Movie Rewatch: Jurassic Park – The Lost World

While enjoying a lovely pint of hand crafted mead at the San Diego Bronto Brew Meadery, I got to view a free social rewatch of the entire Jurassic oeuvre. With Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom opening in the US this week, that’s five fun movies. Or, well, some fun movies and one that sucked (Hi, JP III).

While it’s got it’s detractors, The Lost World is a decent film, the second best in the series. It has a real plot that’s explored organically, with good characterizations, and some intensely riveting dino action.   Its main problem is that it can never be as tightly gripping or simply magical as the original. And it still has the goofy kid sequences that plague the franchise. But let’s talk about what we liked.

How about that RV scene? You know the one. Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum, playing Jeff Goldblum), not quite as dead as supposed, talks about the running and the screaming to follow. He’s in that turbo-charged Tech RV ( I WANT ONE) that a T-Rex couple industriously push off the side of a cliff. The humans did, as humans do, something incredibly stupid with the baby T-Rex, and now the parents need to rid their territory of the pesky people, in the most dramatic way possible.

The scene where Sarah lands on the RV window above the crashing coast is the singular iconic moment  in The Lost World. Never mind that someone with her education makes every  mistake from the Megafauna 101 class…at that moment, we’re with her,  holding our collective breaths, as the glass cracks spider outward. Brrr. Good scene. Silly stuff aside (these guys can’t hold that wet, muddy rope in their bare hands, much less

climb it, but whatever), it’s a stirring sequence. When poor Toby from the West Wing dies horribly we wince, and then cheer when the previously antagonist hunters lends their literal hands to save our guys. It’s all the people against the dinosaurs from this point on. 

There are chases, there are deaths. The chicken-sized Compys strike back against an arrogant human, and our unfortunate paleontologist dies a nasty death, somewhere between a snake bite, a waterfall, and one big set of jaws.

Things go pretty good, story-wise, introducing the Raptor area (cool shots of humans being hunted in the tall grass)…and then things start getting wacky. The gymnastics scene is obviously nuts, but the worst offense of The Lost World are the scenes on the ship and in San Diego.

One: If the T-Rex is still contained in the cargo bay, how come the bridge crew was eaten? No matter how many times I watch this, I still don’t understand how we’re supposed to believe this happened. There’s a hand gripping the steering wheel and no body…all while the large animal in question is contained. Below decks. Is there an invisible Raptor onboard?

There’s a scene showing how the T-Rex breaks out of containment after the ship crashes, and goes looking for drinking water (a pool) and food (poor doggy). I live in San Diego, and I don’t think they bothered to actually film down here. There’s some more unrealistic sequences of a hungry T-Rex “downtown” chasing trolleys, flinging cars, snacking on unfortunate people, and running after Tokyo businessmen (okay, the Godzilla nod was cute).

The climax scene, where the industrialist is used as a hunting lesson for the T-Rex Baby is…icky in its implications. I may not have liked the man, but no one deserves to be hobbled and eaten alive. It’s one of the things I don’t like about the Jurassic films: the deaths that people cheer at are just gristly. The assistant in Jurassic World 1 does NOTHING to deserve that horrific Ptherodont/Mosasaurus duo nightmare.  Did she have a villain scene left on the cutting room floor?

And Toby is split into two pieces in Lost World, while being a selfless hero. I guess I’m supposed to find it funny in Jurassic Park Classic when the “bloodsucking lawyer” gets chomped on the loo, but seriously, that’s some awful sh!t happening (no pun intended). I don’t know why that’s played for laughs.

I get it, people die when man meets beast. But I don’t feel good laughing about it. These films walk a thin line at times. But there I am again, talking about things I didn’t like. These movies are intended as a way to eat your popcorn and disengage the brain. These are movies where scientists are the heroes, and I very much appreciate that.

The things that are great: when the movies remember these creatures are animals, not monsters. When we feel the magic of our youth stirred by seeing “real” dinosaurs, and interacting peaceably with them. When John William’s stirring score carries us along, and we are reminded there are wondrous things ahead of us. I hope we might be wise enough to see them come to pass. I hope we will be ready, because, as we know…life finds a way. 

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Note: I’m definitely impressed with how John Williams manages to recall the beauty of the first film in his soundtrack, while also setting The Lost World apart with the fanfare of an almost military theme. It doesn’t have the softly nostalgic notes of the first film, but it stirs the soul nevertheless. The man is a national treasure. Get the movie and soundtrack here: 

Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World 1 are playing for FREE at San Diego’s Dino-themed craft beverage Bronto Brew Meadery. Come for two more free nights of giant screen movies, under T-Rex skeletons and beside a giant nest of Brontosaurus eggs. FREE events! Friday and Saturday nights, June 22 and 23, on 9235 Trade Place, D, San Diego, CA 92126 (619) 796 – 3096

Review: Jurassic Park Ride at Universal Studios

I love dinosaurs. I was a dino geek before dinosaurs were cool, and to make me stand out even further, I was a “just a girl”. Girls who were geeks in the 70s were a rare breed. Fortunately, I was also a Klingon, so efforts to bully me landed on deaf ears. 🙂 Hell, I was a Dinosaur-riding Klingon.

This Klingon has mellowed over the years, but my fascination with dinosauria is still up there next to my now-mainstream fangirl delight in Harry Potter, Marvel, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and yes — Star Trek. This brings me back around to dinosaurs.

I went to Universal Studios this summer for ONE reason: to proudly wear my Gyffindor student robes, and be selected in the wand choosing ceremony.  And drink Butterbeer. OK, this is more than one reason but it’s all about Harry Potter. And you can read about my amazing HP day in this article (link and photos to be added).

After a long day at Hogsmead Village, my travel companion was looking a little googly eyed, and suggested we do something else in the park. We headed down 1,000 stairs (I don’t think I am exaggerating) to the lower park area, then boarded the log flume that slides under the King-Kong sized entrance — long-time Jurassic Park fans will get the reference. (Can you name the quote in question?)

The ride is still a good one…but it, like the original Jurassic Park movie, has aged. The movie, happily, still wears well. We get goosebumps when seeing dinosaurs the first time, fear levels rising when we watch the unseen Velociraptors feed, blowing to full-on fear in that stainless steel kitchen scene.

When the T-Rex bellows in the erstwhile visitor center, draped in the banner announcing “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth,” I’m one happy human.

 

The ride didn’t fare so well. It seems that several animatronic (“auto-erotic”, anyone?) sauropods forgot how to move. The ride gets bumpy a few times, is a big loud cacophonony, seems a lot shorter than I remembered…and the effect of the chasing T-Rex sticking her head into the waterfall is now rendered campy, instead of scary. It was a jump scare at first, but now I expect it, and Rexie’s looking aged. The best part of the ride is still the crazy long flume drop that seems to go a few more seconds that anyone expects. That’s the best and most obvious thrill.

The last thrill is the most subtle. As the flume logs start backing up at the end, we’re in the diddling around in the Diloposaur Paddock. That’s the poisonous fringed lizard who wouldn’t chase a stick, who decided Nedry looked more delicious. Nedry was a walking pie to those guys, and here they are at the end of the ride, with your log at a jammed stand-still…when a poisonous Dilopsaurus spits RIGHT AT YOU, with that rattling sound.

It’s fun and menacing, and there’s a perfect Easter Egg for fans, right under the low canopy of ferns. It looks at first like someone tossed some garbage at the ride, but JP fans will be rewarded: it’s that can of Barbasol Shaving Cream, the one full of stolen embryos. Very cool, and if you’re not looking for it, you’ll miss it.

My friends, this is world building. Adding the soaring John Williams sound track over it all, you are transported a little away from your cares. The ride clearly needs refurbishment, but with a second Jurassic World movie out this week, making 5 movies in the entire franchise, I’ll bet Universal will “spare no expense” to give the Jurassic Park/World ride its due. I bet Chris Pratt will even reprise his role in it, like he did for the awesome Guardians of the Galaxy Ride at Disney. Jeff Goldblum would be welcome too.

NOTE: The previous time I went to Universal, decades ago, I was lucky enough to walk through with an employee, and she let me run amuck in the lodge/gas station setting where they filmed The Lost World, reprised in Jurassic World. I pretended to be a raptor and chased my friend…and sadly, this was a long way before smart phones and so I don’t have photos. Also, this area of the park burned down. In the words of Dr. Ian Malcom, “So, so there it is.”

This article is brought to you by John Williams. Actually via Amazon’s Alexa, playing Williams. I’m sitting here penning the ride review while listening to this iconic  score. Here’s a link to the soundtrack, and the teeshirt to wear on the ride and at the Jurassic movies! Show your Geek cred!

 

Movie Review – Tag

What a darn cute movie. I’m enchanted to learn Tag is based off a true story of some kids who decided never to grow up. The entire theater was PACKED at the first showing, and everyone in the theater not only knew a lot about the film going into it, but were very much into the playful spirit of things, whooping it up, laughing and cheering. The audience clearly had a fantastic night at the movies.

Even during the trailers for completely unrelated movies, they howled and clapped. During the preview for horror flick The Nun, at the jump scare, one person got up and ran around pretending to be the nun/ghost/whatever, and people squealed, excited and happy. I actually wondered if the entire theater-going crowd was high (this IS California). They were that rowdy and playful. It made the viewing experience unique, and added to the fun.

The cast seemed to have having as much of a ball as the audience. Everyone gave it their all. Jeremy Renner stands out as the unstoppable, never-caught tag hero (not caught in 30 years of annual play!), but really, the entire ensemble just killed it.

I foresee a lot of old friends starting their own games of life-long tag. I want to play too. This is absolutely worth seeing. You’ll laugh and feel young again.

NOTE: Make sure to stick around through the credits for a charming and very silly version of the Tag guys singing “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” by the Crash Test Dummies. What a bunch of goof balls. Loved it.

Movie Grade: A-

RunPee Meta: I gave you 3 good Peetimes, each of a decent length, where you won’t miss any of the best chase or humor scenes.

Related, on RunPee: Did you know Tag star Jeremy Renner filmed this movie with two broken arms? And yes, he broke them on set. Read what happened

Jeremy Renner filmed Tag with Two Broken Arms

I really enjoyed viewing Tag last night, a movie about a group of grownup men who spend every year in May reliving their childhood game of Tag. Even while living crosscounty from each other, these guys keep it up and plan the rest of the year for new ways to create elaborate and sneaky tagging hijinks. Why this movie didn’t come out in May seems like a wasted opportunity (it’s now mid-June). But it’s still a riotously fun time at the movies.

I hadn’t heard the hype for the film, which surprises me since I’m at the theater several times a week and see a ton of trailers. But word most definitely got out, as my opening show was packed and primed for a good time.

Another thing I didn’t realize was that Jeremy Renner, erstwhile Avenger, here as the elusive Jerry (who’s never been tagged in 30 years), played almost the entire film with two broken arms. During the scene where he parkours down a flight of stacked plastic conference chairs, a hinge failed and he ended up broken as well. He reports that he didn’t know he even broke them, and kept on playing the scene.

He reported to Entertainment Weekly that there was only one scene with CGI arms (yep, we live in a world like this now), and you can’t even tell. During the rest of the film, he either wore jackets or long sleeves, and had a lot of shoulders-and-up closeups. It also helps that we don’t see much of him, fitting in with the character’s hard-to-find nature.  There are even some shots left in with splints on his arms, which eagle eyed viewers might catch. make sure you keep an eye out, and see if you notice anything at all.

So, “Hawkeye” broke BOTH arms on his second day of shooting? Alrighty then, Renner must really be an Avenger. I don’t think even Tony Stark could argue with that one.

Watch these clips talking about Renner’s experience while you get psyched to catch this frankly delightful film:

Other movies with Jeremy Renner:

Incredibles 2 & the Success of Animated Movie Sequels

Sequels are big deals for today’s audiences. We’re willing to watch 19 ( soon 20) films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we’ve got DC and their endless versions of Batman, an evolving Star Wars franchise, Star Trek reboots, and sequels to things we never asked for, like Hot Tub Time Machine 2. It’s clear we crave sequels  — and it is Big Business.

But do animated movies deserve the same treatment? Usually animated followup films are the “straight to video” type, like The Little Mermaid 2. Those are usually for the young children who are happy to watch more of what they loved the first time.

