Project Almanac – movie review

project-almanacGrade: C-

This is a “found footage” made film, which I find enormously irritating. If you’re like me, in that respect, then you should stay away from this movie.

The movie isn’t bad but it doesn’t add anything to the time travel genre either. My advice is to take a pass and if you really want to see this movie then save the money and sign up for the DVD alert in the RunPee app.

Mortdecai – movie review

mordicaiGrade: D+

Mortdecai is evidence that an all star cast doesn’t necessarily translate into a great movie. I don’t think it’s the cast fault for the movie falling flat. It’s primarily due to the writing.

The only thing the writers had going for them was a thesaurus. The characters are all written and portrayed as caricatures of stereotypical character types. I think, I hope, that was done purposely. Whatever the motivation it didn’t translate well in the movie.

There were countless attempts at humor but they almost all fall flat, although I did laugh out loud at a few of Paul Bettany’s scenes.

This certainly isn’t the sort of movie I’d suggest rushing out to see in a theater. If you love these actors then my suggestion would be to save some money and rent the DVD.

Reminder: You can use the RunPee app’s “DVD Alert” feature to sign up to receive an email when this movie is released on DVD.

Spare Parts – movie review

SparePartsGrade: B

Initially I regarded this movie as predictable and a typical formula flick. However, it went a few steps beyond predictable.

George Lopez, Jamie Lee Curtis and Marisa Tomei were very good and quite believable in their rolls, but the real stars were the four young actors that made up the science team.

[ Spoilers below ]

 

 

 

 

It’s no surprise that the team beats MIT, Virginia Tech and Cornell university. If they’d lost, well there’s not much of a story there and even the team winning isn’t the story. The story is HOW they won. That aspect of the movie is the real winner.

American Sniper – movie review

AmericanSniperGrade: A-

Just when I thought Bradley Cooper was a great actor he turns in a performance like this one and and makes me consider that he’s a *really* great actor. It seems like every movie I see him in he does something different and keeps doing it at a high level. There are many actors who can play a few roles really well, but not many that can perform with the diversity as Cooper does.

And to think he got his break as a bit character on *Alias*.

It’s really the acting that carries this movie. I thought the story was good, but not great. From what I can tell the “true” parts of the story were the best and most dramatic. I’d recommend looking up the real life man this movie is based on after you’ve seen it. He is truly inspiring.

2014 year in review

This has been the most financially successful year in RunPee history. I think we’re in good shape to be around for a long time to come. The biggest personal news is that Jill and I bought a house! RunPee HQ is now located in Swannanoa, North Carolina — just outside of Asheville.
View from office

Here’s a picture from the office/bedroom window at RunPee headquarters.

Here are some statistics about this year’s movies.

We added 161 new movies this year (a new record), up from 146 last year. That’s just over 3 movies a week. There is now a total of 840 total movies in the database.

The 161 movies account for 17,894 minutes of film for the year. That’s an average movie length of 1:51 — up by about one minute from last year. The five longest movies this year were: Interstellar (168 minutes), Boyhood (165), Transformers Age Of Extinction (164), Exodus: Gods And Kings (150), Gone Girl (149).

RunPee Mom (Ginger) saw the most movies this year. Here’s a breakdown of movies by person.

Mom: 64
Dan (me): 54
Sis: 35
Shanee: 8

This is the first year that Mom saw the most movies. Last year it was Sis, who is way down from last year. She’s going to have to work hard this year or I might need to find a new sister. 🙂 Shanee sees mostly the big blockbuster movies so that we’ll have Peetimes for the opening showing. This year she chipped in and added a handful of limited release movies.

Of the 161 movies 46 of them had extra scenes, during or after the end credits. That’s about 29% of the movies.

Our movie review grades were all over the map. I gave an A+ to 3 movies this year: The Equalizer,  The Theory of Everything, and The Imitation Game.  Six other movies got an A or A- grade: Lone Survivor, August: Osage County, Veronica Mars, X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Birdman, Captain America The Winter Soldier, and Guardians Of The Galaxy. Five movies got a grade in the D range: Pompeii, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,  The Maze Runner, Sex Tape, and Into the Storm.

Sis gave only one movie an A+ and that was The Fluffy Movie which really wasn’t a movie at all. She gave an A or A- to seven other movies: Neighbors, Tusk, Dumb And Dumber To,  Horrible Bosses 2,  Annie, The Gambler, and This Is Where I Leave You.  She gave four movies a grade in the D range: Devil,s Due, Oculus, Innocence, and Annabelle. She gave an F- to one movie: The Quiet Ones.

