Movie Review – Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Movie Review - Maleficent: Mistress of EvilThere really isn’t a lot to say about this Maleficent sequel. It’s gorgeous to look at. If you like fantasy movies, you’ll have a great time.

Angelina Jolie brings back that good/evil vibe she did so well in the original. She also doesn’t look a day older from way back when, so I assume there was some CGI de-aging and very smooth fairy-tale make-up going on. Good on her. And good on everyone involved. The story isn’t gripping or even worth discussing, but it’s still just a lovely film.

What was better about this movie than the first is that it’s a brand new story. The classic tale had to conform somewhat to the Disney Briar Rose/Aurora/Sleeping Beauty concept. More or less. From the ‘evil queen’ point of view, except totally not. Evil is relative.

Maleficent 2 got to be a fresh new movie with a totally different concept. It didn’t let anyone down. The audience laughed, gasped, and even applauded at the end. I had a great time, and it was clear everyone left with a smile on their face and a spring in their steps. It’s nice to see a sequel surpass the original.

If you like fantasy movies, see this in the theater on a good screen, and reserve a good seat location for your ticket money. It’s that pretty. There aren’t a lot of good fantasy films out there, not compared to the current plethora of action, thriller, or sci fi flicks. This one’s worth it (again, if you like high fantasy and tales of magic).

To be totally honest, you’ll be completely lost if you haven’t seen the original, since almost no time is spent on exposition.

Go see the original again, and then this, and if you liked the first, you’ll love the second.

Grade: A-

About The Peetimes: Here are 3 good Peetimes — I recommend the final one before the climax, but any will do. This is such a pretty movie, and I didn’t want to make Peetimes over the big fantasy scenes, so these are more like transitional sections with exposition I’ve summed up in the synopses.

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

Rated (PG) for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and brief scary images
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Sequel

Rewatch Review – Dave (1993) … And A Few Notes about Post Scarcity & Star Trek

dave movie trailer 1993 kevin kline
Hail to the chief, even when he’s in the shower.

We should be so lucky to have a real life scenario where Dave, the movie,  happens. I was delighted to re-catch the 1993 film  last night… and finished  off with a real smile on my face. Plus a positive attitude, and a lot of wish fulfillment. Watching again this was a great time and help up surprisingly well so many years later.

Note of excitement that’s only a  little political:

The idea that if we just took a good hard look at our spending choices in the US Budget, we could move that cash into positive reforms, is exciting. I realize it’s not that easy — each cash allowance is earmarked for different departments, and if they don’t spend it they lose it…but that’s a broken system. We should focus on sending money to issues that will help humanity suffer less. Not to buy thousand-dollar staplers for administration employees. (Yes, look this up.)

So, avoiding political battles. I don’t want to upset people. But Dave is just such a darn feel-good movie about what could happen if someone who really wanted to help people became a public servant, and if we had a a simple but smart accountant take a sober look at where we’re leaking money (like millions of ‘petty cash’ allotments), and make some big budgetary changes.

Alright, alright, I’m not saying (as Dave posits) that we can get a job for every American who wants one. But isn’t this what FDR did? The Conservation Corps of America said, “Hey, if you’re able bodied, let’s make stable trails, and safe roads, and solid hospitals…” — and that’s certainly better than sending out a welfare check for no work at all.

In Dave, the message is that people WANT to be productive and feel their days have structure and meaning. Sure, some people would rather be fishing or playing video games, but that’s better than having desperate people become criminals and overload the expensive penal system. Let them fish. Maybe they can help feed their families or communities; never a bad thing.

A Post Scarcity Economy can happen — think Star Trek

I’m getting political again…but I just really think we can do this. We almost have most of the Star Trek post scarcity indicators:

  • Replicators that can create anything off the waste products society makes, from the molecular level up (ie – industrial 3D printers getting better all the time).
  • Self driving cars to prevent millions of expensive accidents and illegal acts.
  • Holodecks to keep people content, entertained, and mentally active (VR and AR simulations are constantly improving. At the last Comic Con, I WALKED ON THE MOON. It was real enough to make me cry with joy). Rome had a good idea with their Bread and Circuses program, cynicism aside…
  • AI – Self-aware, self-replicating computers that can take over the most menial of jobs, be our expert medical diagnosticians, run simulations on how society can benefit most from automation, etc, and so on, ad infinitum (The Singularity could happen any time now).
  • Nano Tech that can create durable goods  with almost unlimited strength  capabilities, including the possibility of Space Elevators (Getting closer every day).
  • Warp Speed and Transporters are not really a thing soon, but we don’t need those to make Earth a paradise for all. We don’t live in a United Federation of Planets just yet. 😉

We aren’t at these scientific levels yet, but many will probably happen in our lifetimes, making goods, education, health, and basic services available to all, almost freely. This is what a post-scarcity economy could mean for humanity.

And honestly, if you think about it, most people want to contribute their skills to betterment in some way. There’s no downside to smarter resource allocation.

Dave (the movie) shows what happens when Dave (the character) — a smart, honest, and caring person who only wants to be a public servant performing the job the country ‘hired’ him to do — accidentally gets into office, and has a chance to do just that. No egos. No excess. Just: Do. The. Job.

Why should “the normal” be to expect less from our leaders? Politicians aren’t celebrities. They are public citizens. And we hire them to make things better.

dave kevin kline and sigourney weaver
Seriously adorable couple.

