Movie Review – The Dead Don’t Die

 

Movie Review - The Dead Don't DieDead Don’t Die as super low budget movie is somewhat cute, but nothing really good. Don’t see it in the theaters: its a good one to wait for streaming. It could become a cult favorite later as a Cannes Indie darling – but save your theater money now for the better movies.

There was one cool idea — zombies are attracted to what interested them most while alive. The same thing was done better in Shaun of the Dead though.

It could become a cult favorite later – it was a Cannes Indie darling. Probably from all the cameos.

There was a lot of good quiet interplay charisma between Bill Murray and Adam Driver, and the unusual direction was cool. That worked. The over-stuffed cameos were wasted though.

I was overall quite disappointed, and the cinema room was empty to boot. I might bump this up to a B- minus later. I have to think about it some more. Stay tuned.

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: This movie was both easy to make Peetimes for and hard. Easy because there are many meaningless dialog scenes, and hard because the film is packed with cameos. I did the best I could to keep the best scenes — between Bill Murray and Adam Driver — out of the Peetimes. It’s a short movie so I only made 2 Peetimes. FYI, there are no End Credit extras and the credits themselves only ran 30 seconds. The app won’t accept that, so it says 1 minute.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Dead Don’t Die. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for zombie violence/gore, and for language
Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror, Zombie

Men In Black Theme Song – Forget Me Nots Remix – Will Smith Lyrics & Video

Will Smith sings the Men In Black Theme song
He makes the suit look good. 😉

So, on the eve of viewing and getting Peetimes for the new Men In Black International (Men in Black 4), we thought we’d revisit Will Smith’s song from the original 1997 MIB.  The MIB theme song is a remix of the classic 1982 tune Forget Me Nots (a perfect song for this…think Neuralizer. Scroll down for video to compare the two songs).

Sing along with this video and learn the Men in Black lyrics (below). This is super catchy. Also, Will Smith is pretty much good at anything he does (sing, dance, do comedy and action). And hey…watch this video. It’s super fun, with scenes that play like brand new MIB movie footage.

Video to Men In Black Movie Song

Lyrics to Men in Black Movie Song

(Performed by Will Smith)

Hohh!

Here come the Men In Black
It’s the MIB’s, uh, here come the MIB’s
Here come the Men In Black, Men In Black
They won’t let you remember

Nah nah nah.
The good guys dress in black, remember that
Just in case we ever face to face and make contact
The title held by me, MIB

Means what you think you saw, you did not see
So don’t blink be what was there is now gone
The black suits with the black Ray Bans on
Walk in shadow, move in silence

Guard against extra-terrestrial violence
But yo we ain’t on no government list
We straight don’t exist – no names and no fingerprints
Saw somethin’ strange, watch your back

‘Cause you never quite know where the MIBs is at
Uh, eh

Here come the Men In Black, Men In Black
Galaxy defenders

Oho oho oho
Here come the Men In Black, Men In Black
They won’t let you remember

Aha, aha
Now, From the deepest of the darkest night
On the horizon, bright light enters sight tight
Cameras zoom, on the impending doom

But then like BOOM black suits fill the room up
With the quickness, talk with the witnesses
Hypnotizer, neuralizer
Vivid memories turn to fantasies

Ain’t no MIBs, can I please
Do what we say, that’s they way we kick it
D’ya know what I mean
I see my noisy cricket get wicked on ya

We’re your first, last and only line of defense
Against the worst scum of the universe
So don’t fear us, cheer us
If you ever get near us, don’t jeer us, we’re fearless

MIB’s freezin’ up all the flack
What’s that stand for? Men In Black

The Men In Black
The Men In Black

Let me see ya just bounce it with me
Just bounce with me
Just bounce it with me
Come on, let me see ya just slide with me
Just slide with me
Just slide with me

Come on, let me see ya take a walk with me
Just walk with me
Take a walk with me

Come on, and make your neck work
Now freeze

Ohhhhhhhhoh

Here come the Men In Black, Men In Black
Galaxy defenders. Ohh, Ooohh
Here come the Men In Black, Men In Black
They won’t let you remember. Oh nohh

Alright check it
Let me tell you this in closing
I know we might seem imposing
But trust me, if we ever show in your section

Believe me, it’s for your own protection
‘Cause we see things that you need not see
And we be places that you need not be
So go on with your life

Forget that Roswell crap
Show love to the black suit, cause
That’s the Men In…
That’s the Men In…

Here come the Men In Black, here they come
Galaxy defenders. Galaxy defenders
Here come the Men In Black, oho, here they come
They won’t let you remember. Won’t let you remember

Here come the Men In Black, ohh, here they come
Galaxy defenders. Oho oho oho.
Here come the Men In Black
They won’t let you remember…

(Songwriters: Willard C Smith / Fred Washington / Patrice Rushen / Terry Mcfadden. Men in Black lyrics 1997 © Silvia’s Music Services.)

