I refuse to believe that this movie was created with the honest intention to be a good movie. I don't care how genuine and naive the director comes across in interviews; this movie has to have been made with the express mission of being an awful movie. Much like garbage like The Incredible Bulk, Birdemic is exclusively comprised of terrible acting, very bad CGI, an incoherent story, and the worst sound design I've ever had the misfortune of experiencing. There is no possible way that James Nguyen thought his leads were good actors; it is not humanly possible to watch more than thirty seconds of their performance and still be able to make the claim that they are good (or even passable) actors. Almost every scene is full off clipped sound because instead of reshooting the scene, Nguyen just cuts the audio. The cinematography is disgustingly bad, with off center shots and a painful amount of shot,reverse-shot conversations. The CGI birds are just pasted on top of the movie and have no physical presence in the movie; objects just move right through them and the don't move close to or farther form the camera; they just hover there and occasionally flap their wings. The story is chock full of plot holes, plot conveniences, and nonsensical decisions. Why are they driving with the window down? Oh, because the camera is outside the van and the actors aren't miked; got it. If this store has been looted, why on Earth didn't anyone take the package of 24 bottles of water or the premade refrigerated sandwiches? Why are they just shooting wildly into the forest while the drive down the highway? Why is he motioning to the girl with the gun in his hand if she's already afraid? Birdemic takes 47 minutes to even get to the Birdemic. The first half is an uncomfortable romance between a man who's dream girl is smart, funny, beautiful and loyal and a woman who's ideal mate (these are the actual traits she lists) is loyal, ambitious and wealthy. A man who just started a new company and literally just received ten million dollars in funding and has decided that now is the time to take a few months off and a woman who says she is a model, but gets her professional photos done at a strip mall 24 hour photo place. It takes over 45 minutes (much of which is devoted to watching an entire performance by a soul singer in an Irish pub and watching the main guy drive around aimlessly) to actually get to the birds. If you even make it to the end, be prepared for one of the worst conclusions ever. If this movie was an honest movie that just turned out bad (like Troll 2 or Wish Upon) it would be one thing, but every single second of this "film" screams out loud that it was made with the intention of being a "so bad, it's good" movie. If you work hard and pour your soul into a movie and it turns out you just make really bad movies (Neil Breen) we have something to work with. If you decide to make a movie that is intentionally bad with actor doing their worst performances and clip art CGI that you are using because you know that it looks terrible, it feels dishonest. It's like Nguyen thinks he's playing a hilarious prank on us. I love good-bad movies, but I hate movies that try to be good-bad; it's not something you try to do, it just happens. Birdemic is garbage made to be garbage and it shows.
Yeah, it's incredibly corny at times, there are some unnecessary scenes, and some of the acting isn't perfect, but Troop Zero is honest and it has a lot heart. Mckenna Grace is great for 13 and although her accent is hit or miss, you can tell that she's going to be a big presence in a few years. Overall, the child actors are are fine, not all are great, but all are serviceable. Viola Davis is perfect, but her character needed more development for how important it she is to the story. The cinematography is fine and the soundtrack works, but the only memorable bits were David Bowie songs. Really, I think this film would have worked better as a TV show or a mini-series, as we have to rocket through the plot and skip a lot of character development in order to get through the story. Give the story more time and let us get a real grip on these characters and Troop Zero could be a real classic. For what it is, though, Troop Zero is a fun family movie (although the language seems like an odd choice for what is certainly being marketed as a family film) that has a lot of emotion and heart, but doesn't come off a saccharine and cheesy.
From the opening scene of poorly animated Pidegy's flying in looking like PS2 game footage pasted over video of a town, you know exactly what you are getting. The CGI is awful and the character designs range from very plasticy too scary, monstrous versions of your beloved Pokemon. It look absolutely terrible. I don't know if other people were watching a different movie or what, but this movie does not have good CGI; it all looks terrible. Justice Smith is incredibly bland, but Kathryn Newton is so much worse. It's like she's plucked right out of a terrible 2010's Nickelodeon show. I'll take a boring actor over a bad one any day. The story is full of logistical holes and rarely makes sense. I guess hearing Ryan Reynolds voice Pikachu was fun for awhile, but he just can't carry the entire movie. Beyond the "Oh, I know that Pokemon!" experience, there is nothing here to enjoy. It looks bad, the acting is bad, and the story is bad. Just watch Pokémon: The First Movie instead.
