Movie Review – Rogue One : A Star Wars Story

Grade: A-

There’s a lot to like about this movie. The humor, particularly from K-2SO, or K-2 as he’s more often referred to, is outstanding. I have to say, K-2 really carried the movie. It’s not going to happen, but I would love to see a movie with him as the main character. He’s that entertaining.

They did a great job of propping up “A New Hope” with various sayings, cameos, and scenes. That just makes me love both movies even more. And the end of the movie is just awesome.

I wasn’t crazy about the first 30 minutes of the movie, give or take. The scenes are short, and skip back and forth from one planet to another, setting up characters and plots. It just felt too disjointed to me, but eventually it settles down and the pacing improves.

There’s no question that this is a fine addition to the Star Wars universe.

3D Notes from RunPee Wife: Don’t spend your extra money on the 3D version of this film. It doesn’t add anything, or bring you into the universe in the way a good 3D film can…here, it only makes the images darker. Everyone talks about how pretty this movie is; don’t let the glasses bring that down. I actually took the glasses off a few times so I could see the scenes better. Will watch this again in 2D.

Later Note: the 2D version is cleaner and brighter, and improves the viewing experience a lot. The film graininess is intentional, as part of the war mood they were evoking. This movie also gets better every time you see it, storywise.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie review

st-tfaGrade: A-

I can safely say that SW:TFA is the 3rd best Star Wars movie in the franchise. And let’s be clear, it would take a miracle for JJ Abrams to create something better than New Hope or Empire Strikes Back.

This is easily the funniest movie in the franchise. Almost, but not every, funny moment revolves around Harrison Ford.

The movie isn’t without its flaws, but those flaws are minor, and of course this is Star Wars, so I’m being overly critical.

A few good things to report: BB-8–the spherical droid–is cute, without being overly cute. JJ is mature enough as a story teller to avoid crap like Jar Jar Binks. All of the fight scenes, whether hand-to-hand, sword-to-sword, or fighter-to-fighter are good, and some are great, but none drag on longer than they need to. There’s never one of those, “OMG, would someone kill someone here so we can move on with the story,” fights.

The acting was spot on. The casting of Daisy Ridley, as Rey, and John Boyega, as Finn, are marvelous. I’m really looking forward to seeing their characters develop as the saga continues.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – movie review

MIGrade: A

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation delivers everything you can ask for in an action movie. Most importantly the action is top notch. There is a great variety of scenes, from a motorcycle chase to underwater excitement. Best of all not all the best action scenes are shown in the previews, at least not the previews I saw. In fact, nearly every scene in the previews happen in the first half of the movie. It’s a real treat when the previews don’t give away spoilers.

There are plenty of laughable moments, from chuckles to laughing out loud. And no, it’s not just Simon Pegg who gets the laughs. Everyone gets in on the act without it feeling forced.

The story is twisty, primarily because of the new character, Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa, who has uncertain loyalties. It made finding peetimes a challenge because there’s a lot of story development between the action scenes.

The music really stood out. The Mission Impossible theme is awesome adding it as a theme to orchestral composition really worked.

The only slight complaint I can offer is that the exposition is sometimes forced. There are a few scenes that huge chunks of plot are dumped. That’s somewhat unavoidable in a movie with as much going on as this one.

By all means go see this in a theater, IMAX if possible. By the way, RunPee Mom saw this with me and LOVED IT, and she hasn’t seen any of the first four Mission Impossible movies.

Terminator Genisys – movie review

terminator-henisysGrade: B+

I’ve always been a big Terminator fan. It was the first movie that I went to see over and over again in the theater – and I had to drive 40 miles each way to see it. I’ve seen all the movies a dozen plus times, and watched the TV series twice. So, I know my Terminators.

I didn’t have super high expectations going in, because I know these things can go either way, but I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would. What’s really surprising to me is that the story, and character development, was better than the action – not that the action was bad by any means.

Terminator movies are rife with tangled plot holes, such is the nature of time travel plots, but I think they did a great job of cutting through that and getting to the meat of the story. (I would have enjoyed the movie a whole lot more if the previews hadn’t spoiled just about every bleeping surprise in the movie.)

There wasn’t anything hilariously funny in the movie, but there were a number of well placed laughs and they weren’t forced at all. The way they mashed together the scenes from the original Terminator was enjoyable.

