by Alex Chiles, who you can follow on twitter here: @axchiles.
Estimated read time: 5 minutes
Welcome to The Dive 35’s first foray into culture outside of sports. I’ll be your host, Alex Chiles. This first piece will serve as a shortened version of what you can expect from my film reviews. Here are the rules, of which I completely made up and even my boss here at The Dive 35 can’t hold me to them.
- I will only review films from the current year. The goal is to inform your decision on whether to go see a movie while it’s in theatres.
- I will not review every single film I see, especially if it’s simultaneously not good & not popular. Think I missed a good one? Tweet a tweet to my Twitter @axchiles.
- My reviews will be spoiler-free and will only discuss the themes broadly.
- Each review will consist of a quick “one sentence review” to serve as a summary and a longer (but not too long) full review. Instead of a rating scale, each review will conclude with me answering two basic questions. First, should you watch this movie? And if yes, should you rush out to see it in theatres?
- Lastly, I will be keeping a running top 10 list throughout the year. At the end of the year, I’ll do a write up of the lucky 10 films with justifications of why they made the list.
Without further ado…I give you three reviews for movies already out in 2017. Enjoy!
One sentence review: Split is an above average thriller that hits all small notes but falls flat in the bigger ones.
Full review: This is a difficult film to judge in isolation, as it’s hard to separate from the expectations that swirled around it being M. Night Shlaymananananan’s return to form. I for one loved Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, but the large majority of his work since then has been garbage. Except with a twist ending that reveals that it’s still, in fact, garbage. His catalog is unique in that he has almost retroactively tainted his better stuff by using the same formula again and again with diminishing returns. But let’s try to talk about Split though. Is it one of his better movies? Absolutely. But the praise really has to stop there. This is an above average thriller with an okay premise and exceptional acting. The smaller moments with James McAvoy showing off his range is impressive, but in the end this has all the trappings of M. Night’s basic formula with a below average, forced twist ending. I can’t discuss it much further due to my no-spoiler rule, but it’s… not good. Interesting? Yes. Surprising? Yes. Garbage? Also yes. Despite all the negatives, however, there is still enough interesting stuff going on here to safely recommend it and to feel good about M. Night’s current trajectory.
Should you watch this movie? Yes.
Where? Rental would be fine on this one, or whatever streaming service it inevitably will find itself on.
Kong: Skull Island
One sentence review: Kong: Skull Island is a mostly entertaining but ultimately underwhelming set-up film in Legendary’s horribly titled “MosterVerse”.
Full review: Much of how you’ll view Kong: Skull Island is based on how you felt about the universe’s initial film, Gareth Edward’s Godzilla, in the sense that they are complete opposites in terms of tone, scope, and character-building. If you felt Godzilla was slow and your primary complaint was having to wait too long to see the monster, well, you’re wrong, but it means you’re going to love Kong: Skull Island. You’ll still be opening your box of Junior Mints when Kong smacks his way on to the screen roughly 2 minutes in and he’s present throughout. His size, scope, and character design is impressive. It has some great actors (John C. Reilly’s character steals the show) and great action (helicopters vs. Kong is tons of fun), but I’m starting to run out of good things to say about it. Kong’s slapdash style is occasionally entertaining, but wastes a lot of that potential on characters that never develop and a story that doesn’t really go anywhere. I don’t mind how they are incorporating Kong & Godzilla together from a story standpoint, but it’s hard to picture these two very different films finding a good way to merge in the future.
Should you watch this movie? Meh. If you’re interested in this universe you may feel obligated, but don’t. Just wait for the next Godzilla movie in 2019 and then you can decide if you want to watch them beat the shit out of each other Man of Steel style in 2020. Let’s hope Gareth gets to take the helm of Godzilla vs. Kong, but I’m not getting my hopes up.
Where? If you decide to go, the theatre would be best. Kong won’t feel quite a big on your TV at home.
One sentence review: Logan is a brilliantly designed, fitting finale for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and sets a new high-water mark in the superhero genre.
Full review: Logan, simply put, is what all superhero movies should be. It’s exciting, thrilling, and interesting. It’s smart, the world feels authentic, and there are actual stakes during the action. What’s most amazing is that it earns all of these positive descriptions in a very unexpected way for a superhero movie, a genre which traditionally relies on big “save-the world” plots and huge, expensive action sequences. Logan instead tells a smaller story, and is all the better for it. It’s basically a road movie about a man who realizes he isn’t what he used to be and now his only goal is to create a better future for the next generation. Save for a few minor moments of clunky dialogue, this is now the new standard, and an absolute perfect way to end this character’s 17 (!) years on the silver screen.
Should you watch this movie? Yes. Then use it as a barometer for every subsequent superhero movie you see in the future.
Where? Doesn’t really matter. Anywhere will do.
Top 10 so far:
- Kong: Skull Island