Saturday, December 15, 2018

Creed 2

I thought the first Creed movie was pretty good so I've been looking forward to the sequel coming out this month. I'd like to start by saying my hat is off to Sylvester Stalone for slowly phasing out of the staring role and not making it all about him over the last couple of movies in the series. As Rocky's character has aged he has become more wise, likeable, and caring as a supporting character and I've enjoyed seeing him take on that role.

There were so many things I liked about Creed 2. It was a great movie with several complex side stories to keep your attention. Aside from the main character's obvious boxing career, there are the challenges with his mother, wife, young child, and even a rift he went through with Rocky.

Dolph Lundgren was great reprising his role as an older, bitter Ivan Drago who has channeled so much anger into training his son Victor.. Florian Munteamu was a beast of a specimen but only ended up speaking a few sentences during the film. As their story developed I surprisingly found myself empathizing with the villains when I realized that they were also both victims.

This movies features the usual fighting and workout montages you would expect in the Rocky franchise. I appreciated how the boxing choreography was cleaned up and more realistic than some of the earlier Rocky movies. In prior movies the camera angles frequently exposed many fake punches that missed their mark by 6 inches but I didn't notice that in this film. It also added a sense of credibility to see Michael Buffer as the ring announcer, Stitch Duran as the cutman, and HBO boxing analysts.

Aside from the action, this movie is not just a testosterone-fest. There is plenty of drama and several tender and touching moments and I was surprised how emotional I got in some parts. Michael B. Jordan is a great actor and gave a very convincing performance. I give Creed a solid 8.0 stars.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

I don't usually go to kid's movies but I recently went to see Nutcracker and the Four Realms with my family. It started a little slow but I won't complain since it could have been much slower if we went to an actual ballet. The movie is based on the Nutcracker but takes plenty of liberties by embellishing a story about a girl who's mother recently passed away and left her a key to a secret world. The score was well done but people who are expecting to see the Nutcracker might not appreciate all the changes.

The girl travels to a magical world and discovers that there are four realms or kingdoms and one of them is warring with the others. She makes friends with several characters as she attempts to save the kingdom. There are some plot twists towards the end which I'm proud to say I predicted. The movie stars Mckenzie Foy who I thought did a good job. She seemed more natural and believable than other young actors I've seen in other movies.

This movie was kind of like the Nutcracker meets Narnia, meets Wizard of Oz. The film also features Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and Keira Knightley who I was embarrassed to admit I did not even recognize under all the make up until it listed her name in the end credits.

I think I noticed an Easter egg in one scene that takes place in a circus tent. There is an organ with some figurines on it and I thought one of them was Ursulla the sea witch from Little Mermaid. I could have just imagined it or been confused since nobody else in my family noticed it. Anyway that has nothing to do with the plot but it caught my attention.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms had great visuals and special effects and was original in many ways yet it was also predictable. I would think most families and kids would like it. I give it just 6.0 stars.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Ocean's 8 and Skyscraper

Recently on a flight I watched some movies I had not gotten around to seeing yet. Spoiler Alert- They were both mediocre but alright. Keep reading below for my opinion on each.

Oceans Eight- This movie is a quasi-sequel of the other Ocean's movies but it features an all female cast. Sandra Bullock is an ex con and sister to Danny Ocean of the previous movies who has passed away by the time this film takes place. She puts together a crew to help her pull off a heist at the Met Gala in New York. The movie has some nice moments but it's not nearly as fun as the prior ones. There are many great actresses in this movie but it was not quite as entertaining as an 11 person crew. I just never felt like I bonded or cared too much for any of the characters. Bullock seems kind of cold and unlikable. Aside from the reference to Danny Ocean the only other connection it has to the other movies is a brief cameo by Elliot Gould. Anne Hathaway probably had the best performance of the bunch. The details are far fetched but I can usually overlook quite a bit in this kind of movie. Oceans Eight was a little flat and only gets 6.4 stars from me.

Skyscraper- I actually rented this movie from Red Box last month but never had time to watch it. I hate it when that happens. On the plane I had plenty of time so I was looking forward to an exciting fake action movie. It's about a veteran/swat team member who loses a leg in an accident and later retires and works as a security consultant for skyscrapers. He is hired for a job at the opening of the world's tallest building in Hong Kong. Some bad guys with a grudge against the owner try to spoil the grand opening by lighting it on fire. It's very similar to Die Hard but the main character's family is in the building and in danger the whole time.The Rock is great as always. This movie also had plenty of unrealistic aspects but it was still entertaining and better than expected after seeing the trailer. I give it 6.7 stars.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

More Movie Reviews

I know these reviews are past due, but my teacher said I could get partial credit if I still turn them in. Here is my brief take on 4 more movies.

Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom- You will never guess what happens in this sequel. Dangerous dinosaurs are taken from a controlled environment by greedy capitalists where they eventually get loose and create dangerous problems. I can't blame the studios for making yet another sequel that pretty much follows the same formula of the prior movies since they have been money makers. It may have been fun to watch and had cool special effects, but I can only give it 6.7 stars.

Venom- I really like Tom Hardy and Marvel has been on a role lately with their movies so I thought I would like Venom more than I did. It had a little darker tone to it than I prefer for a super hero movie. Maybe it was trying to be more like Deadpool. I also struggled with the Venom alien being such a violent and dangerous creature while at the same time speaking in slang like a teenager trying to impress his peers. The movie was alright but I just give it a 6.9 score.

Operation Finale- I was not familiar with this movie or the true story it was based on. It is about Israeli intelligence officers who locate a Nazi war criminal many years after WW2 who is living in Argentina with a fake identity.  They attempt to kidnap him and bring him back to Israel to stand judgment. It was very suspenseful and had good performances. It was like Mission Impossible meets Anne Frank. Ben Kingsley might make a pious Gandhi but he also does a pretty mean Nazi.  I give it 7.0 stars.

Bohemian Rhapsody- I grew up listening to Queen and love their music. I have always admired Freddy Mercury's vocals even though I was not a fan of his lifestyle. This movie was well done and very entertaining. All the actors did a great job at portraying the band members and this film addresses their struggles, challenges, and victories. Since so many of their songs are infused into my early life, I found myself getting emotional during many of the numbers. I give Bohemian Rhapsody a solid 8 stars and any fan of Queen will love it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Mission Impossible: Fallout

The movie I had been looking forward to seeing most this year was Mission Impossible:Fallout. I was not disappointed. This sequel to Rogue Nation has plenty of action, suspense, and twists. Tom Cruise is great as usual and I can't believe he has turned into a stuntman over the years. That's all I have to say about this. I give it 8.5 stars

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