Movie Review – The Dead Don’t Die

 

Movie Review - The Dead Don't DieDead Don’t Die as super low budget movie is somewhat cute, but nothing really good. Don’t see it in the theaters: its a good one to wait for streaming. Save your theater money now for the better movies.

There was one cool idea — zombies are attracted to what interested them most while alive. The same thing was done better in Shaun of the Dead though.

It could become a cult favorite later – it was a Cannes Indie darling. Probably from all the cameos.

There was a lot of good quiet interplay charisma between Bill Murray and Adam Driver, and the unusual direction was cool. That worked. The over-stuffed cameos were wasted though.

I was overall quite disappointed, and the cinema room was empty to boot. I might bump this up to a B- minus later. The humor was there, but it was the quiet kind.

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: This movie was both easy to make Peetimes for and hard. Easy because there are many meaningless dialog scenes, and hard because the film is packed with cameos. I did the best I could to keep the best scenes — between Bill Murray and Adam Driver — out of the Peetimes. It’s a short movie so I only made 2 Peetimes. FYI, there are no End Credit extras and the credits themselves only ran 30 seconds. The app won’t accept that, so it says 1 minute.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Dead Don’t Die. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for zombie violence/gore, and for language
Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror, Zombie

Movie Review – Men in Black: International

Movie Review - Men in Black: InternationalIt isn’t that there’s much wrong with MiB International so much as there isn’t anything right about it: the humor is middling; the pacing is choppy; and the plot/character development is bland.

I can’t complain about the acting. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson did good enough with what they had to work with, but Thor: Ragnorak this isn’t.

The biggest problem with MiB International is the pacing. There are long stretches that border on boring, sometimes wandering on the wrong side of the border. Right in the middle of the movie is the main chase scene that serves as the best Peetime in the movie. I’m certain that’s not what the creators had in mind.

There are elements of potential in the story. It feels like all the movie needed was a few more drafts of the script to give it the polish it needed. For instance there are continual references to Agent H’s (Hemsworth) character change since the opening scene of the movie….however, there’s never any resolution as to why this change happened.

Speaking of the opening scene, there was some real confusion in the order of time between the first few scenes of the movie. There’s no indication when the first scene starts, as Agent H and T arrive at the Eiffel Tower. [Correction: there was a “3 Years ago” message onscreen that apparently appeared while I was writing notes.] After that, the scene cuts to another scene with “20 years ago” displayed on the screen. At the end of that we jump to the present. That seems simple enough until 3/4 of the way through the movie we discover that the opening scene took place 3 years in the past. I don’t want to imply that there’s a simple solution to how this should have been done, but it’s the job of the writers/director to tell a cohesive story, and they botched that in the first 5 minutes of the movie.

I think most fans of the MiB franchise will be disappointed. This installment is nowhere near as good is the first, or third, movie. The second MiB was pretty awful, save for some funny scenes. I’d say this fourth movie is better than that, but not by much.

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: We have 4 good Peetimes here, but the 1st and last Peetimes are Emergency use only because they are so short. We recommend the 3rd Peetime. It’s right in the middle of the movie and only involves 1 long chase scene that isn’t particularly good.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Men in Black: International. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Sequel

What Makes Men In Black Tick? Looking Back on the MIB Series and Why It Works

Men In Black Theme Song – Forget Me Nots Remix – Will Smith Lyrics & Video

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)

 

 

Movie Review – Shaft

Movie Review - ShaftI loved Shaft, as did the entire audience based on the many, many times there was crazy laughter in the theater. I had a great time watching Sam do his thing.

I have not seen the first one, but I can guarantee that I’ll be streaming it this weekend. If it’s half as funny as this one I’ll be happy.

I enjoyed watching Jessie Usher as JJ. These two guys worked so well off of each other, the chemistry was fantastic. The characters were so different from each other, but melded in a way that makes the movie magic happen.

I can’t count the amount of times that I laughed at Jackson, whether it be his lines or just his facial expressions.

It’s got a lot of violence and graphic scenes, but it wasn’t over the top. What was most prevalent was how Jackson can use the ever so popular F-word. I’ve got a whole new arsenal of colorful retorts, now thanks to Shaft.

If this kind of movie appeals to you, I wholeheartedly recommend it. It was fun and a great time was had by all.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I’m going to recommend the 2nd Peetime, there is a lot of dialog in it, but was easily summed up. The 1st Peetime was also easy to sum up but there is a really funny moment during the scene.

