Movie Review – Small Foot

That guy is barefoot in the snow a lot. Just saying.

It is such a relief to watch a movie I can give an A+ rating to without hesitation! It was charming, warm-hearted (albeit set in a cold place!), engaging, funny, and surprisingly detailed. I especially loved the many interesting things to look at in the yeti village. I was never bored. I see a lot of movies for RunPee, and not being bored scores high in my book.

A couple of the songs were quite good, and the “Let It Lie” number by Common is a straight-up standout. That entire scene (the one with the Stone Keeper and Migo inside the mountain) was captivating.

Small Foot had some great elements of world-building, which is nice to see in an animated kid flick. The details of the yeti town, their mythology, the backstory…everything fit together seamlessly. I was really surprised how even small details (like why the ice cubes were chipped into spheres) came together later on.

The ‘short Yeti’ comic relief character was a bit tiresome, but that’s my only nit to pick. I’m sure the kiddos liked him well enough. The ‘dumb Thor’ Yeti made the geek in me smile. Mostly, the Yetis and their world were well drawn, the voice work was pleasant, and the climax and denouement actually came from a logical place in the narrative.

It’s also nice to see a movie with no villain. Sometimes watching a plot based around an obligatory ‘bad guy’ makes for tiresome viewing. Writers have to be more creative to do it this way.

There’s a great message about tolerance, without banging the audience over the head with it. I also liked that we saw humanity from an outside perspective, recognizing both the good and the evil inherent in our species. I’d hope that if we found other intelligent beings somewhere, we’d know enough to try communication before hostility.

Outstanding film.

Movie Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: Here are 3 Peetimes of various lengths. If you can manage the 1st one, you won’t have to rush and you miss very little. I was surprised how hard it was to find good Peetimes in this animated film — it’s a tightly woven tale with very little downtime. They put a lot of plot development and world building into this. I also didn’t want to place a Peetime during any of the musical numbers, since I figure if you’re watching this, you’d probably like to hear the songs. One note: if you decide to duck out during a song, do NOT leave when Common/The Stone Keeper does his number. It’s just that excellent.

One More Note: I liked Common’s song Let It Lie so much, I had to look it up for you.  It’s just as good on a second listen — gives me chills. DON’T PLAY if you haven’t seen the movie yet:  it’s got the film’s biggest spoilers in it. Otherwise, enjoy!

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Movie Review – The Predator

This was the best Predator movie besides the very first with Arnold in 1987. The Predator did a great job revitalizing the franchise in a way that the subsequent ones (from the middling Predator 2 sequel through the two AvP disasters) didn’t. If you loved the classic Predator original, you’ll have a good time with this one.

(UPDATED NOTE: I totally forgot there is another Predator film out there.  That one, called Predators, was actually pretty good if I recall, although I honestly don’t remember much about the specifics. That one came out in 2010. I’ll need to re-watch it.)

This movie moves along really fast, mostly in the darkness of one night, and never gave us any characters whose names I could recall. I had to check  IMDB to write the Peetimes, so I could say “Quinn” and “Rory”, instead of using the placeholders from my notes that said “main guy”, “science girl”, and “son with Aspergers”.

I do have to say the kid did a nice job, and his Asperger’s Syndrome was handled fairly well, which can be hard to do in cinema (I’m sensitive to this kind of thing). And “Main Guy” reminded me of a young Michael Biehn from Terminator and Aliens (I expect this is no coincidence). The difference is that those films, in their even shorter run times, gave us indelible character moments AND action. More on this below.

Other notes: while the violence was frequent and over-the-top, it wasn’t the gross-out kind. It didn’t feel gratuitous, as a lot of R-rated films are these days. The violence was extreme, but somehow appropriate. These aliens are brutal hunters, but not sadistic. I’d place this one on the level of the first film in that respect.

The humor was a constant, just like the action. I liked that this film didn’t take itself so seriously. The ‘crazy’ military guys were a hoot; the audience clapped and laughed and had a great time. Unfortunately, the sound was a bit garbled. A lot of the lines were dropped and/or mumbled. I want to see this again without having to write notes for Peetimes, and maybe I’ll be in a room with better sound: I wanted to hear all the jokes.

The action was inspired and fun. I’d have liked to see some moments of rest, where both characters and audience get a breather between shoot-em-up set pieces. In most great epics, a sure hand at the directorial helm knows to give us those beats, and I feel this was lacking here. However, this was a such a good time at the cinema, and it was such a relief to have a good Predator movie again, that I can’t help but be a bit ecstatic about enjoying The Predator.

Also, the Predator “dogs” are simply awesome. Great concept. However, I kind of feel an entire plotline with the remaining dog was left on the editing floor. We got to see said pup for a final second in the background — and out of focus! — in the denouement, but his part of the story felt unfinished. If this franchise picks up with this crew again, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that Predator dog trained as a heroic character in the ensemble.

My first instinct was to give this an A-. I usually leave a good film on a bit of a high, and then downgrade things as I deconstruct them for my review. This is what’s happening now. If the characters were truly memorable — if I cared when they died — this would be an easy A. If I recalled anyone’s name, or if there was even a hint of world-building, it’d have stuck with the A-.

B+ is still a fine rating, but the writers should have taken a page from the outstanding Marvel Cinematic Universe films and given us some heart, some really meaningful narrative moments…and there’d be something pretty great to build on. As it was, the big ‘revelation’ felt random, underwhelming, and a tad silly.

One last note: There’s a nice moment of beauty at the end, when the sun finally rises and Main Guy (okay, “Quinn”) takes a little ride outside the spaceship’s shields. (It’s not a spoiler in a sci fi/alien movie to say there’s a spaceship here.) It’s short, but that’s my favorite scene, with the symbolic element of a new dawn, a new era, arising for humanity. I’m not even sure this was intended as more than a little neato set-piece in a rousing death-match feature, but I dug it.

PS: I was expecting an Arnold cameo. Nope. Aw, shucks.

Movie Grade: B-

About the Peetimes:  Well, then. You get your money’s worth of action and humor here, and that made finding Peetimes very hard. I found one at around 30 minutes, one at 45 minutes, and one an hour in. Pick any, but definitely USE ONE. The movie gets long and the action keeps speeding up, to the point where even the die hard fans get a bit lost in the final hour, without paying strict attention to everything. Advice: *you don’t want to be squirming around at the end*. I’ve done my best to summarize what happens, and none of the best Predator stuff you came for will be missed at all. 

Also on RunPee.com:  Each Predator Movie, Rated

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Movie Rewatch — Jaws

Dun dun. Dun dun. DUNDUNDUNDUNDUNDUNdoodooDOOOO!

This movie still blows me away (not unlike the way a certain 25-foot Great White got blown) and I am super surprised. I knew it was good, but I didn’t remember it being THIS good. Like A+ level good. Steven Spielberg, while young, was already on his game.

It’s hard to hold the title of First Ever Blockbuster. And it’s harder even to look back since 1975 and agree that such an “old” film holds up to our current movie-going standards.

Remember, suspense-horror-action fans, it’s what you don’t see that’s the best kind of scare. Alien did it. Recently the very good A Quiet Place did this perfectly.

This review is going to have some spoilers, but since it’s been a while since the 70s, even people who missed Jaws the first time pretty much knows most of the plot (via pop culture osmosis).

The gore is surprisingly low key. There are two distinct grisly moments, and one of those is a jump scare. (That would be the one-eyed human head under the boat). And the only real icky scene is the real early one, where the naked girl’s remains are a bloody lump chewed on by a seething mass of crabs. It’s a quick thing, and you get more visceral punch from the random policeman who found her: he’s so squicked out he can ‘t watch, stand, or even be near the remains. You can almost smell it yourself.

The less you see of ol’ Bruce (Jaws’ real-life mechanical contraption) as he swims by or attacks, the better he looks. He’s got one or two raggedly bad side shots that really look awful (like when it’s on the boat, attacking Quint). Since Spielberg knew how bad his rubber shark looked, the crew kept it mostly underwater or head on, where we see only the big bloody mouth coming at the screen.

But. Then. The film really lucked out. Now we’re talking about the human actors – the big three. It works, and works fabulously. You know who they are. These are three very different characters, who come together and make you sit forward, avidly watching each moment build, smiling as they compare scars, then shivering in suspense as the story plays upon what came before. When the stricnine laced needle falls useless to the ocean floor, and the shark cage is in tatters, you’d do just what Hooper did — lie still under some flotsam and ride it out. Recall that the shark responds to prey-like panicky ‘fear’ movement.

Back on what’s left of the ship “Orca” (a great in-joke), Brody has one trick left, and isn’t looking like he’s going to survive this. However, the magic of subtle foreshadowing saves the day in a way that simply makes sense. It’s not a last minute Hail Mary – this has been baked in from early on, if you paid attention. The resolution is incredibly satisfying.

The fine acting of characters Brody, Quint, and Hooper elevate what could have been just another sensational summer disaster film into the stratosphere of real greatness.

And you know what else? THIS MOVIE IS INCREDIBLY FUNNY! I don’t think childhood “me” thought it was funny (I thought it was scary, even though the iconic Musical Shark Cue gave me most of those shivers).

But in this viewing, if I wasn’t gripped by a scene, I was laughing. And sometimes I was gripped AND laughing. This is frakking good storytelling.

