San Andreas – movie review

san-andreasGrade: B-

I’m a firm believer that movies should be judged based on their genre. It makes no sense to compare a movie like San Andreas with something like Pitch Perfect 2, right?

The action/disaster genre, or disaster porn as I like to call it, isn’t exactly known for its riveting plots, or soulful acting. They should deliver spectacle, in 3D, with seat shaking sound effects. Bonus if the actors can just deliver their lines loud enough to be heard over the destruction in the background. Am I right?

With that said I thought San Andreas delivered a decent punch. All too often disaster movies make an effort to develop characters and a secondary plot before getting to the good stuff, not so with San Andreas, which jumped into the action early, then paused to build the characters a little before another action scene.

The acting was perfectly adequate for this genre, perhaps even better than adequate. Dwayne Johnson isn’t going to win an Oscar but he deserves more credit than he gets. Personally I think there’s a bias toward good looking, larger than life men, like Dwayne Johnson, but let’s not get into that here.

Paul Giamatti was a good choice for the lead scientist. He brought the right amount of exposition and gravitas to the movie.

The one thing that could have been better is the humor. There was a little, but a few more laughs would have gone a long way to make the movie more enjoyable.

I saw it in IMAX, because it’s hard writing notes about peetimes while wearing those 3D glasses, but I’m going back today to watch it again, just for enjoyment, in 3D. RunPee Sis saw it last night in 3D and raved about it. She wasn’t very impressed with the acting or story, but loved the 3D effects. (I’ll update this review after I’ve seen it in 3D.)

In case you were unaware users can vote to recommend seeing a movie in 3D, or not, in the RunPee app — scroll to the bottom of the Peetime Screen and look for the 3D User Poll button. With only 10 votes cast thus far 9 of them recommend seeing it in 3D.

I didn’t love everything about the movie. I know I’m being nitpicky here but there were tiny little things that really distracted me. Like near the end, there’s a scene with characters in a skyscraper that is leaning on the building across the street. This building has already been through two gigantic earthquakes, and yet there’s an apple sitting on a table. All the while the characters are going on about blah, blah, blah all I could think is, “How on earth could an apple be sitting on that table after all this?” I know what you’re thinking: this guy needs therapy. Maybe you’re right, but I swear they put that apple there just to annoy me. 🙂

Oh, and FYI, that is NOT how you do CPR. Just saying, they should have had a paramedic around to advise them.

Mad Max: Fury Road – movie review

mad-maxGrade: B

The movie starts with frenetic action and pauses only momentarily to take a breath before launching into the next epic action/chase/fight scene. If that’s what you want then you won’t be disappointed. After the Thursday opening night the user rating for this movie at Rottentomatoes stands tall at 94%. Obviously the fans of this genre are immensely satisfied.

There is next to zero story development. Even after 30 minutes into the movie it’s still a mystery as to why one group of people is running from another. On the plus side: it’s hard to have plot holes when there’s almost no plot.

The acting was a strong point — in the few scenes where it was required. I was particularly impressed with Charlize Theron. There really isn’t much to Tom Hardy’s character. All of his lines of dialog added together would fit on the back of a postage stamp. (This movie isn’t high on talking.)

My biggest gripe would be that due to the complete lack of character development I never really cared what happened to any of them.

I didn’t see it in 3D but I would hazard to guess that it would make a good 3D experience due to the almost none stop action. So far the RunPee users would agree. 88% suggest that the 3D version is worth the extra coin to see — with only 16 votes cast thus far.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – movie review

AvengersAgeofUltronGrade: A

Avengers: Age of Ultron has some great action. (Okay, it has LOTS of great action.) But what I like the most about the movie is that each character is so well defined and acts accordingly. I’ve seen enough movies where characters make decisions based on moving the plot to a predefined point instead of doing what their characters would naturally do. I think this is a tribute to Joss Whedon (writer/director) and the actors.

The story moves forward at a good pace and never seems to languish. Most importantly it’s easy to follow. The only aspect of the story that seemed a little contrived was Thor’s vision involving the Infinity Stones. I think that was one of those scenes where the writer (Joss) needed the character (Thor) to know something he couldn’t otherwise know and so planted this vision. This only stands out because everything else flowed so smoothly.

Spoilers below.

 

 

 

 

My absolute favorite part of the movie is the introduction of Vision, played by Paul Bettany — one of my favorite actors. I’m looking forward to a lot more from this character who brings a majestic serenity to the Avengers team that was missing. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

Thinking about seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron in 3D?

Here’s some info that might help you decide.

