1. Ghost in the Shell - I didn't really think I would enjoy this - I'm not really a fan of Anime, or of Scarlett Johansson's acting. Plus, the trailer was laughably bad. I didn't really know what the story was about, and honestly, it's a great story. It's just not told well. It's basically just the story of Jason Bourne if Bourne was part robot. It's technically beautiful, but the story is over-explained in dialogue that is painful to listen to. The editing and pace were all over the place, and by the end, I was extremely bored. I think it could have been made into a pretty strong television series, because there is a lot of depth to it, if it was given the proper treatment. Johansson does a typically robotic performance (which fits the role). They try to explain the white-washing of her character, but it's just a pathetic excuse to hire an internationally known stunningly beautiful white girl. I'm sad that Michael Pitt is in this, because I long for the day that he is given really strong, starring roles, instead of popping up as side-characters causing me to go "ooooh Michael Pitt is in this?!?"
2. Beauty and the Beast - At first, I admit, I was a little excited by this. Beauty and the Beast was never one of my favorite Disney movies, but it was still a big part of my childhood - along with The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and Aladdin - it was the perfect quadfecta (did you know that was a word? Me neither!), and I was the perfect age for all of their releases (8-13). But, my mind quickly changed with the continued poor acting performances from Emma Watson. She's just really not a good actress. And she constantly seems like she's a child pretending to be an adult (which is partly bc she's tiny, which isn't her fault. I'm even tinier than her, and people always confuse me for much younger). This performance is no different, and it is enhanced by how much older Luke Evans and Dan Stevens are (I don't actually know their ages, and I'm too lazy to look it up. I mean, I already looked up whether "quadfecta" was a real word, and I only have so much energy, people). The "Beauty and the Beast" message is already a terrible one - give abusive men a chance, because they could change into a prince! But, it's even "ickier" when she is so child-like and immature. Also, why hire Dan Stevens if The Beast is mostly CGI and his voice is altered to be lower? Why not just hire someone with a lower voice? And why is Josh Gad in anything? He can't sing at all. Like, my body actually uncontrollably shuttered when he began to sing. Anyway, the highlight of the movie is shockingly, Ewan McGregor. I have no idea why anyone would cast a Scotsman as a French dude, but McGregor actually gets the accent right (there is a first for everything!), and adds some much needed life into an otherwise dull rehash. "Be Our Guest" is clearly the best song, and McGregor does it proper justice.
3. A Cure for Wellness - I'm embarrassed to admit, but I just don't get this movie at all. I liked parts of it, mostly the visuals and the acting, but the story went right over my head. *spoilers ahead* From what I gather, it's about this guy who has to rescue someone from a "wellness center" that uses hydrotherapy. The guy that runs the place finds a cure for ageing, that's in eels (?) so he filters them through humans (for some reason?), and he tries to rape his own daughter to create a "pure" human? And people go to his "wellness center" and then don't leave because for some reason they are ok with being used as eel filters? UMMMM....OK? I GUESS. This movie reminded me a lot of Shutter Island, and I didn't like that movie (but at least it made sense, for the most part). I do think that Gore Verbinski gets a lot of shit, but he does make some gorgeous movies. There are some stunning scenes - like the initial car crash, the scene with his father on the bridge, and the shots of the gorgeous castles in Germany (I would love to do a castle tour there). The atmosphere is perfectly creepy, but after an hour into the story, there really was not much that happened aside from melancholic music and mysterious stares. On the plus side, Dane Dehaan is excellent as always, and Mia Goth is creepy as Hell.
4. How to be Single - Oh man, I knew I was in for some torture, but I tend to watch everything - especially with Leslie Mann and Alison Brie, and hope for the best. It just blows my mind when a film like this is clearly written to empower single women, yet is so incredibly offensive and anti-feminist. Here's a list of things in this movie that actually hurts feminism instead of helping it: 1. female characters who expect to have drinks paid for by men they have no intention of talking to (ok, yes, I did this when I was 22 and that's about how old I think the main girl is supposed to be, but when I was 22, it was 2003 - a lot has changed since then). 2. have the main character ask a fantastically thoughtful feminist question like "why do we always tell our stories through relationships?" and then continue to tell her story through relationships. 3. have a professional female doctor tell a pregnant woman that her life is going to be ruined by having a baby - and basically shame her because of her "femaleness" all while secretly wanting a baby of her own, which brings me to...4. create female characters who are not true to themselves and their wants - as if women can't control their own identities. 5. create a narrative in which all surrounding men are terrible (except one!) 6. shame a woman for her pubic hair - and assume that she has a bush because she was in a long term relationship and therefore not having regular sex, instead of deciding what she wants her body to look like, you know, for herself. 7. write a "crazy" female character who obsesses over a guy after just 3 weeks of dating (and have her have a mental breakdown bc this 3 week relationship ends. Also, there is no fucking way that Alison Brie needs spanx. That's just downright offensive.) and finally 8. give the most emotionally resonating storyline to a man. THIS IS A STORY OF A WOMAN CLAIMING HER OWN IDENTITY for fucksake. OWN IT.
5. Alien: Covenant - I'm a fan of Prometheus. Yes, it was frustrating and yes, the characters were super dumb, but I liked the questions that it asked and visually it was pretty stunning. I knew that the people who were angry at Prometheus were going to tear down this movie because even though it bears the Alien name (bare? or bear? I think it's bear...), it's very clearly a sequel to Prometheus. And unfortunately, it deserves most of the negative critiques (at least it's more deserving than Prometheus was, in my opinion). However, I didn't hate it. The tone was off - and I felt like it didn't really know whether it wanted to be an Alien movie, or an existential "how did we get here" story. So, just like it's predecessor, it's a little bit of both. However, it answered way too many of the questions that Prometheus presented, but not the right questions. The major problem exists with the focus on David & Walter - and on the creation of artificial intelligence. It's just too much. While Fassbender absolutely kills it (he even has slight variations in his accent that are sheer perfection), the whole plot-line is embarrassingly bad. I much preferred the subtle references in Prometheus. As far as the other characters, none really stood out, even the main actors, Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup (both of which I like), are really dull - and yes, very stupid. I mean, why would they go out on a different planet without so much as a helmet? My theory from Prometheus was that humans relied so much on technology that it actually makes them stupid, still holds with this one, but I think it would have been useful to show that more.