Movie Review – Aquaman

Movie Review - AquamanWhat does DC have to do to shake off the feeling that it’s the poor man’s Marvel?

For starters: make better movies.

I’m not saying Aquaman is bad. Far from it. It’s a decent movie despite being as predictable as it is visually appealing. But it’s no better than the first Thor movie. Which would be fine if Aquaman came out a decade ago. Unfortunately, Marvel beat them to the punch. DC is trying to find their feet while Marvel is breaking Olympic records.

Here’s my best guess why Aquaman doesn’t soar: it just doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s an origin story for sure, but not much of one. For such a long movie, the origin of Aquaman only comes up in a few brief flashbacks and only one of them — when he’s a young boy — really works.

There’s a little romance, which is fine, but the timing of the scenes are completely wrong.

Then there’s a few scenes that feel like they were stolen from a National Treasure sequel.

The worst part of all of this is the inclusion of Black Manta. I don’t know why the writers felt compelled to throw this character into the story, because it only drags the plot beneath the waves.

All of this happens in the middle third of the movie, robbing the plot of any real dramatic weight when it needs it the most.

It looks like the creative decision makers behind the DC movies heard the criticism about their previous movies being too dark, and decided to “lighten things up a bit.” All I can say is it’s just not that easy. The audience needs a feeling of impending doom so the story grabs them, but there’s also a time and place for the distractions that make a story memorable.

That’s why DC movies are like a mixed salad of moments while Marvel serves a complex meal, where each serving is meant to compliment the others.

Grade: C

About The Peetimes: We have 4 good Peetimes. We recommend the 2nd and 3rd over the others. The 2nd Peetime is a chase scene — pretty — but nothing you haven’t seen in previous scenes. The 3rd is mostly a music montage, followed by a transitional plot that’s easy to summarize.

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

Virgin Movie Review – Magic Stocking (half of it, maybe)

I didn’t realize this was one of those Hallmark Specials until I already had my workout pad and weights all spread on the floor and got comfy. (Yes, a little fitness routine during my evening shows is comfort food for me.)

But when “HallMark’s Magic Stocking” came onscreen, I gave my mother the stink eye. What was this? It’s not a real movie. Normally she DVRs a nice film for us, so I thought to myself, “Give it a try.”

I even took some notes:

  • There was a sad but attractive widow facing her first Christmas alone
  • There’s a handsome single guy building a Christmas Gazebo in the town square (a monument to his grandfather)
  • There was a cute kid
  • It had a quirky grandmother
  • Puppies were involved

It didn’t take long to notice the awkward acting, but my mother said, “These are light holiday shows, with nice people. The actors are probably trying to break into Hollywood.”

It was really goofy. Dorky, even. The titular stocking decided to gift the little girl with the puppy she so desperately desired, and produced a silver locket to the lead character (the widow), for unknown reasons.

Then the grandmother pranked her grieving daughter into going on a date with the handsome single younger man, while avoiding the affections of the nice older single man pursuing her. But, then — the narrative thickens —  to convince the older man to prank the sad widow, she had to go on a “real date” with said older guy who made the awful mistake of buying her every bouquet in the local flower shop. The horrors!

Yeah, are you bored yet too?

I sat there through other people’s sweetly awkward dates and wondered when the stocking was going to perform magic again. I’d say I made it though an hour of this monument to mediocrity before packing up my equipment and heading to bed.

I’m sure the little girl gets her puppy, the widow finds love again, and the quirky grandmother has a steamy night to remember. But I didn’t care enough to find out because THIS ISN’T A PLOT.

I’m not even going to look for a photo to attach to this post, because: boring. If you like these little Christmas “movies”, that’s very nice for you, and I’m sorry to be a Grinch on your parade. It’s now the morning after and it’s raining like the Dickens (excuse the holiday pun), while my mother is curled up under a fuzzy blanket watching another Hallmark Christmas Special. I asked her the title but already forgot it.

She’s LOVING this stuff. You might too. I know she’s lined up at least a dozen more syrupy Hallmark Christmas Specials I won’t be watching. My favorite Christmas films fall onto the Lethal Weapon/Die Hard end of the spectrum.  And Home Alone, even, and Love, Actually. So I’m not completely unsentimental.

I think.

Movie Grade: C-

 

Why Fantastic Beasts 2 is not so Fantastic

poster for Fantastic Beasts the Crimes of Grindelwald
Who are all of these PEOPLE?

