Movie Review – Dumbo – A live action remake your kids will enjoy

Movie Review - DumboIf you have a toddler, Dumbo is one of the few movies in the theater now that is specifically for your child. It’s PG-rated, so your kid won’t come home and ask you questions you don’t know how to answer. If you are worried about animal mistreatment with the circus background, by the end of the movie, they did mention no animals should be kept captive.

I was born and raised in China, and watching the original 1941 Dumbo with my dad is a piece of heartwarming memory from my early childhood. I was around 5 when I first watched it on a VideoCD. It was called “小飞象”  — Little flying Elephant — in Chinese. Yes, VCDs did exist.  🙂

Walking into the theater, I didn’t have an expectation. But as I was watching it, I was that 5-year-old girl again. The story has been changed here and there to fit the live action, but the spirit has not been changed at all. As far as I’m concerned, this movie brings back almost the same feelings I experienced over two decades ago. I’d call that a successful remake.

But for adults who don’t have any emotional connections to the original piece, this movie is probably going to be clicheic and pre-mature for you. It’s a remake that tries to be true to the original piece, so it’s still head to toe a 1940s style kids’ story. Unless, of course, you just like the idea of a cute little flying elephant.

Now here’s something extra for those who have watched the TV show West World: does the little girl in Dumbo remind you of anyone? 😉

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: We have a really good (recommended) Peetime right about the middle of the movie. Try to use that if you can. The last Peetime is okay, but you’ll miss a nice father-daughter scene. The 1st Peetime is only for Emergencies, because it’s short and is immediately followed by a scene that shouldn’t be missed, especially by children.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Dumbo. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for peril/action, some thematic elements, and brief mild language
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Remake, Reboot, Sequel

Movie Review – Happy Death Day 2U – Still Fun, but more Sci-Fi than Horror

 

Movie Review - Happy Death Day 2UIt’s interesting to watch a sequel film that genre-hoppingly morphs from one thing to another. I’m not a horror fan, but genuinely loved Happy Death Day 1, probably because it had an emphasis on comedy, and the actual scares were light. It was creepy still, with the “uncanny valley” baby mask — shudders — but PG-13 enough for a horror-adverse weenie like me to enjoy.

Also, I’m a huge fan of movies paying homage to the Groundhog Day theme of repeating time loops.

So I was excited about Happy Death Day 2U and basically expected a re-run of the original. I was fine with that. I think we all were. The first movie was an unexpected joy that felt fresh and fun, with a character — starting off as a total jerk just like Phil Connors from Groundhog Day — that we could root for by the end.

What happened with 2U was unexpected. We started the movie following Ryan, Carter’s roommate, in what seemed to be a new loop centered around him. Things take a sharp turn early on, when we realize we’ve gone from a Groundhog Day movie to a loving homage of Back to the Future. It’s insidious and insistent, with Bear McCreary’s score latching onto several memorable notes from BTTF’s soundtrack. And just so you don’t miss it, the characters reference BTTF, and there’s even a wall poster for BTTF 2 on Carter’s wall.

It was about halfway into the film when I realized this wasn’t horror at all, not even on the low level the first Death Day was. This was straight up adventure and science fiction, with a bunch of nerds straight out of Weird Science taking the stage.

Tree (Jessica Rothe) is still the lead, but the character ensemble has grown, with the flick ultimately the better for it. These are likable characters, and if a third movie comes along (as is teased in the extra scene you must stay in your seats for), I’ll happily jump onboard for more wackiness.

Where the 2U falls flat is in the stakes business: we kind of don’t care what universe Tree lands in. There is mother stuff and boyfriend stuff, and it’s all rather melodramatic in a way the audience can’t really care for. Call it a bit overambitious.

We didn’t come to the sequel film for drama, right? Let’s keep right on the tonal course we fell for the first time: dark comedy, wacky light horror, and a thoughtful mystery that needed solving. The mystery this time was a dull afterthought. Honestly. I found myself distracted, taking notes that said, “What genre is this now? How do I grade this?”

