Monday, February 19, 2018

Past Due Movie Reviews

And the Winner is...
As usual I am behind on posting reviews. Here is a brief summary of the movies I've seen since I've been back to the United States over the last two months.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi- I was really looking forward to this movie. I liked many things about it but I also disliked several things. Some of my hangups included Poe Dameron being a wreckless dork in this movie, Princess Leia float around in space and bring herself back to life (it would have been such a clean way to let her exit the series. The worst part had to be Finn and Rose Tico and their whole piece of the story which I found to be a worthless distraction that detracted from the movie. But... I like Star Wars so I give it 7.5 stars.

Thor: Ragnarok - This movie was fun. I liked the humor but I also felt they kind of went overboard with it. It was hard to take too seriously. I also didn't even recognize Cate Blanchet as the villain until the end of the movie. This was my favorite Thor movie so far by a long shot. I give it 7.8 stars.

Justice League- Marvel has really cleaned up against the DC movies with the exception of Wonder Woman so I wasn't expecting too much with Justice League but it was still alright. I thought it was a little more entertaining than the prior Supermen movies. It makes it more entertaining with the additional characters and back stories. I give it 6.8 stars since I didn't think it was as bad as the critics said.

Jumanji- I wasn't a big fan of the original movie that came out back when CGI was so new. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised with this movie. I thought it  was well done and was funny and had an entertaining cast. I give it 7.4 stars.

The Commuter- I enjoy Liam Neeson and he always gives a good performance in anything he does, but this script was ridiculous. This movie had so much potential but was too fake in so many ways. It was kind of like a remake of Nonstop but on a bus instead of a plane. I wanted to like this and get more involved but there was way too much unrealistic crap so I can only give it 6.5 generous stars.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure- I never even saw the second installment of these movies but I don't think it mattered. The special effects were pretty good, but it still felt too bubble gummy with such a young cast. Maybe I'm just getting old and can't relate to the demographics of the film. I give it 6.7 stars.

The Greatest Showman- I don't remember seeing a musical in the theater since when I was a little kid and my parents took me to see Willy Wonka but I've heard nothing but good about this movie so I decided to give it a shot. I'll admit it was pretty good and the music was catchy but I still don't buy into the concept of people spontaneously breaking out into song and dance in real life. I suppose it was good, but I'm just not into musicals so I only give it 7.0 stars.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Murder on the Orient Express

I recently saw the newest version of Murder on the Orient Express and I really liked it. Kenneth Branagh did a great job of directing the film and portraying Hercule Poirot but I felt there were a few differences between his portrayal and the classic Poirot character. He came across a little more OCD and rude and he reminded me of Sherlock Holmes. The other big difference was his monster mustache. Rather than adopting the fine haired waxed moustache, he sported a monstrosity of a handle bar mustache.

The all star cast was very deep and I thought Johnny Depp did a particularly good job of coming across as a very unlikable bad guy. I wondered how much I would be able to enjoy this film since I was already familiar with the story and plot twists, but I really enjoyed it. I give  Murder on the Orient Express 7.2 stars.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The X Files: Conspiracy Theories

I have always enjoyed watching conspiracy theory movies. It's an entertaining premise when governments or secret organizations plot to manipulate the masses and a hero has to expose them to the public. I'm not a tin foil hat wearer but I consider myself much more open minded about the subject than many people.

Over the years when terrorist attacks and mass shootings have occurred, I have been amazed at how quickly people surface on the internet claiming many of these events are staged with actors and are merely false flags orchestrated by the government or other secret organizations. There may be some truth to some of these claims, but there is a big segment of people who are ultra paranoid and it is probably because they've seen every episode of the X Files.

Speaking of the X-Files, I've recently been watching them on DVD with my kids and I forgot how much I enjoy them. Aliens, monsters, government cover ups, and the unexplained. I'm looking forward to the updated episodes that will be released in 2018.

