Movie Review: Rampage

Bacon cheese burgers.

When you see it on the menu you know you want it. But you also know you shouldn’t have it. You scan the menu. Salad? Yeah, right. Pasta dish? Ummmm, maybe. But you keep coming back to that BCB.

You’re still not decided when the waiter asks for your order, but your mouth opens and, “The bacon cheese burger,” comes out — much easier and less fattening than it will go in.

Rampage is the cinematic equivalent of a bacon cheese burger. There’s nothing good for you in there, but man is it fun.

As someone who basically sees every movie in the guilty pleasure genre, this one was better than most. The characters were just a little more idiosyncratic than what is typical in this genre and the story didn’t go overboard trying to force feed the audience into believing this could actually happen. Best of all there were a handful of good hearty laughs that got the whole audience going. Credit has to be given to The Rock. When he throws out a humorous line it lands squarely.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan, as Harvey (Agent) Russell, was an unexpectedly fun and original character. That sort of role is usually played much more seriously, but the writers created something fresh and fun for him and he played it perfectly.

It was interesting that the movie opened with a little on screen exposition about CRISPR. If you haven’t heard of it before then just wait. It will be big news soon. The good news is that CRISPR doesn’t work like that, except… Yeah, it does sort of work like that. It is essentially a word processor for gene editing.

Grade: B

Book description: Not since the atomic bomb has a technology so alarmed its inventors that they warned the world about its use. Not, that is, until the spring of 2015, when biologist Jennifer Doudna called for a worldwide moratorium on the use of the new gene-editing tool CRISPR—a revolutionary new technology that she helped create—to make heritable changes in human embryos.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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

 

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie Review: A 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 stories.

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

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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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Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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-

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie Review – Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story I’m certainly not disappointed. I think this one was better than the other new Star Wars movies, except for Rogue One.

I’m impressed that they managed to hit all of the important back story elements to Han’s character, without it feeling forced or cheesy.

My only complaint is that the story dragged on a bit, in places. Some of the action scenes were longer than necessary. Specifically, the exit from the mining colony into doing the Kessel Run scene. This is the equivalent of seeing Captain Kirk pass the Kobayashi Maru test in Star Trek 2009. Only this scene just went on and on, and was more like a cheap amusement ride. And then the solution wasn’t really anything Han did. It was a team effort.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: Three good Peetimes we have. Yes. 🙂

I would recommend the 2nd Peetime over the others. The synopsis is a quick and easy read. My priority was to make sure none of the important references from the original Star Wars movies are in any of the Peetimes, then try not to have any humor or good action. I think I managed on all 3 fronts. 

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Solo: A Star Wars Story. (What we mean by Anything Extra)

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

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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.

 

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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+

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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-

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.