Batch #16: Amazing Birdcage BatSpiders
and other horrible things
This is not the strongest batch I’ve had, but there is one absolute classic (The Birdcage) and one surprisingly decent unknown (Criminal). The others are pretty meh. And in the spirit of meh, there’s not much to say about them here, so let’s just get to the reviews!
(★) = favorite of the batch (☠ ) = least fave, skippable
Movie #78: Criminal (2016) | R
I thought this was just some generic cop movie that I was willing to try because Gal Gadot is in it, but it turns out it is actually a surprisingly poignant exploration of...sci-fi-y memory transfer?
Like it’s not mind-blowing or anything, but it’s a solid fast-paced adventure of a secret agent’s memories being transferred into a sociopathic criminal, and what the results of that are. And Gal Gadot does really give a ton of heart to every scene she’s in (too few) and sells the needed emotion very well.
Worth a watch.
(☠ ) Movie #79: Batman Forever (1995) | PG-13
I started off this movie all HAHA EVERYTHING IS SO RIDICULOUSLY BATTY, I LOVE IT but that wears thin pretty quickly. It’s so cartoonish and ridiculous that there’s no emotional investment. The absurd campiness often pulled me out of the story because I was too busy laughing at it, not with it. Plus, horrific sex kitten treatment of all the women, and cheesy af dialogue that no humans would ever say.
Not worth a watch.
Movie #80: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) | PG-13
STOP PRETENDING YOU CAN BE FRIENDS WITH YOUR EX THAT YOU'RE STILL IN LOVE WITH, ESPECIALLY WITHOUT ESTABLISHING CLEAR BOUNDARIES
YOU DUM DUMS
Okay, got that off my chest.
This movie frustrates me, because 90% of it is excellent, so much fun, great character interaction, including a 1000x better Peter-Harry friendship than in the Sam Raimi trilogy. But that ENDING. WOW, THAT WAS SO BAD.
I knew that [SPOILER] dies in this movie, but I was reserving judgment until I saw how it was done, because it’s possible to kill off characters meaningfully. It’s rare, but it’s possible.
But the way they chose to do it here was a HORRIBLE choice, robbing the character of all agency and just using them as prop to traumatize Peter, which is especially disappointing because they had countless earlier opportunities to let the character keep that agency and choose a sacrifice, which would have respected them as a character and also accomplished the goal of traumatizing Peter with his failure to protect them. Doing it the way they did here is just inexcusably terrible, unnecessary, meaningless, and leaves a dark, dark stain on an otherwise pretty good movie.
(★) Movie #81: The Birdcage (1996) | R
Given how rare it is to see a loving queer family depicted in media (we get lots of queer characters now, but rarely an established queer couple with grown children), this must have been practically revolutionary.
And while the premise is farcical (Gay Parents Must Pretend To Be Straight To Meet The Conservative Parents Of Their Son’s Fiancee) and many of the actors are known comedians (including the late great Robin Williams), this is really more of a dramedy than a straight-up comedy. Which is honestly my favorite kind of comedy. Humor and pathos in spades.
Serious gold here that holds up surprisingly well after 25 years, and I am so glad I finally watched it.
(☠ ) Movie #82: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) | PG-13
(I’ve never put two “skips” in a batch before but seriously, both of these were so bad.)
The most entertaining thing in this movie is Daniel Craig doing an American accent while Angelina Jolie does an English one. Craig’s accent in this movie sounds a LOT like Trevor Noah’s deliberately fake American accent, which makes every scene he’s in unintentionally hilarious. But that’s pretty much all it’s got going for it.
Disappointing that a female-led action movie would be so dull and unmemorable, but it seems like 10x the effort was put into the action rather than the character development and interaction. I wanted to be invested in Lara, but there’s so little we’re given to relate to her as a human being. Her motives are painted only in the broadest strokes (dead dad), and she feels like as much of a cardboard cutout as the rest of the characters, with a few more smirks and sultry glances. At least she wears sensible shoes.
Thanks for reading SM’s Movie Cramming Project, where I, SM, watch all the movies so you don’t have to. You’re welcome. If you’ve got your own thoughts on these movies that you want to share with me, you can reply directly, and if you liked this batch, feel free to subscribe: