Movie Review – Adrift

Adrift is both more and less than I expected. I expected long, languid scenes of a sailboat floating aimlessly at sea; I expected storms; I expected frequent stretches where Tami (Shailene Woodley) learns to sail. Those bits were in there. What I didn’t expect: the absence of any kind of compelling narrative in what should have been a gripping tale of survival, guts, and grit.

I’m not putting it down lightly. It looked like a fantastic movie from the trailers. I personally like  disaster stories, and will hang in there for extended stretches of silence if the action, plot, or characterization is good enough.

Or even if the scenery is good enough.

Making ocean scenes pretty should be an easy task, but everything in Adrift was fraught with glare. That might have been a creative choice to impart a sense of peril, but I feel it’s just a missed opportunity. Instead of offering a great cinematic experience, it comes across like a documentary. Worse, a cheap one.

I wondered previously if Woodley was seasoned enough to carry an entire movie — and in fact almost an entirely silent one — on her back. The answer shown here is: no, she can’t, at least not yet. Emily Blunt would have knocked it out of the park. (In fact, in the recently fantastic  A Quiet Place, Blunt did just that — with less dialog.)

I think the non-linear storytelling device hampers any attempt to build tension, stamping the movie with the cardinal sin of being boring. Adrift should have been told in a straightforward manner, starting with Tami meeting Richard, getting to know him, talking about their journey, and setting off towards disaster. Instead, we start in the immediate aftermath of the event. From then on, the story shuffles between three different timelines. Every time things start to build any emotional resonance, the direction cuts to somewhere else.

I’m not saying every movie has to follow a linear narrative, but what Adrift attempted to do didn’t work. If you are going for an artsy route, you need the right directorial experience, with high-caliber actors to pull it off.

In any case, it made finding Peetimes pretty easy: there really was only one scene where you can’t hop out to the bathroom.

This film is apparently based on a true story, and maybe there just wasn’t enough meat in the sandwich…but you know you’re in trouble when a short movie like this still feels too long.

Movie Grade: C-

SPOILER TO FOLLOW:

 

 

I think the choice of having there be a surprise twist felt cheap. I expected the character of Richard to be a co-starring role, not an almost silent phantom. All their lines together were probably in the trailers, leading me to think that they would work together to get out of their mess – him via talking her through it, her by learning from his commands. Instead, we have a sort of Life of Pi/Fight Club/The 6th Sense scenario going on. Those movies are top notch and earned their endings. This one just sort of…happened. Since I had no investment in anything onscreen by then, the big reveal felt pointless.

———-

Here are links to the true-life book Adrift was based on, plus A Quiet Place, which we can’t say enough good things about: 

RunPee Review of A Quiet Place (with Spoilers)

RunPee Review of A Quiet Place, No Spoilers

Movie Review – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has all the tense action and one liners you would expect based off the history of the franchise. But I hope you don’t expect anything more than a template of a story to support it.

(Full disclosure: this movie released internationally before coming out in the USA. I had to download a pirated copy in order to add the Peetimes. I didn’t watch the last 30 minutes of the movie. I want to save that for seeing it in the theater.)

The first hour of this movie plays like it was written with some basic storytelling application. I can just see the “writer” selecting: Insert > Character > Friendly but ultimately untrustworthy, or Layout > Impending Disaster > Volcano, from the menu system and then accepting all the defaults. It’s that genetic… I mean generic. 🙂

At least Chris Pratt delivers his usual entertaining performance. Mainly because he’s the only interesting character in the movie.

I’ll update this review when I see the entire movie. It’s possible that the ending will be so good that it will make up for the uninspiring first hour, but I’m not counting on it.

Grade: C

Movie Review – Book Club

I thought this would be an inspiring movie about taking life by the balls (or in this case, the ovaries) in your golden years. The high-caliber cast of aging actresses is stellar; they did a fine job. I am  about 15-20 years younger than them, but feel like they have options I will never have. They are rich, live in their own lovely homes, have great careers, and enjoy close friendships with each other. They are basically Sex and the City: The Older Edition. It’s cute, it’s funny — and super depressing. I need to stick to Deadpool, Star Wars, and Avengers. Even the recent 50 Shades movie was better than this. This one….is simply full of unrealistic  mockery. It probably depends on what is happening in your life.

I personally feel cheated. In the ruins of my newly single life, I have no friends, live in a cinder-block closet in my mother’s basement, and have no future. I work out like a fiend, and look better than I did in my 20s. I have abs. And it doesn’t matter. The hoary, combed-over, wrinkled ex-husband featured in this film has a 25-year-old blonde hot bimbo for a new wife. So, what chance do I have? Do I have to find old men who think I am the young hot chick?

