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.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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?

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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.

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.