Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame

Movie Review - Avengers: EndgameFew movies have delivered when the expectations were so sky high. While not flawless, there’s nothing about Avengers: Endgame that could warrant giving the movie anything other than an A+. And everyone in the RunPee Family agrees.

It’s powerful, poignant, funny, exciting, thrilling, and often all of those adjectives at once.

There’s nothing I can add to this review without hinting at spoilers, and we absolutely do not want to do that.

If you want to read more beyond this truncated review, then please click the links below:

Endgame spoiler free review – We got what we needed!

Avengers Endgame and a missing item [SPOILERS]

Avengers Endgame – A long breakdown to describe what you just saw (Massive Spoilers!)

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: As expected, this was a difficult movie to do Peetimes for. The last Peetime is at more than an hour from the end of the movie, and believe me, there’s nothing to be missed after the last Peetime. I recommend the 2nd Peetime. It involves characters talking about past events that we already know. The synopsis will take care of catching you up. The 3rd Peetime is also good, but involves some emotion. My suggestion is to use the 2nd Peetime, if you think you can make it another 2 hours to the end.

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

Rated (PG-13) for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Superhero,

Movie Review – Little – Nothing “Big” but a pleasant enough film

Movie Review - LittleLittle was an extremely funny movie. There were a ton of laugh out loud moments that had the whole theater cackling.

It was very predictable, but still enjoyable to watch. The humor overshadowed the predictability. The movie doesn’t really have any standout moments, but I’d definitely recommend it if you’re just wanting some laughs.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: Both Peetimes will give you plenty of time to take care of business.

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

Rated (PG-13) for some suggestive content
Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

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 – 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 – Isn’t It Romantic – Fluffy, Good Fun

 

Movie Review - Isn't It RomanticCan Rebel Wilson carry off the lead in a ‘Rom-Com’? Oh you bet she can, and Isn’t It Romantic is a great launching pad for her new status as a leading lady.

This movie was exactly as advertised: 88 minutes of pure fluff, but I say that fondly. I’m a little like Rebel’s character, Natalie; I don’t care for rom-coms. [I should point out that I very rarely watch and review rom-coms. I leave that to the more qualified RunPee Critics]. However, this piece of fluff was really funny.

The acting, pacing, and directing was spot on. Of course, as it should be, Rebel Wilson was the movie. Her sense of comedic delivery is second to none. My question is; why has it taken so long for her to get her own vehicle?

The supporting cast was awesome, and everyone looked like they were having fun making this flick. That’s one of my pet peeves — when you see a cast so wooden that you know they’re just phoning in their roles. Such was not the case with Isn’t It Romantic.

My one caveat is, I’m not sure how much the guys will go for the movie. Like I said, it is pretty fluffy. Maybe ladies…you can take your significant other to the go cart track afterward!

Grade: (Will be updated shortly)

About The Peetimes: Isn’t It Romantic is a short movie and tightly edited. There were no good Peetimes. I managed to select 2 Peetimes that, although important to the plot, could be easily summed up.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Isn’t It Romantic. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for language, some sexual material, and a brief drug reference
Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

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)

Movie Review – Mary Poppins Returns

Movie Review - Mary Poppins ReturnsCan I start by saying bravo?! I’m a huge fan of Mary Poppins (MP), and Mary Poppins Returns (MPR) did not disappoint. While we all knew that filling Julie Andrews’ shoes as MP would be nearly impossible, Emily Blunt nailed the role.  I enjoyed this movie so much because of the animation, storyline, cast, and the soundtrack. The Sherman Brothers rocked the music, yet again.

Many people thought this movie was a remake of the original 1964 movie. However, this is a continuation of the original storyline.

This storyline could stand-alone if you had never seen the first installment, but it was very exciting to recall scenes from the first MP to understand the narrative of MPR. For example, let’s start with how Mary Poppins arrived the same way in this movie as she did in the first movie—-with a strong wind. Jan and Michael Banks are portrayed as adults, with Michael living as a widow in their childhood home…with three children and a housekeeper. Jane works as an advocate like her mother, and Michael is an artist and works at Fidelity Fiduciary Bank like his dad.

Side note: when the bank chairman sent the attorneys to Michael Banks’ house to demand payment of his loan or the house would be repossessed, that scene reminded me of It’s A Wonderful Life, when George Bailey experienced a similar scenario as the bank examiners arrived.

It was so funny that Admiral Boom used to be so precise with time when blasting the canon, but in this movie, his old age has impaired his precision. Do you remember the kite scene from MP along with the song “Let’s Go Fly A Kite?” Well, that same kite is crucial to the plot in this movie. Then there’s that scene in MP where Michael is shocked with his mouth open; MPR recycled that line with Michael as an adult…and MP said “Close your mouth Michael, we still are not codfish.” LOL Now as for Meryl Streep, she played MP’s second cousin named Topsy. I don’t care what role Meryl plays, she’s going to kill it. Her dance moves were on point too.

