Movie review: Batman vs. Superman

BMvSMGrade: C+

[Spoilers are limited to things seen in the movie trailer]

I have to say, Batman vs. Superman didn’t wow me. That’s not completely true. Parts of it wowed me, but not many. Most of the movie tried to crank up the tension, which got a little tedious at times, and the payoff wasn’t always worth the buildup.

What I liked best
It was pretty awesome when they *finally* got around to introducing Wonder Woman. I could hear the giddiness of the people in the theater. I think we’ve all been waiting to see Wonder Woman on the big screen now for, lets see, FOREVER!

The fight scene she was involved in was okay. I thought that the biggest problem was that it was filmed at night, so it was hard to see details. Also the scale made it difficult. Doomsday is huge, and dwarfs the three that are fighting him. In many shots it was almost hard to even make out Wonder Woman chopping away at him with her sword. They had some closeup scenes, but I think they needed more.

The fight between Batman and Superman was, good, but not great. I think the choreography of the movements, especially Batman’s, was too laborious. However, the way the fight actually went, the back and forth between them, was decent.

[Major spoilers below. Don’t read until after you’ve seen the movie.]
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[Stop now if you haven’t seen the movie.]
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[Last warning]
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I found Batman’s dream sequences to be quite annoying. They started right at the beginning of the movie with the young Bruce Wayne levitating out of the cave, seemingly flying with the bats. Then Bruce Wayne awakens in the present day. I don’t think the dream sequences would have been so annoying if we had known from the start that’s what was happening. There were entire action scenes that *never happened*.

And it wasn’t just Batman. Superman had his *father vision* in the arctic. What was that all about? Was that his father’s spirit? Was it all Superman’s imagination? They can’t just stick things like that in there without some basic explanation. We got to see Jor-El in the first two Superman movies and they had a decent explanation for what was going on. This time they just plopped Jonathan Kent into the story and said, “Don’t ask how.”

I have to say, Superman is my least favorite superhero. He’s just too powerful. To me the most important characteristic of a superhero isn’t their powers–it’s their weaknesses. And Superman’s only weakness is kryptonite, which okay, at least there’s something, but that’s hard to keep playing up. I’m bored with every Superman fight because he’s indestructible. He was right on top of a nuclear bomb explosion and didn’t get much more than a sunburn. Come on, at least show him with his hair messed up.

And that brings us to the movies end. Yes, it was cool that Superman sacrificed himself to destroy Doomsday. But then they drag us through all these funeral scenes, that take up about eight minutes, and then end with the hint: wait a second, maybe he’s not dead. Oh really. That’s a shocker. Of course he comes back. He’s Superman. You can’t have a Justice League without him. So it isn’t, “if he comes back,” it’s, “how he comes back.”

My hope is that Superman won’t be in the next DC movie. Let Wonder Woman and Batman assemble the Justice League themselves and have a decent fight against a decent foe. Then bring Superman back for the following movie, or never. I’d be good with that as well.

Deadpool – movie review

deadpoolGrade: A

Not only is Deadpool a hilarious movie, it also works as and amazingly accurate barometer for gauging relationships. For instance, it can be scientifically proven that the number of times a married man laughs during this movie is inversely proportional to how much their mother-in-law likes them.

Conversely, married women will find that the number of times they laugh during this movie is directly proportional to how much their husbands love them.

And of course if you have impressionable children you can base your parenting skills on whether or not you took them with you to see this movie. In a word: DON’T. However, if you do then please make a video of the questions they ask you when it’s over and post that to YouTube. That could be as funny as the movie itself.

Now, this is a very subjective comment, but I didn’t find the movie to be gratuitously violent or gross. Of course there are the obligatory slow motion head shots, a slight dismemberment, and a few beheadings, but they are all tastefully done. All in all I’d say it’s no more graphic than your average violent movie from the 80’s. I’m not saying the violence doesn’t deserve an R-rating–it does–but violence or not, the language would warrant an R-rating and then some.

I thought the acting was… Who cares? This is Deadpool. It’s funny. That’s all you need to know.

For those Firefly fans out there, it was awesome to see Morena Baccarin get a really nice role. She was wonderful, but I couldn’t help but think somewhere Malcolm Reynolds is watching this saying, “Inara, please. If you’re going to talk like that I’m going to ask Niska to cut both ears off next time.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie review

st-tfaGrade: A-

I can safely say that SW:TFA is the 3rd best Star Wars movie in the franchise. And let’s be clear, it would take a miracle for JJ Abrams to create something better than New Hope or Empire Strikes Back.

This is easily the funniest movie in the franchise. Almost, but not every, funny moment revolves around Harrison Ford.

