John Wick (2014) & The Neon Demon (2016) Movie Reviews

With John Wick: Chapter 2 coming out, I figured I better review the first film (which I finally watched a few months ago). So I wrote the below review. After writing it, I then watched The Neon Demon. I must say that John Wick has gone up in my estimation since seeing The Neon Demon. Every movie EVER MADE has now gone up in my estimation since seeing The Neon F*%#ing Demon!!!!! Let’s talk about these, shall we…?

John Wick (2014)

Directed by Chad Stahelski & David Leitch

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

My Opinion:

I love Keanu Reeves. And, apparently, I’m not alone. I was very surprised when a list I did last year of My Top Ten Keanu Reeves Movies was one of my most viewed & most shared posts. Yay! Everyone loves Keanu! I honestly didn’t realize he was so popular.

So I made that list having not yet seen John Wick or The Neon Demon and figured I could update it once I’ve watched them. Well, I’ve now updated the list. I can tell you that The Neon Demon sure as SHIT doesn’t make the top ten (it’s atrocious). Unfortunately, John Wick doesn’t quite manage to break into my top ten either. It’s very close! I’ve put it at 12 but it’s probably hovering around the 10, 11 or 12 range depending on my mood… So there you go – I’m sure you were all dying to know my final official ranking of Keanu Reeves films! 😉

John Wick is a really fun action film. It was what I expected in being all style over substance so that didn’t bother me at all. We all need to turn off our brains sometimes & just watch a fun action flick! I think I was just disappointed that it wasn’t as much fun or as stylish as I’d been expecting in order for it to make up for that lack of substance. It’s an okay film but comes absolutely nowhere near Keanu’s best. This is no The Matrix or Speed and it’s especially no Point Break (Point Break rules!). Damn. But, man, I loved that puppy. Cutest puppy EVER! I’m giving this movie a slightly higher rating simply because of the puppy. A BEAGLE. A SNOOPY puppy!!!!!


Wook at that wittle face!

I do know how to enjoy a fun “popcorn” movie and, no, I wasn’t expecting Oscar-quality writing or acting in John Wick. However, I needed to know the character of John Wick a little better in order to care about him & his quest for vengeance. We get some flashbacks of his wife and, of course, we meet his adorable puppy. However, we didn’t get much of his backstory. I felt like I didn’t know a thing about him by the end other than that he was sad about his dead wife (not a spoiler – she’s already dead at the beginning of the movie). I mean, he’s a (former) killer. Right? How is he any better than the many, many (many) people he proceeds to kill throughout this film? Because a cute puppy licked his face & he loved his pretty wife?

Okayyyy – I fully admit to falling asleep in the middle of this like I often do during films at home so maybe I missed something (I’m a parent. I’m exhausted). 😉 Why did he retire? For love? Or because he developed a conscience? I hope that was the reason… The only way I can describe it is this: I sometimes watch a movie and feel like I’ve jumped right into the middle of it and missed a bunch of the beginning where they’ve set up the characters & the story. I felt that way 30 minutes into John Wick despite missing absolutely nothing from the start. I almost cared more about Willem Dafoe’s character (a great character, from the very little we get to know him – I’d love to know more about his previous relationship with Wick as well). Well, maybe we’ll find out more in the sequel? As fun as it is to watch some shoot-em-up non-stop action sometimes, I still want to know a little about the main character at the very least. If I care about him, I’ll get more enjoyment from his revenge. I do love a really good revenge movie! I liked John Wick well enough to watch the sequel but it’s a “wait for it to show up on Netflix” movie for me. (Although, initial reviews of the sequel are very good so maybe I can be talked into making a trip to the cinema for it. But the sequel puppy isn’t nearly as cute…!!!)

My Rating: 6.5/10

**SPOILERS. Kind of.**

The Neon Demon (2016)

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Starring: Elle Fanning, Karl Glusman, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves

Plot Synopsis: Guy succeeds in making a decent film called Drive, which then gives him the freedom to make the biggest pile of shit I’ve seen since similar success for another writer led to the creation of the atrocious Jennifer’s Body. The Neon Demon makes Jennifer’s Body look good. 

My Opinion:

I called a movie that I reviewed last week a “load of pretentious bullshit” (the movie Comet). I now apologize profusely to that movie. I’d rather be strapped to a chair “Clockwork Orange-style” & forced to watch Comet 100 times than to ever have to even THINK about The Neon Demon again. I want to wipe this movie from my memory “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind-style“. I want to go back in time and, “Marty McFly-style”, tell myself it’s my destiny (density!) to NEVER watch The Neon Demon. I want to take a flame thrower to this movie “Ellen Ripley-style“. I want to get medieval on this movie’s ass “Marsellus Wallace- style“. I want to stick this movie’s head in a box “Gwyneth Paltrow-style“. I want to banish this movie to the cornfield “Twilight Zone-style“. I want this movie to eat itself, to puke itself up, to re-eat itself, to piss itself out, and to f*%k its own corpse “The Neon Demon-style“.

I can’t truly put into words just how much I hated The Neon Demon and its fake, derivative, shallow, pointless, pretentious aping of artistic masters such as Jodorowsky, Buñuel, Argento, von Trier, Cronenberg, Lynch, etc etc. Not everyone will be a fan of all of those I’ve named (I’m not even saying that I like them all myself) but, like their work or not, at least they did their own thing instead of making superficial & inferior copies of their influences.