What else? The characters were great!

Dave (Kevin Kline, in a fantastic double role performance), gives us a comic, sweet-spirited, fascinating take on “What If?…” He’s never been this lovable in any role.

Sigourney Weaver did a bang up job as Dave’s muse, and Frank Langella  (as always) was perfect as the corrupt Chief of Staff you love to hate. “You’re LINT!” might have been my favorite line.

Speechwriter Kevin Dunn as Alan was simply adorable, but the MVP role goes to Ving Rhames as Duane, the “president’s” bodyguard. I melted when he finally opened up about how sweaters made his neck look big. His final line to Dave, about taking a bullet for him, was sentimental without being gooey: a perfect character development moment.

And Duane’s last-second scene at Dave’s office door made me grin like a freaking fool, realistic or not. Just happy vibes all around. Share this movie with everyone you know.

Yes: Real People Cared Too

A LOT of real life politicos, TV hosts, pundits, and celebrities (Hi Arnold!) played themselves in Dave. Clearly, some important folks got the humor of the film, and the sweetness, and also maybe cared about making our country a better place for everyone.

Lastly. Thank you, Director Ivan Reitman (of Ghostbusters fame) for making a seemingly fluffy movie with a ton of heart and hope for all Americans.

Movie Grade: A

Movie Review – The Matrix

 

Movie Review - The MatrixAfter reading RunPee Dan’s amazing retrospective on “The Matrix After 20 Years“, I’m a little intimidated to try and pen my own review. He’s RunPee’s resident Matrix EXPERT. And I don’t say that lightly. Uber. Fan.

I especially get nervous trying to do justice to classic A+ level films. But I do have a few things to say, and here we go…

I’m packing for a move and might add more later. Suffice to say: this movie was a total mind-f#ck when it came out in 1999…and still is. The only really dated aspects are the corded phones and noisy modem (if you’re old enough, you KNOW this sound and it’s still as jarring as it was back then).

If you’re seeing The Matrix for the first time, remember this was the first film to attempt anything like this. At all. It’s a game changer that subsequent dystopian sci-fi films emulated to varying degrees over the years. “Inception“, for one, got it right. And then quite a few missed the boat more or less, like “Looper” which is a decent movie itself, but doesn’t come close to The Matrix.

(Funnily enough, both Inception and Looper featured one of the the same actors).

Why The Matrix is Still so Good

The difference is STYLE. And terrific direction, color palette, intelligent writing, and actors who couldn’t be better suited — both in the casting department, with each actor going balls to the wall in to the new world they had to sell.

Keanu even gets to say “Whoa,” and it doesn’t seem like fan pandering. It IS a WHOA moment.

the-matrix-bullet-time-keanu-reeves
Bring it.

Not to mention The Matrix sports a fabulous soundtrack, and effects that hold up extremely well. I just rewatched this yesterday to get Peetimes, since The Matrix is enjoying a theater revival. It’s still spectacular in look, feel, and story.

(Little realized fact: Most of the effects were done realistically with real actors in wires, and the 360 degree use of physical cameras to create the “Bullet Time” effect we take for granted now. I’m a huge fan of truly realistic physical effects in a modern age of CGI Everything.)

the-matrix-trinit-carry-anne-moss
Practical effects shot on wires. Trinity can still kick your butt.

This is how to make a movie. I can only hope the Watchoskis are up to the 2020 fourquel after all this time. Some crucial threads are left unresolved, so I’m fine with bringing the original cast back, dead or alive. (In Sci-Fi, death is relative.)

Deeper than The Usual Sci-Fi Flick

I’m not even going to handle the intense philosophies presented in the Matrix Trilogy — Philosophy professors wrote many books and teach actual courses just on this.

Enough for now. This will get you started. Also, if you hurry, this will be your only time to catch The Matrix on the big screen after two decades, so go get on it. Our three good Peetimes on the RunPee app will help you remember what scenes NOT to miss.

Free. Your. Mind.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: We just noticed The Matrix was released on a limited basis, so we added Peetimes now. Keep in mind this is a seriously intense mind-bending movie that you have to pay close attention to. All 3 Peetimes are really good. The last time to go is at 1 hour into the 2 hour film, so make sure to empty your bladder proactively, especially if this is your 1st time watching the film. (Or if it’s been a while.) #TheMatrixHasYou

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

Rated (R) for sci-fi violence and brief language
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi, Dystopia

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Analysis of Inception

Movie Review – Looper

 

Movie Review – The Peanut Butter Falcon

Movie Review - The Peanut Butter FalconAbsolutely: a fantastic movie. I am so happy to unreservedly award an A+ to Peanut Butter Falcon. I smiled the whole time. THIS is how to make a funny, heartwarming film that never overtly panders to maudlin sentimentality.

The laughs are earned, and aren’t always PG. I haven’t enjoyed a dramatic film the way I did here in…years. And you won’t need your tissue box. Thank Thor. It’s just a grand old time.

Coincidentally, I watched Forrest Gump last night for the first time in several decades. I loved it all over again. But Gump (himself), in spite of husbanding many coincidental pop culture influences, also experiences gut wrenching loss as the decades play out. Forrest Gump (the movie) is both great…and difficult to rewatch.