No, thank you.

Back to the movie. There are a lot of laughs. The entire room, playing up against Marvel’s ‘juggernaut’ Deadpool2 (that’s an in-joke, sorry), was PACKED. Mature ladies, elderly women, old couples, and the occasional young 50 Shades fan took up every single seat. That was unexpected. And the laughs were raucously loud for the first third of the film. I laughed with them too.

And suddenly, reality set in. Things stopped being fun. These four leading ladies looked amazing; they were also rich, and high-powered. (For example, one was a judge. One owned hotels. These were not normal women – they were senior superheroes.) The characters were NOT RELATABLE. A discontent seemed to seep into the entire theater: these women were not us. And the characters were lucky in a way that wasn’t aspirational.

Well, the actresses clearly enjoyed themselves. Good on them. But did the viewers walk out (and use walkers out, in many, many cases) feeling happy? I looked closely at the audience during the credits. And I have to say no: the older people seemed downcast. I myself was full of despair. These characters were clearly lucky. They didn’t work at bettering their lives. Book Club didn’t  encourage the audience to make changes in themselves, or even in their vaginas. One character bumped into an old beau. One character tripped over a hot younger pilot  (she fell into his lap <—– I need to learn this trick). And so on. Luck. Yeah.

So, how to grade this? I’d call it misleading advertising. I expected their book club to inspire changes we could all learn from and emulate. Instead, poor little rich-girl hottie (probably starving herself to keep her shape) Jane Fonda fears “real” love. Adorable Diane Keaton finds a sexy younger millionaire via a stereotypical meet-cute moment. What the heck IS THIS? I don’t eat either, to look good. But where are the men?

Well then. I suppose I’m getting too critical. I just wanted to laugh and let go of grief and regret for a couple of hours. Not happening in this film — things hit too close to home. I will say this:  if you have a really tight group of girlfriends who support you emotionally, and ply you with wine at the drop of a hat, a la Sex and the City (and yes, Book Club), hold onto them like the gold they are.

I feel like crying. Count me out.

Grade: C

Related: Keaton Kisses Kimmel, Talks Sex

Movie Review – Deadpool 2

Deadpool 2. Funny?

Without question.

As funny as the first?

Close, but not quite… Okay, now that I think about it, yeah, it was as funny as the first.

Deadpool 2. Great action?

Absolutely.

Was the action as good as the first?

Nope.

This has hardly a knock on the movie. The first Deadpool was fantastic, A-grade material, from start to finish. DP2 coming close is still a great compliment.

What DP2 has over the original is the impressive list of cameos. I don’t want to give it away here, in case you haven’t seen the movie yet, so I’ll put that at the very bottom in case you’re interested.

One thing I did notice however was that the sound was a little muffled. I don’t think it was the theater because it’s an IMAX theater I’ve been to many times. There were a number of lines that just felt swallowed up and I couldn’t catch them.

Grade: B+

Scroll down for the notable cameos…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brad Pitt as Vanisher
Terry Crews as Bedlam
Matt Damon as Redneck #1
Alan Tudyk as Redneck #2
Nicholas Hoult as Beast (uncredited)
Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (uncredited)
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier (uncredited)
Evan Peters as Quicksilver (uncredited)
Tye Sheridan as Cyclops (uncredited)

Movie Review – Life of the Party

This little movie is pretty darn cute. It’s got a happy spirit to it, and Melissa McCarthy did a bang up job. I’m not a huge fan of hers, but this was highly amusing, and had a sweet bit of heart. The sorority girls are especially charming, and Deanna’s adult best friend steals the show several times. Some scenes are outragously funny (there’s a wild scene with pot-based humor, so heads up).

The theme of going back to college is positive; a good message for those of us who miss school and the “good old days.” There’s a lovely sense of nostalgia throughout, and a great 80s party in the mix. For those of us who lived through the 1980s, the scene is a real hoot.

If you’re sad about going through a current divorce, this might be too painful for you right now. If you are starting to get over it, you’ll enjoy Life of the Party a lot more.

It’s a fluffy film, but worth seeing if you need a little laughter. I’d probably wait for the DVD though, and save your movie dollars for this summer’s blockbusters.

Grade: B

Movie Review – Breaking In

[Note: Review written by RunPee volunteer Shani Ogilvie]

I think this movie was better than I expected it to be. Gabrielle Union, and most of the cast, had good acting.

I like how the movie didn’t waste time getting to the point. It had unexpected plots twists and wasn’t that predictable.

Though I appreciate the movie being reflective of the trailers, I wish they had given more of a backstory to the burglars. However, I still think the movie was good, even without it.

