Spoiler-iffic Review of Terminator – Dark Fate

Please don’t read this review if you haven’t seen Terminator: Dark Fate yet. You’ve now been warned.

So, I did a story where I neatly ranked every Terminator film from 1984 through 2015, and they slot themselves perfectly by year. As in the first being the best, T2 coming close on its heels…and then each one a little (or a lot) less good than the one before.

Now I have a big decision to make. Where does T6: Dark Fate (“no dark fate but what we make”) fit in? And what about that short-lived but underappreciated two season TV show, The Sarah Connor Chronicles? Now I have to rethink the whole thing. Way to mess up my ranking order, Hollywood.

Talking Dark Fate

Man, the fans loved it. Whoo-ee! Me, I like some things they did and am pissed off about the rest.

LIKED: Grace the augmented human was wonderful. She stole the movie and our hearts. Too bad this was a re-tread of the plot in Terminator: Salvation. I’ll return to this thought.

ALSO LIKED: Carl the Drapery Terminator. What does an out of work T-800 do? T2 established they can’t self-terminate. So once he fulfills his mission, the cyborg creates a family and a business, and sends encrypted messages to former nemesis Sarah. Why does he bother? He must have felt bad about things and joined the human race. Like Spike in the Buffy series, he grew his own conscience. I’m fine with this — actually, more than fine….really happy, actually. I never expected this plot pivot and find it super charming.

Arnold nailed it. The writers did good. This is a very neat turn of events, and we at RunPee would gladly watch a prequel TV show about T-Carl’s Drapery Business. Who wouldn’t?

Terminator Dark Fate - Carl
#ThereAreNoDrapesButWhatWeMake

Where Dark Fate Failed

So, yes, Mackenzie Davis as Grace was the main reason this film is so good. But having JUST watched the entire series for my ranking post, I’m annoyed that Grace, the augmented human-Terminator hybrid, is a retread of the Sam Worthington plot in T4: Salvation. T4 actually picks up quite well where T3: Rise of the Machines leaves off, with a pregnant Kate and the other remnants of humanity eeking out a post-Judgement Day life. I’m not sure why we had to have another go at an “augmented human” plot.

All I can think is Linda Hamilton wanted to return before her T-3 cannon “death” and the producers felt a soft reboot was the way to go…and — bonus — liked the idea they ran with in Salvation. So, a soft sort of re-telling had to happen to bring back Sarah. (And if you saw Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, you’d see another way to side-step this pesky issue, using time travel to just skip right over the…um…cancer.)

But, as I mentioned above, we are dealing with TIME TRAVEL in this franchise. There could have been many ways to bring Sarah back without ditching the storylines in T3 and 4. (Forget 5. That was entirely unnecessary). We could have also added Grace without ditching the 1-4 film cannon.

Although…I’m not certain at this point what’s considered cannon in this franchise anymore, or if we are to accept three or more timelines.

(REALLY,  STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN  TERMINATOR: DARK FATE.)

Hasta La Vista, John Connor?

So, there’s my main beef. John Connor. Remember him? Well, forget about everything that mattered since 1991, because he’s unceremoniously offed in the first few minutes of Dark Fate.

That’s right. John’s gone. Out of nowhere, on a lovely beach. Poof.

What was the point of making me care about everything that came before? (Yes — I’m angry.)

I guess it’s better than where they took John Connor in 2015s  T: Genisys, which insulted everything ever done before and pissed all over the fanbase…seriously, who though that was a fine idea? Does anyone even remember what happened in Genisys, even just a scant few years ago? Do you?

More Pissy Thoughts

Lastly, I was rather bored by the new, spiffy Terminator in this outing, which was a real shame, in spite of Gabriel Luna’s earnest attempts to make it work. He just wasn’t as amusing as Robert Patrick’s T-1000. The Rev-9 was…made of tar? And had a skeletal drone? Was that really the best the writers could come up with over the last decade of thinking about this?

This just should have been better and more up to date, like something using nanotechnology. Or a pure internet-based intelligence that hunts and kills using our world-spanning interconnected cyber systems, tracking you like the “God’s Eye” in the Fast & Furious franchise. (If the F&F movies could come up with something more exciting, you know there’s trouble.)

Think about it. The liquid metal special effects looked better in 1991 than the the tar special effects in 2019.

Moving on.

Dark Fate: Girl Power Version

So, some gal in Mexico steps up as the new savior. Okay. Fine already. She’s not a womb; she’s the real deal. At least the real deal-to-be.

Except Dani’s kind of boring. I can’t remember a single significant moment she had. Do you?

sarah-connor-young-linda-hamilton
Come with her if you want to live.

Sarah Connor…is back

And the long awaited return of Sarah? Of Linda Hamilton reprising the iconic role?

Well, for one thing, she needs to lay off the cigarettes, since her vocal cords are shot. And she’s really, REALLY bitter. Not that I wouldn’t be too, after running away from several Terminators, losing her lover, losing her son, getting locked down in a facility for the criminally insane, and being wanted —  apparently — in all 50 states.

Hamilton does a great job in the role, fitting easily back into her Sarah Connor persona, but it kind of hurt to see how awful life treated her character, and how little she had left to live for. She is brittle, and so, so damaged. It’s got to suck when an ex-Terminator who killed your son has a nice home, a good job and loving family, and you’re alone and on the run…with nothing but hardship and a lifetime of regrets. While the Terminator franchise depicts an apocalyptic near-future and isn’t intended to be a happy story, it’s just not fun to see characters you care about living in such pain for so long. No wonder Sarah drinks herself to sleep every night.

At least she was up to date enough on her film history to realize the first “death” of the Rev-9 was bogus. That made me smile. Linda Hamilton wasn’t married to James Cameron for nothing.

I’m going to go back to the John thing. I understand it’s cool to see a woman herself being the hope of humanity vs a just another Mother Mary, but there really was no need to off poor John. It actually makes me angry that I cared about the series at all. It retroactively makes the first two wonderful Terminator movies pointless.

So, I had to see Dark Fate again

I saw Dark Fate twice to see if I’m just being too picky about all this. Well…the answer is no. I’m not. Right now I feel betrayed, like I did with Aliens 3, when they unceremoniously killed off Newt and Hicks. That STILL bothers me, and I can’t really appreciate this new Terminator entry until I come to terms with what they’ve done.

I’ll say this: Dark Fate is probably the third best Terminator film, but not as good as the Terminator TV series. Damning with faint praise?

It seems like it, but honestly, in spite of my annoyance, Dark Fate really is a good movie. I’d say it’s the 3rd best effort, and the TV show is the 4th.

dark-fate-grace
Human or not, she kicked some serious machine butt.

Judgement Day: Now What?

One final thing. It does seem the Terminator franchise posits that we’re going to have an AI apocalypse, in any possible timeline, no matter how we try to prevent it. Skynet, Cyberdyne, Legion, Google, whatever. As Thanos would say: Judgement Day is… inevitable.

Chew on that.

Movie Grade: B+

Ranking the Terminator Movies

Official Movie Review – Terminator: Dark Fate

Movie Review – The Terminator

Terminator TV Series: The Carlenator

In Defense of Terminator 3

 

 

A Buffy Revival – Vampires Spike and Angel Could Absolutely Do a Movie

buffy-vampire-slayer-title
You can’t keep a good slayer down.

Note the following: David Boreanaz says he’s done playing Angel. Joss Whedon (creator, writer, editor, director, minor deity) has also said he’d make a Buffy movie if the heavens willed it so.

We think David would return with the right offer. With Bones finished, isn’t he free now? And I don’t think James Marsters (Spike) or Sarah Michelle Geller (Buffy) would require too much arm twisting, even though Marsters said he’d aged out of the role of a young-looking immortal. To which I, a fanatic disciple of Whedon, say ” pish-posh.”

A Buffy Movie? Why the Hell (Mouth) Not?

It’s a known quantity: once you’re killed off in a Whedon production, it only means your character will return with a vengeance (or at least a reprise).

So, if Angel and Spike look 14 years older, a creative team of writers could not only make it work, but turn a bug into a benefit.

While Buffy loved both vampires, the best chemistry onscreen was arguably between Spike and Angel. Season Five of Angel just beat the pants off its parent show. I hate to admit that, since I adore Buffy, in every season. (Except that one year, with Riley…)

We Don’t Even Need to De-Age Those Pesky Vampires with a Soul

On the surface, it seems too bad that any kind of revival would have to explain the vampire aging thing or do a (please NO!) recast. But we know Whedon could spin the aging any which way,  and even turn it into a plot point. Kinda like plotting around Terminator flesh aging in the Salvation film. Or was that in Genisys? (Not to mention Dark Fate.) #OldButNotObsolete

Maybe vampires will have some kind of undead plague spreading around and Buffy will have to save her Champions, even though the rest of humanity would be happy to see all vampires eliminated forever.

Perfect moral ambiguity! The Scoobies/Team Angel (what’s left of them) could be sharply divided on this matter; they could get Giles out of his tweedy retirement…and oh, don’t forget that we have a metric ton of Slayers now, ready to stake the undead. I bet there aren’t many demons and vampires left to fight anymore.

Who knows what Willow and her fellow witches are even up to these days? They could try to be neutral, like Switzerland, with torn loyalties. The newly risen First Order Watcher’s Council could be bogged down, once again, in bureaucracy…with Master Watcher Andrew leaving with a few followers, in collaboration with a new breed of re-souled vampires committed to fighting the forces of darkness.

And the Main Plot of a New Buffy Show?

It could be set up that only Buffy and Faith (with Andrew, Dawn, and Illyria) want to save Angel, Spike, and the other re-souled undead, while every other Slayer on the planet is against helping vampires, even ones who saved the world. (Several times. What is the plural of Apocalypse?)

So Buffy and gang would have to both find a cure, and hide from/fight hundreds of cheesed off Slayers…all while asking themselves what the right thing to do is. There could be betrayals, unexpected allies (like Wolfram and Hart — such uneasy bedfellows), clever patented Buffy misdirection…adding a siege mentality at the end, and…of course…. sacrifice.

Because there is no Joss Whedon production without tear-jerking sacrifice to balance his trademark humor and sparkling dialog.

That could be a hell of a movie.

 

 

Movie Review – Motherless Brooklyn

 

Movie Review - Motherless BrooklynIt seems clear a lot of critics like this movie. I’ll go along with this to an extent — it’s clearly a labor of love for Edward Norton, who not only managed every aspect of the film and starred in it, but did some excellent research on the mental illness of Tourette’s Syndrome.

One of my early jobs involved working with the mentally ill, including those with Tourette’s, and Norton hit all the right notes. His character was whip-smart in spite of his disability. Lionel was aware of his affliction and apologized for his inappropriate outbursts. That his crew called him “Freakshow” was just a sign of the times in the 1950s, where it was acceptable to be casually cruel. It also served to underline the love between Frank (Bruce Willis’s character) and Lionel. Frank called the orphan under his wing “Brooklyn” — a much more affectionate term.

The Good Stuff

The historical period setting looked great too, although I’m not a fan of washed out bland palettes blended with noir. This was by no means a pretty film — and not intended to be — but two and a half hours of gritty, dreary grayness grated on my nerves.

What else can I add? Motherless Brooklyn was well-acted by everyone (although Alec Baldwin leaned a bit heavy on his SNL Trump act), well-written, and about a topic that absolutely bears both scrutiny and a relevance for our time.

It sounds like a great film, right?

Except. Except, yes, I was bored silly. I’m starting to find drama films less appealing than horror, and for me that’s saying a lot. I have a degree in Conservation Biology and am a staunch Humanist, so I feel deeply about the routine abuse of our peoples and planet by those in power. But I don’t want to wallow in a movie about it. I want my entertainment choices to lift me up, not drown me in despair.

If you want to feel sad about humanity’s mistreatment of marginalized people, this film will be right up your alley.

A fun time at the theater, it most certainly is not.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: I’ve got 3 Peetimes pretty well spaced out. The 1st and 2nd are really good, and the 3rd is your last chance to go before the final hour.

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

Rated (R) for language throughout including some sexual references, brief drug use, and violence
Genres: Crime, Drama, Noir

Ranking the Terminator Movies

sarah-connor-young-linda-hamilton
No fate but what we make. (Man, does Linda Hamilton look young!)

Well, cool, I just rewatched the entire run of Terminator movies and realized it will be easier to rank them in order of greatness than I thought. For each movie (I’ll get to the TV show later), the best to worst go in order of first to last created. That made it easy!  How often does that happen? Here we go, and YES THERE ARE TERMINATOR SPOILERS through Genisys, but not through Dark Fate:

The Terminator Movies, ranked from best movie to worst:

    1. The Original movie (1984) — I realize that T2: Judgment Day is most people’s favorite Terminator outing, but for me it lacks the excitement and character building — and pure 80s fun — of the classic first time. Here’s my enthusiastic rewatch review of the classic film where Arnold first promised he’d “be back.”
    2. T2: Judgment Day (1991) — Although I wasn’t fond of the young John Connor portrayal, this was the movie that made me ugly cry when Sarah was about to shoot Miles Dyson, before backing off when realizing he was a good man. I was glad she couldn’t do it. When Dyson sacrificed himself, I kept on crying. There’s a lot of humor in T2 (some of it a bit silly), and it’s a very exciting sequel. There’s still just nothing like the first thrill ride in 1984. Linda Hamilton and Arnold really sold Judgment Day, but the whole Hasta La Vista attitude and focus on a young John trying to teach an AI to be ‘cute’ was…well… a bit too cute. This wasn’t as thoughtful as the original, and the move of focus from Sarah/Kyle to a juvenile delinquent John was less gripping. I’m not sure why T2 is most people’s favorite, but feel free to tell me why I’m wrong in the comments below.
    3. T3: Rise of the Machines (2003) — I remember thinking this wasn’t as cool as the first two, but I think it was the lack of Linda Hamilton here, back in the early millennium. In my recent watch (all of them in one week, right after another), I now realize a few things: this is the best John Connor portrayal ever (TV show aside), Claire Danes was just lovely in the part, Arnold did a fine job in his three-quel, and the story ended up with an actual Judgment Day. All good stuff, as Golden Man wrote in his Defense of T3. If Hamilton had to bow out, I’m not going to complain about going after John’s best soldiers. My main problem is with the female Terminator. She was…fine. Not awesome, like Robert Patrick in T2. I’d have loved to see some of the sneaky wry moments Patrick imbued his T-1000 with. And he was a LOT scarier. Kristanna Loken as the third Terminator was frankly a bit dull. Sure, it was cool to have a female Terminator, but Summer Glau, in the Terminator TV series, showed that we could have had a lot more. Still, T3 felt like a Terminator film.
    4. T4: Salvation (2009) — I liked Salvation but it didn’t FEEL like the previous movies. There were nods to the previous films, but the tone was off. I think they should have added a half hour of character development & ensemble moments (like in Aliens, as a perfect example), added some more humor. It would have been just lovely. Another issue: it almost looked like T4 was filmed in black and white, which didn’t work for me. Everything was washed out or too dim. And a lot of great actors amassed for T4 were kind of wasted. For example: why get someone like Michael Ironside if you don’t write him some good lines? No wonder he didn’t even try to make anything of his part. I liked the film, I liked it….it just should have been a lot better. It did pick up with the character Kate from T3, which I appreciated, but most of the character writing felt lazy. One thing that does stand out now was how sad it to see a super young Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese. I didn’t realize he was in Salvation. Awwww. 🙁  Yelchin did do a nice job coming across as a young scared-but-resolute soldier who John needed to train up. I could see the producers were going for a Terminator/Aliens/Matrix look, but it really didn’t go beyond moments of homage to better material.
    5. T5: Genisys (2015)  Well, this one hits the bottom of the Terminator barrel. I didn’t hate it, or even dislike it, but I can’t say it was good. I’m not sure it fit within the timeline cannon the others all followed so nicely, Dyson dad and son revisititations aside. And where was Kate, John’s wife? Going back to another timeline to follow Han Solo’s girlfriend was fine (ha! I only understand this reference from my re-watch), and ‘Pops’ was cool and all, but what the writers did with John Connor was inexcusable. Hello, WTF? The John actor didn’t look right, didn’t act the part, and his existence as a Terminator was a kick in the gut to anyone who cared about the franchise. I didn’t enjoy this one at all, although it wasn’t a ‘bad’ movie. It just didn’t sit well and made me a little angry. What were the writers thinking, crapping on the John Connor character? This was a misfire on so many levels, even though Arnold and Co gave it a good shot. Like I said, this wasn’t a bad sci fi film, and it was an okay “alternate timeline” for Sarah Connor, but it was too moody and…well, weird. I really hope the soft reboot of Terminator: Dark Fate returns to the adventurous tone and epic storytelling we saw in T1 and T2. 

Bonus extra: The TV Show: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-09) —

The TV show used an alternate timeline, with yet other Sarah and John actors, but was so damn great that it was a joy to watch as a serialized story on TV. Summer Glau made a wonderful Terminator. I wasn’t thrilled with Lena Headley’s Sarah, but everyone else knocked my socks off, and I was very excited to see how the narrative would progress.

Unfortunately, we never got to see that. When it was cancelled, I was sad. Not as sad, mind you, as when Firefly (another Summer Glau show) was cast aside before its time, but still a bit adrift. I wish I’d known where the John Henry/Cromartie story was headed…and what the final trip to the future was about, and where the loyalties of Shirley Manson’s Terminator were leading us…but we’ll never know.

So how to rank the TV show?

Honestly, it had so much potential. I’d rank it after T2, personally, although it really only got exciting in the second season and left us hanging for the third. I’d watch it again, absolutely. At least this time I’d be prepared for the looming permanent hiatus status, and could appreciate what we did get.

Terminator: Dark Fate Well, howdy ho; I’m excited. I’ll be seeing this one shortly, and understand the story picks up right after T2, creating cannon waste to everything that came after 1991. I’m okay with this, since Sarah, in the timeline from T3 and on, is dead.

And now what?

I won’t hide that I dislike reboots in general (Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica aside), but if Linda Hamilton and Arnold himself are co-signing this new edition, I’m totally on-board. Where it will fit in the overall rankings remains to be seen. Soon, soon…

A bit older, a lot wiser.

What is your ranking of the Terminator franchise?

Movie Review – Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Movie Review - Maleficent: Mistress of EvilThere really isn’t a lot to say about this Maleficent sequel. It’s gorgeous to look at. If you like fantasy movies, you’ll have a great time.

Angelina Jolie brings back that good/evil vibe she did so well in the original. She also doesn’t look a day older from way back when, so I assume there was some CGI de-aging and very smooth fairy-tale make-up going on. Good on her. And good on everyone involved. The story isn’t gripping or even worth discussing, but it’s still just a lovely film.

What was better about this movie than the first is that it’s a brand new story. The classic tale had to conform somewhat to the Disney Briar Rose/Aurora/Sleeping Beauty concept. More or less. From the ‘evil queen’ point of view, except totally not. Evil is relative.

Maleficent 2 got to be a fresh new movie with a totally different concept. It didn’t let anyone down. The audience laughed, gasped, and even applauded at the end. I had a great time, and it was clear everyone left with a smile on their face and a spring in their steps. It’s nice to see a sequel surpass the original.

If you like fantasy movies, see this in the theater on a good screen, and reserve a good seat location for your ticket money. It’s that pretty. There aren’t a lot of good fantasy films out there, not compared to the current plethora of action, thriller, or sci fi flicks. This one’s worth it (again, if you like high fantasy and tales of magic).

To be totally honest, you’ll be completely lost if you haven’t seen the original, since almost no time is spent on exposition.

Go see the original again, and then this, and if you liked the first, you’ll love the second.

Grade: A-

About The Peetimes: Here are 3 good Peetimes — I recommend the final one before the climax, but any will do. This is such a pretty movie, and I didn’t want to make Peetimes over the big fantasy scenes, so these are more like transitional sections with exposition I’ve summed up in the synopses.

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

Rated (PG) for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and brief scary images
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Sequel

Movie Review – Gemini Man

 

Movie Review - Gemini ManNothing amazing, nothing awful. This is a stylish little film where every actor gives it their all and makes a nice 2 hour action excursion.

Here’s a Pro-Tip for audiences: wait for this to come out on streaming. While old and young Will Smith both look great ( I suspect they aged up one version and de-aged the other — meeting somewhere in the middle), they both look like super fit, handsome men. And both have his trademark humor.

Benedict Wong is a wonderful addition, proving he can be more than just a sidekick MCU wizard. More Wong, please, in better films? K, thx.

What else to say about Gemini Man?

The good guys and bad guys are all somewhat sympathetic. What price should freedom cost in our nation/world? This is for better minds than mine to decipher…although I lean on the side of the Hippocratic Oath: DO NO HARM.

I’m sure politicians would find me hopelessly naive. Even Sci Fi shows like Men in Black find it better to keep humanity in the dark in dark times.

Gemini Man, Overall:

So: there are MANY exciting films coming down the pike for the upcoming holiday Blockbuster season. Save your dough. The FX here are middlin’, and the story is fine…but not great. A good film to catch at home.

PERSONAL PLEA: Will!!! Smith!!! Please return to the Suicide Squad 2 fold. You can’t go wrong with Director James Gunn. Robbie and you were the only reasons the origin story even worked. Gemini has no franchise future. Go have fun being a super-person instead!

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: In a movie with this much action and surprises, it was hard to find good Peetimes, so use these and be quick. Here are 4 decent Peetimes with no crucial action and just a bit of exposition. The 2nd Peetime is much longer/better than the others, if that helps you decide which is best to use. This is not a long movie, but a lot happens.

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

Rated (PG-13) for violence and action throughout, and brief strong language
Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

Rules to Survive in ZombieLand

zombieland poster 1991
Cardio, don’t be a hero…and CLOWNS? I have to agree with Columbus and Clowns. Sorry. Give me Zombies ANYDAY.

Here are the rules presented on the big screen in 2009’s Zombieland, one of the two greatest Rom-Com-Zom movies ever made.

(Just so you don’t have to guess, the other is Shaun of the Dead.)

With Zombieland 2: Double Tap coming out, RunPee thought a refresher on zombie survival rules was in order. Can you remember more than the first three?

There are 11 officially listed rules, but we don’t know them all from the first movie — ie, “Check the backseat” is listed onscreen as Rule 31. So this list is incomplete, based on Zombieland 1. Stay tuned, hopefully, for more to come in the sequel!

Here’s we what we learned from the first Zombieland film.

All The Rules to Surviving in Zombieland

1. Cardio

Columbus lists this as Rule Number One. Like escaping a bear, you just have to be faster than the other guys. Bonus points if you’re faster than the zombie. Remember, some are slow shuffling undead, and some are superhuman fast, but they are both still zombies. And hungry for you. Stay in shape.

(Also, like Columbus, you might need to circle your car enough times to find your keys. Nobody ever said zombies were smart. Just keep running.)

2. Double Tap
Columbus says, “When in doubt, don’t get stingy with your bullets.” You’ve got unlimited access to sporting and gun shop supplies. Use them. Why trust one head shot when you can have two, or more? Unload the whole damn cartridge if you’re annoyed enough.

And don’t prod the body with your foot to be sure the undead are dead. Don’t be like stupid people in movies. Use your Cardio and get the hell out.

BTW, Double Tap is the name of the Zombieland sequel. So we can’t underline the importance of this rule and neither should you.

3. Beware of Bathrooms
You are at your most vulnerable while sitting on the toilet, so always take extra care.

I learned this early on while watching X-Files…nothing good ever happens in bathrooms, while you’re setting up for a nice bath, or waiting for your bowels to move. This kind of thing has been spoofed in many films, but the song remains the same — just because you have your pants down doesn’t mean you’re safe.

What to do?

Zombies seem to sneak up on people who are at their most vulnerable, although zombies really just attack with no special circumstances. However, this does not change the fact that toilets are places you want to be careful around. The best way to stay safe is to check each bathroom before you enter, in every cubicle. Also remember: just because it’s not humanly acceptable to crawl under cubical doors, it doesn’t mean the zombies won’t do it.

4. Buckle Up (Canon: this is Rule 31, in-universe)
It doesn’t do to be hyper alert for zombies and clueless to the normal safely hazards of life. Seat belts save lives, even especially when the danger level is dialed up to 11.

Columbus’ life is preserved from this rule right in the movie. Tallahassee, though, can’t get any shits about mundane things like seat belts. Good thing Woody Harrelson is a big box office draw. That should keep him safe through the sequel, or even three-quel.

5. Travel Light

This includes both physical possessions and attachments to people. You never know when you’re going to have to kill your mum (see: Shaun of the Dead).

Zombies can surprise you at any moment, and you’ll need to make a fast get away, more often that you’d think — even from the slow undead. As well as using your well-honed Cardio to outrun the zombie(s), you’ll also need to be light on your feet. That means reducing the weight of objects you’re carrying with you. So instead of a bulky suitcase full of personal mementos, you’d be safer with a smaller amount of luggage, such as a backpack that’s easy to carry and won’t slow you down. Maybe bury your stuff somewhere for later retrieval when things blow over. If, of course, that ever happens.

Your heaviest luggage in Zombieland should be guns, ammo, blunt smashing tools, water, food, and medical supplies. Remember, in an empty world you can get these things almost anywhere.

And, yes, if you can find them, Twinkies last forever.

6. Don’t Be A Hero
Don’t stick your juicy blood-filled neck out for others if you wish to stay alive.

In Zombieland, the big risk is you might get eaten alive by zombies if you’re not always alert.

However, remember there are certain circumstances where this rule could, maybe, be ignored. Perhaps you want to save someone who makes staying alive worth it (because you love them), or you wish to ensure you have a partner to back you up when sleeping/smashing tourist items in tacky gift shops (see Rule 9 — The Buddy System).

7. Limber Up (In-Universe, Limber Up is Rule 18)

Don’t take too much time distracting yourself with the yoga before an actual attack, but in your down time, stretch and limber your body. You never know when you’ll need flexibility to get out of a rough situation. This goes along with the Cardio rule. Fitness is your best offensive weapon.

8. When In Doubt, Always Know Your Way Out
If you’ve seen any action films, you’ll know the importance of knowing backdoors, trapdoors, or even warehouse windows, anything offering an extra escape when you’re surrounded by hordes of hungry undead.

What does this mean? Look around and scope out the place. Prop open spare doors. Know your exits. Don’t go inside if  you don’t know at least a couple of ways out. Even Shaun got trapped in the Winchester Pub in Shaun of the Dead, even though he’d been there hundreds of times. Don’t let this be you. Indoors, outdoors…nowhere is safe. Your brain is your best defensive weapon (and apparently a tasty zombie treat). Know the way out.

9. The Buddy System

Are you alone? You might not last long. Sometimes you have to sleep, or cook, or poop (see Bathroom Rule), or maybe even have sexy times. Someone has to keep a look-out for you, and you for them.

It’s not altruism. It’s just smart. Humans are social creatures. Zombies are not.

10. Check The Back Seat

Ever see ANY movie, ever? The supposed hero gets into their car and…low and behold…in the backseat someone rises up to throttle them. Ugh.

This is just common sense. Check your seats. Always. Duh.

11. Enjoy The Little Things

Life in Zombieland is awful. Really. Almost nobody is left alive, and even your loved ones might now be brain sucking monsters. If eating Twinkies, breaking Indian pottery, or riding roller coasters are all you have left to enjoy, make those things happen.

In fact, life in Real-land can be tough. It only makes sense to enjoy the little things, no matter what. What things make you happy, even for a moment? Do them. This is a lesson Zombieland can teach us all.

Zombieland 2: Double Tap will be live soon. Let’s assume there will be more rules coming down the pike. I look forward to more dystopian life lessons. Got any guesses about survival tactics in a world gone nuts? Comment section is down below. 

Movie review : ZombieLand

Best Zombie Movies Ever

19 Entry-Level Horror Movies for the Squeamish

 

Movie Review – Joker

 

Movie Review - JokerI have a feeling a lot of people will really like this Joker movie. Personally, I don’t understand how this film can even come close to the MCU and their best films. It’s not funny at all, like EVER, and doesn’t involve any of the Justice League members. I have to admit that we’ve had a lot of Jokers over the years that don’t give us much fun. I don’t even think I like any of the Jokers we’ve seen, except maybe Mark Hamill as the Joker in the animated Batman TV series.

Sometimes going back to the well works. I mean, look at Tom Holland against all the Spider-Men we’ve had in the last decade. We finally got a great one! Holland’s beloved, with good reason, after the other Spideys that had both great and awful qualities in the end. Which is a whole other conversation.

Another comparison: by Thor: Ragarok, Marvel finally figured how to handle The Mighty Thor (with great comedic timing). Right? This improved the entire MCU and gave Chris Hemsworth a new lease on super life.

So, what is the deal with the DC comics not being able to make consistently enjoyable films? The studio is all over the place, and fans aren’t sure what to expect. How does a delightful outing like Shazam fit in with the gritty Batman trilogy? And do all these Jokers fit within one continuity? I think we have to accept they don’t.

I’m looking forward to seeing James Gunn’s work on Suicide Squad 2 and hopefully, he’ll make it as amusing as Guardians of the Galaxy. But don’t expect Joker to be amusing at all. This film feels more like Logan , the X-Men standalone, (to which we gave an A+) than anything else. Or at least maybe that’s what this film tried to be. Joker is depressing, and deep, but filmed well, with a lot of care to the details.

Do you want a superhero/super-villains film? If you’re a huge Joker fan, I don’t think this is your film.  It just has nothing “super” in it. Really. It’s a dramatic movie, very traumatic, and more than a bit weird.

