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Movie Review – The Circle

Grade – C+ (a little bit above average)

Imagine if Facebook and Google got married, had a monster-child, and named it Circle. There you have it. Could this really happen? Yes indeed, and to take that one step further, I’ll wager that there’s a monster-child already gestating out there in cyber space.

The Circle had a star studded cast, but if you’re going only because Tom Hanks is in it, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Hanks has about 10 minutes of screen time; he delivers his few lines nicely, disappears for fifteen or twenty minutes, then shows back up to deliver more nice lines. Emma Watson does keep us pretty much entertained throughout the movie, but the real kudos goes to Glenne Headly and the late Bill Paxton. No one in Hollywood will ever be able to shout obscenities the way you did, Bill.

I’m a big fan of Dave Eggers, and his book *A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius* has been in my top 20 books since I read it when it first came out. I think it would have made a better movie than The Circle, but that’s only my opinion, for what it’s worth.

Movie Review – The Fate of the Furious

I’ve been waiting on pins and needle for this movie. Let me start off with the fact that I’m probably one of the biggest fans of this franchise. I’ve seen everyone of them on opening day, and had vowed my undying devotion to them. Yet, I may have to withdraw my pledge of allegiance.

To me, it fell flat when compared with the other movies. In no way did it give me the same feelings as the rest of them. I gave it a lot of thought and came up with a bright side: I think if you don’t compare it with the rest of the franchise, it was okay.

There were a lot of cool action sequences and great effects. In my opinion, Jason Statham and Tyrese Gibson stole the show. Both of them brought an incredible amount of humor to the movie. I didn’t realize that Statham could do humor so well. He’s really funny and hot – emphasis on “hot.”

Dwayne Johnson and Statham also had some great screen time together. The bantering that goes on between them is outstanding. I laughed out loud quite a few times. So there’s the bright side. Now what irked me….

I felt like Charlize Theron didn’t quite pull off the villain of the movie. She didn’t have the grit that was needed. I don’t think this was her fault because she is a great actress; it was in the writing. They really should have given a better back story for her. Throughout the entire movie I’m asking myself, who is she? How did she get all of this money, the amazing technology? I spent too much time during the movie wondering why. I know that suspense makes a movie, but it just felt like plot holes to me.

The other thing that seriously bothered me was Vin Diesel. I’ve secretly been in love with his character since 2001 when Dominic Toretto first appeared, sitting in his family’s bar, looking all sexy and bad. That guy wasn’t present in this film. He seemed like he was being forced to just get through the movie.

I’m so terribly curious about his performance. I just want to call him up and ask the questions I’ve come up with. Was his performance – or lack of performance – due to missing Paul Walker? (I miss him terribly.) It pains me, knowing we won’t see his beautiful smile ever again in the movies. Did he not like what he was given to work with? I know that there was tension on the set amongst the actors, but was it so bad that it affected his acting? Vin, please call me: we need to talk. I love you, but you really let me down.

Movie Review – Gifted

Grade – A

RunPee Mom starts: Gifted unfolds beautifully, and just keeps getting better. The cast was excellent, and the chemistry between the main characters was palpable. There were tender moments and humorous moments. This is a great movie for audiences of all ages.

Jill, RunPee Co-Creator adds: This is the second movie this year where Octavia Spencer appears in an movie about mathematical genius – someone’s developing a niche? LOL. Her role was pretty basic in *Gifted*, but she interacted very well with the titular genius child…we could believe she was the little girl’s best friend, odd as it may sound to someone used to more typical children.

And speaking of Mary (Mckenna Grace) – the child actor is wonderful. What a fresh new talent: in every scene on screen she simply shone. She had moments charming childish glee/anger, mixed with a plethora of precocious adult mannerisms. She was completely believable in the role, easily upstaging every adult. In fact, the moments she didn’t appear were only the scenes the movie lagged (mainly every courtroom segment – we’ve seen all that before, and those acts felt like they were simply going through the motions). I loved the scene where Mary beat up on much older child to defend a young boy – and where she really pulled through for him a little later – that was quite heartwarming. We come to see there is a fantastic child in there, nearly buried under quantum mechanics and unsolvable math equations.

Chris Evans turned in a good performance – nothing amazing – but definitely more challenging a role than anything Captain America ever asked of him. 🙂 I think he can be proud to put this film on his filmography. Here’s to hoping he can continue to grow his acting talents to meatier (but less beefcake, enjoyable as those are) roles.

Is this movie sad? I’d say there are some scenes that are tough to watch, probably especially for parents. No one enjoys watching adults rip a child’s life apart in the name of “what’s best for them.” What ultimately occurs is kind of confusing, legally, but without giving anything away, this is not a tear-jerker. (There were two moments I choked up, and one of them was about a cat.) 🙂

I recommend this film, but waiting for the DVD wouldn’t take anything away from the experience.

Movie Review – The Lego Batman Movie

Grade: A-

I liked this better than the original Lego Movie – this one is skewed a little more sophisticated for the grownups – but still has lots of color and spectacle for the kiddos. It’s a very charming film, with a surprisingly good storyline. Things move quickly, and there is a lot to see, making you want to go back and view it again – just to catch all the little jokes, asides, and throw-away lines. I loved the humor. Be aware this Lego flick focuses on Batman’s crew, and not the characters from the first Lego outing.

