Stuber vs Uber – Welcome to the Ratings Game, in Real Life

stuber movie dave bautista
You WILL drive Drax the Destroyer anywhere he wants to go.

Well, it’s official. We’ve had an action movie about Uber driving. I suppose the next film will be a thriller about a couple in for trouble at an Air BnB. 🙂

It’s a sign of the times for sure. I’ve been using Uber almost exclusively to get to movies for RunPee every week for more than a year, and I think I know the system pretty well. However, there’s always new things to learn about being a good Uber passenger, and interesting ways drivers try to earn a coveted five star rating.

In Stuber, an Uber driver named Stu is essentially kidnapped by a policeman to drive him around to crime scenes and…ahem…learn to shoot at perps. I won’t give any more away, but it’s kind of a fun film, if a bit surreal. I mean, why doesn’t Stu just get out of there? It’s his (leased) car. And Stuber’s an action film…so do you think his nice electric Uber vehicle will get munched? You can answer this if you’ve ever seen an action flick. I think the police force owes him big time.

Furthermore, poor Stu has his precious rating held over his head if he won’t drive Dave Bautista to dangerous stakeouts. The police will owe him for his livelihood too, I think, by the end of the film.

I have to say, I really feel for these Uber drivers in real life. Did you know they get summarily FIRED if their rating drops below 4.5? I think that’s insane. Let me explain.

I used to review for Amazon Vine and reached the Top 250 Reviewer level. That takes some work.

My system for rating Amazon items was like this:

Five Stars: An outstanding product in almost every way

Four Stars: A great product I could recommend, with a few caveats

Three Stars: A good product, average

Two Stars: The item is fair, but isn’t awful, buy with caution

One Star: Poor Product, awful, don’t buy

By this system, roughly correlating to an A, B, C, D, and F, my readers could trust I was giving a thoughtful, critical review. However, in Uber-land, a 4 star rating is considered a fail. This doesn’t make any sense to me.

Rating Uber Drivers – why you should care that this sucks

Should I give an Uber driver 5 Stars just because they didn’t kill me on the road? Apparently, the answer is yes. By my standards, I was getting people FIRED by rating them 4 stars. I only learned this recently. I find this astonishing.

Let’s look at movies. I review hundreds of movies for RunPee and use the same rating system I gave above for Amazon products. I’m not going to give an A to every film that made it to the end without being dreadful. Would you? I wouldn’t trust a reviewer who couldn’t critique freely.

But with the new economy, you’re a bad consumer if you don’t automatically give five stars to your Uber driver. And after talking to a lot of drivers, and after watching Stuber, I now understand what kind of pressure they’re under.

(BTW, to get another look at how terrible the tyranny of this rating system is, watch Black Mirror’s Nosedive episode. We’re on our way there now. If our “personal rating” falls under the four star level, we won’t even get basic human services…but that’s another article. Just watch Nosedive: trust. It’s on Amazon. And I’m not paid to tell you that.)

So how do drivers try to get a consistent 5 Star Rating?

In Stuber, Stu has a vanity plate reading FiveStar. He goes out of his way to provide the best level of service. He’s got free bottles of water and classy chocolates, offers musical choices, arranges the car temperatures, and tries to make pleasant conversation with every passenger. People crowd into his car, make him wait while they do errands, vomit on his seats when drunk, and say offensive things. Apparently, a lot of people are entitled jerks. I’ve talked to enough Uber drivers to get an idea about the reality they face.

And although I’ve been offered water bottles, gum, and lifesavers, I’ve never seen a driver with chocolates, or had anyone offer to change their music station. As a rational person, I don’t expect these things. (I did get some beads over mardi-gras season. Which was totally cool, but I don’t expect that again.)

These are the things I’ve learned being an Uber passenger:

  • Never fiddle with someone’s stereo/heat/mirror settings, or use their electric sockets without asking.
  • Don’t eat or drink in their car.
  • If you want to chat with the driver, sit in the front. If you want to be silent and use your phone, sit in the back. (Here I’ll admit I sit in the front all the time and don’t want to talk. Somehow I can’t change this. I hate the back seat — to me that’s where children sit. But I don’t want to talk either. So this is my problem, but now I know it exists. I’ve had some very interesting conversations sitting up front.)
  • If you’re at the airport, the ride is going to cost more (airports have fees). This sucks, but it’s still cheaper than a taxi. That said, be careful with your luggage. The drivers are using their own cars and you don’t want to scratch up their backseats or trunks.
  • The drivers will pick you up if you’re intoxicated, which is great for keeping drunks off the road, but if you think you’re going to vomit, tell them to pull over. Please don’t ever puke in someone’s private car.
  • If you choose Uber Pool, be aware that means others will get in the car with you, you might get dropped off last, and the ride might go really far away from your destination. That’s why it’s the cheaper option.
  • As Wil Wheaton says as his internet motto: Don’t Be A Dick. He used to be Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and he knows about dick behavior. Just be nice, or at least quiet, on your ride. Then go for a solid run or play a video game later to work off your frustrations. This is a good lesson for life.  🙂

The Tyranny of The Ratings Game

FYI: If you’re a bad passenger, you will get a bad ‘rider’ rating. Enough of these can get you turned down for pickups, but this doesn’t really equate to getting no rides, since if a driver turns down enough riders, they get censured. So, you’re going to get a ride almost no matter what. Really, the power is all in the hands of the rider, for better or worse.

I’ll freely admit I think this demand economy is problematic. It’s too easy to hold the fear of a bad rating over someone’s head to demand concessions and freebies, and get away with generally obnoxious behavior.

After ten years of running RunPee — a highly popular, world-renowned movie app — we’ve seen firsthand how personally frustrating it can be to get a knee-jerk one-star rating from someone who never bothered to learn how our app works, or send a support email to have a question answered. Are you confused? Do you not like your service? Reach out and explain. You might be surprised by the human kindness you receive on the other end of your maturely worded email.

As for Uber, yes, sometimes things don’t go right. Your ride doesn’t show. You are too lost to explain where you are to the driver and the GPS is wonky. You miss your plane or get charged for a toll you didn’t plan for. I can tell you from experience that Uber will make it right and give you a little extra credit, if warranted. All you have to do is email customer service. They’re pretty responsive.

But what to do about ratings?

Is the answer to give a five star rating to everything? No. I honestly think companies like Uber need to grow up and realize that the equivalent of a B is a good grade, not a fail. Somehow, I’m supposed to give top marks to everyone who drives me from point A to point B without incident.

But, I don’t want to get Uber drivers fired, either. So the only kind thing is to give out all the stars, every time, unless a I have a damn good reason.

I’d love to tell Uber how unrealistic this all is, but this seems to be the way things are headed. In the meantime, I advise people to be considerate where they can, and follow customer service channels for complaints otherwise.

And BTW: I have to give Stuber (the movie) a C+ rating…or maybe a B- if I’m feeling generous. And, yes I enjoyed it! It’s not a great film, but I smiled a few times and wasn’t bored. Does that mean it automatically gets an A grade?

Well, no. I don’t give out A ratings often. I save that for the likes of Titanic, Avatar, Jurassic Park, Into the Spider-Verse, or Avengers: Endgame. But in real life, it’s increasingly beholden on us to hand out the high scores for average service. I’ll be interested to see how this goes in the next decade.

What do you think? The comment section is below, and if you don’t give this article a five star rating, I promise I won’t be upset. 🙂

Movie Review – Stuber

FAQ – Peeple’s Poll

Your 20 big benefits to using the RunPee app

 

 

Avengers: Endgame Re-Release Extra Footage Explained

avengers endgame logo with the A
The End(game) of an era.

In an attempt to knock Avatar (2009) off the Biggest Box Office high horse, the Marvel Cinematic Universe opened their vaults and added some extra footage to Avengers: Endgame in a ‘re-release’.

Normally a re-release happens after a movie has left the cinema, but with MCU fever still running high, Marvel Studios added six minutes of goodies to the end of Endgame before it ever left the theaters.

What follows are spoilers for the extra footage only of Avengers: Endgame, if that wasn’t obvious from the title. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, don’t worry – this article won’t spoil any actual Endgame plot.

The Original Endgame Extras

First off, here’s what extra scenes appeared in the original theatrical release: none. Or, at least, nothing like the full-on bonus scenes we’re used to, the extra bits giving us a laugh or hinting to what’s to come next  in the MCU.

It does make sense to get “nothing”, when you consider how Endgame is the end of the Infinity Saga. (Spider-Man Far From Home is considered an epilogue).

So, for those who saw Endgame opening week, the only things playing over the credits are:

1. A lovely bit where the Original Six Avengers sign off with their actors’ signatures over a few memorable call-back images.

2. Then nothing until the very end, when we hear an audio-only extra harkening back to the first Iron Man film in 2008. We wrote about that hammering sound here.

And that was it.

3. Until a few weeks later, when the studio added a nice long trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home.

The New Bonus Scenes

In  the July re-release, here are the extra six minutes we got. This starts after the rolling credits end and the ‘hammering’ audio clip concludes:

  1. A loving tribute to Stan Lee. Since Endgame is the last movie to use Lee’s vast array of cameos (remember the long-haired hippy driver in the 70s flashback scene?), it makes a lot of sense to use some behind-the-scenes footage remembering this amazing man, and his contribution to the world of comics. It’s a sweet-natured look at Lee filming some of his best cameos, in a nice little video. Well done, Marvel, well done. RIP Stan Lee.
  2. Second, we have an introduction by Endgame director Anthony Russo, thanking the fans for sticking around. He says: “As you may have noticed, we packed a lot into this movie. There are a lot of characters, a lot of action, a lot of emotion, and I think a lot of fun. But, believe it or not, we shot some scenes that needed to be cut. I know, the movie could have been even longer!”
  3. Next, we get an unfinished bonus scene with the Hulk. We see what he’s been up to since we saw him last: saving people (here from a burning building), right before taking a call from Steve Rogers. Clearly, this is meant to happen right before the “Hulk Lunch Scene.” While the Hulk himself is an animated version inserted into real footage, he’s still got Mark Ruffalo’s face.
  4. The last thing is a fully-finished scene introducing the coming jeopardy in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Nick Fury and Maria Hill show up in Mexico to a town ravaged by a cyclone “with a face”. They meet Mysterio, who tells Fury and Hill, ” You don’t want any part of this,” cuing the next action scene.

One More Extra Goodie

I also got a nifty Avengers: Endgame commemorative poster, just for showing up again. Marvel, I love you 3000.

So, Is This Working to Get Butts Back In Seats?

I’d say, most definitively, yes. I went to the theater Saturday night (July 15th) and the screening room for Avengers: Endgame was PACKED. There were only a couple of empty seats left in the front. And the audience was very much into the spirit of things: laughing at the jokes, gasping in horror at the shocks. Endgame fever is clearly still running high. I’m glad to see it.

Did Endgame Beat Out Avatar?

Will it knock Avatar off the throne? It kind of doesn’t matter. The Infinity Saga has been an incredible ride for 11 years and 23 movies, with even the worst film (The Incredible Hulk) being far from bad. At RunPee, we’ve had to grade each entry on a curve, because they are so consistently good. The only useful grading system is to weigh their merits against each other. If they all get an A, then how can we talk about which are better? (The short answer is to rank them in tiers of bottom, middle, and top, which we also covered here.)

So it’s already won. Knocking Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Titanic out of the running was exciting, and it would neat to be part of a world-wide event ousting Avatar. I don’t see any other movie coming close to this honor — but since we’re talking the cream of the box office crop, they, and we, are all winners.

It’s not over until it’s over, and it seems that Marvel Studios will do #WhateverItTakes. We’ll keep our eyes out for you and give a final report when all is said and done.

Life on Earth After Avengers: Endgame (Post-post Snap)

Movie Review – Spider-Man: Far from Home – Fun, but a little underwhelming

RIP Stan Lee – you will be missed

Avatar – plot too simple? Actually, a good idea.

Spider-Man & Iron Man – Lyrics to Back in Black by AC/DC

spider man far from home
Back in Red and (eventually) Black

Starting way back in 2008 with Iron Man‘s use of I Am Iron-Man and, yes, Back in Black, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never been shy of using classic rock hits in their superhero movies. While 2019’s Spiderman: Far From Home doesn’t have as many rocking songs as Spider-Man: Homecoming, it’s got a winning use of AC/DC’s Back In Black.

Why Back in Black Works So Well

For one thing, Peter Parker makes a hilarious mistake when Happy Hogan gives him some of Stark’s favorite music to work to, shouting he loves “Led Zeppelin!” This makes us oldsters grimace in sympathetic understanding with poor Happy. Remember, Peter thinks Aliens is an “old movie.” (Ouch.)

It also reminds us of Tony Stark’s love of classic rock, in a beautiful bit of unspoken narrative.

Finally, on a meta-level, the song’s title is perfect. This is something the MCU does well — like their cute use of The Kink’s Supersonic Rocketship to stand for Rocket Raccoon’s actual spaceship. For Back In Black specifically, look at the costumes Spider-Man wears in Far From Home. One is entirely black — as “The Night Monkey” — followed by one he makes using Stark’s nano-tech, ditching the garish red-blue look for a spiffier red-black suit.

Here’s the video used for the Back in Black “full Iron Man intro scene”  (which really brings things full circle, as Happy’s little smile shows), followed by the song lyrics:

Something cute if you read the comments on YouTube: the amount of attention this video has from folks looking for Back in Back after seeing Spider-Man: Far From Home. Yes, Iron Man used it first. Ultimately, it’s a great callback to the ‘heir’ of Tony Stark, just as neat as Tony’s killer line at the climax of Avengers: Endgame.

Back in Black Lyrics (Live at River Plate 2009, by AC/DC)

Back in black
I hit the sack
I’ve been too long I’m glad to be back
Yes, I’m let loose
From the noose
That’s kept me hanging about
I’ve been looking at the sky
‘Cause it’s gettin’ me high
Forget the hearse ’cause I never die
I got nine lives
Cat’s eyes
Abusin’ every one of them and running wild

‘Cause I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back, back
Well, I’m back in black
Yes, I’m back in black

Back in the back
Of a Cadillac
Number one with a bullet, I’m a power pack
Yes, I’m in a bang
With a gang
They’ve got to catch me if they want me to hang
‘Cause I’m back on the track
And I’m beatin’ the flack
Nobody’s gonna get me on another rap
So look at me now
I’m just makin’ my play
Don’t try to push your luck, just get out of my way

‘Cause I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back, back
Well, I’m back in black
Yes, I’m back in black

Well, I’m back, yes I’m back
Well, I’m back, yes I’m back
Well, I’m back, back
Well I’m back in black
Yes I’m back in black

Ho yeah
Oh yeah
Yes I am
Oh yeah, yeah oh yeah
Back in now
Well I’m back, I’m back
Back, (I’m back)
Back, (I’m back)
Back, (I’m back)
Back, (I’m back)
Back
Back in black
Yes I’m back in black
Out of the sight

[Songwriters: Angus Young / Brian Johnson / Malcolm Young
Back In Black (Live at River Plate 2009) lyrics © BMG Rights Management]

PS: Some commentators are saying Tony Stark uses a peace sign in every MCU movie in honor of that soldier in the scene linked above…can anyone confirm he does this, ever, and where?

Lyrics and Video to Blitzkrieg Bop from Spider-Man – Homecoming

Movie Review – Spider-Man: Far from Home – Fun, but a little underwhelming

Movie Review – Iron Man – Genius, Philanthropist, etc who started it all

Movie Review – Crawl

Movie Review - CrawlDue to a terrible mistake made by myself on opening night, I had to go back today and watch Crawl all over again. It didn’t get any better the second time around.

I have lived in Florida for a number of years now and can empathize with the two characters in this movie. Yes, hurricanes suck and alligators are terrifying. Put dealing with those two things together and you got yourself the makings of a great movie. At least I thought so.

It was boring. Most of it takes place in the basement, and it’s just them moving around in the water trying not to get eaten. The subplot of the father and daughter trying to reconcile hurt feelings felt tedious to me. There was no chemistry between them and I honestly didn’t care if they made it out alive.

The only thing I did enjoy were the sound effects. The gators sounded cool and when they would chomp down on body parts it was even cooler.

There was one moment when the entire crowd laughed. Exactly as the movie ends and the credits begin, they play, “See You Later, Alligator,” by Bill Haley.

This would make a great way to spend a rainy evening on the couch; my recommendation is to wait for the DVD.

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: Crawl is a super short movie, so I only submitted 1 Peetime. It’s well placed during a moment that was easy to sum up, and gives you plenty of time to run and pee.

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

Rated (R) for bloody creature violence, and brief language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Horror

Movie Review – Stuber

Movie Review - StuberAfter you watch Stuber, you’ll never look at your Uber driver the same way again. I’m a Uber consumer and could totally relate to this action comedy completely.

Big burly LAPD Cop Vic Manning (Dave Bautista) has an unusual day after he has lasik surgery. Vic has been working on a drug case for a while, tracking the main suspect (Oka Tadjo) aggressively. After Vic’s surgery, his daughter Nicole (Natalie Morales) takes him home, and he gets a tip about Tedjo. Vic attempts to drive himself, and basically demolishes a couple of blocks in his neighborhood. So he summons an Uber (Uber Pool, I might add) to take him to follow the case lead. Calm, friendly, OCD, sporting goods store worker by day, night Uber driver Stu arrives for duty.

This movie is funny and entertaining! Annoying at times though, because Stu is so mellow, but somewhat of a pussycat. He screams like a little baby during the grossly violent scenes. At one point, Vic says something like, “Take this gun — it’s a baby gun — it allows you to fire while crying.” LOL! All the actors did okay in their roles; nothing noteworthy; so don’t go in with overly high expectations despite the two lead characters.

Warning: while you may want to take the children, there’s excessive sex, nudity, violence, gore and profanity.

Definitely go see this movie for comedic relief after a long day. The laughter will be good medicine for your soul. Then sign up for Uber…and don’t forget to rate the driver “five stars” if you have an amazing adventure or learn a few things about “adulting” along the way.

Grade: C

Stuber vs Uber – Welcome to the Ratings Game, in Real Life

About The Peetimes: The movie has a lot of humor, so I’ve tried to not put Peetimes where there might be a gut-busting funny scene.

I would recommend the 2nd Peetime, which has no action and only a little humor.

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

Rated (R) for violence and language throughout, some sexual references and brief graphic nudity
Genres: Action, Comedy

All Men In Black Films, Ranked

men in black posterTo prep for Men In Black: International, I did a little series rewatch, and discovered a few things: the original movie is still fresh and funny, the second film still hurts to watch, and I totally forgot everything that happened in the third MIB outing. But that’s actually a good thing. It was like getting a brand-new bonus movie. 🙂

Here’s my ranking of all four Men in Black flicks, because ranking things is fun:

  1. The original Men In Black is far and away the best one. The quality of this movie is so high when compared to every other film in the series — you can pretty much stop watching these movies right here. (It’s not like any of the other films are required viewing.) This one had everything: cool characters, amusing aliens, a coherent storyline (this is crucial), and enough world-building to make the imagination soar. It’s legit funny.  Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones have outstanding chemistry, bickering like an old married couple. Vincent D’Onofrio is a pleasure as a sadistic cockroach (never thought I’d ever write a sentence like that one). The effects still look good and it’s fun to think about what public figures might really be aliens hiding in plain sight. Movie Grade: AMen in black tommy lee jones and will smithSmith and Jones, rocking their suits.
  2. Men In Black 3 was a pleasant surprise after the awful sequel. If felt more nimble and recalled the playfulness of the first film. But instead of dredging the lake to recall old gags (Frank the Pug and the Worm Gang make an appearance and no more), there are new characters, and even a new (old?) version of Agent K, who did such a great job being Tommy Lee Jones that I forgot it was another actor (Josh Brolin) playing him. Also in spite of basing the plot around time travel — which can go badly wrong very fast — it somehow made narrative sense. MIB 3 doesn’t really expand on the world-building, but it didn’t need to. Lightweight fare. Movie Grade: B-
  3. Men In Black: International was the return to the MIB universe that no one asked for. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson proved they had great chemistry in Thor: Ragnarok, so transplanting that here should have been a slam dunk. Hemsworth showed he could be very funny. So it was a huge disappointment that MIB 4 was so…lame. It was sub-average. I’m not sure what to even say about it, because the plot made no sense, the characters had understandable motivation, and honestly, this was such a miss-step. When the best movie chemistry is between one half of a buddy duo (Thompson) and a CGI character (that would be Pawny), you know something’s wrong. I’ll let the official movie review say the rest. What a wasted opportunity.  Movie Grade: C-
    pawny from men in black international
    You’ve been pwned.
  4. Somehow MIB 2 sunk all the goodwill from the original with a messy, unfunny sequel. The villain is so bad that she drags the rest of the movie into a black hole around her. There isn’t one scene with her that isn’t cringe-worthy. Frank the Pug was a great gag in the first film, but they overused him here. I can’t even think about what does work in MIB 2 because I keep getting distracted by what didn’t, but I’ll try: Smith and Jones still have a good knockabout dynamic, although it’s starting to fray at the edges, and Jones in particular seemed like he didn’t want to be there. I liked the repeat of the worm gag, but their extended cameo, like the Pug’s, verged on too much. Even though I just rewatched this, I’ve already totally forgotten the plot. Was there a MacGuffin? Did someone neuralize me? Oh, wait: this is the one with a universe hiding inside a locker, with little beings who worship Agent K. That got an actual laugh out of me. Movie Grade: D
    neuralizer and will smith
    Say “Cheese”…

The MIBs, Overall:

I could say the series is played out, but I actually don’t believe that. The premise is so  interesting, so ripe for exploration. If someone made a good script with fresh ideas that MADE SENSE, Men in Black could continue having epic adventures all over the galaxy. Come on, guys!

Movie Review – Men in Black: International

What Makes Men In Black Tick? Looking Back on the MIB Series and Why It Works

Men In Black Theme Song – Forget Me Nots Remix – Will Smith Lyrics & Video

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)

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

47 Meters Down is a surprisingly decent shark movie. And it’s not even that scary – the horror level was low (and I’m a horror scaredy-cat, so trust me). What 47 Meters Down had going for it was a unique shark premise, and a gripping survival element. While the girls screamed a lot, both stepped up to the plate eventually to escape their increasingly desperate mess.

What problems did Lisa and Kate have?

  • Trapped in shark infested waters in a broken shark cage
  • Pinned down by the cage crane
  • Running out of air
  • Being just out of ship communication (47 meters — on the bottom of the ocean shelf)
  • Running the risk of getting the bends (which means certain death if they swim to the surface too quickly)
  • Lots of mundane things, like a heavy iron cage landing on your LEG

Did the two sisters survive? Well, that’s not really the point of the movie. It’s the middle of the story that’s the most fun. The beginning sets up the characters. The end resolves the plot. But the center section has the gripping moments, the awful series of dilemmas to overcome, and the horrific situation of being trapped in a shark cage next to blood and various chum…juuust out of radio reach to the waiting boat, and safety, above.

I have to admit the 47 Meters ending was super original and made me weirdly happy. All the clues were there. I’m shocked I didn’t figure out what was actually happening, although I did think at the time that the ‘happy’ stuff was unrealistic, and chalked it up to a Hollywood Ending.

I need to stop talking before I spoil anything.

Shark Movie Lineup Fun:

I’m going though a ‘shark phase’, catching up on all the best shark movies I missed the first time around. My re-watch of Jaws slayed me: A+++ all the way: I forgot how damn good the original blockbuster was. Shivers, in the good way. The Reef was decent. The Meg was pretty exciting. The Mosasaurus in the Jurassic World movies is just plain super cool.

I prefer it when my dangerous sea animals are ANIMALS, and not psychotic monsters. I know that that’s a lot to ask in a modern-day adventure movie. But it’s doable, as seen in the above movies (links go to our reviews – enjoy!).

So, I’m in the middle of my first-time shark movie viewings.

What else is on my Shark Watch list?

I’m told I need to see the Shallows, Deep Blue Sea, and maybe Jaws 2. I’m not so sure about the Sharknado franchise. And there’s one about sharks in a convenience store? There’s a metric ton of shark schlock out there. You tell me what’s good, and I’ll watch it. (Comment section is below, and really, tell me what’s good.)

Movie Grade : B

In case you didn’t know: there’s a sort-of sequel coming out in August (it’s more like a Shared Universe story) called: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. I’ll be there with chum in hand. 🙂

 

Movie Rewatch — Jaws

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

Movie Review – The Meg

Meet the Real Megalodon

Movie Review – Spider-Man: Far from Home – Fun, but a little underwhelming

 

Movie Review - Spider-Man: Far from HomeI liked Spider-Man: Far From Home. I liked it a lot. But I didn’t love it, and that surprised me.

I adore Tom Holland‘s version of Spider-Man, and think he’s the best Peter Parker ever done, no question. (Notice how this sidesteps Miles Morales‘ stunning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse quite nicely.) And every appearance by MCU’s Spider-Man, from Civil War to Endgame, sparkled with wit and verve.

I rewatched Spider-Man: Homecoming to get ready for Spidey’s ‘European Vacation’. I was again taken with how absolutely lovely, charming, funny, and exciting Peter Parker’s first solo outing was. (With one of Marvel’s better villains, to boot.)

Far From Home was enjoyable, but not up to the level I expected. Some nits to pick (with spoilers for Avengers: Endgame):

– Ned wasn’t The Chair Guy this time. He was mostly sidelined. Ned had funny lines, but was no longer Spider-Man’s sidekick. Making him foolish — and a damsel in distress, even — didn’t sit right.

– Peter was too low-key. I get that he’s been through a lot, and mourns Iron-Man like a father, but EVERYONE in the post-post-post Snap world (yes, there were three Snaps, remember?) is suffering. His friends seemed fine. I would have written Spidey as his usual irrepressible self who’d get sad when reminders of Tony Stark hit him out of nowhere. Grief is like that: you’re grooving along until you get a gut-punch reminder.

– There wasn’t enough care and attention paid to how Earth is handling the new reality: billions of people returning to life five years later. Yes, it was alluded to a few times, but I expected more. And Europe seemed to truck on with no problems at all. Even seeing some of the homelessness and ruin in the background would have helped keep the sense of continuity alive. The MCU usually provides better world-building than that.

– I missed the fun rock and pop music that made Homecoming so fun. (We did get one rock hit underscoring a poignant/funny moment, but I won’t spoil it.)

– And another nit: Spider-Man is the only A-List hero left on Earth? After 23 movies packed with super beings, I can’t buy that.

So, Where Were the Other Avengers?

As said, in-movie:

Dead:

Not mentioned, but should be around for Fury to call upon:

  • Professor Hulk
  • War Machine (who’s basically an Iron Man already)
  • Ant-Man
  • Wasp
  • Scarlet Witch (who should be able to wipe the floor with anyone)
  • Valkyrie, Korg, and a whole city of Asgardians
  • Black Panther, Shuri, and a whole country of Wakandans
  • Falcon (AKA new Cap)
  • The Winter Soldier/White Wolf
  • Hawkeye (I presume he returned to retirement…)
  • Pepper Potts-Stark is at least name-dropped (apparently she doesn’t want to use her Iron Suit any more than Peter does, for the same reason)
  • Lots of minor heroes could also be asked to ‘step up’…this could be a whole article. Which I’ll probably write, if there’s interest.

Again, those are mostly nits. But there’s one big problem, and for that I have to give Spider-Man FFH a B grade. That’s hard to do, since I loved a lot of it. I am a huge MCU fan, a Tom Holland-as-Spidey fan…and I really do think this is the best genre movie out right now (not including the Endgame re-release). But since we at RunPee tend to grade the Marvel Cinematic Universe on a curve, I’d have to rank this as a “middle tier” movie. MAN, I hate saying this.

It might have been that all the major plot points of FFH were spoiled for me, but I normally love anything the MCU does, so that shouldn’t have mattered.

Where Spider-Man: Far From Home Faltered

The single biggest problem is the bad guys are kind of an underwhelming/overwhelming mess. They are huge; they are CGI; they have no personality or motivation whatsoever…or even facial expressions. How is that supposed to be fun to watch? It doesn’t matter that that part doesn’t matter (have to be vague), but it made every fight with The Elementals boring. They felt more like the worst kind of bad guys done in the DC Universe (on the level of Incubus or Steppenwolf, or all the other villains no one remembers).

MCU has the occasional villain problem, but nothing as bad as these guys.

The point is, it doesn’t matter that the Elementals are [redacted for spoilers]: they still got too much screen time. They brought the movie down. Watching European landmarks get destroyed isn’t entertaining by itself. Even Godzilla has a personality.

Notice I’m not mentioning Mysterio. Or the promised Multi-Verse. I can’t go into any of this without spoilers, and this review is already too long. Suffice to say if Iron Man had a love child with Dr. Strange, you’d kind of get Mysterio. The trippy, psychedelic stuff was the best part of the action. It’s too bad they couldn’t get Dr. Strange on the phone. I’ll stop there.

Overall, How’s Spider-Man: Far From Home?

I’m making a bigger deal out of the Villain Problem than I meant to. Far From Home is still a super fun film, with laughs, school trip shenanigans, great on-location scenery, emotional moments, and a fun class reunion with Peter Parker’s (conveniently) co-blipped pals. And Happy Hogan stole every scene from Peter, which I didn’t expect. Tony Stark’s absence was keenly felt, but his character still managed to permeate the story, and even drew one of the best laughs.

So, yeah, absolutely see the 23rd movie officially closing out the Infinity Saga. It’s the last MCU film we’re getting this year. (We don’t yet know when Phase 4 will begin.) Far From Home really has some great moments and a lot of heart, so go and enjoy yourselves, Elementals be damned. 🙂

PS: The extra scenes over the credits are AWESOME. The implication are pretty big (for one of them) and pretty cool (for the other).

PPS: Also, in the background at near the end of the movie, there’s a building mural Peter swings slowly by that reads: “We can’t wait to show you what happens next!” Clearly that’s a message about Phase 4 from the MCU. Nice nod.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: I have 3 good Peetimes, spaced out nicely through the movie.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Spider-Man: Far from Home. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Superhero, MCU

Life on Earth After Avengers: Endgame (Post-post Snap)

Movie Review – Spider-Man Homecoming

The entire MCU Movie Order – Several Options for your pre-Avengers Endgame Watch or Rewatch

Stan Lee – His Favorite Marvel Characters

Marvel Phase 4 Predictions – Some MCU Sure-Fire Guesses

 

Movie Review – Anna

Movie Review - AnnaIt appears that Luc Besson has fallen into the trap that has been the downfall of many a director; if it worked before, they’ll do it again, and oftentimes the end result is a disaster.

Anna is not a disaster of a movie: the pacing was well done; but the writing, acting, and directing was a disappointment. Helen Mirren’s role as a Russian spy was almost comically performed by this award-winning actor. Nothing about the character was believable, and the Russian accent sounded like a parody of itself. The rest of the cast also gave sub-par performances; however none of them would be considered ‘award winning’ actors, so I didn’t hold them to the same standards I’d set for Ms. Mirren.

A few minutes into the movie I realized I’d seen this before, except with the title “La Femme Nikita”, another spy movie, written by Luc Besson. Oh, and the movie Point of No Return, the American version starring Bridget Fonda, was also written by Besson. La Femme was an extraordinary movie, Point of No Return was acceptable…but Anna fell short.

The biggest problem I had with Anna were the flashbacks, and flash forwards. It was a bit like a Christopher Nolan movie, where time is not linear — a bit irritating, and sometimes, a bit confusing. Also, the incredulous fight scenes (of which there are many) where Anna kicks the butts of a gang of nefarious men wearing outfits straight out of Victoria’s Secret (with stilettos) was way over the top. Each fight scene looked more like something out of a Stephen Seagal movie.

I didn’t hate Anna, but my recommendation is to wait for the DVD.

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: This was a hard action movie with only a few breaks from the chaos, making it just a little difficult to get good Peetimes. I was able to include an Emergency Peetime coming near the end of the movie.

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

Rated (R) for strong violence, language, and some sexual content
Genres: Action, Thriller

Movie Review – Men in Black: International

Movie Review - Men in Black: InternationalIt isn’t that there’s much wrong with MiB International so much as there isn’t anything right about it: the humor is middling; the pacing is choppy; and the plot/character development is bland.

I can’t complain about the acting. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson did good enough with what they had to work with, but Thor: Ragnorak this isn’t.

The biggest problem with MiB International is the pacing. There are long stretches that border on boring, sometimes wandering on the wrong side of the border. Right in the middle of the movie is the main chase scene that serves as the best Peetime in the movie. I’m certain that’s not what the creators had in mind.

There are elements of potential in the story. It feels like all the movie needed was a few more drafts of the script to give it the polish it needed. For instance there are continual references to Agent H’s (Hemsworth) character change since the opening scene of the movie….however, there’s never any resolution as to why this change happened.

Speaking of the opening scene, there was some real confusion in the order of time between the first few scenes of the movie. There’s no indication when the first scene starts, as Agent H and T arrive at the Eiffel Tower. [Correction: there was a “3 Years ago” message onscreen that apparently appeared while I was writing notes.] After that, the scene cuts to another scene with “20 years ago” displayed on the screen. At the end of that we jump to the present. That seems simple enough until 3/4 of the way through the movie we discover that the opening scene took place 3 years in the past. I don’t want to imply that there’s a simple solution to how this should have been done, but it’s the job of the writers/director to tell a cohesive story, and they botched that in the first 5 minutes of the movie.

I think most fans of the MiB franchise will be disappointed. This installment is nowhere near as good is the first, or third, movie. The second MiB was pretty awful, save for some funny scenes. I’d say this fourth movie is better than that, but not by much.

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: We have 4 good Peetimes here, but the 1st and last Peetimes are Emergency use only because they are so short. We recommend the 3rd Peetime. It’s right in the middle of the movie and only involves 1 long chase scene that isn’t particularly good.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Men in Black: International. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Sequel

What Makes Men In Black Tick? Looking Back on the MIB Series and Why It Works

Men In Black Theme Song – Forget Me Nots Remix – Will Smith Lyrics & Video

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)