Knives Out

This entertaining Whodunit gets 4 Icees for telling a story in a different but effective way.  You take an all-star cast (Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson and more!) and pair them with a solid script and you get an entertaining movie.  It’s not as laugh-out-loud funny as the trailers may lead you to believe, but it’s still a good movie for a genre that has been dormant for far too long.

The way that Daniel Craig (my least favorite James Bond) portrays the private detective in this movie kind of reminds me of Peter Faulk as Columbo.  Quirky, but effective.

Just a moment ago I said it wasn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as the trailers may lead you to believe, and that’s true… but there are moments that will get you to laugh.  Who knew that some of these actors could deliver one-liners so well.

In any event, this is a movie I would recommend, and if you don’t believe me both the critics (96%) and audience (94%) on rottentomatoes.com agree with me.

There is something as the credits end that isn’t worth sticking around for, but if you email me at thedon@reviewsbythedon.com I will let you know what it is.  Nothing other than that.

Enjoy

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A

This heartwarming tale gets 3.5 Icees from this reviewer!  This is a good movie, inspired by a true story regarding a friendship between Fred Rogers (aka, Mr. Rogers) and a journalist.  In the movie, the journalist is named Lloyd Vogel but it is based on Tom Junod. There are different articles out there that talk about how much poetic license the filmakers took, but for the most part, the tone of movie appears to be very accurate, and that’s awesome.

This movie is about the famous children’s show performer who apparently was one of the nicest people to ever walk the face of the earth (no, he wasn’t a former Navy Seal) and Tom Hanks performs it as well as you’d expect one of the best actors of our time to do…  exceptionally.

Also doing a fantastic job is Matthew Rhys, playing Lloyd Vogel.  He doesn’t play a one-dimensional character but instead portrays the character like a real person with real issues.

I also like the storytelling method of this movie, which bounced back and forth between being an episode of the show and telling the story.

So why only 3.5 Icees if I liked this movie so much?  That’s a great question.  Although I enjoyed this movie and do recommend it, I can’t say that it really blew me away or that it was something that I would ever watch again.  It’s just a good movie that I am glad I watched.

There is a scene as the credits start, but nothing afterwards.

Enjoy…

21 Bridges

The critics hate it (48% on rottentomatoes.com) and the audience loves it (91%)… enter The Don.  This is why I do this blog, to let you know what a ordinary person, not “trained in the arts” thinks about a movie.  When it comes to this one, I really liked it and give it 3.5 Icees out of 5.

If I “really liked it”, why did I only give it 3.5 Icees?  Well, before I go into that, let’s talk about the positives, shall we?  First, Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther) did a great job, but I have to admit I kept waiting for him to speak in a Wakandan accent (yes, I know Wakanda is not a real place).  There was good action, and good acting from Chadwick, Sienna Miller and J.K. Simmons. Also I was happy to see that we also got good acting from Stephan James, who I had never heard of before but hope to see more from.

Okay, so if the acting was good and the action was good… why only 3.5 Icees (which by the way is not a bad rating).  Simple, this movie is way too predictable.  The “twists” could be seen a mile away and that’s just bad writing.  I hope to see more from everyone on this cast, just with a better script to work from.

Again, this movie is worth seeing, but it could have been better.

No scenes during or after the credits.

Enjoy…

Ford v Ferrari

This very interesting movie gets a solid 4 Icees from this reviewer.  The movie, based on true facts (of course with some poetic license, but not much) has people talking about awards.  I don’t know about all that, but I did find the movie interesting throughout.

I had no knowledge about the 24 Hours of Le Mans 1966 prior to this movie, but did do some reading afterwards and with the exception of a few details, the movie seems to be pretty much on point.  Matt Damon (aka Jason Bourne) and Christian Bale (aka Batman) both give convincing performances as the main two characters.

The movie at 2.5hrs is a bit long, and slow in spots, but it makes up for it with some good driving scenes, including carnage (get it?  car-nage) during the Le Mans race. The chemistry between the two main characters is believable, as is the corporate image of Ford as portrayed throughout the movie.  Another admirable performance is given by Caitriona Balfe as Mollie Miles and I liked how the movie explored their relationship.  An “acceptable” performance given by Noah Jupe as their son Peter, with solid support by Jon Bernthal (The Punisher) as Lee Iococca and Tracy Letts as Henry Ford II.

