CategoryMovie Reviews

Movie reviews

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.


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.


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.


Hitman’s Bodyguard, The

This enjoyable movie gets a solid 3.5 Icees out of 5.  This movie is a great example of why I created Reviews By The Don.  The “professional” critics absolutely hate this movie, giving it a 39% on  I actually enjoyed myself watching this movie.  Now it’s not going to win any awards, inspire anyone or even leave a lasting memory.  But what it will do is give you a good time for a couple of hours with plenty of humor, action and just plain fun.

I do feel that I have to warn you though, it earns its R-rating with a LOT of MFers, GDs, and JCs, but if that doesn’t bother you then you’ll enjoy yourself seeing this film. Oh yeah, there’s a lot of shooting in this movie as well. So consider yourself warned that if any of that bothers you, what are you doing thinking of going to an R movie anyway?

Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. (I’m in everything I can be in) Jackson have a great chemistry and I hope this movie does well enough for there to be a sequel.  For Ryan, there are times that this seems like Deadpool without the mask, but his classic style of sarcastic humor works well, especially when combined with the equally (if not more so) sarcastic style of Sam. Throw in Selma Hayek (looking exceptional at the age of 50 and cursing just as much as the guys) and it’s just great.  I only wish she had a larger role in the film.  Maybe in the sequel?  Gary Oldman was also wasted in this movie as his character was pretty one-dimensional.

So all this positive talk, why did I only give it 3.5 Icees?  Well, the plot isn’t at all unpredictable as my wife and I picked out the Interpol mole in 2 seconds (some actors always play the bad guy) and could pretty much tell you the way the movie would end about 20 minutes into it.  Still, even with that being the case, we both thought it was a good way to spend an afternoon.

There is an outtake scene at almost the very end of the credits, but not really worth sticking around for.


Dark Tower, The

This movie only gets 3 out of 5 Icees, but could have done so much better.  As my followers know when it comes to movies, I don’t read the books.  Even when it doesn’t come to movies, I don’t read the books.  I get no enjoyment from reading whatsoever.  Obviously then I am basing my review solely on the movie itself and not how well (or badly) it represented the books.  Even though that is the case I could tell one thing for sure.

There was a bunch missing from this movie.  You could just tell.  You get to see a monster or two but you don’t really know anything about them. There’s no real backstory (other than the obvious one the movie hands out), no explanation… just… monsters.  There are humanoids without skin.  Again, no backstory, explanation or even anything obvious that the movie could have handed out.  We just know they loyally follow the “Man in Black”. Speaking of the MIB (had to do it) we learn that he wants to bring in the darkness, but why?  With his powers he could probably rule the worlds without doing that.

Now don’t get me wrong, I did give the movie 3 Icees after all.  There is a lot of good in this movie.  Matthew (I think he’s overrated) McConaughey does a great job with the limited material he is given. The way he uses his magic so casually to end life really portrays what little respect the MIB has for life. Idris Elba does a good job as the Gunslinger but for once… just in one movie… I’d like to see him play a character that isn’t the “man of few words”.  After all, if people are calling for him to be the next James Bond, he’s got to be more than just a few-lines-per-movie type of actor.  But just like ol’ Matty he does well with the limited range he has.  The kid (Tom Taylor) is probably the flattest character in the film but I think the only reason this actor was selected is because he’s really good at giving wide-eyed expressions of surprise, sadness or anger.

The movie is only 95 minutes long.  I guess they just wanted to get this movie out since I’ve read that there has been a clammering for it for a few years now, but this isn’t what those clammering were hoping for.  They could have spent another 30 minutes to give these characters more depth and meaning, or set up the situation more than a couple of sentences here and there.

It really seems I’ve talked more about the bad than the good, but the good was good enough to get 3 Icees so I do recommend seeing it… just don’t expect this to be the next blockbuster because it’s not going to hit that goal.  The story flows well with no real surprises contained. It is one of those movies where you have to listen intently to the dialog to catch what little information they give. But if you want a short diversion from everyday life, this will do the trick.

No scenes during or after the credits (thank you


Atomic Blonde

This atomic movie gets 3.5 Icees out of 5.  This movie is based on a graphic novel, and graphic is a perfect descriptor for what this movie is.  The fight scenes are is graphic. The gun shots are graphic. The sex scene (1) is graphic. The language is graphic.  Everything is graphic.  With that being said, I really enjoyed this movie and if graphic doesn’t bother you, I think you will too.

