Weekend Movies: Cures for Insomnia

Last weekend delivered two great films, but February is now once again back to punishing us. This weekend brings a monster/siege picture of epic proportions, a comedy with an ’80s flare, and an American thriller that oozes a European feel. Two of them are downright awful, while the other is simply meh.

Surprisingly, the two that look decent are actually bad and the one that looks awful is the easiest on the eyes, ears and brain.

The widest release is the Chinese action movie ‘The Great Wall‘. Ringing up with a price tag near $150 million, it’s the most expensive movie ever made in China. Matt Damon leads the international ensemble as a mercenary on the hunt for China’s mythical explosive black powder. While making his way through the desert with his trusty sidekick (Pedro Pascal from ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Narcos’), he’s captured along the Great Wall of China on the eve of a monster attack. Every 60 years, a horde of hive-minded creatures attempt to cross the wall to bring China to its knees. With this attack coming stronger than those of the past, the nation’s army needs these two outsiders more than ever.

Much to my surprise, ‘The Great Wall’ is actually the best of this weekend’s options – but please don’t mistake that as an official recommendation from me. It’s not terrible, but it’s also not good. If I was 12-years-old, I’m sure I’d love its action, its monsters and its gorgeous visual effects (that is, when they’re not covered by the dust and smoke that plagued ‘Assassin’s Creed’). As an adult, it’s only passable.

Ice Cube typically shows up in bad movies, but Charlie Day has appeared in mostly fun or funny movies, so I figured the two would balance each other out and make ‘Fist Fight‘ a better-than-average R-rated comedy. Boy, was I wrong. I’ve seen few self-proclaimed comedies that were more devoid of jokes than this. Day stars as a risk-adverse teacher in a rough-and-tough high school that’s overrun by the terrible students who attend it. The only teacher who doesn’t get walked on by the teenagers is played by Cube, a rough-around-the-edges history teacher whose approach to teaching is questionable. When the two characters collide on the last day of school, Cube vows to beat the hell out of Day at 3 PM in the parking lot. Hilarity should ensue, but what follows is actually joyless and tedious.

After making a series of bad movies, director Gore Verbinski disappeared for a few years. One would think that he did so to get grounded again and perhaps prepare for an awesome film, but one would be wrong to assume that.

A Cure for Wellness‘ stars Dane DeHaan attempting to do his best grown-up voice for 146 drawn-out minutes. When the CEO of his company fails to return from a medical facility in the Alps, DeHaan is sent to bring him back. Upon arriving, he quickly finds that things aren’t as they seem in this strange hospital. Overly indulgent and ridiculous, the movie feels like a mix tape of a dozen other paranoid thrillers – the most prevalent of which is ‘Shutter Island’. If you were on the hating end of the mixed reviews that ‘Shutter Island’ received, then you’re really going to despise this convoluted film that tries so, so hard to be “European.”

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