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

Rated (R) for pervasive language, violence, sexual content, some drug material and brief nudity
Genres: Action, Comedy, Crime, Remake

Newie Review – The Reef – Low Budget, Decent, Non Campy Shark Movie

This 2010 Aussie shark film should be fairly simple to review, as nothing much happened besides a lot of open ocean swimming. If you’re frightened easily and don’t like horror, don’t worry: you won’t have much trouble watching The Reef. It’s not that kind of movie. I’m not entirely clear what kind of movie this is, actually. A low-budget survival tale with mostly dimwitted people?

There are five folks trapped on top of an upturned ship who have to swim 12 miles in the tropics to reach an unseen island and possible safety. Will they reach it? Does it matter? It’s one of those attrition flicks where you have to guess who’s the last man standing — or swimming, as the case may be. It’s all very predictable, but surprisingly, not scary.

I liked the beginning. It started slow and built up the characters pretty well. It was well-told and well-acted at that point, and the scenery couldn’t be beat.

Nitpicking where I shouldn’t

Unfortunately, once the swimmers hit the water, they devolved into screechy fish bait. That’s not how you cross an ocean safely. I could nitpick the heck out of this. Hanging around the bloody dead people too long isn’t wise (that’s what chum is). Don’t kick up a storm like prey animals either. They also stopped a lot. I kept shouting ,”Keep swimming! But gently! Keep going with less splashing!”

I used to teach wilderness survival  and know something about it, so I’m being harsher on The Reef than most would be. It’s like trying to watch a film like Backdraft with a firefighter. When the one guy who knew something about sailing dove under the ship to retrieve items, I saw a TON of things the survivors could have used that he just ignored. It was a whole sailing ship loaded with DAYS of useful supplies. Arg. Make me stop whining.

What I liked

The plot was lean and easy to follow, and the shark wasn’t absurd — he actually seemed like a real animal instead of an insane monster. And The Reef wasn’t campy or gory. The ‘captain’ character was the guy who kept his head and was worth watching. 

But the ending was…sudden? Underwhelming? Perhaps the real beauty of The Reef is that it’s based on a true story and the producers didn’t feel a need to over-dramatize anything. These things happen. It’s tragic (mostly), and you’d never want to live though this. But movie-wise, it’s just on the high end of average. This isn’t like Jaws (an A+ film indeed). Or even The Meg. (We gave that a B-). I still have to see 47 Meters Down (I know, I know, the sequel’s coming). Come to think of it, I want to watch The Shallows and Deep Blue Sea too. I have a lot of catching up to do.

Overall: if you want a high-octane gruesome shark tale, keep looking. There’s plenty of them out there. I actually liked The Reef for its mild plotting…I just didn’t love it.

Movie Grade: C+

Movie Rewatch — Jaws

Meet the Real Megalodon

Best Jaws Iconic Moments, plus Movie Analysis (videos)


 

Here’s the trailer for 47 Meters Down 2, set to arrive in 2019:

 

Virgin Movie Review – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)

I miss a lot of animated features working for RunPee, since that’s really RunPee Mom’s genre, and I see mostly science fiction, fantasy, and superhero blockbusters. So little gems like Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs from Sony’s Animation Studio frequently slip past my radar for years. I just caught it with a congenial friend on Netflix and was pretty charmed.

The technobabble plot isn’t exciting and the characters aren’t actually memorable, but the creative scenes of food, food, and more food plummeting from the sky is distinctive and sort of brilliant. What happens to get to the point of hot dog hail, ice cream snow, nacho cheese fountains, meatball asteroids, and spaghetti tornadoes is beside the point.

Kids will enjoy the utter weirdness of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, but more pleasingly, there’s a lot of bizarre adult humor that will go right over kids’ heads. I kept looking at my friend in mild shock when they went places I normally find a bit risque (like nipple hair reacting to the changing weather). The wacky background signs and funny throw-away lines are worth a few rewind giggles. Honestly, I expect no less from Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the duo later responsible for the absolutely brilliant Lego Movie films.

Apparently the sequel isn’t worth seeing, so I’m quitting while I’m ahead — this isn’t the Toy Story saga, after all. But if you’re bored and looking for an amiable story with a unique disaster theme and yellow Jello palaces, give this flick a try.

As a plus, the heroes dig science — always a good message in my book.

