Movies I’ve Enjoyed Recently

Normally I’m lucky if I see a movie a month. But since my weekends right now involve being as inactive as possible for a while so my ankle can heal, here are my thoughts on the movies that have been part of the bright side of this situation thus far.  Oh. And also from this weekend; as a guy who is STILL bitter about the 09 Vikings loss to them in the NFC Championship, the Saints got screwed.

Deadpool 2 (2018)

I went into Deadpool 2 not knowing what to expect. Would it fall short of recapturing the lightning in a bottle its predecessor did as so many sequels of surprisingly excellent movies do? It was a very different time in my life when I watched the first one. Could I have changed so much since then that I would feel differently about the entire concept now even if it were executed very well again? I’m happy to say that those concerns were unfounded whether evaluating the movie relatively or on its own merits. Everything that made the first Deadpool great is not only preserved, but developed a little further. One of my favorite elements of the first movie was the juxtaposition of ridiculously violent scenes and music that just didn’t match them at all. That has been taken to about its limit in this one and it had me laughing as hard as I’ve laughed in a long time. The unapologetic irreverence and constant smart ass quips are still there and the timing and pace are just as good. All Deadpool’s friends are back (with the exception of Francis obviously) and he makes some compelling new ones as well. Minor spoiler alert: not all of the new characters last very long but their quick deaths are about as hilarious as deaths can be.

But beyond being rolling on the floor funny, the plot is where this movie really shines. This time it’s more complex than simply “good guys against bad guys” as not everyone is quite who they seem to be. The romantic relationship of every man’s dreams is still part of the movie but Mr. Wilson has to go on another hero’s journey rather than simply being allowed to enjoy it in peace. Ethical choices are presented and struggled with. Unlikely alliances are forged, broken, and forged again. An impressive range of emotions are explored given the nature of the movie. And ultimately, the whole spectacle is wonderful.

This is one franchise I will gladly keep following until it stops hitting it out of the park and that hasn’t happened yet. It accepts neither categorization nor convention and instead, it simply entertains without taking so much as a single breath between jokes, punches, etc. There isn’t a roller coaster with rapid enough twists and turns to merit being a metaphor for what this franchise does. I’m not a fan of most superhero movies and I hope the concept has almost outlived its day as the automatic profit machine of the industry so we can start seeing a little more variety. But the Deadpool series is so much more than just another superhero movie. And while it makes liberal use of jokes about, and references to, other storylines I personally know nothing about (I think most of them are X-Men related), it never seems to do so in a way that leaves me feeling on the outside looking in. At the end of the day, I can’t think of any valid criticism of this movie and I made a pretty determined effort to do so in the time since I watched it. If you can, I would be very interested to hear it.

The Usual Suspects (1995)

I know, I know. This is a classic and it’s criminal that I’ve lived this long without seeing it. But cut me a break; I wasn’t even ten years old when it originally came out and it has taken me some time to find my way to it as an adult. I suppose I should give the movie the benefit of the fact that it is a quarter century old and a lot has happened since then. For example, today Kevin Spacey is more to some folks than simply an incredibly gifted actor. But he certainly is that as well and he was awesome in this movie. The elapsed years have also given me the benefit of having seen a lot of movies that have likely stood on the shoulders of this one and others like it, which may explain why I was able to see the ending coming fairly early on. Usually I don’t have that ability.

In general, this movie was well acted and the plot very cleverly crafted. It was entertaining and enjoyable and I can understand why so many people love it – even in 2019. I will say that it didn’t overwhelm me from an emotional standpoint. Maybe if it had, my brain would have been distracted enough to prevent me from figuring out the ending as early as I did. But regardless, the movie certainly challenged itself and the audience more than most of the rehashed, formulaic crap we see today. And I believe it conquered that challenge, even if not in a totally transcendent way.

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

I don’t see many biopics and even fewer musical ones but Queen, or more specifically Freddie Mercury, has always captivated me so I decided to check this movie out. Freddie Mercury was acted very well, some of the supporting actors were also pretty solid, and the music was great, of course. But there is one thing that started gnawing at me early on and only got worse. For me, a movie of this nature is only the beginning; the first thing I did when I finished it was to google Queen and Freddie Mercury and start reading. And at that point, I quickly understood where that disconcerting feeling had been coming from.

Why? The movie changed a lot of facts for no apparent reason and based on my reading, it may have done the same with some of the less quantifiable aspects of who Mercury actually was as well. I didn’t find anything written about why most of these liberties were taken with the history of a man and the band that rode his legendary star power from very likely obscurity to “fame and fortune.” But I can’t help but feel like maybe it has to do with that old quote about history being written by the winners, applied to this particular situation on the basis of who is still alive and who is not. I’m not going to go into all the discrepancies I noticed because I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone but there were quite a few if much of what I read had any credibility at all.

I don’t know how much of a hand the surviving band members had in making this movie but I understand it had to be made in such a way as to garner their approval so they would allow the music to be used – obviously an essential element. And I think that is probably the likeliest explanation of why the movie almost seemed to be trying to alter the characters involved to make the balance of the situation appear different. I get it; there were band members besides Freddie Mercury. To highlight their contributions would have been fine. But to cast unjustified aspersions on Mercury’s memory in an attempt to make others appear more significant or more responsible for the band’s otherworldly success does give off a hint of sour grapes. I would still say the movie is worth seeing for the combination of some very capable acting and the fun of seeing the music performed. But the whole thing did leave me with a funny taste in my mouth and the more I read about the real story the movie was based on, the more I realized why.

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