(*homocinematically inclined)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Dearest Review: Five Came Back


From Twin Peaks to Will & Grace, nostalgic revivals have been all the rage this year on television and at the movies as well. Witness these five recent sequels, all spawned from originals that range in age from 21 to 84 years old.

T2: Trainspotting:
Yes, it’s been two decades since Danny Boyle first brought from the pages of Irvine Welsh’s novel to the big screen (and set to the driving beat of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life”) the lovable losers Renton, Spud, Begbie and Sick Boy. But there’s a good reason for the long wait, as now the characters, having survived their drug fueled youth, are older… yet not necessarily wiser. New schemes are hatched, old scores are settled, and all without quite so much heroine in this slick and stylish, funny and fitting follow-up to 1996’s cult classic Trainspotting. (7/10) Now available on DVD and Blu-ray and streaming on STARZ.

Whoever smelt it dealt it

Kong: Skull Island:
More of a reboot/launch of the “big-ass monster cinematic universe” then a direct sequel, this umpteenth iteration of the iconic “8th Wonder of the World © 1933” boasts impressive visuals and a surprisingly all-star cast, including Brie Larson (in her first “cashing in on that Oscar” part), a proverbially over-the-top Samuel L. Jackson, and scruffy scene stealer John C. Reilly (in the Ben Gunn role). For what at first glance seemed like a cheesy cash grab actually turns out to be a pretty darn good popcorn flick with potential for a few sequels of its own. (7/10) Now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

I love the smell of wet ape in the morning

Alien: Covenant:
Along with the unending adventures of Artimus Prime and Captain Jack Sparrow, the seemingly endless Alien saga just keeps trudging along, ever-increasing audience apathy be damned. Ridley Scott, who helmed the original film 38 years ago, returns again for this sequel to his prequel Prometheus, which confounded audiences five years ago. Covenant is less confusing but hardly engaging with its Passengers-like plot that keeps the aliens off screen for far too long. Of particular note for MD readers: Demi├ín Bichir grieving his fallen husband, and Michael Fassbender’s Peter O’Toole-ian David macking on his android “brother” Walter, also played by Fassbender. (5/10) Now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Yep, Fassbender-on- Fassbender twincest… the fan fiction practically writes itself.

Blade Runner 2049:
Ridley Scott’s other sci-fi classic from last century finally got its long-delayed second chapter this year, albeit with Arrival’s Oscar nominated director Denis Villeneuve at the helm. Set 30 years later in a Los Angeles even more dystopian, the initial story – of a blade runner (Ryan Gosling, in a role perfect for his actorly quirks) who stumbles upon a potentially incendiary mystery surrounding the corpse of a replicant – seems distinctly removed from the original’s, yet slowly (granted, at times too slowly) reveals just how connected it truly is. As with the 1982 model, 2049 is thick with themes of identity and humanity, yet manages to outdo its grim predecessor in regards to emotionally resonance. (8/10) Now in theaters.

Stayin' (artificially) alive, stayin' (artificially) alive...

War for the Planet of the Apes:
War is right. This conclusion to the Apes prequel trilogy lays it on thick with the Nazi/Holocaust allegory, not to mention cinematic allusions to such World War II epics as The Bridge on the River Kwai and The Great Escape. It also works overtime to set up its connections all the way back to the original 1968 classic; who knew that a Chevrolet subcompact would factor into the mythology of the Planet of the Apes? Andy Serkis’ now stoic ape leader Caesar leaves plenty of room for Woody Harrelson to go all “Heart of Darkness” crazy as the skinhead colonel tired of all this monkey business. (6/10) Now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Lots and lots of monkey business...

Reviews by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.

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