Movie Review – Zombieland: Double Tap

Movie Review - Zombieland: Double TapZombieland: Doubletap wasn’t great, but it was better than I expected and certainly satisfying.

I’m happy to say that Doubletap avoids the typical disappointment from sequels that were added on to a successful movie as a money grab. #ZL2 has the same charm and wit as the original. I’m not saying it was as good as the original, but only because the original Zombieland had, well, originality. What can you say? Zombieland created the zomedy genre.

The introduction of new characters was, for the most part, fun. Without giving anything away I think some were used just enough, while others fortunately only had a few short scenes.

Here’s what I really enjoyed: the plot for Doubletap is mostly about creating humor. However, in little pieces here and there small details are added about characters that really make a difference later. Doubletap isn’t a complex story by any means — that’s not the sort of story this aspires to be. Kudos to the writers (Dave Callaham, Rhett Reese, and Paul Wernick) for keeping the humor coming while weaving these new details into a great payoff without resorting to cheap cliches.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: ZL2 is a short movie, but I have 2 good Peetimes. The 1st one is longer, but so is the synopsis. I’d recommend the 2nd Peetime. Neither has any action to speak of, but are immediately followed by action scenes, so don’t be late.

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

Rated (R) for bloody violence, language throughout, some drug and sexual content
Genres: Action, Comedy, Horror, Zombie

Is Joker a standalone or part of the DC Extended Universe?

JokerThe Joker (played by Joaquin Phoenix), is a standalone origin story, set in 1981 Gotham City, which tells the story of how the character Arthur Fleck , a failed stand-up comedian, turns to a life of crime and chaos.

The Joker is the first in a series of movies and comics DC is launching under the DC Black heading. DC Black stories are a bold new approach to let storytellers experiment with characters without being beholden to the continuity of the larger DCEU (DC Extended Universe). The idea is to create a series of standalone movies — one-offs, so to speak — that don’t relate to any other DC movies.

Basically, DC has given up trying to compete with the success of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and are going back to what they do best: tell dark stories about dark characters in dark places.

Ironically, the MCU is also experimenting with this form of storytelling, outside the bounds of continuity with the main MCU story-line, in their “What If…?” series, where they transpose different characters into different roles: such as “What if Black Panther was Starlord?” …or explore how things could have been different if a character had made a different decision. Like what if Steve Rodgers hadn’t become Captain America?

Disney Plus is working on this concept, but Marvel is still leaps and bounds above anything the DC has offered lately. We’ll see if this idea helps level the playing field.

Movie Review – Joker

Newbie Movie Review – Suicide Squad (2016)

Five Movies Every Gambler Should Watch

What can you say about gambling movies which hasn’t been said already? They’re exciting, often a roller coaster ride, and they usually contain important messages too. Therefore, they have always been very popular with film buffs over the years and they range from films about poker all the way to bingo.

But what movies are really out there to provide the confidence, inspiration as well as the good sense for everyone who actually loves the whole world of gambling, whether it maybe Friday night blackjack with friends or exclusive games online at PartyCasino. With this mind, we have chosen five of the best which we think every gambler should make time to watch.

The Sting

The Sting is gambling movie known for its twists and turns, with both the excitement and danger levels in the film increasing along the way. The story focused on Johnny Hooker, a con man, and Henry Gondoff, with the duo looking to exact revenge on a ruthless crime boss. The crime boss, known as Doyle Lonnegan, loves gambling, and this opens the door for the pair to set their big con in motion.

The Hustler

The Hustler, just like The Sting, stars Paul Newman, and it’s another great addition to this list. Newman takes on the role of “Fast” Eddie Felson, a pool hustler with attitude. Felson’s aim is to make it to the top, which sees him head from one seedy venue to another, in the hope of being able to pit his skills against the legendary Minnesota Fats. However, a bad experience sees everything spiral out of control, and Felson turns to Bert Gordon to help rebuild his status.

