'Sonic the Hedgehog 2,' 'The Lost City' and 'Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood': Wallowing
A sequel does what a sequel does best; Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum mock adventure movies and themselves; Richard Linklater returns to his childhood.
Halfway through the movie, I nodded off.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is less a narrative movie than it is a theatrical motion picture adaptation of a video game. Directed by Jeff Fowler, it was intended to be an experience, I think, for optimistic families with young children, jaded teenagers with video game savvy, and bored twenty-something adults who want to see things go boom! [Now playing exclusively in movie theaters.]
(Why the latter chose to see this movie rather than Michael Bay's Ambulance last weekend is beyond my understanding, since the latter's R-rating clearly signals its intended audience, like a flashing siren.) (*Cough cough.*)
Over the past couple weeks, I've missed several advance screenings for critics, including Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and prior to that, The Lost City. (I had no great desire to be assaulted again by Michael Bay, nor see the latest Harry Potter magic-pushing franchise installment.) But I have been itching to see movies on the big screen -- or, at least, bigger than my 32" television -- which led me to resume my Season Pass to the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater chain.
For $19.98/month, I can see one movie per day, with the only additional fee being a $1.98 service charge. If I am able to go once a week, that translates into about $7.00 per movie -- much less than the $12.50 I would be charged otherwise -- and I can go to a location that is only a mile away.
So far, I've gone twice, both times on Thursday afternoon, which seems to be an ideal time to venture into a movie theater: normal people would be outside, working or attending school or whatever normal people do on beautiful sunny afternoons. (Truly, I have no idea.) In view of my stroke some months ago, I'm still slowed with a cane -- useful to fend off potential beggars or other bad actors -- and I was very glad to see how easy it has been to find a parking spot right in front of the theater's lobby, literally just steps away.
Borrowing its setup from Romancing the Stone (1984) without apologies, The Lost City begins in light comic fantasy territory and remains there, relying mostly on the movie-star charisma exuded by Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum. They make it all look easy.
Indeed, I love how easily Bullock can transform herself into a physically awkward and ungainly person, with grace and style. It's very beguiling. Tatum is well-suited to light physical comedy, in which he can mock his own good looks and play a clumsy goofball with all good intentions.
By now you may have heard that a Major Motion Picture Star makes an extended cameo appearance, which fits into the joking style of the movie. The whole thing plays like a gas; it's very pleasant entertainment to watch indoors on a sunny afternoon. [Now playing exclusively in movie theaters.]
Over the weekend, I watched Richard Linklater's Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood, which is intended only for people like me who grew up in the U.S. during the 1960s. Yes, it wallows in nostalgia; yes, that's the point, to remember and recollect fondly before all the memories fade away.
For us, it's a wonderful treat; for everyone else, it may be a bore. I don't care; if you are younger, watch something else. [Netflix]
This is a busy week for family-friendly shows. First up is Ice Age: Scrat Tales, which directly addresses my disappointment, expressed when I reviewed The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild in January: "And no Scrat! The acorn-loving squirrel, voiced by Blue Sky co-founder Chris Wedge, is not even mentioned. No scrat! Drat! … Bring back Scrat, please, and not just in the trailer."
Someone must have been listening. Six new short films, each about 4 minutes in length, debuted this week, all featuring Scrat as he gains a youthful companion and rival for his Acorn affections. These are just what the doctor ordered; all are tasty and clever and made me laugh.
Each of the shorts pushes the boundaries, just a bit, as Scrat becomes more of a father figure, by chance. His good-hearted, pure Acorn devotion is tested time and again. Check it out. [Disney Plus]
Even though I nodded off during Sonic the Hedgehog 2, -- note, please, that I liked the first movie in 2020 -- have no regrets for spending the afternoon in a good-sized movie theater. (That particular auditorium can seat 155, though only 5 of us were in attendance yesterday.)
As a semi-professional film critic, I appreciate the opportunity to attend complementary screenings in advance of a movie's opening, which gives me the chance to form my own opinion, complete research as needed, and write a review to the best of my abilities.
Since my stroke, I've had zero opportunities to see anything in a movie theater strictly for pleasure; I'm always evaluating, comparing, drawing mental comparisons, registering my own reactions, analyzing my reactions, drawing conclusions, endeavoring to remember everything I can about what I've just seen while I'm seeing it.
I have no complaints about that aspect of my life; I enjoy watching movies, especially good ones, and usually I also enjoy writing about them, especially good ones that may not have drawn much notice.
After I dozed off, though, and decided I wouldn't be writing a review, I found myself absorbing the experience to a greater degree. I wasn't thinking about Jim Carrey's outlandish performance and how it compared to other outlandish performances in his career; I just sat back and enjoyed it for what it was.
That auditorium in the Alamo Drafthouse features a wonderfully big screen with wonderfully loud sound; of course, it's multiple times a bigger and better visual and audio experience than any I could recreate in my apartment on a 32-inch screen. (Maybe if I sit closer to the TV?)
From a cinematic perspective, it made me think about movies similar to how I did as a child in the 1960s: 'Look at that big picture!'