Cousin Topsy’s scene put me in the mindset of the scene from MP with Uncle Albert’s flying giggles to the song “I Love to Laugh.” The scene with the song “Follow the Light” reminded me of the chimney sweepers scene to the tune of “Step in Time” from MP. And yes, the penguins are back in the broken antique bowl scene.

One last similar scene I’ll mention is that the children disrupt the bank lobby like young Michael did, when he ran out of the bank because he didn’t want to deposit his tuppence.

Speaking of tuppence, the tuppence that Michael was forced to deposit into the bank comes full circle in MPR in a major way.

As I said earlier, the Sherman Brothers rocked the songs again, and my favorite song in this movie is “The Cover is Not The Book” especially Jack’s (Lin-Manuel Miranda) solo, because it was sang/rapped in his iconic Hamilton-like tempo. Sweet!!!

Familiar terms used by MP that always bring a smile to my face were of course in her vernacular in MPR; such as spit pot, come along now, and pish posh. Furthermore, there were three moments when the audience applauded, which is a good indication of iconic scenes — especially when both parents and children are applauding enthusiastically.

I speak for myself when I say it was pleasing to see black casting in MPR. MP did not have any blacks (if I remember correctly) and in MPR, two of the major characters were black: one of the attorneys, and the bank chairman’s secretary, and another appearance of a black milkman. Woohoo! It was also nice to see Angela Lansbury as the balloon woman in the park at the fair, when Dick Van Dyke returns as Mr. Dawes, Jr.

Let me close by saying I almost want to raid Mary Poppins’ closet. She is the best-dressed nanny on the planet. Her exit from Cherry Tree Lane was the same in MPR as it was in MP—-slow, holding her open bird umbrella, fading into the sky, with a subtle look back at the Banks’ house with a slight smile. Mary Poppins Returns is epic and practically perfect in every way!

#MaryPoppinsReturns #EmilyBlunt #Disney #Movies #NewReleases #MovieReview #RunPee #FemaleMasterpiece #Hamilton #LinManuelMiranda

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: It was a little difficult to determine Pee Times because it’s a children’s movie — but adults love Mary Poppins as well — so determining when’s a good time for anyone to pee took some creativity. I recommend the 2nd Peetime, because it’s a very slow scene of the children sleeping and merely a lullaby song.

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

5 Differences between the Old and New Mary Poppins

Movie Review – Saving Mr. Banks

Classic Movie Re-Watch Review – It’s A Wonderful Life

Movie Review – Mortal Engines

 

Movie Review - Mortal EnginesI’m still digesting this pretty darn awesome movie. I’ll just say I’ve never seen a better Steampunk film (not that there’s a lot out there…). This has interesting characters, amazing world-building, and spectacular set-pieces. It’s a brilliant effort by the producers of The Lord of The Rings. I’m a happy girl tonight. Loved it.

….Don’t read any further if you don’t want spoilers…..

More goodness: the bad guy was played by Hugo Weaving, who’s shaping up to fill the hole left by the demise of Alan Rickman. He was just lovely in the part, even if his character’s motivations seemed forced. I’m going to blame the writing on that one.

Weaving did a great job with what he had. Most movies have “villain problems” — it’s hard to make a baddie we can relate to, or at least understand. The character of Thaddeus Valentine should have been more layered. He has an adult child with him, who presumably might have noticed once or twice if her father was evil. I get that London needed more fuel to survive, but I’m not sure using the particular weapon he did would net London any resources: it’s too destructive. By the end he became a generic cackling guy with a world-killing weapon. It’s absolutely a fine film, but this issue keeps it from getting an A+.

I felt like the narrative could have used some more backstory about why the cities and towns had to be mobile (something more than the cool factor). And there was a missed opportunity by never using the zeppelin a character sees and looks at thoughtfully. I kind of feel that maybe a later scene with it was cut from the film — or why bother showing it tethered nearby?

I did like the creative designs used on the different airships, and how they recalled a feeling of sailing on the ocean more than flying in a plane. The various captains even had a piratey flair.

This future world was splendidly envisioned, which is to be expected from WETA Workshop, who, along with producers Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens,  created The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. And of course we know Weaving as Elrond of Rivendell. I’m guessing a lot of crew members were also ported over from that universe to work on Mortal Engines. It really is a visual achievement.

As far as the plot goes, I kept thinking I was missing big pieces of the story, things that might be better explained in a novel. So I had to go check..and guess what? Mortal Engines is indeed a book. In fact, there are four of them.

Personally, I’m all in for a sequel set. I was engaged by this new Steampunk world and seriously wanted a lot more exposition than we got.

(Here’s a example: what in Thor’s name was Shrike? Some kind of cyborg? The memories of a person transplanted into a robot? Was he a technological version of a zombie? Why was he making dolls, why did he take in a little girl; why did he need Hester to become like him? What was the story with his elaborate prison cell? He was an intriguing element in the story, but his arc seemed undercooked.)

I feel like I could fill in some of this backstory on my own, but I’ll probably just read the book. And I’m sure I’ll see this film again when it’s available for streaming.

I’ll leave you with this quote from William Shakespeare‘s Othello, explaining the film’s title: “Othello: And O you mortal engines whose rude throats/Th’immortal Jove’s dread clamors counterfeit…” Mortal Engines refers to the concept that a society based on Municipal Darwinism is not sustainable, and that the cities’ engines are indeed mortal.

Grade: A
Movie Release Date: 12-14-2018

About The Peetimes: A lot happens in this movie, and it’s quite economical in pacing throughout. I’d recommend the 1st Peetime if you can manage it. The 2nd Peetime has an interesting set-piece, but it’s not relevant to the plot. The last Peetime contains action, but in a movie as full of action as this, you’ll be fine if you stick to the 3 minutes I gave you.

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

Making Models – the Jenny Haniver Airship from Mortal Engines

Movie Review – Aquaman

Movie Review - AquamanWhat does DC have to do to shake off the feeling that it’s the poor man’s Marvel?

For starters: make better movies.

I’m not saying Aquaman is bad. Far from it. It’s a decent movie despite being as predictable as it is visually appealing. But it’s no better than the first Thor movie. Which would be fine if Aquaman came out a decade ago. Unfortunately, Marvel beat them to the punch. DC is trying to find their feet while Marvel is breaking Olympic records.

Here’s my best guess why Aquaman doesn’t soar: it just doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s an origin story for sure, but not much of one. For such a long movie, the origin of Aquaman only comes up in a few brief flashbacks and only one of them — when he’s a young boy — really works.

There’s a little romance, which is fine, but the timing of the scenes are completely wrong.

Then there’s a few scenes that feel like they were stolen from a National Treasure sequel.

The worst part of all of this is the inclusion of Black Manta. I don’t know why the writers felt compelled to throw this character into the story, because it only drags the plot beneath the waves.

All of this happens in the middle third of the movie, robbing the plot of any real dramatic weight when it needs it the most.

It looks like the creative decision makers behind the DC movies heard the criticism about their previous movies being too dark, and decided to “lighten things up a bit.” All I can say is it’s just not that easy. The audience needs a feeling of impending doom so the story grabs them, but there’s also a time and place for the distractions that make a story memorable.

That’s why DC movies are like a mixed salad of moments while Marvel serves a complex meal, where each serving is meant to compliment the others.

Grade: C

About The Peetimes: We have 4 good Peetimes. We recommend the 2nd and 3rd over the others. The 2nd Peetime is a chase scene — pretty — but nothing you haven’t seen in previous scenes. The 3rd is mostly a music montage, followed by a transitional plot that’s easy to summarize.

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

Movie Review – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

 

Movie Review - Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of GrindelwaldI don’t know what happened with this movie. It looked great from the trailers, and seemed like the story would make sense. The film itself, though, was a big beautiful mess. I’m not even sure what I saw.

I’m essentially a Harry Potter expert. I’ve read the books dozens of times, seen the movies even more, visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and traveled to places filmed on location in both London and Scotland. I belong to a Harry Potter Meetup group, and have different wizard outfits, cobbled together over the years. I’ve made wands. Blah blah blah. All this to make it clear when I say I don’t understand Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. It’s a painful feeling.

It’s not even just me. I went with a fellow wizard friend, and he was disappointed and lost too. After the film, we tried to figure out what the movie was about, why the characters did the things they did, and were both just puzzled.

I saw the movie in IMAX at a select early screening with reserved tickets in a packed theater. Everyone there was a big HP fan, ready to have an exciting time. The audience started out applauding and cheering when different things occurred onscreen, like seeing Dumbledore, during the Hogwarts scene, when different creatures showed up, and when certain early secrets were revealed. However, as the movie wore on, the audience got more and more quiet. By the end, you could hear a pin drop. There was no final applause, which spoke volumes in its silence. People filed out with no fanfare or excitement. Basically, JK Rowling’s biggest fanbase seemed alienated.

I’ll probably see this a few more times in the theater — and it really is a pretty piece of work. I hope to figure out what the plot was about and why the characters did the things they did. I’m positive I’ll have better things to say about this film then. But in the meantime, I’ll say this: if I couldn’t follow the weird, convoluted, and very messy narrative told here, I doubt the casual fan will know what to make of it.

UPDATED OPINION: I saw this a second time and have a somewhat different review and grade for it in mind. I ‘m thinking a solid B now. My first experience was spent taking an intense amount of notes for RunPee and I missed a lot of what transpired. This is the kind of film you really can’t be distracted for. (Don’t make Peetimes kids, if you like movies!) I enjoyed my second viewing, but still stand by my original take — this sequel is problematic.

Grade: B (Updated)

About The Peetimes: I attended a premier showing before the film officially opened. (I had to drink my hoarded Felix Felicis Potion to get this ticket.) While this is great news for RunPee fans, I will admit this was the hardest movie ever for me to get Peetimes. The film moves at a breakneck pace, with too many characters — many of whom were brand new and didn’t make any sense in the film. I added 2 Peetimes, in any case. The 1st is better, at 39 minutes in. The 2nd, at 1:16 will also serve. Neither of these scenes have any interesting action or fantastic beasts.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Why Fantastic Beasts 2 is not so Fantastic