Movie review: The Miracle Season

I am quite obviously not the target audience for this movie: 50 year old male. However, even I was moved by the story.

No one is going to win an award for creating, or performing, in this movie, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t do their jobs. I felt like all of the actors were invested in their roles, particularly the young ones.

I’m not sure how closely the movie follows the truth of what happened, but based on the clips shown during the end credits it looks like they didn’t venture far from the real life experiences.

Grade: B

 

Movie review: The Quiet Place

It is truly amazing this movie is able to pack so much into so little. It’s a short movie, only 1:23 not counting the credits, and yet it feels like two hours. And there’s barely enough dialog to fill a sheet of paper: it feels like we know every character’s life story.

Right out of the gate, in his big screen directorial debut, John Krasinski has shown us he knows his craft. Every scene felt like it was hand crafted, over and over, until it was perfected. There isn’t a wasted second in a single scene. (Which makes finding Peetimes particularly challenging.)

If you’re not typically a fan of horror films then let me put your mind at ease. This isn’t a slasher film. There’s very little blood and no gore. I think Krasinski said himself that he’s not a fan of gory films. There is however an abundance of suspense — similar to Alien.

Everyone’s performance is outstanding, but I have to say Emily Blunt stands out. Facial expressions and gestures have to be emphasized to make up for the lack of dialog in the movie. No one does it better than Blunt. She was just… Wow.

The only reason I’m not giving this movie an A+ is that it feels, in tone and subject, almost exactly like the movie Signs, by M Night Shyamalan. But in my opinion, Signs is just ever so slightly better.

Grade: A

More on RunPee:

A Quiet Place – A RunPee Review in Detail,  with Spoilers

Read About A Quiet Place Sequel In The Works

Movie Review -Ready Player One

Ready Player One: a likable, but not lovable movie.

The plot is about as predictable as a row of Space Invaders. I think the writers figured the target audience (teenagers) aren’t mature enough to notice the clichés and the older crowd would be placated with the numerous 80’s pop culture references. (OMG, that’s me. I’m the older crowd! When did this happen?)

Speaking of pop culture references: it’s interesting what was, and wasn’t included. My guess is that the creators had a limited inventory of characters from which to draw upon, which is a shame because there are some glaring omissions. I could be wrong, because in some scenes the number of visible characters is uncountable, but I never saw a single Storm Trooper, but I swear I heard the hiss of a passing Tie Fighter.

The biggest mistake the creators made is that the clues were all based on intimate knowledge of a character in the story. However, if the clues had relied strictly on pop-culture knowledge then the audience, at least some of us, would be able to participate. (This is the same mistake that the creators of Tomb Raider made.) The best example of how to do this is in the movies The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure. In those movies any history buff would have a fighting chance of either figuring out a clue before the characters, or at least thinking, Ah, I should have known that, afterward. It really adds to the enjoyment of a movie, but is perhaps beyond the skill of many storytellers today.

What is unforgivable is that in a movie replete with Easter Eggs it’s a virtual crime that there isn’t something, anything, after the end credits.

Grade: C+

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Movie review: Pacific Rim: Uprising

I loved the first Pacific Rim. (PR1) Okay, to be honest, I wasn’t crazy about it right off the bat, but it did grow on me. I’ve probably rewatched it a dozen times, here and there, over the years. It’s a great movie to have on in the background while working.

Obviously, I was really looking forward to Pacific Rim: Uprising. (PR2) My first impression is that it isn’t as enjoyable as PR1. Here’s why: the action just doesn’t have the wow factor of the original. I think it’s because the POV feels farther away from the action, and there wasn’t enough slow motion. That’s a little surprising, because I was blown away by the previews.

The other aspect of the movie that feels slightly disappointing is the character relationships. The character dynamics of PR1 proved really effective. The Raleigh/Mako relationship was done really well. They start out as vaguely antagonistic, but eventually show each other their vulnerabilities, and then only at the end does it become something romantic. The writers struck a really good balance creating the relationship, without distracting from what the movie was really about: a showcase for skyscraper robots to fight huge space aliens. Then, the dynamic between scientists Herman and Newt was really quirky, and brought most of the laughs in the movie. I could go on, but all of the character dynamics really meshed together perfectly in PR1.

But there’s really none of that in PR2. They tried, but just didn’t get there. I don’t think it’s all on the actors. Overall, I think they did a good job. But the story and dialog just don’t present the right balance. For instance there’s the failed attempt to have some sort of big/little sister rivalry between Viktoria and Amara. That was just a complete waste of time. In fact, all of the cadets were pretty much a waste of time. Their characters should have either been more prominent, or they should have been written out of the story.

Where PR2 gets it right is the plot. Let’s face it: the plot in PR1 was crazy ridiculous, to the point of being a farce. But they didn’t dwell on it, and more than made up for it by presenting fight scenes that puts the best of Transformers and Godzilla to shame. PR2 actually nails the plot. It makes complete sense and fits perfectly in the existing story framework.

It is painfully obvious that this is intended to be a trilogy. Let’s hope that PR2 goes down as the “slight disappointment” between some epic and awesome movies.

