A Star Is Born

This exceptionally well done movie earns a solid 4 Icees (out of 5).  Normally I feel I have to justify why a good movie doesn’t get 5 Icees.  I mean, if I like it and think people should see it, shouldn’t it get 5 Icees?  Wellllll, no.  Although I thought this was a great movie, it’s not one that I would want to watch over and over again.  It’s a really good film, and that’s about it.

First, let’s talk acting.  When I saw that Lady Gaga was in this film I figured there would be awesome vocals displayed (and there are), but I have to confess that I figured this would be another “she can sing so of course she thinks she can act”.  In this case, she really CAN act, and act very well. I don’t know if she pulled experiences from her own life to prepare for this movie or not, but her performance felt real to me.  When you see Bradly Cooper and his blue eyes and deep voice, you know he’s going to do well and women will want to see it.  However, you thrown in Lady Gaga and her acting ability as well and you have the making of a strong movie.  It doesn’t hurt that Sam Elliot also had a good performance in a supporting role.

The story is filled with drama like nobody’s business.  The strong acting and good storyline gives this movie immediate Oscar appeal.  It also makes this movie a good date movie.  I don’t mean that in a romantic comedy sort of way, but in a real love story… filled with challenges, struggles, happiness and occasional fits of anger.  My only challenge is that there is some predictability in the film that could have been avoided.

Now, this movie is rated R for valid reasons.  Cursing throughout, nudity that could have been avoided and drug use are the main things that you will experience in this film, so if those things bother you, perhaps this excellent movie isn’t quite for you.

No scenes during or after the credits.

Enjoy…

Smallfoot

This overly predictable movie gets just 2 Icees out of 5.  I was hoping for so much more, but sadly, it just didn’t produce.

As far as humor goes, if you saw a trailer for the film you seen the funniest parts.  Yes, it has the stereotypical life lesson that all kids movies must have nowadays but I just didn’t find it that much fun to watch.  Judging by the lack of laughter in the theater, neither did anyone else.

It’s a shame because there were some “name” actors in it including Channing Tatum, Zendaya, Common, LeBron, James Corden and others.  I just thought the writing was mostly dull and unfunny.

I’d recommend waiting until this comes out at Redbox and then not renting it. Sorry this review is short, but there just wasn’t much to say about it.

Enjoy…

Goosebumps 2

This sequel isn’t as good as the first and starts slow, but it is serviceable enough and gets 3 Icees out of 5.  To say that the movie starts out slow would be an insult to slow.  I get wanting to set up the movie, but I think this one just went a little too long to do so.  Once it did get going, I thought it was enjoyable to watch.

Madison Iseman (you may remember her as young Bethany from Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) does a much better job of acting here because… well… she’s given a lot more to do than to be the “popular blonde chick” and she does it well.  However, the actor I think I was most impressed with was Jeremy Ray Taylor. He was in “It”, but I didn’t watch it (get it… see what I keep doing there?). It’s not often a lead role goes to someone of Jeremy’s stature and I thought the young man did a good job with it.

Yes, most of the story is silly, but it’s a Goosebumps movie so what’d you expect?  The plot is transparent and there are few surprises, but it does well for a nice pre-teen comedy/Halloween movie… and yes… I think that ventriloquist doll is just plain creepy… even before it starts to talk.

The stuff (not really scenes) during and after the credits are not worth sticking around for.

Semi-Spoiler!!!!!  The man that gives out the award at the end of the movie is….  R.L. Stein!!

Enjoy…

Venom

As I write this post, Venom has a whoppin’ 31% approval rate by the “professional critics” at rottentomatoes.com.  It also has an 88% rating by the audience.  This is a perfect example of why The Don does reviews.  I judge a movie by how much I enjoyed it.  Not by how “artistic” it is.  Not by how “Oscar worthy” it is, although it doesn’t hurt.  If you want those types of movies, I hear that A Star Is Born fits that criteria.  I will know later this weekend or next as I do plan to see that movie and rate it.  But this is about an anti-hero named Venom, so let’s begin.

First, although Venom was a Marvel Comics creation, and this movie was not made by Marvel Studios.  It was made by Sony.  The same studio that has messed up The Fantastic Four the last several times and has made X-Men a laughing stock of a franchise.  That is the one thing that worried me about Venom.  Will Sony screw it up…

Well, the answer to that question is a resounding NO.  This movie gets an exciting 4 Icees out of 5.  It starts slow and for my taste takes a little too long to get going, but once it does it’s great.  The interaction between the symbiote and Tom Hardy is fantastic.  Not only is it hilarious at times, but Tom Hardy acts exactly how I would think that someone would act when you find out you have something inside of you like that.  Startled, shocked and amazed. There is no doubt that the best thing about this movie is the relationship between Venom and and Tom.

There isn’t as much action as I would have liked, but the action that is there is awesome.  The supporting cast are serviceable, but not outstanding.  There is one inconsistency that bugs me (if something is working, why would you stop it?) but overall this movie is thoroughly enjoyable.