I feel like a guilty Gryffindor, A Harry Potter heel, and a bad geek, because I have such confused thoughts about Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald. I’m supposed to love it: I’m a crazy fan for everything Harry Potter. I even came around on the first Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them — which I had mixed feelings about originally . So, surely it will be the same for me on Crimes of Grindelwald, right? Right??

Truth be told, while my immediate review/reaction was less than stellar, I liked it a WHOLE lot more on my 2nd and 3rd viewings. I considered changing my review, and even bumped it up a few grades. But I still couldn’t shake the feeling there was a lot inherently wrong with CoG. It reminded me, unfortunately, of my experience viewing  Star Wars: The Last Jedi, another very pretty but deeply flawed movie. Yikes.

So I sat on it and let things digest in my brain, avoiding other people’s reviews. Until last night. That’s when I took to You Tube to see if my perspective was just dead wrong. WARNING: SPOILERS FOLLOW for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Turns out: no. I mean, I’m right. The other Potterheads are just as confused and butt-hurt too. Attached are some of the best video breakdowns of why CoG failed, based on impossible inconsistencies within JK Rowling’s OWN canon, in small part — and in just weird cinematic storytelling, in large part.

large cast in fantastic beasts 2
This isn’t even everyone.

To wit: who ARE all these characters? Why should we care about the endless in-depth backstories and reveals of folks we’ve never met, some of which die right there in the same film? In Avengers: Infinity War, by comparison, it took 18 films to earn their immense casting roundup. In-Universe, The climactic Battle of Hogwarts was full of characters we knew and loved — absolutely LOVED, and died, and #YesDamnYouJK for breaking my heart there.

It doesn’t help that CoG undid the main emotional beats of the previous film in the second (also recalling The Last Jedi. #WTG).

As for the eponymous Grindelwald, we don’t get to see a lot of actual crimes. He orders the killing of one family (and their toddler child, which, yes, bad)…and, um, boots his faithful lizard to its death out the prison carriage for the ‘crime’ of being affectionate…and, hmm. Escapes from  prison, sort of, though it seems he maybe wasn’t in it…? The whole breakout scene was unclear. He bothers to save the life of one of his jailers, which I found a nice enough gesture.  He also holds a rally protesting the Holocaust. This is the most evil wizard of his generation, the Big Bad before Voldemort?

man with the eye parasite in Crimes of Grindelwald
“Tentacles”: I don’t remember his deal, either.

While Johnny Depp was never my first choice to play Grindelwald, he wasn’t awful in the part. I think the main flaws in CoG, which are legion, is that half the film was devoted to useless flashbacks and — let’s face it — underwhelming and/or incredibly contrived reveals. Who is Corvus?  (I’ll do you one better: WHY is Corvus?) What is the incredibly tangled Lestrange family tree about and why should we care? Who is Tentacle Guy  — do you remember he was in this film and what his purpose was?

Then there’s this: Credence is a Dumbledore? How does this in any way make sense? It’s like everyone is a Skywalker, all over again.

Even Queenie and Jacob, so reliable in the first Fantastic Beasts, were poorly used here. I see what Rowling was after with Queenie’s arc, but the logic doesn’t stick. You’ll see what I mean in the videos.

Where the film DID shine was three-fold: I continue to love and admire Newt, the fantastic beasts themselves were still a joyous addition to the lore, and Jude Law’s Dumbledore was note-perfect. And I love being among wizards again, especially at Hogwarts, albeit briefly. (Also, Tina’s eyes are like a salamander’s, which is a little bit true, and very cute, and if you think about Newt Scamander’s whole name, it’s essentially “Salamander Salamander”, so Awwwww.)

a cute salamander
How Newt Sees Tina

With no further opinionated grumblings from me, here are the best five reviewer videos breaking down and backing up my fretful thoughts on Fantastic Beasts 2:  (PS: start with the excellent SuperCarlin Brothers, and work your way down. All these videos will take a while to view, and I put them in order of insightfulness in my ranking scale. Your mileage may vary.)

What did you think of this second-of-five installment of Fantastic Beasts? We’ve got a comments section below: please use it.

Lastly, if you’re still reading, here are our RunPee reviews on the two films thus far:

Movie Review – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts 2 Review from a Harry Potter Novice

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

 

Why The Last Jedi Sucked

star wars the last jedi
Stop screwing around. I want my Star Wars back.