The Cooler

The Cooler centres on Bernie Lootz, a guy who is down on his luck. He works at a Las Vegas casino, where he’s made a career out of spreading bad luck amongst guests. However, things change for Bernie when he begins to date waitress Natalie Belisario, and he soon becomes a lucky charm for gamblers in Las Vegas. This causes quite the headache for Bernie’s employers, who had specifically hired him to encourage gamblers to lose.

High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3FbfBevHBs

 

Based on a true story, this movie shows how Stuey Ungar, who is played in the film by Michael Imperioli, went from being a teenage card prodigy to a gambling megastar on a global scale. From troubled beginnings which saw Ungar end up in trouble with the mob through his gambling, right through to a high-profile poker career, this biographical gambling movie documents the highs, the lows, and everything in between. It also shows just how success can come at a price, sending out an important message to viewers.

California Spilt

California Split is a movie which sees a carefree single guy in Charlie Walters, who happens to have a penchant hooker, also have a devout love for gambling too. His betting partner, Bill Denny, accompanies Charlie on his mission as he goes in search of that elusive big win, the one which can change everything. The film sees the pair experience both highs and lows on their journey, with good luck and bad luck in supply along the way, while outside forces come into play and threaten to derail their plans.

 

Movie Review – Angel Has Fallen

Movie Review - Angel Has FallenI did the Peetimes and reviews for the previous two movies in this series. (And by the way, you don’t need to see or remember the other movies to appreciate this one. It stands on its own pretty well.)

I checked the archives and I gave the first movie Olympus Has Fallen a B+ and the second London Has Fallen a B-. Two very respectable grades for this genre. My memory of the movies is a little vague. I remember the plots, but I only saw them once so I don’t remember the details.

This movie deserves at least a B+. I’m tempted to bump it up in the “A” range, but the villain is a little shaky.

What I liked most about this movie, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, is Nick Nolte’s performance. Let’s just say I’d give Nick an A+ and the rest of the movie a B. Nick doesn’t have a large role, but what he has he owns with some heart tearing monologs.

I have an odd comment about another part of the movie. There’s a scene with Banning driving a semi truck, pulling a trailer, over a curvy two lane road while being chased by police. (This is actually the Recommended Peetime.) What’s odd about it: during the movie I fully expected some wildly fantastic action where Banning would evade the police. That “Hollywood” action that is fantastic, but totally unrealistic. But that’s not what they did. They kept it simple and believable.

Overall, that’s what each of the movies in this series has: a mature script that feels real enough to cover up the unrealistic premise.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: I don’t know how you feel about chase scenes, but personally I would highly recommend the 2nd Peetime. It’s one very long chase scene, no dialog, and hardly any action. The tension really builds during the last Peetime. Only use it as an Emergency.

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

Rated (R) for violence and language throughout
Genres: Action

Movie Review – London Has Fallen

Movie Review – Olympus Has Fallen

Movie Review – Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Movie Review - Where'd You Go, BernadetteThis is a crazy hard movie to give a rating to. I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it. I was engaged with the story from beginning to end, but wasn’t moved by the resolution.

The characters were well defined and the actors did a great job — every one of them. Obviously, Cate Blanchett is amazing as always, but a shout out has to be given to Kristen Wiig for her nuanced performance of Audrey. And Emma Nelson, the young girl who played Bee, shows great promise.

My problem with the movie lies in the character of Bernadette; namely that she was projected as an elite architect. The problems Bernadette faces aren’t unique, and aren’t limited to only the most talented individuals in the world.

By presenting her and her husband as highly accomplished, former prep-school-attending, wealthy individuals makes it hard for the audience to relate. She could have just as easily been presented an average architect. It isn’t about the talent — it’s about the drive to create: two things that are independent of each other.

In my college days I was an avid, but average, basketball player. I could have earned a master’s degree in physics had I traded in my gym time for lab time. But I loved basketball, and can confidently say I got as much enjoyment and self fulfillment out of playing as any elite basketball player.

