Movie Review – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has all the tense action and one liners you would expect based off the history of the franchise. But I hope you don’t expect anything more than a template of a story to support it.

The first hour of this movie plays like it was written with some basic storytelling application. I can just see the “writer” selecting: Insert > Character > Friendly but ultimately untrustworthy, or Layout > Impending Disaster > Volcano, from the menu system and then accepting all the defaults. It’s that genetic… I mean generic. 🙂

At least Chris Pratt delivers his usual entertaining performance. Mainly because he’s the only interesting character in the movie.

The good news is that my 5 year old niece was enthralled with the movie, particularly with Blue. I’m pretty sure she thinks Blue is the main character in the story.

I could go on and on with the many ways that JW:FK fails, but instead I made that a separate post, full of spoilers, so read the link below if you care. (Suggestion: if you finish the movie and enjoyed it then don’t read my evisceration of a review below. I don’t want to ruin it for you. But if you, like myself, were disappointed, it might be worth your time.)

Grade: C-

Jurassic World: Missed Opportunities

Jurassic Movies Review and Rewatch Page on RunPee.com (link to be added soon)

Movie Review – Book Club

I thought this would be an inspiring movie about taking life by the balls (or in this case, the ovaries) in your golden years. The high-caliber cast of aging actresses is stellar; they did a fine job. I am  about 15-20 years younger than them, but feel like they have options I will never have. [pullquote]They are rich, live in their own lovely homes, have great careers, and enjoy close friendships with each other. They are basically Sex and the City: The Older Edition. It’s cute, it’s funny — and super depressing.[/pullquote] I need to stick to Deadpool, Star Wars, and Avengers. Even the recent 50 Shades movie was better than this. This one….is simply full of unrealistic  mockery. It probably depends on what is happening in your life.

I personally feel cheated. In the ruins of my newly single life, I have no friends, live in a cinder-block closet in my mother’s basement, and have no future. I work out like a fiend, and look better than I did in my 20s. I have abs. And it doesn’t matter. The hoary, combed-over, wrinkled ex-husband featured in this film has a 25-year-old blonde hot bimbo for a new wife. So, what chance do I have? Do I have to find old men who think I am the young hot chick?

No, thank you.

Back to the movie. There are a lot of laughs. The entire room, playing up against Marvel’s ‘juggernaut’ Deadpool2 (that’s an in-joke, sorry), was PACKED. Mature ladies, elderly women, old couples, and the occasional young 50 Shades fan took up every single seat. That was unexpected. And the laughs were raucously loud for the first third of the film. I laughed with them too.

And suddenly, reality set in. Things stopped being fun. These four leading ladies looked amazing; they were also rich, and high-powered. (For example, one was a judge. One owned hotels. [pullquote]These were not normal women – they were senior superheroes.[/pullquote]) The characters were NOT RELATABLE. A discontent seemed to seep into the entire theater: these women were not us. And the characters were lucky in a way that wasn’t aspirational.

Well, the actresses clearly enjoyed themselves. Good on them. But did the viewers walk out (and use walkers out, in many, many cases) feeling happy? I looked closely at the audience during the credits. And I have to say no: the older people seemed downcast. I myself was full of despair. [pullquote position=”right”]These characters were clearly lucky. They didn’t work at bettering their lives. Book Club didn’t  encourage the audience to make changes in themselves, or even in their vaginas.[/pullquote] One character bumped into an old beau. One character tripped over a hot younger pilot  (she fell into his lap <—– I need to learn this trick). And so on. Luck. Yeah.

So, how to grade this? I’d call it misleading advertising. I expected their book club to inspire changes we could all learn from and emulate. Instead, poor little rich-girl hottie (probably starving herself to keep her shape) Jane Fonda fears “real” love. Adorable Diane Keaton finds a sexy younger millionaire via a stereotypical meet-cute moment. What the heck IS THIS? I don’t eat either, to look good. But where are the men?

Well then. I suppose I’m getting too critical. I just wanted to laugh and let go of grief and regret for a couple of hours. Not happening in this film — things hit too close to home. I will say this:  if you have a really tight group of girlfriends who support you emotionally, and ply you with wine at the drop of a hat, a la Sex and the City (and yes, Book Club), hold onto them like the gold they are.

I feel like crying. Count me out.

Grade: C

Related: Keaton Kisses Kimmel, Talks Sex

Movie Review – Super Troopers 2

This movie gets an “F” and it’s not short for “funny.”

I don’t find this type of movie remotely funny, but if this is the sort of thing you like I’d highly recommend waiting for the DVD, and watching it at home where you can relax and enjoy it in an altered state of consciousness.

I did laugh at one of the insults they made about America not using the metric system. So it wasn’t a total loss.

Grade: F-

Movie review: Tomb Raider

This movie follows the textbook outline for Writing Action Movies for DUMMIES perfectly. I’m not trying to imply that Tomb Raider was horrible — it’s just incredibly predictable. That’s why the “C” grade I gave it is smack in the middle of average.

It’s important to remember: this is a story that began as a video game. So don’t expect anything like Da Vinci Code level plots. This plot is narrow and easy to follow. However, that being said, I think the writers missed an opportunity to give the audience at least a little interaction in solving the puzzles, as they did in Da Vinci Code. Instead, Lara solves every puzzle without the audience ever having a chance to guess. Most of the time she solves a puzzle just by rotating disks, and we never have a clue how she did it. And that was one of the joys of the playing the game: figuring out the puzzles.

Alicia Vikander is a much better actress than what she brought to the role of Lara Croft. There were plenty of dramatic scenes where she performed admirably, but something was missing. Not from her, but from the pacing. More often than not, Lara’s dramatic moments felt forced, as if the director was in a hurry to rush through the drama and get to another action scene.

As for the action, which I suspect is what most people want to see this movie for, it’s largely banal. There are only a few scenes with any intensity. Most of the action scenes feel overly drawn out.

I can’t recommend paying good money to see this in a theater. Just wait for the DVD.

 

Movie review: The Hurricane Heist

I didn’t see any of the Fast and the Furious movies, so I can’t speak to how this compares to them. What I can say is that this is a poorly written movie from pretty much every angle I can think of.

The first thing I noticed was just how heavy-handed the character development was. It was laughable. They should have just put name tags on the characters and saved time: Hi, I’m a pretty girl who’s trying to make up for a bad decision in my past (but you’ll never find out what it was.); Hi, I’m a weather nerd who studies hurricanes because my father died in a storm; Hi, I’m the brother who never got over it. It just goes on and on. There isn’t a single character in the story that feels like a real person.

The writers continually went for cheap thrills instead consistently building a story.

And don’t get me started with the way the weather was used. There’s the obvious hacks where the weather is tossing cars around in one scene, but a few minutes later, while the storm is getting worse, people can walk around in the wind.

For the record: the eye of a hurricane is truly fierce, but nothing like what they showed in the movie.

And they were horribly lazy with the continuity. There’s a scene near the end of the movie where characters are driving through the eye of the storm, and in the background there’s a hay field that looks completely normal. Just because the eye of a hurricane is “like a warm summer day,” doesn’t mean it’s not like a warm summer day after a fraking hurricane has come through.

Sure, the weather might be nice, but the fields, and everything else, should still be demolished.

This movie is simply a disaster itself.

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