Did you like Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Are you still on the fence? I don’t think anyone would say it doesn’t look pretty. It looks expensive, and on the surface seems like it belongs in the Star Wars galaxy (the one that is long ago and far away).

It’s got a few great set-pieces (Porg Island, Salt Planet, Rey and Ren tag-teaming it).

And it has a whole lot of sound and fury, signifying a whole lot of nothing. (Rey is who? Snoke is who? Why do we spend so much time on the casino planet? Admiral Holdo and hotshot pilot Poe: Mutiny? What? Why? …And, of course, we have the Deconstruction of Luke Skywalker — [shakes head, sadly].)

Here’s a detailed analysis of why The Last Jedi failed. (“You have failed me for the last time, Admiral.”) Take a look and tell me what you think:

An interesting video. However, I still love The Force Awakens, and think The Last Jedi is better than any of the prequels.

(Man, those prequels suck.)

But yeah, you could fly a Corellian Cruiser through the plot holes of TLJ. I blame Rian Johnson. JJ Abrams handed him a good set-up, but Rian blew it, on so so soooo many levels. I can only “hope” (get it, haha?) that the last movie will course correct these failures. Do it, JJ. Give us what we want.

Let’s wrap up this Skywalker Saga. I’ll be waiting right here.

Can Dune be done? Should Dune be done? Bringing Long Books to the Screen

herbert sandworm dune
If you walk without rhythm, you won’t attract the worm.

Until the last generation, when Peter Jackson proved The Lord of the Rings could not only be made into a successful film — but be so off-the-charts good that it took home 11 Oscar Awards — it was unheard of to succeed at translating most of the great sci-fi and fantasy epics of literature to the big screen.

That’s not for lack of trying. Larry McMurtry’s  Lonesome Dove book-to-film effort was a grand feat, but it’s the mini-series scale that made it work. The book is too big and involved to be made into one cinema-length film. Nowadays it would be at least a film trilogy, but I don’t think it needs a reboot — the 1989 miniseries is already a flawless snapshot of the last gasps of the Western Expansion. So they could make a new movie with these characters, yes, but I’d say it’s time to move on and  tackle other works of genre literature. (Also, who’s going to try improve on Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duval?)

Watership Down is another epic tale in a brick-sized book, but it’s a hard sell, being entirely from the point of view of rabbits. And it’s absolutely not for children: the themes are mature and often mesmerizingly frightening. (The rabbits even have their own word for being stuck in a “mesmerizingly frightened” state — called Tharn –). The 1978 animated feature has its fans, but most people who’ve loved the book pretend the “movie” doesn’t exist. (Seriously, it’s like a long scary drug trip.) Hazel’s troop of rabbits could now be done with puppets, animatronics, or CGI — instead of animation —  but the question here is “Why?” [pullquote]We’ve seen entire CGI movies like Avatar, and they can be lush and sweeping films, but it still remains that Watership Down must be seen at rabbit-height and from rabbit-eyes. [/pullquote]It would take a very special studio or director to take that on. This is probably why nobody is chasing this particular story at the moment.

Here’s a full length video of Watership Down, if you’re curious:

In  the Post-LOTR and Harry Potter world,  the densest, longest, and most involving books can come alive on film…with inspired directing, gobs of studio money (and little studio interference), the right acting ensemble, and legions of dedicated crew members. Not to mention a crack PR team dropping hints and teaser trailers to excite the fans. (See: anything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

The key to adapting epic novels to the big screen, it seems, is respecting the source story. Behind the sets, Sir Ian McKellen (as Gandalf) would pace around Peter Jackson with this LOTR novels, saying, essentially, “Peter!That’s not how Tolkien wrote it!” This is probably one of the many interconnected reasons why Lord of the Rings, previously considered unfilmable, worked so well.

[pullquote position=”right”]It’s not that a script can’t deviate from a source, but the result should clearly be recognizable from it. Book fans will be waiting for certain beats, beloved details, fantastic settings worthy of a grand story, and most of all: a faithfulness of essence to its literary origins.[/pullquote]

There’s a line between slavishly book-faithful recreations (as in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), and movies that recalls its novel by name only (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, AKA Blade Runner, or Lynch’s Dune).

