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.)

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

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

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Review – The Grinch (2018)

 

Movie Review - The Grinch
Max the dog was cute. So was Fred the Reindeer. So, not a total loss.

It’s time to cease re-doing The Grinch. Full stop.

I can’t believe I was sucked into thinking this movie would add anything to the tale that wasn’t done perfectly already in the 1966 Xmas Special. What can I say, except to watch that perfect, iconic 26-minute version again, and to skip this bit of ‘meh.’. SKIP IT. YOU HEAR ME? It’s simply not good. Everything funny was shown in the trailer, and anything emotionally resonant still lies in that long ago Special that still holds up, after all this time.

If you want to feel touched by the Grinch’s heart growing three times, return to the original, and use that as your annual holiday touchstone. You’ll get misty-eyed, and walk away feeling good about life. Not so with this flick. This Grinch had great animated hair, and that’s all I can really say about it.

Moreso, egregiously, none of the genius grinchy musical numbers made it into this feature. It’s too bad, as I was ready to sing along with the audience. This was a just a big waste of time. I’m actually mad about it. STOP rebooting the Grinch, Hollywood! Is anybody listening?

The entire Cindy Lou Who subplot was a boring, meandering, meaningless misfire. Her “big” question for Santa underwhelmed, and her friends had no personality. What was the point of introducing them?

I honestly don’t know why the producers thought they could improve on the animated classic with this dreck. Even the lamented Jim Carrey live-action version was better, and that’s saying a lot.

I LOVE the classic Grinch story from Dr. Seuss, but can’t understand why this 2018 movie was necessary. Stick with the 1957 book or the 1966 TV special, and you’ll understand why this story is so important, so enduring. Loneliness and alienation are real concerns, and that first story offers hope for us all, even if we are sometimes humbugs where Christmas is concerned.

What did work in this film: Max the dog and Fred the reindeer. They had the most laughs from the young audience. As for the Grinch, not even Benedict Cumberbatch could make this film work.

Grade: D+

About The Peetimes: This is a short movie, and only 2 of the Peetimes are workable. The 1st one is really nice and long. The 2nd is fine too. Don’t use the 3rd Peetime if you don’t know the story of the Grinch — it’s just for emergencies.

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

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Review – Suspiria

Movie Review - SuspiriaAs Suspiria ended, for the first time in my career, I didn’t have a clue as to what I had just seen. Fortunately, there was a very pleasant young man seated near me who helped shed some light on this confusing piece of work. He referred back to the original, telling me that this movie was very different from the first. Wait! What? Suspiria had been done before? Why?

Typically, I don’t research a movie ’till after I’ve done my review, because I want to go in without any preconceived notions. This time, however, that little practice really backfired on me.

So, to be fair, in this review, I’ll address the mechanics of the film, and then I’ll address the content.

Dakota Johnson really did steal the show. During the course of the movie, we see her change from a demure Mennonite to basically an evil witch. The change is so gradual, that by the end, you’ll wonder how this came to be. Tilda Swinton really rocked her three separate roles, and — not to give away any spoilers — in one of her roles you’ll be absolutely gobsmacked at her performance. Mia Goth, from A Cure For Wellness, showed us, once again, that she’s worthy of high praise.

The setting was artistically done; there’s constant rain or snow, and it’s not until the end of the movie that we see any sunshine. Perfect for this genre. The pacing of Suspiria is hard to define; there are moments of frenetic activity, followed by too many scenes of mind-numbing nothingness.

The English subtitles were (even though necessary) distracting. The thick German accents made it all but impossible to follow, then they threw in the many scenes filmed in cavernous rooms, with echoes distorting the dialog…and you end up with a big audio mess.

I do give kudos to the director, Luca Guadagnino, for pulling some mind-blowing emotions out of the actors — something he did beautifully in Call Me By Your Name.

As for how I feel about the content of Suspiria? Confused covers it nicely. The dance numbers were a pure delight to watch, but the many scenes of outright butchery and slaughter overwhelmed my senses to the point of disgust. It was as if the special effects department went way out their way to show the audience how well they do ‘carnage’. In that case, job well done, special effects people, job well done.

I struggled with what grade to give Suspiria. As has been my practice for the last ten years, I’ll grade according to the target audience. So that begs the question; who is the target audience? My best guess is the people who’ve seen the original. The nice young man I spoke of at the beginning of this diatribe had seen the original, and explained that the movie bore little resemblance to the reboot — but nevertheless would give it a favorable grade. Another audience member who had seen the original, and knew what he was walking into, gave it a decisive ‘A’. With all this in mind, I give Suspiria a B-.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: This was an insane movie for finding Peetimes. There were subtitles, thick German accents, and cavernous rooms that made echoes. This is the first time I’ve found a 12 minute Peetime, and it’s got an “Alert” rating, because that protracted scene was the worst kind of carnage I’ve ever seen in a movie.

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

RunPee Mom is our emotional bedrock. Without her, RunPee never would have lasted a decade as an app (which is since the dawn of time in internet years). She’s our biggest cheerleader and an unending source of unconditional love. She works cheerfully and tirelessly, seeing any movie we ask of her, writing interesting reviews, and being our…well…MOM. Her genres of choice: kiddie flicks, animated movies, emotional dramas, historical features, war films, diverse biographies, and even dense, diabolically plotted thrillers. She knows more about famous and infamous figures in history than said figures probably knew about themselves. She’s the Quiz Manager for the RunPee.com blog, and Assistant Facebook Manager for our social media efforts. If you’ve interacted with someone on our Facebook page, you’ve most likely been given a virtual hug by RunPee Mom.

Movie Review – The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Movie Review - The Nutcracker and the Four RealmsI’m giving Nutcracker and the Four Realms an A. It was simply stunning; an absolutely gorgeous film the entire family will love. The only reason it’s not an A+ is because the Sugar Plum Fairy was really awkward to watch. She’s played by the normally fantastic Keira Knightly, who is completely unrecognizable here. I have no idea why the director had her act in so annoying a fashion. And not the cool kind of annoying; just irritating. She was the only real blight in this otherwise glorious adventure fantasy.

Special kudos goes to the girl who played Clara, and the charming fellow as the Nutcracker himself. They had honest chemistry; their scenes together were sweet, funny, and amiable.

Morgan Freeman played his somewhat patented role of the kindly, yet slightly mysterious elder, and it worked well for the part. Hellen Mirren was less fortunate; she wasn’t given much to work with, and I found the “transition” scene a bit unlikely. It was as abrupt as a similar scene with Sugar Plum.

Basically, this is an extremely likable film, and everyone who loves the Christmas season will get a real kick out of it. The magnificent dresses, elaborate hair styles, the lush set designs, and fantastical landscapes were worth the ticket price right there, and seeing this in 3D was absolutely the way to go. Take my advice and see this on the best screen you can find. It’s so darn pretty, in every way.

In another note, there are, of course, some ballet scenes — it’s based on the iconic Nutcracker Suite, and the music should be familiar to anyone with ears. I remember attending an actual Nutcracker performance, as a child in New York City. The show I saw featured Mikhail Baryshnikov… which was a real treat. But honestly, I enjoyed this movie more. A ballet performance can get weary to a youngster, but this film was a very accessible way to follow the story. Just a great holiday experience, where you can relax, let go of stress, and enjoy all the pretty flowing by. Don’t wait for the DVD — see it now.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I recommend using the 1st Peetime proactively if you can, since it’s a nice long one with nothing important happening for the plot. The other 2 Peetimes are perfectly acceptable, and you won’t miss the real action or plot development at all.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Virgin Review – Legend of Tarzan

Hey, Mo Fo, no WAY was I going to lick that gorilla’s butt. I don’t care what you say.

I thoroughly enjoyed this somewhat lightweight movie. It was a different take on the Tarzan story; a more adult version. Clearly, it was filmed on location, and the African settings were breathtaking. I’m going to have to make a trip to the Congo…and I’d be honored to assume a submissive pose to a gorilla troop (heads out of the gutter, folks). The UK settings were lush too. Everything looked just great.

Some good stuff: The night scene with the elephants really stands out — simply beautiful. It made for a horrible juxtaposition with the train barrels full of ivory tusks. We’re barbarians. Also, making slaves out of everyone in Africa? More barbarism. The more so in these cases because taking slaves and driving animals to extinction is historical fact. It underscores our dual nature: we are capable both of horrendous acts and feats of selfless compassion.

I loved how “John” (Tarzan’s Christian name) interacted with, well, everything in Africa. He’s a friend to the native tribes, lions, wildebeests, ostriches, alligators, and of course, gorillas. Although he’s no friend to army ants — those he uses as first aid and snacks. (Hey, don’t knock it. I’ve eaten ants, and contrary to Tarzan’s comment about bacon, they actually taste like Sweet Tarts. Long story. Give them a try, if you dare, but pop off the ant heads first so they don’t bite your tongue.)

I’m not sure if he’s a friend to hippos. I think there was a lost opportunity there.  You’ll see what I mean if you pay attention. They set up the hippos for a payoff that, weirdly, alligators fulfilled. This is a minor quibble.

Jane gets her own little “Gandalf” scene with a blue butterfly (recall Gandalf with the moth on top of Orthanc).  And she can happily handle herself perfectly well in the jungle, thank you. She’s no damsel in distress, as she pointedly tells the bad guy.

The lead characters did a fine job, although Jane stole every scene with her affable, brave, and amusing portrayal. She even outdid Samuel L Jackson — no mean feat. Tarzan was stuck playing the straight man, but he pulled off what could have been a very dorky role, with likable aplomb. Jackson, as George (of the jungle?) provided the most laughs, and was also a receptacle for exposition. Any film with a lot of backstory needs a character who things must be explained to. It worked.

Much of the narrative is told in flashback style. I think they handled it deftly, for the most part — a straight origin story would have been boring, and the flashbacks were restrained and appropriate. My main problem is that it’s hard to tell the flashback scenes from the current timeline in many places. Using a trick, like adding sepia tone, or a blue tinge, would have helped greatly. Or a different length of hair for Tarzan and Jane. Both my mother and I were confused a few times.

The climax was thoroughly enjoyable, albeit predicable. I’m not going to hold predictability against the film. It’s what we’d expect in a story about Tarzan. He’s not “King of the Jungle” for nothing.

This 2016 movie qualifies as a Bladder Buster, at 2 &1/2 hours.  Just saying. Since you’ll be watching this at home, you probably won’t need Peetimes (although we have three).

Overall Recommendation: This is a nice home movie to watch. The violence isn’t that graphic, the good guys win, and the setting is so damned pretty. Harry Potter Director David Yates pulled off a new take on the Tarzan story, and you’ll feel good when it’s through. Don’t expect an epic tale and you’ll have a good time.

Movie Grade: B-

Read RunPee’s Original Review of The Legend of Tarzan.

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Prettiest Live Action Movies

Here’s a fun topic, a list of the “prettiest” ever live action movies. They have to be gorgeous on their own merits, plot aside. I’m looking for outstanding visuals. What qualifies as pretty? Lots of color, slick visual or computer generated effects that stand up through time, creative set-pieces, stylish direction, and lavish location scenery. If you leave a theater thinking, “Wow! That was stunning,” then it’s a contender.

You’ll notice that most of the following are in sci-fi and fantasy genres, which is a viewing bias some of us at RunPee have. Help out in the comments so I may add more to this ongoing list. NOTE: Linked titles go to our movie reviews.
—————————————————–

Well, there’s our short list, ready for you to add your opinions to. What are we missing? Where do you disagree?

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Review – Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story I’m certainly not disappointed. I think this one was better than the other new Star Wars movies, except for Rogue One.

I’m impressed that they managed to hit all of the important back story elements to Han’s character, without it feeling forced or cheesy.

My only complaint is that the story dragged on a bit, in places. Some of the action scenes were longer than necessary. Specifically, the exit from the mining colony into doing the Kessel Run scene. This is the equivalent of seeing Captain Kirk pass the Kobayashi Maru test in Star Trek 2009. Only this scene just went on and on, and was more like a cheap amusement ride. And then the solution wasn’t really anything Han did. It was a team effort.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: Three good Peetimes we have. Yes. 🙂

I would recommend the 2nd Peetime over the others. The synopsis is a quick and easy read. My priority was to make sure none of the important references from the original Star Wars movies are in any of the Peetimes, then try not to have any humor or good action. I think I managed on all 3 fronts. 

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Solo: A Star Wars Story. (What we mean by Anything Extra)

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

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Movie Review – Jumanji 2: Welcome to the Jungle

This “sequel” version of Jumanji is adorable and funny. Predictable, yes, but the story is based on a video game plot, so it’s kind of a baked-in thing.

It’s also bit too pat in how each teenage character gets the perfect game avatar to grow as a person, but this is yet another thing that can be explained away in-universe: it’s a magic game, and that’s what it does. So I guess we can make allowances for this too. It’s all in good fun to service the adventure story.

This movie is very like a fantasy-version of The Breakfast Club, updated for the cell-phone/video game era. It’s got detention, stereotypical teens from different cliques, and the theme is an exploration of how their characters learn to work together. They become close through their experiences. So, yeah, the same concept.

The plot is paper-thin, which is, again, part of the conceit. What the film really sells are the sweet character interactions, tons of gorgeous visuals, lots of humor, and the swashbuckling tone. I’ll say it: this could become a lightweight adventure/humor classic. We’ll see, over time. The audience enjoyed it — they were laughing and clapping throughout. There’s also a good message for young people about tolerance and acceptance. Nothing world-changing, but I’m glad I got to see this.

Everyone in the film was just great — the actors seemed like they had a blast. Jack Black was fantastic, and I normally don’t enjoy his brand of broad humor. He had the obviously funny part, but didn’t oversell it, even when teaching “Martha” how to flirt. Dwayne Johnson was super playful, and pulled off a believably bashful teen. Kevin Hart was a crack-up as the “backpack guy.” Karen Gillan has nice comedic timing, and it was good to see her actual face without the blue makeup of Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy. At some points she still channeled Nebula, but her physicality as a warrior served her well in both roles. Everyone played off each other very well. The ensemble was just too damn cute, and they knew it.

Do you need to see the original Jumanji to follow along? In a word, no. Somehow the old one never pinged on my radar. I think I should catch it now; Jumanji 2 was that much fun. I laughed almost the whole time, and enjoyed these veteran actors doing their campy best of reviving the old “body swap” tale. It made me forget about life for a few hours, and that’s what a movie can do at its best.

Movie Grade: A-

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Review – Early Man

Movie Review - Early ManI grew up watching The Gumby Show and Davey And Goliath, as did my children, so I’ve watched a lot of stop motion pictures. When Nick Park’s Wallace And Gromit began back in the 90’s, I was thrilled. So yes, I’m a fan of stop motion and Nick Park.

If you’re also a fan of Park, you won’t be disappointed with Early Man. His British humor kept me smiling throughout the movie, and the story has a great plot — cavemen playing football. You just can’t go wrong with that formula.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: This short little movie needed only 2 Peetimes. I have one at 34 minutes, and one at 55 minutes. Both give you 4 minutes to break, so let your bladder (or the bladder of the small person next to you) decide..

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

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

Christene Johnson (RunPee Sis)

RunPee.com owes RunPee Sis a huge debt of gratitude. She sees any movie needed with no complaints and has done so for ten years (even basing Thanksgiving and Christmas family festivities around the seeing films). In 2015 Sis ran the entire RunPee enterprise herself, while RunPee Dan, Jilly and Mom went traipsing off to Europe. Sis is the spider in the web holding the RunPee family together — besides being a funny, well rounded person, and a joyous pleasure to be around. Her favorite films start and end with horror (which thank goodness she’s happy to see, since most of us don’t have the stomach for it) — but also likes silly comedies, sad dramas, and musicals of all types. If you’ve used a Peetime for a scary film, you probably have RunPee Sis to thank for it.

Favorite movie genre: Horror, horror, and more horror. The more disturbing, the better. Period.

Bio