Movie Review – Harriet

Movie Review - HarrietAs many of you know, I am a fan of biopics. I said to myself, “Self, is Hollywood going to mess this story up?” But, surprisingly, they didn’t let me down. Harriet is a must-see for sure. Given that many people may not know the full story about Harriet Tubman, this movie does a good job with the golden nuggets about who she was and how she became one of the most renowedn conductors of the Underground Railroad.

While watching, I didn’t feel as if the scenes were over dramatic or over saturated with the use of the N-word. The drama, location, and subtle use of humor were blended nicely for such grim subject matter.

The actors did a great job! I can never get enough of Janelle Monáe.

Cynthia Erivo played an excellent Harriet, although many of us may still be partial to Cicely Tyson in that role in 1978. Cynthia also sang one of the songs on the soundtrack — Stand Up. It will raise the hairs on your skin. Speaking of the soundtrack, you might add this one to your musical playlist; it’s hella good.

A couple of quick things that resonated for me. There’s a part in the movie where Harriet makes up her mind to go back to rescue others. Marie, played by Janelle Monáe, teaches Harriet how to blend in and not look or sound like a slave. That scene validated what I tell the women I mentor all the time. Don’t dress like the job you have; dress like the job you want.

The last thing that was paramount in Harriet’s journey was her realizing what her journey was all about. She went back with one mission, but she quickly had to shift gears when she learned that wasn’t her mission at all. That was the moment her real transformation into a courageous, strong-minded, ingenious hero began.

There’s a lot more I can say about this movie but I’ll stop here for now. Feel free to share your thoughts below. I want to know what resonated with you about the movie.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: It wasn’t too difficult selecting Peetimes. This is a biopic about a well-known figure in American and Canadian history; therefore, sensitivity to the plot was imperative. There are 3 Peetimes. I recommend the 2nd Peetime.

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

Rated (PG-13) for thematic content throughout, violent material and language including racial epithets
Genres: Biography, Drama, History, True life story

Official Movie Review – Terminator: Dark Fate

Movie Review - Terminator: Dark FateAll things considered, I’d say Terminator: Dark Fate is a worthy successor to the 1991 Terminator 2. After 28 years, 3 other Terminator movies — plus a TV show — it’s hard to think of Dark Fate as the 3rd movie in a trilogy, but that’s where it belongs.

Dark Fate had the potential to be an A, even A+ movie. The bones are there, but the flesh has a few too many blemishes. However, I think it earned a good B+ grade.

The action scenes won’t disappoint; they come early and often, and really pack a punch. If anything, there was too much action early, because by the end it feels a little anticlimactic.

Hands down, the best thing about this movie is Mackenzie Davis as Grace. She steals every scene she’s in — which is most of the movie. Her action scenes are creative, and she has the physique to make her character believable.

Kudos to the writers for giving Sarah Connor’s character a great return. Her character arc from the end of T2 to now works, and Linda Hamilton rocks the gritty, sarcastic attitude of her aged character.

My single biggest complaint is that the new character of Dani Ramos has some problems. After seeing the movie with my wife and mother, we all agreed she was the weak link. Upon further consideration, I don’t think it’s the actress’s (Natalia Reyes) fault. The writing for her character was caught in a conflict that just wasn’t going to work well. I’ll get to that in more depth below in the spoilers section.

Spoilers For Terminator Dark Fate Below
I’m including this in the spoilers section because I’m not 100% sure everyone knows Arnold Schwarzenegger is in this movie. First, I want to point out that I love the direction the writers took Arnold’s Terminator character. I was expecting something fresh and got it. Arnold’s scenes with Sarah were pure gold. It’s really cool to see them come full circle.

Here’s the conundrum the writers created for the character Dani: as the story develops, the audience is lead to believe, mainly due to dialog by Sarah Connor, that Dani is the “new Sarah” and that she’ll give birth to the leader of the resistance. However, as we later discover, Dani is the leader of the resistance herself.

