Movie Review – Hustlers

Movie Review - HustlersI’m giving this movie an A for sure. I loved it. Watching these women do their thing was so much fun that I forgot I was working. All of the sudden a little thought popped into my head like, “Hey, aren’t you supposed to be watching for Peetimes?”

So yeah, what they were doing was wrong and illegal, but who am I to judge? I lead a very boring and mundane life on the right side of the law. These women were doing exactly what the little devil on my shoulder whispers in my ear. I of course don’t listen to him, but during Hustlers, I was able to live vicariously through these devilishly, devious women. It was a good time!

Let’s talk about J Lo really quick. Wow! She’s got a body on her that I am so envious of. She could work that pole like a pro. Nicely done, lady.

Everyone has been talking about Cardi B branching out into movies. Well, I gotta say for her first gig, she did great. She doesn’t have a very big part but her character was larger than life. I can see her building a reputation on the silver screen.

Hustlers will make the top of my list for chick flicks. Grab your girlfriends and make a night out of it. A great time will be had by all. Thinking about it, you could bring your boyfriends too; I’m sure they’d see a thing or two that would please them. Wink wink.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: Hustlers moves pretty quickly, luckily there are a lot of music montage scenes to choose Peetimes from. These 2 should work pretty well for you.

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

Rated (R) for pervasive sexual material, drug content, language and nudity
Genres: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Movie Review – The Matrix

 

Movie Review - The MatrixAfter reading RunPee Dan’s amazing retrospective on “The Matrix After 20 Years“, I’m a little intimidated to try and pen my own review. He’s RunPee’s resident Matrix EXPERT. And I don’t say that lightly. Uber. Fan.

I especially get nervous trying to do justice to classic A+ level films. But I do have a few things to say, and here we go…

I’m packing for a move and might add more later. Suffice to say: this movie was a total mind-f#ck when it came out in 1999…and still is. The only really dated aspects are the corded phones and noisy modem (if you’re old enough, you KNOW this sound and it’s still as jarring as it was back then).

If you’re seeing The Matrix for the first time, remember this was the first film to attempt anything like this. At all. It’s a game changer that subsequent dystopian sci-fi films emulated to varying degrees over the years. “Inception“, for one, got it right. And then quite a few missed the boat more or less, like “Looper” which is a decent movie itself, but doesn’t come close to The Matrix.

(Funnily enough, both Inception and Looper featured one of the the same actors).

Why The Matrix is Still so Good

The difference is STYLE. And terrific direction, color palette, intelligent writing, and actors who couldn’t be better suited — both in the casting department, with each actor going balls to the wall in to the new world they had to sell.

Keanu even gets to say “Whoa,” and it doesn’t seem like fan pandering. It IS a WHOA moment.

the-matrix-bullet-time-keanu-reeves
Bring it.

Not to mention The Matrix sports a fabulous soundtrack, and effects that hold up extremely well. I just rewatched this yesterday to get Peetimes, since The Matrix is enjoying a theater revival. It’s still spectacular in look, feel, and story.

(Little realized fact: Most of the effects were done realistically with real actors in wires, and the 360 degree use of physical cameras to create the “Bullet Time” effect we take for granted now. I’m a huge fan of truly realistic physical effects in a modern age of CGI Everything.)

the-matrix-trinit-carry-anne-moss
Practical effects shot on wires. Trinity can still kick your butt.

This is how to make a movie. I can only hope the Watchoskis are up to the 2020 fourquel after all this time. Some crucial threads are left unresolved, so I’m fine with bringing the original cast back, dead or alive. (In Sci-Fi, death is relative.)

Deeper than The Usual Sci-Fi Flick

I’m not even going to handle the intense philosophies presented in the Matrix Trilogy — Philosophy professors wrote many books and teach actual courses just on this.

Enough for now. This will get you started. Also, if you hurry, this will be your only time to catch The Matrix on the big screen after two decades, so go get on it. Our three good Peetimes on the RunPee app will help you remember what scenes NOT to miss.

Free. Your. Mind.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: We just noticed The Matrix was released on a limited basis, so we added Peetimes now. Keep in mind this is a seriously intense mind-bending movie that you have to pay close attention to. All 3 Peetimes are really good. The last time to go is at 1 hour into the 2 hour film, so make sure to empty your bladder proactively, especially if this is your 1st time watching the film. (Or if it’s been a while.) #TheMatrixHasYou

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

Rated (R) for sci-fi violence and brief language
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi, Dystopia

The Matrix After 20 Years – A Retrospective: A Different Kind of Hero, a New Kind of Science Fiction

Analysis of Inception

Movie Review – Looper

 

Movie Review – The Peanut Butter Falcon

Movie Review - The Peanut Butter FalconAbsolutely: a fantastic movie. I am so happy to unreservedly award an A+ to Peanut Butter Falcon. I smiled the whole time. THIS is how to make a funny, heartwarming film that never overtly panders to maudlin sentimentality.

The laughs are earned, and aren’t always PG. I haven’t enjoyed a dramatic film the way I did here in…years. And you won’t need your tissue box. Thank Thor. It’s just a grand old time.

Coincidentally, I watched Forrest Gump last night for the first time in several decades. I loved it all over again. But Gump (himself), in spite of having many coincidentally fortunate pop culture influences, also experiences gut wrenching loss as the decades play out. Forrest Gump (the movie) is both great…and difficult to rewatch.

The Peanut Butter Falcon spares you this kind of emotional manipulation. PBF is funny, it’s fun, and it’s very, very smart — and makes you wish for friendships like theirs. No matter how intelligent you are or aren’t, you can be genuine and lovable and real. You can be best buddies and have your own secret handshake, and make an ersatz family out of what life gives you.

Just see this movie

Like Tyler tells Zak — who thinks he’s a villain because his family abandoned him for being a ‘retard’ — it’s what’s in your heart that counts. In return, when Zak tells Tyler he’s a good guy, your own heart will grow three sizes that day.

There’s some beautiful lessons to be learned from Peanut Butter Falcon, and I highly recommend everyone — really, everyone — watch and enjoy this fine film. The audience laughed almost continually (as I did), and walked out very happy.

Kudos to the actors, directors, and writers for giving us a yummy late summer sandwich to gobble down in Peanut Butter Falcon.

Grade: A+

PS: Easter Egg found — There’s a Bubba’s gas station/convenience store featured in the film. Nice nod to Forrest Gump. (Also, $1.19 a gallon for gas? WHAT?)

About The Peetimes: I’ve got 3 great Peetimes here. This is a very funny and emotionally uplifting movie, so I’ve chosen Peetimes that show mostly music montages (we love it when that happens). Pay attention to the times listed, so you don’t miss the emotional moments that follow. I recommend the 1st Peetime, if you can use it proactively.

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

Rated (PG-13) for thematic content, language throughout, some violence and smoking
Genres: drama, comedy, adventure, sports

Movie Review – Blinded by the Light

Movie Review – Good Boys – Raunchy Laughs, but Big Plotholes

19 Entry-Level Horror Movies for the Squeamish

Movie Review – Angel Has Fallen

Movie Review - Angel Has FallenI did the Peetimes and reviews for the previous two movies in this series. (And by the way, you don’t need to see or remember the other movies to appreciate this one. It stands on its own pretty well.)

I checked the archives and I gave the first movie Olympus Has Fallen a B+ and the second London Has Fallen a B-. Two very respectable grades for this genre. My memory of the movies is a little vague. I remember the plots, but I only saw them once so I don’t remember the details.

This movie deserves at least a B+. I’m tempted to bump it up in the “A” range, but the villain is a little shaky.

What I liked most about this movie, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, is Nick Nolte’s performance. Let’s just say I’d give Nick an A+ and the rest of the movie a B. Nick doesn’t have a large role, but what he has he owns with some heart tearing monologs.

I have an odd comment about another part of the movie. There’s a scene with Banning driving a semi truck, pulling a trailer, over a curvy two lane road while being chased by police. (This is actually the Recommended Peetime.) What’s odd about it: during the movie I fully expected some wildly fantastic action where Banning would evade the police. That “Hollywood” action that is fantastic, but totally unrealistic. But that’s not what they did. They kept it simple and believable.

Overall, that’s what each of the movies in this series has: a mature script that feels real enough to cover up the unrealistic premise.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: I don’t know how you feel about chase scenes, but personally I would highly recommend the 2nd Peetime. It’s one very long chase scene, no dialog, and hardly any action. The tension really builds during the last Peetime. Only use it as an Emergency.

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

Rated (R) for violence and language throughout
Genres: Action

Movie Review – London Has Fallen

Movie Review – Olympus Has Fallen

Movie Review – Ready or Not

Movie Review - Ready or NotReady Or Not, here I come with my review.

This was an awesome movie. I had so much fun watching it, just like playing hide and seek when I was a kid…kind of…we didn’t have all the cool weapons and no one ever died.

I loved the originality. I’m trying to think of another movie to compare it to, but I’m at a loss. It was refreshing to see something totally unique.

The entire cast brought pizzazz to the screen. I lost count of how many lines I laughed at. The delivery and timing was spot on. That tells me not only were we working with great actors, we had great writing and direction.

Let me mention one more thing without giving out any spoilers. I saw the trailer no less than twenty times. I thought I had a pretty good grasp of what I was going to see. I was wrong. Granted, that never, ever happens (me being wrong) but when it does happen, I don’t usually like it. In this case, I was very pleased.

You’ll have fun with this one. I certainly did.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: I have 2 Peetimes for this short movie. The 2nd one is long and has some of the most cringe-worthy scenes, in case that kind of thing bothers you.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Ready or Not. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence, bloody images, language throughout, and some drug use
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Preview Movie Review – Bad CGI Sharks

bad cgi sharks
The lead shark looks better than anything in Jaws 2, actually.

RunPee was fortunate enough to secure a screener movie to review during our infamous, annual Shark Binge (which consists of just me, but I do this every year in the summer until even I get sharked out.)

Bad CGI Sharks is a strange beast (pun incidental). In spite of the “bad” name, the production values are solid, the on-location settings work, and the acting is frequently amusing. Even “Diane” — the main shark (when she’s not blitzing out in the computer lab) — looks pretty good, as she serenely swims through the air in the city. Diane’s CGI was far, far above the likes of Jaws 2, which I’m fairly sure had a bigger budget.

It’s Shark Diane’s cracked-out hench-sharks that lends the title its name. These sharks are cartoon-ish, meant as comic relief. I don’t understand their point, though, since they aren’t either funny or remotely menacing. I must have  missed something, so I passed this screener on to RunPee Sis — who’s RunPee’s resident Scream Queen — for her expert opinion.

Plot

What plot?

Okay, I’ll try again. Um. Sharks swim through the air in a city and attack people in their bedrooms. Often in their underwear. That’s all fun.

What I didn’t get is why the climax had to be on the beach. Granted, not even the main guys knew why they HAD to hit the beach, so I guess that’s just baked into the plot. Sharks have to be on beaches, right? Maybe the sharks themselves felt they needed to return to the sea in some obscure way, even though they knew they were digital.

Oh, and right. Yes, they knew they weren’t real. They were self-aware AI CGI sharks, created by the characters for the screenplay “SHARKS OUTTA WATER” the (twin?) boys were writing.

And their creations came alive.

A freaky deaky Frankenstein’s shark allegory is what we have here.

I wish it was just funnier. The trailer is GREAT, but it contains all the jokes that work. I hate when that happens. The trailer is hysterical, but better than the movie.

If you do nothing else here, watch this ingenuously funny 2 minute trailer: 

Character Development

There are the two brothers Jason and Mathew (using their actors’ own names) who are as different as can be, but get along sometimes: long enough to infrequently collaborate on their shark movie. And then get together long enough to realize their screenplay sharks ARE OUT THERE, eating people.

Still with me?

My favorite character was the computer tech, from whom Shark Diane demanded all kinds of weird upgrades. Said tech doesn’t have much to do, but when she starts corpsing (losing character) on the phone to the boys, I crack the hell up.

I mean, her character was supposed to be rattled and scared — the mean old air shark is right there in her office, ready to eat her — but it’s fine if the actress just lost it anyway, and that bit was left in in the script for fun.

It’s the best moment. Her lines are too ridiculous to not start a sort of crazed gurgling: “The digital shark has become self aware! How come the shark is aware?” <—–something like that. I giggled too. That was pretty fresh.

bad cgi sharks title sharks outta water
The Meta-film within the film is contained in this highly technical notebook.

Oh, and then there’s the ‘narrator’, played by Matteo Molinari as Bernardo. Or was he a kind of lunatic Greek Chorus? Meta-wise, he could have been the Script Editor. Whatever Bernardo was, his over the top antics were intentionally weirder than weird, and ironically made the film work better than expected.

Bernardo also gives us an entertaining Intermission segment, but don’t use that as a Peetime. It’s ludicrous, but in the good way. Me likee.

Bad CGI Sharks, Overall

I can’t decide whether Bad CGI Sharks fulfills its niche. Or what the niche really is. Is this comedy, horror, or film camp? I’m going with the latter — a straight up camp parody. And until I hear from RunPee Sis to back this up or not, I’m going to stick with “Intentionally Terrible”. On that basis, let’s say this is a proper C film, with a + tacked on for some great moments of wacky goodness.

Probably best seen stoned. Or if you appreciate amazingly awful flicks as an art form in itself.

Movie Grade: C+ 

Movie Review – 47 Meters Down: Uncaged

Movie Rewatch – Jaws – Still A Fantastic Blockbuster

First View Movie Review – Jaws 2

Movie Review – The Meg

First View Movie Review – Jaws 2

jaws 2 chief brody
He always gets his man. Or fish. Whatever: Brody is still cool.

There really isn’t much to say about Jaws 2, from which I expected a little bit more, being the only other “Jaws” film said to be worth watching. I got the chance to finally catch it last night. (RunPee is on a bit of a Shark Movie Binge.)

The original Jaws gets an A+ for brilliance, originality, fabulous chemistry,  deft writing…and serves as an early primer on how to construct a blockbuster around a solid narrative.

Jaws 2 is…not good. But it’s not complete trash, either. I’d give Jaws 2 a C+, which is a tad higher than average, but not by much. I can’t imagine how bad the sequel’s sequels are, and probably won’t bother with them. There’s so many better shark movies to watch, and I haven’t even tapped the campiness that is Sharknado yet.

I won’t belabor this. Jaws 2 had some good follow-up to Jaws, and also some glaring holes…and one big huge unforgivable sin. I’ll get to that in a moment.

What follows are spoilers for Jaws 2, even though you can probably guess how things go down. 

The Good Stuff in Jaws 2

  • The lookout tower. That’s some good continuity. It makes sense Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) would build such a structure and see it manned as a shark lookout. (I wish the stupid mayor would have framed it as a bonus for the visitors..increasing safety, etc, instead of the retread plot about tourism suffering.)
  • Chief Brody had PTSD. They never actually say it, but it’s very clear and present. As it should be with his background. Brody started Jaws 1 with a fear of the water, and seems to have processed that, at least.  But now Brody has to step up again, full of bad shark baggage, and even says to the mayor (and the mayor’s associated jerks) that HE CAN’T DO THIS AGAIN.

And he steps up anyway, still in need of a ‘bigger boat’.

That, my friends, is continuity.

More Good Stuff

  • Having the kids’ boats raft up made logical sense. That’s what would happen in real life, and I was pleased to see boaters being sensible in a dangerous situation. (I used to be a boat guide, for like, ten years. So kudos there.)
  • Cable Junction made for  a novel setting. I wanted to see a final showdown with everyone waiting for rescue on that lump of rock. I didn’t get that, but the idea using the “cable” worked for me, even though everyone in the water should have fried too.

UPDATE: I am reliably told by a scientist that the kids would not have been electrocuted, but that Brody, holding the cable, should have been at least hurt. He wrote: “As for the hypothesis that all in the water ought have died by electrocution, I disagree. The shark was the only path between high voltage (cable) and ground (water & earth), so it had to fry. Past that narrow conductor, the current spreads 3-dimensionally through water and earth, losing intensity extremely fast with distance from the origin, and flowing around high-resistance paths such as living creatures.”

  • Yup, Brody is still bad-ass. I hope he moves off the island to a flyover state without sharks. He can worry about tornadoes or earthquakes, but will be safe from insane predator fish.

Since I won’t bother watching Jaws 3 or 4 or 15, someone tell me what happens next. (Comment section is below!)

jaws-2-beach
Duh duh. Duh Duh. Dun Dun dun dun DUNDUNDUNDUN….you know how it goes.

The Stupid Stuff

  • No characterization happens. I don’t remember anyone’s names except Brody’s and maybe his kiddos. One is Michael, right? Who was the wife? The Mayor? His lackies? It’s not like we cared — they were, as Drax The Destroyer once said, ‘paper people.’
  • No direct reference at all to how Brody saved Amity Island a mere two years ago? He should be a local hero. Not dismissed as a lunatic seeing sharks on every beach, who then gets fired for doing his damn job.
  • It would have been nice to see even a throwaway line about Richard Dryfuss’s character Matt Hooper, and how useful he’d be if he wasn’t off at Greenpeace (or something – I’m easy).
  • Those teens were fungible: I didn’t care who lived or died. I liked the child and his brother (Brody’s kids) because they had actual plot development. But the rest were just…there. As bait.

This is bad script writing. See a movie like Aliens to learn how to make the audience care about everyone in very spare narrative. (For example: you know the relatively minor characters Frost, Vasquez, Bishop, Drake, Hicks, Hudson, Apone, Gorman, and Dietrich, right? Do you know even one of names of the chum teens?

  • The shark looked ridiculous in every scene, both under the water and above, like some floppy rubber…thing. For comparison, the only time Jaws looked silly in the original film was when he attacked the Orca. By Jaws 2 in 1978, the production studio seemingly had no money left for decent effects. If they couldn’t afford to do this right, why bother? I’m guessing because they got Roy Scheider to reprise his role.

(Then they went on to make more Jaws movies with apparently less budget, and spawned an entire cash-cow movie sub-genre….so what do I know?)

The Really, Really Bad Thing in Jaws 2

Okay, W. T. F. ? This shark rams boats, chews metal gunnels, maws through wood beams, and drags a HELICOPTER underwater? Is this some evil nation’s  drone shark with AI implants?

This isn’t how animals behave. Sharks don’t eat boats or upend ships to make people fall overboard. They’re highly specialized predators, but don’t have sentience. Sharks are opportunists who will grab a leg or arm to see if they like it — but they aren’t planners, strategists, or remotely relentless about their prey. If it fights back, there’s plenty of other ‘fish in the sea.’

I allowed for Jaws in the original to attack the good ship Orca, mainly because the rest of the story was so good, and I was willing to accept that this particular Great White was…atypical.

In Jaws 2, the new Great White was just bananas. It was like Die Hard: Shark Edition. Seriously, biting the helicopter pontoons was where I gave up. There’s no reason that would EVER happen: monsters and animals are not the same thing. If they wanted to go nuts like this, then the sharks should have been invading aliens from Rigel 4, or something.

At least in Deep Blue Sea there were….reasons for the deliberate, concerted pack attack.

For reference, this was posted at the bottom credits of 47 Meters Down 2: Uncaged: 10 people die from sharks each year. Ten million sharks die from humans each year.

#MikeDrop

Conclusion: If you loved Jaws (and who doesn’t?), Jaws 2 is an average tier shark follow-up to Brody’s narrative.

Movie Grade: C+

Better Shark Movies, reviewed on RunPee (Except for 47MD Uncaged, which is just dreck…): 

Movie Rewatch – Jaws – Still A Fantastic Blockbuster

The Shallows – First View Movie Review (2016)

Movie Review – The Meg

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

First-View Movie Review – 47 Meters Down (2017)

Movie Review – 47 Meters Down: Uncaged

Newie Review – The Reef – Low Budget, Decent, Non Campy Shark Movie

Movie Review – Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable

Meet the Real Megalodon

Best Non-Jaws Shark Gems

The Shallows – First View Movie Review (2016)

blake lively in the shallows shark film
Blake Lively has impressive survival skills, compared the chum-bait in most shark films.

The Shallows is much better than The Reef (or the more recent Crawl) but offers the same kind of apex predator adventure. Blake Lively (as Nancy) tells a more compelling story, however, through sheer acting talent and believable physicality.

What do you do when you you’re trapped on a rock, spitting distance to shore, with a hungry shark blocking your path to safety?

The difference:  The Reef had a small group of edible people to start with, and in The Shallows Nancy is (mostly) alone. It’s not a story of the last man standing, but whether the only character lives at all.

This is a well-told shark survival tale, but not exactly riveting, adventure-wise. There’s a lot of time spent hanging out on a rock and a buoy. It works, however.  I enjoyed this film a lot.

Survival Skills Sell the Scenes

Lively performs her few action sequences skillfully. Nancy’s smart, determined, and one hell of a fighter when it’s down to getting out alive from an oddly persistent shark. I loved the use of her necklaces — she was trained as a doctor, after all.

(Important safety tip: make sure your surfing pendant can be used as a needle to sew up your skin….or cut a compression bandage from a neoprene suit, if necessary.)

The early use of the cell phone sequences were nicely portrayed, but a bit odd in context. More films could take their cues on how to show someone interacting with their texts and face calls, but….isn’t this unnamed beach like, SUPER remote? Where is Nancy getting her cell reception from? How does she intend to call Uber 50 miles down a dirt track in the jungle? These things do bother me. (But not as much as the drunk asshole stealing her phone…)

Also, I would totally have eaten that seagull. She was three days in by the climax, and besides the dangers of dehydration, hunger would have reared its head. She did eat that crab — good, good — but then spit it up. Less good. Eat that thing, girl. You have to keep your strength up.

 The Shallows, Overall:

The Shallows is one of the better shark movies in the genre. But it’s less about action and gore than the tale of one smart gringa who saves her own self from a terrible fate…and that’s a great thing in any film. It’s not as amazing as Jaws, but it’s up there with Deep Blue Sea and 47 Meters Down. Smart people rock!

Recommended.

Movie Grade: B

Here’s a PSA: If you encounter a DEAD, HALF-EATEN WHALE floating beside you, leave the scene. Leave right away, without making a lot of splashy, shark-alerting kicks. Don’t hang around to inspect the chum. I shouldn’t even have to say this.

National Geographic has a few shark survival tips you might care to memorize if you like the ocean.  Be careful out there.  🙂

More Shark Related Films, Reviewed on RunPee.com

Newie Review – The Reef – Low Budget, Decent, Non Campy Shark Movie

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

Movie Review – Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable

Movie Rewatch – Jaws – Still A Fantastic Blockbuster

First-View Movie Review – 47 Meters Down (2017)

Movie Review – The Meg

Movie Review – Crawl

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

deep blue sea team in aquatica lab
Well, the sharks are smarter now, so we’ll be best friends, right?

I just watched 1999s Deep Blue Sea for the first time, during Shark Week 2019. DBS is sort of like Jurassic World if the Mosasaurus started hunting the lab techs. With some Samuel L Jackson on the side — although someone else got his famous line. And there’s a nod to Jaws. (Licence plate, but I’m sure you noticed this right away.)

Did I have fun watching Deep Blue Sea?

You betcha!

Is it realistic?

Um. Maybe some of it could be? But mostly, no — sharks don’t seem driven by vengeance and testosterone, even if they’ve become seven times smarter by evil tech (with the best intentions, actually). Carter’s (Thomas Jane) last minute explanation of the super-sharks’ behavior works far better. I can see how the sharks might have had that plan. Shades of Aliens there — “How could they cut the power, man?! They’re animals!” And the first Jurassic Park itself: “Because we’re being hunted.”

Also, the science is a little dodgy.

I’m getting nowhere without going into spoilers, so let me continue this part and move on.

The Aquatica Set is the Star of the Film

The undersea laboratory Aquatica is an extraordinary  base for action film-making. Deep Blue Sea makes use of the whole design, conceptually. Think about it: in the water, you move around in three dimensions, rather than the two surface dwellers usually contend with. This set design fully uses all dimensions and directions, including the logic of going down to go up.

There’s the above-sea catwalks and the sky tower, set around a Sea-World-type shark enclosure. Then there’s the undersea high-tech lab levels, complete with a pressure-sealed shark bay and the obligatory bank of monitors.

Also, there’s the fancy Five Star stainless steel kitchen. Somehow this place (with only a half-dozen staff I could see) employs a full time chef. Who is also a Preacher. (Go with it, because the kitchen scenes are worth it…and ALSO call back to a certain iconic Jurassic Park scene.)

Then the lower levels feel much like sets from submarine movies — cramped, utilitarian maintenance passageways, full of ladders, bottomless shafts, and Jeffries Tubes. 😉 The story starts above the ocean, moves midway to around 60 feet under the sea, drops you down to the ocean floor…and agonizingly crawls back to the surface. This has to be one of the most creative uses of set concept I’ve seen. (Plus, the shaft here makes actual sense, unlike the ubiquitous chasms in the Star Wars Galaxy of films.)

I’m reminded a lot of the cool little film Escape Room from last year. Each set is a ‘room’, tasking the dwindling group of survivors with puzzles to solve to level up towards freedom.

Getting What You Expect in a Shark Film

Overall: Deep Blue Sea is a lot of fun, and you get what you expect in a shark movie…people torn apart and/or eaten whole, guessing who’s the last one standing (or swimming), wondering how the sharks will die in the end.

IF THEY DO. Is there a shark film out there where the shark kills all the people and gets away?

deep blue sea shark fin
Most of the shark scenes are in darkness like this. Remember, this is 1999. It’s a dodge, like having all the T-Rex scenes at night and in the rain in Jurassic Park.

Spoilers ahead for Deep Blue Sea:

You’ve been warned.

Spoilers ahead.

Really. Who lives and dies:

I absolutely wanted the Chef/Preacher to survive. I didn’t realize he was LL Cool J until the credits rolled: I just really liked his character. J had the best scenes. I loved his rude little parrot, how he hid in his own oven (yikes), and intelligently dispatched his shark.

He should have died in the explosion, but this is a movie, and here’s the thing in film: if you don’t see a dead body, you can’t take assume someone is dead. And sometimes, not even after that. (As with Zombies, decapitation of the head helps. (Unless you’re in an X-Files film.)

I was thrilled with the continuity of the flaming fragments from the kitchen level raining down the elevator shaft. The crew had to worry about hypothermia, burning rain from above, ravenously mean sharks below, and drowning as each submerged level burst open… all while climbing rickety emergency ladders that kept breaking to pieces. It could have felt over-the-top campy, but it just played right.

Who Lives, Who Dies

The deaths we did get were interesting choices. Stellan Skarsgård’s death was well executed, providing an eerie, chilling thrill that stands out as the single best scene. I was sad to lose him so early on.

This scene rocks: 

Also, shall we mourn for Jackson, whose moment we should have seen coming, but never expected (and so unceremoniously)? The A-listers are supposed to survive, right?

The bird getting eated was…shocking. That was in 1999. That kind of thing (pet deaths, unless it’s in a ‘dog movie’) doesn’t happen much these days. Didn’t even the rat survive in The Abyss?

Then, the lead scientist (Saffron Burrows) getting swallowed whole? That seemed like some Old Testament shit right there, based on the  Jurassic Park “messing with nature” theme, and Preacher’s constant commentaries to God, a la LadyHawke.

Normally the alpha female would  be the sole survivor in a shark film. This gal was smart (she took down her shark handily), had a mission that really would have helped people, and had chemistry with Carter, the manly man of the group. I salute the writers for taking the less obvious route. Her self sacrifice redeems her character, if you feel she needed redeeming. She legit wanted to cure brain aliments that devastate millions of patients and their families. She just took some morally dark shortcuts to get there, and the implication is she paid for it with her life.

These sharks don’t act like real animals, but that’s because of Man’s Hubris/Interference, so I’m okay with this. Normally it’s a pet peeve of mine when an animal acts like a “monster.” But these are chimeras, with new rules I guess, and their plan was to escape to the Deep Blue Sea (ahem) more than anything else, and whatever, and it’s not worth working this out.

Should you see Deep Blue Sea?

See Deep Blue Sea if you like action-adventure and don’t mind some mild gore. This barely classifies as horror. I looked away once, and that wasn’t even too nasty (poor Scoggs — Michael Rapaport — he was cool. I like smart people in movies).

If you can handle the Jurassic Park and Aliens films, you’re good to go. Toss in some philosophy about the ethics of “saving mankind through DNA fun”, and you’ve got a super enjoyable B monster movie. I enjoyed this one greatly, as I work my way through shark films over Shark Week, just before 47 Meters 2 premiers.

Recommended!

Movie Grade: B

More of RunPee’s Shark Movie Reviews:

Movie Review – Dora and the Lost City of Gold

 

Movie Review - Dora and the Lost City of GoldThere’s a lot of great kid movies out right now that adults can enjoy: Toy Story 4, The Lion King, Aladdin and Secret Life of Pets 2. I saw three of the four twice and recommend all highly for people of any age.

Unfortunately, can’t say the same for Dora and the Lost City of Gold. I expected a youthful, Latina-oriented take on a smart young girl, having an adventure in the jungle straight out of The Raiders of the Lost Ark.

What I got was some middlingly pretty set-pieces, a few chuckles here and there, and long stretches where I was…bored. And I am VERY forgiving on kid, teen, and especially YA films.

The target audience (I’m guessing, as a Dora newbie):

  • Those who’ve seen Dora The Explorer as a cartoon show, and long for some great nostalgia.
  • Or the very young, even though Dora is a teen here, and there are high school party-scene hi-jinks with some bullying. So things get confused a bit. I honestly don’t think this a clever enough film for teens, so why make Dora older at all?

What’s Good:

  •  Dora has a lot of cute meta moments deriving from the animated childhood series. She talks to the camera, asks questions of the audience, and cheerfully sings about digging poop holes in the wilderness. This has a delightful quality, especially since her vocabulary upgraded as she grew older. These bits drew the most laughs from the grown-ups in the audience.
  • Dora is relentlessly cheerful, even in the face of derision from the ‘normal’ public school kids. I liked that. I’d totally sing about my backpack with her. She does get some harassment for her ‘childish’ behavior (she was home schooled), as a total fish out of water. The tables are turned later on in the jungle. These are good elements.
  • The Latina/Latino elements were big and bold, as befits the franchise and the thousands of kids seeking young heroes who look and act like they do. It’s aspirational, cheery — and even ropes in ancient Inca culture in an inclusive way.
  • The Poop Hole scene is amusing and clever, and shouldn’t actually offend anyone. I could see myself singing the “Poop Song”, if I knew no one could hear me. And now I’ve said the word poop more times in one review than anyone should expect.
  • Eva Longoria and Micheal Pena tried. They weren’t give much to do, although Pena’s “Rave Song” was a highlight. It was like his character from Ant-Man paid us a visit.
  • I loved Dora’s jungle home on the water. Can I move there?

The Really Good:

  • The sequence with the Giant Flowers was pure gold — worth the price of admission right there. I won’t spoil it, but when the spores are inhaled, the laughs flow naturally. Adults will know it’s an hallucinogenic sequence, but kiddos will only see magic at work. It works on both levels and is just grand.
  • UPDATE: There’s also this. I’ll say no more, and thank you to all the RunPee fans who educated me about them:

 

What’s Less Good:

  • The Lost City of Gold is ridiculous. These sets were cheap looking. Compare the ‘city’ (looked like a market stall) to the Cave of Wonders in Aladdin. THIS was what people were willing to kill for?
  • The resolution is iffy. Just put the statue back? What? And if that statue was solid gold, tiny Dora lifted it like Styrofoam. At least pretend it’s heavy.  🙂
  • Dora’s insight to resolve the climax had no establishment either. This movie should have had clues for smart viewers to follow as the adventure unfolded, and be rewarded as they figured things out while Dora does. That’s a storytelling cheat.
  • The various CGI characters were a bad cross between realistic and cartoony. The director should have made a choice here to take it one way or the other. If animals can be said to fall into the Uncanny Valley, this is an example of just that.
  • The Alejando character was just painful to watch. Was that a direction error, or poor acting? His scenes brought the movie down. The henchmen were handled with much more amusement.

Dora & The Lost City of Gold, Overall:

It’s a silly romp that makes no sense, but since I don’t have those nostalgic Dora lenses, I’m going to give this a higher grade with the target audience in mind than I would have otherwise.

Am I being too harsh on a childhood classic? Educate me in the comments, please. 

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: All 3 Peetimes are great. 🙂 I don’t think I’ve ever had all the Peetimes be this good, so let your bladder decide.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Dora and the Lost City of Gold. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for action and some impolite humor
Genres: Adventure, Family

Easter Eggs in Aladdin and The Lion King – Disney Finally Loosens Up

Movie Review – The Lion King (2019)

Movie Review – Aladdin (2019) – A Live Action Remake, Good for the Target Audience

Movie Review – Toy Story 4