I decided to take 2U on its own merits, and not necessarily that of a rote sequel. It’s an enjoyable galloping adventure story with bits of horror and some decent humor. On this level, I give it a solid B. That’s a few points below the A grade from Happy Death Day 1, but not for lack of effort. Good job, Universal Studios! If you go in for thirds, I’ll be there.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: Happy Death Day 2U was hard to find Peetimes for, since it has a lean pace, and each scene is either funny, emotional, or boasts a good action sequence. I went with mostly the emotional scenes for the 3 Peetimes, since those were easy to summarize, and weren’t the main point of seeing this horror/comedy sequel. I’d use the 1st Peetime if you can plan for it.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Happy Death Day 2U. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for violence, language, sexual material and thematic elements
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Sequel

DVD at Amazon.com

Blue Ray at Amazon.com

Movie Review – Happy Death Day – Very Fun, Almost Cute Horror Film

In Da Club by 50 Cent – Video & Lyrics from the Happy Death Day 2U Trailer

Happy Death Day – Every “Day” We Watch, and Rewatch (Spoilers)

Happy Death Day – All the Clues to the Killer (SPOILERS)

20 Groundhog Day Type Movies – The Ultimate Repeating Day Film List

Quotes Quiz – Movies with Groundhogs Day Themes

Russian Doll is the newest Netflix Addition to the Groundhog Day Loop Theme – and it looks GREAT

 

Movie Review – Mary Poppins Returns

Movie Review - Mary Poppins ReturnsCan I start by saying bravo?! I’m a huge fan of Mary Poppins (MP), and Mary Poppins Returns (MPR) did not disappoint. While we all knew that filling Julie Andrews’ shoes as MP would be nearly impossible, Emily Blunt nailed the role.  I enjoyed this movie so much because of the animation, storyline, cast, and the soundtrack. The Sherman Brothers rocked the music, yet again.

Many people thought this movie was a remake of the original 1964 movie. However, this is a continuation of the original storyline.

This storyline could stand-alone if you had never seen the first installment, but it was very exciting to recall scenes from the first MP to understand the narrative of MPR. For example, let’s start with how Mary Poppins arrived the same way in this movie as she did in the first movie—-with a strong wind. Jan and Michael Banks are portrayed as adults, with Michael living as a widow in their childhood home…with three children and a housekeeper. Jane works as an advocate like her mother, and Michael is an artist and works at Fidelity Fiduciary Bank like his dad.

Side note: when the bank chairman sent the attorneys to Michael Banks’ house to demand payment of his loan or the house would be repossessed, that scene reminded me of It’s A Wonderful Life, when George Bailey experienced a similar scenario as the bank examiners arrived.

It was so funny that Admiral Boom used to be so precise with time when blasting the canon, but in this movie, his old age has impaired his precision. Do you remember the kite scene from MP along with the song “Let’s Go Fly A Kite?” Well, that same kite is crucial to the plot in this movie. Then there’s that scene in MP where Michael is shocked with his mouth open; MPR recycled that line with Michael as an adult…and MP said “Close your mouth Michael, we still are not codfish.” LOL Now as for Meryl Streep, she played MP’s second cousin named Topsy. I don’t care what role Meryl plays, she’s going to kill it. Her dance moves were on point too.

Cousin Topsy’s scene put me in the mindset of the scene from MP with Uncle Albert’s flying giggles to the song “I Love to Laugh.” The scene with the song “Follow the Light” reminded me of the chimney sweepers scene to the tune of “Step in Time” from MP. And yes, the penguins are back in the broken antique bowl scene.

One last similar scene I’ll mention is that the children disrupt the bank lobby like young Michael did, when he ran out of the bank because he didn’t want to deposit his tuppence.

Speaking of tuppence, the tuppence that Michael was forced to deposit into the bank comes full circle in MPR in a major way.