I’ll give this movie an extra point for Elle Fanning, though, as I thought she did a decent job for her young age. Other than Fanning, everyone in this is now slightly ruined for me the next time I see them in other films (even Keanu, dammit). Still love him, though, so I’ll try to put this movie out of my mind. But I hope to never see Jena Malone in anything ever again so am very glad that I wasn’t a fan of hers in the first place. More than anything, I’m annoyed that this has tainted the movie Drive and especially that it has ruined Drive’s soundtrack for me, which I liked even more than the film. I’ve hated plenty of movies over the years but I don’t think there’s ever been one that I actually regretted seeing. The Neon Demon may very well be the first. In that regard, I suppose you at least have to give Nicolas Winding Refn credit for creating a film that generated some strong reactions from its’ viewers. I don’t mind movies with some shock value (of those I mentioned above, I do love a lot of Cronenberg’s work) but, to quote my husband, “The Neon Demon thinks it’s art when it’s merely just artifice”.

My Rating: 2/10

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Review

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***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Directed by George Miller

Starring:
Tom Hardy
Charlize Theron
Nicholas Hoult
Hugh Keays-Byrne
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Riley Keough
Zoë Kravitz
Abbey Lee
Courtney Eaton

Running time: 120 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.

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My Opinion:

YES! This is what movies are meant to be like! I’ve been moaning for years that they can’t make a decent action blockbuster anymore. It’s all CGI bullshit now with shitty scripts and crappy characters. Oh how I’ve longed for the days of The Terminator & Alien/Aliens. Well, I’m happy to say that Mad Max: Fury Road is a return to the good old days of action-packed blockbusters. And, as a HUGE added bonus, we have ourselves another Ellen Ripley with Charlize Theron’s kick-ass Imperator Furiosa. That’s right, ladies! This is a totally bonkers, violent, non-stop adrenaline-fueled extravaganza that has its female audience in mind just as much as its male audience! YES!!!! The female characters don’t take a backseat in Fury Road – they’re driving this bastard!

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I’m now kind of regretting my post from two days ago (HERE) in which I re-rated several movies I thought I’d given either too high or too low of a rating. I said that I think I sometimes rate new releases too highly due partly to hype & partly to my enjoyment of the experience of going to a movie in the cinema. So now I’ve gone to the best movie I’ve seen in a very long time & I’m still on a high as I’m writing this just after seeing it and I know I’m going to just rave about it like an idiot and end up giving it a really high rating. Well, you can trust me on this – Fury Road is not a movie that will need re-rating because I’ve rated it too highly in my excitement. In fact, I’m afraid I won’t do it justice & may rate it slightly too low as I want to be more cautious with my ratings now. Damn. We’ll see… I still don’t know at this point what rating I’ll give it.

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I always try to stay as spoiler free as possible in my reviews and I want to be especially careful with this one as I think knowing as little as possible before seeing Fury Road may add to your enjoyment (I know it did for me as I didn’t know quite what to expect beyond the one trailer I’d seen). So, I’m not going to get very specific about things that happen in the movie as I’m not sure what is common knowledge & what isn’t. I think people will like this one whether they’ve seen the Mel Gibson films or not. My experience is this: I saw the first two but I admit that, although I did really like them at the time, I only watched them once sooo many years ago that I don’t remember them as well as I’d like. Sorry Mad Max fans – I’d wanted to re-watch them before seeing Fury Road but haven’t had the time. I’ll definitely make time for them again at some point now but Fury Road works just fine as a film on its own.

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What I loved about Fury Road (besides the kick-ass female characters that I just can’t rave about enough) was, well… Everything. I loved the look & feel of the post-apocalyptic world and its insane inhabitants. I loved the action that never ever let up – the stunts they pulled off were amazing! My eyes couldn’t actually keep up with the amount of action going on – it was nuts! But in a good way – I want to watch this again as I know I missed things. The writing was very good – we got decent character development (for an action movie) as well as sympathetic characters we cared about and who cared about each other (so many action movies barely bother with this!). The baddies are over the top and outrageous in the most awesome way possible. Hell, the whole movie is over the top and outrageous but it’s so much damn FUN. George Miller really went to town with Fury Road & it all works perfectly. It reminds me in a way of how Tarantino makes his films – you can tell there’s a real love of what he does. It feels like he really put his heart into making this film. I wish every director would do the same.

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Summary:

Mad Max: Fury Road is totally bonkers. Its fast pace may have you leaving the cinema wondering what the hell just hit you but, hey – that’s what action movies should be like. Fury Road gives us Imperator Furiosa, a new badass female who deserves a place among the likes of Ellen Ripley and The Bride. As a female who is often frustrated by the sexism and misogyny in movies, I couldn’t be more happy about that (and the movie sure as shit passes the Bechdel test!). I think those who aren’t fans of the other Mad Max films should like this just as much as those who are but those who are may be a little disappointed that this movie should almost be titled Furiosa & Mad Max: Fury Road. That title sounds damn good to me, though – maybe we can get the female character’s name in the title of the next one.

My Rating: 9/10

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