic realm, so saddling her with this dramatic role was a mistake. She was so bad at playing someone who is hooked on drugs that I questioned whether she has ever sampled drugs in her entire life, or even known someone who used drugs. There’s nothing special about Firstborn, but if you like a melodramatic movie that would ordinarily find a home on some cable network, then check it out. For me it was watchable, but otherwise pointless.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Loses to Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Loses to The Truman Show
Wins against Fright Night
Wins against Yi Yi: A One and a Two
Loses to A Walk in the Woods
Wins against Rogue One
Loses to Delicatessen
Loses to Finding Dory
Loses to My Neighbor Totoro
Loses to Stripes
Loses to Circle

Firstborn ranked 1177 out of 1482
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2. Board Game: Jurassic Snack [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:3917] [Average Rating:6.79 Unranked]
Board Game: Jurassic Snack
Andy
United Kingdom
Manchester
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Jurassic World

With the cinematic release of a sequel imminent, I decided I should catch up on the Jurassic Park/World franchise by watching this instalment from 2015.. I have seen the previous Jurassic Park movies, but missed this one when it was released.

This is a direct sequel to the original first movie, Jurassic Park, from 1993, and is set in a new fully functional dinosaur theme park on the grounds of the original park.. This time the exhibits are genetically modified dinosaurs that wreak havoc and cause the park's 20,000+ visitors to be evacuated. I've no idea who thought it would be a good idea to cross T-Rex with a Raptor, a tree frog and a cutlefish, but they seriously need their head examined!

A lot of the movie feels recycled, and the plot is corny and contrived.. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard do turn in reasonable performances, as does Vincent D'Onofrio (recently seen as Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin, in the Daredevil netflix series). The effects are pretty good... I never really felt like the dinosaurs were fake.

Overall it was a pretty mixed bag... predictable yet entertaining.
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3. Board Game: Shards of Infinity [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:778]
Board Game: Shards of Infinity
Jake Blomquist
United States
Vestal
New York
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Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

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I just got done typing up a long reaction and then lost it, so here we go again. This movie was pretty good. Right in the middle of the Marvel superhero movie pack. All of the characters got at least one good fight opportunity and one good quip opportunity and that's really the main appeal of these movies I think.

I had two annoyances with the movie though, and they're both structural. For one, there were so many different plots trying to utilize all of the characters and they didn't do a great job tying them all together so the movie sort of felt a little like jumping around between a bunch of vaguely related vignettes. Another issue, which might also be why the movie failed to feel properly tied together, is the fact that it's just the first half of a story. It's not so bad because you know it going in, and as far as places to break this story in half I think they chose a pretty good one, but it's still hard to rate or even talk about intelligently a story that's only half over.

There were also a couple of moments that were too dark/blurry, as though I were watching a 3d movie, in spite of the fact that I was watching the 2d version.

Any other thoughts probably deserve spoiler tags:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Leaving aside the fact that Thanos' plan makes no sense, I really didn't love the way they handled him. Maybe it's a little silly, but I really like the whole 'in love with the personification of Death' thing. Though I suppose that would have required them to get into a lot of the weird cosmology stuff that they probably didn't want to, not least of which because the vision seems to be to keep things as grounded as possible.

This also extends to the Asgardians. It seemed like some steps in the right direction were made in Ragnarok, but here we've gone mostly backward here. Even their ships are just grey metal cubes. Even in the first Thor the Asgardian ships, armor, and architecture were allowed to have an interesting and distinct style.

But then the infinity stones, and the soul stone/Red Skull stuff specifically is exactly the kind of mystical/spiritual that I wish Marvel felt more comfortable doing more consistently but they seem to avoid as much as possible. So I liked that but was also surprised that it was allowed in.

Then there are the issues that come up with any team-up scenario of enforced power parity. The Hulk/Thor with his new super hammer types are equally efficient at killing mooks as Cap, Black Widow, and Bucky, and I think it was even the case that there were members of the Black Order that were roughly equally good at fighting members of the first and second group. The most ridiculous thing was how Cap and Bucky were first to show up to hold off Thanos right at the end rather than Thor, who once he finally did show up basically took out Thanos in one hit. I get that it needed to happen for the plot to progress, but it made no sense for the characters to behave that way.

Also, the impact of everyone dissolving was pretty minimal, it's clear that the remaining heroes (who, coincidentally, are basically the original core Avengers plus a few extras) will just have to team up to get the gauntlet and un-dissolve everyone in the next movie. The only real question is which of them will have to sacrifice themself to do so. My guess is RDJ, because he seems like he's ready to be done with these movies, he's probably becoming too expensive, he was weirdly bothered by Thanos this whole movie, and he's clearly necessary to the single way that Dr. Strange saw the good guys winning or else he wouldn't have exchanged the time gem for Tony's life. Plus it would be nice for these movies to get out from under his shadow. But I could also see it being Cap, he can't be cheap either and he is the most conventionally heroic.


