Authorreviewsbythedon

Black Panther, The

This exceptional movie gets 4.5 Icees.  The only things that stop this movie from getting a perfect 5 Icees is that there is almost too much dialog and it has too much of a political statement.  I go to the movies to be entertained, not politicized.

Now with that said, this movie was awesome!  The action, although less than a normal Marvel movie, was great. The wardrobe designs were fantastic. The cinematography was beautiful. The acting was superb.  With the money that this movie is guaranteed to make, there is no doubt there will be a sequel and I for one am looking forward to it already.

Chadwick Bossman plays the regal new king of Wakanda quite well.  On a side note, you don’t have to have seen all the previous Marvel movies to watch this one as it tells you all you need to know if you listen closely to the dialog, especially at the beginning of the film when they explain Wakanda and vibranium. Okay, now back to the actors. Michael B. Jordan plays an exceptional villain with a decent backstory of his own.  When you listen to him you truly believe that he feels strongly about what he is fighting for. Forrest Whitaker does his normal excellent job as a wise shaman (I guess that is what he is). Lupita Nyong’o is great as is Danai Gurira as a General you don’t want to mess with.  Did I mention this movie has a great cast?  I didn’t even get around to Martin Freeman who continues his role from Captain America: Civil War as a CIA agent. Throw in some Andy Serkis and you have a great group of actors who showed up to make a great movie.

Not only was the movie good itself, but there is a social aspect that must be recognized. This is the first superhero blockbuster to star an African-American actor (and majority of cast) and the first one directed by an African-American as well.  Just as Wonder Woman showed great things that women can do, hopefully Black Panther will be recognized as a shining example of what African-Americans can do.  Wouldn’t it be nice if it didn’t take this long for these types of movies to be made?  Well, the important thing is that they are being done now and hopefully more so in the future.

As I mentioned before, be sure you listen to the narrative at the beginning of the film because it truly sets up the Wakandan nation and explains its technical superiority.  If you like Marvel movies and I believe that even if you don’t… you will enjoy this movie.

There is a scene partway during the credits and one after the credits are done.

Enjoy…

15:17 To Paris, The

As sad as it is to type this, I could only manage to give this movie 2 Icees (out of 5).  I really wanted this movie to be good.  After all, it stars the actual people that performed the heroic act!  In addition, the director (Clint Eastwood) assembled many of the passengers from that trip for this movie (except the terrorist, of course).

So when I was getting ready to watch this movie, I only knew one of the heroes, from Dancing With The Stars. Although I was looking forward to this movie, I was concerned that these heroes would not be good actors.  Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case.  Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t winning an Oscar anytime soon, but they were serviceable enough as actors to not bring the movie down.

So what did bring the movie down?  Two things.  First, this exciting event in their lives was the only thing in their lives (and the movie) that was interesting at all.  As the movie showed the trio as kids and then young adults they tried to drive interest by bringing in things like ADD, Christianity, successes and failures it utterly failed as none of that was interesting at all.  Least interesting was their trip through Europe until the events of that fateful day. The second thing? Those child actors were very, very, very bad. Not even close to being decent actors. Their acting was so bad it took away from the story they were trying to tell, which may have been a good thing since it was boring.

The bright spot of the movie? The events on the train. The trio and others on the train say that it was re-created perfectly. It is exciting and dangerous and very well-done.  Unfortunately, the rest of the movie couldn’t live up to it.

There is a scene partway into the credits but no other scenes.

Enjoy…

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

This finale to the trilogy comes in at 3.5 Icees.  The first movie was really good, the second seemed to go a little off and this one has some really good moments, but some really corny ones as well.

First, the good. The continuity of the story was great. It flowed well from the second movie to this one, although you had to listen to understand that 6 months had passed. The acting, especially that of Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Newt) was improved.  Even the lead (Dylan O’Brien) was better this time around. The action was pretty good as was most of the dialog.  I also like how they humanized the WCKD leader (played by Patricia Clarkson) and Teresa (Kaya Scodelaro) to show that they did these things to the kids to try to save humanity, and that they actually do have souls.

