Movie Review – Aquaman

Movie Review - AquamanWhat does DC have to do to shake off the feeling that it’s the poor man’s Marvel?

For starters: make better movies.

I’m not saying Aquaman is bad. Far from it. It’s a decent movie despite being as predictable as it is visually appealing. But it’s no better than the first Thor movie. Which would be fine if Aquaman came out a decade ago. Unfortunately, Marvel beat them to the punch. DC is trying to find their feet while Marvel is breaking Olympic records.

Here’s my best guess why Aquaman doesn’t soar: it just doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s an origin story for sure, but not much of one. For such a long movie, the origin of Aquaman only comes up in a few brief flashbacks and only one of them — when he’s a young boy — really works.

There’s a little romance, which is fine, but the timing of the scenes are completely wrong.

Then there’s a few scenes that feel like they were stolen from a National Treasure sequel.

The worst part of all of this is the inclusion of Black Manta. I don’t know why the writers felt compelled to throw this character into the story, because it only drags the plot beneath the waves.

All of this happens in the middle third of the movie, robbing the plot of any real dramatic weight when it needs it the most.

It looks like the creative decision makers behind the DC movies heard the criticism about their previous movies being too dark, and decided to “lighten things up a bit.” All I can say is it’s just not that easy. The audience needs a feeling of impending doom so the story grabs them, but there’s also a time and place for the distractions that make a story memorable.

That’s why DC movies are like a mixed salad of moments while Marvel serves a complex meal, where each serving is meant to compliment the others.

Grade: C

About The Peetimes: We have 4 good Peetimes. We recommend the 2nd and 3rd over the others. The 2nd Peetime is a chase scene — pretty — but nothing you haven’t seen in previous scenes. The 3rd is mostly a music montage, followed by a transitional plot that’s easy to summarize.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Aquaman. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Fantastic Beasts 2 Review from a Harry Potter Novice

dumbledore, newt scamander, and grindelwald go head to head
A sort of love triangle

I’m not a Harry Potter fan. Don’t get me wrong; I like the stories. I think they are rich and compelling. But I’ve never read the books — it’s on the list — and I personally wouldn’t bother seeing any of the movies on opening weekend if it wasn’t my job.

I’m only setting the stage for where this review is coming from, because a movie review, or any review for that matter, isn’t about the thing being reviewed, it’s about the relationship between the writer and the object of the critique. If you share something in common with the reviewer, then perhaps you’ll share a similar relationship with the object of comment.

What I liked
Grindelwald is a great villain. He’s a freedom fighter. Not out for personal aggrandizement, at least not yet, but for the betterment of all. He’s only a villain because the Ministry — the centralized power — says he is. Honestly, if I were a wizard listening to him speak, I’d be on his side too. We’ll maybe not on his side, but definitely opposed to the Ministry.

JK Rowling consistently projects an air of self importance on the Ministry, who ends up as an obstacle to the heroes and is always lead by a bunch of incompetent sycophants. If she consciously writes that as a reflection of her own government, then I wonder what she must think of the US government…

OMG, I just realized: Trump is Dolores Umbridge. Sadly, the world makes a little more sense.

Rowling weaves a rich tapestry of characters and conflict over a framework of a masterfully created fantasy world. It’s not flawless, but so nearly so, that I’d feel it next to sacrilege to mention any trivial shortcomings. Let’s just say no one alive does it better. (Something I wouldn’t have been able to say just last week. #StanLeeRIP)

What I didn’t like
There are a LOT of characters and it’s hard to keep everyone, along with their relationships, straight. But it doesn’t help at all when so many lines are squashed under background noise or run over by music. Did the director/editors not listen to the dialog? Maybe they didn’t notice how unintelligible so many lines were because they were privy to the script, and just mentally filled in the auditory blanks. I was in a theater with state of the art Dolby sound and at least half a dozen times I had to wonder what on Earth a character said.

I really wish I had rewatched the first Fantastic Beasts before seeing The Crimes of Grindelwald because I spent most of the movie lost trying to remember what exactly was going on in the character relationships: wait, she likes him, and he likes her, but something happened — I can’t remember what, and why are those two characters looking at each other like that? Is there something going on between them that… oh, right, now I remember… wait, no that was the other girl who… Screw it. I give up. Just show some more fantastic beasts.

So yeah, warm up for CoG by rewatching the first FB.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody

Movie Review - Bohemian RhapsodyTears — check

Racing heart — check

Goose pimples — check

Foot stomping good fun — check

A deeper appreciation for a beloved musician and band — double check.