Cameos abound, and you will be amused at who is included: we briefly see the entire Justice League at a party, and then such famous baddies as Sauron, Voldemort, Jaws, the Gremlins, a Velociraptor, King Kong, Godzilla, the creature from the Black Lagoon, Agent Smith clones, Dracula, Medusa, Flying Monkeys and the Wicked Witch of the West…and even several Daleks from Dr. Who (EXTERMINATE!) make an appearance. I think Warner Brothers had a great time producing this sweet little film.

There are actually a few poignant, moving scenes, with a decent villain plot, and super cute background moments. I rate this as one of the top Batman movies in the entire Bat oeuvre.

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This film has recently shown up again at the AMC theaters we see our films at. So, it’s back. We’re not sure why. If you missed it before, you can catch it now.

Movie Review – Ghost in the Shell

Grade: A-

This is a really, really pretty movie. It’s also a seamless use of CGI, and I’m normally really hard on films that rely extensively on computer animation. It totally works in this one.

Ghost in the Shell is an origin story for a comic book character called Major, and apparently this isn’t a case of ‘Asian whitewashing’ if you are an established fan. Johannson does a good job carrying the film, giving us a stoic, understated hero, struggling to understand whether she has any humanity left. Don’t expect a lot of humor – the main lighthearted moments are reserved for her friend and coworker Bantou, who really is the best part of the film. I smiled whenever he entered a scene.

Everyone else is deadly serious. I’m not a huge fan of deadly serious stories, but understand how the themes in GitS are relatively mature – presenting the nature of man, and the ethics of cybernetic enhancements. Where exactly do we draw the line in upgrading one’s given body, in pursuit of perfect health, upgraded skills…or frivolity (for example, getting an implant that lets you drink too much, so you don’t get hung over)? If you like the works of Philip K Dick, you’ll relate to this story. I do wish it had been a bit lighter in tone, however.

It’s a relatively short origin superhero tale (at one hour and 47 minutes), with an efficient pace. The action is exciting, reliable, and easy to follow. There’s a tremendous amount of dialog though, making it tough to find Peetimes. If I had to relate this movie to others, I’d say it has elements of Blade Runner, Minority Report, and a bit of The Matrix. Ghost in the Shell doesn’t achieve any of the bars set by those films, but is a respectable offering for what I expect to be a new franchise. I wasn’t disappointed, and sometimes that’s all you need.

Movie Review – Passengers

Grade: A+

I am exhausted from a long, late night movie, so I will be short and sweet tonite. Mainly, I want to say: SEE THIS FILM. I never give an A+ rating, and this movie deserves it.

Chris Pratt is a treasure; Jennifer Lawrence brings her A-game, and this movie is a pure delightful mix of romance, science fiction, adventure, and just…beauty. It was hard to find Peetimes, since each moment was a pleasure and a joy.

I saw this film in a rear corner, in a mediocre room, with a small screen and tinny sounds, and it still knocked my socks off. I swear; I cannot find my socks. See this in a great theater, with 3D, with good sound…I will get out to see this properly again as soon as possible. FANTASTIC.

UPDATE: I just saw this film again, in 3D. I recommend the 3D version, even though it wasn’t filmed with that in mind, simply because this movie is so beautiful. On a 3D screen, the space scenes really made me feel like I was there, which is a sort of wish-fulfillment for my geeky soul. The glasses didn’t make anything noticeably darker. It just made everything in space prettier.

NEW NOTE: It seems that if you loved Gravity, you may not like Passengers. And vice-versa. You can tell where I fall on this spectrum. To those berating Jim’s big decision, I ask you – what would YOU have done in his situation? Sometimes I think the critics judge too harshly, without taking human nature into account. In any case, this film is a lot more like The Martian than Gravity, or any of those other uber-serious sci fi films.

Movie Review – Rogue One : A Star Wars Story

Grade: A-

There’s a lot to like about this movie. The humor, particularly from K-2SO, or K-2 as he’s more often referred to, is outstanding. I have to say, K-2 really carried the movie. It’s not going to happen, but I would love to see a movie with him as the main character. He’s that entertaining.

They did a great job of propping up “A New Hope” with various sayings, cameos, and scenes. That just makes me love both movies even more. And the end of the movie is just awesome.

I wasn’t crazy about the first 30 minutes of the movie, give or take. The scenes are short, and skip back and forth from one planet to another, setting up characters and plots. It just felt too disjointed to me, but eventually it settles down and the pacing improves.

There’s no question that this is a fine addition to the Star Wars universe.

3D Notes from RunPee Wife: Don’t spend your extra money on the 3D version of this film. It doesn’t add anything, or bring you into the universe in the way a good 3D film can…here, it only makes the images darker. Everyone talks about how pretty this movie is; don’t let the glasses bring that down. I actually took the glasses off a few times so I could see the scenes better. Will watch this again in 2D.

Later Note: the 2D version is cleaner and brighter, and improves the viewing experience a lot. The film graininess is intentional, as part of the war mood they were evoking. This movie also gets better every time you see it, storywise.