Now the bad.  Some of the cornyness (is that a word?) was just too much, especially one particular death. Also, remember that “soul” part I just mentioned?  Well, the character of Janson (Aiden Gillen) was one of those things that was just too over the top.  His portrayal was just stupid in some parts (to explain more would introduce spoilers and I don’t do that).  Finally, we are hit over the head with the political narrative (rich people bad, poor people good) and that was just a bit too much for my taste.

This was a good (not great) finish to the Maze Runner series.  If you loved the first and second, you’ll be happy enough with the finale, but know that it is 2hr, 20min long.

No scenes during or after the credits.

Enjoy

Den Of Thieves

Although massive gunfights abound, this movie can only manage 3 Icees.  This heist movie has many redeeming qualities.  Action, twists of the plot and dramatic characters.  Unfortunately, there is too much unbelievability for this to get any higher than 3 Icees. At 2hrs, 20min long, they could have done more with it.

Gerard Butler can play a rough guy all day long.  He also plays strung-out really well too.  However, as the leader of the major crimes division he is too unbelievable as someone who breaks the law (kidnapping suspects and other things I could tell you but it would be spoiler-filled).  I thought the most interesting character was played by Pablo Schreiber as the leader of the thieves. He plays cold well, but also with a sense of honor about him. They have no problem shooting at cops, but will not kill civilians despite the numerous opportunities.

If you can put away the fact that none of this is even close to being realistic, this movie is actually pretty good.  The gunfights are some of the best I’ve seen in a non-military movie. The twists, especially one big unexpected one, are good.

There is a lot of profanity and violence, but if that doesn’t bother you, this would be a decent rental sometime.

No scenes during or after the credits.

Enjoy…

Proud Mary

This movie that had so much potential comes in at a disappointing 3 Icees.  I have like Taraji P. Henson since she was on Person of Interest.  I never watched Empire as nightime soap operas just aren’t my thing.  She was exceptional in Hidden Figures and so I looking forward to seeing her in the lead of an action movie.  Unfortunately, the writer(s) of this movie didn’t do her any favors.

The plot is straightforward, with no surprising twists or turn. The dialog is bland, but Taraji pulls it off well, as does Billy Brown.  The young actor (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) however definitely needs more acting lessons before he ventures out too much farther. His lines often were delivered flat and without any emotion to them.  Actually, this whole movie lacked emotion.  There was no character development to speak of.

So with all of that, how did it get “up” to 3 Icees?  Well, the acting of Taraji was a big factor as were the action scenes, especially the final.  There just wasn’t enough action to make it work.  I still think she can pull off the lead of an action franchise, but this one won’t be it.  This one was just… a nice movie… a nice way to kill a couple of hours… after it comes out on Redbox.

There is a scene as the credits start but nothing after that.

Enjoy…

Molly’s Game

This exceptional movie gets 4.5 Icees and came really close to getting the full 5.  In fact, I can’t really even argue why it doesn’t, other than to say that there is just something in me that can’t quite go that extra half an Icee.

Jessica Chastain gives yet another stellar performance as a strong female lead, something she has done before in both Miss Sloane and Zero Dark Thirty.  I won’t say she is in Meryl Streep territory, but she’s on the border looking in.  Also, as those that watched Miss Sloane know, this actress can deliver the lines, and she does so here with the same intensity that you have come to expect with her. In this movie, which is based on a book and true story, she plays Molly Bloom, a former world-class skier turned poker maven. She displays her strength and moral character throughout the film.  Since the book was written by the main character, it seems a little over the top, but that may be how it went down.  We will never know.
It was nice to watch Idris Elba in a movie where you get to see him act. Not as some type of hero (Thor and Dark Tower) or someone with a bunch of makeup on (Star Trek), but as an attorney where his dialog in the thing.  He does a fantastic job with this.
The storytelling in the movie was good as well. At first I didn’t think I would like the method chosen, but after a while it just flowed really well and didn’t bother me at all. The movie is done in such a way that you don’t realize that the movie is 2hrs, 20min long until your bladder tells you that it’s time to take a break, and even then you don’t want to because you’re afraid you’ll miss something.
If you are like me and normally watch superhero or action flicks, this is a nice break from that. The story is good and the acting is fantastic, but one word of warning. This is a movie you have to watch and listen to attentively. You can’t be passive about listening or else you will miss something.  You know, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
If you want a good movie, this is one I definitely recommend.  No scenes during or after the credits.
Enjoy…

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

This very fun movie gets 4 Icees (out of 5). When I first heard they were doing a remake of Jumanji so recently after Robin Williams’ death, it made me cringe a little.  I mean, this movie is a classic (in my mind at least) and I just didn’t see how they would make it work.  Well, they did it, and they did it in a fun, funny way.