Compare to the original Forget Me Nots Song — Enjoy!

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)

 

Newie Review – The Reef – Low Budget, Decent, Non Campy Shark Movie

This 2010 Aussie shark film should be fairly simple to review, as nothing much happened besides a lot of open ocean swimming. If you’re frightened easily and don’t like horror, don’t worry: you won’t have much trouble watching The Reef. It’s not that kind of movie. I’m not entirely clear what kind of movie this is, actually. A low-budget survival tale with mostly dimwitted people?

There are five folks trapped on top of an upturned ship who have to swim 12 miles in the tropics to reach an unseen island and possible safety. Will they reach it? Does it matter? It’s one of those attrition flicks where you have to guess who’s the last man standing — or swimming, as the case may be. It’s all very predictable, but surprisingly, not scary.

I liked the beginning. It started slow and built up the characters pretty well. It was well-told and well-acted at that point, and the scenery couldn’t be beat.

Nitpicking where I shouldn’t

Unfortunately, once the swimmers hit the water, they devolved into screechy fish bait. That’s not how you cross an ocean safely. I could nitpick the heck out of this. Hanging around the bloody dead people too long isn’t wise (that’s what chum is). Don’t kick up a storm like prey animals either. They also stopped a lot. I kept shouting ,”Keep swimming! But gently. Keep going with less splashing!”

I used to teach wilderness survival  and know something about it, so I’m being harsher on The Reef than most would be. It’s like trying to watch a film like Backdraft with a firefighter. When the one guy who knew something about sailing dove under the ship to retrieve items, I saw a TON of things the survivors could have used that he just ignored. It was a whole sailing ship loaded with DAYS of useful supplies. Arg. Make me stop whining.

What I liked

The plot was lean and easy to follow, and the shark wasn’t absurd — he actually seemed like a real animal instead of an insane monster. And The Reef wasn’t campy or gory. The ‘captain’ character was the guy who kept his head and was worth watching. 

But the ending was…sudden? Underwhelming? Perhaps the real beauty of The Reef is that it’s based on a true story and the producers didn’t feel a need to over-dramatize anything. These things happen. It’s tragic (mostly), and you’d never want to live though this. But movie-wise, it’s just on the high end of average. This isn’t like Jaws (an A+ film indeed). Or even The Meg. (We gave that a B-). I still have to see 47 Meters Down (I know, I know, the sequel’s coming). Come to think of it, I want to watch The Shallows and Deep Blue Sea too. I have a lot of catching up to do.

Overall: if you want a high-octane gruesome shark tale, keep looking. There’s plenty of them out there. I actually liked The Reef for its mild plotting…I just didn’t love it.

Movie Grade: C+

Movie Rewatch — Jaws

Meet the Real Megalodon

Best Jaws Iconic Moments, plus Movie Analysis (videos)


 

Here’s the trailer for 47 Meters Down 2, set to arrive in 2019:

 

Newbie Movie Review – Suicide Squad (2016)

margot robbie as harleyquinn in suicide squad
What? We’re bad guys.

Surprise, Surprise. Justice League is Actually a Good DC Flick

Movie Truism: Maybe going into a movie with low expectations makes it better. I didn’t bother to see DC’s highly anticipated 2016 Suicide Squad in the theaters because it was so lowly-regarded among critics and viewers alike. So I just let it slip by.

Cut to 2019. When I heard James Gunn  — beloved director of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy — was taking over the creative reins of Suicide Squad 2 (as a ‘soft’ reboot), hope flared anew that finally DC would have a group film brilliant enough, funny enough, and just damn worthy enough to counter the amazing ensembles produced by the MCU.

A Whole Lot of Good

The stars of Suicide Squad come down to two charismatic roles — Will Smith’s Deadshot — a decent man trapped by a nasty super-skill set, and Margo Robbie’s gleefully, lethally, nutso Harley Quinn.

Here’s Quinn’s efficient backstory from the movie:

Honestly, I enjoyed the whole misfit group. There was a one-take moment where I grinned from ear to ear, as the misfit crew executes a dynamic Hero Shot. It’s an expected trope in superhero films, right? In Suicide Squad, it felt earned and triumphant…until the next second, where you realized, hey, this is a Villain Shot. An Anti-Hero Shot? An Anti-Villain Shot? The sheer amount of dissonance was delightful.