Overall it was a lot of fun if pretty empty. If you want 150 minutes of people in silly costumes shooting energy beams at each other and then exchanging quips you can certainly do a lot worse. And if you don't want that, you probably shouldn't be watching Marvel movies. Actually now that I think about it it's probably fair to call this a greatest hits compilation of Marvel movies. You just get a sequence of the fights and quips with little connective tissue.
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4. Board Game: Let's Go To The Races [Average Rating:5.26 Unranked]
Board Game: Let's Go To The Races
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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Hugo Pool
(1997) =

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to watch a movie that was written entirely in jive? Well, that’s what Robert Downey, Sr. and his wife tried to accomplish with Hugo Pool. It’s not so incomprehensible that you need the little old lady from Airplane to translate, but it sounds ridiculous most of the time. It’s funniest when coming from Malcolm McDowell, who exaggerates everything and clearly has a sense of the comedy in the script. The film has a very bland and basic plot, about a pool cleaner going throughout her daily duties. They attempt to make it more interesting by filling her day with odd people. Her strange parents are there for some reason. Robert Downey, Jr. plays a film-maker of some kind and he over-acts to a terrible degree. The worst addition is Patrick Dempsey as a man with ALS, with whom the main character falls in love. I’m not sure if they’re just trying to be funny by having this handicapped person there, or what, but there’s not much respect paid to this character. It is ludicrous how they throw his wheelchair in the back of a pick-up truck as if that is a logical or acceptable thing to do. Hugo Pool doesn’t have any cohesion. It is probably one of the most tolerable of Robert Downey, Sr.’s films because at least it attempts to have a story, but that isn’t saying much. We won’t even go into how this movie treats women and acts as though tattoos are the only answer if you choose to live life without promiscuous sex or drugs. If there’s any saving grace, it’s the fact that a few of the actors seemed to be trying hard, including Alyssa Milano. Sadly, there wasn’t much you could do with Hugo Pool to make it worthy of that cast.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Loses to Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Loses to Open Season
Loses to Fright Night
Wins against THX 1138
Loses to Transamerica
Loses to Days of Thunder
Loses to La Vie en Rose
Wins against Animal House
Loses to Insurgent
Loses to Savage
Loses to Knowing

Hugo Pool ranked 1380 out of 1483
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5. Board Game: Coco Razzi [Average Rating:5.43 Unranked]
Board Game: Coco Razzi
Trey Chambers
United States
Houston
Texas
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COCO



I'm not crazy about Pixar movies as much as some folks are. They are great fare for kids, and that's about the best I can say. As an adult, I'm never truly bored, the spectacle of the special effects alone is pretty entertaining. But the stories are usually dull and trite, and many of the characters are shallow and/or annoying. It might be why Wall-E might be my favorite, not a lot of annoying characters to deal with and the story is somewhat original. The first 10 minutes of Up is also a gem (but the kid in the rest of the movie is pretty grating so I'm not a huge fan of the whole package).

So where does that leave Coco? Eh, it's probably an upper-tier Pixar film, but just barely. I like the main character, for a kid he wasn't too bad. That dog though. I don't know how people tolerate annoying dogs as pets in real life, and I don't understand the affection for that yapping pup in this one either. It lost a whole star for that alone.

But most folks come to Pixar for the CGI and comedy, not the story (Wall-E and Inside Out aside). The former is amazing, maybe the best looking Pixar film to date. The latter was kind of meh. It actually has fewer laughs than most Pixar films, honestly.

Overall, solid, but not great.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

+Special effects are amazing.

+Protagonist is a kid that's not super-annoying, which is rare in these types of films.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

-The dog is intolerable. Not cute, not funny.

-Story is merely okay. Any adult watching it will catch on to the plot 20 minutes in and then it loses all appeal or opportunity for surprise.
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6. Board Game: Dance Party [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Dance Party
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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Girls Just Want to Have Fun is so rushed it’s almost unbearable. They don’t take enough time to establish the characters or to give them personalities. The movie starts and within 10 minutes they’ve spoiled what the climax of the film will entail. There are no surprises in this movie, and it probably could have been a 30-minute episode of Saved by the Bell instead of being dragged out into a feature-length film. I started to just laugh at the movie because of how poorly it was made. It was fun to see how they would cut to a wide shot in order to switch out the actors and replace them with the obvious stunt doubles that could tumble and dance better. The movie is trying so hard to be a teen wish-fulfillment movie along the lines of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but this time for girls. But that fails because it doesn’t make the girls endearing, and never establishes why we should care about them other than showing us that a mean girl picks on them. Girls Just Want to Have Fun writes itself, because the plot structure is traditional and predictable. Even the big dance sequences are unimaginative, and not very impressive. It starts to feel like doing somersaults is all it takes to be a great dancer in the world of this movie, but based on the clips of the show they are seeking to join, I don’t think those moves would work. It wasn’t frustrating or painful to watch, but there was nothing that appealed to me at all.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Loses to Back to the Future Part II
Loses to Ju Dou
Loses to Chicken Run
Wins against THX 1138
Wins against The BFG
Wins against Alien: Resurrection
Wins against Weird Science
Loses to Super
Wins against A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