The Peanut Butter Falcon spares you this kind of emotional manipulation. PBF is funny, it’s fun, and it’s very, very smart — and makes you wish for friendships like theirs. No matter how intelligent you are or aren’t, you can be genuine and lovable and real. You can be best buddies and have your own secret handshake, and make an ersatz family out of what life gives you.

Just see this movie

Like Tyler tells Zak — who thinks he’s a villain because his family abandoned him for being a ‘retard’ — it’s what’s in your heart that counts. In return, when Zak tells Tyler he’s a good guy, your own heart will grow three sizes that day.

There’s some beautiful lessons to be learned from Peanut Butter Falcon, and I highly recommend everyone — really, everyone — watch and enjoy this fine film. The audience laughed almost continually (as I did), and walked out very happy.

Kudos to the actors, directors, and writers for giving us a yummy late summer sandwich to gobble down in Peanut Butter Falcon.

Grade: A+

PS: Easter Egg found — There’s a Bubba’s gas station/convenience store featured in the film. Nice nod to Forrest Gump. (Also, $1.19 a gallon for gas? WHAT?)

About The Peetimes: I’ve got 3 great Peetimes here. This is a very funny and emotionally uplifting movie, so I’ve chosen Peetimes that show mostly music montages (we love it when that happens). Pay attention to the times listed, so you don’t miss the emotional moments that follow. I recommend the 1st Peetime, if you can use it proactively.

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

Rated (PG-13) for thematic content, language throughout, some violence and smoking
Genres: drama, comedy, adventure, sports

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Movie Review – Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw

Movie Review - Fast & Furious: Hobbs & ShawIMDb categorizes Hobbs & Shaw as: “action, adventure”. I think they should add “comedy” to that as well. The odd couple relationship between Hobbs & Shaw has been building since their “relationship” began in Fast and the Furious 7, and they milk it to great effect in this movie while simultaneously letting their relationship grow.

Hobbs & Shaw also elevates the over-the-top action sequences expected of any movie in the Fast and Furious franchise. There’s definitely a few, “Oh wow, that was cool. I haven’t seen that before,” scenes — mostly by Brixton on his motorcycle.

If there’s one gripe I had going into Hobbs & Shaw, it’s that the ubiquitous trailers appeared to have already spoiled the best action and funniest scenes, but now I can assure you that isn’t the case. There are plenty of funny scenes never hinted at in the trailers and a few — exactly two — “special moments” that will leave you looking to your friends around you in surprised awe. (Note: If you’re a fan, then avoid any Hobbs & Shaw news on social media, or anywhere else, until after you see the movie. You don’t want to get spoiled.)

Good Acting

A special mention has to be given to the rising star Vanessa Kirby. The action movie genre isn’t exactly littered with great acting performances, but Vanessa Kirby, as Hattie Shaw, delivers in every scene — whether it calls for humor, drama, or action. And as unbelievable as some of the action scenes can be, the relationship between Hobbs and Shaw that Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham deliver is perfectly believable.

The casting of Idris Elba was perfect. Few actors have the physicality and gravitas to be such an outstanding villain.

Great Writing

None of this would be possible without the outstanding writing skills of Chris Morgan, who also penned the screenplays for all the F&F movies, going back to Tokyo Drift.

I’m not saying that this script, and his others, are examples of high literature. There are too many instances of unrealistic conveniences that keep the story going, like the main characters just happening to run across the right people at the right time to keep them on their mission. However, this also isn’t the sort of movie that needs to get bogged down in the the nuances of logistics. One of the best tricks Chris Morgan employs in his scripts is to introduce those convenient characters in a surprising and enjoyable manner.

Basically, if Chris Morgan were a chef he would make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But not just any old PB&J sandwich. He’d use the good stuff, on really good bread, and maybe sneak an in Oreo cookie — or two — there as a surprise.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: It was difficult finding decent Peetimes in the 1st half of this movie. There’s a lot going on: action, character development, etc. The 3rd and 4th Peetimes are the best. Try to use one of those if you must. None of the Peetimes have any action scenes, because that’s what we’re here to watch! Am I right? 🙂 However, there is just a little bit of humor in a few of the Peetimes, but nothing like the best humor.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for prolonged sequences of action and violence, suggestive material and some strong language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy

Hobbs & Shaw – The Entire Backstory from Fast and the Furious

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Hobbs & Shaw – The Entire Backstory from Fast and the Furious

Hobbs & Shaw: You better go watch Hobbs and Shaw or a man wearing a skirt is going to kick your ass.The preview for Hobbs & Shaw looks like an exciting action comedy, but these two characters have a long backstory from the Fast and The Furious franchise.  If you haven’t seen all, or any, of the F&F movies, then you’re probably wondering what you need to know about Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson/The Rock) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to make sense of this spinoff.

Hobbs and Shaw, in a nutshell

Hobbs, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is a government agent tasked with capturing the worst of the worst. He was originally hunting Vin Diesel, who plays Dominic “Dom” Toretto, but in due course they become allies.

Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw
Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw

Shaw, played by Jason Statham, was a British Secret Agent – think James Bond with a bad attitude — but was “retired” by the agency six years ago, and now works freelance. Statham’s character is introduced in the end credit scene of F&F6 as a man out for revenge for what Dom’s team did to his brother. Of course, over time, he also becomes an ally.

We get to see Hobbs and Shaw fight a few times, but more often than not they simply fire epic and comical insults at each other.

