Are We Sure These Wick Movies Aren’t Another Version Of The Matrix?

John Wick: Prince of Puppies
Created in the RunPee app using #MovieMeme. Just tap on the movie poster (located on the Movie Info Screen) and have fun making your own movie memes.

I’ve gotta say, I disagree with RunPee Dan’s John Wick 3 review on Parabellum. Some of what he says holds true with the choreography and perhaps the length of the film.  But I didn’t get bored with the action.

Very light, vague John Wick Parabellum spoilers lie ahead…

The end of the second Wick movie set the tone for this one, and I feel we got what was teased. EVERYONE is after this man and his bounty.

The action is intense and has plenty of humor mixed in. Especially from Sofia’s attack dogs.

But then here’s where The Matrix seeps in.

Neo…I mean John Wick…is on a mission to clear his Excommunicado with the High Table.

The High Table is determined to clear the board of what they perceive as weakness. The Man that sits above the table is inclined to give The One…I mean Wick…his chance at redemption — at a cost.

And Morpheus…I mean, The King…seems to be setting up the next chapter, with a fair bit of visual humor at the end of the film.

Loyalty and betrayal, determination and doubt.

“If you want peace, prepare for war.”

The Baba Yaga is coming, Parabellum.

Movie Grade: B+

The Matrix After 20 Years – A Retrospective: A Different Kind of Hero, a New Kind of Science Fiction

Movie Review – John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Not as good as the first two)

Movie Review – John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Not as good as the first two)

Movie Review – A Dog’s Journey – Manipulatively Emotional, But The Least Heart-Rending of the Dog Trilogy

Movie Review - A Dog's JourneyI’m relieved to say this heartrending three-movie schmaltz-fest is over. I did the Peetimes for each movie in the semi-trilogy, and was relieved that A Dog’s Journey made me cry the least. By which I mean I cried only three or four times, and these were little teary moments, not the big gulping ugly cries I endured in A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Way Home. (Links go to my reviews. Yes, I’m a masochist and saw all three.)

I was prepared, though. I brought tissues! This marks the first time in ten years of RunPee movie-going that I preemptively (one fan said I should call it ‘pee-emptively’) came prepared to cry. So, if you’re curious, YES, the dog dies in this movie.

Many times. Confused? Read on.

A Dog’s Purpose

In A Dog’s Purpose, Bailey the dog dies and reincarnates. A LOT. I cried a river for  about hours. It was brutal.

A Dog’s Way Home

In A Dog’s Way Home, it’s no longer about Bailey or reincarnation (it’s actually a remake of The Incredible Journey), but the film is considered Bailey-adjacent. Call it a Shared Universe.

That doesn’t let you off the emotional hook, though. All kinds of fresh torture awaits the sensitive dog lover, most tellingly in a devastating scene with Edward James Olmos as a homeless vet who dies alone in the wilderness…with the titular dog chained to his body, a few feet too far from the river to drink. FOR DAYS. Imagine taking your kids to this. Or rather, don’t.

There’s also a scene where the dog gets hit by a car trying to cross a busy freeway…and just lies there…consider this a PSA. I was twitching during that entire sequence, and I think everyone else was too. If you’re a sensitive sort, you can skip the middle movie entirely and just focus on Bailey’s bookend films.

A Dog’s Journey

Which brings us back to A Dog’s Journey. Or, rather, the end of his journey. I’m telling you these things so you’ll be prepared. This isn’t a spoiler — even under the best conditions, dogs don’t live much longer than a decade. This last flick returns to the theme of reincarnation, but somehow is a lot easier on the heart-strings overall. I have to wonder if writer W. Bruce Cameron took pity on his audience and eased up on the heartbreak on purpose.

Should you see a A Dog’s Journey?

Ultimately, A Dog’s Journey is actually a good movie to take your kids to (although you’ll have to explain a few things about dog souls and the Rainbow Bridge).

I’m pleased to say this film is a good evening out — more sentimental than sad. I don’t have a headache from crying, and feel reasonably stable. Can’t expect more than that, right? I mean, it’s a DOG MOVIE. Are there any movies about pets that aren’t tear-jerkers? Even John Wick lost it when his dog was [redacted]. Is it a cooincidence that John Wick Chapter 3 came out today as well…?

