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

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Summer Movies Update

I've been overseas and have not seen as many movies  as I'd lilke but I recently caught up on a ton of movies while flying home. I'm ranking the movies I've seen over the last couple months in the order
that I enjoyed them.

Ant Man and the Wasp- I was pleasantly surprised by the first Ant Man movie and I felt the sequel was even better. It's got the perfect balance of comedy, action, and special effects. I give it 7.6 stars.

A Quiet Place- I watched this on video and thought it was pretty good. I kept waiting for Jim Halpert to look at the camera and roll his eyes, but the aliens never said anything funny like Michael Scott. I felt it was pretty original and that helped hold my interest. It was a good family/horror movie if that makes sense. I give it 7.5 stars.

The Incredibles 2- I don't usually care for animated movies but I loved the first Incredibles movie. I have been waiting a long time for the sequel. I didn't feel it was quite as good as the first but it was still enjoyable. 7.4 stars,

Wonder- I was slow to getting around to seeing this movie, but I watched it with my family and enjoyed it. It has a good message and I liked how it showed the story from different family member's perspective. 7.3 stars

Solo- I wasn't sure about this one. I enjoy most of Ron Howard's films but was a little skeptical aobut how he'd do with a Star Wars prequel. I thought the actor who portrayed Han Solo did a good job. Overall the film was pretty good but for some reason it didn't really feel like a Star Wars movie. I give it 7.1 stars.

The Mountain Between Us- I saw this on the plane and was a little surprised that airlines even show movies about plane crashes to their passengers. I am a sucker for a survival story so I liked this. This is one of those movies where there are only a handful of characters but Idris Elba and Kate Winslet had good performances. 6.8 stars.

Tomb Raider- I feel bad for Alecia Vikander trying to live up to the prior hype of Angelina Jolie's tomb raider but she did okay. She came across as younger and more vulnerable than the first Laura Croft. The movie was not that great but I was entertained and give it 6.6 stars.

The 15:17 to Paris- I had seen that the critics has slaughtered this movie. I assumed it was due to Clint Eastwood's conservative stance but after watching this I have to admit it was nowhere near as good as any of the other films he has directed. I wanted to like this movie more but it was underwhelming and came off kind of stale. I give it a very generous 6.0 stars.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War has only been released for 11 days and the domestic sales already exceed $461,390,000. I've enjoyed most of the Marvel comic book movies, but Avengers Infinity War took things to another level. I really like how they wove so many different characters and prior movies into one cohesive event. I've always enjoyed multiple story-line films like Our Mutual Friend, Crash, Traffic, Hereafter, etc. I liked how this movie incorporated so many different superheroes and their back stories into one movie.

My wife is not a comic book movie fan and had only seen a couple of the prior installments but she still liked it. She said it was epic and I’d have to agree. The villains were so much better than past ones we've seen. I especially liked the henchmen that worked for Thanos. The end battle at Wakanda and Thor’s new weapon were also way cool.

The body count really surprised me. I was a little surprised to see Loki and Heimdall die so quickly in the beginning. I was expecting a death or two but I was blown away in the last 5 minutes with seeing half of the characters die. If I didn’t know that many of them already have sequels in the works I would have been more concerned. I also liked the balance between action, drama, and humor. This movie had some funny parts but the humor was toned down a little bit since Thor Ragnarok so it was a little bit easier to take seriously. I really liked all the superheroes, but Dr. Strange is starting to grow on me. When I saw the preview for his first movie I thought it was the dumbest thing I’d seen but I’m liking his style and how he plays by a different set of rules than most heroes who just use brute strength or super powers.

I may be biased since I have not seen a movie for so long, but I enjoyed Avengers: Infinity War enough to give it 8.5 stars and would have to say it is my favorite Marvel movie so far.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Logan Lucky

Logan Lucky can be summed up as a redneck version of Ocean's 11. It's about two brothers Jimmy and Clyde Logan who are down on their luck and attempt to pull a heist at a Nascar race. They enlist the help of their friend Joe Bang but they first have to help break him out of jail to pull it off.

The hardest thing about this movie for me was accepting the actors in their roles. They all had great performances but it was still hard seeing James Bond speak with a southern drawl or Kylo Ren being a slow talking bartender. Channing Tatum, Katie Holmes, and Riley Keough were also very believable in their roles.