The ending is so completely satisfying that you walk out with a big smile. I sat through the entire end credits, just to see Brody and Hooper make it, swimming on those barrels, back safely to shore. Then I could breathe again, and turn the laptop off. I haven’t felt so excited and satisfied by a monster action movie since Pitch Black or Aliens.

Something really fun: there’s a heat wave going on in So Cal, and I’ve been swimming in the pool daily. To the point where I wan’t going to dry out for movie watching…and yeah, I swam and paddled through my entire Jaws rewatch, laptop on the edge of the pool. This wasn’t planned. By the time I realized it, I was glad it was a pool, and not, you now, the ocean. (Although I love the ocean and no fraking fish is going to keep me out of it.) I just thought it was an interesting juxtaposition.

So.

Did I bother to watch the sequels?  Good question. In a word: No.

Should I?

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Want to hear some crazy stats from the Jaws franchise? Rotten Tomatoes gives 1975 Jaws a coveted 97% score. For a film in an era of public smoking and casually sexist behaviors, that’s pretty awesome. For the sequels, the critic scores drop down FAST:

Jaws 2 – 57% (Meaning more than half of the reviews think it’s worth a shot – like a B- or C+)

Jaws 3 – 41% (Meaning “meh”…see it at home if you can’t get enough sharks chomping swimmers)

Jaw 4: The Revenge – 0% GOOSE EGG. It’s in fine company with several John Travolta movies (see even recently: Gotti gets the Goose). But the ZERO is way more than enough to sink the shark and his brethren for decades. Only weird franchises like Sharknado returned to this well, and as far as I know (I haven’t seen them), they are mostly a joke, like Snakes On A Plane.

And now….we have The Meg: all about an ancient, titanic sea shark the size of a cruise ship. We’re covering the science of Megalodon, the Mosasaurus, and the Great White on RunPee.com for your geeky enjoyment!

Movie Grade: A+

About the Peetimes:  “The Meg” inspired us (Dan, Jill, and RunPee Mom) to do a rewatch of the classic JAWS and add Peetimes for it. (Just for fun.) We even recorded a podcast of our discussion about which Peetimes we would select. To sum: With a perfectly made film like this, finding Peetimes was easy and a joy. We always maintain that a well made film has both times of excitement, and times to recover. The movie builds on these solid principles.

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

About the End Credits Scenes in Ant Man & The Wasp

First off, it’s a Marvel movie, okay? You simply may not leave your seat until the lights come up. In this case, Ant Man and the Wasp are no different. Make your friends — and even strangers — “hold onto their butts.” (Ten points to Gryffindor if you remember where that quote is from.)

Spoilers for Infinity War and Ant Man & The Wasp ahead!

Some extra scenes/tags/stingers are fluffy fun, some add to the plot, and some hint at what’s to come. Some tease you in a sort of parody way, or just send you off with a little laugh. We’ve got a fine stew of all that in Ant Man 2, the 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

My advice: don’t leave until the bitter end.

As the credits roll, for two minutes we see scenes from Ant Man and the Wasp as miniature models, highlights from the films. There are posed dolls; there are miniatures sets; it’s nice and all. Since this bit of Fancy Credits begins exactly as the movie ends, we don’t call this kind of thing an extra. It’s neat to see, though, with some good music to enjoy while you wait for the big anticipated mid-credits scene.

Some background first : Ant Man and The Wasp takes place roughly before/during/around the momentous events of Avengers: Infinity War.  Maybe most of their timelime happens during Thor: Ragnarok, which leads directly into Infinity War. 

Seriously awful things happen in the last 20 minutes of IW. I saw it five times in the theater and still bawled like a baby. Peter Parker and Teen Groot destroyed me, especially.

So when I say that I and the audience GASPED out loud in the crucial mid-credits scene of Ant Man 2, I mean it viscerally. It was a gut-punch that surprised us all. It was almost (ALMOST) worse than what happened in Infinity War. This reminder hurt.

It’s not like the Ant Man crew are my favorite superheros, and while I’d hoped  this ‘small stakes’ lighthearted film would connect to the larger MCU, I was, by the end of the movie, lulled into a sense of contentment. By then, I’d totally forgotten about The Snap. As the directors planned. When The Snap returned, during the mid-credits, making ash of Hank, Hope and the newly-freed Janet — simultaneously stranding Scott Lang in the Quantum Realm — I actually yelped in the theater. A huge audience “Nooooooo!” showed I wasn’t the only one lulled into complacency.

And that is exactly what the Marvel studios bank on. Light, fun  movie? Check. Awful last minute universe continuity meant to shock the audience — double check.

