Movie Review – Hotel Artemis

This is one stylish mess. It’s got the noir notes, the off-kilter sensibilities, and a big muddled stew of a plot. Let me mull on this review a bit.

Movie Grade: C+

Alrighty. After due thought, I still think Hotel Artemis is trying for something it just didn’t reach. But I’ve got a sense it might grow into a minor cult favorite with time. The acting is very good (Jodie Foster never disappoints), the idea of a secret hospital for criminals in the near-future is intriguing, and the water riot is a great framing element.  There’s a noir-ish Blade Runner sensibility to the endeavor. I liked seeing Dave Bautista in a new role, and he really did a bang up job, proving that his fun work in Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t a fluke. Jeff Goldblum plays the persona he’s marketed for himself with flair, but I wish he’d had more screentime.

Where this movie falls apart is in the sloppy narrative (there’s just not much story being told), and the relative lack of action in something being touted as as action film. Misleading trailers is a particular pet peeve with us at RunPee. (Rather than marketing something in a certain way just to get butts in the seats, wouldn’t it be nice to have the studios do service to their films by preparing audiences…ah, forget it. That’s probably never going to happen.)

Fine acting aside, the flashback scenes with Foster are unexpectedly weak. We saw the same sequence several times and didn’t get much payoff. Actually, most of the subplots didn’t work at all.  I’m not sure backstory is necessary to this kind of experimental film. It’s the concept that’s most interesting, encapsulated in Foster’s great line that it’s “Just another Wednesday” at the Hotel Artemis…where every night is a slice of life (and death) from the criminal underbelly of the City of Angels.

I think if people go into this with a sort of artsy mindset, the good things will be enough to carry the audience along.

One last note. Scriptwise, this would make a great play. It seems practically made for the theater, with one major set location, the small-scale jeopardy, and a very confined cast of characters who do a lot of talking (and not much else).

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New Movie Grade: B- (Taking away the expectation of an action/adventure flick definitely raises what’s compelling about about the concept of this kind of movie experience.)

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Runpee Meta: This movie moves along quickly and is somewhat confusing, making finding Peetimes a challenge. I’ve given you a long one and a short one. Both are before the mayhem to follow, so you won’t miss any action scenes when you step out. 

Movie Review – Overboard (2018)

I’m not sure why anyone felt a need to remake *Overboard*. The 1987 original has a sparkling and famous cast, led by Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel. It was sweet, it was funny, and despite the kind of casual sexism often shown in that era of movies, was a small cult classic. I loved it. I still love it and watch it when I need cheering up. But, remember, as major hits from the past go, this is still minor-league. It would be like remaking *So I Married An Axe Murderer*. Both are cute, fun little romps, perfectly made — but not exactly in the realm of important films of the 80s.

I can see re-doing *Ghostbusters* , a major movie from that time, still on any complete must-see movie list. That remake was gender-flipped, and featured good natured cameos from almost everyone in the original. Which leads me back to *Overboard*.

Someone must have noted when the gender swapped *Ghostbusters* made enough of a splash to justify its existence, and thought the concept would work for other old properties. Cue *Overboard*.

Does it work? Yes and no. With the gender reversals and current climate of correctness, it’s a lot less sexist. It also features a large Latino cast to balance out all the blond girls. The good mom (Kate, by Anna Faris) finds love and  a father to her girls; the selfish alpha male (Leo, by Eugenio Derbezlearns to be warm, caring, and responsible…so the message is nice and the audience walks out happy. There are legitimate laughs along the way, mainly via Leo struggling to learn construction under the benevolent hazing of his co-workers. I smiled a lot. This should all be fresh and new for audiences not raised on the original.

What doesn’t work is how underwhelming this version is. It’s not as charming as it hoped to be, and the cast doesn’t have that ringing chemistry of the first. The family moments feel rushed and unearned. Kate’s “nurse” story lacks the cool cleverness of Kurt Russel’s “Wonders of the World Golf Course” scenario, and the children don’t have enough anything memorable to do. The side-plot with Leo’s rich family is simply dull. That’s way too bad; the antics of the crew on the “Immaculata” were wildly entertaining.

On all these levels, *Overboard 2018* doesn’t come close to adding anything interesting that a remake should. Only the character of Leo is consistently amusing, but with his role doubling for the formidable Ms. Hawn, the actor really doesn’t stand a chance in comparison.

If you’re a huge fan of the 1987 original, you might enjoy this reboot. It’s nowhere near as charming, but has its moments. There are many lines lifted exactly from the first, with expressions and tones carefully rendered the same way (ie: “Sometimes dads leave”). A lot of memorable shots are nicely echoed (as in the quiet, tension-crackling scene of the limousine driving toward Elk Cove ). It’s fun to find these elements honored and recreated.

One thing I would have enjoyed: there should have been cameos from the original cast scattered around, as they did with the aforementioned ghost busting movie. If they didn’t want to be that self-referential, they could have slipped in cameos to the extra scene during the credits. I was mystified by the cameo absence. Evoking exact phrases and scenes from the ’87 version showed that they weren’t hiding their roots. And it would have lent a respectful sense of fun for actors and viewers alike.

Enough about comparisons. I’ll grade this movie a B- on its own merits: it’s likable and fun enough for an easy afternoon at the theater. If you want to see something much more touching, that’s rollicking and straight out funny, with far superior acting, rewatch the original.

Movie Grade: B-

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Movie Review – Fifty Shades Freed

I’m not an old fan of the 50 Shades trilogy — in fact, this is the only movie in the series I watched. However, I can happily say I wasn’t lost at all, so first timers can pop in and enjoy it. It had a decent story, which I was not expecting, based on the big heavy “bondage” hype. By this, I mean there is a real plot, and good characters, and some actual jeopardy to move things along.

