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 – Black Panther

Opening night at Black Panther felt like a celebration. All six showings at my cinema were totally sold out, 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 the highest 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, more tightly woven into the later Marvel Cinematic Universe, with sprightlier humor, and people I cared about.  [UPDATE: Black Panther got better with every viewing. It really is one of the best of the MCU. But after I saw Avengers – Infinity War, I now have to place IW a bit higher. Let’s just say Marvel knows how to craft a film, period, and gets better ever year.]

Black Panther (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 titular hero 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 War 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-

A Black Perspective on Marvel’s Black Panther

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Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)

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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 – 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 Rewatch – Jurassic Park

It’s been a long time since the 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 back the happy tears and goosebumps I felt back then, seeing beloved dinosaurs come to life. I loved Dr. Grant, Dr. Sattler, Dr. Malcolm, and Gameskeeper 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+

Read our review of Jurassic World

Just for fun…watch the Honest Trailers video of Jurassic Park. Even these guys love the first and best dinosaur film in the series.