(Some spoilers for Suicide Squad 1 follow)

This is good story making. Really. Suicide Squad had a ton of viewer treats that broke from DC’s usual grim-is-good comic world. I too wanted to see “The Bat” put away: as Quinn says, “He ruins all the fun.” Batman shows up, but he’s relegated to the background. Superman’s only mentioned in passing. Good and good. This isn’t about them.

There are so many Easter Eggs in the background, with great signage, throwaway lines, and outright allusions to other characters inside the DC universe and out. [They even predicted 2019’s “Evil Superman” Brightburn! ] This is some lively shit.

Another treat: the appropriately brief cameo of Flash. (Ezra Miller can do a lot in a small role, and was a bright spot in the mostly dreary Justice League.)

Suicide Squad has Two Great Music Tracks

As on Guardians of the Galaxy (which Suicide Squad was supposed to mirror) the extensive rock playlist is perfectly used. It’s great that movies list their songs during the credits, so I can remember to add them to my tune rotations. Suicide Squad leaned heavily into The Rolling Stones, which felt just right.

The second track — that instrumental background music we generally consider the “soundtrack” — was top-notch. In my notes, I scribbled several scenes where the music greatly underscored a character’s growth, emotional confusion, or was just plain…well…heroic. No other way to put it.

Another movie truism: bad guys can be heroes, and heroes can be bad guys. I think DC’s entire oeuvre is an ode to this concept.  (Exceptions: Wonder Woman and maybe Shazam.)

I’ll say this, though — the over-reliance on Queen tunes in genre films is starting to wear on me. When a scene perfectly uses a song in one film, said tune should be retired, like a great athlete’s number. So hearing Bohemian Rhapsody used by this crew was a nice moment, but as far as I’m concerned, BoRhap belongs to the wonderfully wacky Wayne’s World, forever. Can’t Stop Me Now was jarring in The Umbrella Academy, because why would anyone want to compete with the iconic zombie scene in the Winchester in Shaun of the Dead? (“Kill the Queen!”) And ripping Spirit in the Sky off the back of Guardians of the Galaxy went beyond homage.

Exposition and the Suicide Squad Characters

This is how you do it. With a large cast of super powered and/or crazy people to introduce, the best solution is to make the movie about THEM, not a MacGuffin plot. In a surprisingly smart move, that’s what Suicide Squad did. I loved the stylized flashback scenes of these criminals doing what they do best, their blink-fast list of skills, and how they each got taken down. These were very amusing scenes. Killer Crock especially was a hoot (Crock doesn’t seem actually evil, unlike most of the crew). His line about being beautiful was unexpected and well-played.

We also got some meaningful scenes with DeadShot in a text-book example of how to tell an emotional backstory in an efficient, effective way.

Speaking of DeadShot, he was a natural group leader, and Will Smith carried the movie effortlessly. Strangely, Smith apparently bugged on the James Gunn Suicide Squad 2 sequel. The news is Idris Alba is slated to recast Smith, which seems like a fair trade. Alba is the man, woefully underused as Heimdall in the MCU.

How About The Big Bad?

What really brought Suicide Squad down was the villain, and here I mean The Incubus. I’ll treat him separately from his sister, The Enchantress.

Actually, I don’t have time to discuss bad writing. The Incubus has zero development and isn’t worth delving into. He’s overpowered and boring. Next!

The Enchantress showed some promise in her CGI form, but when little June Moon started writhing around, it looked ridiculous. I appreciated the line that Mankind worships machines instead of gods now, but nothing was done with that intriguing concept. Fail. I don’t care. Bad villains are an ongoing superhero problem, but I mostly ignore that at this point.

An ensemble origin movie isn’t about who they fight, in any case. It’s about  group-building and world-building, which Suicide Squad got very right.

And the Joker?

Now, let’s talk about the real controversial role: Jared Leto’s Joker. So many Jokers over the years. Some get it right. All are distinctive.

I’ve got my favorites, but Leto’s not one of them: I’ll just say I’m glad his role was little more than an extended cameo. Let’s keep it that way in the sequel. Quinn on her own is much more fun and I prefer her out of the Joker’s shadow. With the Suicide crew she’s a fascinatingly deranged soul, instead of being a pet to the Joker. (Seriously, he whistles for her like a dog.)

I’ll give this Joker one thing: he had one deeply interesting line. It resonated so strongly for me that I wrote it down to think about —

“Desire becomes surrender…surrender becomes power.”