Grade: B-

Movie review: Tomb Raider

This movie follows the textbook outline for *Writing Action Movies for DUMMIES* perfectly. I’m not trying to imply that *Tomb Raider* was horrible — it’s just incredibly predictable. That’s why the “C” grade I gave it is smack in the middle of average.

It’s important to remember: this is a story that began as a video game. So don’t expect anything like *Da Vinci Code* level plots. This plot is narrow and easy to follow. However, that being said, I think the writers missed an opportunity to give the audience at least a little interaction in solving the puzzles, as they did in * Da Vinci Code*. Instead, Lara solves every puzzle without the audience ever having a chance to guess. Most of the time she solves a puzzle just by rotating disks, and we never have a clue how she did it. And that was one of the joys of the playing the game: figuring out the puzzles.

Alicia Vikander is a much better actress than what she brought to the role of Lara Croft. There were plenty of dramatic scenes where she performed admirably, but something was missing. Not from her, but from the pacing. More often than not, Lara’s dramatic moments felt forced, as if the director was in a hurry to rush through the drama and get to another action scene.

As for the action, which I suspect is what most people want to see this movie for, it’s largely banal. There are only a few scenes with any intensity. Most of the action scenes feel overly drawn out.

I can’t recommend paying good money to see this in a theater. Just wait for the DVD.

 

Movie review: The Hurricane Heist

I didn’t see any of the Fast and the Furious movies, so I can’t speak to how this compares to them. What I can say is that this is a poorly written movie from pretty much every angle I can think of.

The first thing I noticed was just how heavy-handed the character development was. It was laughable. They should have just put name tags on the characters and saved time: Hi, I’m a pretty girl who’s trying to make up for a bad decision in my past (but you’ll never find out what it was.); Hi, I’m a weather nerd who studies hurricanes because my father died in a storm; Hi, I’m the brother who never got over it. It just goes on and on. There isn’t a single character in the story that feels like a real person.

The writers continually went for cheap thrills instead consistently building a story.

And don’t get me started with the way the weather was used. There’s the obvious hacks where the weather is tossing cars around in one scene, but a few minutes later, while the storm is getting worse, people can walk around in the wind.

For the record: the eye of a hurricane is truly fierce, but nothing like what they showed in the movie.

And they were horribly lazy with the continuity. There’s a scene near the end of the movie where characters are driving through the eye of the storm, and in the background there’s a hay field that looks completely normal. Just because the eye of a hurricane is “like a warm summer day,” doesn’t mean it’s not like a warm summer day after a fraking hurricane has come through.

Sure, the weather might be nice, but the fields, and everything else, should still be demolished.

This movie is simply a disaster itself.

Movie review: Red Sparrow

If you’re a big fan of Jennifer Lawrence — and who isn’t — there’s a lot to like in this movie. She’s the focal point of nearly every scene, superb in all of them.

Jennifer’s character (Dominika) has the very subtle expressions only a great actress could pull off. Even when she’s tortured, Dominika suppresses her expressions as much as possible. Jennifer relies on almost microscopic changes to her facial features, especially around her eyes, to communicate to the audience what her character is feeling.

The director used good closeups of Jennifer’s face during the movie so her expressions were sure to register with the audience.

The story was a little muddled, but not horribly so. I was a little lost here and there, wondering exactly what relevance certain scenes had to the plot. But, while we’re doing Peetimes it’s easy to miss things — so it could be attributed to that.

I can certainly say you need to stay focused on the movie to keep up, because not everything means what you think it means.

Grade: B+

Movie review: Annihilation

This movie does a good job of creating an atmosphere of mystery. It feels like it’s going somewhere profound, but just ends up being bizarre and cliche.

This movie felt a lot like the movie Arrival. It builds mysteriously and there are lots of flashbacks. But where the ending of Arrival was, for me, completely unexpected, this one just felt like the ending to a low rent science fiction movie.

The unexpected meat of this movie is in the relationships and exploring why people choose to go on these missions. They should have explored that in greater depth, and just ignored the ending.

This movie is rated R for a good reason. There’s some very graphic scenes that will make anyone squirm in their seat. Note: if you don’t squirm in your seat you may want to consider taking a psychiatric evaluation. 🙂

I didn’t feel that Natalie Portman was the right choice for the lead role. I’m not saying she was bad, far from it, but something seemed to be lacking. Like she just wasn’t all that interested in the part.

Grade: B-

The future of m.RunPee.com

I’m sure no one is going to be thrilled with this, but I’m shutting down access to m.RunPee.com. Sorry.

The primary reason is that I originally created m.runpee.com so that people without smartphones would have access to the Peetimes for movies. It’s a pretty crappy experience, but I thought it was a nice gesture on my part.

However, I just checked the analytics and 98% of the people using m.runpee.com are using an Android or iPhone that is fully capable of running the RunPee app. So, if you would like to continue using the service you’ll have to install the app.

Download RunPee at Google Play

Download RunPee at iTunes

The first thing to know is that of course there are options for using the RunPee app for free. You don’t have to pay a dime to use the app if you don’t want to. But, maintaining RunPee is a labor intensive, and costly, enterprise. We can’t do this for free. I would be grateful if you would consider purchasing Peecoins, or even the Infinity Peecoin, to help us out. You can read all about both options when you install the app.

Please feel free to comment here if you would like. I’m trying to make this the best app for everyone.