Movie Review – Sicario 2: Soldado

I watched the first Sicario (for the first time) the night before the sequel came out, so I have a fresh perspective on comparing them.

Simply put, the sequel isn’t quite as good as the original.

While the first Sicario is a really good movie, it isn’t without its flaws. Nevertheless, I would give it at least a B+, maybe an A-.

The cinematography of the first Sicario is spectacular. Numerous times I replayed a scene just to see how beautifully it was shot. But I didn’t notice any shots like that in Sicario 2.

No one is going to complain about the acting. Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro are both wonderful. I’d give a nod to Toro as giving the better performance, but his character has a lot more to work with. So it’s hardly a fair comparison.

I have to mention that Isabela Moner (who played the young kidnapped girl) is outstanding. She expresses a range of emotions, and her character evolves dramatically over a short period of time. She expressed rage and remorse equally well. So well in fact, that I don’t ever recollect questioning her performance during the movie. It just felt real.

It’s worth mentioning that the movie starts with a very uncomfortable terrorist scene, then later a character who plays a US official defines terrorism: any individual, or group, who acts to bring about political change through violence. The quote is delivered and then forgotten, but it feels like the storytellers were making a subtle hint that the American forces were the terrorists in this tale. After reading a half dozen reviews, none of them commented on the topic. I’d be curious if that’s just me, or did anyone else notice it?

Grade: B-

Peetimes Info:
There are two good Peetimes. I would recommend the 2nd one because it’s very long and easy to summarize.

Heads up:
You can watch this movie without having seen the first Sicario. The plots have no relationship to each other. But the characters do build on what we learned about them.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Jurassic World: Missed Opportunities

These are my final thoughts after seeing Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in the theater. There are spoilers aplenty, so please read after you view the movie.

Don’t think for a second that I don’t realize that it’s difficult to write a script for a movie like this. Getting handed the responsibility of writing a script for a blockbuster sequel is like sending a batter up to the plate and expecting them to hit a home run to win the game. Be prepared for disappointment.

In this instance, to further the baseball analogy, we’d be satisfied if they just got on base, and kept the rally going; we’d be delighted with a double; and overjoyed with a triple. But I feel like what we got was the batter looking at a called strike three.

The movie started out with promise. Actually, I take that back. The movie started out pretty lame. To find out that Claire and Owen’s relationship didn’t pan out during the interval of time between the two stories is a cheap shot. It’s hard to pull that one off with any success. Don’t end one movie with two characters just getting together and then start the next movie with them split up. Sure, it can be done, but that’s a hard pill to get the audience to swallow. It must be handled with care. JW:FK just kicked it to the curb and didn’t do much more than telling the audience, “Hey, deal with it.”

That was just the start of the problems with this story. We also have to deal with two new characters — Franklin and Zia — being introduced for absolutely no reason, other than they were needed to prop up a few scenes in the story. Notice how they just disappear from the tale when not needed. If you’re going to add characters, then make them real characters that we care about. Give them some purpose, at least something better than, “I wanna see a dinosaur.”

Things perk up a little once we get to the island. The dinosaur danger was better than I expected it to be, but still a little cheesy sometimes. (Just how many times is the original T-Rex going to save the main characters before someone gets eaten? Seriously, I really hope the T-Rex chomps on a named character that we like in the next movie and not just a villain.)

I’m not volcanologist, but the exploding volcano certainly exploded as conveniently as anyone could possibly hope for. I think it’s okay for the writers to play a little loose with the reality of a volcanic eruption if they make up for it with a few worthy thrills.  They barely managed it, but I couldn’t help but think that once our main characters washed up on shore it was nice and convenient for the falling debris to stop while they regrouped, then hiked who knows how far to the docks, and observed what’s going on before the falling debris picked up again — just as they’re running for the ship. It’s also a little convenient that the dock got pounded by debris, but the ship doesn’t take a hit. Like the volcano decided that it didn’t want to send flaming rock bombs into the ocean.

Despite everything I’ve pointed out that’s wrong with this movie so far, at this point I would have given the movie a solid B. It wasn’t great, but it was good enough. And I can’t help but grade a little on a curve because the former JP movies haven’t exactly raised the bar too high.

A word about villains: they are hands down the trickiest characters to write, especially in a blockbuster where there’s limited time to build up the character. What we get all too often are stock villains who are portrayed as nothing more than bad, greedy, and/or psychopathic people.

A good villain is someone who’s doing bad things, but we can sympathize with them. It’s the sloppiest sort of storytelling when one of the antagonists uses pliers to pull a tooth from a sedated dinosaur with absolutely no empathy for the animal. Just save the audience some time — put a Nazi tattoo on his forehead.

