Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.
So, here is what I watched this past week:
The original Despicable Me was a delightful little treasure that surprised many with its cute, kid-friendly premise and deep felt emotional center. The second film eliminated much of what made the original wonderful and gave us a simplistic spy story that seemed to drag on even when it was at its funniest. Now we have a new entry in the franchise, a prequel that explores the origins of the yellow, pill-shaped critters known as the Minions.
Beset by persistent failures keeping their masters alive, the minions hole up in a cave in the midst of a frozen tundra where Kevin, Stuart and Bob embark on a mission to find a new master to keep their friends from descending into even deeper melancholy. When they discover a gathering of ruthless villains and latch on to the super villain world’s first female arch villain, Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock), they begin an adventure to steal the Queen of England’s crown and ultimately end up the unwitting victims of a madwoman’s plot.
The charm of innocence is one of this film’s redeeming qualities. Lost on the way into the second film, we are occasionally brought back to what made the first film so compelling. Like children, the Minions are at home when coddled and protected by their masters, but they are strongest when they must become independent and survive. Much of the film, however, is spent on a lugubrious plot that stretches far beyond a child’s tolerance level and gives the audience only intermittent bursts of laughter. This is a film that has so very little for adults that it allows the plot to meander in the hopes that kids will be drawn in by the ludicrous, bumbling Minions even when the humor and sight gags are reduced to a bare minimum.
Human Centipede II
While it’s nice to see a director trying to improve on his vision, expanding his understanding of filmic form and function, when the end result is so self-aware that it’s almost ludicrous, you have a concoction like Human Centipede II.
The original film is just that, a film. This is according to the mythos at play in its sequel, which is, instead of a sequel, is a real life attempt to recreate the work of a fictional figure. The mentally disturbed Martin (Laurence R. Harvey) works in a London carpark and is obsessed with the film Human Centipede. He’s so obsessed that he has begun abducting unsuspecting people inside the car park and transporting them to an empty warehouse where he hopes to turn twelve people into a single centipede, improving on the fictitious three-person centipede from the first film.
Director Tom Six has chosen to shoot this film in black-and-white, a questionable decision until you discover just how much blood and other matter drenches this film. His original picture sticks to a minimal amount of gore for a horror film and sticks to common genre tropes. Now he has so much blood pouring out of the screen, an NC-17 rating would have been assured if it had been produced in color. This also minimizes the viscera the audience must endure and keeps it just shy of realism, not that the film does very well at keeping things realistic.
Blood gushing from crowbars to the head would typically result in death, but here only knocks the victims unconscious. Half of what goes on in the picture is so inauthentic at times, it almost becomes surreal. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of surreal that demands appreciation.