First, let’s talk about Robin’s legacy and imprint on this movie.  They couldn’t make the exact same movie for a couple of reasons.  First, any attempt to “remake” it would be met with ire (see Ghostbusters).  Second, as it says in the movie, “people don’t play board games anymore”.  So simply, the game adapted.  Can’t say more than that without going into spoilerland.  This isn’t a remake at all, but a sequel… and a pretty good one at that.

I originally thought that The Rock or Kevin Hart would steal this movie.  Nope.  Don’t get me wrong, they are both great.  But the best lines in this movie went to Jack Black, who plays a teenage self-absorbed girl in a hilarious fashion.  The lines he gives and the way he delivers them are just… well, hilarious.  Throw in The Rock as a nerd, Kevin Hart as a jock and Karen Gillan rocks it as a relative newcomer to the big screen.  Yes, she’s been in Guardians of the Galaxy and The Circle (and some other projects) but when you put her in a group with the 3 leading men, it would have been easy for her to be lost, but she wasn’t.  She held her own very well, thank you very much.  Nick Jonas, even though he doesn’t appear until about halfway through the film, does a pretty decent job as well.

This movie has action, hilarious humor (as opposed to some other type of humor?), and keeps it clean enough for the family to see.  The teenage girl discovering her male anatomy is the only thing that was even close to being off-color.  If you are looking for an alternative from Star Wars, this is the movie to see if you want to laugh and have a great time, this is the movie to see.

No scenes during or after the credits.

Enjoy…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

This exceptional addition to the franchise gets 4.5 Icees.  Although not perfect, this episode made many steps forward, including the introduction of a little humor into the franchise.

There are a few logic gaps (like no gravity in space to “drop” bombs), but otherwise the writing in this movie was superb.  There are several places in the movie where you will think that of course this will happen… and then something totally different happens. I like that in a movie, as I cannot stand it when it becomes too predictable. I mentioned humor earlier and this movie puts it in just a few times and when it’s there, it’s really funny.  The addition of the porgs is a welcome one, but we aren’t overrun with them (like the island is) and so by giving us just the right amount, it works perfectly.

Of course there are battles as no Star Wars movie would be complete without them. Whether it is light sabers going at it, or ships battling each other, there is enough to please anyone.  There is a popular flaw that people have pointed out before; how does Rey already know how to use the force without training.  That is discussed a bit in this movie. Not really enough to explain it yet, but enough to make us think it is ok.

The acting was really good, especially that of Adam Driver as Kylo Ren.  One of the main drawbacks I had with The Force Awakens is how undecided/wimpy he was.  He does a much better job in this movie of being conflcted… until he’s not.  Daily Ridley excels as Rey. Her transformation is quick but well done.  The one character I haven’t really bought into yet is Poe.  Not that the Oscar Isaac does a bad job with the character. I just don’t really see where he really fits in.  What is his ultimate purpose?  Carrie Fisher in her last role was regal as always.  The addition of Kelly Marie Tann is an interesting one and I can’t really discuss why without spoilers, so you’ll just have to see for yourself.  There’s even a cameo appearance by an old friend that you should enjoy.

This movie has everything you’d want a Star Wars movie to have: action, lore, the Force, turmoil. It’s runtime is long (2.5hrs) and there are several points where you think, “oh, here’s the ending” only to look at your watch and see that there is plenty to go.  If you’re an anti-Disney person and hate everything that Disney did to the franchise with The Force Awakens… well there’s really no hope for you so why would you see this movie anyways?  For the franchise to grow, it has to move on from the past.  Luke is conflicted, deal with it. He had a traumatic event and it changed him.  That happens.  If you can let go of the past (aka 1977), you will really enjoy yourself with this film.

No scene after the credits.

Enjoy…

This exciting movie gets a solid 4 Icees out of 5.  This is one of those movies that makes me think that professional critics think too much instead of just sitting back and enjoying a movie.  Don’t get me wrong, this movie isn’t perfect and has 2 big flaws, which is why it gets 4 Icees instead of 4.5 or 5.

