Authorreviewsbythedon

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….

Geostorm

This sub-par movie gets just 2.5 Icees. So my wife is out of town this weekend so I went to the movies alone. At first I felt guilty that I was going without her, but after watching the movie I realize that although the movie was “ok”, I really just saved a bit of money with that ticket.  I do think she would enjoy the movie, but she probably would have wished that we waited until it came out on demand or at Redbox.  It’s not that the movie is terrible (after all, it did get 2.5 Icees), it’s just that it isn’t that great.

The movie starts off pretty slowly and takes awhile to get going.  Once it does get going it’s actually pretty good.  It’s just a shame that it took too long to get to that point because by the time it’s getting pretty good you’re already regretting spending the money for the tickets, popcorn and soda.

The premise, as you’ve seen in the trailers, is kind of out there.  It starts off with beating you over the head about climate change and then feeds you some sugar as they tell you the world came together as one to build this system to control the weather.  Really?  Do they realize how much this system would cost?  How many decades it would take to build?  Oh well… anyway something goes wrong with the system and the world is in peril.

Gerard Butler is a pretty good actor, but he just hasn’t been in anything good in quite some time.  His best movies in years have been the “Has Fallen” movies, which I liked but not really blockbuster stuff.  Sadly, this one won’t be either. According to IMDB he has 5 movies coming up (including another “Has Fallen” movie) so let’s hope one of those does well.

The supporting cast is serviceable but the plot is overly predictable.  Again, it does get good about 2/3 of the way through, but it’s too little too late to earn anything other than a so-so rating. Hence, 2.5 Icees.

Foreigner, The

Despite what the professionally trained critics think, this movie gets a strong 4 Icees (out of 5) from me.  I’ve been a Jackie Chan fan for awhile, so I feel I should warn you that this is not anything close to a typical Jackie Chan movie.  In the typical movie, he is happy-go-lucky and does his fighting with a smile, and movie is chock full of exceptionally choreographed fights.  This movie has a few fight scenes in it, but not enough for me to call it an action movie at all.

This movie is more drama than action. Pierce Brosnan has about 10 times more lines than Jackie does, and Pierce does them all well. This movie is mostly about the British and IRA fight, and how a bombing in that effort leads to the death of Jackie’s daughter.  Jackie wants to find out who is behind it and chooses Pierce as the person who must give him the names, despite the fact that Pierce tells him throughout the film that he doesn’t know.

I read an article where Jackie is proud of his acting in this movie (and he should be). One of the things he is proud of is that he was able to cry on command. So if you’re looking for a good performance from him, you’ll find it here. If you’re looking for a lot of lines from him, you won’t find that at all.  In fact, that’s one of my one criticisms of this movie; Jackie wasn’t in it enough. The other is that his actions are seen as positive because of what he went through. If this were a Criminal Minds episode, he would be the vigilante whose daughter’s death triggered something in him.  Which leads me back to that criticism. He was in the movie about as often as a target on a crime-fighting movie would be, which for me just wasn’t quite enough. You’ll see what I mean if you see the movie, which I do recommend.  It’s not doing so great at the theater so it should be on Redbox soon.  When it is, I recommend watching it.

There is quite a bit of cursing and violence (hence the R-rating), but no scenes during or after the credits.

Enjoy…

Blade Runner 2049

This visually spectacular movie only gets 2-Icees (out of 5) from me.  So in order to prepare to watch this movie, I watched the original and lost 2 hours and 5 minutes of my life.  Tonite, I feel like I lost another 2 hours and 45 minutes of my life.  Yes, the movie is THAT long.  They could have cut many of the long boring scenes and ended up around an hour less and still got their point across.

The movie has all the stunning visual effects of the first, depicting a decrepid future society that obviously succumbed to over-population and global warming. Oh, and they have “replicants” that look and feel human but obey commands this time (they had a bit of a problem with that in the first film).

Ryan Gossling did well filling the lead, which is a good thing because the on-air time for Harrison Ford and Jared Leto was so short it was just a step above a cameo. The only other person that had decent screen-time was Ana de Armas but to describe her role would be a spoiler and just in case you go and see this movie I don’t give anything away. Sylvia Hoeks also does a good job as Luv, but once again to describe her role would be a spoiler.

So if all these actors did good jobs, why did I only give this movie 2-Icees?  Simple.  It…  was…  boring… for a large majority of the movie.  So many scenes plodded along.  I was thinking, “Okay, we get it… next scene PLEASE”, but no… they kept going on and on with it.

I see that RottenTomatoes has this at 89%, but since it is artsy, I can understand that.  What I don’t understand is the audience rating of 85%!  Do these people like being held captive for almost 3 hours?  Perhaps it’s just me, but I found very few things entertaining abou tthis movie at all. The only reason I gave this 2-Icees at all was because of the scenery and the good acting.  The script, plot, and well… the movie.. just wasn’t that good to me.

There are no scenes after the credits (thank goodness).  Next week is The Foreigner with Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan.

Enjoy…

American Made

This movie, based on a true story, gets 4-Icees.  I have trouble figuring out what genre to put this movie into.  In many places it felt like a historical-based movie, which I think was its intent since it is “based” on a true story.  I would love to know how much actually happened and how much is Hollywood doing their thing.  Prior to watching this movie, I didn’t know much about Barry Seal, but after watching this movie I have to confess I’d like to know more. In any event, I really enjoyed this film.

I thought Tom Cruise did an excellent job with this character, which really allowed him to just let loose and have fun, which is something he’s good at. Sarah Wright did a good job as his wife, although I think the sex-in-the-airplane scene (which I’m guessing is not based on a true story) was unnecessary, it just added to the fun of the movie.

There is also many scenes where tension rules, which you will have when dealing with drug lords and the CIA. There is some violence, quite a bit of language, and some cameos of Tom’s butt (or that of a stand-in).  If you remember the early 80’s, Iran-Contra, and the beginning of the War On Drugs, this movie will be nostalgic as well as a good film.

I can certainly understand why it has an 87% rating on Rottentomatoes because it’s just, well… a good movie.

Enjoy…

Next week, Blade Runner 2049

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

This sequel gets a solid 4-Icees.  No, it’s not as original as the original, but if you enjoyed the first one (which I did), then you’ll enjoy this one as well.  It has the same quirky filming style, from the fast action camera shots to the “make fun of all Bond movies” way of writing.

Back are Taron Egerton and Mark Strong (Eggsy and Merlin, respectively), as well as Colin Firth (more on that later on).  In this one they also added some star power by putting in Julianne Moore (as a very campy but capable villain) and Channing Tatum.  However, if you’re going to this movie because Channing is in it, you’ll be very disappointed because he role is very minimal. They also have another superstar in this movie but I don’t want to spoil who he is or what he does (heck, I’ve already told you it was a “he”, isn’t that enough?) but his addition is hilarious.

Now let’s get back to Colin Firth.  When last we saw him he was shot point blank in the head by Samuel “I’m in everything” Jackson.  The way they brought his character back is not believable in any way but it’s a comic-book type movie so I guess if you think of it that way, sure… it works.  I actually think this movie could have been just as good without him, but that’s just me.

As I said earlier, if you enjoyed the first movie, you’ll like this one too. No, it’s not as good as the original, but it’s a decent enough sequel to go enjoy.  Yes, there’s graphic violence similar to the first movie (although let’s face it, we’re never going to top that church scene) but if that and cursing doesn’t bother you, it is a movie you’ll enjoy.

There are no scenes after the credits.  Next week: American Made with Tom Cruise.

Enjoy…

LEGO Ninjago Movie, The

This entry in the franchise earns 3.5 Icees.  Let’s face it, they will never do another movie as good as the first one.  That’s just not possible.  The first one was… well… the first.  The first to inject that humor and since then both LEGO Batman and now LEGO Ninjago are simply doing the same thing but with a different theme.  However, each time they do a movie, it’s still funny and will make a ton of money and after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

They seem to be insistent on inserting a theme in their movies, and this one was no different.  As you can easily figure out from the trailers, this movie is about a story as old as time.  It’s about a son whose father left him when he was young and is now terrorizing the city he and his mother live in.  There is the normal LEGO humor, a few celebrity voices (Jackie Chan, Robin Roberts and Michael Strahan to name a few) and some whacky humor.  There are, in my opinion, too many slow spots in this movie and that’s why it couldn’t make it up to the 4-Icee level, but there is also plenty of humor and action.

You know a kid’s movie is good when the children in the theater are laughing, and for this one, they were laughing and cheering a lot, so if you need something to do with your young children, this movie gets a solid thumbs-up.

There is one out-take scene partway through the credits, but nothing else.

Enjoy…

American Assassin

This somewhat exciting movie gets 3 Icees.  How’s that for a ringing endorsement?  It’s not as bad as the people on RottenTomatoes would make you think, but it’s not a “great” movie either.  However, if you’re like me and there just hasn’t been anything out for the last 3 weeks that you have wanted to see, this is a nice diversion before next weekend when the new Kingsman (or Lego Ninjago) movie comes out.

This movie stars Dylan O’Brien (from the Maze Runner movies) and Michael Keaton (yeah, that Michael Keaton).  Apparently this is based upon a series of books (and if you know me you know I haven’t read any of them) and apparently Dylan suffers the same fate that Tom Cruise suffers in the Jack Reacher movies in that he doesn’t fit the physical description that is in the books.  People really need to just get over that and take the movie as a stand-alone and forget the books.  I think you’ll enjoy things more.  Anyway, Dylan does a good job with the action and fight scenes to the point where you really think he knows this stuff.  As far as Keaton goes, his performance of a gruff agent/trainer is great, including a couple of great lines while being tortured (closest to a spoiler I’ll give you).  It also stars someone I’ve not heard of but was impressed with and that is Shiva Negar.

This movie is “raw” at times. Now I don’t mean Quentin Tarantino raw, but a less graphic although still intense version of that. It is a movie about an assassin so there will be killing, fighting, torturing and things of that nature.  If you have seen the trailers you know that people die in the beginning of the movie, and the way it is done is ripped from today’s headlines so be prepared for that.

The plot is pretty straight-forward with no major surprising twists (although maybe a minor one). There’s nothing flashy or spectacular about this movie, which may stop it from getting any sequels (I’ve heard there are 16 books so far out),  but I did enjoy it and therefore have no problems giving it a 3-Icee rating.  If you are bored this weekend and need a tune-up for next weekend, this might just do.  Otherwise, catch it at Redbox in a few months.

There are no scenes after the credits.  Next week: Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The LEGO Ninjago Movie.

Enjoy…

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