So, Scott is left alone in the Quantum Realm (to be fair, Luis, Bill Foster or even Ghost could retrieve him, and maybe he was immune to The Snap by being out of space and time…theories abound), but that doesn’t take the power of the moment away when Hope, Hank, and Janet disappear. Mic drop. End scene.

If you wait for the final, post credit extra, you’re treated to a hint of the world status, Post Snap. Streets are empty, while sirens sound in the distance. We pan through Scott’s empty house, in several rooms, see the TV switch over to the Emergency Broadcast System…and finally land on one of Scott’s giant ants playing his drums. Dire as things are, it’s still an Ant Man movie, providing a grace of comic relief, after the brutal reminder of the state of the universe.

The final nail in the coffin swiftly follows, when the screen fades to black and we see the title card: Ant Man and The Wasp Will Return.

Then a beat passes.

And a question mark pops up, to show: “Ant Man and The Wasp Will Return?”

Nice. Ambiguity.

Then lights come up and you’re left feeling like you saw a cutely made, well-done late phase MCU film: a rollicking good time with refreshingly small stakes (sans the very end).

So, now what?

My theory is that people we didn’t see dissolve are still with us. So, Luis is still in the front of the van. Bill Foster and his Ghost ward know how to operate the Quantum Tunnel. Getting Scott out may be a simple affair, and his knowledge of the Quantum Realm might hold the key to undoing Thanos’ damage.

It’s a long wait til 2019’s March release of Captain Marvel and the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4, due later that summer.

I do have a burning question: How did Hank Pym and family not know Earth was under attack by massive waves of alien monsters in Wakanda? You’d think this wouldn’t be the time for starting a risky new quantum experiment. Personally, I’d be glued to the news of world events.

And for that matter, in Infinity War, how did Nick Fury, of all people, not realize his planet was in a serious state of war? Shouldn’t he be dialed in to everything the Avengers say or do, at all times? Running around panicking in NYC, he seemed strangely out of the loop.

Here is the Mid Credit Scene from Ant Man and The Wasp, mixed in with the real-time last moment of Avengers: Infinity War. (2.3 minutes long.) You might need a tissue.

Coda. Final Scene:

What do you think happens with Scott, the Quantum Realm, and the Post-World Snap?

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Dinosaurs and Mead in San Diego: Bronto Brewery

Where can you have a serious sword fight  beneath the skeleton of a T-Rex, drinking handcrafted mead from ancient recipes, play geeky games, and watch classic sci-fi movies? That would be the Bronto Brew Meadery in San Diego.

The owners are certified geeks, just like their patrons, and if that sounds like you, then you’re invited to come in until, like Cheers, “Everybody knows your name.”

Deanna Giwlt, Dan Gwilt, and Ryan Gwilt created Bronto Brew Meadery exactly two years ago (with a celebratory anniversary coming up), with the intention of using a Jurassic Park theme. There’s a T-Rex family in the entry, a giant nest of Brontosaur eggs inside, ancient vinesrcreeping in, dino prints and the sense of entering a long-abandoned Mesozoic-sourced lab when you sit inside to order your mead.

Mead — honey wine, at it’s most distilled point — is what they do. It’s ALL they do. And they do it very, very well. Something for all tastes – some are like a hoppy IPA brew, a sweet wine, a heady cider,  fruit-forward vino, or a rich red port.

I was lucky enough to get a behind the scenes tour of the Bronto Brew Meadery with my photographer Ola Sojoba. We saw the entire process, starting with massive vats of honey, to small production bottles of such rarities as Stegosaurus Blood (ask for it and they might make more. It’s, shall we say, deeply red and wonderfully rich). My favorite is the classic, however, the Pure Bronto. This tastes exactly like I would expect a classic mead to be: a brew that Nordic gods like Thor,  or heroes like Beowulf, or kings like Theoden, are used to serving in their golden halls.

Deanna is especially nerdy, in a good way, about her dinosaur-themed establishment. They welcome nerds, geeks, and “normals” of all stripes, with a full array of giant screen movies, a towering stack of games, regular D&D events, special dragon goblets to rent, and a giant jenga. And swords.

During our tour, Sojoba and I were treated to a full “Pterodactyl Flight” and a game of Exploding Kittens (which is weirder than it sounds, and it certainly sounds strange enough).  Deanna and I also took up swords and hacked the holy hell out of each other, while the men cringed and hovered protectively. We plan a rematch soon. Avast!

Because this of the week leading up to the newest Jurassic World movie (JW 2: Fallen Kingdom), we were excited to attend the movie rewatch, projected huge dino-sized on the wall. Starting with Jurassic Park Classic (the best; still holds up), we moved on to The Lost World (also pretty good). Coming up is the woe- begotten lame JP III (it has a campy value, I guess), and the nicely thrilling, recently revitalized Jurassic World 1 (do not underestimate the value of Chris Pratt). This will probably be a annual event. 