There was also a bit of humor and some personal growth, along with very luxurious “lifestyle” porn. Clearly, this is kind of a wish fulfillment fantasy film. It didn’t seem very realistic, but I understand that’s not important here. I’m just glad there was enough story between the sex scenes to make me care about the characters.

On another note, I think the entire cinema room was composed of women. There might have been one or two men, but the women were in full force, and clearly having a blast with their gal pals, giggling and chortling, getting into the spirit of things. Even during some sad/emotional scenes, they were laughing and cheering. I’m not sure I understood that, but at least they were having fun.

Movie Grade: B

Movie review: Game Night

We have a twofer review for you for Game Night! RunPee Jilly has  her review first, and RunPee Niece has her review below. Enjoy!

*****
Game Night took a satirish version of the caper standby and presented something really different. The comedic ensemble lent a sense of stylish fun to the proceedings, and nothing was as predictable as the previews made it look. The movie poster undersold the picture too — maybe the producers were afraid their movie would be a bomb. It’s hard to hit this mixed genre just right. It’s a good little sleeper hit.

There are some good questions to figure out along the ride. Who are the the good guys? What exactly is going on? What do you do after mistakenly wiping your blood all over the neighbor’s white lapdog?

In any case, this was a fresh, snarky, fun take on the “spoofy crime mystery”. If I visited an Escape Room with this much screwball excitement, I’d gladly pay double for giving me such a good time. Now I want to start a weekly Game Night posse of my own.

I have to give a special shoutout to the wacky cop neighbor (Jesse Plemons, as Gary), and especially his adorbs peak into the “basement of clues” (during the credits – so don’t leave)..pay close attention to everything tacked up on his ‘clues’ board. I had to smile. If pressed, I’d say Plemons unashamedly steals his scenes. We the viewers have to cringe a little bit; many of us all kind of know someone like this, and feel badly about how we treat them. Here, all ends well, letting us off the hook in a sense. The moral: be excellent to each other. (Gold stars if you’re old enough to catch that 80s movie reference.)

Movie Grade – B+

*****

Game Night was a fun movie to watch. There were more than a couple of laugh out loud moments that the entire theater shared in.

Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams were wonderful, as they always are, together and apart. The rest of the cast did a great job, too.

If you like action/comedy movies, or even just the featured actors, then you’ll enjoy this fast-paced flick.

Movie Grade – B+

Movie review: Every Day

I’m giving this movie an A. It started slow and I was a little unsure…by about ten minutes in I thought I was going to hate it. I was very confused, and didn’t know where the movie was going. I was really wrong. They were just laying the groundwork for a phenomenal story. You won’t be disappointed.

Grade: A

Movie review: Sampson

It saddens me to have to give a movie about one of the greatest stories from the Bible such a poor grade, but Samson was so poorly made — I was compelled to give it a failing grade.

The direction was sub par, the pacing was tedious, and the acting was an insult to the actual characters. It really pains me to say that, because it was nice to see Lindsay Wagner and Rutger Hauer working again.

If you want to see Samson on the big screen you’d better hurry; this movie will not be in the theaters long.

Grade: D+

Movie review: Annihilation

This movie does a good job of creating an atmosphere of mystery. It feels like it’s going somewhere profound, but just ends up being bizarre and cliche.

This movie felt a lot like the movie Arrival. It builds mysteriously and there are lots of flashbacks. But where the ending of Arrival was, for me, completely unexpected, this one just felt like the ending to a low rent science fiction movie.

The unexpected meat of this movie is in the relationships and exploring why people choose to go on these missions. They should have explored that in greater depth, and just ignored the ending.

This movie is rated R for a good reason. There’s some very graphic scenes that will make anyone squirm in their seat. Note: if you don’t squirm in your seat you may want to consider taking a psychiatric evaluation. 🙂

I didn’t feel that Natalie Portman was the right choice for the lead role. I’m not saying she was bad, far from it, but something seemed to be lacking. Like she just wasn’t all that interested in the part.

Grade: B-

Movie review: Early Man

I grew up watching The Gumby Show and Davey And Goliath, as did my children so I’ve watched a lot of stop motion movies. 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.

 

Movie Review – Black Panther

Opening night at Black Panther felt like a celebration. All six showings at my cinema were totally sold out that night, and continued to sell out through the weekend. But, yes, the audience was ecstatic, completely into the event, dressed in traditional African attire, laughing, cheering, applauding, hooting, and generally having a great time. It makes me want to give Black Panther a higher grade. There’s nothing like a good party.

My A- is still a very good grade. But I honestly preferred the recent Thor: Ragnarok and Spiderman: Homecoming…those were better plotted stories, tightly woven with better heroes and villains, more sprightly humor, and people I cared about. This movie (an origin story that suffers by introducing an entire NATION of new characters) moved along so quickly that I was often lost, and didn’t get to know much about anyone. The title character himself, with so much else this movie had to accomplish, had surprisingly little to say or do. The actual Black Panther had more action in Captain America: Civil War.

However, Black Panther is a spectacularly gorgeous film. The cinematography, location shots, the CGI, the total aesthetic appeal — all was topnotch. There was an epic feel to the proceedings, decent humor (mostly from the scene-stealing Princess Shuri), and standout female performances by the aforementioned Princess, the Queen, the Girlfriend, and the General. The women were the best part of the narrative.

Wait, of course, through the entire credits. This is a Marvel movie, after all. The final movie stinger provides a long-awaited payoff.

Updated Note: With Avengers: Infinity Wars coming out this week, and Black Panther STILL in theaters, this is the first time we’ve had two MCU movies playing at once! I might make my movie day a double feature…

Movie Grade: A-

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Read More Marvel Movie Features on RunPee.com

 

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