Movie review: Cloud Atlas

Grade: B

*Cloud Atlas* is not an easy movie to review. It is confusing, and epic, and sometimes epically confusing. This is clearly a movie with a mission statement I’m just not entirely sure it’s something I get after one viewing. ( It doesn’t help that I was writing peetime notes throughout most of the film. )

There are a few things that are very easy to review. Most striking is the acting which was, without exception, fantastic. Tom Hanks delivers a handful of powerful performances through different characters yet doesn’t stand out, much, from the rest of the cast. Clearly the director, directors in this case, deserve a great deal of credit when the entire cast performs so well together.

The cinematography, special effects, and costumes were all stunning. Everything from the modern designs in one scene to the costumes and makeup of the barbarians in the next was detailed and real. Most of all I thought they did a great job with the grit and dirt and pain in some of the worlds.

Now, about the story. That’s where it gets difficult to judge this film. I truly feel that I’ll have to watch this movie at least once more in order to “get it”. As I mentioned earlier I was handicapped by taking notes throughout most of the movie but I still think I’d need to see this multiple times to let it all sink in before giving it a fair assessment. The only critique I can offer at this point is I wish they had stuck with scenes a little longer than they did. There were very few scenes that went on for more than about 2 minutes before jumping forward or backward hundreds or thousands of years. I think it may have been a little easier to keep track of events if the movie stuck with each scene for at least 5 minutes.

For now I’m giving this movie a “B”. I reserve the right to bump that up or down a full leter grade after a few more viewings. I’m hoping it gets better over time.

Movie review: Alex Cross

Grade: D-

Let me preface this review by letting you know I don’t have any background with the Alex Cross stories. I’m coming into this as a newbie. As a newbie I thought this movie left a lot to be desired.

First, the good stuff: I thought Tyler Perry was decent as Dr. Alex Cross. Nothing extraordinary but a solid performance. The bad guy – Matthew Fox as Picasso – was also just decent. But I don’t think the shortcomings of Fox’s performance were really his fault. I’ll hang this one on the director/writers. I thought he played angry more than crazy. I think back to other psychopaths who were really convincing and it seems that the performance needs someone who is cold and not angry.

The real issue I have with the movie is the story. It felt like it was put together by randomly picking from the thriller tree of plots. Take a psychopath, make him an assassin, kill a pretty girl, make it personal with the detective, throw in some international business angle, blah, blah, blah.

I would be very curious if the Alex Cross fans enjoy this movie. But I can’t imagine than many newbies are going to like it.

Movie review: Argo

Grade: A-

Wonderful movie all the way around. Great performances from the entire cast. Affleck did a great job both acting and directing.

If you’ve seen the previews then you have a complete understanding of what the plot is. No surprises there. The biggest surprise for me was the humor. The audience laughed out loud at least a dozen times during the movie.

As with most really good movies I gave up on trying to find any decent peetimes in the second half. The tension builds up and there’s just not a 4 minute gap that is missable.

Movie review: Taken 2

Grade: C

I was really expecting this movie to be awful. The good news is that it’s not all that bad. The bad news is that it’s still not that good either.

It really is a complete rehash of the first movie but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. The movie was written by Luc Besson who is certainly talented but a bit predictable.

It was directed by Olivier Megaton who also directed *Columbiana* and *Transporter 3*. Neither of which are going to win any awards but they were also decent movies. I saw both of those movies and thought the director did a good enough job.

Liam Neeson is his usual bad-ass self. Calm under duress as always. I was slightly impressed with Maggie Grace who plays his daughter Kim. She’s improving as an actress. I think these action/drama roles are much more difficult to pull off that people think and she did okay.

Movie review: Looper

Grade: A-

Here’s the best thing about the movie: they didn’t give anything away about the plot in the previews. The last movie I can think of that pulled that off was *Inception*. Which reminds me that *Loopers* is very similar to *Inception* in that there are multiple timelines going on and both are extremely intricate, complex, movies. Oh, and both star Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

I doubt if many people will consider *Loopers* as good as *Inception* but that in no way diminishes the quality of *Loopers* because *Inception* was epic. Just being in the same ballpark as *Inception* is complimentary enough.

The acting and story are the best part of the movie – which is how all movies should be. The characters are complex and some of them grow during the course of the story unfolding. The last movie I can think of that pulled that off was *Inception*. Which reminds me that *Loopers* is very similar to *Inception* in that there are multiple timelines going on and both are extremely intricate, complex, movies. Oh, and both star Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

I doubt if many people will consider *Loopers* as good as *Inception* but that in no way diminishes the quality of *Loopers* because *Inception* was epic. Just being in the same ballpark as *Inception* is complimentary enough.

The acting and story are the best part of the movie – which is how all movies should be. The characters are complex and some of them grow during the course of the story unfolding.

Movie review: Step Up Revolution

Grade: C

The movie was very predictable. Painfully predictable. This storyline has been done hundreds of time. That being said the movie didn’t suck.

The performances of the flash mob were amazing. The soundtrack was outrageously good. Those two things saved me from walking out after getting my pee time.

The absolute dedication a dancer has to have to perform that way blows my mind. There were quite a few dance routines throughout the movie. I wish there would have been more of that and no talking.

Sean (Ryan Guzman) was really good. He really can act. I personally feel that Emily (Kathryn McCormick) is not a very good actress at all. Not at all believable and just seemed to deliver her lines flatly.Β  She can dance though and that’s what made this movie.

Movie review: Resident Evil: Retribution

Grade: F

Please, there is enough pain and suffering going on in the world. Don’t add to it by going to see this movie.

First of all the movie is very, VERY short. Yes, the runtime is 95 minutes but the credits are 10 minutes long. That leaves 85 minutes of movie. But, the first 3 minutes of the move is the end of the previous Resident Evil movie played backward – FOR 3 MINUTES. And then we get to see a 4+ minute exposition by Alice that covers the plot of all of the Resident Evil movies. That leaves just 78 minutes for the movie.

The acting is pretty good except for the parts where the actors talk. When they do that it becomes world class horrible acting. In one scene I thought it looked like actors who are acting bad on purpose.

The plot is just a mashup of all the other Resident Evil movies combined with *The Block* – where the protagonists must fight their way through one level after another – with a dash of *Aliens* thrown in just for spice.

The action was typical for a Resident Evil movie. Nothing to get excited about.

I saw it in 2D so I can’t say for sure but aside from a few knives thrown at the screen I expect the 3D version is probablyΒ  lame.

Movie review: The Bourne Legacy

Grade: A-

I don’t think there’s any question that if you liked the other Bourne movies you’ll like this one. I don’t think it’s as good as *Bourne Identity* but it’s every bit as good as the other two.

The story is solid and fits into the Bourne universe perfectly. In fact…nah, I’m not going to give anything away. πŸ™‚

Everyone is going to want to know how well Jeremy Renner fits into this roll. As if there should be any doubts. Jeremy has a great talent not just for acting but for physical acting as well.

The only weak link I might find with the movie is that there are a good number of long sequences that don’t do anything to advance the plot besides showing people working: searching through video feeds, making fake IDs, research. That makes it easy for finding peetimes but I think they over did it. They could have cut out 10 minutes of fluff and no one would have missed it.

Movie review: Total Recall

Grade: C

If you’re expecting a movie with heaps of action scenes then by all means go see *Total Recall*. If you’re looking for some really good Phillip K. Dick mind benders then just save your money and wait for the DVD. The story seems to mostly gloss over the mind bending aspects and focuses on a weak excuse for conflict so that it can set up the next long action scene.

In fact I don’t recall seeing a movie that had this much action in it. I would guess that of the 1 hour and 50 minutes of movie time at least 45 minutes of it was spent on action. Lots of long sequences of shooting and fighting and running. The action itself was decent but nothing spectacular. Good special effects, not great.

Kate Beckinsale did a really good job with some her action scenes. She has a few moments of ballerina like grace as she twists and turns and punches. However, she just doesn’t quite have it in her to pull off the bad girl killer that she is supposed to portray when she’s not fighting.

Colin Farrell was good as the lead. He does a good job of being intense and sincere.

Jessica Biel didn’t have many lines to work with but what she did have she did well with.

The big question is: how does the original TR compare to remake TR. For all of the cheesiness of the original it was fun and didn’t always take itself too seriously. But what really makes the original better than the remake is the performance by Ronny Cox, the original Cohaagen, and Michael Ironside as Richter. Both brought a level of desirableness that is completely missing from the remake.

A Conversation with RunPee Fans

You know what I love about RunPee fans? They are so nuts about my wacky app. I think everyone can agree that it’s about the most bizarre, some say genius, idea to come along in a long time. And some fans, some call them fanatics, just love to hoot and holler about it. And to you fans I am eternally grateful. The app is free and is basically a money losing business when you consider all of the money I spend on movie tickets. But it’s a labor of love to be able to give something to so many people. And who knows, maybe some day RunPee will earn its keep.

Speaking of fanatics. Here’s an example of a conversation I had with a couple of young ladies who discovered the RunPee app this weekend.