Movie Review – Creed

It must be true that practice makes perfect, because Sylvester Stallone gave a remarkable performance as the aged Rocky. Just because an actor might have started out a little rough around the edges, or because they are typecast into a narrow range of roles, doesn’t mean that they can’t act. Given the right material, Stallone can do it as well as the best.

Michael Jordan (No not that one, the other one) was very good as Adonis Creed.

The fight scene choreography was well done, but didn’t equal that of other similar films.

The only things I didn’t like about the movie were were the romance and the training montages. I felt like the writers were determined to force a romantic subplot into the movie just to give it a little more symmetry with the first Rocky movie, and the training montages were just sort of bland. Of course I’m jaded, because the training montages in the early Rocky movies are legendary, but still.

By the way, pay attention to the throwaway line Rocky says at the end as they climb the steps, and remember that the name of the theme song in the first Rocky movie is “Gonna Fly Now.”

Movie Grade: B+

Movie Review – The Martian

Movie Review - The MartianMatt Damon is at the top of his game. It’s an enormous challenge to ask an actor to spend so much of the movie acting in a vacuum (no pun intended), with few opportunities to interact with other characters. Matt’s charm and charisma make every scene he’s in shine.

Some critics commented that this movie is “One big promotional campaign for NASA.” (Like that’s a bad thing.) You won’t just be entertained; you’ll be educated. And by all means, take your adolescent kids to see it. They’ll certainly learn something, and hopefully be inspired to come home and do more research on the various topics covered in the movie.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: My focus was to have Peetimes with as few scenes as possible with Watney (Matt Damon) in them. The scenes that Watney are in are mostly montages, with little or no dialog. #1 A good Peetime. There’s an important story development, but it mostly involves long stretches of Watney driving and digging. #2 You should leave as soon as the above line is spoken. Nothing else important is said during their conversation. A new character is introduced right at the end of this Peetime. #3 A good Peetime with little dialogue to miss. This is mostly a process scene that leads into an increase in tension. #4 There’s no dialog during this Peetime, but it’s also only 3 minutes long, and important action happens shortly afterward.

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

Buy the movie from Amazon.com on DVD or Blu Ray

Jurassic World Movie References

jurrasic-worldNow that everyone has seen Jurassic World… You did see it, right? (It broke box office records so I’ll assume you did.) Let’s talk about the incredible number of movie references – some intentional, some perhaps not – in this movie.

Note: minor spoilers to follow.

Obviously the references to the original Jurassic Park were plentiful. Most are too obvious to point out, but a few worth mentioning:

  • A brief glimpse of a message – I can’t remember precisely what it said – on the rear-mounted video feed on the ball-pod that the brothers rode in was a reference to the view of the T-Rex in the side mirror with the message, “Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear.”
  • Claire using the flair to attract the T-Rex. Yes it’s obvious but worth mentioning.
  • A signpost pointing the way to the research center as a nod to the sign post that gets knocked down by Nedry when he’s trying to get away with the stolen eggs.

It would have been pure awesomeness if there were a scene with a half buried can of shaving cream in the ground. Who knows, maybe there was and someone will find it when the movie comes out of DVD.

As many references as there were to the original Jurassic Park there may have been more to random movies.

  • During the safety video by Jimmy Fallon he says, “For added protection each vehicle is surrounded by aluminum oxynitride glass, so tough it can stop a 50-caliber bullet.” Aluminum oxynitride is a real substance but such a specific mention in the movie must be a reference to Star Trek IV: The one with the Whales.
  • Remember the lab scene in Aliens where we see the face-huggers in those glass cylinders? The scene near the end of JW where Claire, Owen, and the brothers enter the research lab at the end of the movie is very similar with those vertebral columns in the glass cylinders and then they look at the reptiles under in the terrariums.
  • The scene where Claire’s assistant gets munched on by the birds, and then eaten by the Mosasauraus, is reminiscent of Jaws – I would wager this is just coincidental, but who knows since Spielberg directed Jurassic Park and Jaws.
  • The scene of the raptors chasing the vehicle driven by Claire near the end of the movie is quite similar to the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when the nazis on motorcycles are chasing after the truck driven by Indy. Claire even sideswipes one of the raptors sending it crashing off the side of the road, just like Indy did to a motorcycle.

Did you notice any movie references that I missed?

Movie Review – LUCY

lucy“Lucy” is like two movies mashed together: one is enjoyable and explores interesting questions; the other is lame and hyper-violent. Rating this movie is a question of how to balance these two.

