New Black Panther Trailer is Fantastic

I saw the new Black Panther trailer when I went to see Thor: Ragnarok, and it looks GORGEOUS. Sumptuous. Luxuriously detailed and kind of intense. Seriously, I could watch this preview all day: New Black Panther Trailer. Gimme, gimme!

Marvel sure knows how to create anticipation for their universe of movies. It’s all about the story, and the producers keep me wanting more, and wanting it now. I’m shocked to find I’m more into the MCU than the Star Wars films (I’m and a true geek who waited in line for hours back in 1978, to see Star Wars in the theater at least a dozen times).

Anyway. Go watch the trailer and enjoy!

RunPee Reviewed on You Tube (A Lot!)

We love seeing reviews of our fine and fun app on You Tube: We’ve Been Reviewed! We feel so grateful for the attention. RunPee is a small, family-run business. We see all the wide release movies each (and every) week, sit there with our clipboards and timers, to give you two or three times you can safely make a break for the bathroom. It’s a lot of work! And we don’t get to pee at all…so you can. 🙂

So, we love all these little videos people made. Take a look. Really cool. And really, thank you.

New Wolverine Takes Up Claws for Next Movie

Remember Laura, the little girl clone of Wolverine from the great X-Men film Logan? There is talk of a Logan spinoff to follow Laura’s story.  I don’t think that move would come as much of a surprise. They left the ending wide open with the new mutant kids going to Eden, and the actress made for a memorable breakout character in her sensitive, yet vicious feral child.

Stealing the show from Hugh Jackman? Wait, even harder – from Sir Patrick Stewart? What? Well, she did.

So, yeah — I do expect we will see more from this actress. The X-Men franchise hasn’t been reluctant to keep a good thing going (sometimes long after it stopped being good).

Movie Review – The Hitman’s Bodyguard

*The Hitman’s Bodyguard* is really, really darn hysterical. The audience laughed out loud, frequently, as the relationship between Ryan Reynold’s and Samuel Jackson’s characters would ramp up, get deep, get ridiculous, and grow more affectionately abusive towards each other.

There are car chases (many) and foot races (also, many)…but the heart of the movie is between these two actors and their infectious chemistry. There’s some wonderful symbolism throughout (hint: look up the official name for a ‘group’ of crows), and a lot of stylized violence. The plot itself is kind of inconsequential: it’s just a vehicle to serve up some fantastic verbal interplay.

There’s also a great meta set-up to Jackson’s signature phrase…wait for it, by Reynolds. After that, all bets are off if you want to count how often that ‘special’ line is used.

Gary Oldman turned in a reliable performance as the villain, a hard act to pull off on the heels of Reynolds and Jackson. Salma Hayek was definitely over the top, but this is intentional; her performance is enjoyably wackadoodle.

What kept this review from a coveted A- grade was a slightly weary sense of repetition from the endless chase scenes. Some went on way too long, and there seemed to be a lot of filler padding out the runtime.

Frankly, I could just watch the leads play off each other all night, just bickering away.

Great date movie – or to just take yourself to, if you need some cheering up and laughter.

Movie Grade – B+

Movie Review – Suburbicon

Ominous, paranoid, depraved, slow, violent, pessimistic, foreboding, and dark — both metaphorically and visually. Racist, and rather evil. None of the named characters are likable. If these traits sound like movie accolades to you, you’ll enjoy this film.

I didn’t. It was vile. If I wasn’t seeing it for work, I would have walked out. I felt grimy afterwards.

I was thinking it might be something like *Pleasantville*, another grim portrayal of mid-century bland suburbanite fantasies. *Pleasantville* at least was a good story. *Suburbicon* is the kind of film you’ll probably love or hate, depending on your tolerance for demented imagery and disturbing humor. There’s some deep stuff with the overtly racist storyline treated as an afterthought (interesting choice), framing the grisly hidden reality of the apparently squeaky-clean, whiter than white Lodges a few feet away, next door. I can see where the Coens were going with this, but they just didn’t get there satisfactorily. There’s no real payoff. At least the film is short.