As I said earlier, the Sherman Brothers rocked the songs again, and my favorite song in this movie is “The Cover is Not The Book” especially Jack’s (Lin-Manuel Miranda) solo, because it was sang/rapped in his iconic Hamilton-like tempo. Sweet!!!

Familiar terms used by MP that always bring a smile to my face were of course in her vernacular in MPR; such as spit pot, come along now, and pish posh. Furthermore, there were three moments when the audience applauded, which is a good indication of iconic scenes — especially when both parents and children are applauding enthusiastically.

I speak for myself when I say it was pleasing to see black casting in MPR. MP did not have any blacks (if I remember correctly) and in MPR, two of the major characters were black: one of the attorneys, and the bank chairman’s secretary, and another appearance of a black milkman. Woohoo! It was also nice to see Angela Lansbury as the balloon woman in the park at the fair, when Dick Van Dyke returns as Mr. Dawes, Jr.

Let me close by saying I almost want to raid Mary Poppins’ closet. She is the best-dressed nanny on the planet. Her exit from Cherry Tree Lane was the same in MPR as it was in MP—-slow, holding her open bird umbrella, fading into the sky, with a subtle look back at the Banks’ house with a slight smile. Mary Poppins Returns is epic and practically perfect in every way!

#MaryPoppinsReturns #EmilyBlunt #Disney #Movies #NewReleases #MovieReview #RunPee #FemaleMasterpiece #Hamilton #LinManuelMiranda

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: It was a little difficult to determine Pee Times because it’s a children’s movie — but adults love Mary Poppins as well — so determining when’s a good time for anyone to pee took some creativity. I recommend the 2nd Peetime, because it’s a very slow scene of the children sleeping and merely a lullaby song.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Mary Poppins Returns. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

5 Differences between the Old and New Mary Poppins

Movie Review – Saving Mr. Banks

Classic Movie Re-Watch Review – It’s A Wonderful Life

Movie Review – Once Upon A Deadpool

 

Movie Review - Once Upon A DeadpoolThe Deadpool Before Christmas was hard to grade. I had to wonder if it’s better than the original Deadpool 2, if it added anything impressive to the canon, and if it’s worth spending your cash on what amounts to a re-tread of the same movie you saw last summer.

For real Deadpool fans, this is a must-see limited edition special event. Even for Princess Bride fans, you’ve got to get yourself out to see the painstakingly recreated bedroom for Fred Savage’s character, and to listen to him telling off Deadpool over the course of the film.

Also, Savage really wants to “fight” Matt Damon. As in REALLY REALLY, although it might not be “fight” so much as “f@ck”…if you’ve seen the Sarah Silverman parody song about Matt Damon, followed by the segue about Ben Affleck, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’re old enough to permit some cussing in your humor, go look for it. Otherwise, ask your parents for some help.

The added Princess Bride footage was swell, from opening scene til the penultimate extra where Fred is finally permitted to go home. I wish there was more. The entire last third of the film had me waiting impatiently for new footage. My thought is that by then, the producers didn’t want to cut into the flow of the actual Deadpool story, but screw that — I came for more of the new wacky goodness.

One thing I found disappointing was how seamless the dirty language was. Instead of hearing some cool, really bizarre dubs, I barely noticed this was PG-13. I figured Deadpool would insert fun weirdo ‘curses’, like “you dirty hamburger monkey” for PG-13 friendly curses (shit and bitch are apparently okay, ya’ll), but, again, I didn’t notice the lack of the really R rated words. The ONLY fun cussing scene is the above-mentioned Matt Damon sequence with Deadpool bleeping out “fight.” Try not to run and pee then!

Also fun were a couple of scenes where certain body parts were pixellated. One in particular was super-maxi handy, since eyeball bleach can be hard to come by.

I also noticed a few neat things I missed on my previous DP2 viewing. One is all the insistence on DP’s part that he’s in a Marvel film. Also, as he talks to Juggernaut: “The sun is getting really low, big guy,” which is a certain someone’s sweet way to talk down The Hulk in another franchise. And, the dial we keep seeing Deadpool use “goes up to 11”, as we’re told in another old classic film: This Is Spinal Tap.