Where this movie really fails is in it’s brevity. Not including the credits it’s only an hour and twenty-two minutes long. That’s far too short a time to do any substantial character and plot development. At least one of them will have to be sacrificed. In this case, it’s the characters who get the short shrift.

The movie begins just minutes before Lucy goes through her transformation. It would have been nice to have just a brief scene with her in her normal habitat – who she is, what she’s doing, what her dreams are. But we only get the tiniest of glimpses into that portion of her character.

I may be slightly biased – and that’s an understatement – but I thought Scarlett Johansson did a wonderful job of evolving her character as she went through the transformation. One thing she does particularly well is act without speaking. She can say a great deal through facial expressions and body posture without overdoing it. For instance, some actors have their “surprised face” but they overdo it. Scarlett is great at expressing both surface and subsurface expressions simultaneously: being surprised, and yet trying to comprehend what she’s surprised about.

Morgan Freeman was his usual awesome self. The gravitas he brings to his role was essential for this movie, since there was zero character development for him to work with. We’ve seen Freeman playing the authoritative role often enough that we can easily form an amalgamation of his previous characters in our minds, to help define his character in this movie. That’s poor story telling, but at least Freeman can pull it off.

In the end I wish I could give the screen writers and director a D and the actors an A. I guess I’ll average them out and give it a C+, or a B- because Scarlett is my favorite actress.

Movie Grade: B-

Movie Review – 22 Jump Street

Movie Review - 22 Jump StreetI found a lot to love and a lot to dislike about this sequel.

What’s to love? Well, it’s still really funny. There are some laugh out loud moments and then there are some throw your head back and cackle moments. Who doesn’t love that?

On the flip side, there were some awkward moments that were cringe-worthy. In the first film, the synergy between the two main characters is what made it great. I loved seeing these two completely different characters come together and make a great team. Unfortunately, the writers abandoned that in the sequel. Schmidt (Jonah Hill) comes across as needy and slightly emasculated.

I’m not a screen writer, but it seems pretty basic to me that when you have two actors who are such good friends off screen, and whose characters played so well together in the first film, then maybe you should build on that, instead of tear it apart.

Fortunately, the off screen chemistry between Channing and Jonah went a long way toward covering up the poor writing choices. But it still fell short of my expectations.

Based on the extras during the credits, we are going to be seeing a lot more of the Jump Street franchise. I know they played up the stupid side just to make us laugh at the end, but I tell you what, if they do make any more of them….some changes need to be made!

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: There were so many funny scenes it was hard finding good Peetimes. Because of that I would recommend the first one. #1 doesn’t have anything that very funny. #2 contains a funny exchange between the roommate and Schmidt.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of 22 Jump Street. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence
Genres: Action, Comedy, Crime

Buy the movie from Amazon.com on DVD or Blu Ray

Virgin Movie Review – 21 Jump Street

Virgin Review – 22 Jump Street (and that truly incredible end credits scene)

Movie Review – Edge of Tomorrow (Live. Die. Repeat.)

edge-of-tomorrow

I love Groundhog Day stories and I’ve been looking forward to this movie since the first time I saw the previews. I was *hoping* it would rank as one of the classic Sci-Fi movies. However, I expected it would just be a good movie that might be worth rewatching again a year from now.

I didn’t get what I hoped for, but at least I got what I expected. It was exciting, intelligent, and had a romance that never felt forced.

I’m really impressed with the writers. Most notably Christopher McQuarrie who wrote *The Usual Suspects*. Sci-Fi is littered with stories that either make things up as they go along, or rely on overly complex rules that are hard to follow. [pullquote]*Edge of Tomorrow* hits the sweet spot. The “rules” were clearly expressed, without heavy handed exposition, and they stuck to them.[/pullquote] We respect that, especially in science fiction genre fiction.

The action and special effects were well done and fit into the story nicely without over doing it. The beach scenes were especially well done, capturing the confusion and chaos of the battle.

If there’s one place I think the movie could be improved, it would be with the relationship development between the main characters. I know what they were aiming for, but think they needed another 10-15 minutes of movie to really flesh out some of the nuances, instead of relying on a short montage.

[pullquote position=”right”]There were plenty of humorous scenes to keep it lively and entertaining. Another thumbs up to the writers, and especially Tom Cruise for his comedic timing.[/pullquote] Tom is so incredibly versatile that we don’t know why we’re even surprised anymore.

Also, seriously: Emily Blunt is the find of the century.

Grade: B+ (Upgraded from our original B grade. This is just a good film for rewatching.)