Basically, Hobbs & Shaw is a action comedy version of The Odd Couple. That’s all you need to know before seeing their movie.

However, if you want to get caught up on the entire Fast and The Furious franchise, then read on.

I’ll give you advice on which F&F movies are worth seeing, and a detailed synopsis of the ones you could decide to skip over.

You can see from the table below, the franchise really starts to pick up with Fast And Furious 5.  If you don’t have the time, or stomach, to watch all eight movies first, you could just cherry pick from the best of them. Then read my synopsis of what you missed in the ones you skip over.

Note: This article gets long after you view the chart below, but it’s chock full of details you need to be up to speed for Hobbs and Shaw. We helpfully also tell you in the chart if there are extra scenes over the end credits

Complete list of F&F movies

Year Tomatometer *Audience score Title Extra/End scenes?
2001 53% 74% The Fast and the Furious
2003 36% 50% Fast 2 Furious ❌
2006 38% 69% The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift ❌
2009 29% 67% Fast And Furious ❌
2011 77% 83% Fast 5
2013 70% 84% Fast and Furious 6
2015 81% 82% Furious 7 ❌
2017 67% 72% The Fate of the Furious ❌
2019 Hobbs & Shaw n/a
2020 Fast & Furious 9 (May 22, 2020) n/a

*Audience score from Rottentomatoes.com user rating.

Dominic "Dom" Toretto
Vin Diesel as Dominic “Dom” Toretto

Fast and The Furious franchise overview:

Every movie in the F&F franchise revolves around stories that create problems that can, seemingly, only be solved with fast cars and wildly fantastic action. This translates into paper-thin plots. They do so many completely impossible things that you don’t blink twice when they do something that’s just insanely improbable.

However, as much as each movie tries to amp up the action, the success of the franchise hinges on likable characters. Vin Diesel as Dominic “Dom” Toretto isn’t a good guy in the classic sense. In the first movie he’s nothing more than a thief with a code:  Robin Hood from the hood.

Fortunately, F&F hit gold when they cast Vin Diesel as Dom. Vin has the gravitas, something many actors lack, to become the center of attraction in a franchise.

Dom is similar to the Star Wars character Han Solo. Solo isn’t exactly a good guy. He did in fact shoot first, and he’s only in it for the money. But when push comes to shove, he does the right thing, and he’s always there for his friends.

If you don’t have the time to watch any of the movies before going to see Hobbs & Shaw, then here’s a general outline of each movie. If you’re only interested in the Hobbs and Shaw backstory, then skip down to Fast and Furious 5, where Hobbs is introduced.

2001: The Fast and the Furious
This is the movie that kicked off the franchise, and perhaps Vin Diesel’s career. (Along with a little-known, now cult favorite science fiction movie that came out the previous year called Pitch Black.) I would recommend watching the 2001 F&F; not because it’s any good, but because it’s the foundation upon which the franchise rests. Better yet, try to watch this movie and the 4th (F&F 2009) back to back. Together they make one complete story and really develop the characters and relationships.

Paul Walker as Brian O'Conner
Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner

What you need to know if you skip it:
Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) is an undercover FBI agent trying to track down a gang of street racers stealing cargo off moving semi trucks. Brian befriends Dominic’s (Vin Diesel’s) sister, who works at a small cafe. The investigation leads Brian to believe a gang of Japanese bike racers is behind it, but ultimately he discovers that it is in fact Dom’s (Dominic’s) crew. The movie ends with Dom’s crew trying to rob a truck. The trucker has a gun and fights them off. Brian eventually has Dom trapped with the police moving in, but out of respect for Dom, Brian lets Dom get away.

Below is the full end scene of Fast and The Furious
where Brian lets Dom walk away.

Beyond the sloppy plot, the characters are well-defined. Dom commands a great deal of respect from everyone around him, including his adversaries. Brian is an FBI agent with complicated feelings about authority.

2003: Fast 2 Furious
By all means, you can skip this movie. It has no redeeming qualities. Vin Diesel doesn’t have so much as a cameo.

Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce

What you need to know if you skip it:
Brian has been kicked out of the FBI for letting Dom get away at the end of the previous movie. He’s in Miami when the FBI and DEA approach him to help with a case, by going undercover and bring down a drug cartel. Brian enlists the help of his longtime friend Roman (Tyrese Gibson). Roman is currently in prison, and blames Brian for it, but Brian convinces the FBI they have to pardon Roman if he helps with the investigation. Blah, blah, blah, car chase in the Florida Keys, and Brian and Roman capture the drug lord…and are BFFs again.

Below is the full “reunion scene/fight”
between Brian and Roman.

Sung Kang as Han Lue
Sung Kang as Han Lue

2006: The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift
On advice from my sister, I skipped this movie. This movie is somewhat  controversial within the F&F fandom. Apparently the only thing you need to know is that the character Han is introduced, who comes back in F&F 5 and 6.

2009: Fast And Furious
Brian is back with the FBI, and needs Dom’s help to bring down a drug lord… Sorry, I nodded off a little bit there. Seriously, I just watched this movie last week, and I’m struggling to remember exactly what happened.

Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz
Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz

What you need to know if you skip it:
Dom is in hiding in Panama when he gets a call from his sister, Mia, who informs him that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who plays Dom’s girlfriend, has been murdered. Dom comes back to LA to help Brian (who’s back working with the FBI) to track down the mysterious drug lord who murdered his girlfriend. During the movie Mia, Dom’s sister, falls in love with Brian. Brian has loved her since the first movie.

The movie ends with Dom in custody. Brian pleads with the judge that Dom should be pardoned because he helped put a dangerous drug lord behind bars. The judge rules that one good deed doesn’t wipe out dozens of bad deeds, and sentences Dom to a minimum of 25 years in prison.

Cut to Dom on a bus, headed for a remote prison. Dom’s crew, including Brian, drive up on the bus. The movie ends.

Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar
Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar

New character: Gisele (Gal Gadot, who would go on to be cast as Wonder Woman) is introduced to the F&F franchise. She works for the drug lord, but turns out to have a soft spot for Dom.

2011: Fast 5
Hobbs is introduced in F&F5, a.k.a.  Fast and Furious: The First Good One. He plays a government/military agent who is in charge of a team tasked with bringing in the worst of the worst criminals: he always gets his man. In F&F5 we get to see Dom (Vin) and Hobbs (Dwayne) go fist to fist. That’s worth the price of admission.

Below: (3:04) clip of the first Dom and Hobbs fight.

Prior to the final climactic action, Hobbs has captured Dom, Brian, and Letty and takes them to to the airport to bring them back to the USA. Suddenly, they are attacked by the antagonist’s men. Hobbs’ entire team is killed. Hobbs is wounded and, of course, Dom rescues him. Thus…setting up their mutual respect for each other in the movies to come.

Below: (4:08) “Dom rescues Hobbs” scene.

At the very end of the movie, Dom’s team has of course emerged victorious over the antagonist, but Hobbs “re-captured” Dom and Brian. Hobbs says, “You know I can’t let you two go. I ain’t made that way. The way I see it, you’ve earned yourself 24 hours… Come tomorrow, I will find you.” Dom smiles, “No, you won’t.”

Below: Hobbs re-captures Dom and Brian, but lets them go.

And thus begins the relationship between Hobbs and Dom. BTW, there’s a MUST see mid-extra credit scene in this movie.

Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves
Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves

Additionally, the character Elena is introduced in this movie. She is a police officer in Rio who acts as Hobbs’ local translator. She and Dom have a few scenes together that leads to her becoming Dom’s new girlfriend in the following movie. She plays a major role in the plot of The Fate of the Furious.

Below: (0:54) End credits scene in F&F 5.

Luke Evans as Owen Shaw (younger brother to Deckard Shaw)
Luke Evans as Owen Shaw (younger brother to Deckard Shaw)

2013: Fast and Furious 6
The Hobbs and Dom relationship builds in F&F6. Hobbs has a new assignment to bring in an international terrorist: Shaw. (No, not that Shaw. The younger brother of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham)). Hobbs goes to Dom, who’s living in a non-extradition country, for help bringing in Shaw because they have a photo of Letty working for him.

Short aside: Letty “dies” in F&F4, or so we thought. Turns out she had amnesia and doesn’t remember anything about her past. Shaw, the younger, “rescued” her and now she works for him.

By movies’ end, Shaw is in critical condition in a hospital; Dom and Letty are back together, and the entire team has returned home to LA after getting pardoned for their help in bringing down Shaw.

In the extra credit scene we see Han, a member of Dom’s crew, racing in Tokyo. Suddenly, Han gets t-boned by another car, driven by Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Han’s car flips and lands upside down. Shaw gets out of his car and tosses a silver cross necklace on the street next to Han’s car then makes a phone call and says, ” Dominic Toretto, you don’t know me.” Han’s car explodes in the background. Shaw finishes, “But you’re about to.”

2015: Furious 7  <—-Read for our Review
That brings us to Furious 7 where… a lot of stuff happens. Let me explain… No, there is too much. Let me sum up. 😉 The movie opens with Shaw, the older brother played by Statham, visiting his younger brother in a hospital. Statham gives his comatose brother a speech about loyalty and brotherhood and revenge. Shortly afterward, we get to see a knockdown drag-out fight between Shaw (Statham) and Hobbs (The Rock). That ends with Shaw getting away, and Hobbs in a hospital room with a broken arm — he dove out of a 4th story window to save his partner.

Dom visits Hobbs in the hospital and gets the lowdown about Shaw: he’s a former British Special Agent that the powers that be decided to “retire” six years ago. He’s been a ghost ever since. Dom wants to find him and get revenge for Han, who died in the extra-credit scene of the previous movie. Oh yeah, and Shaw blew up Dom’s house in LA, almost killing the entire family. So yeah, there’s that.

At this point the story gets a little muddled.

Long story short: Dom’s crew ends up doing battle with a terrorist organization in LA, while Dom himself has a car fight with Shaw. During all this action Hobbs sees explosions from his hospital room and rips off his cast to join the fray. Dom nearly dies. Actually, he does die, but they bring him back. Shaw is captured and Hobbs delivers Shaw to a supermax prison.

Paul Walker Tribute
The actor Paul Walker, who plays Brian, tragically died in a car accident during the shooting of this movie — unrelated to the actual filming of the movie.

As far as the franchise is concerned, Brian has retired to family life.