It’s only fair that I mention that the blood drawing scene with the T-Rex is the highlight of the movie. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter one tiny bit that they give Blue a blood transfusion from a carnivore. This is where storytelling can take a few liberties. It sounds real enough, so go with it, and the payoff is well worth it.

This clip perfectly illustrates what I think of the rest of the movie.

I need to know one thing: why on earth did the writers pick Hydrogen Cyanide as the gas would threaten to kill the dinosaurs? I guess when people hear the name they instinctively equate it as a poison, but it’s a pretty ineffective one. The French used is as a chemical weapon in WWI but gave up on it because there were better options. (Not that I knew that before reading about HCN at Wikipedia.)

This is the second worst kind of sloppy storytelling — only behind the stock villain mess I mentioned earlier. The writers need to present a clear danger to the dinosaurs, and a real reason for setting them free. How they came up with something like HCN is a complete mystery. It’s not used in any sort of DNA research I could find. It was mostly used in mining for gold and silver. Okay, so let’s say Dr. Wu had some bizarre reason for having it. You think they would take greater care in storing it?

But the problem remains: what sort of danger could be introduced that would create a believable threat to the dinosaurs so our heroes would be motivated to let them loose? We need something that kills, that the audience will understand as a threat without too much explanation, and something that spreads quickly. If there were just some sort of chemical, or even a chemical reaction, that would be suitable. Something like… Maybe FIRE!

Picture it: there are multiple dinosaurs loose, causing all sorts of mayhem. I can buy it that the fire protection system gets damaged. There’s an explosion. Things burn. The fire is spreading rapidly. (Sure, the building is mostly stone and metal, but we can roll with it.)

Maybe the fire is spreading toward something else that will explode and kill the dinosaurs. Not only does this fit the requirements needed to motivate someone to release the dinosaurs, it’s also the perfect ironic symmetry to the beginning of the movie: the dinosaurs were saved from an island about to be consumed by fire/lava only to be taken far away to a building where they are again threatened by fire. Perfect.

How did this get past everyone involved? Did no one in the writing process, or while directing and editing, not stop and say, “Hydrogen Cyanide? Really? Can’t we come up with something better?”

And not to beat a dead horse, but do you really think the roof of that old castle is going to support an Indo Raptor that’s the size of at least three horses? What were the roof supports made out of? Vibranium?

 

 

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie Review – Incredibles 2

Pixar is known for their genius in telling stories that appeal to adults as much as kids. Incredibles 2 is no exception.

As with every sequel, the question is: was it as good as the first? I’d say, “Close, but not quite.” Which is a compliment considering how good the original was.

I don’t think it was as funny. Not just me, but my five year old niece watched the first Incredibles (for the dozenth time) last night and she laughed repeatedly. She sat right next to me while I did the Peetimes for Incredibles 2 and I didn’t hear her laugh nearly as many times. (There’s never been a better litmus test.)

This is a long movie for kids. It’s two hours long from opening to end credits, not including the seven minute animated short.

Speaking of which, what was up with that animated short? I don’t know about you, but that didn’t seem appropriate for kids at all. Personally, I’d say that short is an excellent time to duck out and make a last run to the restroom or concessions before the movie starts.

Grade: B+

Peetime Meta
Important: if you use the Timer, make sure you start it after the animated 7 minute short. We do not include this cartoon in the runtime.

I would recommend the last Peetime. It’s the longest and doesn’t involve any action, or much humor. The other two Peetimes are good, but fairly short.

Personally, if you have small kids, I would highly recommend taking them to the restroom during the short cartoon before the movie. It has nothing to do with the film, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for kids. My 5 year old niece was shocked and didn’t get it.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: Important: if you use the Timer, make sure you start it after the animated 7 minute short. We do not include this cartoon in the runtime.

I would recommend the last Peetime. It’s the longest and doesn’t involve any action, or much humor. The other 2 Peetimes are good, but fairly short.

Personally, if you have small kids, I would highly recommend taking them to the restroom during the short cartoon before the movie. It has nothing to do with the film, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for kids. My 5 year old niece was shocked and didn’t get it.

Note: There is a warning at the start of this film about epileptics, and seizures being possibly caused by this film. You will see why. Take the warning seriously if this is a concern.

Buy the movie from Amazon.com on DVD or Blu Ray

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie Review – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has all the tense action and one liners you would expect based off the history of the franchise. But I hope you don’t expect anything more than a template of a story to support it.