Girls Just Want to Have Fun ranked 1303 out of 1484
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7. Board Game: Turkey Day [Average Rating:5.96 Unranked]
Board Game: Turkey Day
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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Home for the Holidays is a film that shows the complicated mix of dysfunction and love that exists in most families. There is a fair amount of exaggeration in the characters, which leads the story to become ridiculous, but there is an underlying grain of realism. Holly Hunter is the most stable element in the film, and allows us to enter this story and not hate the insane characters in her family, because we see how much she cares for them. Everything focuses in on a single Thanksgiving dinner, and that scene is so crazy it feels like you’ve walked into a madhouse. The grounded characters take it all in stride as if there’s nothing odd about this ordeal, which breaks the reality a bit for me because they could not have meals this extreme every year. There are too many once-in-a-lifetime revelations, for that to be true. Despite all this insanity, I was still taking Home for the Holidays in stride because I could appreciate the underlying heart that comes from family bonds that transcend the difficult times. What stood out as the awkward aspect of the film was the romance. There’s a strange shift in focus that sidetracked the family story and invalidated some of the drama that had come before. This love story could have worked for me in a different film, but here it is unnecessary. It doesn’t help that it ends with disappointment. At the very least, if you’re going to waste my time with this new aspect of the film, you should give me a satisfying end. There are some elements of Home for the Holidays that work, and this is one of the rare holiday films that celebrates the craziness of Thanksgiving instead of Christmas, but I don’t think I’ll feel the need to watch it again.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Loses to Back to the Future Part II
Wins against Ju Dou
Wins against Agent Cody Banks
Wins against Ikiru
Loses to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Loses to Big Trouble in Little China
Loses to Unforgiven
Loses to Colombiana
Loses to Seabiscuit
Wins against All the Money in the World

Home for the Holidays ranked 830 out of 1485
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8. Board Game: Cult [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Cult
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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I’ve had some big problems with most of the Robert Altman movies I’ve seen in the past. He seems to be a little loose with his scripts, and allow for a lot of improvisation, which rarely works for me unless the actors are superb. Perhaps that’s why I was able to find a lot to like in The Gingerbread Man. When I go in expecting an Altman that lacks the kind of structure I prefer, and I get a traditional crime thriller, I like it more than it might deserve. The story feels exactly like a John Grisham novel, so I was not surprised to find that it was based on a manuscript he wrote. The film is a decent thriller and mystery, even if it is totally predictable. I saw every moment coming from a mile away, and the movie tipped its hand early to confirm that I was right. Part of the fun in The Gingerbread Man is listening to all these actors trying so hard to deliver thick southern accents. The accent work was not bad which surprised me, but I always enjoy laughing at those moments when you hear it slip completely. Looking back on the film, and knowing how it all played out, I’m not sure it holds together all that well. There are a lot of moments that were too coincidental, and it required some moronic behavior from the characters. (I’m still mystified by the fact that a successful lawyer stays in a motel that is so cheap it doesn’t have a telephone in the room.) So don’t expect some kind of superb story that makes The Gingerbread Man better than all the other films in the genre, it’s not even one of the best adaptations of Grisham’s writing, but it’s a decent mystery thriller that I think is worth spending a couple hours watching.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against the Black Stallion
Loses to The Spy Who Loved Me
Loses to Benny & Joon
Loses to The Blues Brothers
Wins against Spy Kids
Loses to Ghostbusters
Loses to Alien
Loses to Reservoir Dogs
Wins against Game Night
Loses to The Departed

The Gingerbread Man ranked 691 out of 1486
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9. Board Game: The Game... Cocaine [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: The Game... Cocaine
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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Scarface
(1983) =

Scarface can be added to the long line of gangster movies that do nothing for me. This one was one of the roughest because I could not find one shred of likability in the character of Tony Montana, and yet the movie forces us to follow him around as if he’s a hero protagonist for three hours of vile deeds. The infamous ending of the film is played like a tragic opera unfolding as he finally meets his demise. For me it was a celebratory moment because, not only did that mean the film was going to end soon, but he was getting what he deserved at last. It was a brilliant choice to cast Al Pacino in the lead role, because he can hold down that thick Cuban accent well, and he has lashes out in rage as good as anyone. Michelle Pfeiffer was terribly underused, which bugged me a lot. Instead we got way too much of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, who I like as an actress, but I don’t know what fool thought she would be convincing as a Cuban. Her accent is laughable in the rare moments when she tries to use it. I’ve seen the end of Scarface before, in fact I think everyone is aware of it on some level, which you would think would lessen some of the drama. However, in this movie his demise seems like a foregone conclusion. I cannot believe how reckless his actions are throughout the film. At first I was surprised how aggressive he acted, but then he never saw any negative consequences for his actions, so it lessened the severity for me as a viewer. The stakes didn’t seem to be there until the end, and that would have been frustrating if I cared more about the story. The point is, I’m not wired right to enjoy most movies about gangsters, so my opinion is probably useless to most of you. If you don’t have the same hang-ups as me, and you can enjoy these tales of evil people slowly spiraling down to their own demise, then Scarface could be a favorite for you. If you’re anything like me, though, don’t bother with Scarface because there’s nothing to set this film apart from the familiar tropes of its genre.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Loses to Back to the Future Part II
Loses to Ju Dou
Loses to Chicken Run
Wins against THX 1138
Wins against The BFG
Wins against The Shape of Water
Loses to The Devil Wears Prada
Loses to American Psycho
Wins against Gosford Park
Loses to From Hell