The movie isn’t without its flaws, but those flaws are minor, and of course this is Star Wars, so I’m being overly critical.

A few good things to report: BB-8–the spherical droid–is cute, without being overly cute. JJ is mature enough as a story teller to avoid crap like Jar Jar Binks. All of the fight scenes, whether hand-to-hand, sword-to-sword, or fighter-to-fighter are good, and some are great, but none drag on longer than they need to. There’s never one of those, “OMG, would someone kill someone here so we can move on with the story,” fights.

The acting was spot on. The casting of Daisy Ridley, as Rey, and John Boyega, as Finn, are marvelous. I’m really looking forward to seeing their characters develop as the saga continues.

Apple rejects a long existing feature in the RunPee app

Bad news: Apple has rejected my update to the RunPee app, so the fix for the Timer notifications–that broke because of a change Apple made–won’t be available for about another week.

On top of that Apple is forcing me to remove access to the IMDb movie information available in the app–that has been a feature in the app for over 3 years. Why do I have to remove this feature? Because IMDb.comrecognizes that you are viewing their website in a mobile browser and so they provide download buttons for the iOS IMDb.com app and for the Android IMDb app. Apple, in their infinite inferiority, does not want their users to know that Android exists.

Apple is infuriating. There’s no way for me to punish them without punishing my users, but let me put it this way, if I won the lottery I would disable the RunPee app for iOS forever, and only allow it to run on Android phones.

FYI, obviously the IMDb integration won’t be affected on the Android app.

Fantastic Four – movie review

F4Grade: F

If you drag your expectations behind you, like an old wet mop used to clean theater floors, then you may not be too disappointed. Believe me, I hate being critical of the creative work that so many people put into a movie like this, but I can’t think of anything decent to say about it.

I can’t criticize any of the actors because the script was so bad there’s no way anyone could have turned in even a mediocre performance.

The story starts off with a modicum of promise, but never manages to take off. Believe it or not the movie just falls off a cliff once they get their superpowers. And I swear I’m not making this up but after the final fight scene I thought, “This can’t be the final battle, right? It’s the fight that leads up to the really good fight at the end. Wait, what? This is the end? Disappointed!”

Also, I can’t believe they didn’t include an extra scene after the end credits. I know that’s a Marvel trademark, but it isn’t like they have a patent on extra scenes.

My advice: watch the trailer for Deadpool about five times in a row. That’s way more entertaining.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – movie review

MIGrade: A

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation delivers everything you can ask for in an action movie. Most importantly the action is top notch. There is a great variety of scenes, from a motorcycle chase to underwater excitement. Best of all not all the best action scenes are shown in the previews, at least not the previews I saw. In fact, nearly every scene in the previews happen in the first half of the movie. It’s a real treat when the previews don’t give away spoilers.

There are plenty of laughable moments, from chuckles to laughing out loud. And no, it’s not just Simon Pegg who gets the laughs. Everyone gets in on the act without it feeling forced.

The story is twisty, primarily because of the new character, Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa, who has uncertain loyalties. It made finding peetimes a challenge because there’s a lot of story development between the action scenes.

The music really stood out. The Mission Impossible theme is awesome adding it as a theme to orchestral composition really worked.

The only slight complaint I can offer is that the exposition is sometimes forced. There are a few scenes that huge chunks of plot are dumped. That’s somewhat unavoidable in a movie with as much going on as this one.

By all means go see this in a theater, IMAX if possible. By the way, RunPee Mom saw this with me and LOVED IT, and she hasn’t seen any of the first four Mission Impossible movies.

Terminator Genisys – movie review

terminator-henisysGrade: B+

I’ve always been a big Terminator fan. It was the first movie that I went to see over and over again in the theater – and I had to drive 40 miles each way to see it. I’ve seen all the movies a dozen plus times, and watched the TV series twice. So, I know my Terminators.

I didn’t have super high expectations going in, because I know these things can go either way, but I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would. What’s really surprising to me is that the story, and character development, was better than the action – not that the action was bad by any means.

Terminator movies are rife with tangled plot holes, such is the nature of time travel plots, but I think they did a great job of cutting through that and getting to the meat of the story. (I would have enjoyed the movie a whole lot more if the previews hadn’t spoiled just about every bleeping surprise in the movie.)

There wasn’t anything hilariously funny in the movie, but there were a number of well placed laughs and they weren’t forced at all. The way they mashed together the scenes from the original Terminator was enjoyable.

The dialog was very well done. When there was exposition they blew right through it without making it feel like a lecture. Best of all there were a number of really touching moments in the movie.

