Movie Review – Tangled

 

Movie Review - TangledI’m only 3/4 of the way through my first viewing of Tangled (yes, my 1st time) and I love it already so much I’m willing to give it an A+. Of course, they could screw it up during the climax and I’ll have to change my review, but so far I’m completely delighted.

Tangled: beautifully animated, very funny, and packs in a lot of adventure. I’m stingy with my A grades, and give almost nothing an A+, so this is a good endorsement from us at RunPee.

Great Characters

There’s a handsome Han Solo type of rogue. Which…yay! And of course there are amusing animal sidekicks. What’s cool is that both the horse and chameleon have a ton of attitude, which Disney doesn’t usually do. Actually, their “men” aren’t usually ‘jerks with a heart of gold’, except for Flynn here, and  Naveen in The Princess and the Frog. So this is kind of a treat. Ahem.

I smiled a lot, especially with the Snuggly Duck ruffians singing about their dreams. Really. What could be more cute than that scene?

This movie made me happy.

A Great Villain

Then there’s Gothel, the ‘wicked’ adoptive mother. She’s an awesome villain. Her songs are totally fun, and she’s actually nice to Rapunzel. She really is. She’s affectionate, goes out of her way to get Rapunzel a birthday gift, and gives the girl a decent life (albeit as a complete prisoner) with games, books, paints, a great kitchen, craft supplies, a lot of leeway for doodling all over the walls…pretty much anything one can do inside a nicely appointed tower.

Gothel’s not evil so much as selfish…but not completely unrelatable. She’s not about riches or power. She just wants to stay young and live. Ursula from The Little Mermaid is still my favorite Disney villain, but Gothel is surprisingly interesting. I liked her better than Scar from The Lion King, and he was previously my second favorite Disney villain. Good job, Tangled!

Tangled, Overall

I’ll be watching the last part of this movie tomorrow (I have to see Ad Astra tonight to get Peetimes) and really hope Tangled’s climax doesn’t let me down. I’ll be back soon to let you know if this is truly an A+ film.

UPDATE After Finishing Tangled: I’ll keep the A+. It met up with my expectations, even though I thought they could have wrapped up Mother Gothel’s story a little less gruesomely.  Put her in prison or something, like the Stabbington brothers, who were, you know, actually evil. I did love the return of the ‘dreamer’ ruffians, though. See? Some people are redeemable. (I really would like Disney to stop with the bad parent theme, like they did with Brave.)

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: This Disney classic was re-released in theaters this Friday. When I do Peetimes for Disney Princess films, I do my best to avoid any songs, which is what most fans want to see. Some exposition or mild plot scenes are chosen instead, but are well-summarized in the synopses. Tangled has 3 good Peetimes, so you won’t be lost when you get back from the toilet. Pick any.

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

Rated (PG) for brief mild violence
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical, Romance

Movie Review – The Little Mermaid

The Lion King – Rewatch Review of the Animated Classic

Movie Review – Beauty and the Beast

First View Movie Review – Jaws 2

jaws 2 chief brody
He always gets his man. Or fish. Whatever: Brody is still cool.

There really isn’t much to say about Jaws 2, from which I expected a little bit more, being the only other “Jaws” film said to be worth watching. I got the chance to finally catch it last night. (RunPee is on a bit of a Shark Movie Binge.)

The original Jaws gets an A+ for brilliance, originality, fabulous chemistry,  deft writing…and serves as an early primer on how to construct a blockbuster around a solid narrative.

Jaws 2 is…not good. But it’s not complete trash, either. I’d give Jaws 2 a C+, which is a tad higher than average, but not by much. I can’t imagine how bad the sequel’s sequels are, and probably won’t bother with them. There’s so many better shark movies to watch, and I haven’t even tapped the campiness that is Sharknado yet.

I won’t belabor this. Jaws 2 had some good follow-up to Jaws, and also some glaring holes…and one big huge unforgivable sin. I’ll get to that in a moment.

What follows are spoilers for Jaws 2, even though you can probably guess how things go down. 

The Good Stuff in Jaws 2

  • The lookout tower. That’s some good continuity. It makes sense Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) would build such a structure and see it manned as a shark lookout. (I wish the stupid mayor would have framed it as a bonus for the visitors..increasing safety, etc, instead of the retread plot about tourism suffering.)
  • Chief Brody had PTSD. They never actually say it, but it’s very clear and present. As it should be with his background. Brody started Jaws 1 with a fear of the water, and seems to have processed that, at least.  But now Brody has to step up again, full of bad shark baggage, and even says to the mayor (and the mayor’s associated jerks) that HE CAN’T DO THIS AGAIN.

And he steps up anyway, still in need of a ‘bigger boat’.

That, my friends, is continuity.

More Good Stuff

  • Having the kids’ boats raft up made logical sense. That’s what would happen in real life, and I was pleased to see boaters being sensible in a dangerous situation. (I used to be a boat guide, for like, ten years. So kudos there.)
  • Cable Junction made for  a novel setting. I wanted to see a final showdown with everyone waiting for rescue on that lump of rock. I didn’t get that, but the idea using the “cable” worked for me, even though everyone in the water should have fried too.

UPDATE: I am reliably told by a scientist that the kids would not have been electrocuted, but that Brody, holding the cable, should have been at least hurt. He wrote: “As for the hypothesis that all in the water ought have died by electrocution, I disagree. The shark was the only path between high voltage (cable) and ground (water & earth), so it had to fry. Past that narrow conductor, the current spreads 3-dimensionally through water and earth, losing intensity extremely fast with distance from the origin, and flowing around high-resistance paths such as living creatures.”

  • Yup, Brody is still bad-ass. I hope he moves off the island to a flyover state without sharks. He can worry about tornadoes or earthquakes, but will be safe from insane predator fish.

Since I won’t bother watching Jaws 3 or 4 or 15, someone tell me what happens next. (Comment section is below!)

jaws-2-beach
Duh duh. Duh Duh. Dun Dun dun dun DUNDUNDUNDUN….you know how it goes.

The Stupid Stuff

  • No characterization happens. I don’t remember anyone’s names except Brody’s and maybe his kiddos. One is Michael, right? Who was the wife? The Mayor? His lackies? It’s not like we cared — they were, as Drax The Destroyer once said, ‘paper people.’
  • No direct reference at all to how Brody saved Amity Island a mere two years ago? He should be a local hero. Not dismissed as a lunatic seeing sharks on every beach, who then gets fired for doing his damn job.
  • It would have been nice to see even a throwaway line about Richard Dryfuss’s character Matt Hooper, and how useful he’d be if he wasn’t off at Greenpeace (or something – I’m easy).
  • Those teens were fungible: I didn’t care who lived or died. I liked the child and his brother (Brody’s kids) because they had actual plot development. But the rest were just…there. As bait.

This is bad script writing. See a movie like Aliens to learn how to make the audience care about everyone in very spare narrative. (For example: you know the relatively minor characters Frost, Vasquez, Bishop, Drake, Hicks, Hudson, Apone, Gorman, and Dietrich, right? Do you know even one of names of the chum teens?

  • The shark looked ridiculous in every scene, both under the water and above, like some floppy rubber…thing. For comparison, the only time Jaws looked silly in the original film was when he attacked the Orca. By Jaws 2 in 1978, the production studio seemingly had no money left for decent effects. If they couldn’t afford to do this right, why bother? I’m guessing because they got Roy Scheider to reprise his role.

(Then they went on to make more Jaws movies with apparently less budget, and spawned an entire cash-cow movie sub-genre….so what do I know?)

The Really, Really Bad Thing in Jaws 2

Okay, W. T. F. ? This shark rams boats, chews metal gunnels, maws through wood beams, and drags a HELICOPTER underwater? Is this some evil nation’s  drone shark with AI implants?

This isn’t how animals behave. Sharks don’t eat boats or upend ships to make people fall overboard. They’re highly specialized predators, but don’t have sentience. Sharks are opportunists who will grab a leg or arm to see if they like it — but they aren’t planners, strategists, or remotely relentless about their prey. If it fights back, there’s plenty of other ‘fish in the sea.’

I allowed for Jaws in the original to attack the good ship Orca, mainly because the rest of the story was so good, and I was willing to accept that this particular Great White was…atypical.

In Jaws 2, the new Great White was just bananas. It was like Die Hard: Shark Edition. Seriously, biting the helicopter pontoons was where I gave up. There’s no reason that would EVER happen: monsters and animals are not the same thing. If they wanted to go nuts like this, then the sharks should have been invading aliens from Rigel 4, or something.