The dialog was very well done. When there was exposition they blew right through it without making it feel like a lecture. Best of all there were a number of really touching moments in the movie.

Perhaps the best part of the movie was the character development of the Guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Arnold gets to act in this movie, not in any long, drawn out, scenes, but in a few short scenes that he acts with only his expressions.

In case you didn’t know this movie is just the first of a three part series of Terminator movies. The next two are being filmed back-to-back and will be released in 2017 and 2018. Plus there is going to be another Terminator TV series that will inhabit the same timeline as the movies – like how “Agents of Shield” does with the Avengers movies.

This movie tells a complete story and can stand on its own, but there are definitely threads that can be detected that will be played out as the story evolves to a complete resolution in the third movie. I can honestly say that I’m very excited to see how they proceed based on the introduction the first installment provided.

Jurassic World movie references

jurrasic-worldNow that everyone has seen Jurassic World… You did see it, right? (It broke box office records so I’ll assume you did.) Let’s talk about the incredible number of movie references – some intentional, some perhaps not – in this movie.

Note: minor spoilers to follow.

Obviously the references to the original Jurassic Park were plentiful. Most are too obvious to point out, but a few worth mentioning:

  • A brief glimpse of a message – I can’t remember precisely what it said – on the rear-mounted video feed on the ball-pod that the brothers rode in was a reference to the view of the T-Rex in the side mirror with the message, “Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear.”
  • Claire using the flair to attract the T-Rex. Yes it’s obvious but worth mentioning.
  • A signpost pointing the way to the research center as a nod to the sign post that gets knocked down by Nedry when he’s trying to get away with the stolen eggs.

It would have been pure awesomeness if there were a scene with a half buried can of shaving cream in the ground. Who knows, maybe there was and someone will find it when the movie comes out of DVD.

As many references as there were to the original Jurassic Park there may have been more to random movies.

  • During the safety video by Jimmy Fallon he says, “For added protection each vehicle is surrounded by aluminum oxynitride glass, so tough it can stop a 50-caliber bullet.” Aluminum oxynitride is a real substance but such a specific mention in the movie must be a reference to Star Trek IV: The one with the Whales.
  • Remember the lab scene in Aliens where we see the face-huggers in those glass cylinders? The scene near the end of JW where Claire, Owen, and the brothers enter the research lab at the end of the movie is very similar with those vertebral columns in the glass cylinders and then they look at the reptiles under in the terrariums.
  • The scene where Claire’s assistant gets munched on by the birds, and then eaten by the Mosasauraus, is reminiscent of Jaws – I would wager this is just coincidental, but who knows since Spielberg directed Jurassic Park and Jaws.
  • The scene of the raptors chasing the vehicle driven by Claire near the end of the movie is quite similar to the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when the nazis on motorcycles are chasing after the truck driven by Indy. Claire even sideswipes one of the raptors sending it crashing off the side of the road, just like Indy did to a motorcycle.

Did you notice any movie references that I missed?

Jurassic World – movie review

jurrasic-worldGrade: B+

I have mixed feelings about the movie. The story, and most of the characters, drag the movie down. I’d give that part of the movie a C-, at best.

Chris Pratt is definitely a bright spot. He’s perfectly cast for the roll of Owen — the raptor wrangler. He can be funny when he’s serious and likable when he wants to be.

Claire, played by Bryce Howard (Ron Howard’s daughter), was surprisingly good. I don’t want to give away anything so I’ll just say that I like what they did with her character.

I thought the least likable part of the movie was the two young brothers. Clearly the writers were trying to echo the characters of Timmy and Lex from the original Jurassic Park, but they came up way, way, short. Their entire story arc was useless.

The dinosaur action, which is what everyone is going to see, I’d give an A+. (Or should that be a Yay+?) It started awesome and got better as the movie went on. In my theater the audience applauded after two separate action scenes and again at the end of the movie.

What was lacking was good tension. Too often the story leaps into action without sufficient buildup. Thinking back to Jurassic Park, the tension was palpable because of the pauses between the action, not the action itself. They didn’t really capture that in this version.

I saw it in 2D, but the rest of the RunPee family saw it in IMAX 3D and thought it was worth every cent. After opening night there are 53 votes from RunPee users who saw the movie in 3D. 83% recommend seeing it in 3D.

