Movie Review – A Wrinkle in Time

I’m trying to figure out how to make A Wrinkle in Time make any sense. I love fantasy and science fiction, and am very forgiving of stories in these genres. From the trailer, I figured this would be a really pretty excursion into time travel, with kids discovering their powers in a whimsical land. The early reviews seemed disappointing, but I figured something visually enchanting would be enough for a pleasant afternoon.

But honestly, after my viewing, I’m not sure where the plot was going at all. I’m more confused what this movie was about than I’ve been in…ever? I didn’t read the 1962 children’s book this was based on, so that might be a part of my confusion. But a movie should stand on its own, regardless.

The original, award-winning novel is a slender volume, and I tried to read it a few times in my youth. I devoured fantasy voraciously, re-reading Lord of the Rings annually, and hoped the movie would encourage me to go back and finally get through the book.[pullquote] I’m still the perfect target audience, so I’m forced to think the movie just isn’t a good one.[/pullquote]

It’s certainly a baseline attractive flick, with some occasional unique imagery…but it’s not as lovely as many other fantasies out there. I was expecting something on the ambitious level of Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets (another convoluted and unsatisfying film, but a visual treat), or Avatar (which is a work of art AND delivers on its story potential). Disney can do outstandingly pretty work, and very recently too: as in Coco, Finding Dory, the new Star Wars films, and their most recent MCU offerings of Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. So,  A Wrinkle in Time gets a “+” tacked onto my review grade for being nice-looking — however, this studio should have made this older classic stunning, and could have, if they tried.

Story-wise, you don’t get to know the characters well at all, and the execution is very convoluted. The moment when [a plot thing] is found is completely underwhelming. Normally the child actors in a Disney film are pretty good, but I have to admit I didn’t care for any of the three leads. (Or the adult leads. Only Chris Pine, in essentially a cameo role, brought any spark.)

One other thing: I think a good compositional arrangement could have raised the bar on WIT considerably. [pullquote position=”right”]A nice track, with some good evocative and repeating themes, would have gone a long way. Think of all the wonderful genre films that make you feel, care, and sometimes cry, cued along by a wonderful soundtrack. [/pullquote]Think of almost anything by John Williams. Now imagine those movies without his work. WIT stood out musically, in absentia.

I wish I could say better things, and I’m sure some folks enjoyed WIT. Personally, I can’t recommend this one. Even in 3D, I didn’t think this was worth a trip to the theater. I was actually the only person in the room on opening night, and that made me wonder how everyone else knew the movie was going to be a flop. Not even Oprah or Reese Witherspoon (who really didn’t seem like they were trying) could save this film from the dustbins of…well…time.

Grade: D+

Movie Review: Maze Runner – The Death Cure

I’m a huge fan of dystopian stories, and I liked the first Maze Runner book and film (the one that had an actual maze and runners). It was a fresh and intriguing idea.

I didn’t see the second, and I was definitely lost in this third movie.[pullquote position=”right”] Maybe the story was incoherent no matter what[/pullquote], but neither I nor my companion (who hadn’t seen any of the movies in this franchise) really followed much of the plot. It was, quite frankly, a hot mess.A long, drawn-out, senseless muddle, where you don’t get to know any characters at all, much less care what happens to them. There are chase scenes, there’s a cure, there are double crosses…with more chases, more convoluted details…and never a moment to catch your breath or follow any character’s point of view. It’s also possible that the theme of Young Adult Dystopias is played out. (We’ll always have The Hunger Games to savor.)

This one should be a cautionary tale on how NOT to make a movie. In spite of that, the 8pm and 9pm showings of Maze Runner 3 were sold out at my theater. Yep.

This might be my shortest review ever. I can’t think of anything to discuss. It was a good-looking film, I’ll give it that. This one is for Maze Runner fans only, and series completists. At least they didn’t divide the last book into two films. So it’s got that going for it: Divergent fans will probably never get their final film.

Movie Grade: D+

Movie Review – Interstellar

Movie Review - InterstellarMy one word review would be: disappointed.

I think Christopher Nolan tried too hard to make a modern day 2001 A Space Odyssey. The ships looked much like 2001. There were long, drawn out scenes of docking. The robot TARS simultaneously pays homage to HAL and the monolith. And of course the visuals throughout the movie echo back to 2001.

The best thing I can say about the movie is the acting is top notch. Matthew McConaughey was excellent, and I thought Mackenzie Foy, the young daughter, was fantastic in every scene.

I have a big problem with Anne Hathaway’s role. Her acting was, as usual, superb, but her role was completely wasted on her talents. For such a long movie, there was surprisingly little time devoted to giving her character, Amelia, any meat. Amelia was either giving technical dialog, devoid of emotion, or frantically reacting to something. There wasn’t any time for play and bonding between the characters.

I’m tempted to give this movie a much worse rating, but the acting pulls it out of the gutter.

One more thing: stop playing blaringly loud music over dialog. There were numerous times I had no idea what the actors were saying. It was distracting all the way through the movie.

Grade: C+

Upon further review..
It’s been a few years since I posted the original review, and I’ve seen it a few more times since then. I still don’t love the movie, but I’ve warmed up to it a little. I’d bump the grade up to a solid B, maybe even B+. It is, for me, an easy movie to rewatch because it’s so beautifully filmed, and the music is outstanding, even though my original observation that the music plays too loudly over the dialog still holds.

About The Peetimes: I would recommend that you use the 1st Peetime. #1 is a perfect Peetime. There’s no character development, action, or plot development. #2 has some dramatic scenes, but they are easy to sum up. #3 has one long tension building scene but you’ll be back before it reaches the climax..

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

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

Movie Review – Suicide Squad

Movie Review - Suicide SquadI have to admit it, I was hoping Suicide Squad would be the Guardians of the Galaxy of the DC universe. It didn’t come close. My wife and I talked about it, and if I had to compare it to another comic movie, I’d say it was about as good as the Thor movies.

Margot Robbie was awesome as Harley Quinn, but you knew that already from the previews. Will Smith was enjoyable as Deadshot. I think they have something good to work with as they grow from here.

My biggest disappointment was the villain. There was no character development of the villain at all.

The best part of the movie is the character development of the suicide squad. The main members had enough screen time, including back story, to flesh them out pretty well. There were a few members of the team that were completely forgettable.

I’m going to be nit-picky for a second, but there was some clunky story telling. Little things like, where did those soldiers get the scuba gear? Were they just carrying it around with them the whole time? I don’t think so. It’s one of those things that happen in movies like this, where the writer needs some characters to have some equipment, or something, so they just make it handy. There were a few other things like that that aren’t worth getting into. There were some other issues with the plot, but I don’t want to bring them up because it might spoil some of it.

Suffice to say, enjoy the movie for what it is. Just try not to analyze it too much, or the plot will crumble.

Grade: C

About The Peetimes: I managed to find 2 good peetimes, and one “emergency” peetime. Overall I would recommend the last peetime at 1:18.

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

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

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)