I do commend Gabrielle Union for being barefoot throughout most of the movie. Also, her endurance and strength in some of the scenes makes me want to start working out more and building up my own strength.

Grade: B

A Black Perspective on Marvel’s Black Panther

Article written by our New York RunPee volunteer Shani Ogilvie, with her cultural insights about the record-breaking Marvel phenomenon Black Panther — Enjoy!

Shani OgilvieBlack Panther was an amazing movie! Not only was it visually stunning in terms of costume, makeup, and hair, but it also had a deeper message I have never seen before in an MCU film. To me, Black Panther was what black people across the world have been waiting for.

Before the movie, everyone I knew was excited about it because it had a star-studded, largely black cast, in a Marvel movie by a black director. That’s why everyone, including myself, was so excited — and dressed up to see the film. It was also a big deal because superheroes are never not white. As a black actor in America (and most of the world), we are siloed into very specific roles. So to see all of these actors placed into such diverse roles was already a fulfillment.

After the movie, everyone I knew couldn’t stop talking about the continued diversity of the characters. The role that black actors and women have in Hollywood are so limiting. It’s discouraging for aspiring actors, but also for children who look to the media for inspiration on what to become when they grow up.

Growing up, I remember having two role models, Michael Jordan and Oprah, but not because I had a desire to become a basketball player or an influential talk show host.  Rather because those were my options from the mass media vantage point. I wanted to be a lawyer/model, but I had no role model at that age to allow me to feel hopeful that this was something I could achieve. This movie put black people into roles that most people had never seen them in before. Aside from the black culture that was celebrated, the movie also spoke to the power of women. Black Panther gave me the same feeling as Wonder Woman. It inspired many children, especially girls, to realize that they can be Shuri — the tech genius, Okoye — the General of the King’s army, or Nakia — the undercover agent. All of the women in the movie were non-stereotypical black women. They were not typical roles for women all together. That’s something else that’s missing from Hollywood films –women who are warriors, women who choose their country and values over men, and women who aren’t afraid to speak up and defy.

Another point of discussion afterwards was the message the movie delivered about the identities of black people. Outside of the black community, people are sometimes unaware of the divisions that exist between black people. Externally, we are seen as black people with the same ancestry, but internally we take pride in our cultural differences. To name a few, there are Africans, West Indians, Afro-Latinx, African Americans (black people from America) plus the many other categories that black people place themselves into. This movie celebrated all types of black people and allowed the viewers to see these different perspectives. I think the movie did a great job at showing the divide between these communities, and how that divide hurts us more than it helps us. I felt the movie left viewers with a call to action — to tear down our walls and help each other, because at our simplest, we are all human — black, white, or otherwise.

— Shani Ogilvie loves watching all movies, especially psychological thrillers. On a given day, you can find her eating seafood, planning a DIY project, or finding her next travel destination.  

Read More Entertainment News and Movie Commentary from RunPee: 

Black Panther Fashion in the Real World

Movie Review – Black Panther

Avenger Superhero Powers, by Category

Read Even More Marvel Articles on RunPee.com

 

Movie review: Tully

Since Charlize Theron won an Oscar for Monster it should be a no brainer for the academy to grace her with a second gold statue for Tully. You should know Charlize gained 50 pounds for her role, stating she wanted to stay true to her character of Marlo. That alone should be reason enough for her to rule at every awards show this next season.

This is a great movie for this Mother’s Day weekend. Don’t let the R rating dissuade you from seeing Tully. There was one very short scene with mildly explicit sex, and trust me, you’ve seen much worse on television. There is a great deal of strong language, but this is a movie about an overweight, frustrated, exhausted, and ‘at her wits end’ wife and mother with three children, with a husband who seems to be off in his own little world.

As mothers, which of us have not found ourselves standing in a parking lot, gazing upward and praying for just a moment of peace?

Grade: A

Movie review: Bad Samaritan

What an awesome movie! I hadn’t even heard of it when I was told this was my movie for the week, so I wasn’t really expecting much. This movie grabs you and just plain leaves you breathless. What a roller coaster of a ride. I would absolutely recommend this movie. The moral dilemma that takes place in the beginning is the first obstacle, then they don’t stop coming until the end.

When reviewing a movie I don’t normally talk about the writing, but I’m going to this time. It was spot on. There were so many moments that struck me as cool, and I realized the writer nailed it. Obviously, the directing and acting were great also, but I could trace the greatness all the way back to the beginning, to the writing stage. I’d like to meet the screenplay guy. His mind must work on a different plane than most because this was original, thought provoking, and fun right up to the final scene.

Great movie!

Grade: A+