Non-Stop – movie review

Grade: C+
Non-Stop was more enjoyable than I thought it would be, however, I wasn’t expecting much.Liam Neeson, as always, is a fantastic choice for the flawed hero character. Even in his 60s he’s still great at close combat action scenes. He’s only getting better at action/fighting due to the number of movies he’s made recently playing that role.

The story was pretty good. It keeps you guessing and trying to solve the mystery. When it was all over I felt that the explanation was a little weak but good enough if you don’t think about it too much.

Son of God – movie review

son-of-godGrade: B

This movie isn’t going to win any critical awards but it’s a crowd-pleaser. If you’ve watched some of the dramatic retellings of the life of Jesus on History, BCC, Discovery, type channels then think of that but a good bit better.

I found it interesting that they often used a characters name in conversation, as in, “John, hand me that bread,” instead of just saying, “Hand me that bread.” The writers/director went out of their way to make sure we knew which actors played which characters. That was a good choice.

The first half of the movie is mostly a “greatest hits” from the life of Jesus leading up to the days before his crucifixion. The second half of the movie dealt with just the final few days of his life. Personally, I wish they had spent a little more time with the early days. It felt rushed in contrast to the second half of the movie which felt like it dragged on a bit. In fact Jesus has less screen time than Pilate, or even the High Priest of the Temple, over the second half of the movie – not counting the crucifixion which occupies a long stretch of screen time at the end.

This obviously reflects a huge matter of debate among Christians regarding what is more important: the life or death of Jesus. I’m solidly in the “life” camp so I wish they’d featured it more.

It’s a longish movie. About two hours and fourteen minutes, not including the credits, so it’s likely you’ll need to use one of the Peetimes. Fortunately I was able to find three good ones so you should be in good shape.


Pompeii – movie review

PompieeGrade: D-
When it’s all said and done Pompeii will be remembered as the movie that reacquainted the world with one of the best actors of his generation. He commanded attention in every scene he was in, even when he had no lines to deliver; and when he delivered his lines it was with precision and force; by the end of the movie his presence cast a shadow over every character, every line, every scene – even the ones he wasn’t in. Yes, I’m talking about the volcano.

Honestly, if you go see this movie for any other reason than to see 3D pyroclastics then you’re in for some disappointment.

I can’t tell you how bad the acting was because the dialog was so astoundingly bad. I think Carrie-Anne Moss and Jared Harris, both of whom are award winning actors, rolled their eyes at their own lines a few times. Kiefer Sutherland, who plays the bad guy, had cringe worthy lines, even for him. It’s that bad.

Case in point, the actor Jared Harris actually uses the word “bloody” a few times, as in “bloody Romans”. Hint, they didn’t talk like that. The shame is that Romans used lots of colorful metaphors. There’s an entire wikipedia page devoted to “latin profanity”. Translating that to English would have given the dialog some interesting quirks, oh well.

Do yourself a favor and wait to see this movie on DVD. If you’re lucky you’ll forget about it by then and save yourself a little time and money.

3 Days to Kill – movie review

3DaysToKillGrade: C-

Lets set the tone right away.First, in the first three minutes of this movie you find out that a very young, and very good looking woman, is assigned, by the Director of the CIA no less, to be the lead agent in taking down one of the most important international terrorists in the world. (Right, that happens.)

Second, you find out that the bad guys are named “The Wolf” and “The Albino”. (I’m not making this up.)

Now you know what you’re getting yourself into. The plot of this movie is the pre-worn-denim-jeans of movie scripts. The plot is just an excuse to introduce us to a character that is going through some life altering events.

About the only good thing in this movie is Kevin Costner’s character. He does a respectable job of playing an aged assassin who wants to get out of the business and get back to his family. And that’s it for this movie. The action is secondary and not especially impressive. Fortunately they don’t try and force the action and keep those scenes to a minimum.
The saving grace for this movie is the laughs. There’s nothing to LOL about but there are a few chuckle scenes, especially with Guido, the Italian accountant, and Mitat the…I’m not sure what his character’s job was but he had some laughs.
Honestly, wait for this on DVD. There’s nothing compelling about this movie and isn’t worth the money to see in the theater.

Winter’s Tale – movie review

WintersTaleGrade: C

I feel a little ambivalent about this movie. On the one hand the acting was great. However, the story seemed to be a little scattered. The central message of this movie seems to be contradicted at the end. If you see it then let me know if you agree. I’m still trying to sort it out.

The best part of the film is the acting. I’m becoming a big fan of Colin Farrel. He seems to get better and better with each role. Of course Russell Crowe is his usual great self. The woman who played Beverly, Jessica Brown Findlay, did a fine job. Nothing to complain about here. And oh yes, a fantastic cameo but I’m not going to tell you by who. You’ll know when you see it and you’ll love it.

As I said, the story has some problems, but that’s only if you try and dissect it. There’s no question it pacts some emotional impact. The audience gasped a few times and there were a few tears shed. Unquestionably poignant.