So, yes, finally. We get to Dune. It’s been tackled several times, although none were recent enough to benefit from the current seamless FX at our disposal. (Which doesn’t excuse anything at all. Look back on the practical effects of Star Wars: A New Hope, or Raiders of the Lost Ark, and tell me those films failed — they don’t.)

david lynch dune
Lynch’s Dune – looks good, tastes bad.

Lynch’s 1984 Dune remains a problem, and its not from poor effects. It’s mainly that Lynch took Herbert’s book, tore a few pages he liked from it, and threw away the rest. It’s only “Dune” because the characters have the same names, there are Fremen and there are Sandworms, and Arrakis, the desert planet, is still called Dune. Otherwise, it’s a sprawling, sometimes grotesque mess, bearing little likeness to the story they aim to tell. I admit they got to the story’s conclusion just fine, but the path to get there was completely unorthodox. I know Lynch’s Dune has its fans, so I’ll let it lie.

scy fy dune
SyFy gives Dune a try. Definitely more Herbert, but definitely still wrong.

When SyFy made Frank Herbert’s Dune (2000) into a television miniseries, you can see there were many attempts made to be faithful to the book…but Sy Fy also took liberties in the telling. The main arguments I’ve heard seem to coalesce around the casting, that the actors didn’t look like the part, or didn’t act like the part. I’d say in both versions they got Jessica right, and Chani, and Irulan, for that matter, but the men’s roles are hit or miss. I think they got a lot more right than wrong, and crafted a personable, sensible, enjoyable tale without a whisper of heart plugs.

In my grading system, I’d give Lynch’s Dune a D+. (While I thought it was overall atrocious, he got a few things right, and that’s where the + comes in.) I’d give SyFy’s Dune a nice fair B score. It crumples a little as time marches on, but at least it’s recognizably Dune. SyFy even went on to combine Dune Messiah and Children of Dune as a second mini-series, which was ambitious, welcome, and mostly effective.  That one gets a B as well; maybe a   B+ — I’d have to see it again.

jodorowksy dune
Jodorosky’s Dune. Third time’s a charm?

A lot of people mention Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013), which isn’t actually a movie. It’s more like an appetizer for a film, or a promise of Dune. You can watch the movie-length documentary for $3 on Amazon, or check out the free trailers on IMDb. However, if you watch the video, you can’t help but notice that it’s even stranger than Lynch’s version. There’s a lot of people who want to see this one picked up by the studios, but I’m not one of them. I want to see the story the way Herbert saw it in his mind’s eye.

The time is right to try Dune again, using a well-funded production studio, a director who is comfortable with an epic scale,  and detailed sets in grand desert locations. I want to see world-building. Toss in some smart humor, dynamic ensemble casting, and of course, magnificent sandworms: make me long to be a rider. [pullquote position=”left”]The movie should be a visual delight, engulfing the audience so much you’ll think you can smell the sietches, taste the spice, and feel the grit of sand, sand, sand.[/pullquote]

So, it’s exciting news that director Denis Villeneuve plans to try his hand at a multi-film Dune. He says he hopes to make Dune into the Star Wars movie he never saw. “Most of the main ideas of Star Wars are coming from Dune, so it’s going to be a challenge to [tackle] this,” Villeneuve said. “In a way, it’s Star Wars for adults. We’ll see.” (Read the Dune News page on IMDb.)

It ‘s a promising start. We’ll record the news for this Dune project as it comes along.

While you wait for the right version of Dune to thrill you, entertain yourself with Fatboy Slim’s song Weapon of Choice. The lyrics are definitely Dune-inspired, even if the setting isn’t. But watching Christopher Walken putzing  around an empty hotel is a whole lot of awesome by itself…

Which version of Dune is your favorite? Do you think it will be done right by Villeneuve?

Movie Review – The Front Runner

 

Movie Review - The Front RunnerI’m having a difficult time reviewing this movie. When I asked myself if I liked it, I had no answer. It bored me; it made me despise politicians even more, and now I think there is a lot of shadiness in journalism. Thanks, Hollywood. This movie is all about people doing whatever they want, whenever they want, and not worrying about the outcome until they get caught.

Then it turns into a blood bath to cover your own a$$.

I sensed that they were portraying Hart in a favorable manner, but I’ve got to say Hart deserved what he got. A man that was campaigning about morals and doing things the right way, and in the very next breath sleeps with some young girl, and no, she wasn’t the first — with no thought about his wife sitting at home — should NOT be our President.