I never had pictured Charlize Theron as an action hero.  The image I had of her is that of The Italian Job or even Fast and Furious 8… a beautiful woman who is strong, but in a non-physical way.  Well, that’s all changed now!  She can handle herself just fine, thank you very much.  She is 100% bad to the bone and can rock with anyone.  I think the thing I most enjoyed about the fight scenes (and one of them goes on for quite some time) is not only how graphic they are, but how realistic they are. They aren’t the clean punch or kick and the person goes flying through the air.  They are fights where it takes several punches at close range to effectively take down the opposition.  You can almost feel the punches yourself as she either hits or gets hit… hard.  As a guy, I do think there are a few too many crotch shots, but then again… I guess that’s the way it would go down too.

The plot is a bit convoluted, but that’s ok.  I consider it a movie with twists rather than convolutions. There are times where it seems to drag, but the fight scenes more than make up for them.  The soundtrack for the movie is great.  Always good to hear some 80s classics and since this takes place in 1989, it works for this movie quite well.

I thought the supporting case did a serviceable job, although nobody really stood out.  Sofia Boutella plays a character far different from what I’ve seen her do so far (Kingsman and The Mummy) and is adequate at it.  I actually would have preferred to see some fighting out of her too because she proved in Kingsman that she can do it, but oh well.  James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class, Split) plays an interesting character (best way to describe it without giving anything away) and does a decent job, but lets face it… this movie was all about the Atomic Blonde and she took command of every scene.

If you don’t mind a movie that earns its R-rating (for sequences of strong violence, language throughout, and some sexuality/nudity) and you like action, I think you’ll like this one.  No scenes during or after the credits.


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

This beautiful specticle of a movie gets 3 Icees out of 5.  As mentioned in the previous sentence, this movie truly is beautiful.  Think of the first time you saw Avatar.  The mystical beauty… This movie follows that same mold with some beautiful sets, VGI, characters and other various cinematography tricks.  Now, in the vein of full disclosure, I didn’t think the actual movie of Avatar was all that good.  I know I’m in the minority here but to me if you cut away from all the beauty and 3D impact (this was one of the first 3D movies to come out for 3D TVs), I just didn’t think it was all that good.

Now with Valerian there are some similarities to that.  The plot can bog down at times and there are a couple of scenes that seem to go on forever (or at least much longer than they needed to.  Also, there was a “plot twist” that you could see coming from a mile away. Don’t believe the trailers (a trend that is frustratingly growing) as there isn’t as much action as the trailers would lead you to believe.

I’ve read some other reviews that bluntly stated that Dane DeHaan was miscast for the role, and I get that.  He was supposed to play this cocky ladies man type of character and that just didn’t seem to fit him, but I almost found that an endearing quality.  It’s almost like he was trying to be something he’s not.  I don’t know… maybe I like the visual effects so much I am trying to make up for other shortcomings… perhaps.  I did think that Cara Delevinge played her role perfectly as Sergeant Laureline.  In fact, it could be argued that the way this movie was edited it seemed like she was the primary character and not Valerian, and I actually thought that worked.  It was good to see her actually get a chance to act (she didn’t really get that opportunity in Suicide Squad).

If you’re looking for a beautifully made movie with a decent story, this one might fit the mold.  There is no story during or after the credits.




War For The Planet Of The Apes

This solid conclusion (?) to the franchise gets a solid 4.5 Icees out of 5.  This movie had a lot of expectations because both the first and second movie of this franchise were very good.  This lived up to its predecessors by taking the story in a direction you wouldn’t think.  I won’t give away spoilers but this really doesn’t have to do with an all-out “war” between humans and apes, but does have some interesting twists to it, twists which I enjoyed and I think you will too.

They say that an actor doing motion-capture in a movie has never been nominated for an Oscar before, to include Andy Serkis either as Caesar in these movies or as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  If he doesn’t at least get a nomination for this one, it’s just wrong.  The progression he has done throughout these movies, first as barely speaking and movie as most monkeys do, to speakign broken English in the second movie and standing upright at times, to this movie where his English is excellent and he almost always walks upright is exceptional. The facial expressions that Andy is able to do, even with motion-capture technology really works well to convey the emotions that Caesar is feeling, whether it be joy, pain or anger.

Let’s not forget Woody Harrelson, who has come a long way from his role of Woody in Cheers to where he is actually a respected actor with good range.  He displays that range in this movie as the Colonel. Of course we’re with the apes, right?  Well, he starts off by reinforcing our position but when he reveals why he is doing what he is doing, you have to wonder if you would do anything different if you were in his place.

The only character that I will call “iffy” is the new character, “Bad Ape”, who does provide some comic relief but did this movie really need comic relief?  I don’t know…  I could have done without this character but he does fill a role in the plot so I guess I’ll just let it go.

The acting overtakes the action in this movie, much like it did in the first 2, so know that going in and I think you’ll be just fine.