The first hour of this movie plays like it was written with some basic storytelling application. I can just see the “writer” selecting: Insert > Character > Friendly but ultimately untrustworthy, or Layout > Impending Disaster > Volcano, from the menu system and then accepting all the defaults. It’s that genetic… I mean generic. 🙂

At least Chris Pratt delivers his usual entertaining performance. Mainly because he’s the only interesting character in the movie.

The good news is that my 5 year old niece was enthralled with the movie, particularly with Blue. I’m pretty sure she thinks Blue is the main character in the story.

I could go on and on with the many ways that JW:FK fails, but instead I made that a separate post, full of spoilers, so read the link below if you care. (Suggestion: if you finish the movie and enjoyed it then don’t read my evisceration of a review below. I don’t want to ruin it for you. But if you, like myself, were disappointed, it might be worth your time.)

Grade: C-

Jurassic World: Missed Opportunities

Jurassic Movies Review and Rewatch Page on RunPee.com (link to be added soon)

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie Review – Deadpool 2

Deadpool 2. Funny?

Without question.

As funny as the first?

Close, but not quite… Okay, now that I think about it, yeah, it was as funny as the first.

Deadpool 2. Great action?

Absolutely.

Was the action as good as the first?

Nope.

This has hardly a knock on the movie. The first Deadpool was fantastic, A-grade material, from start to finish. DP2 coming close is still a great compliment.

What DP2 has over the original is the impressive list of cameos. I don’t want to give it away here, in case you haven’t seen the movie yet, so I’ll put that at the very bottom in case you’re interested.

One thing I did notice however was that the sound was a little muffled. I don’t think it was the theater because it’s an IMAX theater I’ve been to many times. There were a number of lines that just felt swallowed up and I couldn’t catch them.

Grade: B+

Scroll down for the notable cameos…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brad Pitt as Vanisher
Terry Crews as Bedlam
Matt Damon as Redneck #1
Alan Tudyk as Redneck #2
Nicholas Hoult as Beast (uncredited)
Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (uncredited)
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier (uncredited)
Evan Peters as Quicksilver (uncredited)
Tye Sheridan as Cyclops (uncredited)

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Alternate Avengers 2 & 3 story

[Note: this is an alternate plot to the Ultron/Thanos storyline; a different version of Avengers 2 and 3. Play along! However, I wouldn’t suggest reading this until after you have seen Infinity War, or it won’t make sense.]

So. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Infinity War (Avengers 3). Even though it left me numb from the action and deaths in the final moments, it did convey a sense of urgency rarely achieved in superhero films. I gave Infinity War a super rare A+, after all.

But — hey — just for fun, let me suggest another possibility for how the story of Ultron and Thanos could have played out.

Suppose Thanos appears in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, and his plot to wipe out half of the sentient beings in the universe is discovered. The Avengers realize they are powerless to stop Thanos, so Stark pulls out his secret, powerful trump card: Ultron. After much debate, the Avengers agree and Ultron is created. All seems right with the world. Ultron evolves at an astounding rate and seems to be the force they need to contain Thanos.

However, eventually Ultron realizes that Thanos is only half right. He sees all biological life as a blight on the universe, and the next logical step is the perfection of existence: himself. (Basically, the idea Ego has in Guardians 2, but more so.)

Once the Avengers catch wind of Ultron’s motivation, they feel all hope is lost. Now they face TWO seemingly unstoppable foes. One who wants to wipe out half the life in the universe, and the other wanting to wipe out all life in the universe.

Once Thanos discovers this, he approaches the Avengers. As we now know, Thanos doesn’t think of himself as a destroyer, but as a savior. He wants to make the universe better. So he teams up with the Avengers to defeat Ultron and achieve his aims.

After barely defeating Ultron, the Avengers set upon stopping Thanos again…but now, Thanos is weakened from his battle with Ultron. The Avengers are — barely — able to defeat him, teaming their skills together (as we see in Infinity War).

Of course, along the way, we still wipe out a sizable portion of the Avengers cast, which feels necessary at this point in our decade-long franchise culmination.

What do you think? How would you like to see the story played out?

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Infinity War: what does the post credit scene mean?

Major spoilers. Do not read until AFTER you see Infinity War.

What happens
In the post-credits scene, Nick Fury and Cobie Smulders are alerted of the attack on Wakanda. While they’re gathering information, a car crashes in front of them. They check the car and they realize no one is driving it.

Seconds later, Hill is vaporized, to Fury’s horror.