Movie Grade: C+

Are the Four Lego Movies Sequels or Prequel Films?

Movie Review – The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Movie Review – The LEGO Movie

Rewatch Movie Review – Stardust – A Great Vintage Fantasy Film

“A philosopher once asked, “Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?” Pointless, really…”Do the stars gaze back?” Now that’s a question.”

And with those opening lines we are immediately enchanted by the world of “Stardust” (2007). And enchanting is exactly what we all would wish a fantasy movie would do for us every time we go to see one.

Now, I already had high hopes for Stardust because there were names in it like Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert DeNiro, Peter O’Toole, and Ian McKellan. But what I didn’t realize was how little these people had to do with this movie. Don’t get me wrong, the parts they played were very important, and the storyline would have limped horribly without them. (Especially DeNiro –- who somehow managed to pull off convincingly the part of a cross-dressing pirate as happy trying on lipstick as he was slitting the throats of his enemies –- truly bizarre.)

The Plot of Stardust

But the stars of this movie are the unassuming youngsters that make up the love triangle (square?) running the entire plot.

I realize you’re probably thinking, “this has been done before, and before, and before.” Except I doubt most of the love stories you’ve watched before has the young woman being wooed actually been a real-life star, fallen from the sky.

And to make her plight worse –- not only is there a young man trying to catch her to take her back to the first young lady he is in love with, but there are also 3 witches who wish to cut out her heart and eat it. Because apparently eating star’s hearts keeps one young and beautiful. (I see a big run on Hollywood surgical centers -– and me in jail for suggesting this.)

But if this all weren’t bad enough –- the King of this magical kingdom has just died, and left no named heir except three squabbling brothers (there were seven, but four of them have already been killed off by their siblings.) This is a blood-thirsty bunch we have here.

So across one side of the kingdom race 3 brothers for the King’s necklace, and across the other side races a witch and a very nice boy for a fallen star.

Need I say that all these racing entities run into each other? Oh, yeah – there was that cross-dressing pirate, too.

Why you need to see Stardust

I refuse to divulge anymore of the movie. I will however say, Stardust is one of the most refreshing films I have seen in many years. My entire family watched it – me, my husband, my 17 year old son, my 11 year old daughter, and my six year old son – and we all loved it. We pull it out when there is nothing on TV and we want something fun to watch.

Stardust is rated PG-13 for a little bit of fighting violence, with mostly swordplay and a little risqué humor which will go mostly over the kids’ heads (unless you have bright kids).

Definitely add this one to your family DVD cabinet!

Movie Grade: A

A Godzilla Newbie Watches King of the Monsters

Why do I only see old movies in the Movie List?

Learn More About The RunPee App

 

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)

men in black poster
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, out to save you from the scum of the universe

*Flash*

Everyone listen now: what you may think you just experienced is a house party with drunk teenagers and a crazy, lonely lady. In actuality, you traveled back in time 22 years to help us, the Men in Black, save the galaxy from an alien invasion. We’re looking for some new recruits and think all of you have potential, so you can call me Agent N. Let me explain what happened here today, so you can determine if you want to join us.

Let me set the scene. First, the Men In Black is an organization that keeps track of every alien life form not from Earth.

Second, we recently got a rookie named Agent J (former name Will Smith), who was partnered with our ace in the hole Agent K (former name Tommy Lee Jones).

Third, it just so happened that an alien bug decided to crash land here in search of something. We later found out he was looking for an alien prince hiding himself and a whole galaxy here on Earth. Long story short, the rook’s first day on the job somehow was smooth sailing — even though you may be hearing all of this thinking, “There’s no way this can go well”. No matter what you think, that’s the basics of what you need to know.

Now, let me explain some tiny details that might help you determine if you want to join the Men in Black permanently or not. Without a doubt, some of the jokes we like to crack on the job don’t land like we wish, but our aim is still pretty good. Especially between Agent J’s strong charisma and Agent K’s deadpan delivery, bouncing off each other.

You may also see some of our alien companions and realize they actually do look good, even though you all are from the future. Our 1997 technology advanced the human eye to make everything seem much better. When our alien friends are there, you can’t properly distinguish them from when they’re not there. And don’t tell them otherwise.

If you haven’t seen the report yet, consider this a warning. Our job may not be glamorous, even at the climax of our mission, which in this most recent mission was exactly the case. From what I’ve seen on the report, apparently all that happened was Agent J distracted the alien by swinging some sticks and getting flung around, while Agent K damaged the creepy-crawly in a slow but effective way…just for some girl from the morgue to give the final blow.