All FREE, of course. You don’t even have to buy a brew, although, heck, you should give it a try. I’ve had many meads in my day, and these guys are the real deal. Cloudy and rich, just like they enjoyed it in the Middle Ages.

The tour was really involved. We saw big vats of organic honey. Those were fermented into a “must” with special yeast, with the addition of either hops, of flowers, or sweet fruits, to create a lovely flight of surprisingly different colors/tastes. If it’s your first visit, we recommend trying a flight, starting with the Pure Bronto, and asking for the rest by mentioning your interest in hoppy, floral, or sweet tastes. Most names have some kind of dino-relation in the title, which is only appropriate. It’s a good time at a good price.

Deanna said she chose the title Bronto because there were not a lot of mead, beer, or coffee places with dinosaurs in the titles. She said, “Dinosaurs stand out and draw attention to them.” When they go to the farmer’s markets, the first thing they see is the T-Rex , and that people crave dinosaurs. She said even introverts feel inspired to talk it about and ask about their mead. These people become regulars for gaming nights, socializing over board games.

What’s also nice is that mead is gluten free. So people worried about whether they can drink the classic beverages are safe. It’s an historical drink that no one has to stress about.

July 21 is the national natural Mead Anniversary, and Bronto is very excited about preparing for this event, showing FREE large screen movies having to do when the era mead was popular.

August 1 will showcase a HUGE event  as their Mead Day, where children, dogs and adults all will be welcome. Homemade necklace pendents and earrings (priced at $12) will be available to purchase. Teeshirts cost $20, with two priced at $30.

Information will be be updated on their Facebook page, and incluce all the info on their regular games and fun events. I’ll keep fan apprised here as well.

What kind of new dinosaur decor should we expect from the Bronto Brew? We’re told there will be more vines and some ‘aging’ decor, to make it clear this is from the Isla Nublad era, around where the science fell into ruin. We likee. Last time I visited, the vines started showing up and the scene was set for a decayed trip to Jurassic Park. Very nice. More jungle ambiance and dino murals are expected soon.

The original look of biolab coats and lab hazard signs are up and ready to go.

Deanna said that she grew up with The Land Before Time, the Flintstones, Puff the Magic Dragon, and that even the Power Rangers had dragons! With the new binge-popular shows like Game of Thrones, plus the revitalized Jurassic movies, this is the perfect time to bring dinosaurs back to popular consciousness.

So what dino themed mead drinks can you choose from? Ask for these:

  • Pure Bronto- the house Mead, a perfect meady blend
  • Stegosaurus Blood – deeply fruit and dry – a select small batch
  • Velicoberry – fruity dry
  • Citrodon – beery fun
  • Hibiscus Berry – floral beer-like taste
  • Cretaceous Bloom – a nice sour
  • Achilobactor
  • Hoposaurus – A sweet IPA beer version of mead

The tap masters have a full array of choices to pull together different mead  cocktails — choices to make all patrons happy, putting their favorites into unusual blends.  These guys are seriously creative, and in love with their unusual product. Ask for the mixologic options

Deanna concludes, “Jurassic Park is using science and tech to bring back something ancient and fun – and we love it.”

Look for Part Two of this series on Bronto Brew Meadery, where we take you from honey vat to finished treat, postedaboutt Mead Day. RunPee will update you on on what FREE mead-themed movies will be posted to get you in the mood.

All images by Ola Sojoba, Owned by RunPee.com – all to be added ASAP  (traveling in Mexico right now and it’s a challenge). 

Hours of Operation

Friday: 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Saturday: 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Bronto Mead
9235 Trade Place, D, San Diego, CA 92126
(619) 796 – 3096

 

 

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Welcome to Jurassic Poll…

Lots of Dinosaur action this week. I’m getting ready for my Jurassic World Double Feature on Thursday (all Thursdays are movie nights here at RunPee...) Here’s a poll of the state of dinosauria in Twitterland. Poll results will drop in when the time limit is up, but feel free to head to Twitter and add your POV.

NOTE: Poll is complete. Notice how not one vote appeared for Jurassic Park III. I can’t say I’m surprised.

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

The 5 Movies You Need To Watch Before Infinity War

At this time, there are exactly 19 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ant Man & The Wasp is coming soon (to make an even 20) but that tale will probably be a self-contained story: a palette cleanser after the lingering after-effects of mighty number 19, the Avengers Infinity War.

You probably already know Infinity War is the culmination of 10 years of cinematic storytelling, with a cast of literally dozens of named characters. To catch up to this point, one would have to sit through several days of non-stop movie-going… starting with Iron Man 1, the film that kickstarted it all. A lot of fans converged in New York City for 31 hours of Marvel goodness, and I hope they brought their Peetimes. (Note: the NYC screening only played 12 films for their marathon, so you’ll have to do the math yourself for a grand pre-Infinity War hours-long total of all 18.)