Suicide Squad, Overall

Something I hoped Suicide Squad would do is create real stakes and jeopardy…where not everyone you like is going to make it out alive. I had a feeling who that would be if they went there, and was satisfied with the payout when they did. It’s a brave gamble to take when you’re working with an ensemble you’re hoping to grow.

However, I didn’t buy their warm family feelings after sharing feelings over a few drinks, but I’ll give them this — bonds can form fast in life-threatening situations. And they had so much in common on a fundamental level: severely misguided people, good at being bad, damaged moral compasses, isolated, frequently abused, seen as the dregs of humanity, then abandoned in a dark hole with no hope of atonement.

Still, I’ll forgive some storytelling shortcuts in a movie this amusing.  With Gunn in the saddle, I’ve high hopes for Suicide Squad 2.

Color me pleased. I’m happy to add a third movie to the DCEU that I actually enjoyed, along with Wonder Woman and Shazam.

(BTW, stay through to the end credit scenes. Justice League was no Avengers, but it was thrilling to see JL’s inception anyway.)

Movie Grade: B

Guardians of the Galaxy Ex-Director James Gunn to Direct Suicide Squad 2

Movie Review – Batman vs. Superman

Movie Review – Justice League (RunPee Jilly’s POV)

Is Shazam Part of the DC Universe or a Stand-Alone Film? How Shazam Could Fix the DCEU

Avengers Endgame Song and Lyrics to Supersonic Rocketship

The Bentatar stranded in space in Endgame
Rocket and his Supersonic Rocketship

Rock Music in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

If you’re paying at all attention to the music during the already overcrammed events in Avengers Endgame, you’ll notice a few classic rock songs stand out. This technique’s been in play since Iron Man, but really ramped up with Guardians of the Galaxy and just kept on that path.

Warning: Spoilers follow for Endgame.

Endgame is no different. The Marvel Studio Credits sequence play, usually, to the same orchestral Avenger’s themes we’re used to. Endgame logos opens with a soft credits sequence set to Mr. Fantasy (just another way Endgame chose to stand out from 22 years of world-building and as a saga coda), and there are a few more 70s rock hits along the way.

When Supersonic Rocketship Plays in Endgame

My favorite is Supersonic Rocketship, when Peter Quill’s — now Rocket’s — ship (The Benatar) lands while poor Ant Man has his taco blown away by the jet’s engines. Professor Hulk sweetly hands hims two new ones (the big green guy now has a lot of food at all times), and smiles at him. This is a nice moment, since everyone else in Endgame treats him with zero respect, starting with Tony Stark, and ending with Rocket himself. (“Does the puppy want to go to SPACE?”)

Then Hulk and Rocket, the two Avengers left who care most about, Thor get in the back of an old pickup to head to new Asgard (a Norway fjord town), to convince a guilt-devoured Thor to rejoin ‘the team’ to take on Thanos. Thor refuses to even speak his name, in spite of delivering the killing blew. (“I went for the head.”) Thor spent the last five years self-medicating in New Asgard with junk food, booze, and video games, hiding out with fan favorite Korg and their little buddy Meik. When Rocket promised there’s beer on the ship, Thor agrees to come along.

The Kinks’ Supersonic Rocketship mostly plays during the truck ride to New Asgard, but it’s a perfect song choice. The happy chords and silly lyrics are perfect, since Quill’s ship is now Rocket Ship’s by default (get it), and he’s planning let the team ‘use it at their disposal if they feel so inclined,” as the lyrics go. A lot of this song is really perfect, and at the time of the narrative has a fittingly happy quality it.

Listen to the song below and see how well this works in the film. A complete list of the lyrics follow the music video. Enjoy!

Lyrics to Supersonic Rocketship

(Performed by The Kinks, 1927)

Let me take you on a little trip
My supersonic ship’s at your disposal
If you feel so inclined. Well alright.
We’re gonna travel faster than light
So do up your overcoat tight
And you’ll go anywhere you want to decide. Well alright.
Too many people side by side
Got no place to hide.

On my supersonic rocket ship
Nobody has to be hip
Nobody needs to be out of sight. Out of sight.
Nobody’s gonna travel second class
There’ll be equality
And no suppression of minorities. Well alright.
We’ll take this planet, shake it round
And turn it upside down.
My supersonic rocket ship.

It ain’t no magic, ain’t no lie,
You’ll laugh so loud you’ll cry.
Up and down, round and round
On my supersonic rocket ship.

Let me take you on a little trip
My supersonic ship’s at your disposal
If you feel so inclined. Well alright.
Nobody’s gonna travel second class
There’ll be equality
And no suppression of minorities. Well alright.

