Monday, September 17, 2018

This Week in Tickets: 10 September 2018 - 16 September 2018

Man, this weekend did not go as planned.

This Week in Tickets

The good news - Tuesday's baseball game was a lot of fun, a nice night, the score tight until it wasn't, the first game with Sale back from injury, enough 9/11 commemoration to be respectful but far from going overboard. Didn't even stick "God Bless America" into the seventh-inning stretch, and I'm wondering if maybe we're starting to see that sort of thing start to fade away as the ramifications of its excess start to sink in

I also finished Miss Sherlock during the week, and I find myself mostly fond of it but with reservations. The cast is great, especially Yuko Takeuchi as Sherlock - she's more manic than cold, taking a genuine delight in solving weird crimes and growing attached to Wato-san in prickly, believable fashion that leaves me hopeful this won't become the Cumberbatch/Freeman Sherlock redux - but I have to admit that I'm so used to a more active Watson readily accepted as Sherlock's peer that Wato-san seemed like something of a throwback. The show's take on Moriarty seemed like a bit too much as well, but what can you do? Doyle's "Napoleon of Crime" at the center of a web is just a gangster or a garden-variety conspiracy theory these days, and while I think this show was on the right track for how to update the archetype for the Twenty-First Century with radicalization, it seemed a bit on a Rube Goldberg set-up and played into the weak-Watson issue.

Am I still hoping like heck that HBO/Hulu Asia make another series? Oh, yes.

I had big plans for the weekend, but right around 4pm on Friday, something hit me like a wall, and the next day and a half was basically my body telling me that I was going to lie down and half pay attention to the ballgame and maybe, if it was feeling generous, it would give me enough mental energy to read a comic book. Not the greatest state to be in when you've brought some work home, have errands to run, and there were something like four or five movies that looked worth seeing over the weekend. Nope, you're not going to be up for that until Sunday night, when things had progressed to "mostly feeling okay but everything tastes terrible".

That served as a good enough excuse to check out the room AMC had upgraded to "Dolby Cinema" at Assembly Row. Unlike the one at South Bay, it's not really a big room, just a bit larger than average for that multiplex, with a screen to match - but it feels tony, with no pre-movie ad package, dim LED lighting, lots of black. I'm mildly amazed that black levels are the big selling point for Dolby Cinema, even more than the Atmos sound; it just seems so esoteric, not as easy a sell as brighter colors or the rumble you feel in the seat. I suppose it goes without saying that those blacks aren't quite as black as you might find with actual film, but pretty darn decent as far as digital goes.

Fair enough spot to see something like The Predator, which doesn't quite demand overwhelming power but is still a bit of an upgrade on standard projection, especially if you're paying the same because of Stubs A-List or the like.

Much busier week planned now that I'm feeling up to writing this from the RMV lobby. Follow along on my Letterboxd, or just wait for the blog to be updated.

The Predator

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 16 September 2018 in AMC Assembly Row #2 (first-run, Dolby Cinema DCP)

Predator had no business spawning a franchise at all, and yet Twentieth Century Fox keeps trying because, while there's nowhere to take it without losing the sheer 1980s muscle-headed appeal of the original film, it's just too damn merchandisable. So roughly every ten years the try again, and it's not like they don't give it their best shot, but digging deeper into the mythology behind a dumb action movie is something of a fool's errand. This attempt to do so is pretty capable, in a disposable-paperback way, but even by those standards could have been more.

It opens with one alien spaceship chasing another, the first taking damage as it escapes to Earth through hyperspace, crashing to Earth in the middle of an op where sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is in the middle of an operation south of the border. McKenna fares much better than most do when faced by one of these "Predators", but he's canny enough to know that seeing this has likely made him a target, and tries to get himself some insurance. Back home, his pre-teen son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) is being bullied for being on the spectrum, and Project Stargazer operative Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) is recruiting biologist Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) to investigate what McKenna has found. Oh, and speaking of McKenna, he was right to be worried about what the government would do with the only living witness to a UFO crash, as they've put him on a bus to a VA psychiatric hospital with a bunch of traumatized soldiers.

Though director Shane Black and his occasional partner-in-crime Fred Dekker are the only credited writers on this film, it's got the feel of one of those projects where a studio solicits a bunch of different pitches and then tries to Frankenstein the best parts of them into one movie. Any single one of these stories - the secret government agency, the team of traumatized veterans, the chance for some Black & Dekker holiday mayhem with a monster running around the suburbs on Halloween - could play as a new take on the Predator story, and given that the series has by circumstance never had much in the way of film-to-film continuity, there's nothing stopping the studio from just lining them up one after another, especially if they can be done on reasonable budgets. Throwing them all together like this, the plots wind up in competition to the point where the characters from the various threads are trying to kill each other for no good reason. It's not just frustrating in that none of the threads feel like they play out properly, but it takes some exceptionally dumb plot devices and Macguffins to hold them together.

Full review at EFilmCritc

Sox Beat Blue Jays
The Predator

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