Scarface ranked 1317 out of 1487
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10. Board Game: The Eye of Judgment [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:5917]
Board Game: The Eye of Judgment
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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After 15 years of hearing people say that this movie paled in comparison to its predecessors, I thought I made the right choice never watching it. However, now that I’ve given it a chance I have to say, it’s not bad at all. Despite what I expected, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines fits as the next piece in the ongoing story of John Conner. This movie makes a lot of references, sometimes serious and sometimes with tongue in cheek, to the movies that came before. It worked for me even though there are a few times when the tone of the dialogue doesn’t exactly fit with the seriousness of the film. The story is a classic for Terminator, with a series of scenes of our heroes on the run being protected by one being from the future while being hunted by another. At this point it has become a bit repetitive and predictable, but I still find it exciting.

Arnold Schwarzenegger can still deliver a strong performance as the emotionless robot. There’s not as much charm to his performance this time, but he also doesn’t spend time during the movie learning about human expressions and emotions. Kristanna Loken is acceptable as his evil counterpart. She isn’t the most compelling villain, but the filmmakers do enough to make her intimidating with the effects, so it doesn’t really matter that she’s a blank slate. Claire Danes is always a good addition to any movie, so it was a treat that they included her. She somehow makes a convincing performance which was tough considering she has to move from mourning, to fighting, to caring about someone new all in a matter of minutes. Nick Stahl takes the place of Edward Furlong in this movie and it took a bit of time for him to grow on me, but he’s not bad.

When they use practical effects in Terminator 3, it is awe-inspiring. You can tell that a lot of those stunts with the trucks were done for real, and it shows. When they switch to CGI, though, it’s another story. While it’s not the worst CGI that I’ve seen, it’s fairly obvious and doesn’t look all that good. That being said, I think when you put it up against the early CGI that they used in T2, this is acceptable. I’m not totally sure what it is about this movie that makes everyone hate it so much. I will admit, it’s probably the worst of the three movies and it has some dumb moments, but it’s still a solid story. Perhaps people take some issue with how it ends because in a way it invalidates the prior movies, but I thought the ending was inspired. It brought the story to a logical conclusion, and was almost a necessity to avoid falling into a time travel paradox. I don’t know if I’ll regularly watch Terminator 3 as part of a trilogy with the first two, but I’m glad I gave it a shot.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against The Black Stallion
Wins against The Spy Who Loved Me
Loses to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Loses to Star Trek Beyond
Loses to Anatomy of a Murder
Wins against National Lampoon’s Vacation
Wins against Dave
Loses to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Wins against Four Weddings and a Funeral
Wins against Rio Bravo
Loses to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines ranked 331 out of 1488
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11. Board Game: Mother [Average Rating:2.63 Unranked]
Board Game: Mother
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Tully
(2018) =

Tully is a movie about motherhood, and there were definitely portions of the story where I was worried it would only hold relevance for those who have been in that role. I don’t have any children, so I haven’t been through the struggles that come with parenting, and I didn’t know if there was any chance I could identify with Marlo’s struggles. However, there are elements of this movie that are universal and anyone (particularly those of us who are a little older) can connect with what she’s going through. Charlize Theron is wonderful in the lead role, and she perfectly captures the attitude of someone who has been worn down by life. On the flip side Mackenzie Davis enters the film as a perfect ray of sunshine, with a zest for life that starts to change things for this family. The rest of the cast is solid as well, including a couple of superb child actors, but it is these two women who carry the story.

There’s a unique aspect to Tully that kept me on the edge of my seat somewhat undecided how I would feel about the film. It kept implying that there was a romantic aspect of some type that was creeping into the story, and I wasn’t sure how it would play out. I wasn’t even convinced this was a useful angle for the film to take, based on the themes they were highlighting. But I waited to see how it would play out, and I was satisfied with the choices they made. In fact, Tully is the kind of film that had me thinking about it a lot afterwards. It does a superb job of focusing on the central theme, and has nuances to the story that I didn’t expect when it started. I wasn’t sure if it would be quite up my alley when I went to the theater, and now I’m wondering if I need to go back and see it again. I think it only has room to go up in my estimation, and it is a credit to Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman that they crafted a film that took aim at a thematic target and hit the bullseye.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against Back to the Future Part II
Wins against 101 Dalmatians
Loses to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Loses to Star Trek Beyond
Wins against Anatomy of a Murder
Loses to The Sunshine Boys
Loses to Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Wins against The Secret in Their Eyes
Wins against To Have and Have Not
Wins against Despicable Me
Wins against Outbreak

Tully ranked 313 out of 1489
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12. Board Game: The Hobo Code [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: The Hobo Code
Joe Salamone
United States
Billerica
Massachusetts
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EMPEROR OF THE NORTH (1973) - During the Great Depression, a hobo called "A Number One" (Lee Marvin) and his loud-talking protege "Cigaret" (Keith Carradine) vow to catch a free ride on a train headed for Portland, Oregon. The train's hobo-hating conductor "Shack" (Ernest Borgnine) has other ideas.