So, yeah. A few gory/graphic moments were cut, and some barely cleaner language was inserted, but this is absolutely the same DP2 you saw before, with 15 minutes of Princess Bride mashup interspersed.

Some people complained this was just a cash-grab by Fox and Marvel, but it’s still a unique way to re-package old material…plus Ryan Reynolds insisted a portion of the proceeds go to a “Fudge Cancer” charity…so you can feel good plopping out your money for this particular grab.

One last point: all the amazing cameos from the original DP2 are still in play. Dan’s first review of DP2 lists them all, so I’m not going to retread that — I just linked to his review. Sound good?

Last, last, last note: DO NOT LEAVE UNTIL IT SEEMS LIKE THE LIGHTS WILL BE COMING BACK UP. You’ll kick yourself if you miss the final cameo. Trust.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: Don’t use the original Deadpool 2 Peetime information. This PG-13 special has an extra 15 minutes of story footage, and a new extra scene after the credits. This version has different Cue times. In certain places I listed NEW scenes, in case you don’t want to hit the bathroom for those. The 2nd Peetime was recommended in the original Deadpool 2, but I removed that because it has a NEW scene in it. I listed the 1st Peetime as recommended instead, because it was easy to sum up and gives you an extra minute if you need it. Try to use it proactively! 🙂

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Once Upon A Deadpool. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Movie Review – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

 

Movie Review - Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of GrindelwaldI don’t know what happened with this movie. It looked great from the trailers, and seemed like the story would make sense. The film itself, though, was a big beautiful mess. I’m not even sure what I saw.

I’m essentially a Harry Potter expert. I’ve read the books dozens of times, seen the movies even more, visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and traveled to places filmed on location in both London and Scotland. I belong to a Harry Potter Meetup group, and have different wizard outfits, cobbled together over the years. I’ve made wands. Blah blah blah. All this to make it clear when I say I don’t understand Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. It’s a painful feeling.

It’s not even just me. I went with a fellow wizard friend, and he was disappointed and lost too. After the film, we tried to figure out what the movie was about, why the characters did the things they did, and were both just puzzled.

I saw the movie in IMAX at a select early screening with reserved tickets in a packed theater. Everyone there was a big HP fan, ready to have an exciting time. The audience started out applauding and cheering when different things occurred onscreen, like seeing Dumbledore, during the Hogwarts scene, when different creatures showed up, and when certain early secrets were revealed. However, as the movie wore on, the audience got more and more quiet. By the end, you could hear a pin drop. There was no final applause, which spoke volumes in its silence. People filed out with no fanfare or excitement. Basically, JK Rowling’s biggest fanbase seemed alienated.

I’ll probably see this a few more times in the theater — and it really is a pretty piece of work. I hope to figure out what the plot was about and why the characters did the things they did. I’m positive I’ll have better things to say about this film then. But in the meantime, I’ll say this: if I couldn’t follow the weird, convoluted, and very messy narrative told here, I doubt the casual fan will know what to make of it.

UPDATED OPINION: I saw this a second time and have a somewhat different review and grade for it in mind. I ‘m thinking a solid B now. My first experience was spent taking an intense amount of notes for RunPee and I missed a lot of what transpired. This is the kind of film you really can’t be distracted for. (Don’t make Peetimes kids, if you like movies!) I enjoyed my second viewing, but still stand by my original take — this sequel is problematic.

Grade: B (Updated)

About The Peetimes: I attended a premier showing before the film officially opened. (I had to drink my hoarded Felix Felicis Potion to get this ticket.) While this is great news for RunPee fans, I will admit this was the hardest movie ever for me to get Peetimes. The film moves at a breakneck pace, with too many characters — many of whom were brand new and didn’t make any sense in the film. I added 2 Peetimes, in any case. The 1st is better, at 39 minutes in. The 2nd, at 1:16 will also serve. Neither of these scenes have any interesting action or fantastic beasts.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Why Fantastic Beasts 2 is not so Fantastic

Movie Review – The Girl in the Spider’s Web

 

Movie Review - The Girl in the Spider's WebIt’s a sad fact: sometimes a good book can make a not so good movie. Such is the case of The Girl in the Spider’s Web.

