If you remember, it was only almost 11 years ago that I blogged about the need for movie ticket subscriptions back when MoviePass was first announced. The deal wasn’t so great then, but they had a killer deal in 2018, something like less than $100 for a whole year for any movie at any theater, with no monthly limit. Unfortunately the deal was so good that it completely bankrupted the company months before the end of that year. They’ve sinced relaunched with some more sustainable deals, which you can check out on their website.
Still, I’d prefer the wider selection of cheaper DVD rentals from Netflix. But that’s no longer an option, as they shut down the service at the end of last month. The movie industry in general seems to want to move toward a future where you have to stream everything and can never own anything. And you’ll be happy!
Anyway, with my Netflix DVD subscription now in its eternal grave, I wanted to give Regal Unlimited a try, especially with a discount deal they offered earlier this month, which was a little over $200 for a year of unlimited movies at any Regal theater. (Usually it’s $260, and they offered a $60 discount.)
So now I just have to see all the movies at Regal I can to make that worth my money.
Granted, although their ads often say “see any movie”, that’s a lie.1 It won’t work for special screenings, such as Fathom events (a lot of anime, film anniversary screenings, operas, etc.) and foreign films from foreign distributors (we don’t get many of those around here anyway). And you’ve gotta pay surcharges for IMAX or 3D films. (Although our flat-screen IMAX is usually not worth it, and there are hardly any 3D films anymore, sadly. And our Regal does not have the newer 4DX or ScreenX stuff.)
Still, that works out to a pretty good deal, assuming you see lots of movies and don’t buy too many snacks.
(I wonder if the popularity of MoviePass in 2018, although it failed by itself, proved to the theater that such a model could work?)
So far this month I’ve seen five movies at Regal: The Nun II, Dumb Money, The Exorcist: Believer, The Creator, and Saw X. So far, Saw X was the only one I really enjoyed. The rest would definitely not have been worth the usual $10 to $14 ticket price.
Oh no, I’m two months behind! Here are the films I watched this August:
A 2018 horror mystery about a troubled 12-year-old boy who’s sent away to a boarding school with an overly strict headmaster. When a student dies, the boy begins to unravel the mysterious truth behind the boarding school’s dark purpose. Bit of a cliche premise, but the mystery begins somewhat interestingly. Unfortunately the grand reveal falls very flat. Some pretty poor-looking CGI blood splatter and fire as well.
A 2022 anime film about a group of kids who explore an abandoned apartment building which holds some of their childhood memories. They suddenly find themselves stranded when the building randomly begins floating out to sea. Very weird film that ultimately didn’t work for me. I just didn’t get it. Too artsy for me, I guess.
The Meg 2: The Trench
I did not much care for the original film, The Meg, so why watch this 2023 sequel? Because it was in 3D! Research divers on sci-fi-ish subs must once again survive an encounter with prehistoric shark monsters. Although the plot is ridiculous, I actually thought it was a fun film, and better than the first film as it takes itself less seriously this time around. Looked nice in 3D too! Some very unrealistic portrayals of water pressure (which the audience might only pick up on because the Titan submersible disaster put the perils of water pressure in the news for a couple weeks).
A 2022 horror film from Japan in which a group of high school students get stuck in a time loop in which they must battle a creepy monster. While it offers an interesting variation on a time loop plot, and the monster looks pretty cool (it looked like they used practical effects in some shots rather than overly-obvious CGI, but it could’ve been just really good CGI), the film unfortunately doesn’t ultimately satisfy. The film ends up being a bit forgettable.
A 2019 horror film in which a teenage boy slowly discovers that his neighbor is an evil child-killing witch. It’s nothing too special, and is a bit silly at times, but overall it’s a fun popcorn flick as far as horror films go, and features an interesting twist at the end.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
A 2023 animated reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which I only went to see because it was in 3D. I hated this movie. I suppose the main reason was because it’s just so different in spirit to the ninja turtles I grew up with in the late 80s and early 90s. Some of my main complaints include:
The character design is just plain ugly.
The turtles’ motivation for fighting is to be accepted by the human world, which is hardly intriguing. One of the main appeals of being a superhero in secret is the secrecy of it, and the heroes fight crime because they actually care about the people they’re fighting for. Being insecure about being a mutant turtle is just lame, and fighting to impress others is even lamer.
