Movie Review – The House With A Clock In Its Walls

I wish this film was better. It started out lively, with some nice funky humor for a while. There were good production values throughout. Unfortunately, the story went downhill fast at the middle mark, and became a dreadful muddle by the end. I watched the children in the theater to make sure it wasn’t just me, and yup…the kids were bouncing around, completely bored, even during the climax. Bummer.

Here’s my thinking: it’s not Harry Potter, folks. Don’t toss your money away to see this in the theater. The kid is decent enough (he gives the erratic script a real go), but he’s hampered by the adult actors at every turn, and sadly, the work of the other children as well. The “Turby” stuff went nowhere — a pity.

Jack Black has a few good moments in the beginning, but this isn’t his best work (although there’s few movies he’s impressed me in, granted — Jumanji 2 being the exception). Why is this man getting work? His comedic timing is just strange. That works, somewhat, in the early stages of this wacky, kiddie horror house movie. Then the plot gets…well…”stupid” (that’s the only word that fits), as the story ineffectually tries to escalate the jeopardy. The “stupid ball” is passed around a lot in the finale.

Between the increasingly weird script and missed narrative opportunities, I can only say, “WTF were the writers thinking? Who greenlit this garbage? And why was a chair the best character?”

Even Cate Blanchett couldn’t elevate the lackluster material presented. How did she decide to throw her lot in with this? Did she hope to become the next Professor McGonagle? (Harry Potter reference, again, but Blanchett must’ve badly misjudged this.)

I really, really don’t know what happened here. It’s ultimately a movie mess that started out quite nicely. I’m grading it in the (low) C range and not worse, because it looked pretty, and had early potential with the surreal atmosphere,  incessant ticking clocks, and creepy toys. There was enough goodwill to carry the audience for part of the show. But by the time the pumpkins started puking,  I had to give up. Give this film a firm pass. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Movie Grade: C-

About the Peetimes: Here are 3 good, long Peetimes, spaced well thru the film. This was easy to get Peetimes for, since a lot of the exposition is either repeated, or provides plot points that kind of peter out, storywise. 

Movie Review – Teen Titans Go!

I’ll try to stay away from spoilers, but let it be said of Teen Titans Go To The Movies! that there are hilarious references to the Marvel universe, along with a multitude of other jabs toward superheroes in general.
The plot was typical of most animated movies about the good, the bad, and the ridiculous. Lots of bathroom humor that kept the kiddies laughing in their seats, while keeping the adults entertained as well.
This is a great movie to get the kids out of the house, out of the heat, and out of parents hair for an afternoon.

Movie Review – A Wrinkle in Time

I’m trying to figure out how to make A Wrinkle in Time make any sense. I love fantasy and science fiction, and am very forgiving of stories in these genres. From the trailer, I figured this would be a really pretty excursion into time travel, with kids discovering their powers in a whimsical land. The early reviews seemed disappointing, but I figured something visually enchanting would be enough for a pleasant afternoon.

But honestly, after my viewing, I’m not sure where the plot was going at all. I’m more confused what this movie was about than I’ve been in…ever? I didn’t read the 1962 children’s book this was based on, so that might be a part of my confusion. But a movie should stand on its own, regardless.

The original, award-winning novel is a slender volume, and I tried to read it a few times in my youth. I devoured fantasy voraciously, re-reading Lord of the Rings annually, and hoped the movie would encourage me to go back and finally get through the book. I’m still the perfect target audience, so I’m forced to think the movie just isn’t a good one.

It’s certainly a baseline attractive flick, with some occasional unique imagery…but it’s not as lovely as many other fantasies out there. I was expecting something on the ambitious level of Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets (another convoluted and unsatisfying film, but a visual treat), or Avatar (which is a work of art AND delivers on its story potential). Disney can do outstandingly pretty work, and very recently too: as in Coco, Finding Dory, the new Star Wars films, and their most recent MCU offerings of Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. So,  A Wrinkle in Time gets a “+” tacked onto my review grade for being nice-looking — however, this studio should have made this older classic stunning, and could have, if they tried.

Story-wise, you don’t get to know the characters well at all, and the execution is very convoluted. The moment when [a plot thing] is found is completely underwhelming. Normally the child actors in a Disney film are pretty good, but I have to admit I didn’t care for any of the three leads. (Or the adult leads. Only Chris Pine, in essentially a cameo role, brought any spark.)

One other thing: I think a good compositional arrangement could have raised the bar on WIT considerably. A nice track, with some good evocative and repeating themes, would have gone a long way. Think of all the wonderful genre films that make you feel, care, and sometimes cry, cued along by a wonderful soundtrack. Think of almost anything by John Williams. Now imagine those movies without his work. WIT stood out musically, in absentia.

I wish I could say better things, and I’m sure some folks enjoyed WIT. Personally, I can’t recommend this one. Even in 3D, I didn’t think this was worth a trip to the theater. I was actually the only person in the room on opening night, and that made me wonder how everyone else knew the movie was going to be a flop. Not even Oprah or Reese Witherspoon (who really didn’t seem like they were trying) could save this film from the dustbins of…well…time.

Grade: D+