I didn't even realize until after the movie was over that it was directed by Steven Soderbergh who also directed all the Ocean movies. There are many similarities to those movies including  a host of characters working together in a complicated heist. The main difference is the absense of a glamorous Vegas setting. This movie comes off a little earthier with more simple characters but it is still well done. It's also quite quirky and almost Napolean Dynomite-esque with how goofy some of the characters are. 

If I were from the south I might take offense with the blatant southern redneck stereotypes but I thought it was a funny and enjoyable movie. It even had some entertaining plot twists.

This movie was a little strange but it was also one of the funner movies I've seen in a long time. I give Logan Lucky 7.2 stars.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

More Movie Pet Peeves

One of my very first blog posts was about movie pet peeves. At the time I thought I got everything off my chest but I seem to have missed a couple things that I’ve noticed in many movies recently.  The first is the abrupt phone hang up practice and the second is the self-healing car. I will address them in that order.

Often in a movie there will be a cop calling his partner or a wealthy business man making a deal, or a bad guy who calls one of his henchmen and then hangs up after a short conversation with few instructions. They seldom say "goodbye" or "I'll see you at the office later" or anything like that. They just hang up! There are so many problems with this.

I recently tweeted how much I hate it when I see this in a movie but Twitter is not the best place to discuss it since I really need to elaborate, so it's a good thing I have a blog.

1) It's rude. You don't just hang up on someone when your attention span maxes out. At least say "I have to go" prior to hanging up. This really shouldn't surprise me since these are the same people who just state their last name when they answer the phone instead of saying "hello."

2) I can only imagine how many times these people must have to call each other back during the day to verify what someone said or didn't say and to get more specifics to their vague and super short conversations from earlier. Maybe those are found in the deleted scenes. 

3) It's not realistic. When I make a movie it will be realistic. It will probably be a long and boring movie but it will be accurate. I will show the characters waiting in line at drive thrus and the DMV and having detailed phone conversations where they practice good communications skills by restating back what was previously said to them so the other person knows they understand. They will also wait the customary 12 weeks for DNA tests and lab results to come back from the coroner instead of getting them the next day.

Now its time to address another major offender and that is the car that gets in multiple crashes and wrecks throughout the movie but editing didn't seem to notice that the damaged car repairs itself throughout the movie. The only time this should be allowed is if it is a car belonging to Wolverine.

I've seen this in many movies in the past but I was recently on a plane and the person next to me was watching Kidnap staring Halle Barry. In the movie, her son is kidnapped and she chases down the abductor in her minivan and is involved in many crashes and accidents with her vehicle, yet in later scenes, parts of the car that were previously damaged were shown dent free and the damage has repaired itself. For how much money companies spend to make movies, you would think they would hire someone to look for obvious goofs like that. I'm available to do it if they can't find anyone else in Hollywood.

These things may not be a big deal to you but they drive me crazy and I look forward to the day when our society no longer permits such egregious occurrences to happen in movies.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Black Panther

I recently saw Black Panther and I liked it. I know there's been quite a bit of speculation about political messages or other statements the movie is trying to make but I didn't get too caught up in that and just enjoyed a good super hero movie.

One of the best things about this movie is that Marvel finally got some good villains. It's easier to get involved when you have a believable adversary. Michael B. Jordan does a great job as Killmonger and his rival Chadwick Boseman comes off as composed royalty and is well cast for the lead.

Martin Freeman's character is very dull, quiet, and almost invisible, but Andy Serkis is another great villain in the film. His voice alone is mesmerizing. I remember seeing him play a villain in Oliver Twist years ago and he is a great actor even though he is mostly known for his computer generated characters. I thought it was interesting to see that the only two white guys in the movie were Bilbo and Gollum so I got a kick out of the meme below when I saw it.

The rest of the supporting cast is also good. There is a strong female cast with Danai Gurira as the military general, Lupita Nyog'o as Black Panther's girlfriend, and Leticia Wright as the young technology expert of Wakanda. She reminded me of Q in a James Bond movie. The entire cast was good, but I'm getting tired of seeing Forrest Whitaker pop up in so many movies.

There were a few short remarks or jabs that some might take offense with. In one scene the young teenage girl calls Freeman's character 'white boy" which is kind of rude just considering their age difference let alone any racial message.

The first post credit scene was the most boring and anti-climactic seen I've ever seen in a Marvel movie, but overall I liked this movie and really enjoyed the costumes, design, and African feel to it. I give Black Panther 7.8 stars.

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 floating 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 7.3 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.
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