This is a pretty good movie, but it gets repetitive after awhile with sequence after sequence of the two hobos concocting schemes to hop the train and Borgnine trying to thwart them. Between the train-hopping scenes, there are "character development" conversations between Marvin and Carradine, but their characters never seem to grow. We learn very little about them that we didn't know after the first 20 minutes. Overall, I think this would have worked better as a 1-hour episode of a TV series than a 2-hour feature film.

The movie's saving grace is a big fight between Marvin and Borgnine, in which they batter each other with a hammer, an ax, a heavy chain, and a piece of lumber. Unfortunately, the 1970s-style blood looks more like red paint . . . but that's a minor quibble.

Overall, the movie has flashes of excellence, but there just isn't enough going on to keep it fresh from start to finish.

The supporting cast is full of recognizable character actors, including Malcolm Atterbury, Elisha Cook, Jr., Harry Caesar, Sid Haig, Matt Clark, Vic Tayback, Simon Oakland, Charles Tyner, and Liam Dunn (who always makes me think of BLAZING SADDLES whenever I see him in a movie).

Directed by Robert Aldrich

From my DVD collection

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13. Board Game: Young Jedi: Collectible Card Game [Average Rating:4.91 Overall Rank:19306]
Board Game: Young Jedi: Collectible Card Game
Andy
United Kingdom
Manchester
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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

For 4th May my wife and I re-watched Last Jedi.. It was the third time for me, but only the second time for Mary.

I do like it a lot as a Star Wars movie, but this time around it definitely felt overly long... part of that was knowing all the scenes and twists that were still to come.

Writer/Director Rian Johnson definitely put his stamp on this movie, and it is clear there are characters that he is passionately interested in, and others that he feels he has to service but whom he is not as interested in. the whole segment with Finn and Rose going off on a mission is a complete waste of time and only serves as more of a hindrance for the rebels than a help!

There is a bit more humour in this one too, which is usually welcome, but it didn't always work for me.

There are plenty of epic, Star Warsy, action sequences though.. like the opening space battle... the lightsabre fight... the land speeder sequences on the salt planet..

Last Jedi is an overly long, but still very entertaining entry in the Star Wars franchise.
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14. Board Game: Dia de los Muertos [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:13294]
Board Game: Dia de los Muertos
Andy
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Manchester
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Coco

I freely admit to being a big fan of Pixar.. they can usually deliver a wonderfully heartfelt film with a good message. However I missed Coco when it was first released partly because I wasn't blown away by the premise of the story. However I had the opportunity to take my eldest, 7 yo, to see it as part of our local cinema's Movies 4 Juniors scheme where they bring back a recent kids movie each weekend.

I found the story more interesting than I expected, and it was quite informative about Mexican culture and the Dia De Los Muertos festival. I did catch on to most of the plot early on, though there was a bit of a twist that was unexpected I guess, though I probably should have realised.

The visuals are absolutely stunning.. from the animation of the characters, who seem so human I pretty much forgot I was watching an animated movie, to the gorgeous world they have created, which is so vibrant and colourful.

The music is also wonderful, with some incredibly catchy tunes, which I loved despite not always understanding the Spanish lyrics, and each song fit so perfectly into the mood and tone of the movie.

I also found it very endearing and emotional.. I left the theatre with tear-stained cheeks and a bit of a lump in my throat.

My 7 year old absolutely loved it! There was one scene where he spontaneously applauded, which was really cute.

For me, Pixar continue to make such entertaining films, that it is increasingly hard to see where each one fits.. Though I would say Coco is definitely in the top half of the Pixar catalogue.
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15. Board Game: Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:1323]
Board Game: Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War
Andy
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Avengers: Infinity War

My wife and I had the chance to see this again with some friends and once again I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love how they brought all the characters together and I felt they serviced each sufficiently. There were a few plot oddities that bothered me, such as Thanos' motivation, the location and keeper of the soul stone to name but a couple.

And, while I do understand the complaint that many people have regarding the lack of stakes in Marvel's movies... that is the nature of comic book stories anyway. And regarding the final sequence in particular, from what I've read, anyone who has read the comics that inspired this story arc expect certain things to be undone anyway.

Overall I still loved Infinity War... it may not be as good as Winter Solider, but it certainly has a higher level of spectacle then Civil War or Avengers Assemble.
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16. Board Game: The Cottonfield Kidnapping! [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Joe Salamone
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Billerica
Massachusetts
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THE GRISSOM GANG (1971) - Kim Darby stars as millionaire's daughter who is kidnapped by a prohibition era gang. Scott Wilson is excellent as Slim Grissom, the naive, child-like gang member who falls in love with his hostage.

The good supporting cast includes Tony Musante, Ralph Waite, Robert Lansing, Connie Stevens, Matt Clark, and Irene Dailey as Ma Grissom.

This movie is based on a novel (and an earlier film) titled NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH. Overall, it's a pretty good crime story, elevated a notch or two by Scott Wilson's performance.