The pacing was frenetic, making the plot hard to follow. There were scenes that went by so quickly, I hardly had time to incorporate them into the movie in my brain. Most of these scenes were filled with gratuitous explosions or implausible car chases that hurt my brain.

I didn’t feel there was any chemistry between the characters, and in my heart of hearts, I don’t think the actors had fun in making this movie. I most certainly didn’t have fun watching it.

TGitSW could have been shot in black and white, and it wouldn’t have made a difference. There was very little color, except for a brilliantly red outfit worn by Camilla during a portion of the movie. And speaking of the red outfit: hats off to Sylvia Hoeks for running up a snow-covered hill while wearing six inch red stilettos. You go girl!

I’m assuming that the target audience are those who have read the book, which I have not. How well did the movie follow the book? Did the personalities of the book follow the personalities of the movie? I don’t know, because I haven’t read the book and probably never will.

I did find it interesting that the movie opened with a ‘Me Too’ moment, showing Lisbeth emasculating an abuser by hanging him from the ceiling, and tazing the creep ’til he literally peed his pants. The icing on the revenge cake was when Lisbeth mostly depleted his fortune by transferring funds into a private account for the wife. A lot of people would consider this scene worth the price of admission. I did! I believe that TGitSW would have been so much better if tazing psychotic husbands had been the plot of the movie.

My bottom line…….wait for the DVD.

Grade: D+

About The Peetimes: This movie was almost non-stop action, making it difficult to get good Peetimes — however, I managed to find 2 action scenes that were easily summed up.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Girl in the Spider’s Web. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Virgin Movie Review – RED 2

Not even Anthony Hopkins could save RED 2
This time the band didn’t bother coming together.

Well, now. I recently re-watched RED 1, and loved it. I gave it an A. So maybe you can understand my disappointment when I say this sequel was the pits. It made almost no sense, even with Anthony Hopkins doing his usual bang-up performance, acting his heart out in a film so completely narratively lacking. What the hell happened here?

Sometimes a sequel isn’t warranted, even though the original left on-screen hints there was more to come. They should have stopped right there, leaving their future to our imagination. RED 2 (still shorthand for Retired, Extremely Dangerous) has none of the charm or style marking the first film. I want to shake the producers for making this dreck happen, for forcing it into existence. WHY?

The original great ensemble didn’t come together. Most of the main characters were completely sidelined or missing entirely. Our ex-Russian KGB expert came in and out like a pee break (as in, his role was like a 3 minute Peetime over the course of the film). Helen Mirren fared slightly better, but had only one or two lines with any of the warmth she showed before. Sure, she can shoot like nobody’s business, but her role was frustratingly fungible and spare. She acted like she knew it. Paycheck time, I guess.

Morgan Freeman’s absence was sorely missed. I know he had stage 4 cancer in RED 1, but hell, this is a movie; they could say it went into remission and no one would bat an eye. Why make continuity a thing when your second best character is missing, without a single line bemoaning his off-screen apparent death? He’s still acting in 2018, so its not like the actor died. My best guess is Freeman read the incoherent script and passed.

Which leaves us with Bruce Willis and John Malcovich turning the ensemble into a duo. It’s like a band of two reuniting on a cruise ship gig because the rest of the musicians retired. This time, Willis and Malcovich have no chemistry at all all. They barely looked at each other. In fact, Malcovich only had on-set chemistry with Willis’ love interest Mary Louise Parker. She did her usual quirky fun job, but it couldn’t save RED 2 from a poor overall performance. 