In a perfect world, when the twist is revealed, the writers want the audience to think: Gee, I didn’t see that coming, but now that you think about it, the clues were right there.

That’s a tricky plot twist to pull off, and quite a challenge for the writers to undertake. I think they at least deserve kudos for trying. And I’m not saying they failed miserably. They just didn’t do a great job.

The problem: if they make Dani’s character appear strong and competent,  it will be obvious she’s the resistance leader. Therefore, they have to hide those attributes. At the same time, if they don’t make Dani appear strong and confident, then when the twist is revealed, it feels unrealistic.

Early in the movie we see Dani as the leader of her household, inspiring her brother, giving her father chores to do. It’s simple, but it shows she knows how to manage. When she and her brother arrive at the factory where they work and discover that her brother’s job has been replaced by a robot, she tells her brother to do her job…while she goes and complains to the manager. She ignores her superiors along the way, who advise her it’s not her place to question management. That’s another subtle nod to her confidence and “take charge” style.

After that point, she does nothing but cry over the loved ones she lost, and continually puts herself at needless risk as she questions (and sometimes ignores) Grace’s  guidance.

But it could have gone another way. The writers could have chosen to skip the twist at the end, in favor of jumping all over it from the very start. Make it obvious that Dani is a natural leader right from the beginning and never let up.

When Sarah Connor shows up and assumes — because Dani is a woman and the resistance sent her a protector back in time — that Dani is the womb of the future, then Dani can turn the tables on Sarah, and point out that times have changed, and women don’t need to just be vessels anymore.

I get it; writers like to be subtle — especially good writers — but it’s not always the best choice. I think on this occasion, setting up a conflict between Dani and Sarah as the same (but different) would have worked better.

One twist I did like about this story is that Judgement Day isn’t caused by Skynet.  It’s a completely different AI — created for the same basic objective — that becomes the downfall of civilization.

Essentially…saying that one way or another, an AI apocalypse is inevitable. 

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: This movie is really packed with action, but I made sure none of the Peetimes contained action scenes. Of the 3 Peetimes, I would recommend the 2nd one. It’s near the middle of the movie and nothing important happens. The 3rd Peetime isn’t bad, but it’s definitely the worst of the bunch. There are a few good one-liners that you’ll miss.

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

Rated (R) for violence throughout, language and brief nudity
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Read Rob Williams’ Terminator review: Grade A.

Movie Review – Black and Blue

Movie Review - Black and BlueThis movie pokes at your value system quite a bit. Most of us are all too familiar with stories about dirty cops. This story is no different, but how it plays out onscreen is rather appealing because of Tyrese Gibson, Naomie Harris, Mike Colter, and of course, the city of Katrina recovering in New Orleans.

It’s definitely another movie where cops look bad. I’m sure this rookie story happens more often than we realize. (A young adult trying to make the best of their “next” life by becoming a public servant.) The problem is this rookie decides this life has the perception of being bad, and she has a good heart…oxymoron for sure. The director did a good job of showing the grim life the rookie lived through and the one she’s trying to fit into.

Hence, the title referring to the rookie being Black in the a new world of Blue.

Alicia West was faced with conflicting choices between her race and her career. She wanted her cake and to eat it too. Unfortunately, in the life she came from, she found herself truly on the outside looking in. There’s a street saying that goes, once you go black, you’ll never go back. But in this story, once you go blue, da’ hood is through with you.

This movie reminded me of one thing my momma use to always tell me growing up. Don’t burn your bridges, because one day you might need to cross back over. And that’s exactly what Alicia West faced.

After you watch Black and Blue, hopefully, you will be reminded that no matter who you are or what you do; always do the right thing, for the right reasons.

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: It wasn’t difficult selecting Peetimes. The storyline is obvious. Plus, there were scenes that dragged a little and contained uneventful dialogue. I would recommend the 1st Peetime. The 2nd and 3rd Peetime are very close together, and there is nothing after those two scenes that can be missed as the climax of the movie builds. The 2nd Peetime is longer, but contains a little more meat than the 3rd, which is short, but very easy to summarize. You decide.