There is a scene during the credits that appears to set up a sequel, if it does well at the box office.  From the number of people I saw at the theater tonight, that will not be a problem!

Enjoy…

Night School

I can honestly say that this is the best Kevin Hart movie that doesn’t have The Rock in it that I have ever seen.  Now, that’s really not saying a lot because up until this movie, I couldn’t stand any of his flicks.  But what about Ride Along?  Hated it.  Couldn’t even finish it. So the bar was pretty low to beat.

I think that Kevin does best when he has A-list talent to work with.  For example, in both Central Intelligence and Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle he had The Rock to work with and that chemistry was fantastic.  In this movie, he has the incredibly talented Tiffany Haddish to work off of, and it works well.  This is why this movie was able to get the 2.5 Icees (out of 5) that it received.

The movie starts off with typical Kevin Hart comedy (on its way to a 1.5 or a 2) and then the Tiffany comes in and changes everything.  In this movie, she played the one under control and it worked great with Kevin being Kevin.  There just wasn’t enough of that.  Just like there wasn’t enough of the rest of the class. I would have liked to have seen more of Rob Riggle and the crew.  Instead of this movie being about Kevin and his night school experience, this movie would have been much better if it were an ensemble movie about everyone.  They made some really funny and interesting characters to put around Kevin, but we just didn’t get to see enough of them.

Also, I would have liked to seen more backstory on Tiffany’s character. She is an amazing comedic actress and this movie didn’t do nearly enough to highlight that.

For the die-hard Kevin Hart fans, I am sure you will love this movie much more than the 2.5 Icees I have given it.  However, for the rest of us, this movie was ok (it didn’t get 1 Icees for Pete’s sake), but it wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been.

No scene after the credits…

Enjoy…

House With A Clock In Its Walls, The

So I’m sitting in this theater and I’m waiting for the trailers to begin and I look around and I see families sitting around, ordering food (this was a Fork and Screen theater) and being generally noisy. No biggie… the movie hasn’t started yet.  But then I notice the age of the children that are there. True, this was rated PG and not PG-13, but I still thought some of the kids in there were just too young.  I mean around 5-7 years old kind of young.  Oh well, their parents will have to deal with it if the kiddos wake up from bad dreams.

So as I’m watching this movie (which, by the way, I give 3 Icees to) and I hear one little girl saying she doesn’t like it because its too scary.  I hear another little child (a boy I believe) crying and having to be taken out by his mom.  Now, I don’t think the movie was all that scary, but I’m not 5 years old either. Yes, the movie has some scary scenes in it, after all this is supposed to be a pre-teen “horror/comedy” movie after all. I guess I would say if your kid is a real pre-teen (maybe 9-12 years old) then they can do just fine with this movie.  Too much younger than that, you’re on your own!

So on to the review.  The movie is actually decent for its target audience. It’s not as good as Goosebumps was (also with Jack Black in it) but it is ok.  The acting is a bit hokey at times, but again… this is a pre-teen’s movie and not one really designed for adults.  The story starts off a bit slow but then picks up the pace well.  Jack Black carries his role off well, as does Cate Blanchett. Owen Vaccaro is ok as a nerdy kid, but sometimes he is too stiff with his acting.  Something that will hopefully pass with time.  The worse performance for me was that of Sunny Suljic as Tarby.  First of all… Tarby??  Really??  Well, anyway I didn’t care for his performance at all and hopefully he uses the money from this movie for some acting lessons.

Ok, I just realized that I started the first 3 paragraphs with “so”, and therefore I will try to avoid that word for the rest of this review.  There is enough scariness to make the movie worthwhile if you want to try your pre-teen out on “horror” to see how they will do before they try something more terrifying, but not enough to send them into therapy (unless they’re 5 years old… I mean.. c’mon.. who takes a 5 year old to see a horror movie, even if it is PG?).

There is a “scene” during the credits and after the movie, but nothing worth sticking around for.

Enjoy…

A Simple Favor

This unique movie get a resounding 4 Icees out of 5.  When I watched the trailer for this movie, I immediately thought of Gone Girl (which is an excellent movie, I might add).  Throw in Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively and I was all in.  What I ended up with however was something different. Something unlike anything I had seen before, and I always enjoy when I find movies like that.

For one, the movie is much more fun/funnier than the trailers let on, but it’s not a comedy.  I would classify it as a comedy-thriller.  As the trailers indicate, you take a shy, naive single mom (Anna) and mix her in with a lovely woman-about-town (Blake) and throw in that woman going missing and you end up with a mystery that only gets more twisted and interesting as it unfolds.  There is a little predictability, but just when you think you know what’s going to happen next, there is a twist that shakes things up.

This movie is R-rated and it would be rated as such just for the language alone (many, many f-bombs), but you throw in a dash of violence (but not the graphic violence that you might think of with a movie like this), a single drug use scene, and an “unusual” graphic nude image and you get a solid R.  With Paul Feig directing (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy) I would expect nothing less than quirkly, profane and unusual.  This delivers on what I think is his best movie to date.