2017: The Fate of the Furious <—- Read for our Review
Buckle up, because we’re going to be here for a while. This movie is like a parenthetical statement (Inside a parenthetical statement (Inside a parenthetical statement.)))

Seriously, you should watch this one. It might be shorter than reading this labyrinthine synopsis. But in case you really can’t, here we go:

Charlize Theron as Cipher
Charlize Theron as Cipher

How do you turn a “bad guy” into a “good guy”? By introducing an even badder guy, or in this case, badder woman. Fate of the Furious introduces Charlize Theron as Cipher — a super secret pseudo-terrorist who has been behind the scenes, pulling strings, since F&F 2009.

The movie opens with Dom and Letty in Cuba. Cipher tries to recruit Dom to her team, but Dom turns her down. Cipher assures him that one way or another he’ll end up working for her.

Next we see Hobbs coaching his little girl’s soccer team. A government agent interrupts Hobbs, and tells him they have an important mission for him: to get a team together to take back a stolen EMP device that is in Berlin, Germany. But, this is all top-secret, hush hush stuff and if he, or any of his team, is captured, the US government will disavow any knowledge of his mission.

Of course, Hobbs makes a phone call to Dom and asks for his help. Dom says the team will meet him in Berlin. Cut directly to the team getting chased by terrorists, after stealing back the EMP device. Dom has the device strapped down in the back of his car. Everything seems to be going according to script, when Dom runs Hobbs off the road and takes off, alone, with the EMP. Everyone is like, WTF? 🙂

Dom drives his car onto a moving transport plane and delivers the device to Cipher.

Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody
Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody

Hobbs is captured and gets locked up in the very same prison where he locked Shaw up at the end of the previous movie. Oh, and they’re in neighboring cells, and do nothing but trash talk on how badly they’re going to whoop up on each other.

Of course the cell doors, all of them, open, and Hobbs and Shaw fight their way out of prison, to be met by the shadowy Mr. Nobody — the head of a super secret government agency, sort of like the IMF from Mission Impossible — played by Kurt Russell. (Mr. Nobody was introduced in Fast & Furious 7.)

Next we see Hobbs and Dom’s team in a conference room getting a briefing about Cipher from Mr. Nobody. No one has a clue why Dom double-crossed them in Berlin and stole the EMP, but they know something fishy is up, because that’s not Dom. Then Shaw walks into the room and everyone, especially Hobbs, is on high alert.

We learn Cipher came to Shaw first, to recruit him to her team. When he turned her down, she got his younger brother — and we all know how that turned out — see F&F6. Shaw wants to get revenge. Of course Hobbs and Shaw want nothing to do with each other, but Mr. Nobody reminds them that they are the only two people to ever track down Cipher so, like it or not, they’re going to work together.

There’s a very long blah, blah, blah about tracking down Cipher, when she and Dom blast their way into the building and steal the ultra powerful/secret computer program they used to track her.

Cipher and Dom are back on her plane, and this is where we find out the reason Dom is helping her is because Cipher has Elena: the police officer from Rio introduced back in F&F 5; she was Dom’s temporary love when he thought Letty was dead. Now, it turns out that Cipher not only has Elena but also… duh, Duh, DUH, their baby boy. (Ohhhhh, so that’s why Dom is helping Cipher. That makes sense now.)

The action jumps to New York City. Dom is there, seemingly alone, to steal a briefcase from a Russian ambassador. Dom’s team, plus Hobbs and Shaw, are there to stop him. What follows is a wickedly cool scene where Cipher uses her elite hacking skills to hack every car with automated driving capability in a 2 mile radius, essentially creating a zombified demolition derby.

Prior to the action getting started, Dom sneaks into a restaurant to meet with Shaw’s mother, played by none other than Dame Helen Mirren. Dom is there for help, but we don’t learn the details until later in the movie.

We also get treated to a bonding scene between Hobbs and Shaw, where Hobbs reads off a list of commendations Shaw received while working for British Intelligence, before he became a traitor. Of course their bonding scene ends with Hobbs saying to Shaw, “When this is all over I’m going to knock your teeth so far down your throat you’ll need to stick a toothbrush up your ass to brush ’em.” (This is how real men say to each other, “I love you, bro.”)

After Dom gets the Russian ambassador’s briefcase (Which contains the super secret recipe for an ancient Russian version of Coca Cola; just kidding, it has nuclear launch codes.)

Okay, wait just a second. Why would a Russian ambassador, in NYC, have a briefcase containing nuclear launch codes? Please, don’t ask. I already said, these movies have plots thinner than that cheap, see-through toilet paper you find in truck stops. Just roll with it and remember, these movies are about action and bad ass characters.

In the ensuing mess about 10,000 cars get destroyed. Dom gets away with the briefcase, and in the process kills Shaw. (Of course Shaw isn’t actually dead, but Cipher needs to think he is.)

Now Cipher has the ultimate hacking program and launch codes for nuclear missiles. Now all she needs is the submarine that contains the missiles and total world domination will be hers.

(Okay, we’re almost done here.)

Since Dom hesitated during one of his tasks, Cipher has to punish him by killing Elena right in front of him. Everyone converges on the Russian base where the nuclear sub is docked. Cipher hacks the sub and launches it, because sure, that’s possible.