I get the theme here. Does a politician’s personal life deserve to be in the public eye? Umm, yes. My husband and I sat outside the theater and debated about this question for an hour. We agreed to disagree.

I’m not going to keep ranting about the ethics of politicians here, but I will state it burned me up. I’m still on fire about it. That leads me to the question: why did they make this movie? What relevance does this have today? It was decades ago. A guy wanted to be President but then cheated on his wife and got caught. Boo-hoo. He gets mad about it? Really? What did he expect? Should the journalists just roll over and say, “It’s okay Gary — no one cares what you do. We’ll just go and report on something useful and pertinent to the American people.”

I would give this movie an F, but if I take out my absolute distaste for the events that led up to this and think about it in a cinematic point of view, I’m going to give it a B. Hugh Jackman did an amazing job making me hate Gary Hart. Vera Farmiga did another splendid job in playing that man’s wife. J.K. Simmons was also at his best; I enjoyed his role immensely.

I am not recommending this movie; it was a total waste of my time and gave me heartburn. A thought occurred to me as I fell asleep last night: my tax dollars, my hard earned money, pays their salaries. We the people are literally footing the bill to the shenanigans we call our government. Sure, there are a few good politicians, but as we will be reminded a few years after Hart that these men we call our Presidents definitely didn’t learn from his mistakes. I think I’ll sit back now, relax and smoke a cigar.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: Both Peetimes will work well for you.

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

Movie Review – Robin Hood

 

Movie Review - Robin HoodFirst off, I’m going to say this movie doesn’t deserve an involved review, but I’ll tackle it anyway. It’s bad. My theater was full last night, but when talking to others after the film ended, they weren’t impressed. It’s a disposable version of the old story, adding nothing to the tale. I’m scratching my head raw trying to ascertain who the target audience is, and why the powers that be bothered with yet another Robin Hood re-boot.

I’m giving this underwhelming flick a D+, since it’s sub-par in almost every way…except for the lush landscapes, the majestic castles seen from afar, and the detailed interior sets of the city of Nottingham. It’s got just enough pretty to engage the eye. Robin himself is also pretty, but why they insist on calling him “Rob” makes no sense. Rob. Really? Anyway, that’s where the + comes from: good sets. 😉

And here’s the thing — it’s a strange, strange film. The men had modern haircuts. The women had space-age futuristic hairstyles (see the “casino” scene, which was lifted right out of Star Wars). Their clothing bothered me too. Since when do medieval clergy or members of the police force wear stylishly cut leather jackets and dusters? Actually, maybe not so stylishly: they reminded me of the sorely lamented Members Only garments from the 80s. Whatever: they took me out of the narrative.

What I liked, besides the sets and scenery:

Friar Tuck was a hoot. He played the role in an unusual way, as a sort of spiritual seeker who is also an archetypal fool. I could watch a movie of his amusing Confessional sequences. He brings the only charm to the film.

The best Robin character moments are the scant scenes where Robin sucks up to the Sheriff — I hadn’t seen that angle before. They should have done more of that, paving the way for a new interpretation of a classic story.

I liked the poverty-stricken city-dwellers nailing up symbolic hoods all over town. That was cool — there was a ground swell of support for The Hood, expressed in the only way the populace could manage without being dragged off to the gallows.

The outlaws only move to Sherlock Forest at the very, very end. Disappointing. They are clearly setting up for a sequel no one wants, especially with the “new sheriff” business. But since I was waiting for the scenes with the Merry Men, I was glad the forest finally made a cameo. Nothing merry made this cut.

And…um. Looking over my notes, that’s all I’ve got for the good.

Some more observations before I wrap this forgettable film: They tried too hard to take themselves seriously as a medieval story, but undercut themselves with bothersome anachronistic details. Even the soundtrack was bizarre. It’s like the producers watched A Night’s Tale and Ladyhawk, and decided they could replicate those successes by slipping old and new into one film.

They failed. A Night’s Tale is one of the most enjoyable medieval tales in the business. I’d say you’re better off watching that one again, and stomping in the tourney stands along to We Will Rock You. And Ladyhawk is mostly straightforward, but features a strangely workable rock soundtrack, and the sublime Matt Broderick reprising his Ferris Bueller shtick in breaking the fourth wall and talking to the camera (or God — same thing).