Perhaps the best part of the movie was the character development of the Guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Arnold gets to act in this movie, not in any long, drawn out, scenes, but in a few short scenes that he acts with only his expressions.

In case you didn’t know this movie is just the first of a three part series of Terminator movies. The next two are being filmed back-to-back and will be released in 2017 and 2018. Plus there is going to be another Terminator TV series that will inhabit the same timeline as the movies – like how “Agents of Shield” does with the Avengers movies.

This movie tells a complete story and can stand on its own, but there are definitely threads that can be detected that will be played out as the story evolves to a complete resolution in the third movie. I can honestly say that I’m very excited to see how they proceed based on the introduction the first installment provided.

Jurassic World Movie References

jurrasic-worldNow that everyone has seen Jurassic World… You did see it, right? (It broke box office records so I’ll assume you did.) Let’s talk about the incredible number of movie references – some intentional, some perhaps not – in this movie.

Note: minor spoilers to follow.

Obviously the references to the original Jurassic Park were plentiful. Most are too obvious to point out, but a few worth mentioning:

  • A brief glimpse of a message – I can’t remember precisely what it said – on the rear-mounted video feed on the ball-pod that the brothers rode in was a reference to the view of the T-Rex in the side mirror with the message, “Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear.”
  • Claire using the flair to attract the T-Rex. Yes it’s obvious but worth mentioning.
  • A signpost pointing the way to the research center as a nod to the sign post that gets knocked down by Nedry when he’s trying to get away with the stolen eggs.

It would have been pure awesomeness if there were a scene with a half buried can of shaving cream in the ground. Who knows, maybe there was and someone will find it when the movie comes out of DVD.

As many references as there were to the original Jurassic Park there may have been more to random movies.

  • During the safety video by Jimmy Fallon he says, “For added protection each vehicle is surrounded by aluminum oxynitride glass, so tough it can stop a 50-caliber bullet.” Aluminum oxynitride is a real substance but such a specific mention in the movie must be a reference to Star Trek IV: The one with the Whales.
  • Remember the lab scene in Aliens where we see the face-huggers in those glass cylinders? The scene near the end of JW where Claire, Owen, and the brothers enter the research lab at the end of the movie is very similar with those vertebral columns in the glass cylinders and then they look at the reptiles under in the terrariums.
  • The scene where Claire’s assistant gets munched on by the birds, and then eaten by the Mosasauraus, is reminiscent of Jaws – I would wager this is just coincidental, but who knows since Spielberg directed Jurassic Park and Jaws.
  • The scene of the raptors chasing the vehicle driven by Claire near the end of the movie is quite similar to the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when the nazis on motorcycles are chasing after the truck driven by Indy. Claire even sideswipes one of the raptors sending it crashing off the side of the road, just like Indy did to a motorcycle.

Did you notice any movie references that I missed?

Jurassic World – Movie Review

jurrasic-worldGrade: B+

I have mixed feelings about the movie. The story, and most of the characters, drag the movie down. I’d give that part of the movie a C-, at best.

Chris Pratt is definitely a bright spot. He’s perfectly cast for the roll of Owen — the raptor wrangler. He can be funny when he’s serious and likable when he wants to be.

Claire, played by Bryce Howard (Ron Howard’s daughter), was surprisingly good. I don’t want to give away anything so I’ll just say that I like what they did with her character.

I thought the least likable part of the movie was the two young brothers. Clearly the writers were trying to echo the characters of Timmy and Lex from the original Jurassic Park, but they came up way, way, short. Their entire story arc was useless.

The dinosaur action, which is what everyone is going to see, I’d give an A+. (Or should that be a Yay+?) It started awesome and got better as the movie went on. In my theater the audience applauded after two separate action scenes and again at the end of the movie.

What was lacking was good tension. Too often the story leaps into action without sufficient buildup. Thinking back to Jurassic Park, the tension was palpable because of the pauses between the action, not the action itself. They didn’t really capture that in this version.

I saw it in 2D, but the rest of the RunPee family saw it in IMAX 3D and thought it was worth every cent. After opening night there are 53 votes from RunPee users who saw the movie in 3D. 83% recommend seeing it in 3D.

If the story was better this could easily have been better than the original, but it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Read our rewatch review of Jurassic Park

Spy – movie review

spyOnce again Melissa McCarthy has shown herself to be one of the best comedic actors if not the best, on screen screen today. I think Paul Figg took Melissa’s character in Heat, fleshed her out, made her funnier and more interesting .

And if you’re wondering, yes, Jason Stratham can be funny, very funny.

Spy will be the big comedy of the summer and maybe even the year.