An interesting choice the creators took is in giving us Bernadette’s backstory via documentary format. Exposition about a character’s past can be difficult to handle. If it’s too subtle, viewers might miss clues and become lost, wondering why a character is acting in such-and-such a manner. If it’s too obvious, it becomes heavy-handed and feels like a cheat. The documentary was creatively integrated into the story, and split up organically into two separate viewings. Kudos to the writers.

Perhaps this motivated the writers’ choice to create Bernadette as an elite architect, worthy of a documentary, so they could use this form of exposition. Personally, I’d say their choice wasn’t worth making Bernadette unrelatable, but that’s only my opinion.

Maybe I’m the only one who cares about these things. You tell me. Do you think the story would have been better if Bernadette were more relatable?

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: I would recommend the 2nd Peetime. It takes place in the middle of some serious stuff, but during the Peetime nothing much happens. The first Peetime is okay, but not as good as the 2nd.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Where’d You Go, Bernadette. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for some strong language and drug material
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Mystery

The Top Six Richard Linklater Movies Ever Made

Movie Review – Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

11 Raunchy Comedies You Should Watch Now

Where is “Hell’s Kitchen” and how did it get the name?

Like too many all of life’s crucial questions, there’s no definitive answer to either the where or the how, but there are many theories, all of which have some a degree of truth to them.

Hell's Kitchen boundaries
Maybe I should have made the boundary lines more blurry.

The easiest one is the where. There is definitely a place that is officially “Googley” named Hell’s Kitchen, because you can see it labeled right there in Google Maps. (Anyplace that wants to be a place must first be placed on Google Maps.)

Hell’s Kitchen is generally considered to refer to the area from 34th to 59th Streets, starting west of Eighth Avenue and north of 43rd Street. City zoning regulations generally limit buildings to six stories; therefore most of the buildings are older walk-up apartments.

As for how this neighborhood came to be known as Hell’s Kitchen, according to the Irish Cultural Society of the Garden City Area:

When, in 1835, Davy Crockett said, “In my part of the country, when you meet an Irishman, you find a first-rate gentleman; but these are worse than savages; they are too mean to swab hell’s kitchen.” He was referring to the Five Points.

An article published by Mary Clark in 1994, published in the New York Times stated:

…first appeared in print on September 22, 1881 when a New York Times reporter went to the West 30s with a police guide to get details of a multiple murder there. He referred to a particularly infamous tenement at 39th Street and Tenth Avenue as “Hell’s Kitchen” and said that the entire section was “probably the lowest and filthiest in the city.” According to this version, 39th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues became known as Hell’s Kitchen and the name was later expanded to the surrounding streets. Another version ascribes the name’s origins to a German restaurant in the area known as Heil’s Kitchen, after its proprietors. But the most common version traces it to the story of “Dutch Fred the Cop”, a veteran policeman, who with his rookie partner, was watching a small riot on West 39th Street near Tenth Avenue. The rookie is supposed to have said, “This place is hell itself”, to which Fred replied, “Hell’s a mild climate. This is Hell’s Kitchen.”

Movie Review – The Kitchen

Movie Review – The Kitchen

Movie Review - The KitchenAndrea Berloff did a fantastic job writing and directing the Kitchen. There are no wasted scenes in this tightly edited film. Everything follows from one step to the next. The characters are very well defined, and evolve during the movie for obvious reasons.

The three actors — Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss — headlining this movie were fantastic. Each totally sold their characters as fearful timid women to begin with, that became powerful confident women later…and in McCarthy’s case oscillated back and forth a few times, all with good reason.

The plot isn’t as predictable as the trailers might suggest. There’s a few enjoyable twists and turns I didn’t expect.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: This movie is very well edited. There were lots of Peetime options early in the movie to select from, but were all very short. I  recommend the 2nd Peetime. It’s near the middle of the movie and doesn’t have much dialog. The 3rd Peetime is for Emergencies only. There’s a big plot development, but it’s the only describable scene in the last 3rd of the movie to pick from.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Kitchen. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence, language throughout and some sexual content
Genres: Action, Crime, Drama

Where is “Hell’s Kitchen” and how did it get the name?

