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

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?

Learn More About The RunPee App

 

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):

A Godzilla Newbie Watches King of the Monsters

godzilla rodan king of the monsters
Rodan erupts in Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Having not seen any of the previous Godzilla movies, I’m not sure what I was expecting going in to see this 4th film. I had no notion what was coming, other than ‘large monsters destroying cities’. The beginning of the movie does a fair job filling the viewer in to what’s going on, but there could have been more, I thought. Once it got going, however, it was a nonstop thrill ride.

The sheer plethora of monsters was very satisfying. Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidora were joined by other unnamed monsters. These Titans, as they’re called, could be the Earth’s destruction or salvation.

It all depends on which scientist you ask. A corporation of scientists by the name of Monarch nominated itself the keeper of the monsters. However, the government wants the military to control this group.

Then a threat comes from an outside and unexpected source.

The special effects were fantastic. The Titans came alive on the screen. It reminded me of the first time I saw Jurassic Park. Those dinosaurs were believable, as are these monsters. The fight scenes are very satisfying. Add in the military’s weaponry and you have yourself a recipe for a spectacular bout.

The script is a bit rushed. It seems as though the producer really just wanted those Titan scenes, and everything else was a means to get there. Revelations are made, but the viewer is given no chance to digest the information before we are thrown into another battle. It’s all just treated as filler almost.

Which is sad, because the film has a great cast that are mostly overrun. The only two who leave a lasting impression are Ken Watanabe (Inception, The Last Samurai) as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa and Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) as Madison Russel. Even the “bad guys” are just blah.

Overall, the film is a fun ride if what you’re looking for is a good action movie with great monsters. Just don’t expect to come away with something intellectually thrilling.

Grade: B

Our Modern Godzilla – Grading Legendary’s Monsterverse (plus Godzilla 1998)

Movie Review – Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Movie Review of Kong – Skull Island

Virgin Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – Not as bad as the last one

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

Virgin Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – Not as bad as the last one

2014 godzilla breathing fire
A pot-bellied ring of fire…

Did this movie do Godzilla right? Yes,  better than the previous Godzilla. How’s that for a ringing endorsement? (It isn’t.)

The 2014 Godzilla HAD to be an improvment over the  1998s  Matthew Broderick mess, just to even things out. But I’ll save that for its own review.

In case you find the concept of reboots confusing, consider Godzilla’s long past as a remake, a reboot and a reimagining, all at once. The overgrown lizard suffered many iterations since his first appearance in 1954: including a 1970s Saturday morning cartoon, stop-motion photography figures, men in heavy suits, comic book images, rock star subjects, and was even the subject of video games. Sometimes he’s a hero, and sometimes a menace…although with anyone that massive, collateral damage just happens.

godzilla ruined city
Collateral damage is a bitch.

At this point the makers of Godzilla are knee-deep in what they call a Monsterverse. 2014’s Godzilla was the first in this shared universe, and the story blows past Kong: Skull Island, and on to a multi-mega-monster-lineup in 2020.

But what about the 2014 Godzilla in the Monsterverse series?

I enjoyed this in a nice-to-have-on-in-the-background sort of way. Having just seen Avengers Endgame after many viewings, I was super-sensitive to each time a character said, “Whatever it takes,” (which I think was 4 times in Godzilla). And it didn’t take long to notice poor Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson) once again didn’t have anything important to do.  Instead of looking mad while running, here she looked scared while running. What happened to those scarlet Infinity Stone blasts, girl? Would have been ‘handy’ – no pun intended.

Unfortunately, her role here, like every human but Ken Watanabe’s, was filler. Even the main soldier, who’s name I can’t be bothered to look up, was only there to show off some giant blue trembling Elijah Wood Hobbit eyes. Why are there even people in this Godzilla? Oh, right, to add human stakes (steaks?) to the story. This isn’t a Pokemon Smackdown after all.

Bryan Cranston lent some welcome personality at first, but after spouting off meta-jokes like, “That was NOT a Transformer…” (heh),  the torch was inexplicably passed to the aforementioned cute young actor. Once the egg cracked, no one did anything you haven’t seen at the cineplex dozens of times over. For international world-spanning human tension you can slice your hands on, re-watch Arrival again. Then come back here to see really big bugs eat subway trains like churros. Make your own movie!

