An ongoing series of movie selections that I consider to be overlooked & underappreciated.
The list of 2021 movies that I saw, ranked by my preference from best down to worst. Click the movie titles to go to their Wikipedia pages.
Chaos Walking (5)
A fun central concept and a good cast, but very so-so in execution with a problematic script. I would have removed some elements from the script and punched up others. And the “Reverend” character is just plain AWFUL, pointless, cliché and stupid in every freaking scene scene he’s in. That character desperately needs to be edited out of the movie completely. Definitely not great, but could have been worse. Be warned, I would definitely recommend avoiding this one if you’re an animal lover. You have been warned.
This movie is big and dumb, with a plot that is slapped together and exceedingly stupid. It BARELY holds together enough narrative to hand the few big actions scenes on. Those action scenes are generally entertaining enough with some well executed moments here and there. They are illogical and stupid, but pretty well staged. The human characters, like in the previous couple Godzilla films, are a big hinderance. Kong: Skull Island did SO much better with the human characters and plot than the Godzilla films did, and unfortunately this movie takes after the Godzilla films, including having cast members from those show back up. Those characters range from predictable and generic (the ones on the Kong side of things) to useless and annoying (the ones on the Godzilla side of things). Heck, Kyle Chandler could be edited out of the movie and it would have changed nothing. And while it’s amusing to have Mechagodzilla appear, for genre fans, the plot behind that is beyond stupid and generic. Actually, absolutely EVERYTHING involving “Apex Cybernetics” is 100% idiotic and/or cliché. Putting in all this Apex Cybernetics stuff also makes Monarch little more than a weird little footnote to the movie. And the hollow earth stuff had to have been written by an exceedingly stupid person.
So, where does this movie rank for me with the other Monarch films? It’s definitely better than Godzilla: King Of The Monster, thanks to a few decent action scenes. I’d have to re-watch 2014’s Godzilla to decide if I would rank this higher than that or not. It’s probably pretty close between the two (which is not a compliment). It VERY much pales in comparison to Kong: Skull Island, by a LONG shot. Having said all of that, if you want big, dumb, loud action scenes, this one has a few you will probably enjoy. As such, do what I did and see it on an IMAX, not streamed on HBO Max. Highlight of the movie is Kong jumping around on an aircraft carrier in full-on action mode. They could have spent more time on that moment and had more fun with it. Having Godzilla drag a battleship (or part of one) around by its anchor was also a fun idea.
Mortal Kombat (2)
Oh no… this movie takes itself seriously. Ugh. It has been a VERY long time since I struggled to stay awake during an action movie as much as I did through this one. I made it, though (at least I think I did – probably wouldn’t have made a difference if I briefly dozed off a couple times). I spent this entire movie in a state of total boredom twilight. Also, what is it with so many Warner Brothers action movies being so drab and muted and murky for the last decade, anyway? The only things in this movie with any non-muted color are the (very) occasional VFX. Even the plain white “void” that characters end up in during one scene is somehow a hazy, murky variation of a plain white void. Somebody needs to go over to Warner Bros and set off an explosive device filled with primary colored paints.
Oh, and by the way, did you happen to know that this movie is rated R? Did Warner Brothers not hit you over the head enough about that with all of their marketing? Well, in case they didn’t, the movie would very much like to make that clear. It would like to make the violence more ridiculous than a Saw sequel, and is populated by characters who swear after swear every swear word swear they swear speak swear in swear the swear movie swear sweary swearness swerity swear-o-rama. You know what, maybe I did briefly doze off at some point. I don’t remember Kano dying, but I don’t think I noticed him at the end? That’s too bad if I dozed off during his death, because he was such an annoying character. That might have actually been a scene worth watching.
While this movie is BARELY better than the abomination that is Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, so is Birdemic and Sharknado, so that’s not saying much. It is very definitely much worse than Paul W.S. Anderson’s fun 1995 original. Anderson has plenty of flaws as a director, but one thing he doesn’t lack is style and inventiveness. Yeah, much of that style is too over the top or too silly, but he’s at least TRYING to be visually interesting and fun. Most of that effort pays off in his 1995 version of Mortal Kombat. Even when the CGI looks very dated, it’s still stylistic and having fun, as is the cast. Oh my goodness is the cast in the 1995 film infinitely more entertaining, on every level, than in this movie. Even their cheesiest acting is far more entertaining than this motley array of generic dullness. And this movie has no humor. Or, rather, any very minor attempts at it are DOA. Character range from dull to bland to macho and annoying to macho and generic.
In the end, this movie felt like absolutely nothing more than some kind of fan service for fans of the video game. Or, at least I think it was. It felt like it, anyway. The problem is, I couldn’t possibly care less about the video game. Never liked fighter games, and MK was no exception to my total disinterest of the genre. So, the only comparison I’m making between this movie and Andreson’s 1995 film is as a movie. And George S. Clintoon’s music score for the 1995 film is so much better than Benjamin Wallfisch’s “action movie wallpaper” score to this one. In the end, though, this movie’s biggest problem is that I couldn’t have possibly cared who lived or died, on either side. Just boring, pointless fight after boring, pointless fight. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn……………
Did I mention how much I hated the lighting and cinematography?