But, what if you don’t have time for a full re-watch before IW leaves the theaters? Or — Ragnarok forbid! — maybe you’re kind of an MCU newb. (Clue: if you don’t know what MCU stands for, you might be a rookie.)

RunPee is here to help. If you had to, you could get by with a five-film preview and be more or less up to speed. Here are those five, plus a few extra honorary mentions if you have some extra time/inclination. This slim five movie line-up means you’ll miss a few important origin stories, but for the ones I skip, things can be summed up in one or two lines. You’ll see.

Five Must-See Films, with No Spoilers

  1. Iron Man 1 – Iron Man started it all and changed how we saw superhero films. It’s easy to forget how amazing this was when it first hit the screens. Understanding the complex character of Tony Stark is so important to understanding the series, and it’s hard to adequately explain why. Cap is simple — he’s a super soldier and a natural leader. Thor is simple — he’s the Norse God of Thunder. Hulk…is Hulk (I assume you know about the Hulk). But you have to walk a while with Stark to see his importance to the entire universe, and why so much of IW centers on him. If you have to skip any of these five films though, this is the one to overlook.
  2. Avengers 1 – You don’t really need the origin stories of Cap, Hulk, or Thor to understand Infinity War. Avengers 1 preps things so nicely for the original set of superheroes, and lays the groundwork for EVERYTHING ELSE to come. Do not miss.
  3. Captain America: Civil War – If you skip this one, you may as well not bother with Infinity War. This ensemble piece covers several new origin stories, brings together a huge cast in preparation for an upcoming even  larger cast, and paves the way towards understanding what happened to “break-up” the original team. MUST SEE.
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 1 – Another film that you cannot skip. A lot of IW is devoted to the Guardians. If you don’t know who these beings are, IW won’t hit the emotional beats it sustains for everyone else. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.
  5. Thor 3: Ragnarok – This film most immediately leads into Infinity War. As in, it ends literally moments before IW begins.  Thor 3 brings a lot of disparate story points together, explains why Thor is so broken when we see him next, continues the storylines of both Loki and The Hulk, and sets the stage for everything to come. If you miss this one, a major part of the IW resolution just won’t make sense. And also, like GotG, this one is super fun.

———————–

Six Honorary Mentions (If you have the time), and what you need to know if you skip them (with spoilers to get you caught up — be warned): 

  1. Avengers 2: Age of Ultron – The second Avengers ensemble piece explains who The Vision and Scarlet Witch are. What you need to know: The Vision is an artificial intelligence being with an infinity stone implanted in his forehead, created by Ultron (and Stark, and Banner – it’s complicated, but not important). Scarlet Witch is infused with the same powers of the stone. All this is referenced in both Captain America: Civil War, and in Infinity War itself, so missing the Ultron bit won’t hurt you.
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Bucky was Cap’s best friend in the World War II days, he’s been injected with super soldier serum (just like Cap), has a Vibranium arm (instead of a shield), and was brainwashed into being a bad guy (unlike Cap). This information is more or less re-tread in Civil War, so you’ll be okay without this one. Skippable for our purposes.
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 – This is a direct continuation of the first GotG film, with a few character additions — Baby Groot replaces Original Groot (which we see at the end of Volume 1), Mantis is a new Guardian (and has the power to make you sleep or wake up)…and Star Lord kills his father (for very good reasons). Oh, and Nebula comes to terms with her sister Gamora. It’s all about ‘family’. Now you’re good to go. Of the six movies listed here, this one has the most plot points you’d appreciate knowing for IW. 
  4. Dr. Strange – All you REALLY need to know is that Strange is a Wizard and wears the Time Stone. Infinity War does a great job rehashing those two points in the first few scenes. Bonus: there’s also a brief but fun Strange introduction in Thor: Ragnarok. So, yeah, unless you are a huge Cumberbatch fan, you can safely skip this to prep for IW.
  5. Spiderman: Homecoming – I hated leaving this affable and fun entry off the main list, but since we get a very nice introduction to Spidey in Civil War, you can safely pass on his stand-alone film.
  6. Black Panther – Like Spiderman above,  leaving out the story of Wakanda kind of hurts. The thing is: Civil War does a fantastic job introducing T’Challa’s Black Panther and the idea of the Vibranium-tech-based nation itself, and why the Winter Soldier can be found there. Cool as this movie is, you’ll be fine without it. You’ll understand why a large portion of IW occurs in Wakanda, because a main character tells you outright.