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

Rated (R) for violence and language
Genres: Action, Crime, Drama

Movie Review – Countdown

 

Movie Review - CountdownCountdown was a fun little flick. I enjoyed it — there were some scare moments balanced with just enough humor to add to its overall balance.

In today’s world, we are all attached to our phones. They’ve become an extension of our hands. In Countdown, they become your own personal countdown to death.

Yes, there’s an app for that.

It’s a pretty short movie and they did a great job keeping the flow going. No boring moments here.

The part that appealed to me the most was their use of religious figures. Father John rocked the screen. He was awesome! I’ve never seen them take the route Countdown did. He listened to rap music in his study while smoking, and his passion was demons. He was too cool.

If you’re looking for a movie that won’t terrify but simply entertain you, try this one. I’ve got no complaints.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: You have 2 choices for this very short movie. I highly recommend the 1st Peetime. The 2nd Peetime contains some character development that comes into play later in the movie.

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

Rated (PG-13) for terror, violence, bloody images, suggestive material, language and thematic elements
Genres: Horror, Thriller

Movie Review – The Lighthouse

 

Movie Review - The LighthouseIt’s no secret I have issues with A24 productions. I have seen them all. I go in with an open mind — and every time but twice I’ve hated them. Spring Breakers and Tusk get a free pass; those entertained me.

When I saw the trailers for The Lighthouse, I was excited. It looked to be right up my alley — great cast, and the setting was set at what I’d call one of my happy places. (I’m a lighthouse lover.) Then in big letters I see it…A24 Productions. I internally groaned and thought to myself that just maybe I’d still like it, because what could go wrong with such a great concept?

I’m still laughing about how wrong I was.

I gave ‘It Comes at Night’ a scathing review, and had a lot of backlash from users on how badly I trashed it. I tried explaining to them that a review is a singular person’s thought on a movie. My opinion. Their opinion was different and that’s totally okay. So here it goes, enter my opinion, stage left.

I did not like this movie. At all. It has taken my number one spot of the worst movie ever made. It made my head hurt and I can still hear the blasted foghorn.

For starters, I couldn’t understand them. The accents used were so over the top that all I heard was gibberish. Enough said there.

My next complaint: the over-used masturbation scenes. Seriously? How many times did we need to see them doing this? Apparently a lot, because there are too many of those scenes. I’m a jaded person; I think I’ve seen every gross thing to come out of Hollywood, and never cringed the way I did last night. I felt dirty watching it and trust me, I’m not a prude. My blood pressure is starting to rise again.

I could pick this movie apart like a turkey on Thanksgiving, but I’m going to stop here. I conveyed my feelings well enough, I think. It was simply dreadful.

Thanks A24 for finally settling an ongoing internal battle. You will never lure me in again. Shout out to my boss — my wonderful brother — there isn’t enough money to get me to do another A24. I’m done.

Grade: F-

About The Peetimes: I have two Peetimes at 29 and 51 minutes. The middle Peetime is a very short ‘Alert Peetime’ containing graphic animal cruelty to a bird.

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

Rated (R) for sexual content, nudity, violence, disturbing images, and some language
Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Movie Review – The Current War

Movie Review - The Current WarUnless there’s some compelling reason you have for seeing this movie in the theater, I think it would make an excellent movie night at home when it’s streaming online, or on DVD.

The only negative thing I have to say about this movie is that the pacing goes way too fast. The scenes cut back and forth between settings way too fast. A long scene in this movie is probably only 3 minutes long, and there’s few of them.

I think this movie could have been much better if it were 30 (or even 45) minutes longer. I felt like I was watching a movie and not experiencing a movie — if that makes any sense.

The casting and acting were good, but not great. It was cool to see Dr. Strange and Spider-Man side by side for a few scenes. But honestly, I think the character of Mr. Insull was totally wasted on Tom Holland. Not that Tom did a bad job — there just wasn’t anything in the script for him to work with.

If there’s one place the movie totally fails, it’s that they focus on the main characters and plot at the expense of establishing just how profoundly impactful electric lights were to the common man.

Can you remember that feeling the first time you used a smartphone? Now take that and multiply by a billion. Humanity had lived forever in darkness, minus a candle or campfire, until the advent of electric lights. (Yes, there were oil lamps on streets in select cities, but even that was ultra new.)

Electric lights, along with the phonograph and telephone, were nothing short of the introduction of magic. They just scratched the surface of expressing that in the movie.

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: It was hard to get Peetimes for this movie because it cut from one short scene to another fairly consistently. Most of the longer scenes were too important, and full of dialog, to use as Peetimes. I have three Peetimes spaced through the movie. I can’t really say than any one of them is better or worse than the others.

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

Rated (PG-13) for some violent content and thematic elements
Genres: Biography, Drama, History

Movie Review by RunPee Rob – Terminator: Dark Fate

Movie Review - Terminator: Dark FateI went into this film with mixed feelings. The original landed in the mid 80s with barely a ripple. A relatively small budget film by a new director, with not a well known cast. But it took off.

The early 90s saw T2 launched with a lot of ballyhoo and fuss — and it worked! The new cinematic technology really helped drive the story — apparently James Cameron was considering using a claymation technique for the T-1000. (Can you imagine Arnie vs Wallace and Gromit?)

The current millennium’s offerings seemed to be less successful, maybe due to the absence of James Cameron. Who knows, but personally, I wasn’t sold on the third installment, and still haven’t seen the fourth and fifth ones!

Then the latest episode was announced. Cameron is writing and producing. Arnie is back. As is Linda Hamilton. (Maybe it’s because we’re a similar age, but I think she still looks stunning!).

There are some new faces to keep things fresh. Gabriel Luna is easily a match for Robert Patrick as a soulless automaton. The big problem was always going to be: does it work? James Cameron said it was the rightful third episode and the others could be ignored…so will it slot into the world created in the first two films?

The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Not only does it fit in, but it does so very smoothly. It is a matter of a few minutes worth of exposition, and you can sit back and enjoy the new story without worrying about loose ends.

And what a story it is! It rattles along at a fair old clip pretty much from the first few frames. There are slower sections where characters new and old are explored, their relationships examined, with even a few laughs, but this is undoubtedly an action movie! Fights, chases, explosions, all over the place.

In short, a well thought out and executed thrill ride.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I worked hard to avoid the amazing action scenes in any of these Peetimes. Anytime my pulse dropped below 100bpm felt like a good time to run and pee. Note from Dan Gardner (RunPee CEO) These Peetimes are from a newly christened Peep: Rob Williams, from the UK. Terminator: Dark Fate is released in the UK one week earlier than here in the USA, so Rob was able to get Peetimes for us. I’ve worked with Rob for a few weeks, training him on how we do things, but this is his first “live run.” From what I can tell he did a bang-up job. I hope you agree. 

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

Rated (R) for violence throughout, language and brief nudity
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

In Defense of Terminator 3

Terminator: Dark Fate opens this week.  It’s the sixth movie in the Terminator franchise.  However, it is the official sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day…which basically invalidates Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, one of my favorite entries in the entire franchise.

Billy Crystal once joked that Arnold Schwarzenegger signed on to make Terminator 3 in exchange for everything west of the Rockies.  Terminator 2 was so popular that such an outrageous payday almost seemed feasible at the time.  Expectations for the third film were extremely high.

Unfortunately, lightning usually doesn’t strike twice.  I’m the first to admit that T3 isn’t is as good as T2.  However, it’s still a movie I enjoy and I feel like it doesn’t deserve its poor reputation.  So here is my defense of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Before we begin…

Yes, it’s a flawed film and I understand the problems people may have with it.  James Cameron didn’t direct.  Edward Furlong was replaced by Nick Stahl.  And Linda Hamilton turned down the offer to reprise her role as Sarah Conner, and was subsequently written out of the series.  Setting those things aside, can we enjoy what there is to enjoy?  Because there’s a lot.