I love Queen’s music; always have, but I’ll be honest: I knew nothing about the band members and their story, and I’m glad I didn’t, because it made this movie so much more enjoyable not knowing. (And I won’t ruin that for you in this review.)

Any discussion of this film must begin with Rami Malek’s outstanding performance as Freddie Mercury. For a role that relied so deeply on voice, it was his expressions — especially his eyes — that told the story. I could go on with platitudes and adjectives, but let’s just say, “He rocked it,” and move on.

The pacing was spot on. There was just enough of each dramatic scene to get the impact without dragging.

The director Bryan Singer (the guy who did the good X-Men movies) showed he can direct a movie to an emotional crescendo just as well — perhaps even better — than he can end with climatic action.

This is a movie with no room for improvement. I see a lot of movies and that’s not something I can often say.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: RunPee Vera and I worked together on these Peetimes. I think we came up with four good options, nicely spaced out in the movie. And we worked extra hard to avoid the music montage scenes.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Bohemian Rhapsody. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Did Rami Malek sing in Bohemian Rhapsody?

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury
Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury

If you’ve seen Bohemian Rhapsody, you may be wondering if you’re hearing Rami Malek’s voice during the musical numbers. The answer is a little bit “yes” and a little bit “no.” As amazing as Malek’s voice is, we’re talking about duplicating Freddie Mercury here. No small feat. There’s no shame in being one of a chorus of voices needed to recreate the masterful range of Mercury.

In an interview with Metro USA, Malek confirmed he did sing some of the songs. Malek said, “It is an amalgamation of a few voices. But predominantly, it is my hope and the hope of everyone that we will hear as much Freddie as possible.”

The mixed vocal doesn’t feature on the film’s soundtrack, which is solely of original Queen recordings.

Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody

Before you go see Bohemian Rhapsody, you might want to brush up on the lyrics to their most iconic song.

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see
I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy
Because I’m easy come, easy go
A little high, little low
Anyway the wind blows, doesn’t really matter to me, to me
Mama, just killed a man
Put a gun against his head
Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead
Mama, life had just begun
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away
Mama, ooo
Didn’t mean to make you cry
If I’m not back again this time tomorrow
Carry on, carry on, as if nothing really matters
Too late, my time has come
Sends shivers down my spine
Body’s aching all the time
Goodbye everybody, I’ve got to go
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth
Mama, ooo (anyway the wind blows)
I don’t want to die
I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all
I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouch, scaramouch, will you do the fandango
Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening me
Galileo, Galileo,
Galileo, Galileo,
Galileo Figaro – magnifico
But I’m just a poor boy and nobody loves me
He’s just a poor boy from a poor family
Spare him his life from this monstrosity
Easy come easy go, will you let me go
Bismillah! No, we will not let you go – let him go
Bismillah! We will not let you go – let him go
Bismillah! We will not let you go – let me go
Will not let you go – let me go (never)
Never let you go – let me go
Never let me go ooo
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia, let me go
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me
For me
For me
So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye
So you think you can love me and leave me to die
Oh baby, can’t do this to me baby
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here
Ooh yeah, ooh yeah
Nothing really matters
Anyone can see
Nothing really matters, nothing really matters to me
Anyway the wind blows…

Songwriters: Freddie Mercury
Bohemian Rhapsody lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

A most excellent cameo, eh?

There are perfect cameos and then there’s Mike Myers’ cameo as Ray Foster in Bohemian Rhapsody.

I honestly didn’t recognize Myers during the movie. It wasn’t until after I saw it — when I was adding Peetimes — that I noticed his credit listing on the IMDb.

If you don’t know why this is such an excellent cameo, then maybe you forgot this:

Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody

 

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Through the Wormhole – Are We All Bigots?

Morgan Freeman has a Science Channel series called Through the Wormhole. I highly recommend the series for those interested in learning about a broad range of topics from is the universe a simulation to is privacy dead.

One of my favorite episodes is about the nature of racism: Are We All Bigots? In this episode Freeman comes at this question from a number of angles, as he does the topic in every episode. Below is, what I think, is one of the most important segments.

If you like that clip then I highly recommend you watch the entire episode. You can buy it on YouTube for $1.99 (No affiliation with RunPee.)

Opinion
I have to accept that part of my brain is bigoted. It does things (and sometimes gets away with it) that I don’t like.

That may sound like an odd thing to say: my brain does things that I don’t like. What am I if not my brain and it’s decisions? I think its clear, especially if you watch the entire episode of Are We All Bigots, that our brain instinctively makes decisions without the consent of our brain’s rational consciousness. (Not that consciousness is always rational.)