You may know that RunPee app users can vote to recommend the 3D version of a movie, or not. (This feature was added in the Fall of 2014.) Since Avengers is already out in some countries we have a decent bank of votes for it. Out of 44 votes 70% of people recommend the 3D version of the movie. However, that’s not a great number compared to other movies. Here’s to total breakdown:

Yes No Title
88% 12% Guardians Of The Galaxy
86% 14% Jupiter Ascending
85% 15% Home
79% 21% Big Hero 6
77% 23% The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies
75% 25% Spongebob Squarepants 2
70% 30% Avengers: Age of Ultron

57% 43% Exodus: Gods And Kings
57% 43% The Penguins Of Madagascar
55% 45% Insurgent
39% 61% Seventh Son

You can see there are two groupings of votes. Those at 70% and above and those that are below 60%. Avengers is at the bottom of the first group. Maybe this will help if you were on the fence about seeing it in 3D or not.

Personally, I avoid 3D unless it looks really awesome — like Avatar. I’m going to see Avengers Friday in IMAX 2D.

If you see it in 3D try to remember to scroll to the bottom of the Peetime screen and submit your vote.

Ex Machina – movie review

ExMachinaGrade: A-

Ex Machina is essentially a philosophical thriller that examines the state of mind of the characters in the story — all three of them.

The acting is superb, and it has to be. What the characters say through their expressions is just as important as what they say audibly. A great deal of credit has to be given to the first time director Alex Garland — who also wrote the screen play for this movie as well as 28 Days Later and Sunshine.

This is science fiction done right. My only beef with the movie is the ending. I might have gone a different way, but the ending they gave it is satisfactory.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – movie review

AvengersAgeofUltronGrade: A+

In case you didn’t know this movie, and all MARVEL movies it seems, came out a week earlier in the UK and many other countries than it does in the USA. (Why? I have no idea.) Anyhow, I downloaded a crappy cam copy so that I could get peetimes for my international users. I stopped watching the movie after I found the last peetime. I want to save the ending for a nice 3D theater experience.

What I did see of the movie was A W E S O M E! It’s killing me to have to wait to see the end.

I’ll update this review after I’ve seen the entire movie. (Is it Friday yet?)

Insurgent – movie review

insurgent

Grade: C

I’m not a fan of the Divergent series and haven’t read the books. I watched the first movie the night before Insurgent was released and found it to be uninspiring. I wasn’t disappointed with Insurgent because I didn’t expect much.

The best thing I can say is that it isn’t horrible. They managed to put the pieces together well enough that the movie isn’t ridiculously bad. But I was never able to get caught up in the story — I’m clearly not the target demographic. All I could think was, “This looks like Inception, this part is just like the Matrix,” and so on. There’s nothing wrong with being derivative of other films. Most great stories are derivative of one thing or another. Insurgent is just a little too obvious with it. It copies not just concepts from other stories but also the visual representation. For instance when Tris is connected to the simulator is exactly like Neo connected to the mainframe at the end of Matrix Revolutions.

Because the story is so derivative it’s also predictable.

The story doesn’t put a lot of demands on the actors, so I didn’t find anyone who stood out, but at the same time there weren’t any poor performances. This all adds up to an exceedingly average movie.

Run All Night – movie review

Run-all-nightGrade: C-

The good news is that this movie is immeasurably better than Taken 3.

Liam did a good job with his role, as did Ed Harris. Joel Kinnaman, who played Mike (Liam’s son), didn’t have much to work with. His character was consistently expressionless throughout the movie. My guess is that was due to the script and/or director.

The story was okay. The plot isn’t tricky so it’s easy to follow and understand the character’s motivations. My major beef with the story is the reaction of Ed Harris’ character to the death of his son. That seemed to be manufactured just to make the story work and not authentic at all based on his relationship with Liam’s character.

My favorite thing about the movie is the cinematography. They used a neat trick of pulling away from one scene and in one camera shot flying across the city to another location to transition to the next scene. That provided a great sense of continuity in both time and space.

Chappie – movie review

chappieI really don’t want to review this movie because I have so much respect for Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver. In a way having those two in the movie made it even worse because their talents were so obviously wasted on the roles they had. I wonder if they lost a bet or something and that’s why they ended up in this movie.

I had high hopes for the movie, but low expectations. My low expectations were realized during the first three minutes of heavy handed exposition. For instance the introduction to Hugh Jackman’s character came in a news blurb that basically said, “He’s an ex-military weapons designer who disagrees with the development of artificial intelligence on spiritual grounds.” And that was all the character development Hugh’s character would get.

The story had potential, but fell light-years short of realizing it. The script needed a few more rounds of revisions and some heavy editing.

Sigourey’s character was completely underdeveloped. Fortunately she had what amounted to an extended cameo role so it wasn’t too unpalatable to watch.

One other problem I had was understanding Chappie. It’s hard enough to understand a computerized voice, but a computerized voice with an accent, in this case a South African accent, sometimes sounded like a bunch of random noise.