Short Review Roundup – Movie Edition, part 2

I haven’t done a great job at getting to the movie theater lately, but I did go see War for the Planet of the Apes.  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes I had to watch so I could watch War (and therein lies its main value).  I caught Stardust and Dr. Strange on streaming services–Stardust because I’m always on the hunt for decent fantasy movies, and Dr. Strange in my never-ending quest to watch every MCU movie without beggaring myself.  Passengers I watched before submitting my Dragon Awards ballot, and because I had wanted to watch it from the get-go and my wife was actually interested.  I bought The Fifth Element on blu-ray at the insistence of Andrea at The Little Red Reviewer and JimFear.



I had somehow missed this movie’s existence, although that may be no big surprise since I’m not a Gaiman fan.  But I love this sort of fleshed-out fairy tale.  It is very well done, playing around with the standard tropes enough to be interesting but not enough to kill the heart, and adding enough to give structure and weight without resorting to filler.

4 of 5 Stars.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The best thing about Rise of the Planet of the Apes is that it sets up Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  The best thing about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is that it sets up War for the Planet of the Apes.  The trilogy gets better as it goes, both story-wise and visually.  But unlike a lot of trilogy second acts, Dawn works on its own.  Its basic weakness is that what could have been a really good first contact story, a tragedy of miscommunication and mistaken assumptions, is instead a simpler, less interesting story driven by bad guys.

4 of 5 Stars.


Doctor Strange

A lot of people have criticized Dr. Strange for being a jerk.  That’s not quite the problem.  He is less of a jerk than Tony Stark.  But he is also much less charismatic.  Doctor Strange also suffers from origin movie syndrome and the basic issue with translating magic/fantasy to the big screen.  But it is oh so pretty.

3.5 of 5 Stars.


War for the Planet of the Apes

The problem with the current trilogy of Apes movies has always been the misanthropy.  That doesn’t change here, with the usual complement of entirely unsympathetic human characters.  Woody Harrelson’s Colonel is a boring, stock General Ripper, only made more banal by references to a “holy war” and by criticizing Caesar as “emotional.”  But the characterization of the apes has always been the trilogy’s strength, and they play their biggest role ever here.  It isn’t exactly the war that the title suggests, but the story that is told is entirely satisfying, and we do get one very pretty set-piece at the end.  Serious plot holes notwithstanding, this is the most visually striking of the trilogy, as well as the most thematically rich.

4.5 of 5 Stars.



Passengers is a romance that kind of wants to—and maybe should—be a tragedy wearing a hard science fiction skin.  It’s a complex, serious story that relies on the acting chops of the two leads (and basically the only actors who appear in the entire movie).  Good thing Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are tremendous actors.

4 of 5 Stars.


The Fifth Element

The Fifth Element is as bonkers as advertised.  It works really well nonetheless, because it at the same time feels both loco and comfortable.  It is very much a 90s movie, very much a Bruce Willis movie, and very much quotable.

4.5 of 5 Stars.

About H.P.

Blogs on books at Every Day Should Be Tuesday (speculative fiction) and Hillbilly Highways (country noir and nonfiction).
This entry was posted in Sundry and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Short Review Roundup – Movie Edition, part 2

  1. Bookstooge says:

    Really glad to see you enjoyed 5th Element. I really like it. Of course,I tend to like a lot of Bruce Willis movies, so no surprise.

    I’ve got superhero burnout and I don’t even go to the theatre, so I have no idea when I’ll get around to watching Dr. Strange. I definitely want to as his storyline plays a big part in the Infinity War. At least in the comics…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. offthetbr says:

    I can’t believe you had not seen Stardust or The Fifth Element before now!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Redhead says:

    My recollection of Stardust is that the brother princes were the best part, and that the movie was actually better than the book.

    YEAH 5TH ELEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! now you will get all my movie quotes!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. John Boyle says:

    Ape movies don’t interest me, unless it’s Tarzan, but I think that you are spot on with the other reviews. I’m not sure if Jim Fear is right about The Fifth Element being the greatest SF movie ever, but it sure is great fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Short Review Roundup – Movie Edition, part 4 | Every Day Should Be Tuesday

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s