What researchers have proven is that we are not always in control of our thoughts and actions. It’s not an excuse for bad behavior, but it’s a reality we have to deal with. For instance, when someone is addicted to gambling, or food, a drug, whatever, you can’t attribute that to poor character, or weakness.

Our brains evolved to cope with many situations we no longer face. In this modern age we can manipulate those situations in ways that were never possible while the circuitry in our brains was evolving to help us survive. When we eat carbohydrate-rich food — bread, rice, cake, sweets, etc. — our brain says, “OMG, this is great. More please.” That’s because during our evolution there was hardly a chance that we could overeat those things because of their scarcity. That part of our brain doesn’t understand that we now have unlimited access to calories, and don’t need to overeat at each opportunity. The only way to stop ourselves is to use our rational consciousness to intervene and put the breaks on. Again, the rational part of our brain isn’t always in control — much as we might wish it.

It’s the same for how our brain reacts to people who are different from us. Generally speaking, for our hunter-gatherer ancestors, people from outside their tribe wasn’t always a good thing. Like a dog barking at a stranger, we evolved to be wary of different than us. It’s only through life experience that we can retrain our brains. Essentially, we need take that part of our brain that makes snap judgments and pet it, and say, “Hey, it’s okay. These different people are okay. Don’t get worked up.” Over time, that part of our brain will relax. But, we must recognize that it’s always there, ready to wake up again and bark at the next different person that passes by.

I want to make racism go away; from myself and my country and all of humanity. I believe the only way this will be possible is to acknowledge that part of our brains evolved to be wary of different people — because it gave them an edge in survival.

When we see racism, in ourselves or others, we need to make an effort to retrain us/them. And just like training a dog, the best method is positive reinforcement. Because when you yell at someone for being bigoted it’s about as effective as yelling at a dog — pointless and counterproductive. (Even though it feels as good as eating chocolate cake dripping with melted fudge and covered in icing.)

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

First Man Opinion — Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

When I was in college, I worked at the United States Space Academy. It was an amazing experience. I grew up fascinated with space and science. I literally cried when my parents dragged me out of the Space and Rocket Center after our first, and only, visit. Years later, when I got to work there, it was rewarding to have the opportunity to help young children experience the joy and wonder I had when I was their age.

Obviously I’ve never flown in space, but I understand better than most the incredible technical hurdles it took getting to the moon. I’ve studied math, physics, and history, and the history of space exploration in depth. There is no doubt that the United States of America achieved something wholly remarkable when Neil and Buzz landed on the moon. But it is truly an epic achievement by all humanity. The USA would have never achieved all they did, in the time they did, if it wasn’t for the German engineers that came to America after WWII. Those engineers would have never come to the USA had the Allies not defeated Germany.  And the Allies couldn’t have defeated the Axis powers if not for the sacrifices of the British people early in the war, and more so the Russian people throughout, who sadly endured horrors that are hardly acknowledged today.

How could anyone land on the moon without radio communications — invented by an Italian? How could they navigate to the moon without calculus — invented by an Englishman and a German? (Note: Newton did it first; Leibniz did it better.) Without Modern Analytic Geometry — invented by the Frenchmen René Descartes and Pierre de Fermat — Newton and Leibniz wouldn’t have the tools to invent calculus in the first place.

As Newton said, If I have seen farther, it is only because I stood on the shoulders of giants. The United States of America finished a long endurance race that began millennia ago when a group of hominids — Homo erectus — discovered that putting meat and vegetables in fire made them more palatable and, unknowingly, more nutritious. Without that discovery, the moon would be nothing more than a bright source of light for a week out of the month to a bunch of bipedal hominids who don’t know what a month is.

The night before Apollo 11 returned to Earth Neil Armstrong signed off by saying:

The responsibility for this flight lies first with history and with the giants of science who have preceded this effort; next with the American people, who have, through their will, indicated their desire; next with four administrations and their Congresses, for implementing that will; and then, with the agency and industry teams that built our spacecraft, the Saturn, the Columbia, the Eagle, and the little EMU, the spacesuit and backpack that was our small spacecraft out on the lunar surface. We would like to give special thanks to all those Americans who built the spacecraft; who did the construction, design, the tests, and put their hearts and all their abilities into those craft. To those people tonight, we give a special thank you, and to all the other people that are listening and watching tonight, God bless you. Good night from Apollo 11.

Apollo 11 Trivia Quiz

Where’s the American Flag in First Man?

Movie Review – First Man

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Apollo 11 Trivia Quiz

Do you have what it takes to suit up? Take the Apollo 11/Lunar history quiz, and learn some great trivia about  mankind’s first trip to the moon, and the astronauts who made that historic journey in 1969. (Ten questions)

Apollo 11 Trivia

Here's a description

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.