Everyone who has seen the report keeps talking about Frank the Pug and the Noisy Cricket, since apparently they stole the show. So if a dog they talked to for 3 minutes oozes enough charisma to leave a lasting impression, so can the Men in Black.

And of course, we need to have a moment of silence for Agent K…who at the end of his mission revealed that he wasn’t looking for Agent J to be a partner, but to be a replacement. For Men in Black agents who show no emotion to begin with, we were heartbroken to see Agent J use the neuralyzer on Agent K. Thankfully, we had a happy ending, but a heart-wrenching one at that.

Now it is time for you to decide if you’re going to join us in the Men in Black or not. If you are, you can stop here and you’ll get further notice later. If not, then let’s walk this way and let me explain what the neuralyzer is. ↓

……

……

A neuralyzer is a special tool we use to make sure you don’t remember anything we don’t want you to, so look right here at the red dot and…

*Flash*

…What you just witnessed here today is a couple of high school girls who decided to live it up a little after not going to any parties at all and instead spent all their time studying…

– – Written by RunPee guest writer Nicholas Collier, who secretly wants to join the MIB. Nick says, “I’ve been watching movies since I got my glasses in 5th grade. Movies are what I love, what I know, and what I aspire to create. Find me @LightCameraNick on twitter, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”  

Learn More About The RunPee App

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Movie Review – The Secret Life of Pets 2

 

Movie Review - The Secret Life of PetsSo here is what I hope: The Secret Life of Pets becomes its own universe, much like the Minions, and we can continue to enjoy the antics of Max, Duke and Snowball. There’s so much story left to tell about these citified critters who can’t stop getting into mischief. And now with the addition of Liam, the new kid on the block, there’s so much potential for crazy action and crazy love.

Much credit goes to the writer, Brian Lynch. He fleshed out the characters to the point that they’re very real to us, and that’s what a great movie needs: someone to care about.

The plot of the movie was, although not original, how do city dwellers fare in the great outdoors? We’ve seen this trope played out in television (Green Acres), and movies (City Slickers), and it never gets old. Heck, I’ve been a part of this trope when I graduated from my rural middle school with a student population of 35 kids, to a city high school with a population of over 400. Those first few months were both comical and embarrassing, much like Max’s first few days on the farm.

I whole-heartedly recommend this movie for the entire family, and if you’re not satisfied, feel free to email me at blahblahblah@blahblah.com and I’ll give back to you the 90 minutes spent watching it.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes:

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

Rated (PG) for some action and rude humor
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Movie Review – The Secret Life Of Pets

Movie Review – Minions

Despicable Me 2 – movie review

First View Movie Review – Jumanji (1995)

jumanji-game-box
Would you play this game? Like, ever?

Adoring as I do Jumanji 2: Welcome to the Jungle — my favorite film of 2017 — I looked forward to finally watching the original Jumanji with Robin Williams. My understanding was the game updates itself for its era, meaning the 1995  game would be a vintage style board game — with an actual ‘board’ and dice. The kind of game where you move little pieces around, and the winner is the one who gets to the end first. (Warning: spoilers follow for Jumanji 1 &2.)

Problems with the Jumanji Board Game

What I didn’t expect was…well, several things. It doesn’t take place in the Jumanji world — a fantasy element I loved in Welcome to the Jungle. Instead, the jungle elements come to Earth, but only in an’ immersive’ way at the climax.

Second, I didn’t expect the original game to be so ludicrous and mean-spirited. The board game makes no sense. NONE. You have to randomly survive each roll of the dice, and it doesn’t seem like either skill or chance is involved.

In a typical board game, some turns reward the player. In this Jumanji sequel, every single die roll is a nightmare. Some player results are merely bad; others are downright demonic. I guess that fits in with the opening scene in historical times, where the sentient game is actually implied to be evil.

In Jumanji 2, it became an interesting video game, with lots of cool clues for each gamer. I like clues, especially ones the viewer can follow along and guess at. J2 didn’t cheat, although misdirection was in play. But the game didn’t seem sinister.

And lastly, there’s the reset-button ending. This isn’t how the game ends in J2, which confused me. If that was true, then none of the kids in Jumanji 2 would still have been around at the end. (J2 is a direct sequel, not a reboot.)