Let me take you on a little trip
On my supersonic rocket ship…

[Songwriters: Ray Davies
Supersonic Rocket Ship lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC]

Avengers Cameo – That random kid in Endgame is someone we’ve seen before

Avengers: Endgame – What was that hammer sound in the credits?

Life on Earth After Avengers: Endgame (Post-post Snap)

Virgin Movie Review – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)

I miss a lot of animated features working for RunPee, since that’s really RunPee Mom’s genre, and I see mostly science fiction, fantasy, and superhero blockbusters. So little gems like Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs from Sony’s Animation Studio frequently slip past my radar for years. I just caught it with a congenial friend on Netflix and was pretty charmed.

The technobabble plot isn’t exciting and the characters aren’t actually memorable, but the creative scenes of food, food, and more food plummeting from the sky is distinctive and sort of brilliant. What happens to get to the point of hot dog hail, ice cream snow, nacho cheese fountains, meatball asteroids, and spaghetti tornadoes is beside the point.

Kids will enjoy the utter weirdness of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, but more pleasingly, there’s a lot of bizarre adult humor that will go right over kids’ heads. I kept looking at my friend in mild shock when they went places I normally find a bit risque (like nipple hair reacting to the changing weather). The wacky background signs and funny throw-away lines are worth a few rewind giggles. Honestly, I expect no less from Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the duo later responsible for the absolutely brilliant Lego Movie films.

Apparently the sequel isn’t worth seeing, so I’m quitting while I’m ahead — this isn’t the Toy Story saga, after all. But if you’re bored and looking for an amiable story with a unique disaster theme and yellow Jello palaces, give this flick a try.

As a plus, the heroes dig science — always a good message in my book.

Movie Grade: C+

Are the Four Lego Movies Sequels or Prequel Films?

Movie Review – The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Movie Review – The LEGO Movie

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)

men in black poster
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, out to save you from the scum of the universe

*Flash*

Everyone listen now: what you may think you just experienced is a house party with drunk teenagers and a crazy, lonely lady. In actuality, you traveled back in time 22 years to help us, the Men in Black, save the galaxy from an alien invasion. We’re looking for some new recruits and think all of you have potential, so you can call me Agent N. Let me explain what happened here today, so you can determine if you want to join us.

Let me set the scene. First, the Men In Black is an organization that keeps track of every alien life form not from Earth.

Second, we recently got a rookie named Agent J (former name Will Smith), who was partnered with our ace in the hole Agent K (former name Tommy Lee Jones).

Third, it just so happened that an alien bug decided to crash land here in search of something. We later found out he was looking for an alien prince hiding himself and a whole galaxy here on Earth. Long story short, the rook’s first day on the job somehow was smooth sailing — even though you may be hearing all of this thinking, “There’s no way this can go well”. No matter what you think, that’s the basics of what you need to know.

Now, let me explain some tiny details that might help you determine if you want to join the Men in Black permanently or not. Without a doubt, some of the jokes we like to crack on the job don’t land like we wish, but our aim is still pretty good. Especially between Agent J’s strong charisma and Agent K’s deadpan delivery, bouncing off each other.

You may also see some of our alien companions and realize they actually do look good, even though you all are from the future. Our 1997 technology advanced the human eye to make everything seem much better. When our alien friends are there, you can’t properly distinguish them from when they’re not there. And don’t tell them otherwise.

If you haven’t seen the report yet, consider this a warning. Our job may not be glamorous, even at the climax of our mission, which in this most recent mission was exactly the case. From what I’ve seen on the report, apparently all that happened was Agent J distracted the alien by swinging some sticks and getting flung around, while Agent K damaged the creepy-crawly in a slow but effective way…just for some girl from the morgue to give the final blow.

Everyone who has seen the report keeps talking about Frank the Pug and the Noisy Cricket, since apparently they stole the show. So if a dog they talked to for 3 minutes oozes enough charisma to leave a lasting impression, so can the Men in Black.

And of course, we need to have a moment of silence for Agent K…who at the end of his mission revealed that he wasn’t looking for Agent J to be a partner, but to be a replacement. For Men in Black agents who show no emotion to begin with, we were heartbroken to see Agent J use the neuralyzer on Agent K. Thankfully, we had a happy ending, but a heart-wrenching one at that.

