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: 7/10

**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

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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009) Review

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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Män som hatar kvinnor)

Directed by Niels Arden Oplev

Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson

Starring:

Michael Nyqvist
Noomi Rapace
Lena Endre
Sven-Bertil Taube
Peter Haber
Peter Andersson
Marika Lagercrantz
Ingvar Hirdwall
Björn Granath
Ewa Fröling

Plot Summary:

Wealthy retired businessman Henrik Vanger hires disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist to investigate the mysterious 1966 disappearance of his favorite grandniece, Harriet. Blomkvist is aided in his investigation by a deeply troubled but genius young hacker by the name of Lisbeth Salander (the girl with the dragon tattoo).

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My Opinion:

I know this is a very popular book & film series. I read the first book a few years ago. Yes, I thought it was good. The mystery was very compelling & I read the thing really quickly because I couldn’t wait to find out what had actually happened to Harriet Vanger. Top marks for the mystery! And then there was the character of Lisbeth Salander. Such an intriguing character! As I’ve only read the first book, I don’t know much about her. I didn’t enjoy the first book enough to read the rest but, if I ever do, it will only be to read more about her character & what happens to her & Blomkvist. You find out very little about her in the first one – I hope her character is more fully explored in the rest?

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As for the movie, it follows the novel very closely from what I remember other than (naturally) having to leave some things out to save on time. In the novel, the Vanger family is huge and so complex – I remember there was a family tree in the book that I had to keep going back to when I couldn’t remember who someone was in relation to everyone else. The movie seemed to leave a lot of this out but I think it still managed to be a bit confusing for viewers who hadn’t read the novel beforehand. I found all of the Vanger family members very underdeveloped in the film and was glad I’d read the book first so I had a bit more understanding of each of them.

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The film focuses much more on the far more interesting characters of Mikael Blomkvist & Lisbeth Salander. Which is fine as they’re the main characters in all the books (um, right?) but I think the intriguing mystery suffers a little bit in the film – it was much more exciting in the book. Part of this is me, though – I often don’t enjoy a film as much when it’s an adaptation of a book I’ve already read. And I get annoyed when the film isn’t faithful to the book but then get a little bored when it IS as it’s then an inferior version of what I’ve already “seen” in my head. Plus, with a mystery, once you know how it ends there’s not as much excitement in hearing the story again, I suppose.

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As for the actors, they all do a fine job. Yes, Noomi Rapace is very good – I know she’s been praised for the role. When looking this up for the review, I found it interesting that the title of this in Swedish, Män som hatar kvinnor, is “Men Who Hate Women”. Yes, that title makes sense. Lisbeth Salander has some kind of horrible history that’s hinted at in the film. And then there’s all the raping… Yes, lots of that. This is why I wasn’t really planning on reading the rest of the books and I’m not sure if I’m bothered about the rest of the films or not, although I’d like to know more about Lisbeth. Plus, there’s not enough hacking for my liking! She’s this brilliant hacker but they don’t go into that TOO much in the book or the film. I’m hoping there’s much more of this in the further books/films? I’d like far more hacking & far less raping. And Lisbeth kicking more ass. Will I get these things? Do you recommend I at least watch the further films? (Doubt I’ll bother with the books but I may enjoy the films more that way anyway).

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Summary:

A very compelling mystery that’s not explored in near as much detail in the film as in the novel, which I found a little disappointing. The family who are a part of this mystery are underdeveloped in the film. But the mystery kind of only really serves as a backdrop to the two main and much more interesting characters of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander anyway – I was satisfied with their portrayals in the film. There are very disturbing themes in the film that I can’t fully go into in case you’re one of the only people left who doesn’t know a thing about these books or films. Overall, this “genre” has just never been my sort of thing. The book & film ARE better than I’m making it sound and I suppose I would recommend them. If you’re not easily disturbed by misogynistic violence…

I hope Lisbeth kicks more ass in the further films.

My Rating: 7/10

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**This was the second place choice when I asked all of you which film I should review next. First place review is here: Exit Through The Gift Shop.

Thanks again for all your input. 🙂 Up next will be The Man Who Fell To Earth.