I will give this a C+, which is more than I want to, because director George Clooney clearly had a vision for how he wanted to tell this story: he used a very stylized tone/color palette, with a restrained soundtrack, to accomplish a certain look and feel. It’s quirky in a vulgar way, and there are filmatic callbacks to the old Hitchcock films. Some of the camera work made me nauseous, and I’m sure that was intended. So there was this.

The acting? Oscar Issac has the best lines and energy, and the mostly listless film picks up some zing in his brief scenes.

Matt Damon does his role reasonably well, and so does Julianne Moore. Even if you can’t like them (or anyone else).

 

Movie Rating: C+

Review – Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

This is a slow character tale about how the Wonder Woman comic came to be. While seemingly a superhero origin story, it’s really a drama about how an unconventional threesome bucked the odds of their time to create a gentle — and mostly uncomplicated — love story.

Was Wonder Woman a part of all this? She’s background and foreground simultaneously. It’s honestly not her film. It’s a true-ish tale of a man and two women, who have love amongst all three. Yes, even in our time, this is hard to understand and accept: imagine how it might have been more taboo in decades past, in the golden age of comic books. And now, in our ‘enlightened’ era, the topic still makes people uncomfortable.

Yet it’s not an uncomfortable film. It’s sweet. You root for the characters and want their happiness. It helps that they are super smart people, but they also have an emotional intelligence that doesn’t often accompany intellect alone.

It works as an historical piece, and fills in the gaps of anyone wondering WHERE exactly a superpowered woman took her place among such luminaries as Superman, Batman, The Flash, Captain America, and Aquaman. The film makes it clear that Wonder Woman was an aberration, and difficult for people to accept.

In our modern age, we have Xena, Buffy, River Tam, the Bionic Woman, Black Widow, Sarah Connor, Starbuck (the Kara Thrace version), female Terminators, and a whole lot of modern a$$ kicking women. But it had to start somewhere. Burning Wonder Woman comic books was a thing, in the day.

Movie Grade: B

Review – Kingsman – The Golden Circle

As enjoyable as the first film, with some fine set pieces, original action, lots of humor, and good new characters. In particular, while dangerous ski gondola scenes have been done to death in James Bond films, the one here is fresh and exciting. Wheeee!

The “president” should be a pretty familiar stand-in for our times, and he had some cute stuff. Jeff Bridges was adroit in a too-brief run time, and Channing Tatum obviously relished playing Tequila. Julianne Moore — as Poppy — was, well, a strange choice. She played her scenes with vigor, but I thought she was miscast. She just has too serious/intellectual a look and persona about her, making the “adorable 50’s housewife” a bad fit.

There’s a role played by a certain famous person, as himself, that I won’t spoil — but I loved it. And he seemed to have a great time in this movie. Nice to see.

The Kingsmen from the previous film did a bang-up job (pun intended). I liked spending time with them again. Eggsy’s growing up.

Poppy Land, in the jungle ruins of Cambodia, is a great concept. It’s like a scene from *Pleasantville*, or the downtown in *Back to the Future*, complete with bowling alley, old time theater, vintage diner, and classic weiner truck — but totally empty, except for some henchmen. Quite uncanny-valley-like; creepy and good.

You’ll notice the main score track sounds very close to the Marvel Universe theme. It kept nagging at me, since this isn’t a Marvel movie. It turns out the composers are Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson, who also worked on Captain America – The Winter Solider, and the X-Men films. So, there ya go.

Was this violent? Yes, very. It’s hip, slick, and stylized…but a couple of moments still made me look away. Keep this in mind if you don’t like “comic gore”.

Lastly, the plot is bizarro. Just accept that. There are more sensible movies out there if you want. This is an enjoyable film to help you disconnect your mind for a while. Don’t take it too seriously; it’s intended for the fun, and that’s what it brings.

Blade Runner: 2049 review

This was almost an awesome movie. It was a worthy sequel that felt “right”, like settling in after a long break (of actual decades — in both real and movie time) to catch up on old events. Even the new characters seemed to carry echoes of previous incarnations. Hans Zimmer created a track with many beats evocative of the original *Blade Runner* score. The noir notes were missing, but it felt familiar and fresh all at once. You could feel the fingerprints of Ridley Scott all over the production, too.

The characters were compelling (except the central villain, unfortunately, whose motivations to be ‘bad’ were unclear, and gave us at least one strangely gratuitous scene). Ryan Gosling — the new Blade Runner — offered a purposefully subtle performance, acting mainly through very small facial and postural movements. Robin Wright gave us a law officer whose motivations and character alignment are unclear for most of the film, lending a sense of disorientation and hopelessness that matches the setting of the blasted, ruined Earth. The boss’s henchwoman had an interesting role, whose tone changed radically over the course of the story; her fighting style was used to devastating effect. And Harrison Ford? I didn’t think he had to stretch much. I’m glad Ford was back; he looks great, and he was used organically, but he seems tired. In this role, it works. Deckard is tired.

Almost all the characters underplay their roles (a clear directorial choice), and things move glacially for 90% of the film. The action scenes, by contrast, are lightning fast, coupled with set pieces that fit well into the universe we’ve seen, without feeling like a repeat in any way. The CGI was seamless, except where something is clearly intended to be CGI (you’ll see what I mean).

Is this a violent film? Well, it’s a lot like the other *Blade Runner*, so yes in moments, and not at all in others. Is there humor? No. I smiled at a couple of things in a sardonic way, or at mild nods to things that came in the previous film. Romance? Again, there’s about as much as we’ve seen before, with a few tender beats snatched from the grip of a mostly horrifying reality. Earth is now even more of a desolate wasteland. It’s all very beautiful, stylish, and lovingly filmed, and quite, quite grim. This movie definitely puts the ‘dis’ in dystopian. 🙂

One thing this film was: weird. There were things that seemed weird JUST to be weird, in a cool and visually arresting way. Maybe an extended version will explain some of it away, but I honestly don’t think that’s necessary. It’s the future, and while things are not so good in this future, society and culture keeps ticking along in new ways.

There were also a lot of symbolic images. I want to rattle off a bunch of them, but won’t. You’ll enjoy finding things yourself. I’d recommend doing a re-watch of the original film (the Director’s Cut, to be specific), just to make sure you catch the moody callbacks to the first Blade Runner.

There are a few other things that would be spoilers to mention, and it’s probably a spoiler to say there even are spoilers, so I’ll stop there. I suggest that you use the recommended Peetimes we’ve provided so you don’t miss those moments.

In an odd note, I have never in my life seen a more quiet and still audience — quite a feat for a 2 hour and 42 minute film. Things onscreen were very silent for long stretches, and nobody in the theater rustled, coughed, laughed, gasped, or even breathed, as far as I could tell. It’s a testament to how invested people were in this sequel. Interestingly enough, most of the audience on opening night were older people. There were very few young men and women present. Was this an audience of people who saw the original Blade Runner in the theaters the first time? Seems likely.

This isn’t a story by Philip K. Dick per se, but they do give him a reference credit at the end of the film. It’s very much his ouvre, in a sense. He likes to ask: Who are we? Are we our memories? Who has a soul? Thoughtfully, these questions remain ours to answer.

One question is put to rest though…is Deckard a replicant? You’ve probably decided this on your own long ago, but now you’ll know for sure.

Very enjoyable – see this on the big screen to catch all the minute details, setting nuances, and build up in tone. Now. Don’t miss it, if you liked the original Blade Runner in any way. Hey, tears in the rain…

Movie Review – Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2

There are two reviews here; Dan’s and Jill’s, enjoy!