Now it is time for you to decide if you’re going to join us in the Men in Black or not. If you are, you can stop here and you’ll get further notice later. If not, then let’s walk this way and let me explain what the neuralyzer is. ↓

……

……

A neuralyzer is a special tool we use to make sure you don’t remember anything we don’t want you to, so look right here at the red dot and…

*Flash*

…What you just witnessed here today is a couple of high school girls who decided to live it up a little after not going to any parties at all and instead spent all their time studying…

– – Written by RunPee guest writer Nicholas Collier, who secretly wants to join the MIB. Nick says, “I’ve been watching movies since I got my glasses in 5th grade. Movies are what I love, what I know, and what I aspire to create. Find me @LightCameraNick on twitter, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”  

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First View Movie Review – Jumanji (1995)

jumanji-game-box
Would you play this game? Like, ever?

Adoring as I do Jumanji 2: Welcome to the Jungle — my favorite film of 2017 — I looked forward to finally watching the original Jumanji with Robin Williams. My understanding was the game updates itself for its era, meaning the 1995  game would be a vintage style board game — with an actual ‘board’ and dice. The kind of game where you move little pieces around, and the winner is the one who gets to the end first. (Warning: spoilers follow for Jumanji 1 &2.)

Problems with the Jumanji Board Game

What I didn’t expect was…well, several things. It doesn’t take place in the Jumanji world — a fantasy element I loved in Welcome to the Jungle. Instead, the jungle elements come to Earth, but only in an’ immersive’ way at the climax.

Second, I didn’t expect the original game to be so ludicrous and mean-spirited. The board game makes no sense. NONE. You have to randomly survive each roll of the dice, and it doesn’t seem like either skill or chance is involved.

In a typical board game, some turns reward the player. In this Jumanji sequel, every single die roll is a nightmare. Some player results are merely bad; others are downright demonic. I guess that fits in with the opening scene in historical times, where the sentient game is actually implied to be evil.

In Jumanji 2, it became an interesting video game, with lots of cool clues for each gamer. I like clues, especially ones the viewer can follow along and guess at. J2 didn’t cheat, although misdirection was in play. But the game didn’t seem sinister.

And lastly, there’s the reset-button ending. This isn’t how the game ends in J2, which confused me. If that was true, then none of the kids in Jumanji 2 would still have been around at the end. (J2 is a direct sequel, not a reboot.)

Back to Jumanji the First

To be fair, Jumanji 1 had some incredible set-pieces. The CGI looks as bad as one would expect of the time, but you get swept away (and the characters literally do get swept away) by the creative sequences. I think the indoor lagoon was my favorite, but also loved the lion in the bed, and the vicious man-eating vine plant scenes. It killed me when the vines crunched the police car.

And the monkey scenes? Meant as comic relief, they totally tanked. They looked bad, acted like Gremlins on speed (and that’s saying a lot)…and maybe were hilarious at the time? The mosquitoes were much, much more cool.

Robin Williams (and the Rest)

Unfortunately, Williams wasn’t exactly funny in this film. I’d say he was even subdued, and I wonder if this part of his life was more about his internal demons than creative work. The younger version of his character had more life to him.

I get that 26 years in a alternate world will change you, but I don’t think that’s what happened here. Normally Williams brings nuance and a sparkle to any role, but even his ‘silly’ Jumanji scenes felt off.

Knowing in hindsight Williams was deeply unhappy makes watching this 1995 movie painful, but he seemed to enjoy roles like The Genie in Aladdin (1992) and Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) so much more. Maybe the subsequent years took their toll on him.

Of the other actors, the little boy was often delightful, and the movie was much better for it. A young Kirsten Dunst was…fine. Her best scene involved swatting giant mosquitoes with a tennis racket, but she seemed to just screech her way through the rest of the film.

Altogether, I was surprisingly bored by Jumanji 1, since it was mostly a series of wild set-pieces barely stitched together with dysfunctional plot-lines and nonsensical game rules. I expected more fun. Maybe you had to grow up with this Jumanji to appreciate it.

I did like the coda, implying that you can’t get rid of the game, and Jumanji 2 picks right up on the beach where it leaves off.  And the drum sounds are used to great effect. If you listen through the credits, you can softly hear them right there. That was a nice stinger in an era where after-credit extras were barely a thing.

Movie Grade: C+

Movie Review – Jumanji 2: Welcome to the Jungle

And there’s news! Here’s a clip where the Rock discusses the upcoming Jumanji 3 (Release date December 13, 2019):

Modern Godzilla Movies – Ranking The Monsterverse

I’m not a die-hard Godzilla fan, but I’ve gone on a bit of a giant lizard binge-watch lately. I’m happy to admit Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the best one yet.

Not only did the big beasties get plenty of screentime, but the people plots didn’t entirely suck.