What animated movies get the sophisticated full cinematic treatment? More than you’d think. We’ve got sequels to Toy Story, Cars, Monsters Inc, Despicable Me, Finding Nemo…all enjoying moderate success at the box office. Pixar has a great formula: they know how to engage adults with sly references, appeals to nostalgia, and jokes that go over kids’s heads. We don’t even have to bring a kid along to make it socially acceptable to see these “cartoons” — no excuse is needed.

We’ll see how Incredibles 2 does its job of luring grownups to the box office. The trailers look fun, although the “Mr. Mom” routine is quite dated by now. I hope they don’t milk that angle too much. It’s not a big deal these days for men to do the child-rearing.

I look forward to seeing what exactly Jack Jack’s powers are about. And I hope they continue the theme of the original film, where the supers are living under massive repression. It would be fantastic to take up the banner of freedom for supers, which, after all, is even something we’ve seen in live action superhero flicks like X-Men 1&2, and Captain America: Civil War.

So it seems that animated sequels are perfectly acceptable, and people are willing to pack the theaters to see them. I know I loved a return to the undersea world in Finding Dory, and folks can’t seem to get enough of Toy Story ( I refuse to watch Toy Story 3 out of self-preservation — I don’t want to watch a movie I know will make me cry). The Minions are reliable for a good time, and the Monsters, Inc prequel was a fun romp. I don’t think I know of any other animated prequels, so that might be a unique category.

We’ll see how my predictions pan out.

Do you watch animated movies? What are your favorites? Comments are below.

Movie Rewatch – The First Incredibles

This movie is really good! I hate using such an imprecise term, but I’m sitting here shocked at how good this animated superhero film is.

I’d seen Incredibles when it came out in 2004, and certainly liked it, but now, in 2018, I have a different mindset. Back then I had no idea how…well, GOOD superhero movies were going to get. Remember, 2004 was still a few years away from Iron Man and the start of the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe, which really defined and perfected the superhero experience. I think back then, all we had were some Spiderman movies of various quality, some Batman movies that really didn’t age well, and early X-Men. And Fantastic Four. Which is a perfect segue to my next point.

It’s clear that the Incredibles are a remake/rebooted version of the Fantastic Four, which is interesting: Fantastic Four tried twice to make their series work, and both bombed terribly. I mean, they were simply awful. So who would think that tweaking it into an animated film would be  a good bet?

Well, the answer is Pixar, now owned by Disney. Using the magic Pixar formula —  irreverent humor,  outstanding animation work, attention to character traits, well-known and respected actors for voices, and a real plot with actual jeopardy — Incredibles really showed it could be done. 

Incredibles is good enough to be a Marvel movie, quite frankly. It may as well be one, maybe in an alternate universe. You forget you’re watching cartoons about ten minutes into the film, which starts quite charmingly with an “old news reel” and a flashback to Mr. Incredible and ElastiGirl in their heyday.

The movie picks up at a place that would not seem too far from the X-Men Universe: all the supers have been relocated and retired by public demand, due to traumatic collateral damage done in the name of “helping mankind.” The Incredibles family has to hide their powers and try to live normal lives in suburbia. Mr. Incredible works in a dead end insurance job, and ElastiGirl is a stay at home mom. Their kids have to hide their superhero status as well, which chafes them to no end. How can you try to “be your best” when your best can never be tested? How can Mr. Incredible be “normal” when he breaks everything he touches, and has to be constantly vigilant against his own strength? We see him mourning for the good old days, and listens to police scanners at night with best friend FloZone (voiced by Samuel Jackson, clearly enjoying himself), sneaking out to do clandestine hero work.

These are mature themes, and shows why adults flocked to see Incredibles, and will flock again, in 2018, to see Incredibles 2.

I didn’t notice at the time, but in this rewatch, knowing there’s going to be a sequel out soon, I saw how clearly the film demanded a follow-up. When you watch it again, take note of how nothing has actually changed for this family. Well, except for Jack Jack, but we wont go into that here. Basically: at the end of their adventure, the family goes home and back to their “Witness Protection” style life. The supers are still not welcomed by the public, the government, or the world. It’s back to suburban hell. We don’t see that in the movie, because they ended the film on the high note of putting their masks on (which is more symbolic than useful, but just go with it). Their family unit maybe stronger than ever, but now the fun’s over and it’s time to put the leash back on.