Next: A chase scene on the ice between the Russian military and Dom’s team. Then the nuclear sub, hacked by Cipher, is able to plow through the ice and catch up with sports cars, because the nuclear sub has been upgraded with a NOX turbo injector. (It wasn’t, but I’m surprised the writers didn’t add that.)

But wait, what’s that? Two men wearing personal jetpacks flying through the air? Who could that be? It’s both Shaw brothers? But of course it is. They catch up to Cipher’s plane, remotely open the rear door, fly in and take over the plane. Elder Shaw goes forward to save Dom’s baby boy, while Younger Shaw goes for the cockpit. There’s a hilarious action scene of Elder Shaw fighting against Cipher’s men while he carries Dom’s baby boy in a basket.

Once Shaw(s) have rescued Dom’s baby, then Dom is able to rejoin his team. Dom saves the day in epic fashion.

Shaw has Cipher trapped, but she grabs a parachute and jumps out of the plane.  (She was wearing a light jacket and jumped out of a plane, over the Arctic ice, at 10,000 feet. But I’m sure she’ll be fine. Bad guys/gals are immune to hypothermia.)

Denouement
If there’s one thing more ubiquitous in a F&F movie than a NOX (Nitrous OXide) booster, it’s a long denouement, usually involving a dinner table. At the end of the movie Mr. Nobody offers Hobbs his old position back, but Hobbs turns him down to stay home with his daughter. Obviously, this will be resolved in the Hobbs & Shaw movie.

Did you follow all this? Maybe print it out and bring it along to see Hobbs & Shaw. 😉 

Fast & Furious 1 & 4 Is Really ONE MOVIE

Fast and the Furious – Furious 7 Movie Review

Movie Review – The Fate of the Furious – F8

Movie Review – Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw

 

 

Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

Movie Review - The Lion KingIf you’re not a Lion King fan, then I think you’ll find the 2019  live action (CGI, really) version more enjoyable than the animated one, based on more humor and the outstanding cinematography.

For my part, I feel a little numb because I effectively watched the movie three times today working on the Peetimes. And, until two nights ago, I hadn’t seen the animated Lion King since it first came out in the 90s.

The CGI is outstanding. There wasn’t a single moment where I could tell that something wasn’t real. Of course, the animal talking is unavoidably clumsy because animals don’t have the anatomy to actually talk. But I didn’t find it distracting.

The script has been revised slightly to make it more contemporary and add a little more humor. And the voice cast is top-shelf.

Speaking of humor: Seth Rogen, as the voice for Pumbaa and Billy Eichner as the voice for Timon, absolutely carried the movie. John Oliver as Zazu was a perfect choice; I just wish the writers had given him one five second rant to enjoy.

I’m bummed they didn’t bring back Whoopi Goldberg for Shenzi the hyena, but at least they had “the voice” as Mufasa: James Earl Jones.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: I would recommend either of the first two Peetimes.

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

Rated (PG) for sequences of violence and peril, and some thematic elements
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Drama, Remake

The Lion King – Rewatch Review of the Animated Classic

Character voices for Lion King

Lion King: Animated vs Broadway vs Live Action

The Lion King – Can Disney Remake a Masterpiece?

 

Actor Voices for Every Lion King Character (2019)

Here’s a photographic list of the main characters and the actors’ voices behind them in the 2019 CGI (AKA ‘Live Action’) remake of The Lion King.

Lion King: Simba (young)

Simba (young)

Lion King Simba young JD McCrary

JD McCrary

This talented young (12 y/o) actor already has an extensive TV filmography, even appearing as a young Michael Jackson in the TV series American Soul.
Lion King: Simba (grown)

Simba (grown)

Lion King Simba grown Donald Glover

Donald Glover

Donald Glover is a writer, actor, musician, comedian, producer and director. You should recognize him as the young Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story, or for a small, but important, role he had in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Personally, my favorite role of his is as the brilliant astrophysicist in The Martian who came up with the legendary Rich Purnell Maneuver. (For the classic film fans, the adult Simba role was played/sung by Matthew Broderick.) 
Lion King: Nala

Nala

Lion King Nala Beyonce

Beyoncé

Singer and stuff. 🙂
Lion King: Mufasa

Mufasa

Lion King Mufasa voice James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones

No one’s voice exudes power and majesty the same as James Earl Jones’, which is why he’s the only voice actor holdover from the original Lion King. He is Mufasa, and also, in case you didn’t know, the voice of Darth Vader. Among other roles. JEJ just commands respect.
Lion King: Scar

Scar

Lion King Scar voice Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Ejiofor is the Oscar nominated best actor for 12 Years a Slave. For Marvel fans, he’s known as Mordo, Dr. Strange‘s closest sorcerer mentors. Watch this YouTube video here to learn more about him, and especially how to pronounce his name. 🙂

I’m a big Firefly fan, so my favorite role of his is as The Operative in Serenity.