People and entire cities can be megafauna fodder in disaster films, but there also has to be a thoughtful human element where you care — even by a small margin.  Modern audiences demand this, and rightfully, because otherwise you’re essentially watching a long, expensive video game. The previous Godzilla films in 1998 and 2014 plunged into that category — but worse — because boring human drama was shoehorned in to pretend those movies had plots. (Except for through-actor Ken Watanabe — more on him later).

Skipping right to said monstrous animals…

The Big Four Beasties of Godzilla: King of the Monsters

  1. Godzilla — With some new glowy skills and a few adjustments to his appearance, he looks great and is a pleasure to watch in action. Unlike in his 2014 Monsterverse premier, he’s onscreen early and often. Two paws up!
  2. Mothra — She’s my favorite critter.  And….she’s beautiful (think Lunar Moth). Mothra has some very unusual abilities, and isn’t as fragile as expected. I’d love to see her as a mount in some multiverse for Spider-Man. (“There’s a Ant Man, a Spider-Man, AND a Moth!?”)
  3. (King) Ghidorah — Very cool dragon/hydra rival to Godzilla, and even amusing (those heads scrap at each other!), but I’m not happy with his origin-story. That came out of freaking nowhere and felt like the writers couldn’t find a better hinge to hang their new ecosystem from. IDK. Maybe King Ghidorah actually is from [redactated for spoilers] in the legends.
  4. Rodan — The least interesting fellow. I felt bad for Ghidorah stealing his thunder. Rodan came off as a second-string player to give Mothra someone to fight. Someone give this guy something better to do some time.

2014 godzilla breathing fire

And the rest: There was an assortment of junior-grade creatures to fight (17 all together, including Kong on Skull Island), but we only catch them in random moments. One was like a spider; another was a sort-of mastodon. I’d like to see Part Four elevate these guys at the eventual “monster-off” on Skull Island.

The Big Four were great fun. Fab effects, with nice twists and turns in their near-sentient reactions to each other. If the carnage felt too far away and too meager in films before, we got lots and lots of satisfying spectacle this time around.

The People (AKA Happy Meals on Feet)

Lots of goofy one-liners and paper-thin human characterizations populate this over-run Titan world. The father/mother push and pull dynamics have been done and done and done in almost every disaster film. The soldiers do soldiering. Bad guys do ‘badding’. There’s a gratuitous cameo from the previous film. Next, please? 

Finally, we see a couple of grace notes: Ken Watanabe lends his wise gravitas for the sake of actual world-building, and teenage Madison (Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things) provides enough cleverness to make us want to see her live. (This girl can act with her eyes — her career might be worth following). Smart people living/dying tends to get us in the feels, and they carry the human story better than the other modern-era Godzilla people.

Ultimately Watanabe gets a long-awaited beautiful moment with ‘his God’ to show (not tell) that co-existence means salvation.

But it’s all rather small and can’t compete with the big battles above. I appreciated Watanabe’s arc and was just grateful the franchise went somewhere lovely with it.

Godzilla vs The Technobabble

The Orca is a MacGuffin: everyone wants it. The writers did a decent job making said Orca quasi-logical, but the tech is the weakest point of the story. Except for the cool larval Mothra intro, the Orca could have been canned  entirely for something better…for something only hinted at here and there, in terms of ecology, spirituality, and legends.

There were also the expected bombs, subs, planes, and faceless soldiers. Fortunately Gz 2 learned from Gz 1 to keep most of this in the background.

And the least said about the [redacted] Earth Theory, the better. I can buy that in a fantasy film. It felt out of place here.

Let’s try something new with Godzilla. Or old. Just do it well

I still can’t shake the feeling the entire Legendary Monsterverse is riding on the reptilian coat-tails of the Jurassic saga. I kind of wish they would make up their minds to go ALL IN with the coexistence theme (instead of referred to by newspaper clip credits, a storytelling device best used in WALL-E ), or go ahead — take that massive risk about Earth-cleansing and the starting anew theme and sprint with it. Planet of the Apes went there, so this isn’t unprecedented for sci-fi premises.

So, Is Kong in the next Godzilla movie?

Speaking of Apes, yes, Kong is name dropped many times, with a few quick visuals, a blink-and-you-miss it cave painting, and many Easter egg allusions to lead into 2020’s Monsterverse finale: Godzilla vs Kong. I don’t want them to fight though. Aren’t they both “good guys’? Fingers crossed this works out satisfactorily. (And stay through the end credits of King of the Monsters for a possible hint.)

I genuinely liked this Godzilla movie. I wanted more Mothra, but overall, can’t complain.