Sis and I were talking about movie grades last night and she commented that most of the movies that she’s looking forward to end up being horrible, and the movies that she dreads seeing end up really good. I think that’s very good evidence that she has poor taste in movies. 🙂

Mom gave just one movie, Jersey Boys, an A+.  Ten other movies got either an A or A-: Nebraska, The Fault In Our Stars, St. Vincent, Nightcrawler, Muppets Most Wanted, 
How To Train Your Dragon 2, The Good Lie, The Judge, Kill The Messenger, and Big Hero 6.

Here are the most Popular movies on the RunPee app this past year.

62,687 – Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 1
61,578 – X-Men: Days Of Future Past
54,745 – Interstellar
54,381 – The Fault in our Stars
51,949 – Guardians of the Galaxy
48,552 – Captain America: Winter Soldier
41,823 – The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
41,018 – Transformers: Age of Extinction
36,511 – Maleficent
35,593 – Spider Man 2

Here are the top 10 movies of 2014 (ticket sales USA)

40,791,915 – Guardians of the Galaxy
38,153,070 – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
31,831,735 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
31,591,264 – The Lego Movie
30,078,318 – Transformers: Age of Extinction
29,584,231 – Maleficent
28,666,854 – X-Men: Days of Future Past
25,557,057 – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
24,901,797 – Big Hero 6
24,859,550 – The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Here’s a breakdown of RunPee app usage by country:

1. United States (87.16%)
2. Canada (2.65%)
3. United Kingdom (2.15%)
4. Australia (1.92%)
5. Germany (0.63%)
6. Mexico (0.50%)
7. Singapore (0.36%)
8. Netherlands (0.30%)
9. New Zealand (0.23%)
10.Sweden (0.20%)

Notice that China isn’t in the top-10. I’m almost finished working on a new version of the RunPee app that is translated, Peetimes and all, into Chinese. I’ll be interested in seeing how that works out next year – fingers crossed.

Here’s an age breakdown of RunPee app users:

18-24: 27.50%
25-34: 33.50%
35-44: 15.50%
45-54: 12.50%
55-64: 5.50%
65+: 5.50%

45.85% of RunPee app users are female; 54.15% are male.

72% of RunPee app users are on iOS; 28% are Android.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the most popular Android phone among RunPee users, followed by the Galaxy S4, and S3 — looks like Samsung has the Android market cornered.

I just added the 3D voting feature to the RunPee app where users can suggest to others if the 3D version of a movie is worth seeing. It will be interesting to see what the best 3D movies are next year.

 

Are Peetimes just the boring bits of a movie?

Many people assume that the Peetimes we pick for movies are just the boring bits. That’s certainly true for some Peetimes but not all. A more accurate description of Peetimes in general would be: the parts of a movie that are easiest to summarize without the viewer missing anything crucial to the story. Of course that’s a little more wordy than, “Peetimes are just the boring bits,” so I understand why people promulgate the former.

Desperately seeking Peetimes
It helps to understand how we actually go about finding Peetimes in the first place. Picture me, my mother or sister, sitting in the back corner of the theater — positioned so that we don’t disturb anyone — with a notepad in our laps, holding our phone with a timer running. We’re watching the movie, looking for something that might make a good Peetime cue because first and foremost the cue has to be noticeable. When we see a potential cue we peek at the timer and jot down how far into the movie we are and then start writing down what’s happening. This is the hardest part for us because we have to keep up with what’s happening visually as well as key bits of dialog. It’s something that takes a lot of practice and I think we’ve gotten better over time.

If while we’re writing our notes we feel like we can’t keep up with important details then obviously this scene won’t work as a Peetime. So we cross that out and flip the page and wait for another potential cue. Also, if something funny, or exciting, or dramatic happens then we’ll cross off those notes, flip the page, and start the process all over.

Since we’ve been doing this for such a long time we’ve started to notice patterns in movies that make good Peetimes. For example: oftentimes near the end of an action film there is a short character bonding moment followed by the infiltration scene. That’s the scene where the good guys prepare for the final battle. For instance in the movie Zero Dark Thirty — the movie about the capture of Bin Laden — there is a very good Peetime that starts when the soldiers board the helicopters that transport them to Bin Laden’s house. Here’s the synopsis:

Very long scene of the soldiers loading up on the helicopters. Then another long scene of them flying low through the mountains. The scenes cut back and forth between headquarters where everyone is watching on satellite and back to the soldiers.