If the story was better this could easily have been better than the original, but it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Elysium – movie review

ElysiumGrade: C-

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a huge scifi fan. Unfortunately that means I’m really hard on scifi movies. They have to be outstanding for me to give them a good rating. Unfortunately Elysium orbits a long, LONG, way from outstanding. If you’re not a particularly big scifi fan anyway then you may not notice the plot conveniences that make this story possible.

Aside from a lackluster story the movie is pretty good. It’s visually impressive, from the unending slums of Los Angeles to the paradise of Elysium. The fight scenes were better than average. Although the style of the fight scenes is mostly just brutal punching and kicking. There’s nothing elegant about the style of the fighting.

Overall the acting is quite good and Matt Damon is, rather predictably, top notch.

The directing and editing of the movie is good. I never thought the story was dragging on too long. Most importantly the story is easy to follow. When some important information about how things work is delivered it’s done very obviously.

[ spoilers below ]

As I mentioned, my grip about the movie is all of the conveniences that make the story possible. Such as, they have been plotting to brain-jack someone from Elysium for a long time and the first time they do it they end up with someone with absolutely unique information that could alter everything about how Elysium works?

And I didn’t understand how the the businessman wrote some computer code but it was only in his head? We saw it on the monitor. He couldn’t just email it to Elysium? 🙂

And they downloaded the information from the businessman’s head, which didn’t kill him – well, the guy died but not because of that. But later when they have to download it from Max it’s going to kill him. What? How’s that work? It isn’t like they have to remove something from Max. They’re just reading something in his brain.

And the medical regeneration pod-thingys were ridiculous. They did a decent job of realism on most everything else, but those medical pods worked way too fast and it was more like magic than technology. They should have come up with a more believable medical pod.

Movie review : Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses has something in it that everyone can relate to. People you hate to work with. In this case each of the characters have extremely horrible bosses keeping them down in one way or another. Over drinks Nick, Dale and Kurt hatch a plan to kill their bosses. Once they have their plan in motion, anything that can go wrong, does. This movie is a non-stop laugh riot. Funny lines delivered by even funnier people. The casting was an amazing job, right down to the ever pouncing cat at Mr. Harkins house. I saw the first show of the day and the theater was full. I noticed that not one person got up to leave. The laughter keeps you glued to your seat. It is a short movie that doesn’t come up short on LOLs

Movie review : Bad Teacher

[ No Spoilers  ]

If you’re wondering if Bad Teacher really earned it’s R-rating then worry no longer. It did. In spades. It brought the raunchy as good as any movie I can remember seeing.

This is one of those movies that’s hard to capture in the previews because the best parts are exactly the things you can’t put in previews. So don’t go and see this movie expecting a warm, uplifting story like Stand and Deliver – you know, the movie with Edward James Olmos about teaching inner city kids math. It’s not cute; It’s not uplifting and I hope it’s not inspiring to anyone.

Now, was the movie any good? Like all things that depends. I was in a nearly sold out theater and the audience laugh often and hard. There were quite a few moments in the movie where I’m sure most people will be left thinking, “She didn’t just say that did she? Oh crap. She did.” So it has funny covered.

The story was, ehhhh. Nothing to get worked up about. There is hardly any sympathy for any of the characters so it’s difficult to get wrapped up in what happens to them.

And don’t go see it just if you’re a big Justin Timberlake fan. Not that he was anything but good in his roll. It’s just that he doesn’t have much of a roll in the movie. He’s maybe the 4th most important character.

I am very impressed with the job that Cameron Diaz did. She’s an amazingly talented actress who can do comedy and drama equally well.

Movie review : Green Lantern

The power of the Green Lantern gives the wearer the ability to make anything imaginable become reality. The writers/director used their power to conjure up every imaginable cliche ever used to make a super hero comic adaptation. Wait, I take that back. There’s no side kick in this story so they missed maybe one cliche.

Lets run down the list:

  • Under achiever given gift of great power – check
  • Failed relationships – check
  • Childhood friend of eventual enemy – check
  • Techie brilliant friend – check ( wait, he’s sort of a side kick. )
  • Bad guy just wants to be loved – check
  • Rekindling former relationship – check

I can’t think of anything redeeming about this movie. Just wait until it’s on Netflix so you can watch the first half and then quit without actually paying anything for it.

With all that being said I can’t really find any fault with Ryan Reynolds’ performance. He did fine as the Green Lantern. I don’t think anyone could have done a better job in his role. But like my moma says, “It’s hard to not stink when you’re covered in shit.”