In the original franchise, being a ninja is more than just fighting, there’s a philosophy behind it, even if it may not be that deep in a children’s franchise. In this movie, being a ninja hardly means anything. Splinter just learns and teaches ninja fighting arbitrarily, perhaps because he was too stupid to find some guns to fight with.
Splinter is made to be overly stupid. In the original franchise, he’s a wise mentor and father figure. Here he’s a stupid comic relief character who often gets in the way. Why do the turtles even listen to him?
Spoiler: In the end, the turtles don’t really need to learn much of a lesson. Rather, it’s humans who have to learn the lesson of acceptance so that the turtles can have their happy ending. I hate this modern trope in which all the supporting characters are really the ones at fault, while the main characters only needs to prove themselves worthy. This was also the problem I had with Wreck-It Ralph. A movie that avoids doing this is Shrek; in the end, commoners are still prejudiced against ugly ogres, but Shrek overcomes his insecurity by focusing on the ones he loves without depending on “acceptance” from everyone else.
Ugh, it’s so bad!
A 2019 horror film with a similar premise to A Quiet Place. The world becomes overrun by monsters who hunt by sound, forcing everyone to be quiet. The women all die first. Just kidding! I did not much care for A Quiet Place, and this film somehow manages to be even worse. Given the silly premise, why doesn’t everyone just blast the air with noise everywhere to overwhelm the creatures, rather than try to be silent, which just makes it easier for them to catch prey?
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
2011 documentary about a Japanese sushi chef who has dedicated his long life to the singular pursuit of creating the best darn sushi rich people (the only ones who can afford to get an appointment at his exclusive little sushi bar) have ever had. An interesting documentary. As of writing this blog post, Jiro is 97 years old and, as far as I can tell with a little Googling, still working. Impressive!
The Life of Budori Gusuko
A 2012 anime about… I’m not even sure what this was about. It was like a series of random dream sequences in which the title character, an anthropomorphic cat, meanders about the world obtaining random jobs. I didn’t understand it at all.
A 2022 drama about a woman who tries to put her life together after squandering a lottery win with alcoholism. It was ultimately too depressing and boring for me.
A 2023 attempt at comedy about a bear who goes on a cocaine-induced rampage after swallowing a bunch of cocaine. A few laughs here and there, but a lot of the humor didn’t really work for me. It probably needed to lose the whole drug boss vs police subplot and just focus on some unlucky hikers trying to escape a crazy bear.
Heart of Stone
A 2023 thriller about a female James Bond-ish character trying stop evil people from hacking into the best AI spy system ever created. Some OK action sequences here and there, but the technology of the overall plot was overly ridiculous. Hacking with Python defs in text files? The computer stuff is hilariously bad. Though can it beat this classic CSI moment?
A 1977 Disney film starring a young Jodie Foster about a kid pretending to be the long lost granddaughter of a rich old lady in an effort to find the treasure hidden on her estate. I saw this as a child, but didn’t remember much of it, except rice pudding, which I still think sounds gross. Fun movie, but ends way too conveniently with a little too much slapstick.
A 2021 thriller in which a husband finds out his wife’s been cheating and, rather than kill her, handcuffs himself to her and kills himself. Ha ha, that’ll teach her! She then has to survive being handcuffed to a corpse before assassins find her. The premise is overly convoluted and falls apart after you realize she could just easily break the dead guy’s thumb and slide the handcuffs off him instead of hauling his bloody body around for so long.
Somebody set up us the bomb! Christopher Nolan’s 2023 biopic about the scientist who helped create the atomic bomb. Manages to be accessible by focusing on the politics of it rather than the science, but Nolan’s love of chronological mixing, which worked well in The Prestige, was much more annoying in this film, serving to just make things more confusing. Having characters stare broodingly into space against the pulsations of an overly loud atmospheric score also doesn’t create as much drama as Nolan perhaps imagines, but I guess it works for a lot of people. Overall, I rate it average. A decent film, but hardly Nolan’s best work.
The Portable Door
A 2023 family fantasy film about a young man who finds employment at a mysterious agency that uses magic to create meaningful coincidences. He is tasked with finding a portable door, whose powers allow one to easily and instantly travel anywhere in the world. Perhaps a good family film that I might’ve enjoyed more when I was younger, but as an adult, the pacing felt a bit off for me, and the overall conflict a bit too silly.