Who else appeared? David Thewlis (Professor Lupin from Harry Potter), Catherine Zeta Jones, some cringingly bad bad guy whose name I can’t be bothered to look up, and Byung-Hun Lee as Han, the new mercenary who’s Death Incarnate all movie long, but turns into a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Softie in the end. The transition didn’t work, though, unlike Karl Urban’s good turn in RED 1.  Thewlis was quite good as The Frog, and should have been in more scenes. Zeta-Jones…well, looked good. As a past flame for Willis’ character, she pulled off a workmanlike job. The script didn’t give her much to work with. Too bad. Too bad for everything: I was really looking forward to this sequel.

What good things can I say? The cool soundtrack from the first didn’t happen for the 2nd. The plot skipped and jumped; the actors mumbled most of their lines, and the plot was made of Swiss cheese. I still don’t know what the Red Mercury bomb was supposed to be — it sure didn’t make a lick of sense. Wait: these aren’t good things.

Let me try again. Willis and Parker were fine together. Parker’s pleasant presence provided the most laughs. The gag about the gang stealing Han’s plane was amusing, with a good payoff.

The worst crime in this crime movie: it wasn’t funny. RED 1 is all about the fun. There’s enough other, more serious Gun Movies out there if that’s what you want. I hope RED 3 is never a thing. Let these RED ex-agents finally retire.

Recommendation: Pass.  Stream it free, if you must. It’s a much longer movie then RED 1, but that didn’t make it better.

Movie Grade: D+

Note: A virgin movie review highlights films from the past that we haven’t seen before, unlike a regular review from a current film, or a rewatch review from something we’ve seen previously. 

Movie ReWatch Review – RED

A Quiet Place – RunPee Jilly’s Movie Review (with SPOILERS)

I thoroughly enjoyed A Quiet Place, even though I can’t stomach horror movies. Thank Thor RunPee Sis craves those films, or I don’t think we’d have Peetimes for them. But, you know what? [pullquote]A Quiet Place isn’t really straight-up horror — or more accurately, it’s a sub-unit of such: scary suspense. [/pullquote]And those are perfectly fine viewing for movie-goers who don’t enjoy being frightened witless, or mentally disturbed after bedtime. I can do suspense.  After all, Alien  and Signs are among my favorite films. Take heart, and see this movie if you’re unsure.

Silence. Shhhhh. Both showings I attended were dead quiet — the hearing-a-pin-drop kind. When one person rustled their bag for popcorn, the room en mass shot dirty looks at the unwitting assailant. I’ve since read this spontaneously happened across theaters every night, every time. [pullquote position=”right”]One person directly in front of me made two near-silent coughs and took herself right out of there. Good call. We might have just as silently killed her for it. Such was the magic of attending this kind of movie, a rare theater-only experience.[/pullquote] (Only films like Avatar, Titanic, and  the first Jurassic Park are really the main theater related “experiences” I can offhand recall.)

If this was an art-film made to showcase a dialog and soundtrack-free production, or an old-timey silent film, I wouldn’t be interested. The only things I could previously appreciate was a silent (and also scary) TV episode of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer — the enchanting episode called Hush. As it was, I was entirely, and enjoyably, gripped by A Quiet Place.

Our only exposition are the many news clippings tacked on basement walls, things panned too quickly to really read. Are the aliens Death Angels of God? Aliens from a Meteorite? Subterranean creatures from a cave in Mexico? It’s enough. It doesn’t matter. More important are the words scrawled on the family white board: THEY HUNT BY SOUND. THEY ARE ARMORED. Local Area has (3) confirmed.

That’s all one needs for the story, and we’ve guessed most of that by this point.

Like in Signs by M. Night Shylaman, we get a one-family take on a War of the Worlds theme, and it really works. The stakes are upped — as we see by the nightly lighting of fire beacons, there may only be small pockets of humanity left. We’re talking a few local outposts with the intelligence and ingenuity to live in silence indefinitely.

And more pointedly, we see up close several reasons WHY this family does so well. There’s a well-equipped barnhouse bunker as a birthing room and sanctuary, and a sound-proofed box for their soon-to-be squalling baby, equipped with working oxygen supplies. There’s enough tools and sundries for any end-of-the-world scenario. Who needs zombies when you have this?