Overall, A Dog’s Journey was nicely filmed. The acting (aside from the reliable Quaid) wasn’t very exciting, but the movie is well paced, looks good, and delivers some affably low-key doggy humor. No canine actors were in mortal peril this time, unlike in the first film. The dogs do great work, especially “Molly” — but then, I have a soft spot for beagles.

If you love dogs — and why would you see this kind of thing if you don’t? — you’ll know you’re being emotionally manipulated, but the tale’s more sweet than tragic. Thankfully.

Grade: B-

PS: As per your requests, we are adding an Alert Warning to the Peetimes this film on the RunPee app re: traumatizing dog moments. (But at this point we’re pretty sure you know this about W. Bruce Cameron and his canine oeuvre. This film is the gentlest of the three. Relatively speaking.)

About The Peetimes: This was a fairly simple film to get Peetimes for. Here are 3 evenly spaced Peetimes that don’t feature any big emotional moments or plot points.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of A Dog’s Journey. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for thematic content, some peril and rude humor
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Is A Dog’s Way Home a Sequel to A Dog’s Purpose?

Movie Review – A Dog’s Purpose

Movie Review – A Dog’s Way Home

Movie Review – John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Not as good as the first two)

Movie Review - John Wick: Chapter 3 - ParabellumI loved the first two John Wick movies, especially the first, which really brought new life to the action genre. But I found myself getting bored by the monotonous action in John Wick Parabellum.

I think the movie might have been better if it had been a little shorter. Many of the fight seems felt redundant.

Beyond that, the gravitas expressed by Keanu Reeves in the first movie just isn’t available in this story.

What was Good in John Wick Parabellum

The director (Chad Stahelski) works hard to break some new ground in each of his movies, and I think he accomplished that with the dog scenes in this version of John Wick. I’ve seen attack dogs in movies before, but nothing like this. Kudos to the dogs and their trainers. They earned the treats and then some.

John Wick: Prince of Puppies

Besides that, there were a few times I spotted errors in the choreography of the fight scenes. For instance, men would stand still after being punched by John Wick, while he turned his attention to another foe, before turning to shoot the first guy. It didn’t feel as tight and polished as the first two Wick movies.

The Unsung Heroes of Action Flicks

That said, going to see this movie in the theater is a good way to support the men and women who work hard to perfect their craft at making action movies like this. It’s hard and dangerous work, and they don’t get the glamour showered on the big name stars. They’re the blue collar workers of Hollywood and deserve a pat on the back — and some coin in their pocket — for their work, as the unsung heroes of John Wick, and all action films.

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: I found 3 good Peetimes. None of them involves any good John Wick action. I recommend the 2nd Peetime. It’s the longest, and right in the middle of the movie.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for pervasive strong violence, and some language
Genres: Action, Crime, Thriller

The Matrix After 20 Years – A Retrospective: A Different Kind of Hero, a New Kind of Science Fiction

Movie Review – John Wick 1

Is A Dog’s Way Home a Sequel to A Dog’s Purpose?

a dogs way home by w bruce cameron
It’s sort of a sequel and definitely a reboot.

Well, is it a sequel? Yes. And no. It’s also kind of a remake. I’ll get to that in a minute.

A Dog’s Way Home and A Dog’s Purpose, both written by W. Bruce Cameron, are intended as the first two parts in a “shared universe” dog trilogy. This is slated to culminate in A Dog’s Journey later this year.

What both current movies have in common — besides, you know, dogs — is a desire to make their audiences cry. So if that doesn’t sound like a fun time, neither of these films are for you. At least try not to see them alone.

Another thing that stands out is how morbid both stories are. Life, death, and life again are repeating motifs in what on the surface would seem to be harmless family films. [pullquote]I don’t want to spoil any plots, but some freaky things happen in both Home and Purpose that make me wonder what the writer intends for the final film in his doggie-verse.[/pullquote]

One thing you might recall from A Dog’s Purpose is how the titular dog, in one of his lives, has a swim rescue scene where the actual canine actor almost drowned. That kind of terrifying real-life event can go on to sink a franchise, and the new movie will probably remind everyone of Peta’s Purpose movie boycott action: “No amount of spin from Hollywood will change the fact that being forced to do a terrifying stunt is not a dog’s purpose,” said PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange in a statement. “PETA is calling on kind people to boycott this film and send the message that animals should be treated humanely, not exploited as movie props.”

So  I’m a little surprised a follow-up got greenlit, and that the writer returned to the death-theme well once again.  [pullquote position=”right”]There’s one section with veteran actor Edward James Olmos that’s so upsetting I’m shocked A Dog’s Way Home doesn’t come with a disclaimer.[/pullquote]

I mentioned above that A Dog’s Way Home is also a remake, because the theme of ‘pet crossing the country to get home’ has already been told a few times on the big screen. The 1963 live action Disney film The Incredible Journey features a bull terrier, a lab mix, and a Siamese cat who band together to cross a vast distance and help each other through many dangers…and it’s still the film to beat.

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993) was a rebooted version with a few changes (this features the animals narrating, as does the one canine in A Dog’s Way Home), but is essentially the same story.

I’m willing to bet W. Bruce Cameron saw both of these movies.  🙂

Movie Review – A Dog’s Way Home

Movie Review – A Dog’s Purpose

Movie Review – A Dog’s Way Home – A Harrowing Experience for Dog Lovers

 

Movie Review - A Dog's Way HomeA solid B film where I ugly-cried six times, including within the opening three minutes. That’s got to be some kind of record. I wrote down how many times I cried as I jotted down notes for Peetimes (and my male companion cried three times, so it’s not just a girl thing).

In any case, I really don’t like movies that make me cry and try to avoid them, but since I saw the previous year’s A Dog’s Purpose, I felt I should see the ‘sequel.’ (A Dog’s Journey is not technically a sequel, but this is intended to a be part two of a dog trilogy in a shared universe.)

In any case, I’ve been referring to this as “The Dog Movie” — and that’s exactly what you get. There are a few people, some cats, and lots of pretty scenery, but for the most part you’re in the mind of a young part-pit pup who’s got a single-minded goal to play “Go Home”…a long, scary, and thrill-filled “game” that takes her over two and a half years, and 400 exhausting miles.

Bella’s not the world’s smartest dog, but she’s loving, loyal, and committed to reuniting with her human. I’m not going to give anything away, and while you probably can guess how it ends, a few things happen along the way that will surprise you.

For one thing, an almost unrecognizable Edward James Olmos has a couple of emotionally distressing scenes, and those will probably upset children.

Speaking of which: there were some little kids in my theater, and they were restive at times, because things get gripping and tense frequently. I don’t recommend letting your children see this alone, to be honest; you might get them back scared and crying. There’s a scene that’s even frightening for adults: I was legitimately freaking out watching a confused Bella try to cross that six lane interstate into Denver.

There were some weird filming liberties here and there, like a brief bit showing a moose (there are none in Colorado…but since this was filmed in British Columbia, we’ll just let that go). And the CGI animals were badly done, jarring me out of a few scenes where fake critters interacted with real ones.

Bella the dog was thankfully a real animal, and she did a fine job carrying the story on her canine shoulders. Bryce Dallas Howard narrated Bella’s thoughts, and was pleasing enough in an earnest way. Bella meets a lot of nice people along her journey, and I loved the bookend scenes with the disabled vets. No one really stood out though, which was appropriate in this kind of flick. The writer did a great job having the POV center almost entirely on Bella.

In the end, A Dog’s Way Home is a mostly-harmless fluff film that dog lovers will appreciate. You’ll forgive me though, for saying the Disney classic Incredible Journey from 1963 is still the best version of this kind of tale.

PS: These kinds of things do happen with animals. I had a beloved dog escape from my dog-sitter in Arizona and make it across the desert by himself to San Diego, CA. He arrived in a few weeks, with bloody paws and a lot of hunger, but he did make it, and we were reunited.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: I have 3 Peetimes, and recommend the 1st if you can pop out early. Pay attention to the Peetime meta in this film and you’ll be okay with the second 2. (This movie is a series of repetitive travel scenes, intercut with emotional vignettes you won’t want to miss.)

