Movie Review – Brian Banks

 

Movie Review - Brian BanksI really love movies based on a true story. I’m always curious to see how the storyline will play out, and if it seems grossly embellished or not. Brian Banks is relatable and “reel” on so many levels.

Yes, this movie can be categorized into the files of the “MeToo Movement” for sure, but with a little twist, and intense and valid emotions throughout the whole movie.

The actors were very good, and I’m a huge fan of Morgan Freeman. Freeman is not one of the main characters; he is a catalyst to the transformation of Brian Banks. Morgan is never bad; he’s like the godfather of movies. He shows up and shows out at the most opportune moments.

Was He Like the Real Brian Banks?

I watched interviews with the real Brian Banks before going to see the onscreen depiction, just to be able to validate whether Aldis Hodge (Brain Banks) gave us a top notch reflection of the real guy.

And Aldis did. His movements, diction, and emotions were on target. Now, I’m not sure about seeing Aldis in another movie involving him in jail though, which comes out December 2019. I clutched my pearls with confusion when I saw the trailer for Clemency immediately before the Brian Banks Movie started. I thought Brian Banks had begun, and that I missed the cue to start my timer. LOL! But I digress…

The pace was good for one hour and 39 minutes. The use of flashback scenes were very effective, especially toward the end when Brian was waiting to hear the judge’s decision. All the critical moments in his life flashed before him as he awaited yet another moment that would change his life.

An Insightful Film

What I found very insightful was how the director explored the dynamics behind criminal law. He peeled a lot of the onion back to reveal crucial case law, how attorneys collaborate, and why some things are presented in the courtroom or not.

I especially liked that, because I know I sometimes ask myself, “Self, why didn’t they say this?” “Why wasn’t that important?” or “What in the heck was the judge thinking?”

So pay attention to the law narrative. I also liked how there were lots of plot pieces, but the director pretty much flushed them all out to the end;he didn’t leave me hanging.

Everyone had a connection to Brian’s struggle directly or indirectly, including his workout partner. Ultimately, I was tuned in to see if the plot was realistic and believable for such an event that happened to teenagers. And I was elated that the plot made you think and get watery-eyed; not frown and question the likelihood of the tragedy.

The use of light was very emotional; reminded me of an epiphany at its best. Another thing that resonated was the “tether.” The tether took me back to Jordan Peele’s movie Us. I admired how the director ended the movie at the exact location where the movie and Brian Bank’s dreams started.

Check it out for yourself, and take your teenagers, because when they know better, they will certainly do better. We have to teach/show our children how to stop and think about the “what ifs” on a daily basis, thus to matriculate through life without becoming a part of the existing societal problems — instead becoming an intelligent, good-natured, ethical citizen that’s part of the solutions.

(By the way, for those that may be running late, there were 24 minutes of previews in my showing.)

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: It wasn’t difficult selecting Peetimes, given this is a biopic, and I knew a little about the back story — which gave me some perspective. I recommend the 1st Peetime.

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

Rated (PG-13) for thematic content and related images, and for language
Genres: Biography, Drama, Sport, True life story

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Movie Review – The Art of Self-Defense

Movie Review - The Art of Self-DefenseThe Art of Self Defense blew me away. These are my favorite moments in the RunPee Universe. When RunPee Dan asked me to do this movie, I thought to myself, “Great; he’s punishing me for something.” Well ha ha, jokes on you, big brother. Little sister loved it.

The story itself was so well told that I never got bored, and was seriously surprised on a few of the scenes. I didn’t see that coming; it hits like a freight train right to the throat. Or like a punch from the foot. I’m dying right now. When you see the movie, you’ll get how funny it felt.

Back to the Art of Self Defense review:

The story has a terrific message. It’s something I feel every man, woman or child should see that’s ever been subjected to bullying. (Not like a small child though, because there is full frontal nudity of the male type.)

There is hope in all situations — it comes down to how you you see things and react to them. Do you roll over and take it, or do you stand up and foot-punch the world? In every one of us there is the power to achieve what needs to be achieved.

There is a particular line from the movie that Jessie’s character says, it goes a little something like this…

“I want to be what intimidates me.”

Pause, let it sink in. Wow, that’s a powerful line. It stopped me in my tracks; I wrote it down to ponder later. He spoke that line in such a way that the impact is still felt. It’s forever embedded into my brain — way to go, Eisenberg.

Jessie Eisenberg was a perfect choice for this role. I can’t think of one other actor that could have done it better. His timing and delivery was magical. Alessandro Nivola, who plays the Sensei, was evenly matched with Jessie. Those two worked together like peanut butter and jelly. Their chemistry was simply delicious.

So in summary for The Art of Self Defense:

This dark and somewhat creepy movie ends up being one of the feel-good movies of the year in my book. I loved it and would love to recommend it to you.

Please leave me some comments; I’m super curious to see what other people think of it.

Just to kind of back my love for this film, I watched it with two other movie reviewers. These guys were hard-core, who write for major publications. They both back it too. So you have three reviewers from different walks of life saying the same thing. See it — you won’t walk out disappointed. Thanks for reading, folks.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: I recommend the 1st Peetime; there was humor that you’ll miss, but it was easy to summarize. The 2nd Peetime is great, but beware of running over the time on that one. A big reveal happens directly following that Peetime.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Art of Self-Defense. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence, sexual content, graphic nudity and language
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Sport

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Movie Review – Fighting with My Family – Pleasant, Non-Demanding Fun

Movie Review - Fighting with My FamilyFighting with my Family is a pleasant little true-life-based sporting movie leaving you feeling a little happier than when you went in.

It’s not about Earth-shattering events or anything particularly profound for humanity, and it doesn’t need to be. It’s a small and surprisingly charming story: a young woman gets plucked out of obscurity in the UK to train for the big leagues of US WWE Diva wrestling. Cue the nominally familiar underdog narrative…but it works.

The best part of the movie is how it’s grounded by a loving, oddball wrestling family. The rough-n-tough parents seem intimidating at first, until you realize how sweetly kind these people are, and how much they care for each other.

The comedy is never over the top: you buy the reality of these people. Kudos to the acting and directing team for making this tiny corner of history so palatable — and relatable.

I also appreciated the brother’s side-tale of changing the lives of underprivileged youngsters in his neighborhood, via instruction and a strong sense of community. (The blind wrestling teen was a highlight, and I could have watched an entire movie about him. Somebody make this film happen.)

In any case, Fighting With My Family is almost entirely about the daughter. Paige’s story is a quite a bit like the blockbuster scenario of Rocky — just younger, female, and on a different scale. Also, this series of events really happened. 🙂 We get a young “buck” with a lot of raw potential, who gets tested too far, and lets her coach and family down. She finds her “Eye of the Tiger”and gets serious about pursuing a WWE championship goal. This isn’t brand new material, right? But the movie makes it fresh.

Something I appreciated was Paige’s clear joy in the sport itself. And make no mistake, the movie makes pro wrestling look exhausting, but also super fun. Now I want to be tossed around a ring, bounce off the bungies, and leap over people who know when to duck (yet know how to make it look real). I had no idea the whole pro wrestling scene was so playful and adventurous. There are scenes where pros decide whether to take random PR stunts in stride, like being thumped on a bed of thumbtacks, to getting smacked in the head with a garbage can lid. If you can take it, it adds to the fun, and everybody gets paid. Even The Rock is thankful for someone who took a spectacularly painful fall to make him look good (in a really satisfying small scene that’s easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention).

However. One thing you should know before you go: The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) isn’t in this film very much — he bookends the plot. But he shouldn’t be the center of this film. It’s not his story. As he was involved in these real events — creating this film was his passion project — he takes up just as much visual space as he should. It works. I hope it went down in reality just like this.

Still. This is THE ROCK, and he’s got quite a WWE legacy before he became a movie star. His opening “mentoring’ scene is NOT to be missed. It’s priceless and I’m still smiling over it. Don’t run to the toilet then…use our Peetimes. 🙂

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: This was an easy film to find Peetimes for. I won’t let you miss any moment The Rock appears, or any of the best fighting action. I recommend the 2nd Peetime if you can manage it, but all are fine.

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

Rated (PG-13) for crude and sexual material, language throughout, some violence and drug content

Genres: Action, Biography, Comedy, Drama, Sport, True life story


 

More Movies Starring The Rock: 

Quiz – The Rock AKA Dwayne Johnson – Action Hero with Surprising Range

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Movie Review – The Fate of the Furious

Movie Review – Skyscraper

San Andreas – movie review

Movie Review – The Tooth Fairy

 

Movie Review – Run the Race – Faith-Based but Sad

Movie Review - Run the RaceAs is my usual, I’ll address the target audience first.

Run the Race has all the ingredients needed for a faith-based movie — a loss of faith, a terrible tragedy, hope, and renewal. Christians of all denominations will be satisfied, and happy with the outcome. (Does anyone write a faith-based movie where God doesn’t prevail?)

Now I’ll address the mechanics of the movie: The pacing was dreadful, with too many protracted scenes of very little payoff.

The acting was sub par, with the exception of the coach played by Mykelti Williamson. Does that name sound familiar? Mykelti is Bubba Gump, and his acting was the real stand-out. The remaining cast came across as wooden, bored, and not very interesting at all.

The setting for the movie was excellent. Principal filming took place in Birmingham, Alabama, which is only 15 miles from Bessemer, and yes, Bessemer is a dying town. I lived in this area during the 1980s, and graduated from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, so it was a real trip down memory lane for me.

The ending didn’t leave me with a sense of hope and renewal; I just found it to be very, very sad.

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: Run The Race is a short flick, so I felt 2 breaks were sufficient. The pacing made it fairly easy to choose 2 Peetimes and not miss anything important.

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

Rated (PG) for thematic content and some teen partying
Genres: Drama, Sport, Religious


 

Some other faith-based movie reviews on RunPee.com: 

Movie Review – God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness

Movie Review – Let There Be Light

Movie Review – Do You Believe? – A Film to Help You Find Hope

Movie Review – Creed II

Movie Review - Creed III really enjoyed this movie. I had very high expectations and lots of excitement when I walked into the theater, and I think this movie delivered on all of those expectations. I think this movie kept a lot of new fans from Creed I, but  also tapped into the older fan-base from Rocky IV.

This movie was similar to the Rocky movies, but is trying to become its own thing. We can see that in the scenes when Rocky doesn’t stand in the spotlight with Adonis. I think that’s a good indicator that the directors and writers are trying to make a separation between this second generation and the parent movies of Rocky.

I think what makes a Rocky movie so memorable has a lot to do with what’s happening outside of the boxing storyline. From the proposal, to the pregnancy, to the early fatherhood challenges, I think this movie had a lot of moments that touched the hearts of the audience.

I think the part about Creed II that I had never seen in a previous Rocky movie was the portrayal of the opponent, which in this case was Viktor and Ivan Drago. The movie starts out with scenes of them, instead of scenes of Adonis and Rocky. I think throughout the movie there were very important scenes of Viktor and Ivan that help the audience understand what this fight meant to them. For me, it made me feel compassion for Viktor and Ivan Drago. For Ivan, this fight was his way of redeeming himself from the defeat against Rocky.

In this movie, we see that there was a lot of fall out due to that loss. Ivan experienced separation from his country, his wife, and all those who supported him before he lost against Rocky. It seems that Viktor was raised with a singular goal in mind–redeem the honor of his father and win back his mother into their lives. I truly did feel for Ivan Drago because this fight was more about him than it was about Viktor. Viktor had no personal motivations for this fight except those of his father. I think the reason this movie decided to show empathy towards Viktor and Ivan is because they are not the real antagonists of the film. The real antagonist of the film is Viktor’s mother and Ivan’s former wife. Towards the end of the movie, Ivan decides that the life of his son is more important than the support of his country.

Overall this was a great movie; I like the alternative views it had and I’m excited to see what’s in store for Adonis Creed in the future. I’m also interested to see what is in store several years down the line for his daughter–Amara Creed. I think people believe she won’t be a boxer due to being born deaf, but based on the scene with her watching Adonis return to the boxing gym, I don’t believe that will stop her.

Overall: I think, as usual, both the acting of Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone were great. I would recommend this movie to anyone. I’m a true Rocky convert. It’s worth it to see it in theaters.

Grade: A-

About The Peetimes: It was easy to find 4 good Peetimes that didn’t interfere with the great boxing scenes or the relevant story line.

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