Along the way one of the helicopters bounces around a bit. One of the soldiers asks the others, “Who here has been in a helo crash before?” Everyone raises their hands. He smiles and says, “Okay, so we’re all good.”

They enter Pakistan airspace.

That’s a great Peetime because it’s near the end of a long movie. You know that the action is building toward the climax and you certainly don’t want to miss any of that, but you also don’t want to try and hold your pee for another 30 minutes, which would diminish your enjoyment of the ending. At the same time this scene is an important part of the pacing of the movie. It would be horrible to quickly cut from the soldiers boarding the helicopters to immediately arriving at Bin Laden’s front door. The audience needs this quiet time to let the tension build. However, if you need to pee this is a perfect time to release the tension in your bladder.

John Wick – movie review

Grade B+

I loved the movie John Wick; it was violent without being gory.

What I liked most about the movie was the choreography of the action scenes. I’ve seen my share of action movies and I must say that the action in John Wick is top notch. That shouldn’t come as a surprise because the directors are David Leitch and Chad Stahelski. These two have been the stunt/action coordinators on practically every action movie in the past decade: V for Vendetta, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, 300, Live Free or Die Hard, Fight Club, Troy, and lets not forget to mention The Matrix trilogy.

Since this is their first time working as directors you’re probably thinking, “Sure, they can put together a great fight scene but how are they at all the other parts of the movie?” That’s what’s most surprising. The acting was good; a little flat at times but certainly good enough for an action film. Besides, were talking about a movie with Keanu Reeves as the lead. We should expect a flat performance, right? Except no! The biggest surprise in the movie is that Keanu can really act. Sure, for the majority of the movie he’s the Keanu that we expect, but there’s one scene in the movie where he finally cuts loose. It was like he saved up every ounce of emotion from every movie he’s ever been in and let it lose all at once. And believe me, you’ll know the scene when you see it.

So we have great action, and good acting, but what about the story you ask. Rest easy, the story is simple and keeps the movie going between action scenes. They didn’t try to get cute and create something complex or mysterious. The story feels real as it unfolds and delivers an appropriate amount of humor without forcing it.

I’m trying to think of something to be critical of but I’m drawing a blank. The only thing I can come up with is that it’s just a very good movie, but not super awesome. I don’t know about you but I’ll take “just very good” any day of the week.

Gone Girl – movie review

Gone GirlB+

This isn’t exactly my favorite genre. Still, I loved 98% of this movie but I don’t want to say which 2% of the movie I didn’t like because that might spoil some things for you and I’d hate myself for that because this is a really good movie — except for the part that isn’t.

The combination of the story and pacing are captivating. It was easy to get caught up in the characters instead of the mystery. They did a masterful job of story telling.

The acting was outstanding. Ben Affleck was great and Rosamund Pike (wife) and Neil Patrick Harris out outstandingly great. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rosamund Pike is nominated for an Oscar for best actress for her role here.

The Equalizer – movie review

TheEqualizerGrade: A+

First, let’s go over everything that’s wrong with this movie…

Okay, now that we have that out of the way…

Seriously, there’s nothing wrong; the acting, action, plot, story, characters, pacing, et al., are all spot on. This is the best action movie I can remember seeing since the original Bourne Identity.

All I can say is that I’ll be very, VERY, angry if they don’t make this a series. I want more, much more.

Maze Runner – movie review

MazeRunnerGrade: D

The movie itself was mediocre — not good or bad. Likewise with the acting. The entire cast is comprised of young inexperienced actors who do an average job — which isn’t a bad thing. No one stood out as great but at the same time no one stood out as horrible.

The best thing I can say about the movie is that the pacing is good and it’s easy to follow.

However, the story is completely unsatisfying. I didn’t read the books but if they’re anything like this movie then I’m perplexed as to why they became popular enough that someone thought they’d make a good movie series.

I realize there will be a series of movies to tell this story, however each movie needs to stand on its own and deliver some sort of satisfactory payoff at the end. Without giving anything away this movie ends with a bigger mystery than it began with. There’s a narrative that explains why they were in the maze but it’s cast in doubt just moments after it’s given. So I have no idea why they were in the maze and what comes next. And to be honest I don’t care. I wouldn’t bother seeing the sequel to this movie unless I had to.

I feel like my time and money were wasted on a cliffhanger so that I’d be compelled to see the next movie.