At least in Deep Blue Sea there were….reasons for the deliberate, concerted pack attack.

For reference, this was posted at the bottom credits of 47 Meters Down 2: Uncaged: 10 people die from sharks each year. Ten million sharks die from humans each year.

#MikeDrop

Conclusion: If you loved Jaws (and who doesn’t?), Jaws 2 is an average tier shark follow-up to Brody’s narrative.

Movie Grade: C+

Better Shark Movies, reviewed on RunPee (Except for 47MD Uncaged, which is just dreck…): 

Movie Rewatch – Jaws – Still A Fantastic Blockbuster

The Shallows – First View Movie Review (2016)

Movie Review – The Meg

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

First-View Movie Review – 47 Meters Down (2017)

Movie Review – 47 Meters Down: Uncaged

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

Movie Review – Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable

Meet the Real Megalodon

Best Non-Jaws Shark Gems

The Shallows – First View Movie Review (2016)

blake lively in the shallows shark film
Blake Lively has impressive survival skills, compared the chum-bait in most shark films.

The Shallows is much better than The Reef (or the more recent Crawl) but offers the same kind of apex predator adventure. Blake Lively (as Nancy) tells a more compelling story, however, through sheer acting talent and believable physicality.

What do you do when you you’re trapped on a rock, spitting distance to shore, with a hungry shark blocking your path to safety?

The difference:  The Reef had a small group of edible people to start with, and in The Shallows Nancy is (mostly) alone. It’s not a story of the last man standing, but whether the only character lives at all.

This is a well-told shark survival tale, but not exactly riveting, adventure-wise. There’s a lot of time spent hanging out on a rock and a buoy. It works, however.  I enjoyed this film a lot.

Survival Skills Sell the Scenes

Lively performs her few action sequences skillfully. Nancy’s smart, determined, and one hell of a fighter when it’s down to getting out alive from an oddly persistent shark. I loved the use of her necklaces — she was trained as a doctor, after all.

(Important safety tip: make sure your surfing pendant can be used as a needle to sew up your skin….or cut a compression bandage from a neoprene suit, if necessary.)

The early use of the cell phone sequences were nicely portrayed, but a bit odd in context. More films could take their cues on how to show someone interacting with their texts and face calls, but….isn’t this unnamed beach like, SUPER remote? Where is Nancy getting her cell reception from? How does she intend to call Uber 50 miles down a dirt track in the jungle? These things do bother me. (But not as much as the drunk asshole stealing her phone…)

Also, I would totally have eaten that seagull. She was three days in by the climax, and besides the dangers of dehydration, hunger would have reared its head. She did eat that crab — good, good — but then spit it up. Less good. Eat that thing, girl. You have to keep your strength up.

 The Shallows, Overall:

The Shallows is one of the better shark movies in the genre. But it’s less about action and gore than the tale of one smart gringa who saves her own self from a terrible fate…and that’s a great thing in any film. It’s not as amazing as Jaws, but it’s up there with Deep Blue Sea and 47 Meters Down. Smart people rock!

Recommended.

Movie Grade: B

Here’s a PSA: If you encounter a DEAD, HALF-EATEN WHALE floating beside you, leave the scene. Leave right away, without making a lot of splashy, shark-alerting kicks. Don’t hang around to inspect the chum. I shouldn’t even have to say this.

National Geographic has a few shark survival tips you might care to memorize if you like the ocean.  Be careful out there.  🙂

More Shark Related Films, Reviewed on RunPee.com

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

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

Movie Review – Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable

Movie Rewatch – Jaws – Still A Fantastic Blockbuster

First-View Movie Review – 47 Meters Down (2017)

Movie Review – The Meg

Movie Review – Crawl

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

deep blue sea team in aquatica lab
Well, the sharks are smarter now, so we’ll be best friends, right?

I just watched 1999s Deep Blue Sea for the first time, during Shark Week 2019. DBS is sort of like Jurassic World if the Mosasaurus started hunting the lab techs. With some Samuel L Jackson on the side — although someone else got his famous line. And there’s a nod to Jaws. (Licence plate, but I’m sure you noticed this right away.)

