Welcome back to Reviews By The Don!!  I know it’s only be about 6 months but it feels like forever since the theathers closed down.  First up on the comeback, Tenet.  This is a movie I wasn’t overly excited about as the trailers reminded me too much of Inception.  Well, even though it’s totally different, it did feel familiar in that it is a head-scratcher.

“Don’t try to understand it.”  I’ve seen those words in other reviews and I think I may have heard it (or something like it) in the film itself.  It is difficult for me to watch a movie and not understand it and still enjoy myself.  However, despite all the physics confusion, this movies gets 3.5 Icees from me.

First, don’t try to understand it.  If you do, you’re head will hurt and you probably won’t enjoy the movie nearly as much as you could.  Just sit back and enjoy the action and the acting, all of which is pretty good, even if the confusing spot is too predictable in spots.

John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman, Ballers) is excellent in this movie, I and look forward to seeing more of him in the future.  Throw in some non-vamperic Robert Pattinson (soon to be the next Batman) and you have a good pairing.  Elizabeth Debicki (Guardians 2, Widow, Gatsby) gives a good performance, albeit that stereotypical damsel in distress.  Besides those three, there are some other mid-name actors in this that you’ll be like, “oh, I didn’t know he/she was in this movie”.  The cast does a good job.

The action is limited but when it does happen, it’s really good.  I would have liked to have see more action but Christopher Nolan (director) really has this more of a mental movie (yeah, you’ll go mental if you try to figure it out), kind of like Inception.

Other than the mental exercise, the only other issue I had with this movie is that once you start catching on to the general flow of the movie, it becomes too predictable.  You’ll be like, “yeah, I know that was going to happen” and that’s not alway good when that’s the case.

There are no scenes after the credits.


Trolls World Tour

Some say that this is the time in our lives that will mark the end of movie theaters as we know it.  People are forced to stay home and studios are releases blockbuster movies as “Home Premiere” events (just like the picture says).  I don’t know if it will take off.  People don’t seem to have any problem paying $50 or more to take the family to the movies, buy sodas and popcorn and watch the latest flick, but idea of spending $19.99 to rent a movie for 48hrs at home just seems like too much.  Crazy, I know but I put myself in that category.  I enjoy going to the theater, getting an Icee and watching the latest movie.  It’s what my wife and I do for enjoyment.  It’s our date night thing.  One of the first movies that was projected to do very well in the theaters but instead went straight to On-demand is Trolls 2 (aka, Trolls World Tour).  An interesting social experiment that only time will judge.

So, enough about that and on to the movie review. I was a fan of the first movie giving it 3.5 Icees when it came out, but as time went on it kind of grew on me and I’ve liked it more and more.  Maybe the second movie will be the same way because I am starting off by giving it the same 3.5 Icees rating.  The general idea (as told in trailers so it’s not a spoiler) is that Rock trolls are trying to take all of the magical strings and take over the troll world in the name of Rock.  Cute enough.  However, there are so many different genres of music and this movie tries to get too many of them in and by doing so really waters down the effect.  You don’t get enough country, techno, yodelling, or any other type of music to really enjoy it.  And that make the movie seem rushed throughout.  When you have stars like Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, kelly Clarkson, Mary J. Blige and others… you just want more..

The music that is played is good, and fun… but there just isn’t enough of it.  Also, the movie tries too hard to shove the “lesson” down our throats in my opinion.  I wish I could go back in time, find the first kids movie with a social theme and just stomp it out.  Sometimes the theme takes over the movie at the expense of fun.  That happens a little here.

Perhaps the quarantine has made me a bit bitter, but I was just looking for more funny out of this movie.  If you enjoyed the first Trolls movie, you’ll enjoy this one as well.  It has all the same characters and Branch is Branch, which is always good.  It is fun throughout, just not as funny as I think it could have been.

There is some animation as the credits start, but not anything of substance.




Two weeks, two kids’ movies.  Oh my…  Well, this one was pretty good, after a really slow start.  The slow start knocks it down, but otherwise this movie gets 4 Icees!  Whereas Sonic was targeting pre-teen only, this movie is for a viewing audience that is slightly older, probably up to the early-teenage viewers, but has has enough (once it gets going) for everyone.  If you read my review for Sonic you know that I feel kids’ movies should have a lot of laughter.  This movie has some, but not really a lot, but I still liked the movie because it was like a younger Pixar-type adventure.

The story is solid enough, with the quest to….  oops, almost did a spoiler there.  Anyway, there is a quest and this movies follows our adventurers through it.  The references to a D&D-like game was  a nice touch as well.

The two main heroes are voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, and I hope someday they do a non-animation movie together because even though it was just their voices, I think they portrayed great chemistry together and I’d like to see more of that.  It’s a shame Marvel didn’t play off that in Infinity War / Endgame.

If you want to watch a fun movie this weekend, this is the one I’d recommend.

There are no scenes during or after the credits.