The Essential Tarantino – What to watch before Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Movie Review – The Art of Self-Defense

International Sports Films You Have Got To Watch

What’s the secret behind the popularity of sports? Any sport. Is the fame that is a part of the game? The money aspect? Or is the talent of the players and the physical aspect of it all? There’s a bit of everything in there. But most importantly, it is the myriad emotions that everyone goes through, whether they are watching or playing a sport that makes it such a beloved part of our lives.

Sport is an essential feature of human nature, and we tackle it on a day-to-day basis. We might wear the jersey of our favourite team to work regularly. Indulge in games, hang posters of our favourite stars, or watch movies that glorify sports on an entirely different level. Very much like sports betting, which can be quickly done online with surprise offers from bookmakers to give you the edge at the very beginning, sports films have for the longest of times been some of the best money-makers in the movie industry.

The connection most people feel with games like football, cricket, ice-hockey, American football, or tennis makes films based on these sports all the more entertaining and popular with the masses. Now, Hollywood has had a fair share of sport-based cinema over the years, so, here are three from across the world that should be on your must-watch list.

Bend It Like Beckham – UK

Packed with drama, comedy, and tons of heart-warming moments, Bend It Like Beckham is also the movie that made Kiera Knightly a household name. Following the trials and tribulations of an Asian girl who just wants to play football, the film is a light-hearted tale of friendship, family bonds, and battling societal norms for the love of the game. Bend It Like Beckham was also made into a musical and had a yearlong run on West End.

 

Iqbal – India

A coming-of-age film that revolves around a budding cricket player, Iqbal is different from the usual Bollywood fare. There are no dance and music sequences in this one, as a young deaf and mute bowler, living in a village, goes about making a name for himself in the hope of joining the Indian cricket team. Iqbal received critical fame both nationally and internationally, and is a film that the entire family can enjoy together. The most beautiful feature of the film is how the main protagonist gets help from an alcoholic ex-player and his sister along the way. In the end, everyone comes together to give him the support that takes Iqbal to the top.

Shaolin Soccer – Hong Kong

Sports does not always have to be taken seriously, and Shaolin Soccer is one film that proves that. A merry band of former Shaolin monks get together in this eccentric film that sees them take on soccer to promote martial arts. What we get is physics-defying stunts and goals, with dollops of over-the-top comedy, and several charming characters to root for along the way. Shaolin Soccer was a massive hit in Asia and went on to win quite a few film awards for its special effects.

Movie Review – Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw

Movie Review - Fast & Furious: Hobbs & ShawIMDb categorizes Hobbs & Shaw as: “action, adventure”. I think they should add “comedy” to that as well. The odd couple relationship between Hobbs & Shaw has been building since their “relationship” began in Fast and the Furious 7, and they milk it to great effect in this movie while simultaneously letting their relationship grow.

Hobbs & Shaw also elevates the over-the-top action sequences expected of any movie in the Fast and Furious franchise. There’s definitely a few, “Oh wow, that was cool. I haven’t seen that before,” scenes — mostly by Brixton on his motorcycle.

If there’s one gripe I had going into Hobbs & Shaw, it’s that the ubiquitous trailers appeared to have already spoiled the best action and funniest scenes, but now I can assure you that isn’t the case. There are plenty of funny scenes never hinted at in the trailers and a few — exactly two — “special moments” that will leave you looking to your friends around you in surprised awe. (Note: If you’re a fan, then avoid any Hobbs & Shaw news on social media, or anywhere else, until after you see the movie. You don’t want to get spoiled.)

Good Acting

A special mention has to be given to the rising star Vanessa Kirby. The action movie genre isn’t exactly littered with great acting performances, but Vanessa Kirby, as Hattie Shaw, delivers in every scene — whether it calls for humor, drama, or action. And as unbelievable as some of the action scenes can be, the relationship between Hobbs and Shaw that Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham deliver is perfectly believable.