First, let’s talk about the good. Although some people don’t like the Batman that Batfleck portrays, I actually do.  Playing an aging Batman, one that has seen nothing but darkness and villany during this time protecting Gotham, and doing it well. Superman has given him a glimpse of hope and I think that Batfleck does a good job of portraying that.  Then there is Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Coming off one of the best superhero origin films I’ve ever seen, she continues forward.  I like that in this movie she shows some vulnerability to go along with her new leadership responsibilities.

Adding to those two are the newbies. Ezra Miller as Flash steals many of the scenes and has some of the best lines. Jason Momoa as Aquaman dispells the Big Bang Theory’s famous line of, “Aquaman Sucks”. In fact, I think it would be great to have Jason as a guest star on BBT and have him confront Raj as he says that line. Anyway, he does a fantastic job with the limited vocabulary he is given.  I look forward to the Aquaman movie that is supposed to come out in December of 2018. Finally, there is Cyborg.  He is the least known of the current Justice League characters but they made sure that they made him an important part of the team (can’t say more or else it would be spoilers).

There is great action throughout, funny one-liners and just a good feel for the team once it comes together. So what is the bad?  Why didn’t it do better than 4 Icees?  Well, as I mentioned before there are two reasons.  The first is that Warner Bros made a big mistake by dictating that it be no more than 2hrs long.  Because of that the movie feels very rushed throughout.  Since DC didn’t do like Marvel and have individual movies for most of the characters before the team-up, we didn’t get a chance to become invested in Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. This movie does give a little info as they are coming together but not nearly enough to make you feel like you know them.  Plus, the bad guys are almost upon us immediately so there is no development of the league.

The second issue? This villain. I won’t give any spoilers other than to say that he is totally CGI and it just looks stupid.  I mean, really stupid.  Are we watching a movie or a video game?  They have an actor playing the voice. Couldn’t he act too?  Or couldn’t you find someone to fill the role?  There are a lot of big bad guy actors out there.  Surely one of them was available.  For me, this CGI idiocy took a lot away for me.

Now, if you’ve liked the DC movies so far (which I have), you’ll really enjoy this one.  If you hated BvS, then you’ll probably like this one but perhaps still not love it. I wholeheartedly recommend this movie, but just can’t quite give it the rating I was hoping for.  How much do I like it?  I’m seeing it again in a couple of days!

There is a scene partway through the credits and another one at the end of the credits.

Enjoy…

Thor: Ragnarok

This Marvel entry earns a respectable 4 Icees.  This entry into the Marvel franchise is very good.  I truly enjoyed myself.  However, throughout the movie I kept thinking it just didn’t feel right.  It felt like off.

Chris Hemsworth once again played the hero and played it well.  As always, Tom Hiddleston as Loki was a delight to watch.  Mark Ruffalo presented a softer, more interspective Hulk (eh… not sure how I feel about that).  One bright spot for sure was Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie. Her character is fearless and she plays it well. I even enjoyed Cate Blanchette as Hela.  She gave one Hela performance (sorry, had to do it).  I also like that Idris Elba got to do a bit more than be a glorifed doorman. There was quite a bit of action, a lot of humor (more on that in a moment) and

So why did I think it just didn’t feel right?  Well, I knew what it was but I just didn’t want to admit it. I enjoy both the DC version of movies, which is a darker tone, and also the Marvel movies which are much lighter.  However, this movie took “light” too far in my opinion.  The Thor movies have always been the “darkest” of the Marvel Cinema Universe and I get they wanted to lighten it up but I believe this was an over-correction.  Don’t get me wrong.  Like I said before, I truly enjoyed myself.  I just wish they hadn’t taken it over the edge.  Jeff Goldblum’s character was a prime example of this.  He was too over the top in my opinion.  But for the character they wanted portrayed, Jeff was definitely the guy to do it.

In short, if you like Marvel movies, you will enjoy this one as yet another quality entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  If you think Marvel movies are too “why would they make jokes while fighting”, then this movie may frustrate you a bit more than normal.  Personally, I fall somewhere in-between.

There is a scene about a third of the way through the credits and another at the end of them.

Enjoy….

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