I generally have been a pretty positive person for most of my life.
We had a brief discussion in the office this week about our movie reviews. We came to the conclusion that I’m the more positive of the mainly two reviewers of movies within the Capital Journal. Mike Woodel is more picky, while I just kinda go with the flow. In a way, I kinda rank a movie in a more binary way than Mike — it’s either good or bad. I also notice that Mike says that my reviews are superior. While I tend to be positive, I usually hate most of the things that I do, so I don’t know if I agree with that. That’s kind of the perfectionist in me.
Genuinely, I like to give film makers the benefit of the doubt. Making a movie is not easy. There’s budget constraints, acting ability (or sometimes, lack thereof), writing and editing mishaps, and just general laziness. I’ve often heard about how Bruce Willis hasn’t really tried that hard at acting since he was in “The Sixth Sense.” Now, it seems like he just collects a paycheck, because most of his movies these days aren’t that great. You probably haven’t seen much from him in years, even though he still works consistently.
I include all of this to say that this week, I reviewed “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City” and “King Richard.” Mild spoilers ahead.
‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ (State 123 Theatre)
I caught this movie at the Golden Ticket Cinema Rushmore 7 in Rapid City during the State Volleyball Tournament. I’ve seen the first “Ghostbusters,” and am aware that there’s a “Ghostbusters 2” and animated series, but I have not gotten around to seeing the female-led Ghostbusters film that was intensely hated by critics. I was a little worried going into this movie knowing that the Ghostbusters fans out there are very passionate about the franchise.
However, I feel those worries were unwarranted. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is a sequel in the realm of the first two movies. There’s direct references to the 1984 original, including appearances by everybody’s favorite marshmallow brand, Stay-Puft marshmallow man. Some of the jokes fall flat, but that’s how they were intended to be. The atmosphere inside the theatre was one of joy and fun, and that was because the movie itself was fun. Paul Rudd is still charming as ever, and the kid actors are very good. I was a little taken aback by how old Finn Wolfhard has become, because he’ll forever be “Mike from Stranger Things” to me. Not only is the movie a blast, but it’s also very heartwarming. It felt good to see members of the original cast back in action. The tribute to the dearly departed Harold Ramis, because you knew there was going to be one, was almost tear-jerking. I loved “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” and I look forward to any potential sequels.
Scotty’s Score: 92/100.
‘Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City’ (State 123 Theatre)
This was a movie I went into completely blind. I didn’t see a trailer beforehand, and I barely knew the movie existed. I would guess that I’m not the only one, as the theater was fairly empty. It was 4:15 p.m. on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so that’s understandable. I had never seen any of the previous “Resident Evil” movies, of which there are a staggering six, but I was aware of them. They made Milla Jovovich into a bit of an action star, so I went in thinking this would be in the same vein.
It was not in the same vein. “Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City” is more in the manner of the video game franchise of which it is based on. It includes Leon and Claire, who are two fan-favorite characters in the video game franchise. It’s definitely a horror movie, but there are bits of levity provided by the soundtrack. The film has a dark and gritty feel to it, with some scenes being darkly lit almost to the point where you can’t see what’s going on. The make-up effects are pretty good, and I found myself somewhat scared at times. There are plenty of jump scares, which I hate with a passion, but there is plenty of atmosphere in the movie. The acting isn’t great, and the writing isn’t particularly strong, but it’s a decent enough first entry into what very well may be a re-ignition of the “Resident Evil” film franchise.
Scotty’s Score: 68/100.
‘King Richard’ (HBO MAX)
Ah yes, Will Smith is back.
“King Richard” stars Will Smith as Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams. While the majority of the film focuses on Richard’s involvement and decision making in the early parts of his daughter’s careers, it’s also a portrait of how parents can either push their children too hard or not hard enough athletically. I’ve seen it plenty in my time covering athletics. Sometimes, you’ll see a parent push their kid into something that they’re not ready for, and this movie talks about that kind of thing.
Will Smith arguably gives his best performance since “The Pursuit of Happyness” in 2006. While I said earlier that you can tell when some actors aren’t trying their hardest, you can tell Will Smith is trying his hardest in “King Richard.” He brings emotion and a vulnerability to Richard Williams that I don’t think any other actor could. Aunjanue Ellis, who plays the mother of the Williams sisters, is a revelation, and she should be considered for Best Supporting Actress. I thought I knew a lot about the Williams sisters’ rise to prominence, but this movie taught me some things. It’s very good and is well worth finding on HBO Max. If you would rather see it on the big screen, I would hope that the State 123 Theatre would have it very soon for you.
Scotty’s Score: 96/100.