Did I have fun watching Deep Blue Sea?

You betcha!

Is it realistic?

Um. Maybe some of it could be? But mostly, no — sharks don’t seem driven by vengeance and testosterone, even if they’ve become seven times smarter by evil tech (with the best intentions, actually). Carter’s (Thomas Jane) last minute explanation of the super-sharks’ behavior works far better. I can see how the sharks might have had that plan. Shades of Aliens there — “How could they cut the power, man?! They’re animals!” And the first Jurassic Park itself: “Because we’re being hunted.”

Also, the science is a little dodgy.

I’m getting nowhere without going into spoilers, so let me continue this part and move on.

The Aquatica Set is the Star of the Film

The undersea laboratory Aquatica is an extraordinary  base for action film-making. Deep Blue Sea makes use of the whole design, conceptually. Think about it: in the water, you move around in three dimensions, rather than the two surface dwellers usually contend with. This set design fully uses all dimensions and directions, including the logic of going down to go up.

There’s the above-sea catwalks and the sky tower, set around a Sea-World-type shark enclosure. Then there’s the undersea high-tech lab levels, complete with a pressure-sealed shark bay and the obligatory bank of monitors.

Also, there’s the fancy Five Star stainless steel kitchen. Somehow this place (with only a half-dozen staff I could see) employs a full time chef. Who is also a Preacher. (Go with it, because the kitchen scenes are worth it…and ALSO call back to a certain iconic Jurassic Park scene.)

Then the lower levels feel much like sets from submarine movies — cramped, utilitarian maintenance passageways, full of ladders, bottomless shafts, and Jeffries Tubes. 😉 The story starts above the ocean, moves midway to around 60 feet under the sea, drops you down to the ocean floor…and agonizingly crawls back to the surface. This has to be one of the most creative uses of set concept I’ve seen. (Plus, the shaft here makes actual sense, unlike the ubiquitous chasms in the Star Wars Galaxy of films.)

I’m reminded a lot of the cool little film Escape Room from last year. Each set is a ‘room’, tasking the dwindling group of survivors with puzzles to solve to level up towards freedom.

Getting What You Expect in a Shark Film

Overall: Deep Blue Sea is a lot of fun, and you get what you expect in a shark movie…people torn apart and/or eaten whole, guessing who’s the last one standing (or swimming), wondering how the sharks will die in the end.

IF THEY DO. Is there a shark film out there where the shark kills all the people and gets away?

deep blue sea shark fin
Most of the shark scenes are in darkness like this. Remember, this is 1999. It’s a dodge, like having all the T-Rex scenes at night and in the rain in Jurassic Park.

Spoilers ahead for Deep Blue Sea:

You’ve been warned.

Spoilers ahead.

Really. Who lives and dies:

I absolutely wanted the Chef/Preacher to survive. I didn’t realize he was LL Cool J until the credits rolled: I just really liked his character. J had the best scenes. I loved his rude little parrot, how he hid in his own oven (yikes), and intelligently dispatched his shark.

He should have died in the explosion, but this is a movie, and here’s the thing in film: if you don’t see a dead body, you can’t take assume someone is dead. And sometimes, not even after that. (As with Zombies, decapitation of the head helps. (Unless you’re in an X-Files film.)

I was thrilled with the continuity of the flaming fragments from the kitchen level raining down the elevator shaft. The crew had to worry about hypothermia, burning rain from above, ravenously mean sharks below, and drowning as each submerged level burst open… all while climbing rickety emergency ladders that kept breaking to pieces. It could have felt over-the-top campy, but it just played right.

Who Lives, Who Dies

The deaths we did get were interesting choices. Stellan Skarsgård’s death was well executed, providing an eerie, chilling thrill that stands out as the single best scene. I was sad to lose him so early on.

This scene rocks: 

Also, shall we mourn for Jackson, whose moment we should have seen coming, but never expected (and so unceremoniously)? The A-listers are supposed to survive, right?

The bird getting eated was…shocking. That was in 1999. That kind of thing (pet deaths, unless it’s in a ‘dog movie’) doesn’t happen much these days. Didn’t even the rat survive in The Abyss?

Then, the lead scientist (Saffron Burrows) getting swallowed whole? That seemed like some Old Testament shit right there, based on the  Jurassic Park “messing with nature” theme, and Preacher’s constant commentaries to God, a la LadyHawke.