I have to confess I’ve never watched a Blake Lively movie (other than Green Lantern) and never watched Gossip Girl so for me, this was her first movie in a starring role and she rocked and shocked it. Some of the things she says are just… wow…  I’ve seen Anna in many things (isn’t she in every movie nowadays?) and she when stereotypical here with the naive single mom role, but pulled it off amazingly well.  Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) did a stellar job as the husband, but this was all about the ladies, and that’s a good thing.  I like a movie with strong female characters where the guy plays second (or third) fiddle.

This is a good movie; one worth seeing.  If you like a movie that tells a story without having to get all up in your face about it, this is that type of film.

There are no scenes during the credits.

Enjoy…

Peppermint

Sometimes a movie comes out and loudly demonstrates why I started this site.  This is one of those movies.  This movie currently has a 14% rating on rottentomatoes but I give it a solid 4 Icees out of 5!  Judging by the current 85% audience rate on that same site, most of the 587 people who have rated it so far agree with me.

So why does it get this rating?  Simple, it’s got great action!  Is the violence gratuitous? Yes! Is the gunfire excessive? Yes! Does that bother me?  No!!  If you like John Wick or The Expendables, you will like this movie just fine. Now the writing isn’t the best as there is little true character development (we get a backstory as to why she’s doing what she’s doing) but again… who cares?  You don’t go to this type of movie for academy award screenwriting.  You go for the action and you get that in droves.  Is this predictable at times? Sure, but there is a twist that happens that might catch you off guard (or not).

Speaking of action and violence, this movie certainly deserves its R-rating for all the gunshots, stabbings and language.  Just sayin’

This movie makes me sad for all the years since Alias went off the air when Jennifer Garner has been wasting her talents on romantic/drama movies instead of doing more action.  She’s great at it! Her performance alone makes this movie worth seeing.

So if I like it so much, how come only 4 Icees?  To get higher than that, you really have to impress me, and although this movie comes close, the pedestrian writing does bother me enough that I can’t give this a higher score.  Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed this movie and will own it when it comes out on VUDU!

There are no scenes after the credits.

Enjoy…

 

Operation Finale

This movie, based on a true story, gets 3 Icees (out of 5).  I wish I could give it more… I really do.  It’s an important story and has a couple of very good performances (by Ben Kingsley and Oscar Isaac), but as far as a story goes, it just seems to fall flat in too many places for my liking.

The interaction between Ben and Isaac is the best part of the story, and they just don’t show enough of it.  I get that this is the a movie about the capture of Adolf Eichman, but would it hurt to tell a little more about his role as opposed to eluding to it during conversations? I think my wonderful wife said it best when she said it just seemed like we were going to get more.

Also, the film attempts to develop tension where none exists.  A great example of this is that at some point toward the end of the movie, it makes it appear as something very dire will happen if a people is unsuccessful at something (hard to do this without spoilers).  Well, some people are unsuccessful and it appears that nothing really negative happened at all because in the next scene all is well.  I don’t know if the editor took something out to make the movie shorter or what, but it just created a huge hole in the film.

So how did this get 3 Icees?  Again, it was primarily because of the two leads.  Indepentantly they were ok, but when together they were able to play off each other very well and it greatly improved the movie. Also, the fact that this is based on a true and heroic story also gives it some cred.

Right before the credits, there are some clips of the trial but otherwise no scenes during or after the credits.

Enjoy…

Crazy Rich Asians

Even though the misleading marketing campaign caused me to see this a week after its debut, I’m glad I did.  I give this a strong 3.5 Icees!

The marketing campaign made it seem like the title should be interpreted as Crazy…. Rich Asians.  To me, this equals a stupid-funny comedy that I would have no interest in seeing.  After reading some reviews from last weekend’s showing I realize that it is actually Crazy Rich…. Asians, and that’s all the difference in the world.  This movie is based on a book, which of course I never read… because I don’t read books.  I just can’t get into them.  Oh well, on with the review.

This just tells a story, and there have been movies like this in the past that I have enjoyed… Movies that don’t really fall into a single category.  Movies like Up In The Air, or The Intern.  Movies that have some comedy, some drama, and seems pretty close to real life.  This is one of those movies.

There is enough romance in it for it to be the perfect date movie (guys, that’s what I call, “a hint”).  There’s just enough comedy that it’s not dull in any way, but it’s really not a romantic comedy.  This movie has a tale as old as time, but also has some disappointment, hurt, and meanness in it.  In other words… life.

The fact that it stars an all-Asian cast is great, but it’s not anything like you might expect.  No sterotypes, which is fantastic!!  Knowing how Hollywood is, I really expected the movie to be dominated by that and I was so pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t.

If you want to go see a really nice movie that just happens to have an all-Asian cast, this is a nice one to see.  Oh, one other thing… I’ve read that they are already working on a sequel!

There is a short scene during the credits, but nothing following.

Enjoy…

© 2018 Reviews by the Don

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