So it does demand another film. How has the Incredible family unit been managing, back at mind numbing jobs and public school?  From the trailers it looks like (SPOILER ALERT)….scroll down or not…

 

 

 

Okay, from the trailers it looks like ElastiGirl is back on the job and in the public eye. Mr. Incredible has to be Mr. Mom. So maybe the supers are accepted again? Or is using ElastiGirl a way to slowly ease the public about reintroducing supers? I’ll go with the latter.

Anyway, the sequel looks pretty good, and I know it will pack the theaters, as we’re just not saturated with superhero movies. It’s pretty much a Golden Age for hero movies and we keep lapping them up and asking for more. I’m fine with that.

Incredibles is a fine film, with a lot of heart and humor, charming characterizations, surprisingly good chemistry in a voice-over medium — it’s just enjoyable on every level. The Big Bad is a bit annoying, but creating a great villain is a sticky point for almost every superhero film. You can just ignore whathisname, and get back to marveling at the amazing visuals and snappy banter/bickering.

I recommend seeing Incredibles again, before catching Incredibles 2, just to get back up to speed with these great characters and their family dynamics.

Movie Grade: A

Here’s a link to the blu-ray of the original Incredibles movie, and the logo tee shirt. I’ve seen entire families wearing this shirt, and not just for a family Halloween theme…places like Disneyland, so it’s easy to find each other, or on any family outing to show they are a family unit. It’s fun. 

Jurassic Park Movie Rewatch at Bronto Brew Meadery

If you’re in San Diego and you can’t wait for Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom to come out (whoo hoo — next week!), then get your dino fix on at The Bronto Brew  Meadery for four free nights of sauropod fun.

All four previous Jurassic movies will be presented in the meadery on their large screen, and you can buy mead beverages as you sit by a nest of Brontosaurus eggs, or under the skeletons of a T-Rex family.

The meadery has an appealing dinosaur setting, encourages gaming and the gathering of geeks, and serves unique mead beverages. Mead is a honey wine, and they hand brew it on the premises, in both small and large batches (from 7 to 150 gallons).

It’s all mead, all the time — but each one tastes different. Some are sweet and some are dry, some are hoppy and others fruity.  They experiment with new mead flavors regularly. Their current tap list includes great dinosaur-themed names like Cretaceous Bloom, Hoposaurus, Velociberry, Citrodon, and Pure Bronto. You can also order a “Pterodactyl Flight” of 4 tastes.

I’ll be taking a behind the scenes tour tomorrow and get a lot of details for a proper review, with lots of pictures of their dino decor to help celebrate Dinosaur Month at RunPee.com. I’ve been there before — anything with dinosaurs interests me — but never for a review tour. So this should be fun.

Here’s the details of Bronto Brew Meadery’s Jurassic Park movie showings:

 


Hours of Operation

Friday: 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Saturday: 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Bronto Mead
9235 Trade Place, D, San Diego, CA 92126
(619) 796 – 3096
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 More, on RunPee.com:

How Star Wars Should Have Ended (the entire series)

Here it is, in one place. Every Star Wars video made by HISHE (How It Should Have Ended), up through Star Wars: The Last Jedi, or maybe Solo, if it’s up yet. If you haven’t discovered this web series, you’re in for a treat. Keep in mind that their solutions would offer vastly shortened movies, with plot points that seem obvious in retrospect (ie – having the giant eagles drop the One Ring into Mount Doom, instead of having the Fellowship truck all over Middle Earth and, in some cases, die along the way)…But here they all are, in an in-universe chronological order (and not including the animated movie/show, or the dreaded Holiday Special).

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars: Solo

Hey, this one’s not yet been made! So, like any good Star Wars fan, you’re going to have to wait. You still have a good half hour of HISHE videos here to enjoy.

Star Wars: Rogue One

Star Wars: A New Hope (Special Edition)

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Movie Review – Hotel Artemis

This is one stylish mess. It’s got the noir notes, the off-kilter sensibilities, and a big muddled stew of a plot. Let me mull on this review a bit.