Normally the alpha female would  be the sole survivor in a shark film. This gal was smart (she took down her shark handily), had a mission that really would have helped people, and had chemistry with Carter, the manly man of the group. I salute the writers for taking the less obvious route. Her self sacrifice redeems her character, if you feel she needed redeeming. She legit wanted to cure brain aliments that devastate millions of patients and their families. She just took some morally dark shortcuts to get there, and the implication is she paid for it with her life.

These sharks don’t act like real animals, but that’s because of Man’s Hubris/Interference, so I’m okay with this. Normally it’s a pet peeve of mine when an animal acts like a “monster.” But these are chimeras, with new rules I guess, and their plan was to escape to the Deep Blue Sea (ahem) more than anything else, and whatever, and it’s not worth working this out.

Should you see Deep Blue Sea?

See Deep Blue Sea if you like action-adventure and don’t mind some mild gore. This barely classifies as horror. I looked away once, and that wasn’t even too nasty (poor Scoggs — Michael Rapaport — he was cool. I like smart people in movies).

If you can handle the Jurassic Park and Aliens films, you’re good to go. Toss in some philosophy about the ethics of “saving mankind through DNA fun”, and you’ve got a super enjoyable B monster movie. I enjoyed this one greatly, as I work my way through shark films over Shark Week, just before 47 Meters 2 premiers.

Recommended!

Movie Grade: B

More of RunPee’s Shark Movie Reviews:

Fast & Furious 1 & 4 Is Really ONE MOVIE

Dominic "Dom" Toretto
Dominic “Dom” Toretto

I finally watched a couple of Fast & Furious movies. Even though the upcoming film is called Hobbs & Shaw, I do know they are a F&F spin-off, and was curious about WHY WHY WHY there are all these movies out there about fast cars and criminals? Why these are movies so popular?

I adore action films, but am not automatically into the whole ‘root for the villain’ thing. Some may have a ‘heart of gold’  — but Dom and Brian had not gelled yet in the 2001 story, so I was like, “Meh.” Neither were close to the anti-hero levels of Han Solo or Robin Hood…and certainly not Malcolm Reynolds (from Firefly/Serenity). Or even Diesel’s own beloved Riddick character from Pitch Black.  Not yet.

At this point, these dudes were just testosterone-oriented criminal adrenaline junkies in LA.

And as for driving fast, I used to flash people in San Diego driving down the 805 at 100 MPH over the Mission Valley interstate bridges…but grew out of that after college and a few very expensive speeding tickets. (My boyfriend had a convertible and we thought we were immortal, and I have a cute butt…it made sense at the time, but was frankly stupid).

So at the tender age of 50, I just watched F&F 2001, and was appalled. Here’s a bunch of criminals doing totally unsafe things that should kill bystanders. With women dressed in almost no clothes, saying they will do sexual acts with racing winners they don’t even know, and behaving far more sluttily than my innocent butt-flashing highway moments ever were.

I watched this, which was essentially a movie of the video game Grand Theft Auto, and thought exactly this: “???”

Why was this popular enough to spawn a franchise that will be 9 movies long by 2020, and how did I never see any of these?

I can’t say. The original F&F 2001 had an ending that was ambiguous at best. I can appreciate that as a bold choice, but since the movie had almost no plot, it didn’t feel earned. It’s 75% racing, 10% sexy stuff, and then the story picks up the scraps. I guess driving dangerously fast didn’t interest me any more.

I was more involved in Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, the Marvel movies, and, of course (to me) the Lord of the Rings. (And now you know what geekhoods I love best.)

It actually took watching the 2009 (the 4th) film, which follows up exactly where the first movie leaves off, to get me on-board.

Finally, the movie came together. I’ll say the best thing — if you’re still new to the franchise — is to watch 2001 and 2009 as one movie. Back to back. That makes one decent story and serves as a fine introduction to what comes ahead.

2009 cut down on the ‘male gaze’ aspect immensely, to my relief, I guess. If I wanted to see that kind of female behavior, I’d find some porn. The men keep their clothes on on F&F, and their clothes are not skin-tight either. Why can’t we see some male flesh? Oh jeez. I’m barking down a well. (It’s not like I need to see that, but it would at least be fair. I still like butts.)