Directed by Robert Aldrich

From my DVD collection

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17. Board Game: Super Model [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Super Model
Jake Blomquist
United States
Vestal
New York
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The Neon Demon (2016)

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I absolutely loved this movie, but fair warning it's certainly not for everyone. Visually it's beautiful, the shots, the use of color, it's all amazing. And there's a lot of excellent imagery throughout.

It's classified as a horror movie, and thinking about it I'd say it is, it reminded me that the horror genre can be more than just jump scares. In fact I'd say the movie wasn't really scary at all. But what it did was create a consistently unsettling/oppressive mood. The dialogue and performances were just the right amount off and the tension just kept ratcheting up.

Immediately after watching the movie as much as I enjoyed the visuals and the mood it evoked, I was unsure of the point, the perspective the movie took. My first instinct was that it was saying something (fairly generic and uninteresting) about the world of modeling, but now I think it was aiming a bit more broadly than that. Thinking about it, it now seems to me that it's something like a meditation on the place of female beauty and its relationship to youth in society. And I think it does a compelling job exploring this theme in an interesting and nuanced way. It also seems to evoke a sort of modern American fairytale feel.

But really, I want to put in a warning, this is a movie that's very stylish (I can imagine someone saying too stylish) and fairly graphic. The characters are (intentionally) flat, the plot is a bit dreamlike, and the pace is pretty deliberate, which I think are ideal for the experience this movie wants to create, but for people who prefer a traditional story/characters (I think a number of regulars to this list fall in that camp) I can only imagine this movie would be really frustrating or even offensive.

But man do I respect the hell out of this movie. Clearly the director had a vision and really swung for the fences with it. It's a movie I've been thinking about for a while now since I watched it last night, and it has me really curious to see some of this directors other previous movies. Definitely one I can see watching a number of times and potentially improving in my estimation with repeat viewings.
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18. Board Game: Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
Board Game: Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS

Watched this '56 SF movie on Svengoolie last night; I think I'd probably seen it before as a kid.

Anyway, the title gives away the plot. Our hero has launched 10 satellites into space all of which have died (I think I would have stopped after three or four). Turns out, flying saucers were destroying them. Anyway, FS contacts our hero, they land, some soldier kills an alien, destruction ensues and they kidnap our hero's father-in-law. Our hero gets the FS on his CB and they chat, more destruction ensues and the FS give our hero a VERY generous deadline (56 days!) to get Earth to surrender, OR ELSE.

Plenty of time to build secret weapons to take on the FS which after all are operated by a species advanced enough to get all the way to Earth from wherever their now-destroyed solar system was.

However, apparently NOT enough time to evacuate Washington, DC before the FS land there as promised. Seriously, after 10 days of evacuating Washington 60% of the people are still there? Anyway, the FS come back and trash DC, but our hero and some other soldiers use their zapping device which causes FS to crash into monuments and the Capitol and the river. Movie ends with our hero and his secretary and wife (#MeToo) on the beach, which makes me wonder whether Nevil Shute saw this, but I digress. I also wonder what was happening elsewhere on Earth while the Battle for the Mall was going on, but such flying-saucer-sized plot holes are never filled ever, ever, ever.

This was pretty bad. The science was of course laughably horrible. But as is so often the case in movies, the depiction of human organizations was ALSO horrible. Our hero the scientist and a half-dozen military officers seem to make all the decisions, and super-weapons can be thought of, made, and deployed widely in about 28 days? Yeah, right. Not to mention I'm pretty sure I could evacuate 40% of Washington DC myself, given 10 days and a car.

It would be easy to make fun of the special effects, but not really fair; this was 1956 so it's not like they could use CGI or something.

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19. Video Game: Civil War - A Nation Divided [Average Rating:3.70 Overall Rank:7527]
Video Game: Civil War - A Nation Divided
Luke Jaconetti
United States
Simpsonville
South Carolina
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Captain America: Civil War

My wife and I had planed on seeing Avengers: Infinity War this past weekend, so we rewatched Civil War. Infinity War didn't happen, but still.

Anyway, our story is that following a disastrous outing in Lagos by Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch, coupled with the evens of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the UN passes sweeping accords which regulate the Avengers and all superpowered individuals. But when the signing of the accords is attacked by the Winter Soldier, Cap sets out to save his friend -- but now he stands opposed to Iron Man and the other pro-registration heroes. Hijinks ensue.

I was pretty disappointed by this film the first time I watched it, so I was not really all that interested in rewatching it. But my wife wanted to, so I easily acquiesced. I am glad I did, because I enjoyed it quite a bit more this time out. The story is well assembled and kept my interest over the admittedly long running time. The many characters all ring true, and this functions as essentially an Avengers film despite the title. So I very much enjoyed it overall.

The real problem I still have with this film is that the main draw -- heroes fighting heroes -- lack any semblance of logic and sensibility.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The main fight between the pro- and anti-regs, really, would have lasted about a minute. Iron Man, War Machine, and Vision far outclass Cap's crew in terms of pure power, and the main factor which evens things out is Scarlet Witch... who was portrayed as little more than a novice in the opening sequence. Unable to move a bomb vest straight up, but a few weeks later able to telekenetically throw a garage full of cars and fling multiple foes all over the field of battle.