Grading the modern Godzilla and Monsterverse Flicks

Looking at RunPee’s scores for ‘modern-era’ Godzilla movies, and including Kong: Skull Island as part of this Monsterverse, movie grades have been heading up a steady incline (please click the links to read our reviews on RunPee.com):

1998 Godzilla : D

2014 Godzilla: C

Kong: Skull Island: B-

2019 Godzilla: King of the Monsters: B

This bodes well. Maybe the finale to the Godzilla/Kong quadrilogy will hit the A range. For a disaster film, that would be quite a feat. We’ll find out next year. Keep replaying Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla remix to stay excited.

Related, on RunPee:

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

Movie Review of Kong – Skull Island

Virgin Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – Not as bad as the last one

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

How RunPee Began – A Retrospective on Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong

Movie Review – Rocketman

 

Movie Review - RocketmanI had a hard time with this review. Rocketman is both extraordinary (in costuming, sound, and visual sequences) and by-the-numbers (a creative life plagued by inner demons).

Elton John’s musical biopic is a grand fantasy with exciting numbers that feel like a top notch Broadway extravaganza. It’s got great pacing, fun set-pieces, an ideal cast, and a very special find in Taron Egerton.

Egerton looks like John, acts like him — and best of all — sounds like him. Except for the original Elton John song played over the end credits, Egerton does ALL his own singing. That’s no small feat. He’s simply brilliant. Egerton more than inhabits the role.

Taron Edgerton is Elton John in Rocketman
Taron Edgerton is Elton John in Rocketman

Rocketman is also very depressing. John has exactly two people in his life who are nice to him — his grandmother, and his long-time best friend and lyricist, Bernie Taupin. Everyone else is either mildly abusive or very abusive. That isn’t fun to watch. Almost everything between the rollicking tunes is about John’s sorrow, loneliness, obsessions, addictions, self-loathing, and an insane ability to absorb decades of personal torment…but somehow still be a beloved worldwide pop-culture phenomenon.

Was John’s life really this difficult? How much of this tale is true? Or did they make things so awful for John’s film character just to ‘liven things up’?

I don’t think you have to be a personal disaster to be a creative icon. But what do I know?

Since John’s alive (unlike, say, Freddie Mercury), these questions are askable. Reportedly John was so happy with Rocketman that he cried with joy to Egerton after his personal screening. I’d like to know specifically what parts gave him that joy. I just want to know if his life was/wasn’t that awful.

Taron Egerton as Elton John on stage in lights
Our rocketman, in lights.

A friend told me no one wants to watch movies about creative happy people. I’d love to condemn that statement, but I’m also told I have an atypical POV on entertainment. I like to have a fun time at the theater. I want to go home feeling like a damn superhero. If I want turmoil and drama, there’s enough of that in the day-to-day. Or I could simply watch the news.

So, if you’re an emotional sponge who found A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody dismaying, just stay home and watch all your favorite Elton John songs on You Tube. Eventually every cool musical performance by Egerton will appear too, so you can realistically catch 90% of Rocketman for free. (There were so many songs in Rocketman that finding even three non-musical minutes for Peetimes was a challenge.)

But should you see this? Almost every review of Rocketman RAVES on it. It’s super ingenious from start to end. Many sequences are  absolutely in the realm of fantasy, but somehow it all works flawlessly as a biopic. The flick is probably destined to become almost as iconic as the legend himself. Rocketman makes Bohemian Rhapsody look like a documentary.

I’m giving Rocketman a solid A for being so lovingly, thoughtfully, gorgeously made. It’s a remarkable film on many levels — not the least being the framing sequences with John’s outrageous demon costume slowly shedding away, as the inner man reveals himself.

If you can handle intense drug and suicide themes, you’ll enjoy this Elton John tribute. It’s also worth it just for catching Egerton’s performance: there will be awards, without a doubt.

Finally, I’m genuinely happy Elton John is alive to see his film — and if the credit notes are true, things worked out happily in the end.  🙂

Grade: A

RunPee movie meme of rocketman
Fun with the RunPee #MovieMeme. Taron Egerton had literally big shoes to fill, but more than pulled it off in Rocketman.

About The Peetimes: As expected, this was a tough film to find Peetimes for, packed with iconic musical performances and hugely emotional scenes. The first 2 Peetimes are pretty good: I recommend the 2nd at 42 minutes — a nice long break. I avoided any major Elton John songs, as I assume these are what you came to see.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Rocketman. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for language throughout, some drug use and sexual content
Genres: Biography, Drama, Music

Elton John – Lyrics & Video to Bennie & the Jets

Lyrics & Video to Rocketman by Elton John

Did Rami Malek Sing In Bohemian Rhapsody?