The casting of Idris Elba was perfect. Few actors have the physicality and gravitas to be such an outstanding villain.

Great Writing

None of this would be possible without the outstanding writing skills of Chris Morgan, who also penned the screenplays for all the F&F movies, going back to Tokyo Drift.

I’m not saying that this script, and his others, are examples of high literature. There are too many instances of unrealistic conveniences that keep the story going, like the main characters just happening to run across the right people at the right time to keep them on their mission. However, this also isn’t the sort of movie that needs to get bogged down in the the nuances of logistics. One of the best tricks Chris Morgan employs in his scripts is to introduce those convenient characters in a surprising and enjoyable manner.

Basically, if Chris Morgan were a chef he would make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But not just any old PB&J sandwich. He’d use the good stuff, on really good bread, and maybe sneak an in Oreo cookie — or two — there as a surprise.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: It was difficult finding decent Peetimes in the 1st half of this movie. There’s a lot going on: action, character development, etc. The 3rd and 4th Peetimes are the best. Try to use one of those if you must. None of the Peetimes have any action scenes, because that’s what we’re here to watch! Am I right? 🙂 However, there is just a little bit of humor in a few of the Peetimes, but nothing like the best humor.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for prolonged sequences of action and violence, suggestive material and some strong language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy

Hobbs & Shaw – The Entire Backstory from Fast and the Furious

Fast & Furious 1 & 4 Is Really ONE MOVIE

10 Most Exciting Scenes (with video clips) from the Fast and The Furious Franchise

10 Most Exciting Scenes (with video clips) from the Fast and The Furious Franchise

I just watched the entire Fast and the Furious oeuvre, and here are my Top 10 Favorite F&F Action Scenes. It’s listed from top to bottom, with Number 1 being the BEST scene. Agree, disagree? Comment below which scenes you thought were most exciting after viewing the clips here. I could have easily added another half dozen scenes.

#10 — Fast Five: Opening Scene (1:13)

My only problem with this scene was seeing the bus rolling over, and over, and over, thinking: ummmmm, you know you might have just killed the guy you were trying to rescue, right? 🙂

#9 — Fate of the Furious: Havana Race Scene (5:18)

So ridiculously over the top. How can you not love it?

#8 — Fast and Furious 4: Gas Scene (7:00)

Driving under the tanker full of gas at the very end: that’s something Riddick would do.

#7 — Fast and Furious 4: Kidnapping Braga (Desert Escape) Scene (6:45)

Cars, crashes, humor, and video game level action.

#6 — Fast and Furious 6: Ending Plane Chase Scene (5:28)

Gisel sacrificing herself for Han. This was the first dramatic death in the franchise. Ouch! (No, Letty’s death scene doesn’t count, because we knew that wasn’t going to stick.)

#5 — Fast and Furious 7: Bus Rescue Scene (6:14)

Just another day at the office for these guys.

#4 — Fast Five: Stealing the Vault Scene (6:10)

This was the first scene in the franchise that my wife and I really reacted to. It was just fun to watch that much carnage, no matter how impossible it is for those cars to pull that vault that fast.

#3 — Fast and Furious 7: Car Jump Scene (3:45)

This scene was made all the better by setting up the “Dom, cars don’t fly,” line from Brian, earlier in the movie.

#2 — Fate of the Furious: Zombie Cars Scene (5:10)

OMG. This was brilliant. Forget the fact that it doesn’t work this way. This is F&F; go with it.

#1 — Fate of the Furious: Baby Rescue Scene (5:35)

This was such an adorable scene. No one could have pulled this off better than Jason Statham, other than maybe Dwayne Johnson. Yeah, he could have done it as good, or better. Hey, these two should make an action movie together. That would be the best! 😉

What do you think? What’s your Top 10 F& F chase scenes??

Hobbs & Shaw’s Backstory from Fast and the Furious

Fast & Furious 1 & 4 Is Really ONE MOVIE

Fast and the Furious – Furious 7 Movie Review