Edge of Tomorrow – Lyrics and Video to Love Me Again – A Kickin’ Action GroundHog Day Themed Movie

18 Groundhog Day Type Movies – the Ultimate Repeating Day List

A Quiet Place – Jilly’s Movie Review (with SPOILERS)

Movie Review – The LEGO Movie

LegoMovieDo you like Legos? Did you have any idea a movie about LEGOS would be so much fun?

The Lego Movie was cute, charming and funny. There’s a great cast of voices, and lots of action.

Kids will enjoy this movie, and the parents, especially dads, will be eager to get home and head for the kids room to pull out the Legos and start building things again. I give this movie a solid B.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: There are two good Peetimes, but be aware this movie cruises along at a pretty good clip, with lots to see in every frame. Use the times I gave you.

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

Rated (PG) for rude humor and some action
Genres: Action, Animation, Comedy, Superhero


Movie Review – The LEGO Batman Movie

Everything is Awesome – Video and Lyrics to The Lego Movie Theme Song

Movie Review – Gravity

Movie Review - GravityI enjoyed Gravity, but didn’t love it. I’m not going to grade the movie on its scientific accuracy because if I did, it would get a D, at best. Instead I’ll only consider the story aspects.

My biggest beef with Gravity is the character development. The movie is only 90 minutes long, which doesn’t leave enough time for both action scenes and character development. The struggles and challenges that Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) goes through leads to the character breaking down. But we don’t know anything about her inner turmoil until after the fact. I think if they had made the movie another 30 minutes longer, and included something of Ryan’s past, then the audience could have felt the emotional experience as well.

Basically, the movie was in 3D but the emotional content was in 1D.

That said, the 3D excitement was riveting, and certainly worth seeing.

As I mentioned, there are a lot of scientific inaccuracies. Instead of reviewing that myself, I’ll just give you a link to a good overview of some of the things they got wrong in the movie. Most of these can be forgiven, because the story needed to assume certain things in order for it to work.

Note: the article below is full of spoilers.

http://science.time.com/2013/10/01/what-gravity-gets-right-and-wrong-about-space/

RunPee Wife was less than impressed with the movie. Jilly’s review would read something like this: Sandra Bullock breathes heavy; there are lots of electronic buzzing and dinging noises. Things blow up in space. Nothing else happens. The end.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: There’s not a lot of downtime in this movie. RunPee Wife agrees that the Peetime I found is about as good as it’s going to get...

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Gravity. (What we mean by Anything Extra)

Buy the movie from Amazon.com on DVD or Blu Ray

Movie Review – Turbo – Faster & Funnier Than a Snail’s Pace

Movie Review - TurboTurbo was a charming little movie about dreams and perseverance.

There was lots of laughter from the children in the audience, and more than a few chuckles from the parents. The characters were cute and interesting.

Samuel Jackson, as the voice of Whiplash, and Paul Giamatti, as the brother Chet, were outstanding.

The plot was easy to follow, and there were a few tense moments near the end to keep the kiddies on the edge of their seats.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: The first Peetime is best. It’s one long, continuous scene that is very easy to sum up.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Turbo. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for some mild action and thematic elements
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Buy the movie from Amazon.com on DVD or Blu Ray

Movie Review – Jack Reacher

Jack ReacherGrade: B

First off let me say that I have not read any of the *Jack Reacher* books so I can’t say how well they did or didn’t translate the character into the movie.

There was very little about the movie not to like. There was only one scene – that I don’t want to spoil – that made me think, “That was an unrealistic Hollywood scene.” Other than that I thought it was very believable.

There were a number of times that the audience laughed. Nothing hysterical, but lines that definitely got some good solid chuckles.

One of the things that impressed me was how well the story of the investigation flowed from one clue to the next. All too often detective/mystery stories get lazy at one point or another, and have these scenes where the logic goes from A -> C, without explaining what B was to the audience. I was also happy there was never a scene where Jack Reacher came to some conclusion that appeared to be too big a leap – like Sherlock Holmes does. That works well for Sherlock, because that’s what those stories are about. But Reacher is just a good detective that pays attention. I never saw him reach conclusions that didn’t seem realistic.

The other impressive aspect of the movie was the dialog. It felt real. There were a few times Reacher tried to explain something and just didn’t do a good job of it, and then had to try and explain it another way. That’s real conversation. It felt like real people talking, most of the time, instead of actors reading a script.

I expect some people will complain that the villain was too cardboard. But I’m going to let that slide. The movie isn’t about the villain. We have one scene that gives us all we need to know about the character. But then, who really cares? The movie is about Reacher. The story rightfully kept the focus on him.

All in all, it was solid entertainment. I’m looking forward to more of the same if this movie becomes a series.