Review Roundup: Three very different and worthwhile LA movies, and stupid dinosaurs

Sometimes five sentences works. Here are four such cases.

The Overnight (2015)

The Overnight is brisk, thoughtful, and most important, very funny. It borders on cringe a fair bit, but generally hits, has its share of interesting visual flourishes, and the mystery of the host’s true intentions is played out well. At 80 minutes, it goes by fast, but its enjoyable and surprisingly packed ride. It also finally takes the crown of “Funniest Prosthetic Penis” from Boogie Nights, so that’s something.

Grade: A-

Tangerine (2015)

Like its entire cast of characters, Tangerine is a bit of a mess. It’s a bit aimless, and though it ends very well, a lot of what it took to get there seems pointless. One of the three main characters seems entirely excisable. At 90 minutes, it feels a bit long. And while the iPhone aesthetic works in spades occasionally, its often painfully oversaturated. However, it deftly builds an interesting world, and the scenery-chewing whirlwinds of Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor are incredible. It’s patience-testing for sure, but Tangerine is a very memorable experience.

Grade: B-

San Andreas (2015)

Big-ticket natural disaster movies have had a tendency to fall far too deep into science fiction in recent years. San Andreas is admirably not-too-stupid, with buildings being a bit more toppleable and chasms being a bit more chasmy than I imagine real life would allow, but never straying so far outside the realm of believability to break the illusion (give or take something about magnetic pulses). Instead of focusing on a large, disparate group, San Andreas homes in on how the disaster affects one family, with a relatively small number of wide shots (but enough to get the effects buzz) and allowing more of a fly-on-the-wall feel. While plenty of stuff breaks and falls down, the movie admirably avoids dehumanizing the whole experience; when one heel meets their demise, we are immediately reminded of the immense toll the disaster has on those unfortunate enough to not have The Rock as our daddy. San Andreas is ultimately a bit disposable and by-the-numbers, but its enjoyable and much more involving than I expected.

Grade: B-

Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic World is a movie that’s afraid to play dirty, despite being more than a touch sociopathic. Despite having ostensibly the biggest catastrophe potential of the series (give or take the end of The Lost World), there is never a hint of the tension that fuels the most memorable moments of the original films, and only a couple adrenaline-running moments that hold up on the small screen (admittedly, it may have played better in theaters). The human characters might as well have been cardboard cut-outs, whom are required by-plot to be glaringly stupid and ill-prepared. Still, there are odd moments of beauty when the dinosaurs own centre stage (except for, unfortunately and surprisingly, the raptors), and its certainly not much worse than Jurassic Park 3. It would need a heck of a lot more character to hold a candle to the first two though.

Grade: D+

 

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Review Roundup: Three very different and worthwhile LA movies, and stupid dinosaurs

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