I don’t want to waste any more time reviewing a sub-par movie, so I’ll wrap this up. This Robin Hood shouldn’t be on anyone’s playlist rotation. There’s barely any humor. The prisoner character (‘John” – acted by the reliable Jamie Foxx) did what he could in a lackadaisical script, but unfortunately came across like an Arabian superhero who could dodge arrows and survive brutal beatings without a scratch. I don’t like seeing people beat into a pulp, but there should be consequences if they are.

Then the climatic scenes where Robin fires five arrows at once that mysteriously all connect to a target…is he an Avenger, like Hawkeye, with heat-seeking rounds? How long does it take to master these skills? I thought Robin Hood was supposed to arrive with this talent, and not pull a sudden “Rocky” turn where a few days of training equals super mighty prowess. I know I’m overthinking this, but there’s nothing else in this film to distract me from the dismal minutia.

Here’s my suggestion. And I HATE to say this: just watch the Kevin Costner Robin Hood version again. That’s not a good movie either (understatement), but the lost and lamented Alan Rickman brings the funny, and is a sort-of engagingly demented rogue. Don’t get me started on this Sheriff. Evil for evil’s sake? I’m done.

What else? I need to see Men In Tights again, because I want to know if it STILL might be better than this. Can a spoof film be superior? I’d say yes, if they respect the source material, like The Princess Bride. For this Robin Hood, I appreciate they might have been going for a Lord of the Rings feel, blended with A Knight’s Tale, but it dropped like a dud grenade.

Lastly, the much ballyhooed line of, “If not now, who? If not not now, when?” came across strangely, like they suddenly decided to use a modern cozy homily as the crux of the narrative. Did Maid Marion coin this line? Why? Oh, gods, I don’t even care.

Grade: D+

About The Peetimes: The best Peetime is a nice long one; I recommend using that one proactively. All you will miss is a training montage. The 2nd and 3rd Peetimes give you a choice of missing some character dialog or an action scene, but neither add much to the plot, so select whichever your bladder needs.

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

Movie Review – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

 

Movie Review - Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of GrindelwaldI don’t know what happened with this movie. It looked great from the trailers, and seemed like the story would make sense. The film itself, though, was a big beautiful mess. I’m not even sure what I saw.

I’m essentially a Harry Potter expert. I’ve read the books dozens of times, seen the movies even more, visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and traveled to places filmed on location in both London and Scotland. I belong to a Harry Potter Meetup group, and have different wizard outfits, cobbled together over the years. I’ve made wands. Blah blah blah. All this to make it clear when I say I don’t understand Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. It’s a painful feeling.

It’s not even just me. I went with a fellow wizard friend, and he was disappointed and lost too. After the film, we tried to figure out what the movie was about, why the characters did the things they did, and were both just puzzled.

I saw the movie in IMAX at a select early screening with reserved tickets in a packed theater. Everyone there was a big HP fan, ready to have an exciting time. The audience started out applauding and cheering when different things occurred onscreen, like seeing Dumbledore, during the Hogwarts scene, when different creatures showed up, and when certain early secrets were revealed. However, as the movie wore on, the audience got more and more quiet. By the end, you could hear a pin drop. There was no final applause, which spoke volumes in its silence. People filed out with no fanfare or excitement. Basically, JK Rowling’s biggest fanbase seemed alienated.

I’ll probably see this a few more times in the theater — and it really is a pretty piece of work. I hope to figure out what the plot was about and why the characters did the things they did. I’m positive I’ll have better things to say about this film then. But in the meantime, I’ll say this: if I couldn’t follow the weird, convoluted, and very messy narrative told here, I doubt the casual fan will know what to make of it.

UPDATED OPINION: I saw this a second time and have a somewhat different review and grade for it in mind. I ‘m thinking a solid B now. My first experience was spent taking an intense amount of notes for RunPee and I missed a lot of what transpired. This is the kind of film you really can’t be distracted for. (Don’t make Peetimes kids, if you like movies!) I enjoyed my second viewing, but still stand by my original take — this sequel is problematic.