The final battle is even more laughable to me. Tony could have easily disabled Cap and would have turned Soldier into a greasy stain without much trouble. But the name of the film is "Captain America" so there you go.


This film also has the rather spectacular distinction of being light years better than the series whose name it uses. Admittedly, that is a low bar, because the comics Civil War was utterly inane and botched, but it is something.

All that said, I am glad I rewatched the film and my opinion of it has gone up substantially due to it. Hoping to see Infinity War at some point, but I guess I can rewatch these older films which I was not too keen on in the meantime.
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20. Video Game: Independence Day [Average Rating:3.50 Unranked]
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Independence Day: Resurgence

Watched this one with my wife off of Netflix.

Our story goes that 20 years after the events of the first film, Earth has achieved peace between the nations. Utilizing alien technology, there have been major leaps in transportation and defense technology, including a massive cannon on the moon. But when an even larger alien mothership arrives at Earth, all their technology is no match for the invaders. Hijinks ensue.

This completely unnecessary sequel is not as bad as it was hailed during its theatrical run, but it is not a sleeper hit, either. Perfectly serviceable sci-fi popcorn movie, but nothing more than that and pretty forgettable in the details. The returning original cast is welcome, but the lack of Will Smith is pretty glaring. The younger cast tries, but there is no chemistry or interest created by their characters. The special effects are well done but there is no really memorable imagery in this film, unlike the original which had quite a bit.

Fox clearly wanted this to be a global franchise, with several prominent Chinese characters and a fair amount of Mandarin being spoken, coupled with a plot development and ending which clearly indicate a sequel. The film's box office pretty much guarantees that will not happen.

That said, it's not bad. At 2 hours it needs about 10 minutes of trimming from the start of the 3rd act, but I've seen much worse alien invasion shoot-em ups. Not worth going out of your way but still okay.
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21. Board Game: Hydra [Average Rating:4.67 Unranked]
Board Game: Hydra
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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I was a massive fan of Clash of the Titans in my youth. I remember being enchanted by the mythological story and charmed by the way Ray Harryhausen created the creature effects. When I started watching Jason and the Argonauts I was hoping for a similar experience. When it comes to the visual effects this movie delivers almost as well as the movie that would come 18 years later. At times the creations were a bit too simple, so they fell into the realm of cute instead of intimidating, but I still appreciate how using these unique practical effects made the scenes feel grounded and real in ways that modern CGI sometimes struggles to replicate. The skeleton army was a particular high point, because it was choreographed so well with the actors, to make it all look seamless. There are a few scenes here where I was left thinking “how did they do that?” which was one of the talents of Harryhausen throughout his career.

Now that’s not to say everything was great. For example, the Hera head on the ship was downright comical, and made me roll my eyes whenever it started blinking. It’s particularly egregious because those scenes are supposed to be serious, since Jason and his crew are in great trouble, but then they turn to the goofy head and I can’t take it seriously. There’s a point where they needed to stop and assess what was working, and take out the ones that were not. Also, while I’m on the subject of the more serious moments, I was a bit thrown off by how the melodrama was presented in the film. I know stories like this are supposed to be grandiose and epic, but the overly dramatic performances seemed strong even if this was Shakespeare. Todd Armstrong in particular delivers every line as if he’s in front of a packed theater crowd. I was hoping for more adventures and less monologues.

Where I found Jason and the Argonauts most disappointing was in the story. The setup was strong because we have a brave soldier who is gathering his crew in order to go on a difficult endeavor. Then along the way they would have a few key moments when things would get so dire that they would have to call upon Hera to save them. But they burned through Hera’s help on their first stop, and it seemed half the help they received was just directions. The adventures they got into were almost by accident, instead of specific tests they had to face. The worst part might have been the final acquisition of the fleece because it felt anticlimactic. Then the movie is wrapped up and they act like the story has only begun, which is unsatisfying. I appreciate the work that went into Jason and the Argonauts, but I must admit I was disappointed by the film as a whole. While I could see the beginnings of what they would master in the future, it just made me want to watch Clash of the Titans instead.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Loses to Back to the Future Part II
Wins against Ju Dou
Wins against Agent Cody Banks
Loses to Mildred Pierce
Loses to The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear
Wins against Faults
Loses to The Crimson Pirate
Loses to A Christmas Carol
Loses to White House Down
Loses to The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest
Wins against Ran

Jason and the Argonauts ranked 903 out of 1490
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22. Board Game: Plague & Pestilence [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:5056]
Board Game: Plague & Pestilence
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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Restoration
(1995) =

