Batch #17: Ferris Bueller's Atomic Apocalypse
This batch starts off a little rough, with Atomic Blonde, which I was really hoping to enjoy a lot more than I did. But then it picks up with 4 fun ones, including a couple of young Matthew Broderick classics, that I can comfortably recommend. I didn’t expect to enjoy X-Men: Apocalypse as much as I did, but that was a pleasant surprise — so if you haven’t seen it yet because of the underwhelming reviews at the time, maybe give it a second look.
(★) = favorite of the batch (☠ ) = least fave, skippable
(☠ ) Movie #83: Atomic Blonde (2017) | R
I was really hoping for better because I love Charlize Theron, but again, this is one of those action movies where the characterization is so weaksauce and the people are so boring/opaque in their personalities that it’s really hard to get invested in them. And the main storyline is your standard “GET THE PLOT DEVICE” that I don’t care much about either, and most of the time it feels like the writers know that the story is weak and tried to jazz it up with a framework that doesn’t make it more interesting. And that last twist? Complete nonsense to the point of making me angry.
It’s highly stylized, visually speaking, with a fun soundtrack, which is nice but doesn’t save it from the rest. It’s also stylized narratively, in that it’s very noir-ish, super dark and melodramatic, but without a trace of irony or humor or self-awareness to raise it out of the cliche.
There is a female love interest (played by Jaylah from Star Trek: Beyond! She’s awesome!) which is a really cool thing to see in a mainstream action movie, but there’s depressingly little development given to the relationship aside from physical attraction, and I was really not a fan of how her arc played out. #DelphineDeservedABetterMovie
I guess if you want to watch Charlize Theron beat up a ton of men and don’t have any need to feel attached to characters, this is good for that.
Movie #84: X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) | PG-13
After watching two action movies in a row where the characters were poorly established and interpersonal dynamics were meh (Atomic Blonde and last batch’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), this was the breath of fresh air I needed.
The villain squad is weak, I won't deny that, which makes the final showdown worse than it could have been, but gosh darn do I love the A and B hero squads and almost all these characters. (NIGHTCRAWLER, YOU PRECIOUS BB i love you so much)
Even a lesser X-Men movie is an above average action movie ride. And I really miss the days when Jennifer Lawrence was in every single movie. She’s great and I hope that when Hollywood gets back on track, she gets to make loads more stuff.
(★) Movie #85: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) | PG-13
Part 1 of my Matthew Broderick double-header!
This is wayyy better than The Breakfast Club
Also haha it's funny cuz no principal on earth would have the energy for this much of a grudge against a student, like do you understand how many other things are higher priority for teachers and school administrators? SO MANY THINGS OMG.
This is the first John Hughes movie that I genuinely enjoyed. Ferris is ridiculous, but he’s the kind of ridiculous where I feel like there’s enough of a balance of laughing with him and laughing at him that it doesn’t feel like the movie is backing him 100% on everything, but on just enough to keep him from being truly aggravating and annoying. (And the running joke of literally everyone everywhere knowing who Ferris is made me laugh.)
It’s interesting to me that it still mostly holds up, even though in today’s environment there is more awareness and scrutiny of white male mediocrity, and Ferris is a textbook case of that. In my opinion, there’s just enough sweetness and care for his friends that keeps him from being unsympathetic in that regard, even though he is very mediocre and gets away with everything. I can relate to his sister a lot :)
But when all’s said and done, I’ll admit I even went back and found the parade scene on YouTube to watch it again, because those were some major feel-good vibes. And there was recently this great virtual reunion that I heartily recommend to all fans.
Movie #86: WarGames (1983) | PG
Part 2 of my Matthew Broderick double-header! HE WAS SO YOUNG HERE OMG
So much of the logistics of this movie feel like absolute nonsense (like, I'm pretty sure computers never worked like that? Idk, anything was possible in the 80s) (and the government’s idea of securing a teenage boy on a top secret base needs some serious work) but the movie doesn't care and takes you along for the ride, so none of that matters.
This was silly and fun, although I felt like Ally Sheedy’s character was a letdown compared to her acting abilities that we saw in The Breakfast Club. But female characters in 80s movies generally don’t fare very well, so that’s par for the course.
Movie #87: The Devil Wears Prada (2006) | PG-13
This movie reminded me a lot of 2014's "Whiplash" in that they're both about an abusive mentor grooming a young protege into their idea of greatness.
But I like this one better because a) Anne Hathaway ❤️ and b) SPOILER: the character learns from her mistakes and ultimately rejects her mentor's values, understanding that they will not make her a better person or better journalist, whereas Whiplash essentially validated the abuse by showing that it made the kid a better drummer in the end, and he never makes amends with any of the people he alienated. (My educator parents were horrified by Whiplash. It is BAD EDUCATION.)
But this is not a review of Whiplash, which was not even part of the Movie Cramming Project. Regarding this movie, it’s a solid formula, and Meryl Streep acts the heck out of her role as the abusive and occasionally vulnerable mentor, and Stanley Tucci is wonderful as always, and overall it’s satisfying. Even if Hathaway’s character wasn’t as solidly established as I would have liked in the beginning, so her descent didn’t make as much sense to me as it could have (similar to Michael Corleone in The Godfather, which this is also not a review of). It’s a nice arc of growth and change, and the ending makes you feel like progress was made. Could have done without the extensive fatphobia, but it’s a movie set in the fashion industry, so that obviously comes with it.
Thanks for reading SM’s Movie Cramming Project, where I, SM, watch all the movies so you don’t have to. You’re welcome. Agree? Disagree? Got a new streaming recommendation? Shoot me a reply. And if you liked this batch, feel free to subscribe: