Movie Review – John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Not as good as the first two)

Movie Review - John Wick: Chapter 3 - ParabellumI loved the first two John Wick movies, especially the first, which really brought new life to the action genre. But I found myself getting bored by the monotonous action in John Wick Parabellum.

I think the movie might have been better if it had been a little shorter. Many of the fight seems felt redundant.

Beyond that, the gravitas expressed by Keanu Reeves in the first movie just isn’t available in this story.

What was Good in John Wick Parabellum

The director (Chad Stahelski) works hard to break some new ground in each of his movies, and I think he accomplished that with the dog scenes in this version of John Wick. I’ve seen attack dogs in movies before, but nothing like this. Kudos to the dogs and their trainers. They earned the treats and then some.

John Wick: Prince of Puppies

Besides that, there were a few times I spotted errors in the choreography of the fight scenes. For instance, men would stand still after being punched by John Wick, while he turned his attention to another foe, before turning to shoot the first guy. It didn’t feel as tight and polished as the first two Wick movies.

The Unsung Heroes of Action Flicks

That said, going to see this movie in the theater is a good way to support the men and women who work hard to perfect their craft at making action movies like this. It’s hard and dangerous work, and they don’t get the glamour showered on the big name stars. They’re the blue collar workers of Hollywood and deserve a pat on the back — and some coin in their pocket — for their work, as the unsung heroes of John Wick, and all action films.

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: I found 3 good Peetimes. None of them involves any good John Wick action. I recommend the 2nd Peetime. It’s the longest, and right in the middle of the movie.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for pervasive strong violence, and some language
Genres: Action, Crime, Thriller

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Movie Review – John Wick 1

Movie Review – The Curse of La Llorona – A Good Scary Time in the Conjuring Universe

Movie Review - The Curse of La LloronaThis premier was a happy moment and a sad moment for me. I’ve been anticipating this film for quite some time. The Conjuring Universe is my all-time favorite series of movies. Ever.

As a little girl, I read The Amityville Horror, and that is where I first discovered Ed and Lorraine Warren. I’ve followed their lives ever since and was ecstatic when The Conjuring came out. This has been a wonderful way to give them the limelight they deserved.

Sadly, last night, in her sleep, Lorraine Warren passed away. She lived to a ripe age of 92. I call that a successful life…a life that touched many people and will be surely missed. So as I sat in a beautiful Dolby theater, with my seat reclined, the woman on the screen left this world.

That’s a little chilling all by itself.

What was also chilling and creepy was The Curse of La Llorona. I tell you what — I got the chill bumps so many times that my legs looked like a Yeti on the way out. There were so many scenes that I jumped that I lost count.

I really like it when you can hear how much the movie is affecting the audience. I wasn’t the only one leaving with furry legs. I thought this one really vocal woman was going to have a heart attack. A good time was had by all.

They gave you a few glimpses into the rest of the movies: the way they wove them all together is really impressive. There is some great writing going on here. I’m looking forward to the next Annabelle, which is talked about in this movie.

There were even some funny moments; the delivery and timing of these lines were extremely well-placed.

My one and only complaint is that I kind of felt the little girl didn’t shine like she could have. Her role was a little flat. Other than that, I loved it.

This is odd…two weeks in a row, now my main complaints are the roles of the little girls. Pet Sematary did the same thing. This solidifies my thoughts on getting my granddaughter an agent. The acting world needs some fresh faces of the little girl kind.

In conclusion, if you’re a fan of James Wan and the creations he comes out with, see this movie. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: This was a really short, fast paced movie. I’ve decided on only 1 Peetime. I found a spot right in the middle that allows you plenty of time to use. Any point after this Peetime is a must-see.

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

Rated (R) for violence and terror
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Movie Review – Pet Sematary – A Worthy Adaptation

Movie Review - Pet SemataryThe newest adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, Pet Sematary, was a solid remake. Thirty years after the original release, the makers attempted to revive their cult classic film. That’s a huge undertaking, and an enormous gamble, considering the die-hard fans of the original. To please or not to please — that is the question.

They took a chance and drastically changed the plot…and it worked! I loved what they changed up and was very satisfied they didn’t shame the original.

From the trailers, I had two major red flags go off. These differences were huge to me, and made me cringe in fear of a total flop.

First and foremost, the cat. The original Church exemplified terror. He was a majestic British Short Hair that is, and always will be, iconic. I was scandalized that they were using a fluffy, long haired Maine Coon. What?! This in my mind was going to be a CATastrophe! So there I was, sitting the theater waiting for my disappointment to build, and low and behold, Church 2.0 won me over. This cat worked it on the catwalk; his performance was CATaclysmic. Well done. I was wrong.

My second gripe was Jud’s role. When I saw and heard John Lithgow in the trailer, I thought to myself, “Lithgow’s got some Munster-sized shoes to fill.” To me, no one could replace Fred Gwynne. He 100% owns that part in Hollywood History. So again, I’m sitting there waiting for the disappointment. Happily, because of the drastic plot changes, Lithgow pulled it off. He melded perfectly into the film. Almost. They fleshed his character out more so than the original, and that was an enjoyable addition. My one complaint: the essence that was lacking in his role was a result of a directing issue.

So I am now two for two on my fears being squashed. Kind of like a kitty cat on a heavily traveled road. Squish. I love it when movies prove me wrong.

There are a few minor issues that I’m going to throw in real quick. Jete Laurence as Ellie Creed had a very big part to fill. Her presence just wasn’t strong enough. She was okay, but I could see the possibilities, I felt she came in just under the bar the rest of the movie set.

Amy Seimetz as Rachel Creed also slightly bothered me. However, after a long discussion with RunPee Mom, we deduced it wasn’t her fault. The character itself isn’t endearing, and we’re saying that about Denise Crosby’s portrayal too. Rachel comes across as weak and needy, but that’s how she was written. So technically, Seimetz pulled her part off. I’m a very strong-willed person and I don’t like it when women are portrayed that way, but here, it worked.

I like ending my reviews on a positive note, so let’s praise Jason Clarke: he was awesome as Louis Creed. His performance was phenomenal, as was little Hugo Lavoie. He did a dandy job as Gage. I’m sad I didn’t hear “No fair,” or “Now I wanna play with youuuu,” but he was still fabulous.

Now that the cat’s out of the bag about what I thought, I’ll end by saying, “Great job! I was not disappointed.”

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: This is a pretty short movie. 2 Peetimes were picked, and they both allow you plenty of time.

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

Rated (R) for horror violence, bloody images, and some language
Genres: Horror, Thriller

Movie Review – Hotel Mumbai – Unrelenting Violence

Movie Review - Hotel MumbaiHotel Mumbai is not an easy movie to watch; it’s brutal, and the killing is unrelenting. It hits the deck running and doesn’t let up for two hours. There were very short scenes of personal interaction — few and far between. Most of the movie was about chaotic running and killing, and many times the dialog was impossible to understand.

We get to know several guests and employees of the hotel, but still know very little about them — just enough to make us care if they can get out of this alive, and many don’t.

I was impressed with the writing and subtle foreshadowing of events to come — pay close attention to the one-second shot of a dropped shoe that becomes important to the plot.

I don’t know who the target audience is for Hotel Mumbai, because I don’t know why the movie was made in the first place.

Was it to pander to the ‘I just can’t get enough of murder and mayhem’ crowd out there? Or hopefully, to pay homage to those hotel employees who stayed behind and risked their lives to protect the guests? Whatever the reason, Hotel Mumbai certainly will impact the audience in some way.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: This was the most difficult movie for Peetimes I’ve encountered in the 10 years I’ve been doing this. The pacing was incredibly fast, with almost nonstop action. There was absolutely no ‘down time’ in this film. Quite literally, the action started in the first 3 minutes and never let up. I chose 3 Peetimes that had the least amount of action and could be summed up in the synopsis. I’ve included one Emergency break at 1:34, and this one is only 3 minutes long.

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

Rated (R) for disturbing violence throughout, bloody images, and language
Genres: Drama, History, Thriller

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Movie Review – Us – Tons of Symbolism, Creepy, and a Great Time at the Movies

Movie Review - UsI’m by no means a lover of horror movies anymore, but when Jordan Peele writes one, you can’t help but wonder what it will be like. His freshman movie, Get Out, was creepy enough to motivate me to see more from him. Us didn’t let me down. It’s a little hard to write specifics about the movie without giving away spoilers, because there’s so much to say, due to Director Peele’s love for symbolism and thought-provoking cliffhangers.

Let me start with a little framework. Director Peele stated in interviews that the idea of this movie came from various iconic horror-based inspirations, but the 1960 Twilight Zone episode entitled Mirror Image, where Vera Miles encountered her own doppelganger in a bus terminal, sent his imagination over the top.

The movie begins with a few sentences on the screen, pointing out that there are miles and miles of tunnels and secret passageways underneath cities in America, of which some have no purpose at all. At first, when I read that I wondered if the theater had put the wrong movie on. The next scene didn’t do much for immediately confirming that I was watching the right film given that the time setting was 1986, and a very old television was playing a “Hands Across America” infomercial inviting people to take part in the hand-holding (thus, a tethering which you’ll see resurface as symbolism) around the USA, to raise money to fight hunger and homelessness.

The movie is extremely scary and creepy. Jordan does a good job setting up each scene, especially when the black doppelganger family arrived in the driveway. Director Peele took his time before revealing the family, I’m sure, to increase the suspense and wow factor.

In the meantime, the scenes played out with a little humor from the father Gabe, going from suburban sweet-talking with reason, as he’s a little naive to what’s going on, to straight up hood trash-talking. On the other hand, the mom Ade has a very good idea that something terrible is about to happen. That’ll make more sense as the plot thickens, and at the end of the movie (wink).

There’s a lot of killing, with blood flying and gushing everywhere. If you have a weak stomach for blood, cover your eyes, but don’t keep them shut, as the movie is not filled with massive narrative scripting as much as visuals and sound effects. Jordan Peele used Michael Abels again to do the music, which is the same man Jordan found on YouTube to do the music for Get Out.

The acting was very good by all the characters. Shout-out to Lupita Nyong’o who plays the mom, Ade. She needs an award nomination for the dual role she played — exceptional job, and that spooky voice she created for her doppelganger made her even scarier. Now, let me point out a few things I noticed about the movie that you may have missed, or you should look for when you see it a second time. You have to see it 2 or 3 times because you’ll discover something new every time you see it.

These notes aren’t true spoilers, but if you want to go into the film with no foreknowledge at all, you might want to stop reading here, and return after you’ve seen it. But I think these notes will help your first-time viewing enjoyment, so this will have to be your call:

1. The rabbits appear again in this movie just like in Get Out. Also, I noticed that the rabbits were mainly just white with only a few brown or black ones mirroring America, or some of the many environments we work and live in. Other rabbit sightings: the daughter’s t-shirt; when the homeless guy was taken into the ambulance, he looked to be wearing a rabbit’s foot around his neck; and the doll the young Ade played with was a white rabbit.

2. Don’t miss that deer on the wall of the fun house; it reminded me of the deer at the beginning of Get Out.

3. The signal to move when the doppelganger family stood in the driveway was the Wakanda arms pose from the movie Black Panther.

4. The counselor and the parents thought the daughter was suffering from PTSD.

5. There was a subtle spider doppelganger in the vacation home.

6. The son, nor the mom, had rhythm when the song I Got 5 On It was playing in the car on the road trip. Hmmm (remember I said this when you watch).

7. Jeremiah 11:11 “I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape” appeared as a reference several times: on the homeless man’s sign in 1986, during the present day when he got put into the ambulance, and then as the son Jason noticed the time was 11:11 at the vacation house, just before the doppelgangers arrived.

8. The name of the fun house in 1986 when young Ade entered was called Vision Quest, but in present-day of the movie when Momma Ade entered it was called Merlin’s Nest Hall.

9. Jason’s mask is red, like the doppelgangers’ clothing. More importantly, why does he have a mask in the first place? (Remember I said this, too.)

10. Jason growled like his doppelganger when he and his sister entered the neighbor’s house. Very questionable, or just a little touch of humor? (Remember this.)

11. Momma Ade and her doppelganger, Red, never seemed tethered like the others, as they didn’t have synchronized movements like some of the other copycat pairs. (And again, remember I said this…)

12. The scene of Momma Ade crying reminds you of the Get Out movie character Chris Washington, crying before he was sunk in the chair by the teaspoon-stirring Virginia.
13.  Jordan Peele has been making a cameo appearance in both his movies that no on would notice.  He does the voice of what sounds like a dying rabbit in Get Out and in Us.
14. While there were no extra scenes before or during the credits, Jordan Peele did list the doppelgänger cast names in a unique way.  He listed the human cast name in regular color, then he put the doppelgänger name right to it in red…which is what color they all wore…and the lead doppelgänger name is Red.

Lastly, I’ll mention those gold fabric scissors. I think they represent the act of cutting the ties or the tether between the two pairs. We often are our own worst enemy (as the movie subtitle states) and sometimes we need to sever that tether in order to escape what oppresses us.

I also agree with another theory that Peele portrays the doppelgangers as a means for him to continue to explore ‘double consciousness’ — W.E.B Du Bois’ influential race theory of how Blacks see themselves two-fold: as themselves, and as themselves through their oppressor’s eyes. Hence, the beginning of the movie with the long camera shot of the white rabbit’s eye staring at us.

Okay, I told you there was much to say without giving away spoilers, only tips to pay attention to as you watch. Hopefully, you enjoy it as much as I did. I’m headed to see it again tonight. Let me know your thoughts below.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: Oh my! I’m still shaking in my seat. It was difficult to find Peetimes. The plot didn’t let up much or long enough for anyone to leave their seat and not miss a good part, or one of the many symbolic references. I recommend the 3rd Peetime — it’s the longest.

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

Rated (R) for violence/terror, and language
Genres: Horror, Thriller

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

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Movie Review – Captive State

Movie Review - Captive StateCaptive State had a good idea of dropping the movie goer right into an alien invasion. The aliens have been in control of earth for years and are known as “legislators.” They control the law and humans.

Okay, great idea up to that point. It’s a dandy way to start a movie. I like the idea of seeing how the humans and aliens basically have to work together. That’s where the greatness ends. The mere idea of it. The execution was retched, absolutely discombobulated and confusing.

It’s really an hour and a half give or take of humans passing messages and traveling from one secret location to another secret location. I honestly didn’t even know the characters names until I got home and looked them up on IMDB.

One of my biggest gripes is John Goodman. I’ve loved that guy since the beginning of Roseanne. He is a staple in the strong male actors category. Did he have bills to pay? Why in the world did he take this role? The character was written so poorly that even the great Goodman couldn’t bring life to the role. Sad face.

The only reason I’m not giving this movie an F is because the sets were done really well. They immersed you into a bleak, poverty stricken world that oozed with desperation and hopelessness. Good job there.

Another positive note was that while doing my job I have to sit through the credits to tell you wonderful people if there is anything extra. Happily they were only four minutes long. I thought to myself, “Wow, those credits were really short. Woohoo for that!” Most movies run at least 7 minutes, sometimes longer. I figured out why as I was falling asleep last night trying to forget this movie. The credits are so short that no one wanted to take credit for this farce of a movie. I chuckled to myself as I fell into a peaceful sleep that luckily contained no part of this movie in my dreams.

Treat yourself to a wonderful movie and get out of the house for a while. You deserve it! I just wouldn’t pick this one.

Grade: D+

About The Peetimes: I only submitted 2 Peetimes due to the fact that this was a really hard movie to follow. I chose scenes that were fairly easy to summarize.

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

Rated (PG-13) for sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief language and drug material
Genres: Sci-Fi, Thriller

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

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

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Movie Review – The Prodigy – No Chemistry, No Creativity

Movie Review - The ProdigyThe Prodigy was really disappointing. I’ve seen better movies at Billy Bob’s Drive-In Theater.

This is another movie that did a wonderful job of making the trailer look too good to pass up. They got me hook, line and sinker. I was really excited waiting for the movie, then it started. Ten minutes into it, I was bored. I found myself wondering if I blew out the candles at home. So fast forward to the end of the movie, and I was really scared. I was really scared my house was burning to the ground due to candle negligence.

I didn’t see any chemistry between Taylor Schilling and Peter Mooney. None at all; if you’re going to be acting as husband and wife, you need to show us a little something. Schilling to me, came across as Piper from Orange Is The New Black. Same character — just better hair and makeup.

The one upside was Jackson Robert Scott. He played the little boy Miles. He did a really good job of being creepy as all get out. If that were my child, to the wolves with him!

The story has been done before; it’s very similar to Shocker. Don’t get me wrong —The Prodigy isn’t in the same league as Wes Craven’s thriller — but it’s in the same universe. I’m gonna wrap this up by recommending you wait for the DVD.

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: The Prodigy is a very short movie — 87 minutes, if you exclude the credits. I decided to give you only 1 Peetime — the best one. The only other possible Peetime would have made you miss out on the build-up for the finale.

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

Rated (R) for violence, disturbing and bloody images, a sexual reference and brief graphic nudity
Genres: Horror, Thriller

Movie Review – Cold Pursuit – Liam Neeson Does Action Right

Movie Review - Cold PursuitIf you like the Coen Brothers, you’ll love Cold Pursuit. This movie runs circles around Liam’s other ‘particular set of skills’ flicks. The well-placed humor that you usually see in the Coen films is refreshing, and sometimes really funny.

Sure, we get plenty of head banging “shooting at point blank range” bloody snow scenes to satisfy our lust for the ‘I’m going to kill you now’ version of  Liam Neeson. However, Snow Plow Neeson is a kinder, more gentle killer who, at times, actually got very tired when beating the life out of someone.

However, Neeson’s interaction with Ryan — the young son of a drug kingpin — sets this movie apart from his other ‘I’m going to kill you now’ work. Watching the two characters interact added another layer to the movie, allowing a rest of sorts between more typical scenes of inept drug lords killing each other.

The cinematography was beautiful, and even though you know it was probably 10 below, you still wanted to be there. Filming this movie for the actors was most likely a nightmare, unless of course the snow was CGI.

(Checking filming locations now…Fortress Mountain, Alberta, Canada. Nope: not CGI. That’s good old fashioned, finger-numbing cold.)

I wholeheartedly recommend Cold Pursuit to all fans of Liam Neeson, and even if you’re not a fan now, you’ll be one after seeing this movie.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: This movie had a lot of twists and turns and shootouts making it a little difficult to get 3-4 minutes of down time. The 2 Peetimes are fairly far apart so keep that in mind as the first Peetime approaches.

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

Rated (R) for strong violence, drug material, and some language including sexual references
Genres: Action, Drama, Thriller

Quiz – Liam Neeson Movies

Movie Review – Miss Bala – Surprisingly Pleasant and Fun

Movie Review - Miss BalaI was pleasantly surprised by Miss Bala. It kept me interested and wondering what was going to happen.

There were also some tense moments that had me on the edge of my seat. I didn’t see that coming. I was really dreading this movie, but had to eat my words when I walked out saying I really liked it.

I don’t think Miss Bala will win any awards, but it was a fun escape from reality for about two hours. I’ve never seen or heard of anyone that was in the cast, but they all did a really good job. There’s some definite eye candy to watch the whole time too.

If you want to have a fun date night movie, I think this flick will fit the bill.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: I submitted 2 Peetimes for you to use. Either one will work quite well. They are nicely spaced out and both were very easy to sum up.

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

Rated (PG-13) for sequences of gun violence, sexual and drug content, thematic material, and language
Genres: Action, Drama, Thriller