So, why do the women have to be essentially naked if the directors want half the population to watch their films? So, yes THANK YOU that the women, seven years later, are allowed to be real people and not simply male decorations. I say this understanding that the few women racers were also bad-ass…but they were still totally hot and dressed to show it. This was off-putting. How is this relatable?

But back to the Fast & Furious origins storyline:

If I was baffled by the appeal of the first movie (Vrooooom, vrooom, NOX, boom!), I liked where things continued in 2009. The Mexico borderlands sequence was an incredible nail-biting experience (but still felt like a video game, granted). And the Brian/Dom relationship was allowed some space to unfold, finally. It wasn’t just trading insults from hate (it was trading insults from bro looooooove).

I like adrenaline too, but mine is legal and low key: rock climbing, cave rappelling, plane jumping, traveling solo in foreign countries, bungie jumping, sword fighting, backpacking, and aerial acrobatics. It’s not like I’m a boring person. But I dress for comfort, not to attract men. I think I was spoiled by being an Outward Bound instructor in my younger years. I was valued and admired for my outdoor skill set and leadership ability, not for cleavage and sexual taunts.

Probably you want me to shut up on all this. So I’ll get back to the plot.

RunPee Dan wrote an extensive and very helpful article about the entire series. Granted, he skipped a few films, but these are arguably worth skipping, based on both the Rotten Tomatoes Meter, and RunPee Sis’s definitive recommendations (as a F&F UBERFAN). (Seriously.)

Sooooo, what should you watch to get started with the Fast and Furious oeuvre?

Like I said, I think 2001 and 2009 should be viewed back-to-back as one film. 2009 picks up right where 2001 leaves off and flows seamlessly together. Both are exciting (but 2009 is just damn better, okay?).

I’m going to make a judgement call and say they are one good movie, but only when viewed together.

Everything changes after the 2009 film, with the 2011 addition of Dwayne Johnson — AKA The Rock — but that’s not important for now. 2001 and 2009 are the important bro foundation between Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker), and their love for…well, driving really fast. They bond. Bonding is good, right?

I will say Vin Diesel definitely has the charisma to anchor a franchise. (Really. Watch Pitch Black, please. And, lest ye forget, he’s also Groot.)

I’m reliably told the story gets more ‘heroic’ in subsequent iterations. So I’ll be watching to see the inevitable Vin vs Dwayne mano a mono fight (I love them both, even if they are…well…fungible.)

BTW: Apparently Vin and The Rock really, REALLY dislike each other. Does anyone know why?

Hobbs & Shaw’s Backstory from Fast and the Furious

Fast and the Furious – Furious 7 Movie Review

Movie Review – The Fate of the Furious – F8

Movie Review – Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw

 

First-View Movie Review – 47 Meters Down (2017)

47 Meters Down is a surprisingly decent shark movie. And it’s not even that scary – the horror level was low (and I’m a horror scaredy-cat, so trust me). What 47 Meters Down had going for it was a unique shark premise, and a gripping survival element. While the girls screamed a lot, both stepped up to the plate eventually to escape their increasingly desperate mess.

What problems did Lisa and Kate have?

  • Trapped in shark infested waters in a broken shark cage
  • Pinned down by the cage crane
  • Running out of air
  • Being just out of ship communication (47 meters — on the bottom of the ocean shelf)
  • Running the risk of getting the bends (which means certain death if they swim to the surface too quickly)
  • Lots of mundane things, like a heavy iron cage landing on your LEG

Did the two sisters survive? Well, that’s not really the point of the movie. It’s the middle of the story that’s the most fun. The beginning sets up the characters. The end resolves the plot. But the center section has the gripping moments, the awful series of dilemmas to overcome, and the horrific situation of being trapped in a shark cage next to blood and various chum…juuust out of radio reach to the waiting boat, and safety, above.

I have to admit the 47 Meters ending was super original and made me weirdly happy. All the clues were there. I’m shocked I didn’t figure out what was actually happening, although I did think at the time that the ‘happy’ stuff was unrealistic, and chalked it up to a Hollywood Ending.

I need to stop talking before I spoil anything.

Shark Movie Lineup Fun:

I’m going though a ‘shark phase’, catching up on all the best shark movies I missed the first time around. My re-watch of Jaws slayed me: A+++ all the way: I forgot how damn good the original blockbuster was. Shivers, in the good way. The Reef was decent. The Meg was pretty exciting. The Mosasaurus in the Jurassic World movies is just plain super cool.

I prefer it when my dangerous sea animals are ANIMALS, and not psychotic monsters. I know that that’s a lot to ask in a modern-day adventure movie. But it’s doable, as seen in the above movies (links go to our reviews – enjoy!).

So, I’m in the middle of my first-time shark movie viewings.

What else is on my Shark Watch list?

I’m told I need to see The Shallows, Deep Blue Sea, and maybe Jaws 2. I’m not so sure about the Sharknado franchise. And there’s one about sharks in a convenience store? There’s a metric ton of shark schlock out there. You tell me what’s good, and I’ll watch it. (Comment section is below, and really, tell me what’s good.)

Movie Grade : B

In case you didn’t know: there’s a sort-of sequel coming out in August (it’s more like a Shared Universe story) called: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. I’ll be there with chum in hand. 🙂

 

Movie Rewatch – Jaws – Still A Fantastic Blockbuster

The Shallows – First View Movie Review (2016)

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

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

Movie Review – The Meg

Meet the Real Megalodon

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:

 

Newbie Movie Review – Suicide Squad (2016)

margot robbie as harleyquinn in suicide squad
What? We’re bad guys.

Surprise, Surprise. Justice League is Actually a Good DC Flick

Movie Truism: Maybe going into a movie with low expectations makes it better. I didn’t bother to see DC’s highly anticipated 2016 Suicide Squad in the theaters because it was so lowly-regarded among critics and viewers alike. So I just let it slip by.

Cut to 2019. When I heard James Gunn  — beloved director of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy — was taking over the creative reins of Suicide Squad 2 (as a ‘soft’ reboot), hope flared anew that finally DC would have a group film brilliant enough, funny enough, and just damn worthy enough to counter the amazing ensembles produced by the MCU.

A Whole Lot of Good

The stars of Suicide Squad come down to two charismatic roles — Will Smith’s Deadshot — a decent man trapped by a nasty super-skill set, and Margo Robbie’s gleefully, lethally, nutso Harley Quinn.

Here’s Quinn’s efficient backstory from the movie:

Honestly, I enjoyed the whole misfit group. There was a one-take moment where I grinned from ear to ear, as the misfit crew executes a dynamic Hero Shot. It’s an expected trope in superhero films, right? In Suicide Squad, it felt earned and triumphant…until the next second, where you realized, hey, this is a Villain Shot. An Anti-Hero Shot? An Anti-Villain Shot? The sheer amount of dissonance was delightful.

(Some spoilers for Suicide Squad 1 follow)

This is good story making. Really. Suicide Squad had a ton of viewer treats that broke from DC’s usual grim-is-good comic world. I too wanted to see “The Bat” put away: as Quinn says, “He ruins all the fun.” Batman shows up, but he’s relegated to the background. Superman’s only mentioned in passing. Good and good. This isn’t about them.

There are so many Easter Eggs in the background, with great signage, throwaway lines, and outright allusions to other characters inside the DC universe and out. [They even predicted 2019’s “Evil Superman” Brightburn! ] This is some lively shit.

Another treat: the appropriately brief cameo of Flash. (Ezra Miller can do a lot in a small role, and was a bright spot in the mostly dreary Justice League.)

Suicide Squad has Two Great Music Tracks

As on Guardians of the Galaxy (which Suicide Squad was supposed to mirror) the extensive rock playlist is perfectly used. It’s great that movies list their songs during the credits, so I can remember to add them to my tune rotations. Suicide Squad leaned heavily into The Rolling Stones, which felt just right.

The second track — that instrumental background music we generally consider the “soundtrack” — was top-notch. In my notes, I scribbled several scenes where the music greatly underscored a character’s growth, emotional confusion, or was just plain…well…heroic. No other way to put it.

Another movie truism: bad guys can be heroes, and heroes can be bad guys. I think DC’s entire oeuvre is an ode to this concept.  (Exceptions: Wonder Woman and maybe Shazam.)