Lion King: Timon

Timon

Lion King Timon Billy Eichner

Billy Eichner

Eichner has done heaps of TV and voice work for years. If you watch American Horror Story, you’ll recognize him as Harrison Wilton / Mutt Nutter / Brock.
Lion King: Pumbaa

Pumbaa

Lion King Pumbaa Seth Rogen

Seth Rogen

If he’s not the funniest, most talented writer/actor in Hollywood right now, I’d like to know who is. (You shut up, James Franco. We’ve been over this. I respect you and you’re super talented, but you’re not Rogen-talented.)
Lion King: Rafiki

Rafiki

Lion King Rafiki John Kani

John Kani

If John Kani looks familiar, it’s probably because you recognize this Tony award winning actor as Wakanda’s King T’Chaka from Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther.
Lion King: Zazu

Zazu

Lion King Zazu voice John Oliver

John Oliver

John Oliver is best known for his hit HBO show Last Week Tonight, and previously on The Daily Show, but recently he’s been very active as a voice actor for movies such as Wonder Park, The Smurfs 1, 2, etc., Robot Chicken, Danger Mouse, and much more.
Lion King hyena Shenzi

Sarafina

Lion King hyena Shenzi Florence Kasumba

Florence Kasumba

Florence Kasumba, born in Uganda, lives in Berlin. She’s one of the very few actors to cross over from the MCU to DC. She is Ayo, personal guard of the King of Wakanda in Black Panther, and also played Senator Acantha in Wonder Woman.
Lion King hyena Kamari

Kamari

Lion King hyena Kamari Keegan-Michael Key

Keegan-Michael Key

His name is Keegan-Michael because he’s actually two people: how else could he get so much work done? He’s been in… Actually, it might be faster to list what he wasn’t in. He didn’t appear in Downton Abbey, or Game of Thrones, but was in pretty much everything else, such as: The Predator, Lets Be Cops, Tomorrowland, Keanu, the voice for Ducky in Toy Story 4, and the voice for Murray in Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation.
Lion King hyena Azizi

Azizi

Lion King hyena Azizi Eric André

Eric André

Eric is the host of his own TV show: The Eric Andre Show. He’s also appeared in a number of TV shows: in Disenchantment as Pendergrast, Man Seeking Woman as Mike, Lucas Bros Moving Co as Wes Borland / Satan / Red, 2 Broke Girls as Deke, and many others.

Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

Lion King – Animated vs Broadway vs Live Action

The Lion King – Lyrics and Video to Hakuna Matata

The Lion Sleeps Tonight Lyrics & Video from The Lion King

The Lion King – Rewatch Review of the Animated Classic

the lion king animated movie - simba on rock
King of all “the sun touches.” Not bad, eh?

This week the rebooted version of The Lion King arrives in theaters. But before that happens, I want to say a few things. To start with, the original 1994 Lion King is one of the best Disney movies EVER. For me, it’s right after The Little Mermaid, and that’s saying a lot.

The Lion King came out during the Disney Renaissance, rescuing Disney from the doldrums of mediocre films they were plagued with post-Golden Age. To have this movie as a remake now, as a “live action” reboot (it’s all CGI, folks), is a BIG BIG deal. The live action versions of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Dumbo don’t even come close. The Lion King is da biggie.

So I did a rewatch last night of the animated classic. And guess what? It not only held up over the years, but surpassed my memories. The Lion King is simply spectacular, in every way. It’s filmatically beautiful, has a great plot, cool characters, good musical interludes, and some truly enjoyable humor.

And Hakana Matata? Well, if I could live a life of “No worries”, I’d be a happy human.

So, the film. If you watch the gorgeous opening scene, I challenge you to not cry for joy. “The Circle Of Life” is one of the best movie introductions ever set to film. I can’t think of anything else that comes close. (Let me know if you can in the comment section below.)

I have a really, really long list of cool thoughts and notes I took during my rewatch, but Comic Con in San Diego starts tonight, and I have to get ready to become a Jedi Knight. So what I’ll do is make a simple bullet-point listing and add my handwritten notes to this article as the week goes on.

I’ll also be Live-Tweeting Comic Con. And now I must be going. I think you’ll like my Lion King notes, once I add them. There’s a lot to discuss.

In the meantime, enjoy the original 1994 Lion King trailer:

The Lion King – Can Disney Remake a Masterpiece?

My two cents worth as I anticipate The Lion King this week. I’m fascinated to see how Disney can remake a masterpiece. The original movie was amazing, and the stage musical was also, in an entirely different way. When my daughter, Destiny, and I saw the musical in Chicago, we were absolutely blown away by the production and costumes. I didn’t think I could love the movie anymore, but I did even more after the musical experience.

Destiny and I love ALL things Disney, and we are amazed at their attention to detail.  I’ve also taken the leadership course at Disney Institute, and their behind the scenes operational ethics are inspiring. For example, when Disney was making the Lion King musical, they spent months figuring out how to make the stage elephant blink perfectly, timely, and look real, simultaneously.

I especially can’t wait until I see the opening scene of the movie. I literally cry every time I see it, and I cried during the musical as well. They used live animals to enter from the back of the theatre, and walked to the stage (Pride Rock) —  and it was absolutely the most amazing and breathtaking thing I had seen in all my life.

Like many of you, I’ve seen The Lion King, via DVD, more than 25 times, and I know every scene and song. So to say, I’ll be especially sensitive watching the remake to ensure Disney didn’t ruin my ultimate love affair with my DVD replay. This is an understatement. I’m sure Disney is feeling the pressure too, but if I know them at all, this too, will be A+ amazing.

So don’t underestimate the magic of Disney. Walt Disney and the entire staff thrive on his words: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”  And on Thursday, July 19, Disney. will. do. it. again! (Exhale)

The Lion King – Lyrics and Video to Hakuna Matata

The Lion Sleeps Tonight Lyrics & Video from The Lion King