Nick Stahl makes a decent John Connor.

Christian Bale’s portrayal of an adult John Connor in Terminator: Salvation is too moody for my taste and turns the character into a jerk.  I honestly don’t remember how Jason Clarke played the role in Terminator: Genisys.  (I mainly remember a good movie being ruined halfway through by an unnecessary plot twist.)  Stahl is a good choice to play the disillusioned young man who is uncertain of the future and his place in it.  I buy into his character enough that when the final scene comes, I’m ready for another hour.

It has a strong prologue.

The movie has a great opening prologue that builds audience sympathy for John Connor.  He is saddled with the burden of knowledge, the burden of leadership, the burden of greatness, and the burden of unfulfilled prophecy hanging over his head.

The first female terminator.

Kristanna Loken plays the T-X, the first female terminator in the series.  She also plays a newer model than Ahnuld, so she’s extremely powerful and gets to show off some badass moves.  Plus she looks good in leather.

LGBT representation.

Although Kristanna Loken didn’t come out as bi until she did interviews with Curve in 2006 and The Advocate in 2007 (years after T3 came out), it’s still inspiring to myself (and others) that one of the terminators is bisexual.

You have to love Claire Danes.

Claire Danes adds humor and a dash of romance to the film as Kate Brewster, John’s future wife and a key figure in the resistance.  Any excuse to watch Claire Danes for two hours is a good one, but this performance is especially worthwhile.

It has a great twist.

The movie has a great twist.  SPOILER ALERT:  It’s actually Judgment Day!  What could be more exciting than that?!  You get to watch history in the making.  The long rumored apocalypse is finally here and you have a front row seat.

The showdowns are so satisfying.

The action scenes between Loken and Schwarzenegger, from the car chase to the final battle, are all so satisfying.  The sheer amount of destruction in this film is amazing.  So is the fight choreography.  Rewatching the movie this week, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to defend it.  Instead, I was thoroughly entertained.

The ending is a great set-up.

The ending to this movie is a wonderful set-up to a fourth film that never happened and perhaps never will.  It’s Infinity War with no Endgame.  It’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One left hanging.  John and Kate are in a fallout shelter on Judgment Day.  How do you not want to know everything that happens from there?  It’s such a great set-up for a fourth film, a perfect place to resume the story, but no one ever picked up the ball and ran with it.  Not even in the comic books.  No one has gone back to the fallout shelter and told the story of how the resistance was born from there, how John Connor became a leader starting on Judgment Day.  (Terminator: Salvation shifts the storyline back to Kyle Reese.)  I’m still  hungry for that promised-but-never-delivered movie.

Don’t miss the best parts of your favorite sci-fi/action films.  Always use the RunPee app when you go to the movies.  We have Peetimes for all the latest movies including Joker, Zombieland: Double Tap, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

 

Movie Review – Lucy in the Sky

Movie Review - Lucy in the SkyThis was a pretty depressing movie. I left the theater and was so sad about so many things. It’s not a fun story and certainly not an uplifting one either.

I’m one of the movie goers that like to have fun and be carried away into a riveting or even just plain silly story. What Lucy in the Sky gave me was watching an absolutely brilliant, highly motivated woman spiral out of control and ruin her life’s goal.

Portman did a superb job. She encompassed this role with her entire being. She’s simply perfect.

I’m giving this movie an A because of her. Also, it was masterfully directed and had a simple beauty to many of the scenes. Certainly not because it left me feeling happy and alive. Just the opposite actually. This wasn’t my cup of tea, but I wasn’t the target audience.

To the viewers that do enjoy these truthful biopics, I’m pretty sure they nailed it.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: This movie was a slow starter. Really for the first hour you can catch yourself up if you need to step out of the theater. The last 30 minutes is when the true depth of the movie is shown.

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

Rated (R) for language and some sexual content
Genres: Drama, Sci-Fi

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