Keep in mind, I’m not listing which movies are the best in the MCU, nor saying that the rest are unimportant or uninteresting in their own right. This is just to get you to a place you can potentially watch Infinity War and not be totally,  hopelessly lost. Have fun, and let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments. Movie-watching is subjective. Which five would you say are crucial?

To help you get ready:

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Star Wars Last Shot – A Han and Lando Novel

With the arrival of Solo —the newest Star Wars Story set to splash on cinema screens — pretty much the entire galaxy is primed to learn more about Han Solo. Just how did he fall from expert Imperial pilot to a petty criminal in a seedy underworld? Lots of pre-canon material is out there in book form, detailing how he met and saved the faithful Chewie, how he won (or cheated?) the Millennium Falcon out from under Lando Calrissian …and how the frak the Kessel Run was made in less than 12 parsecs (which, as we know, is a unit of distance, not time).  These are things Solo is expected to show.

Now here’s the first completely canonized Han Solo book, to fill in the gaps the movies don’t cover. It’s called Star Wars: Last Shot (A Han and Lando Novel), written by Daniel José OlderApparently it delves into Han’s (and Lando’s) past and future. And like Han and Lando, the book is breezy, snarky, and funny.

What’s challenging, structure-wise, is how the novel will make a coherent story without rehashing or rewriting established moments from these men’s lives that we haven’t already seen — not in the original trilogy, the new Solo film, and the slowly growing bookshelf of canon novels. If Last Shot is going to be weaving four viewpoints around (young Han, young Lando, mature Han, and mature Lando), telling a credible, interesting tale with all new information sounds somewhat impossible. (But hey, never tell me the odds!)

According to Amazon reviewers, Last Shot manages all these things, and gives us plenty of insight to our two most-beloved galactic scoundrels. And, of course, Chewbacca.

Here’s a direct link to Star Wars – Last Shot on Amazon, so you can take a look for yourselves. The second link goes to the classic (now non-canon, but still awesome) Adventures of Han Solo trilogy. I still own the original books, in the first print of the first edition…and it’s time to get the first print of the new story!

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Movie Review – Deadpool 2

Deadpool 2. Funny?

Without question.

As funny as the first?

Close, but not quite… Okay, now that I think about it, yeah, it was as funny as the first.

Deadpool 2. Great action?

Absolutely.

Was the action as good as the first?

Nope.

This has hardly a knock on the movie. The first Deadpool was fantastic, A-grade material, from start to finish. DP2 coming close is still a great compliment.

What DP2 has over the original is the impressive list of cameos. I don’t want to give it away here, in case you haven’t seen the movie yet, so I’ll put that at the very bottom in case you’re interested.

One thing I did notice however was that the sound was a little muffled. I don’t think it was the theater because it’s an IMAX theater I’ve been to many times. There were a number of lines that just felt swallowed up and I couldn’t catch them.

Grade: B+

Scroll down for the notable cameos…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brad Pitt as Vanisher
Terry Crews as Bedlam
Matt Damon as Redneck #1
Alan Tudyk as Redneck #2
Nicholas Hoult as Beast (uncredited)
Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (uncredited)
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier (uncredited)
Evan Peters as Quicksilver (uncredited)
Tye Sheridan as Cyclops (uncredited)

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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

I thoroughly enjoyed A Quiet Place, even though I can’t stomach horror movies. Thank Thor RunPee Sis craves those films, or I don’t think we’d have Peetimes for them. But, you know what? A Quiet Place isn’t really straight-up horror — or more accurately, it’s a sub-unit of such: scary suspense. And those are perfectly fine viewing for movie-goers who don’t enjoy being frightened witless, or mentally disturbed after bedtime. I can do suspense.  After all, Alien  and Signs are among my favorite films. Take heart, and see this movie if you’re unsure.

Silence. Shhhhh. Both showings I attended were dead quiet — the hearing-a-pin-drop kind. When one person rustled their bag for popcorn, the room en mass shot dirty looks at the unwitting assailant. I’ve since read this spontaneously happened across theaters every night, every time. One person directly in front of me made two near-silent coughs and took herself right out of there. Good call. We might have just as silently killed her for it. Such was the magic of attending this kind of movie, a rare theater-only experience. (Only films like Avatar, Titanic, and  the first Jurassic Park are really the main theater related “experiences” I can offhand recall.)

If this was an art-film made to showcase a dialog and soundtrack-free production, or an old-timey silent film, I wouldn’t be interested. The only things I could previously appreciate was a silent (and also scary) TV episode of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. As it was, I was entirely, and enjoyably, gripped.

Our only exposition are the many news clippings tacked on basement walls, things panned too quickly to really read. Are the aliens Death Angels of God? Aliens from a Meteorite? Subterranean creatures from a cave in Mexico? It’s enough. It doesn’t matter. More important are the words scrawled on the family white board: THEY HUNT BY SOUND. THEY ARE ARMORED. Local Area has (3) confirmed.

That’s all one needs for the story, and we’ve guessed most of that by this point.

Like in Signs by M. Night Shylaman, we get a one-family take on a War of the Worlds theme, and it really works. The stakes are upped — as we see by the nightly lighting of fire beacons, they may only be small pockets of humanity left. We’re talking a few local outposts with the intelligence and ingenuity to live in silence indefinitely.

And more pointedly, we see up close several reasons WHY this family does so well. There’s a well-equipped barnhouse bunker as a birthing room and sanctuary, and a sound-proofed box for their soon-to-be squalling baby, equipped with working oxygen supplies. There’s enough tools and sundries for any end-of-the-world scenario. Who needs zombies when you have this?

Outside the bunker, the family knows to walk barefoot and not make sounds in surprise or pain. All common pathways outside are deeply lined with sand, any squeaking steps in the house are clearly marked for avoidance, and red lights are strung about to announce an attack. The father keeps loud rockets in his pockets to draw off intruders. He knows you can speak under a waterfall, how to set traps for fish, and where to forage in the empty towns for supplies he can’t make himself.

He also, almost too fortunately,  knows how to construct high-tech hearing aids. And this is also where A Quiet Place treads too close to Signs, where the daughter has an extremely fortunate habit of leaving undrank glasses of water everywhere in the house. In A Quiet Place, it’s all about a coincidentally “different” daughter again. Their daughter was deaf and the family knew sign language? Impressively useful. How convenient the father kept tinkering with better hearing devices?  Yeah, yeah. But you know what — in the entire world, surely this scenario would occur somewhere. We just follow the family that has it going on.  While it’s less comedic (read: never) than Signs, it’s a story that actually makes more sense.

So they’ve got things mostly covered. It sounds…doable. They manage for at least a few years. And that’s where things get going, in deadly earnest. In spite of all their planning, Emily Blunt’s character breaks her water early. She’s alone in an unsound-proofed area, in a tremendous state of pain and terror. We remember (from the prologue) that the family was used to grabbing pain killers from an empty pharmacy. But then, more than a year goes by. Blunt’s character didn’t take any pills when her contraction begins and never gets the chance later. That’s a difficult enough birth under normal circumstances.

But her suffering has to be silent; absolutely so. No moaning, screaming, nor normal crying. She bleeds out in a bathtub with an lethal alien crawling about the room. This is gripping storytelling. I went in a second time to watch this scene, because Blunt portrays her character’s experience entirely, compellingly, with only eyes and expressions. Her hands grip her womb, seemingly to keep the baby safely inside, or push it out quickly, to somehow protect her baby from the consequences of its first cry.

This is one versatile actress. Remember when Blunt’s big debut was as a supporting break-out character – that self-absorbed mean-spirited assistant from The Devil Wears Prada? Her main goal in life was eating just enough cheese cubes to keep from passing out (the better to carry off size 00 couture from Paris). Her smaller roles became leads, including an aggressively skilled warrior in Edge of Tomorrow, and a pathetic, grief-stricken soul from Girl On A Train. These are wildly diverging roles she carried off with deftness and verve.

In A Quiet Place, there aren’t great set-pieces or sparkling dialog to carry the film. It doesn’t offer much in the way of visuals, either.  (It’s a somewhat claustrophobic movie, as a clearly Hitchcockian-inspired flick would be.)  Blunt shoulders nearly the entire movie with no more than a few words of wistful, pain-wracked regret. These rare lines don’t serve to propel the action or plot: they’re just quiet moments of drama.

John Trasinski (as the father that is – directorially he’s superb) does a fine job too, but this isn’t his movie. His character’s climactic sacrifice, however, lends a tragically necessary gravity to the story. Life ends, life begins. There’s no happy ending, just the reality of survival.

The denouement confused me at first. As they watched their land’s video cameras, I thought the rest of the family was about to be overwhelmed and snuffed out. Talking about it among the RunPee family showed me it’s actually a thread of hope. Now that this family knows how to kill the aliens, they can wipe out the local pocket (tow more left) of intruders. They can reach out the the local families (right, as seen by bonfire) and show them how to do that too. And from there, hope for what’s left of humanity can spread. I’d watch that sequel.

Which leads me to announcing there is a sequel, or maybe a prequel in the works. The Quiet-Verse has lots of stories to tell. If there’s a franchise to be had here, I can only hope all involved want to craft any subsequent movies as perfectly as they did this one. Earning a rare A+, all a normally reluctant horror-phone can say is:  see this film.

Movie Grade: A+

RunPee Dan’s (Unspoiled) Review of A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place 2 Announced

 

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.