Movie Review – The Incredible Hulk – Not Bad. Not MCU Good. Watch it and move on to better things…

 

Movie Review - The Incredible Hulk
Poor little Edward Norton. He’s cute; he can act, and he really tried. He just didn’t do MCU-level work. Or maybe it was the script. Mark Rufflalo is da HULK. #SorryNotSorry

I finally finished watching The Incredible Hulk last night. The big fight scene with The Abomination is awful. Looks terribly fake and is surprisingly boring. I wanted to skip the whole scene. My idea of a great Peetime is a terrible action sequence. #DontBoreMe

I expect better from the MCU. But then, this Hulk came out the same year as Iron Man 1, which was pretty much improvised by Robert Downey Jr and was a “Marvel’, almost a fluke, in how RIGHT they got a superhero film. MCU owes him EVERYTHING. He showed them the way. The path to enlightenment!

The Incredible Hulk is an okay movie. But OK is not acceptable in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Honestly. The Incredible Hulk is a better movie than I expected after avoiding it for ten years, but it doesn’t FEEL like the MCU, except for the Stark bonus scene just before the credits.

I can’t believe I finally watched this. I felt like I needed to turn in my Geek Card all this time, so I did it. It’s NOT awful, okay?

It’s a far sight better than that previous “abominable’ Hulk attempt, but Edward Norton, cute as he is in the role of Humble Banner, is NO Mark Ruffalo. Where is the fun, the humor, the clever world-building?

Arg. Trying to not get all HULKY in my anger with this piffling film. See this only it you’re an MCU completist. And for the very last scene (or just find it on You Tube). Really. If not for that final ten seconds, I’d never know this was a part of the greatest film franchise in history.

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: I added the 1st one now, at just before the half hour mark — a great time to go. I’ll be adding 2 more soon. Captain’s honor!

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

Rated (PG-13) for sequences of intense action violence, some frightening sci-fi images and brief suggestive content
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Superhero

Movie Review – Iron Man – Genius, Philanthropist, etc who started it all

Why Hulk is a Big Weenie and Loki Isn’t

Endgame Pee Planning from Rudd, Ruffalo & RunPee

Movie Review – Missing Link – Fun, will appeal to all ages

Movie Review - Missing LinkLaika Animated Studios has given the fans another film to add to their collection of ‘Must See’ stop-motion movies.

Hiring Zach Galifianakis as the voice of Susan, the missing link, was a stroke of genius. Even though Susan is a large, frightening creature, Zach provided a voice that took away the fright, and replaced it with a calm, gentle, and innocent demeanor that makes us fall in love with the big guy.

Hugh Jackman and Zoe Saldana brought their ‘A’ game, bringing the two main human characters to life with just right amount of attitude, charisma, and love-ability.

The plot of Missing Link is for Susan to find his own kind of species, which takes him on a global search along with Lionel, a self-proclaimed explorer, and Adelina, a strong determined widow and former girlfriend of Lionel’s. Add all of this together, and you’ve got a fun-filled movie that will appeal to all ages.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: From opening credits to the end of the movie, is only 1 hour & 25 minutes, so I made a judgment call and felt that only 1 Peetime was needed.

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

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

Movie Review – Hellboy – Wow. So, so, so bad.

Movie Review - HellboyGoing into the movie I didn’t expect much. The trailer looked promising, so I gave the movie a pre-movie rating of 75/100 in the Peeple’s Poll in the RunPee app.

Right from the start the movie had problems. They launched directly into a voice-over narration — rarely a good choice. (I think Fellowship of the Ring is the only movie that ever really pulled this off.)

The first three minutes were dreadfully written, but it’s a historical scene that sets up the present day story, so I gave them a pass.

It didn’t get any better when we finally got to present day. It’s hard to pick out where this movie went wrong when everything is bad.

The Writing

The writer Andrew Cosby has only three writing credits, all TV shows, most notably as a series writer for A Town Called Eureka. Every scene in the movie is packed with dialog. The audience never gets a chance to engage in the story because the characters tell us everything, over and over. It was all tell, no show. There was humor, but most of it felt forced.

The Direction

Hellboy is directed by Neil Marshall, whose background, again, is mostly in TV. I have to wonder how this came to be. It seems to me that if you’re making a movie, then someone on the staff should have some experience making movies, because clearly, TV and movies aren’t the same thing.

The Acting

Wow, so bad on so many levels. To be fair, the dialog and direction didn’t give the actors anything to work with. There’s no telling how good the actors could be with the right material and direction…with the exception of Milla Jovovich, who, as much as it pains me to say, was worse than usual. I ran a quick analysis on her filmography from RottenTomatoes, and her 33 movies have an average critics’ score of 37%.

David Harbour portrays the titular Hellboy. I can’t be critical of his performance because, as I mentioned above, he had nothing to work with, but again, his background is largely in TV.

Ian McShane (American Gods, John Wick series, etc.) is outstanding in his particular character role — which is pretty much the same in everything he does — but it doesn’t make a dent in this poor script. Here’s a man with some gravitas and a heap of experience who just seemed to be reading his lines, wondering how he got himself into this role.

Special Effects

Kudos have to be given to the FX team. For better or for worse, I had to look away from the screen a dozen times, and wish I had looked away more. My wife had nightmares last night after seeing the movie. They didn’t hold back on the gore.

The best thing I can say about this movie is that everything is only consistently bad, but not horrible. (Except for Milla’s acting which was yeah, really bad. No joke…I think the Pig Man might have been the best actor in the movie.)

If you go see this movie, or have seen it, I sincerely hope you disagree with my assessment, but in the end I gave this movie a post-movie rating of 10/100 in the Peeple’s Poll. That’s the lowest rating I’ve ever given a movie.

On a positive note: my wife, who collaborated with me on the Peetimes, didn’t hate the movie. She gave it a “C”. But, she married me, which can’t say much about her judgement. 🙂

Grade: F-

About The Peetimes: We have 3 Peetimes for this movie that are nicely spaced out. We highly recommend the middle Peetime. It’s by far the longest and is easy to summarize. In fact, if you make it back in around 3 minutes you’ll hardly miss a thing.

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

Rated (R) for strong bloody violence and gore throughout, and language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Remake

Movie Review – Shazam! – Great for Tweens, Less So for Adults

Movie Review - Shazam!I’ll start by setting the context: I love action/superhero movies, but never read any comics. So, I’m basing this review strictly on how I see the movie, not how it compares to any other body of work.

The Good:

While I definitely didn’t like the movie, I’m sure young boys under 12 years old or so will eat it up.

  • There were plenty of good laughs throughout the movie.
  • I would have given the movie a D+ if it hadn’t been for a LOT of improvement during the last 15 minutes of the film.
  • The villain was done well enough. At least his motivations, and reasons why he had those motivations, were clear enough.
  • There was a nice homage to the movie Big, with Tom Hanks. Did you catch that? 🙂

The Bad:

I didn’t like the movie on a number of levels. The pacing was poor. There was way too much time spent on scenes that just didn’t do anything for the plot or characters.

  • While the young actor who played Billy Batson (Asher Angel) did a fine job, I didn’t think he had the right look. Namely, he doesn’t look anything like a young Zachary Levi, who plays Shazam. One way or another, they should have cast two actors who could realistically look like the same person at different ages.
  • I get it that Shazam’s suit is supposed to be ridiculous, but the cape was so bad as to be distracting, and the muscle suit Zachary Levi wears looks like a high end Halloween suit — not realistic at all.
  • Then there’s the cartoonish action: like holding a bus up by the windshield.
  • Lastly, there’s a 1990s TV show quality to the production. I’m not talking about the CGI, which was adequate, but the filming and pacing. It just felt like a TV episode. Not a cinematic experience.

In short, it’s just another adequate DC production that labors to impress, then falls short.

Grade: C

About The Peetimes: Vera and I independently agreed on all 3 Peetimes, so we’re confident these are as good as they can be. The 1st Peetime is only for Emergencies, because there’s an important scene shortly after it ends. The 2nd Peetime is Recommended. You won’t miss any good humor or action. The 3rd Peetime is okay, but has a lot of hero/villain conversation.

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

Rated (PG-13) for intense sequences of action, language, and suggestive material
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Superhero, Tweens

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

A Happy Shazam Review – A delightful time in the DC universe (for once)

Do you know what SHAZAM! Stands For?

Movie Review – Dumbo – A remake your kids will enjoy

Movie Review - DumboIf you have a toddler, Dumbo is one of the few movies in the theater now that is specifically for your child. It’s PG-rated, so your kid won’t come home and ask you questions you don’t know how to answer. If you are worried about animal mistreatment with the circus background, by the end of the movie, they did mention no animals should be kept captive.

I was born and raised in China, and watching the original 1941 Dumbo with my dad is a piece of heartwarming memory from my early childhood. I was around 5 when I first watched it on a VideoCD. It was called “小飞象”  — Little flying Elephant — in Chinese. Yes, VCDs did exist.  🙂

Walking into the theater, I didn’t have an expectation. But as I was watching it, I was that 5-year-old girl again. The story has been changed here and there to fit the live action, but the spirit has not been changed at all. As far as I’m concerned, this movie brings back almost the same feelings I experienced over two decades ago. I’d call that a successful remake.

But for adults who don’t have any emotional connections to the original piece, this movie is probably going to be clicheic and pre-mature for you. It’s a remake that tries to be true to the original piece, so it’s still head to toe a 1940s style kids’ story. Unless, of course, you just like the idea of a cute little flying elephant.

Now here’s something extra for those who have watched the TV show West World: does the little girl in Dumbo remind you of anyone? 😉

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: We have a really good (recommended) Peetime right about the middle of the movie. Try to use that if you can. The last Peetime is okay, but you’ll miss a nice father-daughter scene. The 1st Peetime is only for Emergencies, because it’s short and is immediately followed by a scene that shouldn’t be missed, especially by children.

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

Rated (PG) for peril/action, some thematic elements, and brief mild language
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Remake, Reboot, Sequel

Movie Review – Wonder Park

Movie Review - Wonder ParkI’ve just spent half an hour reading several different reviews for Wonder Park and I just have to laugh, maybe hysterically laugh, at the verbosity spewed forth by the well paid critics.

It’s a toddler movie! Children care nothing about the movie’s conceptual resemblance to Inside Out. And a visual and aural cacophony of frenzied action sequences, is exactly what delights your children.  Loud sounds, and plenty of moving color and light, keep their attention. And the parents aren’t really watching the movie, they have their entertainment right there in their hands. The mother next to me played Solitaire all through the movie. They don’t care either.

All that being said, I enjoyed Wonder Park just fine. Children under eight — and old women with spotty short term memories — will have fun.

I felt that the animation was well done and there were a few catchy little songs that were pleasant. This film won’t win any Oscars, but who cares, the Oscars are dying anyway.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: This was a short movie filled with plenty of action and dialog, making it just a little difficult getting good Peetimes. I have 2, spaced almost 20 minutes apart, and both will serve you well — so let your bladder decide.

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

Rated (PG) for some mild thematic elements and action
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Movie Review – Captain Marvel – A Pretty Good Origin Story

Movie Review - Captain MarvelI’ve seen Captain Marvel twice now, and can honestly say I enjoyed it more the second time around. With my initial impressions I gave the movie a B. I’m bumping it up to a B+ now.

As a big Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, I think the most useful rating is to place it along with all the other 20+ MCU movies. Personally, I don’t dislike any of the movies, so the worst ones are still decent. But there are clearly the best of the best, the really good ones, and just good groupings.

In no particular order, I’d say the best of the MCU best are:

Avengers (the first one), Infinity War, GotG, GotG2, Thor: Ragnarok, Civil War, and Age of Ultron.

You’ll notice that all of these are ensemble movies, and none of them are an origin story, unless you consider that the first Avengers movie is a quasi-origin story for the ensemble.

When I look over that list, I can’t say that Captain Marvel can bump any of the top tier of MCU movies out, but it’s close…very close.

How Was Brie Larson as Captain Marvel?

I think Brie Larson did an adequate job with her character, but it’s going to take time to see if she can really “own” the role of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. However, the action scenes lacked a certain physical presence I think the role requires. Personally, I wish they had chosen Blake Lively for the role. She has the snarkiness — and definitely the physical presence —  to express Captain Marvel. I hope in time Brie can show us she was the right choice, but for now, I think the jury is still out. Let’s see how she measures up when she’s grouped with the other Avengers going forward.

The humor in Captain Marvel is good. It’s nothing like either of the Guardians movies, or Ragnarok, but there are still plenty of good laughs to be had.

I love the way the story gives us not only Captain Marvel’s origin, but also Fury’s. That was deftly handled.

What I liked most about the movie was the theme of the story. (Which I can’t really get into without mentioning spoilers.  Click on the spoiler tag below only if you’ve seen the film.)

Captain Marvel Spoilers

Click here to read further: spoilers
Without coming across as preachy, the story deftly explores how important it is to always question one’s allegiances.

Early in the movie Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) says, “Know your enemy. It might just be you.” We later learn the statement is literally true, when Marvel discovers she’s fighting on the wrong side of an unjust war.

There is a scene early in the movie that foreshadows Marvel’s change of allegiance, when Agent Coulson lowers his weapon and allows Fury and Marvel to escape. That not only sets the stage for putting Coulson on Fury’s map as his “one good eye” (a line from the original Avengers) but in a conversation shortly after that, Fury tells Marvel that what Coulson did –listening to his gut — is a hard thing to do, but that’s what makes us human.

MCU movies have also explored this idea with Captain America. He starts out as the dedicated patriot, and evolves into a fugitive from the very same authority that created him.

I personally find it ironic that society/authority/governments continually preach loyalty and patriotism. Essentially encouraging citizens to offer robotic support, while the computers we create are becoming more adept at questioning, understanding, and adapting. What makes us human — humanity — may soon be the purview of our creations.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: Overall, all 3 Peetimes are pretty good. I would recommend the 1st Peetime over the others. It’s very easy to get caught up on what happened. The 3rd Peetime is almost as good, but includes a little humor. The 2nd Peetime is almost all dialog so it has a longer than average synopsis.

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

Rated (PG-13) for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Superhero,

Movie Review – The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

 

Movie Review - The Lego Movie 2: The Second PartWhat a charming, amusing, engaging, but ultimately fluffy bit of fun The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is. It’s right up there with the enjoyment level of the original Lego film and The Lego Batman Movie, although perhaps a little less sensibly told, narratively, than either.

The story rambles all over the place, with most scenes serving as adorable kiddie sight gags and adulty-level Easter Eggs. Nothing really important happens. ([pullquote]Remember — DUPLOS are the big bad now, so you have to go with that level of absurdly subversive cuteness. Somehow it works. Let your cynicism go.[/pullquote])

I wish there had been more of the kind of Master Builder moments we saw originally — which is kind of what the Lego phenomenon (“Kragle” aside) is about. I think there was one split-second where Lucy has a callback to her Master Building skills, and it’s instantly glossed over. However, note that Master Wrecking is now a thing. The double decker couch does make a return appearance…so yay there. 🙂

[pullquote position=”right”]There’s ultimately a fantastic message in Lego 2, about how your point of view informs your reality. [/pullquote]It’s a timely enough truism for all ages, whether you are a President in charge of the world, or a young kid just wanting to be included.

What else? We don’t get enough Unikitty (NEED MOAR kitty!), MetalBeard, or Benny the Spaceman…although Lucy, Emmet, and Batman do quite well for themselves. Chris Pratt carries off a dual role with his usual big-hearted goofy aplomb. (Most of the runtime showcases Pratt’s two characters talking to each other. It works, but takes away from the initial engaging ensemble appeal.)

There’s also a TON of fantastic minor voice cameos, illustrating how excited many celebrities were to have even a tiny bit to contribute to the Lego spotlight.

Also, if you like science fiction — and especially time travel movies — there’s a little nod to everything notable in that realm of film iconography. [pullquote]Pay close attention, and listen to every throw-away line.[/pullquote] (Example: even Hot Tub Time Machine has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shoutout, and that’s digging deep into adorkable movie randomness.)

You can tell Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, and Elizabeth Banks — with the welcome addition of Tiffany Haddish — had a GREAT time filming their sequel. They clearly went all in. According to Chris Prat’s latest tweets, he’s thrilled with Lego 2. While Pratt seems legit thrilled with everything in life (he kind of IS Emmet), this is a worthwhile movie event for everyone.

I have no complaints (besides a couple of minor nits to pick, already mentioned), and had an “Awesome” time at the movies.

I even went to the Lego store next-door to my AMC theater immediately afterward, and picked up a mini-figure of Emmet, because I now kind of love him. (And then lost an hour wandering around and fantasizing about assembling Lego Deathstars, Hogwarts Castles, Millennium Falcons, and Jurassic Park set-pieces, but apparently that’s a hobby for the rich. Yikes. It makes me understand the whole “Kragel” business — if I spend that kind of money and time on something, nobody better not mess with it.)

[pullquote position=”right”]Well recommended, and see the 3D version if you can. Great for adults and children alike, although you’ll be a bit lost if you haven’t seen The Lego Movie 1 (“the first part”).[/pullquote]

PS: You don’t need to see Lego Batman to understand Lego 2 (Batman’s solo films is passed off with a toss-away line). And you can ignore The Lego Ninjago Movie entirely. Trust.

PPS: This song is gonna get stuck  inside your head. 

Grade: A-

About The Peetimes: I have 3 decent Peetimes up now and am trying to see if I can squeeze out a better one somewhere. This movie is FULL of Easter Eggs and humor, and it was nearly impossible to find a span of 3 minutes that we’d consider a great Peetime. I had to see this film twice last night. I’m going over my notes to see if I can tweak these to make them better. So far, the 1st Peetime is the best.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for mild action and rude humor
Genres: Action, Adventure, Animation

Are the Four Lego Movies Sequels, Prequels, or Stand-Alone Films?

The Cast of Voices for The Lego Movie 2 – The Second Part

The Lego Movie 2 – Video and Lyrics to Catchy Song (This is song is gonna get stuck inside your head)

Chris Pratt and the Lego Cast go to Space Camp

Lego Movie 2 Holiday Short – Christmas is Awesome

Movie Review – The LEGO Batman Movie – One of the BEST Batman films, ever

Everything is Awesome – Video and Lyrics to The Lego Movie Theme Song

Movie Review – The LEGO Movie

Movie Review – How to Train Your Dragon 3 – The Hidden World – No Spoilers (A newbie’s initial review)

 

Movie Review - How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden WorldThis stunning third Dragon movie needs to be seen if you like the series, or even if you’re new to the series but ‘grown-up’ enough to long for dragons to bind with and fly with in your own right. In other words, you don’t even need an excuse to drag a kid along to Dreamworks anymore!

It’s not just a Pixar/Disney phenomenon. Really. Grownups can eat children’s cereals and watch animated films without societal permission.

The filmation here is glorious and the sentiment is never sappy. These ARE Vikings, ya’ll.

I’ve only seen the 3rd film, but I have the entire series in front of me to enjoy. So please excuse my initial Peetimes – I’ll update them with the insight of background, as I breeze thru the series this month.

[pullquote position=”right”]I suggest you catch the limited showing today,  at midday Feb 2, at your local AMC, or check times/tickets on Fandango. [/pullquote]You won’t be able to see this until the Wide Release showing until Feb 22 if you miss today’s.

[pullquote]Tissues Alert: you might get misty eyes, but probably won’t outright sob in this feel-good film, bearing an important message.[/pullquote]

___

I loved it for now. Let’s table the real review until I am up to date on each part of the trilogy. Be good, dragonriders!

Grade: A-

About The Peetimes: This movie isn’t released in the USA until February 22nd, although there is a small early nationwide Saturday release on Feb 2. I did manage to get to an early screening the day before. There’s a perfect Peetime at 37 minutes in, and you should take that if you can. The 2nd Peetime occurs before the climax and is easy to summarize, but is such a pretty scene that I gave it an Emergency status rating.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for adventure action and some mild rude humor
Genres: Action, Adventure, Animation

Other great animated films by Dreamworks Studios:

Movie Review – How to Train Your Dragon (No Spoilers)

Movie Review – The Boss Baby – Adults Love This More Than Infants

Movie Review – The Croods – Enough Fun and Humor for Adults Too

Movie Review – Turbo – Faster & Funnier Than a Snail’s Pace

Movie Review – The Kid Who Would Be King is Charming and Sweet

 

Movie Review - The Kid Who Would Be KingThis character driven movie was about a half hour too long, and that’s the only negative thing I have to say about The Boy Who Would Be King.

I enjoyed this movie a lot. It has all the ingredients needed to keep the audience of children entertained: out of control roots, things on fire, trees that want to hurt you, and a never ending supply of blazing skeletons on horseback. Aren’t there always blazing skeletons on horseback?

There’s enough sound and movement to keep the very young kids happy, and the story will fascinate middle schoolers and even those well into junior high.

As for the adults, well, there’s Patrick Stewart…what else needs to be said? So, parents, back the SUV out of the garage, belt the kids in, and head on down to the local theater. Everyone will have a great time.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: A lot happens in this 2-hour young person’s movie. If you keep to the Peetimes you won’t miss the best action or magical scenes. Try to use the 1st Peetime if you can, but any of the 3 are fine.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Kid Who Would Be King. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for fantasy action violence, scary images, thematic elements including some bullying, and language
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Quiz – Sir Patrick Stewart in the Movies

Quiz – King Arthur and his Legend

A Brief Preview Review of The Kid Who Would Be King (No Spoilers)