Grade: B (Updated)

About The Peetimes: I attended a premier showing before the film officially opened. (I had to drink my hoarded Felix Felicis Potion to get this ticket.) While this is great news for RunPee fans, I will admit this was the hardest movie ever for me to get Peetimes. The film moves at a breakneck pace, with too many characters — many of whom were brand new and didn’t make any sense in the film. I added 2 Peetimes, in any case. The 1st is better, at 39 minutes in. The 2nd, at 1:16 will also serve. Neither of these scenes have any interesting action or fantastic beasts.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Why Fantastic Beasts 2 is not so Fantastic

Movie Review – The Grinch (2018)

 

Movie Review - The Grinch
Max the dog was cute. So was Fred the Reindeer. So, not a total loss.

It’s time to cease re-doing The Grinch. Full stop.

I can’t believe I was sucked into thinking this movie would add anything to the tale that wasn’t done perfectly already in the 1966 Xmas Special. What can I say, except to watch that perfect, iconic 26-minute version again, and to skip this bit of ‘meh.’. SKIP IT. YOU HEAR ME? It’s simply not good. Everything funny was shown in the trailer, and anything emotionally resonant still lies in that long ago Special that still holds up, after all this time.

If you want to feel touched by the Grinch’s heart growing three times, return to the original, and use that as your annual holiday touchstone. You’ll get misty-eyed, and walk away feeling good about life. Not so with this flick. This Grinch had great animated hair, and that’s all I can really say about it.

Moreso, egregiously, none of the genius grinchy musical numbers made it into this feature. It’s too bad, as I was ready to sing along with the audience. This was a just a big waste of time. I’m actually mad about it. STOP rebooting the Grinch, Hollywood! Is anybody listening?

The entire Cindy Lou Who subplot was a boring, meandering, meaningless misfire. Her “big” question for Santa underwhelmed, and her friends had no personality. What was the point of introducing them?

I honestly don’t know why the producers thought they could improve on the animated classic with this dreck. Even the lamented Jim Carrey live-action version was better, and that’s saying a lot.

I LOVE the classic Grinch story from Dr. Seuss, but can’t understand why this 2018 movie was necessary. Stick with the 1957 book or the 1966 TV special, and you’ll understand why this story is so important, so enduring. Loneliness and alienation are real concerns, and that first story offers hope for us all, even if we are sometimes humbugs where Christmas is concerned.

What did work in this film: Max the dog and Fred the reindeer. They had the most laughs from the young audience. As for the Grinch, not even Benedict Cumberbatch could make this film work.

Grade: D+

About The Peetimes: This is a short movie, and only 2 of the Peetimes are workable. The 1st one is really nice and long. The 2nd is fine too. Don’t use the 3rd Peetime if you don’t know the story of the Grinch — it’s just for emergencies.

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

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

Movie Review – The Girl in the Spider’s Web

 

Movie Review - The Girl in the Spider's WebIt’s a sad fact: sometimes a good book can make a not so good movie. Such is the case of The Girl in the Spider’s Web.

The pacing was frenetic, making the plot hard to follow. There were scenes that went by so quickly, I hardly had time to incorporate them into the movie in my brain. Most of these scenes were filled with gratuitous explosions or implausible car chases that hurt my brain.

I didn’t feel there was any chemistry between the characters, and in my heart of hearts, I don’t think the actors had fun in making this movie. I most certainly didn’t have fun watching it.

TGitSW could have been shot in black and white, and it wouldn’t have made a difference. There was very little color, except for a brilliantly red outfit worn by Camilla during a portion of the movie. And speaking of the red outfit: hats off to Sylvia Hoeks for running up a snow-covered hill while wearing six inch red stilettos. You go girl!

I’m assuming that the target audience are those who have read the book, which I have not. How well did the movie follow the book? Did the personalities of the book follow the personalities of the movie? I don’t know, because I haven’t read the book and probably never will.

I did find it interesting that the movie opened with a ‘Me Too’ moment, showing Lisbeth emasculating an abuser by hanging him from the ceiling, and tazing the creep ’til he literally peed his pants. The icing on the revenge cake was when Lisbeth mostly depleted his fortune by transferring funds into a private account for the wife. A lot of people would consider this scene worth the price of admission. I did! I believe that TGitSW would have been so much better if tazing psychotic husbands had been the plot of the movie.

My bottom line…….wait for the DVD.

Grade: D+

About The Peetimes: This movie was almost non-stop action, making it difficult to get good Peetimes — however, I managed to find 2 action scenes that were easily summed up.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Girl in the Spider’s Web. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)