Dan says:

The first GotG is, I think, the very best of the Marvel movies. While GotGv2 isn’t quite as good, it certainly didn’t disappoint.

The theme of the story (father/son reunion) isn’t anything new, but writer/director James Gunn weaves a thread into the story that makes it uniquely his own.

In a larger context, I think this is why Marvel has been so successful: the movies have plenty of action and spectacle, but are ultimately about relationships and sacrifice. (Note to DC: this is how you do it.)

The humor of GotGv2 is abundant, although I don’t think it has quite as many memorable lines as the original.

Jill says:

To start with — I am a worshiper of the original GotG. It is not only my favorite Marvel movie, but my favorite superhero movie, and one of my all-time favorite EVER films. I can’t count how many times I watched Guardians, danced along to Peter’s mix tape, and laughed myself silly at pretty much anything Rocket did. I want to soar through space with these guys on the Milano. Three years I’ve waited to see this team of strangely competent wackos return. I saw the opening day 3D RPX Guardians double feature, and handily won a trivia prize during the intermission. I’m listening to Awesome Mix, Vol 1, right now. Clearly, I’m not a casual fan.

So here’s the thing about the sequel: the main plot is the sticking point of the film. I honestly found the Kurt Russel scenes a bit tedious (though certainly very pretty). Without spoiling anything, boo on the big reveal. And blah to the Sovereign. Even Taserface didn’t do much for me – didn’t we see him in Pirates of the Caribbean 2? (Good through-joke on his ‘outlaw’ name, though. Ha!) There’s a reason why everything in the trailers are about the team and not the plot – the storyline is merely meh. I missed Rhomann Dey, and all the pink people and The Collector, wanted another prison sequence, and even wondered where dumb old Thanos had gotten himself to.

What I really wanted were more ensemble moments with the Guardians. Those moments shined. I was over the moon to have more Yondu and Nebula. Bring it on! I look forward to seeing Baby Groot grow up. I was pleasantly surprised that little Groot, though still deadly, was not just a small version of his old self. This tree is definitely now an infant, and the group understands this. There were some very sweet, intimate little moments with our ‘family’ and their baby.

My feeling is that this film will grow on me. It does deepen one or two of the characters’ back stories, even if it doesn’t further anything. Or, well, much…without giving away a very sad thing.

James Gunn reports he is helming this as a trilogy; perhaps this will be the quiet one of the three. It was a smaller story – which normally I appreciate – but in this tale, I wanted more connection to the larger MCU tale. I know I need to have a re-watch or three, and I probably sound a little petulant. The movie is good! I just have a high bar set. GotGv2 will assuredly grow on me. And now I am listening to Awesome Mix Vol 2…not AS fun as the first, but I can feel it growing on me already.

Movie Grade: A-

The Last Jedi – bringing ‘balance’ to the Force

So, the next movie in the Star Wars saga now has a name and a trailer:

The Last Jedi (link at TOR.com)

My thoughts: I am thinking, based on Luke’s words, that it might be heading towards my own interpretation of what ‘balance to the Force’ means – that we have to accept light AND dark together, and not as a schism. More of a Jungian POV. An integration and a stance of acceptance.

Although it could be taken as wanting to wipe out all the information/knowledge altogether, forever. I don’t think they will go there – it’s a tad depressing, very conservative, and doesn’t seem to fit into the Journey of the Hero. “Refusal of the Call” only happens early on in Campbell, and is subsequently overcome by the hero taking up the mantle (often after their families and/or mentor dies…and both happen with Luke).

It looks like Luke has a small library of the earliest Force knowledge in that First Jedi temple. Maybe we [the viewers] will start to learn a few things. I think we’ve waited long enough for it…since 1987?

For fans of Dune (the book)…doesn’t Peo Dameron remind you of Duncan Idaho? At least that is how I picture him.