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Movie review – Paddington 2

Rotten Tomatoes gives this movie a 100%, so that says it all. I will see Paddington 2 again with my great-great granddaughter, just so I can see the delight in her 5 year old face. Everyone, everyone needs to see this movie that can give us so much to smile about. Don’t we all need a warm smile in today’s world.

Grade: A

Movie review – All the Money in the World

From our New York Special Reviewer, Shani Ogilvie:

From the trailers, I expected it to be more suspenseful or action based, but instead it was a very conversational movie. I think the acting was good, but moviegoers can definitely wait for this to be released on DVD.

Grade: B-

Movie review – The Shape of Water

From our helpful and astute New York pinch-hitter, Shani Ogilvie:

The Shape of Water is a great mix of romance, comedy, and action. The characters in the movie were all non-stereotypical, and each added another layer to the overall theme of the movie. Definitely see this in theaters.

Grade: A

Movie review – Insidious: The Last Key

The Insidious franchise took a very difficult, yet ingenious approach to movie-making. Others have tried, and failed, to create a series of screenplays with a backwards timeline. Meaning, the first movie took place long after this last installment. With that said, they really did do a good job.

Elise Rainier, played by Lin Shaye, did a killer job portraying a heartfelt woman with a twisted past, while still keeping it together. As always, she did not disappoint. She lived up to all my expectations, and being an *Insidious* follower from the beginning, that was hard to accomplish.

For horror fans, this franchise is always going to give you what you’re looking for. Sit back and enjoy; be ready to jump a few times, and then laugh at yourself for jumping. I know I did.

Grade: B+

Movie review: Jurassic Park

It’s been a long time since this first *Jurassic Park* graced our theaters, but it’s still the best. The CGI effects have vastly improved since 1993, but the story is what matters most — and the original still brings me happy goosebumps and even the tears I felt back then, seeing dinosaurs coming to life. I adore Dr. Grant, Dr. Sattler, Dr. Malcolm, and Gamekeeper Muldoon. Almost everything in this movie is perfect. I know all the lines, and still use them in current conversation (here are an offhand few: “Must go faster”, “Clever girl”, “Spared no expense”, “Life finds a way”, “I’m fairly alarmed here”, “Dodgson, Dodgson, we’ve got Dodgson here!”, “We’re back in the car, again”, “They’re flocking this way”, and, of course: “Welcome to Jurassic Park”).

The score from John Williams doesn’t fail to make me shiver, just a bit, every time. (BTW, how does he do it? I can name a dozen major movie themes he’s done over my lifetime that have become instantly recognizable and are completely original).

Now, in 2018, I’ve seen the newer *Jurassic World* three times. It’s a visual feast, with the ever-lovable Chris Pratt, amazing effects, and a nice story that harkens back to the first film (thankfully, since the immediate sequels are of varying quality). But it still lacks the (carnivorous) meat the original served up. Sometimes you can keep a story going, and even do a good job, but lack the spark of the first time. *Jurassic Park* delivered then, and still does now. When you see those impact tremors in the cup of water, you remember how a simple visual shorthand can become iconic.

Grade: A+

Movie review: Star Trek 2009

Like every other Star Trek fan, I was on pins-and-needles waiting to see if this reboot took off. Boy did it. While not flawless, it packed a powerful punch. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve watched this movie, usually in the background while I’m working on something around the house. But when the scene about Kirk’s solution to the Kobayashi Maru plays, or when the Enterprise warps into the atmosphere of Titan, I put down what I’m doing and pay attention. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Beyond the obvious thrill ride, I was more than pleased with the new cast and how they personified their roles. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto nailed it, but Karl Urban took his vision of Bones McCoy to a whole new level.

As awesome as this movie was, I have to say “Red Matter” is the most ridiculous plot device anyone’s ever conceived of. It’s a total MacGuffin. But they used it to awesome effect, so I’m not going to trash the writers about it. Just, you know…try harder next time. Please.

NOTE: Spoiler alert for the next two *Star Trek* movies: they didn’t try harder. See: Khan’s blood. 🙂

Grade: A

Movie review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

It’s hard to fathom that it’s only been 3 1/2 years since the first *Hunger Games* came out on the big screen. It feels like it was much longer than that, but the saga is finished and they went out on a high note.

The fans who read the books all know how the story ends, which I would guess represents a large percentage of the people — mostly young girls — who were in the theater. Even so, there was a lot of applauding, and sighs, as the story wrapped up. It feels complete.

Jennifer Lawrence was, as expected, awesome. I’m guessing that the hardest thing about playing the character of Katniss is that she is so consistently in a fog of depression, angst, uncertainty — whatever you want to call it. But, there are a few moments here and there when Jennifer Lawrence really gets to show off her skills, and give Katniss some real depth. She had a few of those moments in MJ2 that really stand out. (I’m not going to say which. You’ll know them when you see them.)

Grade: B+

Movie review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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 *A 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” type of 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.

Grade: A-

Movie review: The Revenant

All the elements needed for an outstanding movie are present in *Revenant*: top notch directing, superb acting, and an excellent screenplay. Having seen all the Oscar-nominated movies this year, I can say with all confidence that *Revenant* should win for each category in which it’s nominated.

If DiCaprio doesn’t win Best Actor this time around, there’s something terribly wrong in the Academy universe.

Note: There IS something terribly wrong in the Academy universe, but hopefully DiCaprio will win Best Actor anyway.

Grade: A+

Movie review: Deadpool

Not only is Deadpool a hilarious movie, it also works as an 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 gratuitously violent or gross. Of course there are the obligatory slow motion head shootings, 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 violent or not, the language alone would warrant an R-rating…and then some.

I thought the acting was…Well, 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 another 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.”

Grade: A