In short, if you liked the first 2 movies in this franchise, you’ll enjoy this one as well.  There are no scenes during or after the credits.


Spider-Man: Homecoming

This great kick-off for the new Spider-Man franchise gets a well-deserved 4.5 Icees out of 5.  You may note that I called this a “kick-off” and not an “origin movie”.  Thankfully, they didn’t have us go through him getting bit by a spider or watch Uncle Ben die again, although they did elude to both events.  If you know your Marvel movies then the following will make sense to you: This is more like Captain America: The First Avenger than it is The Avengers.

What do I mean by that?  This movie isn’t all action and fun.  It’s more of an in-depth approach showing the life of a 15 year-old that happens to be Spider-Man.  He deals with things like homecoming, Spanish tests and a bully as much as he deals with The Vulture.  He deals with a protective Aunt May (excellently played by Marisa Tomei) and a best friend who is a little over the top. You know… regular teenager stuff.

Now I don’t mean that there isn’t any action, just not as much as the trailers may lead you to believe.  Speaking of the trailers….  I don’t get what these moviemakers think when they show you scenes in a trailer and then don’t put it in the movie.  If you’re looking for Peter to get a kiss from the girl he has a crush on… don’t… it’s not there.  Other trailer scenes are either shot from different angles, have different lines in them, or just aren’t there.  It’s my pet peeve and sure enough, this one has it.  Why people???  Why???

On the plus side, this movie is really done well. The acting is good as you’ll believe that Tom Holland is 15 (he’s 20), that he’s from New York (he’s British) and that he has a whiny voice (whether he does or not, I really don’t know).  Zendaya has a smaller role than I thought, but I believe they are setting it up for her to have a larger role in the future.  Laura Harrier plays Liz, the object of Peter’s affection and does an adequate job. One drawback on her character.  Will a pretty high school senior girl really consider going with a sophomore? Michael Keaton does a good job as The Vulture and some of his lines make you think about things.  Like who really does clean up the mess that happens during all the Avengers movies?  Humorously, another government agency is created, but I won’t spoil it for you with the name…  just know it should make you chuckle.

If you’re a true Marvel fan like me, you’ll really enjoy this movie.  If you’re not a superhero movie fan, then I still think you’ll like this movie because of the way that they decided to approach it.  It seems like they are aiming at a younger audience (of which I am not) and I will be curious to find out if they hit their mark.

There is a scene during the credits and one at the end.  The one at the end is kinda funny, but not really a plot-moving scene.


Despicable Me 3

Sadly, this movie just barely gets 1.5 Icees.  I fondly remember the first movie and how funny it was, and how original the minions were. It was one of my favorite cartoon movies.  Then the second one came out and it was, “okay”.  Then the Minion movie came out and it just wasn’t that funny at all.  Now, I think that this franchise has really jumped the shark with this recent addition.  I mean… it’s bad when you think the villian of the movie is better than any of the other characters, to include the minions.  Speaking of the minions, they had their own little side-plot going on, which in concept could work, but it just wasn’t funny at any point.  Throw in my pet peeve about a trailer scene not being in the movie and it just adds up to total disappointment.

As I sit here writing this, I think that I should fill up a prerequisite amount of space talking about the movie.  Unfortunately, I think I pretty well summed it up in the first paragraph, but I’ll try.  I mean after all, you took the time to come to this site to read the review, so the least I can do it try to give you something worth reading.  Never let it be said that I don’t do the least that I can do!  Sadly, that little joke was about as funny as anything you’ll see in this movie.

Happily married Dru and Lucy undergo a career crisis and Gru is tempted by a long-lost relative to go back to crime.  Meanwhile, Lucy is struggling with being a stepmom. Okay, that sounds like a premise that could be promising!  Throw in the minions being thrown in jail and this sounds like one of the best movies of the summer, doesn’t it?  Yeahhhh, not so much.  The long-lost relative story is ok but isn’t built up into a funny conclusion.  If you saw any trailer for this movie you’ve seen the best punchline from this part of the story (aka hair).  Lucy’s storyline was probably the most interesting but doesn’t go nearly as far as it could or should. And the minion?  Well, they were thrown in jail without trial (which could have been hilarious), took over the jail somehow (which was never shown or explained… another lost opportunity), and then escape so easily that the warden should be fired on the spot.

I sat in the theater with plenty of kids and they only chuckled a bit throughout the entire film.  Therefore my recommendation is to wait until this comes out on Redbox and then make your kids spend their allowance on it (because you sure don’t want to spend your money on it).  There is a little cartoon bit during the first part of the credits but nothing worth sticking around for.



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