Outside the bunker, the family knows to walk barefoot and not make sounds in surprise or pain. All common pathways outside are deeply lined with sand, any squeaking steps in the house are clearly marked for avoidance, and red lights are strung about to announce an attack. The father keeps loud rockets in his pockets to draw off intruders. He knows you can speak under a waterfall, how to set traps for fish, and where to forage in the empty towns for supplies he can’t make himself.

He also, almost too fortunately,  knows how to construct high-tech hearing aids. [pullquote]And this is also where A Quiet Place treads too close to Signs, where the daughter has an extremely fortunate habit of leaving undrank glasses of water everywhere in the house. In A Quiet Place, it’s all about a coincidentally “different” daughter again.[/pullquote] Their daughter was deaf and the family knew sign language? Impressively useful. How convenient the father kept tinkering with better hearing devices?  Yeah, yeah. But you know what — in the entire world, surely this scenario would occur somewhere. We just follow the family that has it going on.  While it’s less comedic (read: never) than Signs, it’s a story that actually makes more sense.

So they’ve got things mostly covered. It sounds…doable. They manage for at least a few years. And that’s where things get going, in deadly earnest. In spite of all their planning, Emily Blunt’s character breaks her water early. She’s alone in an unsound-proofed area, in a tremendous state of pain and terror. We remember (from the prologue) that the family was used to grabbing pain killers from an empty pharmacy. But then, more than a year goes by. Blunt’s character didn’t take any pills when her contraction begins and never gets the chance later. That’s a difficult enough birth under normal circumstances.

But her suffering has to be silent; absolutely so. No moaning, screaming, nor normal crying. She bleeds out in a bathtub with an lethal alien crawling about the room. This is gripping storytelling. I went in a second time to watch this scene, because Blunt portrays her character’s experience entirely, compellingly, with only eyes and expressions. Her hands grip her womb, seemingly to keep the baby safely inside, or push it out quickly, to somehow protect her baby from the consequences of its first cry.

This is one versatile actress. Remember when Blunt’s big debut was as a supporting break-out character – that self-absorbed mean-spirited assistant from The Devil Wears Prada? Her main goal in life was eating just enough cheese cubes to keep from passing out (the better to carry off size 00 couture from Paris). Her smaller roles became leads, including an aggressively skilled warrior in Edge of Tomorrow, and a pathetic, grief-stricken soul from Girl On A Train. These are wildly diverging roles she carried off with deftness and verve.

In A Quiet Place, there aren’t great set-pieces or sparkling dialog to carry the film. It doesn’t offer much in the way of visuals, either.  (It’s a somewhat claustrophobic movie, as a clearly Hitchcockian-inspired flick would be.)  Blunt shoulders nearly the entire movie with no more than a few words of wistful, pain-wracked regret. These rare lines don’t serve to propel the action or plot: they’re just quiet moments of drama.

John Trasinski (as the father that is – directorially he’s superb) does a fine job too, but this isn’t his movie. His character’s climactic sacrifice, however, lends a tragically necessary gravity to the story. Life ends, life begins. There’s no happy ending, just the reality of survival.

The denouement confused me at first. As they watched their land’s video cameras, I thought the rest of the family was about to be overwhelmed and snuffed out. Talking about it among the RunPee family showed me it’s actually a thread of hope. Now that this family knows how to kill the aliens, they can wipe out the local pocket (two more left) of intruders. They can reach out the the local families (right, as seen by bonfire) and show them how to do that too. And from there, hope for what’s left of humanity can spread. I’d watch that sequel.

Which leads me to announcing there is a sequel, or maybe a prequel in the works. The Quiet-Verse has lots of stories to tell. If there’s a franchise to be had here, I can only hope all involved want to craft any subsequent movies as perfectly as they did this one. Earning a rare A+, all a normally reluctant horror-phone can say is:  see this film.