Movie Grade: C+

Alrighty. After due thought, I still think Hotel Artemis is trying for something it just didn’t reach. But I’ve got a sense it might grow into a minor cult favorite with time. The acting is very good (Jodie Foster never disappoints), the idea of a secret hospital for criminals in the near-future is intriguing, and the water riot is a great framing element.  There’s a noir-ish Blade Runner sensibility to the endeavor. I liked seeing Dave Bautista in a new role, and he really did a bang up job, proving that his fun work in Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t a fluke. Jeff Goldblum plays the persona he’s marketed for himself with flair, but I wish he’d had more screentime.

Where this movie falls apart is in the sloppy narrative (there’s just not much story being told), and the relative lack of action in something being touted as as action film. Misleading trailers is a particular pet peeve with us at RunPee. (Rather than marketing something in a certain way just to get butts in the seats, wouldn’t it be nice to have the studios do service to their films by preparing audiences…ah, forget it. That’s probably never going to happen.)

Fine acting aside, the flashback scenes with Foster are unexpectedly weak. We saw the same sequence several times and didn’t get much payoff. Actually, most of the subplots didn’t work at all.  I’m not sure backstory is necessary to this kind of experimental film. It’s the concept that’s most interesting, encapsulated in Foster’s great line that it’s “Just another Wednesday” at the Hotel Artemis…where every night is a slice of life (and death) from the criminal underbelly of the City of Angels.

I think if people go into this with a sort of artsy mindset, the good things will be enough to carry the audience along.

One last note. Scriptwise, this would make a great play. It seems practically made for the theater, with one major set location, the small-scale jeopardy, and a very confined cast of characters who do a lot of talking (and not much else).

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New Movie Grade: B- (Taking away the expectation of an action/adventure flick definitely raises what’s compelling about about the concept of this kind of movie experience.)

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Runpee Meta: This movie moves along quickly and is somewhat confusing, making finding Peetimes a challenge. I’ve given you a long one and a short one. Both are before the mayhem to follow, so you won’t miss any action scenes when you step out. 

Movie Re-Watch – Sky High

I honestly forgot just how cute, and how much fun this 2005 film is. And I had the movie conflated in my head with Mean Girls, thinking Tina Fey was the gym teacher. Well, she’s not — instead, we have the equally awesome Bruce Campbell as the gym teacher. And in case you forgot, Sky High itself is a floating castle of a high school, specifically for young Superheroes-in-training. And also, sadly, a school for Sidekicks (AKA, “hero support”).

On your first day of school you get slotted as a Hero or Sidekick. And the teens we follow are those whose powers are so bizarre (melting into a puddle of slime) or minor (shape shifting into a guinea pig) that they are siloed as Sidekicks. And the main character – the son of the Earth’s most powerful superheroes – has no powers at all.

Sounds fun? It really is. The “evil plot” is a forgettable MacGuffin, so you can feel free to ignore everything to do with it, and get on with the good times one can imagine if an 80’s John Hughes film was steeped in a tea of Marvel goodness. There’s the smart-ass tormentors of the Sidekicks, the pretty mean girls, the snide cafeteria hijinks, the bad boy with a heart of gold, childhood crushes, school tournaments (Save The Citizen!), and kids who really just wants to fit in. Even if fitting in means he simply glows if he tries really hard — and only if it’s really dark enough.

Things to notice: the soundtrack that takes you way back. Funky posters on the walls, silly jokes and throwaway lines in background scenes, sly school loudspeaker announcements that you barely notice, a self-referential picture on a  pinball machine…it’s all there for the joy of it. Also, you’ve got Principal Linda Carter giving kids detention, shaking her head at the children and saying she’s not Wonder Woman, ya know.

Does the powerless kid get his powers? What do you think? Does the gawky girl get the boy? C’mon. From Steve Stronghold (Kurt Russel at his overbearing man-child best) as The Commander, to Ron Wilson, Bus Driver (who I want to give a hug for making lemonade out of lemons), this is a whole heap of fun and a good message. Sky High is a keeper for the download list, a nice background movie ranking next to The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller, and…yeah, Mean Girls.

Movie Grade: A-