I thought the character development was pretty good.  They gave us just enough without going too long to give us the backstories on the primary characters and the situation that led to Ford wanting to get into Le Mans racing. Overall, this is a good movie, period.

As there are many choices during this T-day timeframe, I get it if this doesn’t rise to the top of your list, but if you don’t see it in the theaters, I definitely recommend you watch it when it comes out on video.

No scenes during or after the credits.

Enjoy…

Charlie’s Angels

This fun reboot (sort of) of a popular franchise gets 4-Icees from this reviewer.  I know that may be higher than you are seeing from some, but I enjoyed myself while watching this movie and really… isn’t that why we go to the movies?  If you like girl-power movies, I think you’ll enjoy this.  Is it campy?  Yes.  Is it absolutely the best action movie you’ll ever see?  No. But it’s fun and has just enough twists to keep you guessing.  The best advice I could give would be to ignore your inner critic and just sit back and enjoy…

Surprisingly, the actress I most enjoyed in this movie was Kristen Stewart.  Perhaps that’s because she isn’t playing a brooding teenager, or a brooding Snow White, or a brooding…. well, you get the idea.  In this movie, she’s upbeat and really, really funny.  Throw in Naomi Scott (Aladdin) and the tall and combat-trained Ella Balinska and you have a trio of ladies that are capable of just about anything.  Oh yeah, let’s not forget Elizabeth Banks (still rocking it at 45) who also directed this movie!

It does have some violence, but it is closer to PG than PG-13.

Another thing that I liked is that this isn’t a true “reboot”, but you’ll understand what I mean when you watch the movie.  If I were to tell you, that would qualify as a spoiler and I don’t do that.

The movie can be a tad slow at times but makes up for it with good fight scenes and funny one-liners.  I really hope that this does well enough at the theaters to get a sequel.

There are some scenes during the credits but nothing afterwards.

Enjoy…

Terminator: Dark Fate

I have heard this movie called, “The best Terminator since T2”, which isn’t really all that much of high praise since T3-5 weren’t really good.  So, was it?  Was it the best T since T2?  YES!!  This movie has everything you could want from a Terminator movie and then some and gets a solid 4 Icees from me!

One thing that helps to know going in (sorry if some of you consider this a spoiler, I don’t)… this movie is a direct sequel from T2.  You learn about 5 minutes in that is a movie that can’t follow T3-5, and that’s ok.  T3-5 weren’t that memorable anyways.

This movie is one that the studio execs hope will kick off another trilogy, and I think it does so quite nicely.  You have a new “Sarah” in the mix in the form of Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), who wonders why things are from the future are trying to kill her (sound familiar?).  Along the way she meets Grace (an excellent performance by Mackenzie Davis), Sarah (an not-well-aged Linda Hamilton) and Arnold in a role that I won’t define here.  Of course, there is a new version of Terminator out to kill her in the form of Gabriel Luna, who isn’t even listed on IMDB at the time I am writing this review… that’s just not right.

This movie has great action, intermixed funny one-liners, and most important for me… a decent explanation of how this was reconciled with the first 2 Terminator movies.  I hate it when things between movies in a franchise aren’t consistent (like the X-men movies) and this movie doesn’t have that problem.

No scenes during or after the credits.

Enjoy…

 

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Sometimes you enjoyed the first movie so much and are looking forward to the sequel with such anticipation that it ends up being a bit of a disappointment.  Okay, so that happens more often than “sometimes”.  Well, it is the case with this movie as it just never measured up to the original, which is why I have to limit this to 3 Icees out of 5.

Yes, Maleficent is back and this time she has the moniker of “Mistress of Evil”.  Wait. Didn’t she actually save people?  Isn’t she the one who woke the princess?   Wasn’t that just 5 years ago?  Well, they explain all that away in the first few moments of the film (closest to a spoiler you’re going to get from me).