I’m sorry I’m not treating this review with more dignity. It really does have worthwhile bits in between shots of pesky humans staring like deer in the headlights (or running full tilt too late to make a difference).

Godzilla images over the years
Every Godzilla ever. Enjoy.

The Monsters looked pretty good, though.

But the monsters were creatively designed, which are presumably the reason you bought your ticket. Like all good monster flicks — Jaws, Jurassic Park, Aliens et al. — the producers withhold the glamour shots until a good part of the film is underway. Part of the fun lies in imagining the huge beasties.

What’s nice here are the pay-offs, when they arrive.  Godzilla and his nasty parasites are on full display. It’s not like in 1998, where blinding rain purposefully obscures 3 hours of film.

I liked the heroic Godzilla as a creature a whole lot, tubby profile and all. I feel like he had to be a rolly polly oil barrel to stoke that kind of fire.  He also felt right with his triple spined back, beady (yet caring) little eyes, and a tail made for whipping. He seems almost intelligent.

And he looked great underwater.  I loved the scenes where he swam between the two aircraft carriers. Humans and man-made radioactive lizard — working together on one goal. This Godzilla is a lover, not a fighter.

So, how to grade 2014s Godzilla?

Looking good isn’t a reason for a high grade, unless you’re watching Avatar. Non-stop action is just exhausting — and for today’s more discerning audiences, boring. Running and screaming as buses fly around & tension high-wires go down went the way of the dinosaur (ha, sorry) in the disaster-porn film era of the 70s.

Want an example of how to do big-stakes disaster-flicks the right way? One word: Titanic. Or look to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which we at RunPee always grade on a curve.

This could have been a better film, and I’m sad we can’t find a proper starring vehicle for Godzilla yet. We have the tech now (even the esteemed Andy Serkis consulted with WETA on the motion-capture work). So we can make it look good. Why can’t we find the right director — and a proper cast ensemble — to make us CARE?

#WhateverItTakes

Movie Grade: C

Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters a Sequel to Kong: Skull Island?

Movie Review of Kong: Skull Island

Movie Review – Godzilla (2014) – This Godzilla Should Have Been Better

Rewatch Review – Godzilla (1998) – More overthinking than this film deserves

Godzilla Lyrics and Video from Blue Oyster Cult

The Animated 1978 Godzilla Cartoon – Lyrics & Video

Virgin Review – 22 Jump Street (and that truly incredible end credits scene)

22 Jump Street and it's insane sequels, like Mariachi School
Esto se esta poniendo ridiculo. I can’t stop giggling, ya’ll.

22 Jump Street seemed like it would continue the precedent set in 21 Jump Street (and we’re talking about the 2012 & 2014 movies, not the 1980s Johnny Depp TV show), and in one sense, it did. It took two young(ish)-looking cops and sent them undercover as kids. In 21, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum’s characters went to high school. In 22, it was off to college.

[pullquote]What made 21 Jump Street so charming was not just sending adults to school and watch them re-navigate classes, friendships, and the prom, but in having each character accidentally take on the wrong persona — and succeed.[/pullquote] Hill had to hang with the popular crowd and the jocks, while Tatum needed to pull off Advanced Placement Chemistry classes and learn to hack phones with his new nerd pals. It was a challenge for both, but the lack of cringe-humor made this film a winner. The buddy-duo stretched who they were as people and how they thought of themselves.

[pullquote position=”right”]That was fresh and new, and very, very satisfying.[/pullquote]

22 Jump Street unfortunately put both characters where the stereotypes  went the expected course, to the movie’s sincere detriment.  Hill’s character was sent back to dweebdom, and much cringe-humor ensued. Ouch. Tatum got to run the ball for touchdowns on the field — disappearing into the glow of popularity — and acting the entitled jock for all he was worth. It wasn’t pretty. It was hard to root for either undercover cop when everything was so unpleasantly handled.

There was still humor, but it leaned towards the mean-spirited type. The young cops eventually shake off their descent into caricature-hood, but at the cost of a lot of audience goodwill.

[pullquote]I’ll add this, however: the movie’s end is worth the price of admission right there.[/pullquote] I’m sure YouTube has this end scene kicking around somewhere, spoofing how many types of “schools” these two knuckleheaded cops would be sent to infiltrate next. It is howlingly funny. I’d watch every single one of those movies, especially 2121 Jump Street. Look out for the inspired Seth Rogen cameo, among others. You can tell everyone involved had a ton of fun inventing this ‘series.’ (And Channing Tatum really should push for 38 Jump Street: Dance Academy, because, you know, TATUM.)

Hell, here’s the video. Prepare thyselves:

If you get a chance, it’s still worth viewing 22 Jump Street, but my advice is to rewatch 21 Jump Street instead for the well-meaning laughs, as Hill and Tatum seem both out of place but unexpectedly fit right in.

Movie Grade: I was going to give this a C, but am adding the Plus purely for the perfection of the “promised” sequels. It’s that clever. C+

 

Virgin Movie Review – 21 Jump Street

And this is RunPee Sis’s original 22 Jump Street review from when the movie came out in 2014:

Movie Review – 22 Jump Street

Virgin Movie Review – 21 Jump Street

jonah hill and channing tatum as cops in high school for 21 jump street
They could have called this Prom Cops and I’d probably have seen it sooner.

21 Jump Street is a sweet little film that flew under my radar until last night. When my mother DVRed it (and subsequent sequel 22 Jump Street) to her TV for our movie night, I was confused. Wasn’t this a TV show? A cop procedural from the 80s?

She promised me it was definitely a movie and probably funny, so I agreed to watch it and make my notes for a virgin movie review. [pullquote]When I saw it had Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in it, I felt a whole lot better about sitting through it.[/pullquote]

21 Jump Street is actually not a cop procedural, although it’s certainly bookended as one. It’s more like a John Hughes teen angst comedy, with enough cop buddy-hood to keep things a little more grown-up. And yes, upon due investigation, this is a sort of remake/reinvisioned-sequel to the 1987 TV show of the same name. (Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a movie is a continued story or a reboot, but ultimately it doesn’t matter here.)

Was it funny? I’d say I smiled a whole lot throughout and even LOLed a few times. The constant meta-references to Tatum looking too old to be in high school landed well, as did the other funny self-aware bits, like when the police chief tells our guys he’s resurrecting an obsolete, defunct 80s undercover program. Which, yes, that’s exactly what’s happening in-story and outside the confines of 21 Jump Street. When the drama class director says, “And that’s the end of the second act,” it really was the end of the film’s second act. [pullquote position=”right”]For a fluff movie deriving laughs from a fish-out-of-water high school scenario, I found the meta humor more sophisticated than expected in this kind of genre.[/pullquote]

Self-aware joking aside, this movie had a lovely twist in it that I didn’t see coming. I expected things to more or less continue the old school hierarchies seen in the first three minutes, before Hill and Tatum’s characters entered the police academy.

If you haven’t seen 21 Jump Street (the movie, not the TV show), then you might want to stop reading here because I’m going to spoil the twist. Actually, it’s not a twist so much as the entire premise of the show, and I’m surprised I didn’t realize this going in. It made for a pleasant first time viewing to not know, so if you are a complete newbie to this like I was, go away now and come back later.  😉

Spoilers ahead!

When we learn the two boys accidentally took on each other’s fake names, I was prepared for a lot of cringe humor (which I cordially dislike). What I got instead was how Hill’s dweeby persona actually suited him in the brave new world of what is/isn’t cool at school seven years later…and how Tatum’s dim-witted turn as a kid enrolled in advanced placement classes actually leveled him up, to the point he could crack jokes about KNO3 (potassium nitrate), and learn to jail-break a phone with his new-found friendly, accepting nerd friends. [pullquote]It was nice to see a movie where role reversals don’t depend on being desperately out of one’s element.[/pullquote] (Haha, I just made a joke about elements, and wasn’t even trying. See? The film even made me smarter.)

Here’s the cute 21 Jump Street scene about KNO3 (it’s about a minute long):

Also, there’s this bit of rocket fun if you add sugar to potassium nitrate. What’s not to love about chemistry? Also, don’t go out now and blow your fool hands off:

Hill and Tatum have some good chemistry together, which looks like it surprised them as much as the viewer. It was all very playful, like two big puppies wrestling. At the prom.

Now that our next Jump Street sees the “brothers” leaving high school and entering college undercover in 22 Jump Street, I’m looking forward to tonight’s film.

Movie Grade: B

Virgin Review – 22 Jump Street (and that truly incredible end credits scene)

Movie Review – 22 Jump Street

A Discussion on Buddy Cop Movies