Restoration is a movie that is way more engaging than it has any right to be. Robert Downey, Jr. is the main reason why, because he takes us on a complete journey through the life of this young man as he grows from self-centered cad to caring physician. There are a number of segments of the film that are heartfelt and they connected with me emotionally. However it’s not the strongest story structure. This is presented like a biopic that walks through a number of key moments in the life of Robert Merivel. Sometimes the vignettes work, and there are plenty of times when they fail or even seem repetitive. I also didn’t think they created a strong enough case for how he was becoming better at being a physician. Since so many of the medical practices at the time were little more than guesswork, it didn’t seem like he had any way to grow wiser as the film progressed. Luckily, they focused less on the medicine and more on the character growth. The other flaw in the film is the romance story, because those relationships were not handled well, particularly the one with Meg Ryan. There was so little chemistry between her and Robert Downey, Jr. that I had a hard time seeing why they ran off together. The cast is loaded with high quality talent, though, and most of them did a good job with their performances. I think Restoration is a film that doesn’t quite live up to the potential of the cast and story, but it was entertaining enough for me to watch it again someday, and maybe even recommend it to others who like period dramas.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Loses to Back to the Future Part II
Wins against Ju Dou
Wins against Recess: School’s Out
Wins against Mildred Pierce
Wins against True Romance
Loses to The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Loses to I.Q.
Wins against The Thing
Wins against Dog Day Afternoon
Wins against Bonnie and Clyde
Wins against Beirut

Restoration ranked 778 out of 1491
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23. Board Game: The Princess Ballet [Average Rating:2.00 Unranked]
Board Game: The Princess Ballet
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Black Swan
(2010) =

I have to hand it to Darren Aronofsky, because he put a lot of thought into Black Swan. There are many sequences that are cut perfectly to increase the drama and tension. He also knows how to manipulate the minds of the audience, and to control some of their emotional responses. Not to mention he was able to make Natalie Portman seem like she could act by putting her in a role where she gets to use her natural clueless/confused expression almost the entire time. I’m not the biggest fan of movies that are so surreal that even the audience can’t clearly determine what is happening. I appreciate the attempt to put us into the mind of the main character, and making us experience the psychosis with her, but it is so aggressive that half the time you can’t trust anything you’re watching. One thing that I appreciated was, although they spelled out the entire story of the ballet for us, the movie wasn’t a direct one-to-one retelling of that same story. I thought for sure that setup was such an obvious ploy and it would be lazy foreshadowing, but they went a different way (only holding onto some of the bones of the story.) I think Black Swan is an artful film, and so I can see why it appeals to so many people. It’s not my kind of story, particularly since everyone starts or becomes evil and unsympathetic. While I can respect the movie a lot and recognize how well it was made, it’s not one that I expect to revisit.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against The Black Stallion
Loses to 101 Dalmatians
Loses to The Blind Side
Wins against Big Fish
Loses to Once
Loses to American Sniper
Loses to Monsters University
Wins against Pygmalion
Wins against Pete’s Dragon
Loses to Jerry Maguire

Black Swan ranked 642 out of 1492
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24. Board Game: Clocktowers [Average Rating:5.71 Overall Rank:9529]
Board Game: Clocktowers
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Safety Last!
(1923) =

Safety Last! is my first foray into the work of Harold Lloyd. I’ve seen silent films from the other greats of the era (Chaplin and Keaton) and I always tend to like them, so I was excited to watch this one. Lloyd is a physical genius, in every way I could imagine. He can portray a lot of dialogue with just expressions, which is a difficult talent that helps save the audience a bunch of title cards. There was one conversation in particular where they didn’t show a single word on the screen and yet I followed it all as it went back and forth three or four times between the two people talking. The only problem with this is that a couple of times they acted as if even the characters in the movie couldn’t hear what was being said, which makes no sense at all. Anyways, I was impressed with Harold Lloyd’s charming performance, and the dialogue delivery was just the beginning of what I liked.

The true marvel in Safety Last! is the stunt work. It was presented in such a smart fashion that I started to question if they were even using any camera tricks or if it was a genuine death-defying stunt. I cannot express how impactful it is to watch the actor himself doing the stunt, and for it all to be done practically. In my opinion, there isn’t a single moment in this film that came across as staged or artificial. That’s a quaint feeling nowadays and it’s one of the many reasons that watching classics like this, almost a century later, is still impactful. The practicality of it all makes the danger more palpable. I went in knowing that the climax would be a huge climbing stunt, and yet that knowledge didn’t change the fact that I could barely breathe through that entire sequence. It looks so authentic, and Harold Lloyd sells it perfectly.

The other thing that Safety Last! has going for it is the comedy. There are some truly memorable sequences in the film that had me cracking up. It seems like each little scene was designed with some type of gag, and almost every single one was effective. The most surprising aspect of the story is that they executed some perfect setups and payoffs. There were a number of little vignettes where I thought “This is cute, but it’s just in there for the joke.” However, lo-and-behold, later they would pay off as part of the whole story. The guys who wrote Safety Last! thought it through well, which I appreciated. My only complaint would be that I tire of the trope where a boyfriend lies to his girl and then instead of coming clean he compounds the lie and has to play the cover-up game. That being said, it’s a minor quibble in an otherwise spectacular film. In fact, Safety Last! might be the first silent film I would recommend to someone who has just started exploring them.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against Back to the Future Part II
Wins against 101 Dalmatians
Wins against Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Loses to Hot Fuzz
Loses to Mission: Impossible
Wins against Remember the Titans
Loses to Wall-E
Wins against Super 8
Loses to The Pelican Brief
Loses to Ant-Man
Wins against Thoroughly Modern Millie

Safety Last! ranked 155 out of 1493
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