Animal Abuse Alert: This movie has intense scenes of animals in peril. Children and animal lovers will find a lot of this movie disturbing — too many scenes to make them all into Alerts.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of A Dog’s Way Home. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for thematic elements, some peril and language
Genres: Adventure, Family

Is A Dog’s Way Home a Sequel to A Dog’s Purpose?

Movie Review – A Dog’s Journey – Manipulatively Emotional, But The Least Heart-Rending of the Dog Trilogy

Movie Review – A Dog’s Purpose – A Brutal Experience in Non-Stop Crying

Movie Review — Dog Days

This small but cute film is solid middling fare, and a possible excuse to get into air conditioning during these “Dog Days of Summer.”[pullquote] If you’ve ever had a canine friend, Dog Days has got something for everyone — there were nine storylines, but none of them felt forced. I even shed a tear [/pullquote](and you will know that moment, if you’ve ever had to put a beloved pal down). If you’ve loved pets, especially dogs, you’ll find a moment that feels like you.  Small, sweet, well done. Nothing momentous; certainly not worth $15 in the theater — my opinion: wait for the DVD/streaming choices to come. There’s not much to say, narratively about this film. It’s not as charmingly off-the-cuff as Best In Show (2000), but still has some easy-going moments of nice add-libbing (stay through the entire end credits scenes).  If you love dogs, consider this a good date night film (specifically, if you both love dogs). [pullquote position=”right”]To sum: surprisingly charming and well-produced. But there’s also this: I don’t remember anyone’s name, not the human names anyway, and don’t feel bad about that. [/pullquote]There’s the brother/musician, the sister, the athlete, the newscaster, the sad older guy, the pizza boy, and the adopted family. I remember most of the dogs’ names, as that’s how I roll. I had to write down some of the human characters’ names to help with your Peetime Cues, but otherwise almost everyone has a sort of low-key fungability. A pleasant B movie. Movie Grade: B About The Peetimes: This was a kind of difficult movie to get Peetimes for, since there are so many plotlines and stories happening simultaneously. However, it’s really okay to jump out at the 3 Peetimes I chose, because nothing momentous happens in the movie, and each break is easy to summarize. Go with your bladder to pick a Peetime, as each one is decent.

Movie Review – A Dog’s Purpose – A Brutal Experience in Non-Stop Crying

Movie Review - A Dog's PurposeThis was a hard movie to rate, because I feel so angry at the producers for even making this emotionally manipulative sob fest. Nobody should see this.

The target audience: people who love dogs beyond measure, AND don’t mind crying almost nonstop for an entire film.

I can’t even begin to describe how painful this movie experience is. I feel terrible, lonely, and even broken. The entire audience was weeping all around me, over and over, with every dog death. After the movie, people leaving the theater only mentioned how dreadfully sad they were.

The movie employees also mentioned they will never see this one, after seeing the condition people are in afterward.

I will have to add more thoughts after I sleep this off. The good: the movie is not poorly made. The dog voiceover had charm. Puppies are cute. Horse-dogs are amusing.

So much pain is going on in the real world right now. I don’t recommend paying money and deliberately going out for an evening of celluloid sorrow. Last note: if you do go, do not see this alone.

UPDATE: I promised I would add more, so I am looking over my written review notes. Things I wrote:

“A ‘fluff’ movie — forgive the doggie pun — with a people-oriented Hollywood ending almost nobody will be happy with. Sure, these things happen, but few of us are lucky enough to have the timing right. The message of the movie seems to be about being lonely – no matter what revelation the dog felt compelled to tack on at the end. One person attempted to clap after it was over, and it was roundly ignored by the rest of the theater, in seeming solidarity. That person was even shushed by their seatmate.”

I never warned anyone off a movie before, but am now telling everyone I meet: this one is a manipulative dog turd.

Grade: C

About The Peetimes: This was a tough movie to find Peetimes for, since many of the lives Bailey experiences fly through rather quickly. I added Peetimes that are easy to sum up.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of A Dog’s Purpose. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for thematic elements and some peril
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Buy the movie from Amazon.com on DVD or Blu Ray

Is A Dog’s Way Home a Sequel to A Dog’s Purpose?

Movie Review – A Dog’s Journey – Manipulatively Emotional, But The Least Heart-Rending of the Dog Trilogy

Movie Review – A Dog’s Way Home – A Brutal Experience for Dog Lovers