This cinematography in this movie is beautiful, especially the Moors.  Angelina Jolie is as good as ever.  Unfortunately, that is where the compliments ends… but was good enough to get 3 Icees.  For the most part, the movie is incredibly predictable and that’s just sad.  I thought throwing in Michelle Pfeiffer would be great, but her performance was overdone (at best) and wasn’t supported much by Elle Fanning or Harris Dickenson… all of which seemed to mail it in.

If you loved the first movie, you’ll like this one enough (hey, I did give it 3 Icees after all), but otherwise I would recommend waiting until this is out on video.

No scenes during or after the credits.

Enjoy…

Zombieland: Double Tap

I must confess that I only watched the first movie after I saw trailers for this one, and I really enjoyed it, which made me really look forward to this one.  This movie did not disappoint at all!!  It is hilarious!  In fact, it’s funnier than the first.  For those reasons, it gets 4.5 Icees out of 5.

It’s 10 years later (yes, the original came out in 2009) and the whole gang is back in a world full of zombies and they’re just trying to survive and strive and find a place they can call home.  This movie doesn’t just settle with the 4 from the last film though, as they slowly but surely add just a few new additions which adds some fresh humor to the mix. As far as I’m concerned this is the funniest Woody Harrelson has been since Cheers, but the performance of Zoey Deutch (and the way the other actors played off her character) was just… well… hilarious.

Now, since I watched the first movie and liked it, perhaps my view is tainted a tad.  I really don’t care.  I can honestly say that if you liked the first one, you’ll love this one and if you didn’t watch the first movie you should… and then watch this one!  The filmakers did a masterful job of taking the foundation from the first movie and taking it a step further, which is what should happen in a sequel.

It does earn its R-rating with the language and the bloody zombie violence (they raised it up a notch from the first one).

There is a great scene during the credits and a throw-away scene after the credits.

Enjoy…

Addams Family

Sadly, despite hoping for so much more, the most that I can give this movie is 2 Icees.  I watched this movie a few days ago and it just took me a while to write the review because I knew it would not be an easy one to write.

Sometimes when I see a movie, I know exactly what I’m going to write… what made me laugh, cry or cringe.  In this case, it was just “eh”.  The movie had a few funny parts, but mostly were geared towards those of us that could remember the original series, not because there was anything really spectacular about it. They also made one change to Thing that I just couldn’t drop (once you see it, you’ll know what I mean).

As with all kids’ movies nowadays there’s a theme that is beaten over our heads to the point of, “Okay, leave it alone!”.  The “bad guy” was too stereotypical to be believable, and all-in-all I felt it was a waste of a star-studded cast (Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Bette Midler, Allison Janey and Snoop Dogg).

The biggest indicator that this movie isn’t that good was the fact that I didn’t hear the kids in the theater laugh at all.

There are no scenes during or after the credits.

Enjoy…

Gemini Man

Yet another movie hated by the critics (26%) and loved by the audiences (85%).  I liked this movie much more than the critics but not nearly as much as the audiences as I am only able to give this movie 3.5 Icees.  Here’s why…

First, the good.  Will Smith is really good.  He is showing his age (51) in this movie, but still comes through with charisma but combines it with a sense of maturity that I liked.  The action is really good, although I would have liked a bit more.  The fight scenes that do happen follow the typical Ang Lee (director) style.  Well-choreographed and exciting.

Also, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Farg0) does a good job playing off of Will without it having to be sexual.  Nice touch.  I look forward to watching her in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (yes, that’s the title).

Although in a smaller role, I thought the performance of Bendict Wong (Dr. Strange) was good as well.

Now the not so good.  Although Will Smith did a great job playing the older version, I thought his performance of the younger version was often cardboardish.  I don’t know how the reverse aging technology works and maybe this is a by-product, but he played the role too stiffly for me.  If you want to see exceptional reverse aging technology, check out Samuel L. Jackson in Captain Marvel.  Also, I thought the set-up took too long, but maybe I’m just being picky.

Anyways, it’s an enjoyable movie that I would recommend, just now the “wow” movie I think it could have been.

No scenes during or after the credits.

Enjoy…

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