Also, the horse was probably the best part of the movie.

About Last Night – movie review

AboutLastNightGrade: B

I’m really impressed with the job they did with this remake. And to be fair it isn’t really a remake of the 1980s movie but a film based on the David Mamet play, “Sexual Perversity in Chicago”, which both movies are based from.

That being said, they payed homage to the original movie a number of times, including a brief scene where the couple are watching it.

What I liked best about this version is they fleshed out the character of Joan much more than the original. Joan, played by Regina Hall, and Bernie, Kevin Hart, were fantastic together and most of the laughs in the movie surround their performances.

All said the acting was good and the pacing was great, which is to be expected because the original play won many awards. If you’re looking for a date night movie this Valentines the choice is easy.

Robocop – movie review

RobocopGrade: B-

I’m a big fan of the original Robocop film. It was hyper violent and went way over the top. Sort of the them of the 80s, don’t you think?

This is not that kind of Robocop. The violence is PG-13. There’s very little blood and no more gore than you would see in a documentary about brain surgery.

This isn’t what I would call a thinking man’s movie. It definitely leans heavy on simple action and a step by step plot. However, it does shine a light on many current issues that we face today: ethics of drones, corporate power, and media manipulation. In the movie these issues are simply used like a prop. The story never stops to reflect on the pros and cons of these issues.

The action was good but a little redundant at times.

The movie wasn’t devoid of humor but I think there was room for a good bit more. At least when they tried to do humor they got laughs. Nothing’s worse than trying to be funny and missing the target.

The pacing was quick. There was never a time when I thought, “Yada, yada, yada, lets get to the next action scene.”

All said I’m happy with it and will see it again on DVD. And hopefully there will be more.



Monuments Men – movie review

MonumentsMenGrade: B+
The only thing that confuses me about Monuments Men is why it didn’t come out at Christmas. It would have been the perfect movie to see during the holidays. Oh well, at least it doesn’t have much competition in the theaters right now.

Obviously this is a very good movie. It was written, directed, and stars George Clooney. Do you need to know anything else? Well, yes, you need to know that it also has Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett ( a.k.a. Galadriel from Lord of the Rings). Basically, the cast rocks, the story is excellent, and the direction is spot on.

There is the requisite amount of humor in the movie. Not much that is hilarious, but enough for a few laughs.

If you want an enjoyable evening out with a movie then look no further.

That Awkward Moment – movie review

ThatAwkwardMomentGrade: B
That Awkward Moment probably won’t go on your shelf with the great romantic comedies, like When Harry Met Sally, Jerry Maguire, and Pretty Woman, but it might make it to the shelf right below that.

One of my knocks about many romantic movies is that the relationships often feel like a kludge. For instance in the English Patient, not a comedy for sure but rooted in a romance, I never understood why the two main characters sacrificed so much for each other. I felt like I was told a story instead of seeing a story. Thankfully that’s not the case in Awkward Moment.

Two of the relationship stories told in the movie are compelling. It was easy to see why the couples were together even though sometimes they didn’t want to be. The third, involving Mikey and Vera, wasn’t as well explored and felt a little flat. But there wasn’t as much focus placed on that aspect of the story so it’s easy to look past it.

The actors definitely seemed like they had a great time working together and there were numerous funny moments and a few hilarious ones. (Don’t you just hate it when a romantic comedy isn’t really a comedy?)

If you’re jonesing to get out and see a rom-com then I think you’ll enjoy That Awkward Moment.

I, Frankenstein – movie review

iFrankensteinGrade: C

What I found most surprising about this movie is the quality of the acting. Usually movies like this pluck their main characters from the B-list. But somehow the creators managed to land Aaron Eckhart, who is an outstandingly good, but underrated, actor. Eckhart brings gravitas to the character of Frankenstein that the story depends on. Without him this movie might have been rubbish.

More surprising yet they got Bill Nighy as the lead for the evil demons. Nighy’s did a fantastic job of showing a character that can just barely manage to keep a seething anger under control. It feels like his character wants to smash everything to bits but he knows that won’t be an effective strategy so he keeps his cool and pursues a more complex plan of attack. Bill Nighy is one of my favorite actors because he has such an astonishing range.

The rest of the cast is pretty much the B-listers but that doesn’t mean they can’t act. Jai Courtney, John McClane’s son in “A Good Day To Die Hard”, Miranda Otto, Eowyn from “Lord of the Rings”, and Yvonne Strahovski, from the TV series “Chuck”, all do a fine job with what they have to work with.

Where the movie suffers is in the story telling. First, they only have 80 minutes of actual movie time to tell a story that involves a fairly rich and detailed universe. Or at least it could have if they had made the movie an hour longer and given the audience a chance to see the universe they created instead of spoon feeding every little detail with heavy handed exposition. Lets put it this way, if Peter Jackson had directed this movie it would have been a trilogy with nine-plus hours of screen time.

This movie was better than I expected, because I was expecting it to be rubbish, but ultimately is unsatisfying because of the heavy handed story telling and brevity.