Back to Jumanji the First

To be fair, Jumanji 1 had some incredible set-pieces. The CGI looks as bad as one would expect of the time, but you get swept away (and the characters literally do get swept away) by the creative sequences. I think the indoor lagoon was my favorite, but also loved the lion in the bed, and the vicious man-eating vine plant scenes. It killed me when the vines crunched the police car.

And the monkey scenes? Meant as comic relief, they totally tanked. They looked bad, acted like Gremlins on speed (and that’s saying a lot)…and maybe were hilarious at the time? The mosquitoes were much, much more cool.

Robin Williams (and the Rest)

Unfortunately, Williams wasn’t exactly funny in this film. I’d say he was even subdued, and I wonder if this part of his life was more about his internal demons than creative work. The younger version of his character had more life to him.

I get that 26 years in a alternate world will change you, but I don’t think that’s what happened here. Normally Williams brings nuance and a sparkle to any role, but even his ‘silly’ Jumanji scenes felt off.

Knowing in hindsight Williams was deeply unhappy makes watching this 1995 movie painful, but he seemed to enjoy roles like The Genie in Aladdin (1992) and Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) so much more. Maybe the subsequent years took their toll on him.

Of the other actors, the little boy was often delightful, and the movie was much better for it. A young Kirsten Dunst was…fine. Her best scene involved swatting giant mosquitoes with a tennis racket, but she seemed to just screech her way through the rest of the film.

Altogether, I was surprisingly bored by Jumanji 1, since it was mostly a series of wild set-pieces barely stitched together with dysfunctional plot-lines and nonsensical game rules. I expected more fun. Maybe you had to grow up with this Jumanji to appreciate it.

I did like the coda, implying that you can’t get rid of the game, and Jumanji 2 picks right up on the beach where it leaves off.  And the drum sounds are used to great effect. If you listen through the credits, you can softly hear them right there. That was a nice stinger in an era where after-credit extras were barely a thing.

Movie Grade: C+

Movie Review – Jumanji 2: Welcome to the Jungle

And there’s news! Here’s a clip where the Rock discusses the upcoming Jumanji 3 (Release date December 13, 2019):

Movie Review – X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Movie Review - X-Men: Dark PhoenixThe X-Men Universe, produced by 20th Century Fox,  had a twenty year run. Now that it’s over, they should be applauded for the influence they’ve had on the superhero movie genre.

Fox movie assets are now owned by Disney. That means the X-Men can, at some point, be wrapped into the MCU with the Avengers.

Dark Phoenix was produced before the Disney purchase. It was intended to be a bridge between the previous X-Men Universe and a newly imagined X-Men Universe with a new and young generation of mutants. Instead it stands as an unintended swan song to the X-Men as we know them. Which makes it a shame it had to end with such an underwhelming effort.

The Dark Phoenix story is an absurd mess. Let’s start with the villain… Okay, I’m not even sure where to start with that. Never has a superhero villain been so poorly imagined. Vuk, played by Jessica Chastain, has barely more than a cameo role. You wouldn’t even know the villain’s name except it’s shown just once in a subtitle. Even Xavier himself refers to the villain as: that thing, that woman, I don’t know what.

And what do we know about that “spark/solar flair” thing? We get one line of exposition from Vuk: “It’s the spark that brought life to the universe and now goes around destroying planets, including my own.”

What? How does that even make sense? Lazy storytelling much?

Who’s the Villain, Really?

Maybe Vuk and this spark/thing aren’t really the villains. Maybe Jean Grey is the villain. Which could have worked brilliantly if they hadn’t introduced Vuk/spark in the first place. Take the entire alien storyline out and just build up Jean a little more. There’s plenty of material there for us to relate to in our everyday lives, as an “internal demon” takes over a loved one and how their family copes with it, and then reconciles their feelings.

That’s what the X-Men have always represented: family. But in Dark Phoenix they tried to have it both ways, which drowned all the potential this movie started out with.

Grade: D-

About The Peetimes: The movie is full short, choppy, scenes that made it difficult to get good Peetimes. The 2 best Peetimes are the 3rd and 4th. Both work well, but are only around 3 minutes long.

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

Rated (PG-13) for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action including some gunplay, disturbing images, and brief strong language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Every X-Men Film Explained

X-Men: Apocalypse (movie review)

X-Men: Days of Future Past – movie review

Movie review : X-Men First Class