Sonic The Hedgehog

I have been told that I am way too critical on kids’ movies.  Maybe that’s true, I don’t know.  What I do know is what I liked as a kid, because for the most part I still like those things.  I think a movie for kids should be funny first and foremost.  It appears nowadays it MUST also have a message… blah blah blah.  Whatever.  Sure.  Ok.  But is it fun to watch and funny?  This movie was enjoyable to watch and although not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny, it was humorous at times.  Therefore, I think that this movie deserves a 3.5 Icee (out of 5) rating.

As I said above, the movie has to be fun, and this movie was pretty fun throughout.  It was funny enough for its target audience (which had to be pre-teens) as they laughed here and there throughout.  It wasn’t great or anything, but I did enjoy the movie… hence the rating.

When watching the trailers I was concerned that the Jim Carrey character would be too stupid to even watch.  He does that at times.  However, I am happy to report that he wasn’t “as” stupid as the trailers made him out to be and his role was tolerable.

Sonic himself was fun (notice a theme in this review?) with just a dash of sadness… which worked for the moral of the movie (yes, of course it had to have one).

So if you want to see a fun little movie that your pre-teens might enjoy, this might just be it.

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


Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

I was looked forward a lot to seeing this movie, and although it’s good, it just wasn’t quite as good as I had anticipated it would be.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still good and gets a solid 4 Icees.  I guess I was just hoping for more.

Like many people who watched Suicide Squad, I was thrilled when it was announced the Margot Robbie would be getting her own Harley Quinn movie.  I was looking for the same confident, snarky, kick-butt woman that we saw in the Squad.  Although Margot still gave a great performance, her character was more of someone that was broken and although I understand that point of view, to me it left the character lacking.

That aside, there is a lot that is good about this film.  The fight scenes were extremely well choreographed.  The flow of the movie was scattered (much like Harley’s mind).  The movie presented a strong girl power theme that I think is good to see in movies.  I think the same could have been done without making the men in the movie to be idiotic cartoon-like imbeciles.  I get that it’s a comic book movie but still… really?

If you want to watch women kick some serious butt, this is the movie to see!  Please know that this movie more than earns its R-rating with a lot of f-bombs and other strong language and very graphic violence.  If that doesn’t bother you, then you’ll be fine.

There is something after the credits, but it really isn’t worth sticking around for.  If you want to know what it is, simply email me using the Contact link and I’ll be happy to tell you.


Rhythm Section, The

This promising movie was very disappointing to me, and sadly ends up only getting 2 Icees, and that’s purely for the great acting of Blake Lively.  I hope one day she can get a real action movie script and director that is worthy of her talents.

Watching the trailers this movie appeared to be a spy/action movie.  Nope, hardly any action at all.  Now the action that is there is pretty good, but it was a case of too little too late.  The time that it took for something to happen makes it seem like it is a setup for a franchise that just isn’t going to happen.

Most of the movie is very slow.  Now I get that a movie has a set-up time where backstories are told and groundwork is laid.  Unfortunately, that’s about 75% of this movie… and how many scenes of Blake Lively sleeping do you expect us to watch?  Now, before the Lively lovers out there reply that they could watch that all day, please note that Blake when through an impressive make-down.  Now, not as impressive as Charlize in “Monster”, but this is good nonetheless.  This is not the beautiful, glamorous Lively that you watched in A Simple Favor.  This is the … well, I can’t really tell you because that might be considered a spoiler and I don’t do that.

I could tell from this movie that Blake is very skilled and could easily hold a franchise of her own, but with this writing… this one won’t be it.  Sad, because she is truly talented and shines, even though the writing is wanting..

The plot of this movie is laughable, and the talents of Lively, Jude Law and Sterling K. Brown are absolutely wasted.

Blake, we love ya, but you gotta wait until you get a better script next time.  Ryan, how soon can you can pull some strings and get her into the Marvel universe?

There is no scene after the credits.


Bad Boys For Life

Prior to this week, I had not seen any of the Bad Boys movies so in preparation of watching this one my wife and I watched both of the previous movies via Netflix.  I found the first movie to not be so good (although critics loved it). I thought the writing was slow and lazy and often unimaginative.  Then we moved on to the second one which was a typical Michael Bay movie with lots of actions, lots of things blowing up and really good dialog between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.  In other words, much better.  I probably would have given the first movie 2 Icees and the second one 3.5 Icees.  How many Icees does this movie get?  4.5!!  This is by far the best movie of the franchise!

That number surprised even me.  It is obvious that as both actors became more experienced (first movie was 1995 and the second was 2003) they got better.  This movie really does have everything.  Action, banter, a dash of comedy and one main thing… fun!  This is a movie I highly recommend and gives me hope for 2020 which was seeming to start out pretty slowly.

Will Smith is once again Mike Lowrey, the smooth talking “put people away until I die” type of detective and Martin Lawrence is Marcus Burnett, the family man who really doesn’t like to see dead bodies.  They still love each other like brothers and bicker like an old married couple.  The typical buddy-cop set-up.  However, this great duo just takes it a notch higher than most!  Heck, they even show some love to Michael Bay by having him be a wedding singer!