We know that this is the effect of Thanos eliminating half of humanity — but Fury doesn’t know that. As he begins to vaporize into nothingness, he manages to fire off one last message on, what looks like, an antiquated communications device. After vaporizing, the camera zooms in on the device. It has a star-shaped logo and shows confirmation that his message was received.

What it means

The message was being sent to  Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel.

If you don’t know her already, you’re going to hear plenty in the coming year. She is the ultimate Avenger. Her power is, as some have described, the sum of all the other Avengers combined, and then multiplied.

She gets her own origin story movie (starring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers) , set in the 1990s, on March 6, 2019, when Captain Marvel hits theaters.

Presumably Captain Marvel will be set up to be introduced to the Avengers in the yet unnamed Avengers 4, which comes out about 2 months later. The onscreen text following the extra scene promised that “Thanos will return.” 

If you’re a big fan of Spiderman, Black Panther, et al., then don’t worry. They’re dead, but not dead-dead. We already know that there is a scheduled Spiderman Homecoming sequel set for 2020 and a Guardians 3 as well.

The story isn’t over.


Avengers t-shirt

LEGO Super Heroes the Hulkbuster Smash-up

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie Review – Avengers: Infinity War

[No Spoilers]

I have to hand it to the MCU creative team. They delivered an epic.

Step back and think about that for a second. The lead up to this movie was 10 years in the making; it has a cast of characters that sprawls for pages, yet we know every one of them better than we know many of our own family.

There are 19 movies in the MCU, and not one of them is bad. Sure, some weren’t great, but I never left the theater disappointed. That alone is astonishing. In what universe would you expect anyone to create 19 movies and not a one of them sucked? No one else has come close to trying this level of epicness, let alone succeeding.

Any complaints about Infinity War has to be tagged in the category of nit-picking — which I will gladly do below.

I really enjoyed the pairings in Infinity War. Of course, there are way too many characters to throw into one big dynamic. The way they are split up and then brought together was perfect. A lot of credit has to be given to the editor/directors for putting this sprawling story together in such a way that it’s easy to follow. The movie changes gears between groups seamlessly and keeps the tension building with each scene jump.

Grade: A+

[Mild spoilers below]

Here’s the only thing I can find to nit-pick on: the continuity of power. By that I mean: how strong/weak is a character and their powers in the evolution of the story?

The two clearest examples are of Captain America and Vision. Captain is nothing more than a super human, but human nonetheless. When he holds Thanos to a standoff, for a brief moment, even Thanos is surprised. But in the reality of the MCU, there’s just no way. Thanos beat the Hulk into submission. Captain America couldn’t clip Thanos’ fingernails.

On the flip side, Vision got whipped in every altercation. He’s made of vibranium. How’s that work? In my book, the only character who should come close to containing Vision is Thanos himself. Any other foe should melt before him.

I won’t deny that this is a difficult task for the creative team to manage. They want to deliver epic  moments; moments when we see a character rise above expectations: such as Captain holding off Thanos.

And, immensely powerful characters must have a weakness that can be exploited, otherwise there’s no story. It would be awesome, but ultimately underwhelming, if Vision just rips the Infinity Gauntlet off Thanos’ hand and then uses it to beat him senseless.

It is exceedingly rare to see a story remain consistent throughout. Good guys can’t miss and bad guys can’t hit water standing in a boat; good guys can take a beating; bad guys get shot in the shoulder and fall down to die, silently.

All I can say is when this rule is violated, at least make it worth it. So here again, the creative team can’t be faulted too much, because they cashed in on every scene where a character rose above their abilities.

[Big Spoilers Below]

 

 

 

 

Well now what? Practically everyone is dead, but we know that’s not how the story ends because there’s a Spiderman Homecoming sequel planned for 2020 and so forth. How do they get out of this mess? In March 2019 there’s the origin story of Captain Marvel,Marvel,  to be followed by the Unnamed Avengers movie two months later. From what I’ve read, Captain Marvel’s origin story takes place in the 1990s, so we’re going back in time to find out about her, and then come back to the present to figure out how she’s going to back things up and fix them two months later.

The anticipation surrounding Infinity War is going to pale in comparison to what the next two movies will bring.


Avengers t-shirt

LEGO Super Heroes the Hulkbuster Smash-up

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie Review – Super Troopers 2

This movie gets an “F” and it’s not short for “funny.”

I don’t find this type of movie remotely funny, but if this is the sort of thing you like I’d highly recommend waiting for the DVD, and watching it at home where you can relax and enjoy it in an altered state of consciousness.

I did laugh at one of the insults they made about America not using the metric system. So it wasn’t a total loss.

Grade: F-

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.