Movie Grade: A+

RunPee Dan’s (Unspoiled) Review of A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place 2 Announced

 

 

A Quiet Place 2 Announced

Shhhhhhhh. No, really, don’t make a sound. Not even when we announce that A Quiet Place has a sequel scheduled already! (Confirmed by Paramount.)

A Quiet Place offers an interesting concept for movie-going – people constantly report that their theaters were dead silent. Through the whole movie. [pullquote]Apparently this is a great cinematic experience and not to be missed. I’d call this film a sleeper hit.[/pullquote]

Right on the heels of the surprise rise of A Quiet Place, Den Of Geek reports A Quiet Place 2 is in the works already. They say the story could continue where it left off, or could be about another family entirely.  There are many options to explore in the Quiet-verse.

How do you live, when your life depends on total silence? Could you do it? Even clicking the keys on my laptop makes sound. I have a fan on as I work: Alexa belts out my morning playlist. The coffeepot gurgles, percolating, while the dog barks and whines, begging for bacon that pops and sizzles on the stove. I take all this for granted.

Our spoiler free review of A Quiet Place gives this film an A, and reports the tone is more like a cross between Alien and Signs (both being top notch films). RunPee Creator Dan says, “[pullquote position=”right”]Every scene felt like it was hand crafted, over and over, until it was perfected. There isn’t a wasted second in a single scene.[/pullquote]”. My spoiler-full review awards A Quiet Place a rare A+ ( I was slightly more impressed).

With the care, commitment, and attention to detail by the director, cast, cast and crew, we can hope any sequels or prequels will add to the richness of this dystopia, and not just toss out a trashy cash cow.

Want more details on the sequel? CinemaBlend provides some details with major spoilers in the article, while Emily Blunt and John Krasinski discuss what they know and how they feel in this clip:

A Quiet Place Review – No Spoilers

A Quiet Place Review – With Spoilers

Movie Review – Jumanji 2: Welcome to the Jungle

This “sequel” version of Jumanji is adorable and funny. Predictable, yes, but the story is based on a video game plot, so it’s kind of a baked-in thing.

It’s also bit too pat in how each teenage character gets the perfect game avatar to grow as a person, but this is yet another thing that can be explained away in-universe: it’s a magic game, and that’s what it does. So I guess we can make allowances for this too. It’s all in good fun to service the adventure story.

This movie is very like a fantasy-version of The Breakfast Club, updated for the cell-phone/video game era. It’s got detention, stereotypical teens from different cliques, and the theme is an exploration of how their characters learn to work together. They become close through their experiences. So, yeah, the same concept.

The plot is paper-thin, which is, again, part of the conceit. [pullquote]What the film really sells are the sweet character interactions, tons of gorgeous visuals, lots of humor, and the swashbuckling tone. I’ll say it: this could become a lightweight adventure/humor classic. [/pullquote]We’ll see, over time. The audience enjoyed it — they were laughing and clapping throughout. There’s also a good message for young people about tolerance and acceptance. Nothing world-changing, but I’m glad I got to see this.

Everyone in the film was just great — the actors seemed like they had a blast. Jack Black was fantastic, and I normally don’t enjoy his brand of broad humor. He had the obviously funny part, but didn’t oversell it, even when teaching “Martha” how to flirt. Dwayne Johnson was super playful, and pulled off a believably bashful teen. Kevin Hart was a crack-up as the “backpack guy.” Karen Gillan has nice comedic timing, and it was good to see her actual face without the blue makeup of Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy. At some points she still channeled Nebula, but her physicality as a warrior served her well in both roles. Everyone played off each other very well. The ensemble was just too damn cute, and they knew it.

Do you need to see the original Jumanji to follow along? In a word, no. Somehow the old one never pinged on my radar. I think I should catch it now; Jumanji 2 was that much fun. I laughed almost the whole time, and enjoyed these veteran actors doing their campy best of reviving the old “body swap” tale. It made me forget about life for a few hours, and that’s what a movie can do at its best.

Movie Grade: A-