Anyway, some of my favorite movies that feature conspiracy theories and secret organizations are:

Capricorn One
DaVinci Code
Conspiracy Theory
The Arrival
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Three Days of the Condor
Sherlock Holmes
Assassins Creed
James Bond Movies

What's not to like about the idea of an underdog fighting against evil forces? I rank that genre right up there with the prison break movie. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Several weeks ago a friend invited us to watch a video at their home. One of the choices they offered was The Hundred-Foot Journey which I had never seen but I recalled several friends recommending the movie when it came out so we picked that movie.

The Hundred-Foot Journey is about a family from India who move to France during a time of political upheaval in their own country. They are essentially refugees and decide to open a restaurant that features traditional Indian food. The problem is that they attempt to do so right across the street from an upscale French restaurant. The film title refers to their proximity to their competitor.

The movie focuses on tension and competition between the two restaurants. It does so with some subtle humor. It also details the success of a gifted young Indian chef as well as his relationship with a French woman working at the competitor's restaurant. I'd classify this as a feel good/chic flick type of movie so it worked out well for our group date. My biggest problem with it was how hungry I got watching them make all kinds of fancy food.

I give The Hundred-Foot Journey 7.4 stars.

Monday, September 18, 2017

My First Horror Film: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

When I was a about 3 or 4 years old, my parents took my family to see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in the theater. At a certain point in the movie my mom had to take me out to the lobby since I was freaking out and crying. I don’t remember that first viewing but I’ve seen the original movie many times since then and still think there are many things that are truly freakish about this film.

Before I attempt to explain why this movie is so scary, I have to admit there are many great one liners and funny scenes, but that can’t undo the damage inflicted upon every young viewer who sees it for the first time. I will now offer my analysis of why Willy Wonka is more of a horror movie than a fun kid’s adventure story.

Where to begin?

1) All four grandparents living in the same filthy bed and then Grandpa Joe being exposed as the lazy, faker, soda pop stealing old man he is. Charlie’s household plays on people’s fears of filthiness and poverty.

2) Scary Slugworth constantly showing up out of the shadows and whispering in kid’s ears and finally confronting Charlie when he’s alone in the dark tunnel.

3) Oompa Loompas were an obvious problem. I was not prepared for the orange skin, white eyebrows, and green hair. These musical midget’s songs, lame dance moves, and their unexpected large subtitles displayed on the movie screen were very unsettling.

4) The naughty kids being eliminated one by one. Take your pick…
*Augustus Gloop falling in the chocolate river kills two birds with one stone by featuring drowning and claustrophobia as he is sucked up the tube.
*Violet turning into a blueberry and changing color while expanding then being taken out by Oompa Loompas to have the juice squeezed out of her.
*Mike the cowboy being turned into billions of pieces and shrunk.
*Verruca sitting in the giant goose cages and going down the rotten egg hatch.

Watching the Oompa Loompas accompany the parents to retrieve what was left of their kids each time was sad. Even though it is explained that the spoiled kids did not actually die in these incidents, the disposal methods used were still traumatic, but it’s Wonka’s sarcastic, could care less attitude that is even more disturbing.

5) The scene with the Wonkatania boat featuring close ups of Wonka’s face, the psychedelic colors, and flashes of disturbing images. He begins the ride by singing an eerie song, then starts speaking gibberish, and then goes full blown crazy and ends up screaming at the top of his lungs. What the heck?

6) Gene Wilder’s hair is frightening throughout the entire movie, but the scene towards the end in his office when he takes off his hat and his quasi afro actually falls over like a demolished smoke stack still gives me chills to this day.

7) When Willy Wonka loses it and unloads his anger on Charlie and his grandpa and yells “You get nothing! You lose. Good day sir.” Even though he was testing him it is still pretty traumatic.

8) The glass wonkavator breaking through the roof and eerily hoovering over an odd European town backdrop just didn’t feel right either. It was intended to be a happy magical ending but it made me even more anxious.

Maybe you think I am way too sensitive and fragile when it comes to this movie, but the spirit and feel to the entire movie is creepy and unsettling. There are some things about it that I just can’t put my finger on. It’s probably a combination of the story line, props, costumes, and the fact it was made in the early 70’s. Anyway, I don’t know why more people have not been traumatized by this movie. Despite my troubled relationship with this movie, I give it 7.2 stars.
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