I’ll say this, though — the over-reliance on Queen tunes in genre films is starting to wear on me. When a scene perfectly uses a song in one film, said tune should be retired, like a great athlete’s number. So hearing Bohemian Rhapsody used by this crew was a nice moment, but as far as I’m concerned, BoRhap belongs to the wonderfully wacky Wayne’s World, forever. Can’t Stop Me Now was jarring in The Umbrella Academy, because why would anyone want to compete with the iconic zombie scene in the Winchester in Shaun of the Dead? (“Kill the Queen!”) And ripping Spirit in the Sky off the back of Guardians of the Galaxy went beyond homage.

Exposition and the Suicide Squad Characters

This is how you do it. With a large cast of super powered and/or crazy people to introduce, the best solution is to make the movie about THEM, not a MacGuffin plot. In a surprisingly smart move, that’s what Suicide Squad did. I loved the stylized flashback scenes of these criminals doing what they do best, their blink-fast list of skills, and how they each got taken down. These were very amusing scenes. Killer Crock especially was a hoot (Crock doesn’t seem actually evil, unlike most of the crew). His line about being beautiful was unexpected and well-played.

We also got some meaningful scenes with DeadShot in a text-book example of how to tell an emotional backstory in an efficient, effective way.

Speaking of DeadShot, he was a natural group leader, and Will Smith carried the movie effortlessly. Strangely, Smith apparently bugged on the James Gunn Suicide Squad 2 sequel. The news is Idris Alba is slated to recast Smith, which seems like a fair trade. Alba is the man, woefully underused as Heimdall in the MCU.

How About The Big Bad?

What really brought Suicide Squad down was the villain, and here I mean The Incubus. I’ll treat him separately from his sister, The Enchantress.

Actually, I don’t have time to discuss bad writing. The Incubus has zero development and isn’t worth delving into. He’s overpowered and boring. Next!

The Enchantress showed some promise in her CGI form, but when little June Moon started writhing around, it looked ridiculous. I appreciated the line that Mankind worships machines instead of gods now, but nothing was done with that intriguing concept. Fail. I don’t care. Bad villains are an ongoing superhero problem, but I mostly ignore that at this point.

An ensemble origin movie isn’t about who they fight, in any case. It’s about  group-building and world-building, which Suicide Squad got very right.

And the Joker?

Now, let’s talk about the real controversial role: Jared Leto’s Joker. So many Jokers over the years. Some get it right. All are distinctive.

I’ve got my favorites, but Leto’s not one of them: I’ll just say I’m glad his role was little more than an extended cameo. Let’s keep it that way in the sequel. Quinn on her own is much more fun and I prefer her out of the Joker’s shadow. With the Suicide crew she’s a fascinatingly deranged soul, instead of being a pet to the Joker. (Seriously, he whistles for her like a dog.)

I’ll give this Joker one thing: he had one deeply interesting line. It resonated so strongly for me that I wrote it down to think about —

“Desire becomes surrender…surrender becomes power.”

Suicide Squad, Overall

Something I hoped Suicide Squad would do is create real stakes and jeopardy…where not everyone you like is going to make it out alive. I had a feeling who that would be if they went there, and was satisfied with the payout when they did. It’s a brave gamble to take when you’re working with an ensemble you’re hoping to grow.

However, I didn’t buy their warm family feelings after sharing feelings over a few drinks, but I’ll give them this — bonds can form fast in life-threatening situations. And they had so much in common on a fundamental level: severely misguided people, good at being bad, damaged moral compasses, isolated, frequently abused, seen as the dregs of humanity, then abandoned in a dark hole with no hope of atonement.

Still, I’ll forgive some storytelling shortcuts in a movie this amusing.  With Gunn in the saddle, I’ve high hopes for Suicide Squad 2.

Color me pleased. I’m happy to add a third movie to the DCEU that I actually enjoyed, along with Wonder Woman and Shazam.

(BTW, stay through to the end credit scenes. Justice League was no Avengers, but it was thrilling to see JL’s inception anyway.)

Movie Grade: B

Guardians of the Galaxy Ex-Director James Gunn to Direct Suicide Squad 2

Movie Review – Batman vs. Superman

Movie Review – Justice League (RunPee Jilly’s POV)

Is Shazam Part of the DC Universe or a Stand-Alone Film? How Shazam Could Fix the DCEU

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?

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