WARNING! SPOILERS for all three movies reviewed herein!
Speak No Evil – Beth tends to like bleak, hopeless movies, while I tend more towards the whimsical and fantastic. Obviously there are exceptions for both of us, but one sort of movie she likes is the sort where people with no motive whatsoever show up to torture and kill someone who hadn’t done anything, and end up getting away with it. I guess I feel powerless and like there’s no real justice much of the time anyway, so I don’t need a movie to reinforce that. I’ve enjoyed films that were disturbing and where the villains won, but I kind of think the sort of villain in these isn’t particularly interesting, just jerky. In this particular film, two couples with one young child, one Dutch and one Danish, meet up and befriend each other on vacation in Italy. After they’ve returned home, the Dutch family invites the Danish one to their house for the weekend. They at first just seem vaguely weird and rude, the sort of thing that can be written off as personal or cultural differences. Once they start acting openly psychotic, it’s too late for the Danish family to do anything about it. The title comes from how the Dutch couple cut out their son’s tongue, and later do the same to the other couple’s daughter. Some pictures in their house indicate that they’ve done this over and over again with different kids, kidnapping them, cutting out their tongues, abusing them, and eventually killing them. There are a few different languages in the movie, with Danish and Dutch being used by the families when talking amongst themselves, but speaking English to each other. The vacation thing seems a little too elaborate just to torture people; there are probably plenty of people in Holland they can do that to. But maybe that makes it harder for the authorities to track. But yeah, it didn’t seem at all satisfying to me. And there wasn’t a single monkey in it!
Strange Magic – I added this to my Netfilx queue years ago, and I don’t entirely remember why, as I didn’t know a whole lot about it other than that it was animated. And I had the DVD sitting around for months before I got around to watching it. It’s based on a story by George Lucas and was distributed by Disney, but it was a box office flop. I came into it wanting to like it, as I like stuff with fairies in it, and it looks good. The fairies have pretty butterfly wings and anime-type hair. The Bog King, the ruler of the Dark Forest who’s set up as a villain but has a change of heart, looks kind of like a Rankin/Bass character, and has dragonfly wings.
And there are plenty of other fantastic creatures as well. What doesn’t work is that it’s a jukebox musical, and there are so many familiar songs packed in and in no way advancing the fairly thin plot. What’s there is sort of a twist on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with a lot of mismatched couples due to magic but everything working out in the end. I guess there’s also some influence from the Nutcracker, as the Sugar Plum Fairy is a character. Maybe it would have worked better as a short without the songs, but then it might not have gotten funding.
M3GAN – I’m not sure whether to consider this a killer doll or a killer robot movie, since the titular character is both. And her name is just pronounced “Megan,” not the more exotic “Mthreegan.” Anyway, it’s about a little girl named Cady who survives a car accident that kills her parents, and she goes to live with her aunt Gemma, who’s employed at a company that makes robotic toys. Trying to come up with something that will help Cady and help her employer get an edge in the market, she builds the robotic doll M3GAN, who is able to learn about her companions through some advanced artificial intelligence. I suppose it’s no surprise to anyone that she eventually starts killing people, initially just those who threaten Cady, but later others as well. And she’s a pretty brutal killer. Once again, the moral is that making machines smart will doom humanity. Actually, I think it’s more about the futility of quick fixes for complex problems. Besides, if people these days are impressed by computers being able to make composite pictures based on keywords, we’re probably quite far off from the sort of technology in the film. Anyway, I liked it pretty well. Although it’s not the main theme, there’s a fair amount of satire on consumer culture throughout. It actually starts with a commercial for a robotic toy pet, with a cheerful jingle announcing that it won’t die like a real pet. One weird note that probably won’t interest anyone but me is that, before the movie, I was reading this article about how a gaming magazine mistakenly referred to Mega Man’s brother as Bruce, and the movie had a robot named Bruce, who played a Chekhov’s Gun kind of role.