I initially gave Joker a C+, but today I upgraded it to a B-, for being a good drama that spins an unusual take on the iconic Joker role.

K, thx. Can we stop rebooting Jokers for a while now?

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: There is a lot of plot and character development here, making it hard to get Peetimes as the events unfold. I recommend the 2nd Peetime for a nice long break. Try to use it proactively in this 2 hour movie.

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

Rated (R) for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images
Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller, DC

Guardians of the Galaxy Ex-Director James Gunn to Direct Suicide Squad 2

Best Superhero Movies That Were Never Made

First View Movie Review – The Princess and the Frog

 

Movie Review - The Princess and the FrogThe Princess and the Frog is a suitably good and modern take on the “Princess” theme, with a jazzy little soundtrack and some true comedic moments. But is it moving? Inspiring? Maybe. Tiana, the Princess in question, is a good role model, with a solid work ethic.

Which makes me think…Tiana has a job. She works. Do any of the other Disney Princesses work at all, ever? Even the ones that aren’t royalty to start with seem to do…nothing. Belle, for example, apparently reads all day, to the amazement of the drooling illiterates around her. Cinderella worked hard, basically as a slave, but I wouldn’t call what she did a job.

Aladdin at least has a profession: petty thief. Most Princes only seemed to ride around the country, looking for sleeping Princesses to kiss. But, you know, this review should be about Tiana. 🙂

Tiana wants to own a jazz club in New Orleans, which is a nice achievable goal. She works at least two jobs to get to her dream, and her parents aren’t abusive, so it’s not like there’s an evil stepmother in the picture, for once.

Which leads to the villain: the Voodoo guy. He has no motivation in the plot except to be evil for evil’s sake, and he really drags the film down. His stuff is so boring I can’t be bothered to look up his name. I know it’s hard to make a good villain, but when Disney hits it out of the park (as with Ursula or Scar) magic happens. We start to care about the story.

In The Princess and the Frog, I only cared about the actual ‘frog’ sections, which are definitely delightful. The swamp scenes with the firefly and alligator are super fun, and emphasize the solid narrative message that looks can be deceiving. Prince Naveen is even quite ‘charming’ in his selfishness, and he has a nice arc with Tiana, who brooks no foolishness. Good for her.

But there’s the redneck scene, which is a kind of throwback to the stereotypical storytelling I’d expect from Old Disney, dragging the movie down. Ugh. (And that’s why their sequence makes a great Peetime, having nothing to do with the plot and offering very awkward humor.)

So…I’d call this a middling Princess film. I was pleasantly surprised how Disney incorporated a lower class American heroine that wasn’t in love with a man because he was attractive and royal. And I liked how Naveen was sort of a brat, who grew to love Tiana for her personality, not for her beauty.

Altogether, The Princess and the Frog is a nice movie that showcases a young woman of color in a way that never feels racist: her story is not about skin at all, unless you count the green froggy kind.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: If you can hold off for the Recommended 2nd Peetime at 51 minutes, you won’t miss any songs, and the scene in question is really quite dumb. We also provided an early Peetime at 40 minutes in case you really need it (it includes a minor song).

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

Rated (G) none
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

New Disney Princess Celebrates Racial Diversity

Movie Review – Ad Astra

 

Movie Review - Ad AstraThis is a very intense and thought provoking movie. I can’t write the review today, but I’ll give it a B grade for now. I saw in in IMAX, which I recommend for the best “space” experience, and for the constant extreme closeups on Brad Pitt’s face.

Suffice to say for now the film (which means To The Stars in Latin) is extremely low key and existential. And is sort of about God without being anything about God at all.

Much to add later. I’m sure future classes about philosophy will eat this movie for lunch and dinner.

D-Box Experience
You really feel the experience of the rocket ship at take off and some feeling of what it is like when they are weightless in space. For this movie, I would give the D-Box experience a 5 out of 10.  (Special thanks to Troy Borysko for the input.)

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: Although the movie is 2 hours, it was easy to find Peetimes. It’s a slow, contemplative film, with a lot of ‘scenery’ scenes, and closeups of Brad Pitt talking to himself. I recommend the 3rd Peetime at the halfway point — it’s a nice long break with nothing going on. A lot of people (like a dozen!) got up just before the climax and missed the best part of the film. So go proactively at the one-hour mark.

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

Rated (PG-13) for some violence and bloody images, and for brief strong language
Genres: Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi