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Movie Review of Kong: Skull Island

Grade: B-

There have been many King Kong movies over the decades, yet people are still fascinated by the idea of a gargantuan gorilla. This movie at least has some original themes, focusing entirely on Skull Island, and forgoing the New York plot entirely. Neither is there much ado between Ape and Girl – which, honestly, was fine by me. It’s been done. This outing is pretty non-offensive fare.

It also rips off Apocalypse Now to the point past being an homage, but honestly, whatever.

While things move along at a good clip, and most scenes are creatively staged, *Kong: Skull Island* falls short of being more than a mildly enjoyable episode in the King Kong oeuvre. John C. Reilly is the stand-out here, playing the only genuinely amusing character (as you could probably tell from the previews anyway). John Goodman is totally wasted, and Samuel L. Jackson’s hollow role is beneath his skills (although he seems to relish a reprisal of his Jurassic Park line, “Hold on to your butts!”). Tom Hiddleston is lovely to watch, as always, but has almost nothing to do in this story. I liked this film during my viewing, but am already relegating it to the “Only Okay” bin. There are big monsters; there are fights; lots of people die.

What is exciting to us here at RunPee HQ is that the 2005 King Kong film started it all. Watching Peter Jackson’s 3 hour/7 minute devotion to the giant ape gave Dan and Jill the idea to start an app where we would tell people exactly when to pee during a long movie. Jill wanted to shout to everyone in line at the theater to “go” during the unnecessary Valley of the Bugs scene…while Dan bravely squirmed his way through to the end, thinking, “Die, ape, die!” (So, yes, we included a giant bug Peetime in this film for honor’s sake.)

Dan took our rather genius but casual idea, and turned it into an actual phenomenon – resulting in worldwide acclaim and millions of downloads. We wanted to thank you all for being a part of the ride, and supporting this small family business. And thank you, Big Monkey, for being the reason RunPee happened at all. 🙂

How RunPee Began – A Retrospective on Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong

    Peter Jackson, coming off the high of his fantastic Lord of the Rings saga, was permitted to make a really, really long love letter to Kong, King of Monster Mammals. His big ape movie went on and on and on…for 3 hours and 7 minutes. Dan and I sat there, holding it in…and talked about how we wanted to tell the waiting queue to pee during the vile, unnecessary Valley of the Bugs scene (you know the one, with the Andy-Serkis-slurping slugs. Seriously: gross, man).
    It was so agonizing to sit through this film, that we thought it would be great if there was a website telling people exactly when to run and pee in long movies, so no one would miss the good parts. Thus, the idea for RunPee was born. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Peter Jackson and King Kong.
    But, is this a good movie?
    We’d have to say, cautiously, yes. It is assuredly an epic, often capturing the emotional spirit of the 1933 original. Aside from being wildly overindulgent and often tedious, it’s a credible ride. There are some moments of real heart, and the production values are top notch: Jackson clearly spared no expense. When things weren’t busy being disgusting, the island was super pretty. The dinosaurs were cool, and Kong himself looked amazing. Finally, a Kong that looked real, with expressions and nuance.
    The ape scenes with the girl are the best – sensitive and funny, well-acted and well-written.
    The Skull Island scenes, however, are uneven – while everything with Kong was great, the explorers lacked spark or likeability. In New York we get the same thing – the Central Park scenes with Kong and his girl are adorable, but the finale on the Empire State building is laborious. We wanted the giant gorilla to get it over with and die.
    In the end, it’s a bloated movie. The stuffing was overbaked, and the actors (besides Naomi Watts) didn’t bring anything to the buffet. Jack Black was a muddled mess, and Adrian Brody barely made a showing. No one else was memorable at all.
    It’s been my opinion that Jackson needed a firm editor with his material, to pare things down and keep the pacing tight. This was overkill – like no one wanted to be the one telling the successful Lord of the Rings director when to stop. There’s nothing wrong with a long movie – *Titanic* shows us how it’s done – but there wasn’t enough excitement or depth to fill out the running time. There is plenty of spectacle, and you can feel the loving hand behind this remake, but it’s basically a two hour film padded out to an excessive three. ‘Tis a pity, because this easily could have been an A film. But if it had been, there’d be no RunPee.
B-

X-Men: Apocalypse (movie review)

MV5BMjU1ODM1MzYxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTA4NDE2ODE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Grade: B

It’s always a struggle to rate and review movies like this. I’m going to take the easy way out and judge it against the other X-Men movies.

“Apocalypse” is way better than “The Last Stand”–universally believed to be the worst in the franchise. But, I don’t think it was quite as good as “First Class” or “Days of Future Past”–considered to stand together at the top of the list.

I’m going to put “Apocalypse” right below the top tier along with the the original X-Men and “United.”

There was a touch of humor in the movie, but nothing hilarious. Still, it’s WAY more humorous than the DC movies–not saying much–but not quite as humorous as most Marvel movies.

The action was good, but not spectacular. Maybe I’m just superheroed out, but it’s increasingly difficult for any action movie to impress me.

The acting and directing were both top notch. That leaves us with story and characters. So, here’s the problem: we all know they’re going to defeat the bad guy in the end. That means the only way we can really care is if there’s some sacrifice and there really wasn’t one. Certainly nothing that balances out their victory.

I think that’s the major problem with all superhero movies these days. The cast of characters just keeps growing. They really need to cull the teams and let some characters die off every now and then. That goes for the Avengers as well.

Basically, I liked it. It was an enjoyable two hours. But I didn’t love it.

Additionally, I saw the movie in 2D, so I can’t speak directly about how good it did, or didn’t look, in 3D but I didn’t see anything in the movie that made me wish to see it in 3D. The 3D ratings by RunPee users is currently at about 33%. That’s the lowest of any movie this year. Even lower than Gods of Egypt. (Kind of odd that two of the worst 3D ratings in the past year are for movies about Egyptian gods.)

Movie review: Batman vs. Superman

BMvSMGrade: C+

[Spoilers are limited to things seen in the movie trailer]

I have to say, Batman vs. Superman didn’t wow me. That’s not completely true. Parts of it wowed me, but not many. Most of the movie tried to crank up the tension, which got a little tedious at times, and the payoff wasn’t always worth the buildup.

What I liked best
It was pretty awesome when they *finally* got around to introducing Wonder Woman. I could hear the giddiness of the people in the theater. I think we’ve all been waiting to see Wonder Woman on the big screen now for, lets see, FOREVER!

The fight scene she was involved in was okay. I thought that the biggest problem was that it was filmed at night, so it was hard to see details. Also the scale made it difficult. Doomsday is huge, and dwarfs the three that are fighting him. In many shots it was almost hard to even make out Wonder Woman chopping away at him with her sword. They had some closeup scenes, but I think they needed more.

The fight between Batman and Superman was, good, but not great. I think the choreography of the movements, especially Batman’s, was too laborious. However, the way the fight actually went, the back and forth between them, was decent.

[Major spoilers below. Don’t read until after you’ve seen the movie.]
10
9
8
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6
[Stop now if you haven’t seen the movie.]
5
4
[Last warning]
3
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1

I found Batman’s dream sequences to be quite annoying. They started right at the beginning of the movie with the young Bruce Wayne levitating out of the cave, seemingly flying with the bats. Then Bruce Wayne awakens in the present day. I don’t think the dream sequences would have been so annoying if we had known from the start that’s what was happening. There were entire action scenes that *never happened*.

And it wasn’t just Batman. Superman had his *father vision* in the arctic. What was that all about? Was that his father’s spirit? Was it all Superman’s imagination? They can’t just stick things like that in there without some basic explanation. We got to see Jor-El in the first two Superman movies and they had a decent explanation for what was going on. This time they just plopped Jonathan Kent into the story and said, “Don’t ask how.”

I have to say, Superman is my least favorite superhero. He’s just too powerful. To me the most important characteristic of a superhero isn’t their powers–it’s their weaknesses. And Superman’s only weakness is kryptonite, which okay, at least there’s something, but that’s hard to keep playing up. I’m bored with every Superman fight because he’s indestructible. He was right on top of a nuclear bomb explosion and didn’t get much more than a sunburn. Come on, at least show him with his hair messed up.

And that brings us to the movies end. Yes, it was cool that Superman sacrificed himself to destroy Doomsday. But then they drag us through all these funeral scenes, that take up about eight minutes, and then end with the hint: wait a second, maybe he’s not dead. Oh really. That’s a shocker. Of course he comes back. He’s Superman. You can’t have a Justice League without him. So it isn’t, “if he comes back,” it’s, “how he comes back.”

My hope is that Superman won’t be in the next DC movie. Let Wonder Woman and Batman assemble the Justice League themselves and have a decent fight against a decent foe. Then bring Superman back for the following movie, or never. I’d be good with that as well.

Deadpool – movie review

deadpoolGrade: A

Not only is Deadpool a hilarious movie, it also works as and amazingly accurate barometer for gauging relationships. For instance, it can be scientifically proven that the number of times a married man laughs during this movie is inversely proportional to how much their mother-in-law likes them.

Conversely, married women will find that the number of times they laugh during this movie is directly proportional to how much their husbands love them.

And of course if you have impressionable children you can base your parenting skills on whether or not you took them with you to see this movie. In a word: DON’T. However, if you do then please make a video of the questions they ask you when it’s over and post that to YouTube. That could be as funny as the movie itself.

Now, this is a very subjective comment, but I didn’t find the movie to be gratuitously violent or gross. Of course there are the obligatory slow motion head shots, a slight dismemberment, and a few beheadings, but they are all tastefully done. All in all I’d say it’s no more graphic than your average violent movie from the 80’s. I’m not saying the violence doesn’t deserve an R-rating–it does–but violence or not, the language would warrant an R-rating and then some.

I thought the acting was… Who cares? This is Deadpool. It’s funny. That’s all you need to know.

For those Firefly fans out there, it was awesome to see Morena Baccarin get a really nice role. She was wonderful, but I couldn’t help but think somewhere Malcolm Reynolds is watching this saying, “Inara, please. If you’re going to talk like that I’m going to ask Niska to cut both ears off next time.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie review

st-tfaGrade: A-

I can safely say that SW:TFA is the 3rd best Star Wars movie in the franchise. And let’s be clear, it would take a miracle for JJ Abrams to create something better than New Hope or Empire Strikes Back.

This is easily the funniest movie in the franchise. Almost, but not every, funny moment revolves around Harrison Ford.

The movie isn’t without its flaws, but those flaws are minor, and of course this is Star Wars, so I’m being overly critical.

A few good things to report: BB-8–the spherical droid–is cute, without being overly cute. JJ is mature enough as a story teller to avoid crap like Jar Jar Binks. All of the fight scenes, whether hand-to-hand, sword-to-sword, or fighter-to-fighter are good, and some are great, but none drag on longer than they need to. There’s never one of those, “OMG, would someone kill someone here so we can move on with the story,” fights.

The acting was spot on. The casting of Daisy Ridley, as Rey, and John Boyega, as Finn, are marvelous. I’m really looking forward to seeing their characters develop as the saga continues.

Fantastic Four – movie review

F4Grade: F

If you drag your expectations behind you, like an old wet mop used to clean theater floors, then you may not be too disappointed. Believe me, I hate being critical of the creative work that so many people put into a movie like this, but I can’t think of anything decent to say about it.

I can’t criticize any of the actors because the script was so bad there’s no way anyone could have turned in even a mediocre performance.

The story starts off with a modicum of promise, but never manages to take off. Believe it or not the movie just falls off a cliff once they get their superpowers. And I swear I’m not making this up but after the final fight scene I thought, “This can’t be the final battle, right? It’s the fight that leads up to the really good fight at the end. Wait, what? This is the end? Disappointed!”

Also, I can’t believe they didn’t include an extra scene after the end credits. I know that’s a Marvel trademark, but it isn’t like they have a patent on extra scenes.

My advice: watch the trailer for Deadpool about five times in a row. That’s way more entertaining.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – movie review

MIGrade: A

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation delivers everything you can ask for in an action movie. Most importantly the action is top notch. There is a great variety of scenes, from a motorcycle chase to underwater excitement. Best of all not all the best action scenes are shown in the previews, at least not the previews I saw. In fact, nearly every scene in the previews happen in the first half of the movie. It’s a real treat when the previews don’t give away spoilers.