The entire time, I just felt the tension between Aardman and DreamWorks. I love Wallace and Gromit and could see the same kind of clever jokes and references I've come to expect, but then there is the incredibly lazy CGI that we see in every scene above ground. The opening sequence looks dreadful. The entire movie looks like garbage until we get "Flushed Away" and then for some reason they animate things better in the sewers. The story is fine, but played out and unoriginal. The voice acting is fine, but there aren't any stand-out performances. I did like how music was incorporated, but at times it felt too much like they just wanted a popular song to sell the soundtrack. I just want more of the Wallace and Gromit style of smart little jokes hidden in the environment or clever wordplay, but everything is kind of glossed with the DreamWorks style of prat falls and lazy gags. Give me more Shaun the Sheep and less Boss Baby.
The Lighthouse is flawless with its technical aspects and Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are perfect. For the first fifteen or so minutes, the aspect ratio bothered me, but after the cabin fever comes in, it makes it feel really claustrophobic and it made sense. To be fair, I'm not 100% on exactly what happens in the film, as in what's real and what's not. Are the characters gas-lighting each other or are they gas-lighting me? Surely a lot of the film is purely allegorical, but it's left open to interpretation. I prefer movies to have a coherent surface level plot that you can choose to pick apart and analyze if you want to and my only problem with The Lighthouse is that the story doesn't work perfectly on the surface. There are far too many elements that work symbolically, but just don't mesh with the literal story of the film. That being said, I loved the acting and the cinematography was beautiful. I'm really not a fan of black & white as a stylistic choice and I feel like the Lighthouse would have worked just fine (if not better in color), but it doesn't work against the movie at all. Really, all of my issues are personal preferences; there is nothing objectively wrong with this movie. I could see some viewers being bit bored with the film because it is kind of slow and feels long for a movie that is under two hours. I watched it with my mother and sister and I think the lack of explanation kept them from getting fully invested.
The Haunting of Hill House is hard for me to rate. On one hand, we have really great performances from almost the entire cast; even the kids did very well and I was never reminded that these are all actors ad none of this is real. The sets were really good too, whether it was the funeral home, the rehab center, or the titular Hill House, everything has well designed and as realistically creepy and unsettling. On the other hand I essentially finished only because of the whole sunk cost fallacy and the blind hope that maybe they can right the ship. Every paranormal movie essentially gets to create its own rules for how ghosts and such work, so I can't really complain about the realism of how they chose to write their rules. I will say, however, that their rule book is bullshit and the stupidest fucking mess I've ever read. I won't spoil anything, because the incredibly slow and arduous unrevealing of the mystery is really the only the story has going for it, but I found it to be purposefully obtuse and cheap. They are trying so hard to create a mind-fuck story with the constant flashbacks and (maybe) dream sequences and we never really know if people are really seeing things, if it's just stories they are replaying in their head, if it's hallucinations or if it is just that the writers are trying to give us a visual while someone is being told a story. 85% of the story is just a family drama. It's a compelling drama and the characters are great, but we were pitched and promised a horror and we barely get that. the other 15% is easily the worst part. They do a fair job creating a sense of unease, but literally every unveiling garnered a response of "Really? Fucking really? That's their explanation?" One of the last one makes sense, but one particular one really made me physically angry; it's just so nonsensical, stupid, and unrealistic even for a movie about ghosts. This did not need to be a 10+ hour series and they certainly didn't deliver on the impression of horror. If we cut out all the bullshit, we could have a solid four episode mini-series about a family dealing with loss. I really wanted to love Hill House and they have all of the pieces to make a great show, but they fucked it all up. The cast was outstanding and aside from child actor with a very minor role, everyone gave Oscar worthy performances. The ghosts and ghouls or whatever they actually were looked pretty bad, but the Hill House set looked great. If they gave the pieces to a different writer and director, Hill House could be a classic, but I hate what Mike Flanagan did with them.