I like that they give casual references to the previous movies without spending too much time on them making this movie fresh and on its own.  I also like how they kept continuity by bringing back Joe Pantoliano as Captain Howard.  But they kept it fresh by adding a new team (AMMO team) to the mix including Paola Nunez, Vanessa Huggins, Charles Melton and Alexander Ludwig.  This allows the franchise to remain fresh (c’mon, do you really think this isn’t going to continue?).

It is rated R for some violence and a lot of language, but if that doesn’t bother you, this is the movie to see this week!

I just hope there is a Bad Boys 4!!

There is a scene just before the credits start but then nothing after that.


Spies In Disguise

This fun little cartoon gets 3.5 Icees from this reviewer!  This movie is just fun.  Yes, there is a bit of a moral (because apparently all kids’ movies have to have one), but overall it’s just a fun movie.

Probably the thing I liked best about this is that after watching several Will Smith movies, I like the way the animators did his character.  The motions, facial expressions and such always looked just like I have seen Will Smith look, and I thought that was pretty cool.

The movie itself has a simple plot with no major twists, but is just enjoyable.  I know that my wife and I, along with all the kids in the theater literally laughed out loud during several parts of the movie.  Hopefully you will too.

There is a short scene after the credits, but not worth waiting around for.


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Rarely have movies ignited such fan furor, either in support of or opposition against, than does the Star Wars franchise.  People have long since romanticized the original trilogy so much that nothing that comes after it can ever measure up, no matter how good it is.  Most see the prequels as a giant step backwards, and many have felt that this latest trilogy is somewhere in-between.  For me, I don’t look at it as lore that must be followed, which is why this trilogy has been fun for me.  This movie is no exception as I enjoyed it immensely and give it 4.5 Icees.  At the time of this writing, the professional critics have it at 57% and the fans at 88%.  That’s not too surprising as this is not the artsy Academy Award nominee that critics typically like.  It’s just a fun Star Wars movie for Pete’s sake.

This movie is not perfect and I’m not giving is such a high rating because I am saying it is.  I am giving it this rating because I just plain enjoyed myself and after all, isn’t that what movies are for?

The pluses of this movie are many.  The entire movie is well-paced (no real dead spots).  The action scenes are plentiful and exciting.  The one-liners are few but when they do show up, they are funny.  The shout-outs to movies from the past are obvious and sometimes forced, but surely will please the die-hard SW fans.  The light saber fights are very well-choreographed.  The special effects (except for one bad CGI moment) are amazing.  Once you learn **spoiler** you understand how Rey was able to use the force so quickly in the previous movies, which has been a personal issue between me and my brother from another mother.  He will probably say he hates this movie but will buy it immediately the first day it comes out.

The minuses are few, but do exist.  For one, this movie pretty much invalidates much from The Last Jedi (you may like that, I don’t know, but I didn’t), especially what the last scene represented, but to say how it does so would be a spoiler.  If you’d like to find out how, simply shoot me an email or use my Reviews By The Don Facebook page and post the question there.  The plot is thin and for the most part predictable, but that doesn’t stop it from being fun.  Also, the way Palpatine comes back (you’ve heard his voice in the trailers so this isn’t a spoiler) is very nonchalant and you just have to accept it and move on.

Since I judge each movie on its own as best I can, I confidently proclaim that I really liked this one.  In fact, I’m seeing it again on Saturday!  I’m sure some will hate it and some will love it, but most will probably fall somewhere in the middle.  But as long as you enjoy yourself, that’s all the really matters, isn’t it?

No scenes during or after the credits.


Richard Jewell

This movie is a stong one, thereby earning 4 Icees out of 5.  Although a majority of the movie seems to be based in fact, there is a firestorm over one thing that is portrayed in the movie, but more about that later.

This movie is about the 1996 bombing at Centennial Park in Atlanta right before the Olympics started.  When I saw that the movie was Rated R, I thought that would be due to very graphic or bloody scenes, but that is not the case.  It must be more about the language, because I’ve seen more blood on regular TV than I saw in this movie.

I think that Paul Walter Hauser does an amazing job of portraying the title character.  How accurate that portrayal is, nobody except those who knew Richard can say, but I believe his performance is very believable, as is the always good Kathy Bates.

Oliva Wilde does a good job of playing Kathy Scruggs, but unfortunately one important scene in the movie has stirred quite a controversy.  You can check it online if you’d like because to tell you what it was here would be a spoiler.  Suffice it to say her name is the lead in the byline that named Richard as the focus of the FBI investigation.  Anything beyond that may or may not be Hollywood taking its usual liberties.

The FBI agents were portrayed a little too cartoony in my opinion, and I don’t know how close to accurate that portrayal was.. but something tells me it wasn’t quite like that.

All-in-all this is a good movie that I would recommend to all, just know that although the movie is based on a true and tragic story, Hollywood often takes liberties so do some research before you form strong opinions about the major players involved.

There is some information that is given shortly before the credits start, but nothing after that.


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