There are plenty of laughable moments, from chuckles to laughing out loud. And no, it’s not just Simon Pegg who gets the laughs. Everyone gets in on the act without it feeling forced.

The story is twisty, primarily because of the new character, Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa, who has uncertain loyalties. It made finding peetimes a challenge because there’s a lot of story development between the action scenes.

The music really stood out. The Mission Impossible theme is awesome adding it as a theme to orchestral composition really worked.

The only slight complaint I can offer is that the exposition is sometimes forced. There are a few scenes that huge chunks of plot are dumped. That’s somewhat unavoidable in a movie with as much going on as this one.

By all means go see this in a theater, IMAX if possible. By the way, RunPee Mom saw this with me and LOVED IT, and she hasn’t seen any of the first four Mission Impossible movies.

Trainwreck – movie review

trainwreckGrade: A+

This movie just made my top three funniest movies ever! I laughed the entire time. Do you guys know how hard it is to take notes while wiping tears from your eyes? I’m going back to see it tomorrow just so I can catch the things I missed while working.

I usually get to the theater an hour before the show starts and was surprised to see the theater full already. It was packed. The movie began and it was a continual roar from the audience for the next two hours.

So I found out that Amy Schumer wrote this. I knew she was funny but I had no idea what she was capable of. Her writing and acting are stupendous. She’s one of my new favorites to watch. It wasn’t just her that was super funny. LeBron James. He’s a scene stealer. I laughed so hard during some of his scenes that I actually snorted. Who knew?

The whole cast seemed to be friends that had super charged chemistry. It just worked. This was the first movie ever that I laughed during a funeral scene. As did the rest of the audience, so I’m not heartless, or maybe I am but so was everyone else.

I really recommend seeing this movie. You’ll have a great time during the movie and a great time afterward talking about the funny lines. Hurry up, go!

Jurassic World movie references

jurrasic-worldNow that everyone has seen Jurassic World… You did see it, right? (It broke box office records so I’ll assume you did.) Let’s talk about the incredible number of movie references – some intentional, some perhaps not – in this movie.

Note: minor spoilers to follow.

Obviously the references to the original Jurassic Park were plentiful. Most are too obvious to point out, but a few worth mentioning:

  • A brief glimpse of a message – I can’t remember precisely what it said – on the rear-mounted video feed on the ball-pod that the brothers rode in was a reference to the view of the T-Rex in the side mirror with the message, “Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear.”
  • Claire using the flair to attract the T-Rex. Yes it’s obvious but worth mentioning.
  • A signpost pointing the way to the research center as a nod to the sign post that gets knocked down by Nedry when he’s trying to get away with the stolen eggs.

It would have been pure awesomeness if there were a scene with a half buried can of shaving cream in the ground. Who knows, maybe there was and someone will find it when the movie comes out of DVD.

As many references as there were to the original Jurassic Park there may have been more to random movies.

  • During the safety video by Jimmy Fallon he says, “For added protection each vehicle is surrounded by aluminum oxynitride glass, so tough it can stop a 50-caliber bullet.” Aluminum oxynitride is a real substance but such a specific mention in the movie must be a reference to Star Trek IV: The one with the Whales.
  • Remember the lab scene in Aliens where we see the face-huggers in those glass cylinders? The scene near the end of JW where Claire, Owen, and the brothers enter the research lab at the end of the movie is very similar with those vertebral columns in the glass cylinders and then they look at the reptiles under in the terrariums.
  • The scene where Claire’s assistant gets munched on by the birds, and then eaten by the Mosasauraus, is reminiscent of Jaws – I would wager this is just coincidental, but who knows since Spielberg directed Jurassic Park and Jaws.
  • The scene of the raptors chasing the vehicle driven by Claire near the end of the movie is quite similar to the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when the nazis on motorcycles are chasing after the truck driven by Indy. Claire even sideswipes one of the raptors sending it crashing off the side of the road, just like Indy did to a motorcycle.

Did you notice any movie references that I missed?