First View Movie Review: Star Wars – the Battle for Endor

Because I’m a crazy geek and want to understand all the canon Star Wars material out there, I decided to view all the ‘extra’ shows and movies Lucasfilm created, some of which may or may not be part of the larger narrative. Have you seen The Mandalorian yet? It’s amazing. Have you seen The Star Wars Holiday Special yet? It’s atrocious.

I decided I need to see Rebels and Clone Wars, which are considered quite good…and the really, really bad films that no one to owns up to watching. So, sit back and see if what you ignored the first time around is still as awful as you thought.

Here’s the 1985 Ewok made-for-TV movie review of Battle For Endor (I’m having trouble finding a free version of 1984’s Caravan of Courage, so stay tuned):

While it’s not easy to get your hands on a copy of these Lucasfilm Ewok TV movies, I found a terrible copy of the 1985 Battle for Endor on You Tube — and will review it right here and now, because, why not? I don’t want to miss my chance before someone takes this link down! (Like maybe you, George Lucas!)

With the Skywalker saga coming to a close in Rise of Skywalker — and The Mandalorian and the Cassian Andor and Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ shows in the works — I felt it was time to catch up on all the live action and even animated Star Wars specials…anything that might be considered part of the over-arcing story.

I’m surprised I skipped such miserable yet amusingly wacky outings like the Star Wars Holiday Special after all this time. I’m going to rectify this now.

Let’s continue after the Holiday Special with the Ewok duo of movies. George Lucas apparently liked Ewoks so much he made two films about them. He even got Warwick Davis to reprise his “Wicket” role! Too bad he didn’t ask anyone first if they wanted more Ewok tales. We could have saved Lucasfilm a bit of money.

Here’s one copy of the Battle of Endor (a bad copy, true) on You Tube to watch along with my commentary:

The Battle for Endor (1:20 minutes long — be ready)

Notes:

— This is a bad You Tube copy. I can barely hear it. I can’t even tell if the sound track sounds anything like John Williams.

— This Ewok has crazy looking eyes. Is this Wicket? Why does he look so bad?  I’m in the uncanny valley alread. If you didn’t hate the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi, you’ll want to look away from the terrible costuming going on here. I wish they tried better to make Warwick David’s Wicket character work. Seriously, Davis deserves better than this.

— I totally cannot hear this You Tube recording. I might need to sign up for Disney + to get up to date with old Star Wars cannon.

— The little kid is cute, but I can’t tell if it’s a girl or a boy starring in the role.

— The teen kid is a lot like Luke Skywalker. I like the role, but we never see him again. That’s too bad. He’s better than the kid or the Ewok or anyone else we’ve seen so far. (Note: I hear he plays a larger role in the Ewok’s Caravan of Courage.)

— Bad guys are introduced and they suck. I don’t care. Also good guys are introduced. But there is no decent storytelling here, in spite of Paul Gleeson trying his best.

— The production values on the Endor moon look great. Too bad I don’t get the story. Who are these new villains? Can’t the Empire provide decent bad gals/guys?

— Why am I watching this? Bored now. I think this is largely due to not understanding the lines. Does anyone have a better copy for me to review?

— The main Ewok (in spite of being played by the otherwise reliable Davis) is not given subtitles as things progress. This is poor storytelling — it’s not like Ewoks are cool in the first place. Lucas did this same thing to his detriment with Chewie’s family in the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Although maybe there are Orcs in the tale, which are an early Lord of the Rings concept. I think those are Orcs.

15 minutes in and I’m so bored

— Let’s keep going. I don’t mind kiddie stories as long as they are still interesting for adults.

–Pterodactyls. Okaaaay.

— I still don’t get why the kid and the Ewok are doing anything they do. This is pretty, but honestly, the crazy Star Wars Holiday Special is more exciting. Atrocious as that Lucasfilm wacky movie length Star Wars ‘movie’  is! Never thought that would be better than something else Star Wars-adjacent.

— New character making a meal for the kid and the Ewok. This is decent storytelling. But who is this?

— Clearly this is for children to watch, which explains why I missed it all this time. I was 12 when A New Hope came out and never thought Ewoks were a good idea. Battle For Endor has got decent production values at least. I think Lucasfilm decided the home-to-TV-movie would land us enough views to appreciate. But, no. I WISH I could move on from reviewing it. This is for you, fans.

— I’m a half hour in and want to turn this off. Maybe we should have anticipated Jar Jar Binks from this monstrosity…except Jar Jar is actually more interesting than whatever is happening here. I don’t understand why George Lucas made this awful TV movie. (To sell Ewok toys I guess.)

— The kiddo tells the bad guys why it’s not right to kidnap him. I don’t know why they even want this child. Willow did the story much better. Just watch that again instead of this mess.

— Does anyone think this is a good narrative? Who are the bad guys and good guys and why should I care? No wonder I never heard about this.

— Look, it’s Worf the Klingon! No, it’s actually nothing at all. Move along, move along.

An hour is done! Shit howdy and holy Jedi Force tidings, but this is bad. Chewie and his family waiting for Life Day is actually better.

— A battle begins! Do I care? No. Who are these people?

— I appreciated the Dewback mounts from A New Hope on Tatooine reprised here.

— Apparently, a lot of fans tried to watch The Battle for Endor because The Mandalorian was so good. Fans are trying to catch up to the bits of pieces of missed canon film in existence. You know what? Don’t bother.

— The final battle isn’t too awful. But I doubt you’ll make it this far into the film.

— I did it! It’s over. I watched this so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Should you watch The Battle of Endor?

No. Absolutely no, and this is from someone who watched and even sort of appreciated the insanely weird Star Wars Holiday Special. If you have kids that really like the Ewoks from The Return of the Jedi, maybe this is for you. For adults, SKIP. Really.

Otherwise…welcome to a total fail for Star Wars fans. The production values are good enough to keep The Battle for Endor from getting a total F grade, but I think I’m being too kind.

Movie Grade: D-

 

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Movie Review – Reality Queen

Reality Queen is not the kind of movie I normally watch. I don’t keep up with Kardashians, and people like Paris don’t entice me. But…I admit a sneaking curiosity to the idea of this weird popularity contest. Why do fans follow these awful people on social media? Do we all secretly want to be entitled princesses? It can’t be a lifestyle choice to aspire to, yearning to use a private plane to fly 20 miles, or buy people to be nice to you.

Reality Queen, the Mockumentary

So, Reality Queen (by Octane Pictures) is an amusing mockumentary about a Paris Hilton-esque heiress. In this film, London Logo (newcomer Julia Faye West) is the girl in question, picking up mid-interview by a British journalist who is rightly affronted by London’s lack of class…yet also being judgmental and snooty about it all. In the end, the reporter doesn’t come across as any better than London. In a world where everyone uses each other to get Likes and Follows, anything’s fair game.

But ultimately, here’s a good question at play: is London stupid and spoiled, or is she smart (and spoiled)?

That’s kind of the hidden premise of this film. Crazy sexpot London might be a ditzy blonde with a heart of stone, or a REALLY savvy brand marketer making hay while the sun shines.

Reality Queen explores a few days in the life of a social media celebrity with no discernible skills but the ability to carry off a bikini. Is London a real person inside? The mockumentary is clever enough to let us decide on our own.

Available on streaming and a few select theater showings, Reality Queen is a pleasant couple of hours, where we get to ask ourselves a big question: are our lives so dull that we have to worship fake divas? Or do we deserve being hoodwinked by someone who believes a $50,000 gerbil is a miniature chihuahua?

Reality Queen is an amusing, satiric look behind the scenes at a reality princess and her shaky sphere of influence. Denise Richards and Mike Tyson even make appearances. This is worth a view if you’ve ever wondered why in  holy hell Reality TV shapes our current world. I think this film hits the target it sets for itself, landing squarely in the B range. Recommended for home viewing.

Movie Grade: B-

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Movie Review – Richard Jewell

Movie Review - Richard Jewell - clint eastwoodI don’t even want to address the controversy over Clint Eastwood and his obvious distaste for the media. All I can say is Eastwood knocked it out of the park, again, with Richard Jewell.

Richard Jewell is a tightly-constructed biography of a man with a lifelong ambition to become a member of law enforcement. His commitment to this goal was well played by Paul Walter Hauser, capturing the pain and frustration felt by Jewell during his troubled life.

I credit Hauser for his fine acting skills as Jewell. However, Eastwood was able to take those skills and fine tune them into an unforgettable performance.

That said, the truly outstanding performance was Kathy Bates as Jewell’s mother. Expect an Oscar nod in her future.

Richard Jewell is an amazing movie, and a very sad story.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I recommend the 2nd Peetime, since it give you just a little longer to run.

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

Rated (R) for language including some sexual references, and brief bloody images
Genres: Drama, True life story

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Movie Review – The Irishman

Martin Scorsese worked on The Irishman for twelve years.  The budget for the film kept increasing until no studio would touch it except Netflix.  Scorsese’s last film, Silence, was critically acclaimed but a box office failure.  And it got snubbed at the Oscars.  So the question hanging over The Irishman is, “Is it any good?”

I was lucky enough to see the movie on the big screen during its limited theatrical release.  It is one of Scorsese’s most compelling and watchable films.  Even though the movie has a daunting running time at three and a half hours, it seems to pass quickly.  I watched it at seven PM on a Friday night after a long day at work, and had concerns about being able to stay awake, pay attention, and follow the plot.  But I had no problem.

The movie tells the story of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and his life of crime.  Crime boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) takes him under his wing early on and watches out for him.  Eventually, he assigns Sheeran to protect union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).

The characters and the story draw you in.  As Sheeran becomes pulled farther and farther into the criminal underground, so do we the audience become pulled into the story.  DeNiro and Pacino are both at the top of their game.  It’s great to see them working together for the first time in an A-list film since Heat.  However, it’s Pesci who walks away with the movie and possibly with the Oscar.  There’s a certain dignity to his portrayal of Bufalino.  He’s the quiet anchor of the film: a complete 180 from his role in Goodfellas.  And a perfect bookend to his career.

The movie has a few surprising moments of comedy.  Both of them are scenes involving Pacino and DeNiro, and are among my favorites of the year.  One comes late in the film during the third act, to relieve tension before the final battle.

The de-aging technology doesn’t look completely natural.  It occasionally makes the actors look like video game characters.  However, if you can get past that, there are some great performances in the film.

The movie is based on a non-fiction book titled I Heard You Paint Houses.  However, Sheerhan’s confessions have been contested.  We will never know the truth about most of the incidents depicted in the film.  However, it makes for an entertaining story and a cautionary tale.  This is among Scorsese’s best.

Grade: A 

The credits run for 9 minutes and there is nothing extra during or after the credits.

Never Surrender – A Galaxy Quest Retrospective

galaxy quest documentary never surrender
Never give up. Never surrender.

I just smiled my ass off for 95 minutes. And you will too, if you’ve loved Galaxy Quest since it premiered in 1999. I’ve been telling everyone in earshot for decades that Galaxy Quest is one of the best “Star Trek” movies ever made. It was kind of fun to hear this exact sentiment expressed in Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary, which played for one night at my AMC theater, to a packed and happy room.

If you’re a fan of The Orville and you haven’t seen Galaxy Quest, that’s a legit sin. On the other hand, if you decide to watch it now, you’re in for a special treat. In fact, I’d bet good money Seth McFarlane is a GQ fan. He’s managed to walk the narrative line between Galaxy Quest comedy and epic cannon Trek for two beloved Orville seasons already, with a third on the way.

As I said, the theater room for Never Surrender was packed with fans for the one-night engagement. People cheered, clapped, laughed, and shouted out popular lines from GQ. In fact, we clapped like Thermians. And if you remember what a Thermian is, you just might be a geek. 🙂

Nice touches in Never Surrender

Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) and Brent Spiner (Data) are interviewed and showed a lot of enthusiasm for Galaxy Quest. That’s a bit of awesome. I hope you aren’t wondering who Wesley and Data are: I’m certainly not going to tell you. If you appreciated Galaxy Quest, you’re probably familiar with Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Ooops, I just gave it away.) Spiner even reported that Patrick [Stewart] said, “I love this film.”

BTW, Spiner does a pretty good Captain Picard impression.

It was also lovely (and sad) to see Alan Rickman behind the scenes. Apparently he was a lot of fun to work with. And since I had just watched A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood right before Never Surrender, I got to watch Enrico Colantoni in two movies in one day. I do like his work.

In another coincidence, the night before I watched an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, where Herc is in a  labyrinth full of elaborate and deadly traps (season 2 episode 3: What’s In A Name). One scene is INCREDIBLY reminiscent of the “Who builds these things?” scene in Galaxy Quest, where the heroes have to pass a chamber full of gigantic metal posts bashing together. Again, if you’re a fan, you know this scene. I enjoyed seeing Hercules making a blatant homage.

And seriously, good point. Someone should make a list of all the vast, unexplained abysses in Star Wars movies, and weird dangerous chambers full of deadly grinding gears — one even made it into Guardians of the Galaxy, which the documentary revealed was partly inspired by Galaxy Quest.

How Galaxy Quest could have been

One thing I never knew: GQ was originally written as an R rated film. They had to remove some scenes and redub some lines to get it down the PG rating the studio wanted. In fact, in the aforementioned “Who builds these?” scene, Sigourney Weaver’s character said “F*ck this”….which was dubbed as “Screw this,” but you can see that her mouth is actually forming the original line. It’s funny either way.

Did you know genre favorite Harold Ramis was originally slated to direct Galaxy Quest? I’d have loved to see his version, but can’t complain with what we got.

It was also interesting to hear the extensive laundry list of A-level actors who turned down the captain’s role, eventually landed by Tim Allen. He was never anyone’s first choice apparently, but Allen did a wonderful near-Shatner portrayal.

The whole cast really clicked, and instead of being a cheap spoof movie, GQ became a real science fiction film with only gentle parody that offended exactly no one. It takes the storytelling a step above and beyond Mel Brooks’ silly Star Wars spoof Spaceballs. (Which I also enjoy, on a different level.)

I don’t think anyone dislikes Galaxy Quest. When Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary comes out on streaming platforms, give it a watch…and by Grabthar’s Hammer, you shall be avenged!

Don’t deny it. You know you choked up during this scene:

Documentary Grade: A-

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Movie Review – Won’t You Be My Neighbor

mr rogers neighborhood
Even the trailer for this has me crying.

Everyone’s saying the Tom Hanks Mr. Rogers movie is great and I definitely plan to see it this Thanksgiving week. I remember loving “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” as a child, with the trolley and the cute puppet kingdom…but haven’t given the show another thought as the decades passed. Then 2018’s documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor hit the indie circuits, and people recalled Fred Rogers as a sort of folk hero.

I figured I’d watch the documentary before seeing the dramatic, wide release version.

I’m happy to report Won’t You Be My Neighbor is an absolutely lovely 90 minutes of time, well-spent. If you watch it before seeing Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, you’ll go in with a greater understanding of this incredibly kind, compassionate man. I look forward to seeing Tom Hank’s take on it: I’m told Hanks channels Rogers’ essence, instead of performing an exact mimicry.

The documentary shows clips of the television show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (which ran 31 seasons, beginning in 1968), interview segments with Fred Roger’s wife and sons, and a bit of background on what the show was about — mainly (and I didn’t realize this as a child) to provide children a role model for dealing with difficult emotions. The show promoted tolerance for others and self-love.

In a world where hate is accepted as the New Normal, being reminded of human kindness/acceptance of differences is hugely important.

Did I cry while watching Won’t You Be My Neighbor? You bet I did. The documentary felt like a long, warm hug. Fred Rogers somehow radiated love and patience to everyone he met, even through the TV screen, to thousands of children everywhere. I’d forgotten this.

How often do you hear “I like you just the way you are?”

My guess is, not enough. Perhaps never. And that’s a damn shame. It’s so easy to accept and love one another, and yet we don’t. Life hurts us and we get jaded. We harden our hearts. And sometimes we hurt each other because we don’t remember what’s it’s like to receive unconditional love.

Watching a grown man reach out to others through old puppets, especially the sensitive tiger Daniel (who, like The Velveteen Rabbit, has most of his fur loved off) was surprisingly heartwarming. You absolutely buy into the notion that Mr. Rogers loves everyone. And everyone includes me and you.

Watching this made me want to be better — to be like him. And it made me feel more optimistic about humanity in general. I don’t think it’s possible to watch Mr. Rogers do his thing and not be comforted.

And I for one am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Movie Grade: A-

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Frozen Adventures You May Have Missed

Disney has finally given in to the demands of countless children, and made a sequel to their hit film Frozen.  I already have my tickets and will be seeing it opening weekend with my girlfriend, the world’s biggest Olaf fan.  (No, seriously.  I can’t sleep at night anymore because of all the stuffed snowmen staring at me.)  In-between the two films, Anna, Elsa, and Olaf had a few adventures you may not know about.

So, in case you’re a completist like me, here’s three Frozen adventures you might want to see.

Frozen Fever

This seven minute short debuted in theaters in front of Disney’s live-action Cinderella in 2015.  Elsa tries to give Anna a surprise birthday party.  However, Elsa has caught a cold, and with every sneeze she produces a bunch of “Snowgies” — adorable snowball-like creatures — who begin dismantling the decorations.  The cartoon features a catchy new song: “Making Today a Perfect Day.”

Frozen Fever can be found here:

  • Available for purchase on most major streaming sites like Amazon and iTunes.
  • Available as an extra on the Cinderella Blu-ray and DVD.
  • Available as part of the Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection on DVD/Blu-ray combo pack or streaming.  (There’s also a funny Tangled short in that collection.)

Lego Frozen Northern Lights

Frozen gets the Lego treatment in this four-episode TV miniseries.  Elsa and Anna journey to find the Northern Lights, which are invisible from their home of Arendelle.

  • This appears to be available for free on YouTube, with each of the four episodes running about 6 minutes.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

This twenty-one minute cartoon debuted in theaters in front of Pixar’s Coco.

Unfortunately, many audience members didn’t come prepared to see Olaf, and didn’t like waiting nearly half an hour for their Coco feature to start.

The cartoon was eventually moved to play after the feature, and then removed completely and made available on streaming sites.

During the first Christmas since the gates reopened, Olaf tries to help Elsa and Anna start some new holiday traditions, by finding out how the residents of Arendelle celebrate.

  • This is available on Blu-ray, DVD, or from major streaming sites like Amazon and iTunes.  It comes with six classic Disney winter/holiday-themed shorts.

Don’t hold it in.  Let it go.  With the RunPee app, you don’t have to wait for the credits to go to the bathroom.  We’ll tell you the best times to go so you won’t miss the best parts of the movie.  And we always have Peetimes for the latest movies like Playing With Fire, Arctic Dogs, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

Movie Review – Frozen 2

Golden Man’s Movie Review – Jojo Rabbit

JoJo RabbitAlthough I’m a fan of director Taika Waititi, the first trailer for Jojo Rabbit didn’t inspire much confidence.  The scene of an imaginary Hitler comforting a ten-year-old boy fell pretty flat.  Waititi isn’t the first person to mine World War II for laughs.  Charlie Chaplin, Mel Brooks, and the TV show Hogan’s Heroes have made light of Hitler and the Nazis.  Does Waititi find new ground to cover?  Oh yes.  And thankfully, there’s more to the film than hinted at in the trailer.

Roman Griffin Davis plays Jojo, a German Bart Simpson, whose imaginary friend is Adolph Hitler.  Jojo is full of patriotism and fanaticism.  Like most young boys, he does not want to admit he has anything as tender as a heart, but his innocence betrays him.

Waititi himself plays Hitler, and portrays him as absurd, funny…and scary.  He brings the same comedic sensibility to this role as he does to Korg in the MCU films.

The imaginary friend aspect leads to some great moments of physical comedy, such as what Jojo imagines Hitler eats or how he has Hitler exit a scene.  Hitler does not become a sympathetic figure like I was concerned he might.  Instead, he remains mostly a figure of ridicule….taken seriously by Jojo, much less so by the audience.  By his final scene, Jojo has seen the monstrous side of Hitler more than once.

Sam Rockwell plays the worst soldier/Nazi in the world.  The fact that he is put in charge of a camp full of children is both hilarious and terrifying.  At this point, we are going to have to deal with the fact that Rockwell is going to be a contender for Best Supporting Actor nearly every year for the foreseeable future.  If he got a nomination for playing W in Vice last year, he’s got a shot at Oscar gold again for playing yet another bad boy misfit.  (One who has a memorable and redemptive final scene.)

Scarlett Johansson is also probably in the Oscar race for Best Actress (or Best Supporting Actress, depending on Oscar politics) for her role as Jojo’s mother.  Her zest for life recalls characters like Maude from Harold and Maude or Anthony Quinn’s Zorba.

Thomasin McKenzie, who was so good in last year’s Leave No Trace, plays a Jew Jojo’s mother is sheltering.  McKenzie continues to do stunning work as a young actress.

Archie Yates plays Jojo’s buddy Yorki.  Yates is effortlessly funny and a total scene stealer.  I hope to see more of him in the future.

Although it’s rare for younger male actors to be nominated, Davis could receive a Best Actor nomination for his role as Jojo.  His face is so expressive.  He carries a lot of the film.  He plays a complex character.  And he captures the essence of childhood without being cutesy, cloying, or manipulative.

Jojo Rabbit  exists in its own universe, combining the madcap comedy of a Mel Brooks film with something more emotional and dramatic.  It’s rare for a comedic film to make it to the Oscars, however, this one will probably get a Best Picture nomination.  It has already won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.  Since 2011, every People’s Choice Award winner has gotten a Best Picture nom.  This one certainly deserves consideration.

Grade: A-

Fortunately, JoJo Rabbit just went into wide release so we now have Peetimes for it on the RunPee App. We also have Peetimes for all the major releases like Doctor Sleep, Midway, Last Christmas, and over a thousand more films.  Never miss the best parts of a movie when you use the RunPee app.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

Top 5 Space Travel Movies

 

gravity with sandra bullock and george clooney
Gravity, or lack thereof.

Ad Astra opens this week.  Starring Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones, it has plenty of Oscar potential.  Pitt plays an astronaut who travels through space to seek his missing father.

 In honor of this movie’s opening weekend, here are my top five space travel movies.

5.  The Right Stuff

This movie takes the fifth slot because it’s been the longest since I’ve seen it.  It’s based on Tom Wolfe’s non-fiction book about Mercury 7, the first crewed space flight by the U.S.  It boasts a cast that includes Dennis Quad, Ed Harris, Sam Shepard (Oscar nominated for his role), and Fred Ward.  Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert named it the best film of 1983.

4. Interstellar

I’m a huge Christopher Nolan fan.  This is his underrated space epic starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway.  In a dystopian future where Earth is becoming uninhabitable, a team of explorers travel through a wormhole to search for a new home for humanity.  This one gets emotional in that the astronauts have to say goodbye to their families in order to save them, with no promise of ever seeing them again.

3. Gravity

Alfonso Cuarón won Best Director for this survival story starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.  It also won Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing.  Which is fitting because the movie makes you feel like you are there.  I saw this one on an IMAX screen and it was like being on a thrill ride.  Sandra Bullock got an Oscar nomination for her knockout performance.

2. First Man 

Damien Chazelle makes movies about the price of ambition.  This biopic focuses on Neil Armstrong and what it took to achieve the Apollo 11 moon landing.  This film is notable for its realistic scenes of rocket travel.  It features sound editing and special effects that put you inside the rocket next to Ryan Gosling, from the very first scene.

1. 2001 : A Space Odyssey 

My mom bought me a Stanley Kubrick boxed set for Christmas when I was in college and this was my favorite film in the set.  Kubrick set the bar for the space epic with his adaptation of the Arthur C. Clarke novel.  It follows mankind from the beginning of time to the future.  And it features one of the most famous computers in cinema history:  H.A.L. 9000.  I got to watch this with a live orchestra providing the soundtrack and it was awesome.  I always try to catch this one when it plays on a big screen.  All of these selections should be seen on the big screen when/if possible for maximum effect.

I know, I know.  Apollo 13 isn’t on the list.  Sorry, but I feel like it’s one of the overrated movies of my generation.  Maybe I’ll give it another watch one day and reassess it. [Editor note:  Apollo 13 is in my top 10 films ever and my rewatches never get old…]

Honorable Mentions

The Martian

This would probably be in my sixth slot.  It was hard to leave it off the list.  Like Gravity, this is another tale of survival.  Matt Damon plays an astronaut stranded on Mars who must find a way to survive until Earth can send a rescue mission.  Based on the novel by Andy Weir, the movie gets bonus points for using actual science. [Ed note: okay, you are redeeming yourself a little here.]

October Sky

This biopic tells the story of NASA engineer Homer Hickam as a teenager.  Jake Gyllenhaal plays the son of a coal miner who is inspired to take up rocket science by the Sputnik launch.  Chris Cooper (always good!) plays his disapproving father.  Laura Dern is the inspiring teacher who helps Homer and his friends build and launch model rockets.

Hidden Figures

Or, as my poor forgetful father dubbed it after calling me three times to ask the name of it, Feelings For Numbers.    The movie tells the story of three black female mathematicians who worked for NASA during the Space Race, especially during Project Mercury.  Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, and Octavia Spencer give inspiring performances in this important and uplifting film.  The movie also features one of my favorite recent Kevin Costner performances.

 

The Downlow on Sci Fi movie breaks:

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Movie Review – Ad Astra

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Movie Review – Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable

Movie Review - Bethany Hamilton: UnstoppableBethany Hamilton’s Unstoppable as a documentary is hard to grade. I’m going through a ‘shark movie’ phase, and there were no toothy predators here. I expected to see Bethany’s harrowing events, feeling gripped and scared along with viewing her traumatic experience.

As it was, the documentary picks up only after the attack and healing phases. While it was lovely to see her determination to train harder than anyone else and get back to doing what she loves and excels in, I feel…well…tricked into seeing a surfing movie.

Do you love to surf? Do you follow the sport, revel in outstanding cinematography? (Those curls!!! The breaks are crazy and not for the timid.) Have you been following Bethany’s story on the news and online outlets? Then this will be a treat for you.

Bethany even experiences the normal happy life events a lovely young girl can expect (marriage, a baby), and after the attack and the childbearing, she had to work harder than anyone else out there on the waves — to not just compete among the world’s best caliber surfers alongside women like Courtney Conlogue and Nikki Van Dijk — but to show well and take home titles.

This gal is DETERMINED. The Terminator of water, disabled or not.

Remember, this is a Documentary

So, back to grading it. I’m not going to downgrade it as a disappointing outing when I expected, well, you know —> SHARKS. There are no sharks, even though this is released during Shark Week and arrives only a few weeks before the expected crazy chomp-chomp goodness of 47 Meters Down. (Sorry — I am being a total douchebag, but I wanted action sequences).

So I’ll grade this purely on the level of a surfing documentary. And I have to say, it was about average, but on the high end. There’s nothing here you can’t find poking around the internet about Bethany Hamilton. She’s a sweet girl and works Olympic-level hard at her sport.

I know she has great things ahead, and her disability means she has to pioneer new techniques about balance, steadfastness, and belief in one’s self.

It “breaks” down to this (pardon the pun): if you want to surf, or your child does, watch this. If you’re a girl, or someone with a disability, or just terrified of shark attacks, there’s an inspiring takeaway here. Don’t let anyone or anything shut down your dreams. Ever. And that’s why you should see this docu-film.

Go now, while Unstoppable is still in the theaters. (Docs have a short half-life until the awards seasons, coming next in 2020.)

But What About The Sharks?

If you’re looking for voyeuristic escapist shark-esque tales, stick to 47 Meters Down 1 & 2, The Reef, Deep Blue Sea, The Shallows, The Meg, Jurassic World 1 & 2 (the Mosasaurus), Jaws (an A+ film, if there ever was one), Crawl, or even those campy Sharknado films, for some man-eating survival tales.

(Tales/Tails…OMG what is with me and puns today? I am so disrespectful to this tasteful docu-drama, but I don’t mean it, really.)

I’m going to stop here because I really don’t want to be flippant over Hamilton’s real heroic journey. She’s a living legend at a tender age. A real life superhero. And don’t ever let the turkeys, or the sharks, get you down.

“When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept; Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.”  -Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2.

Movie Grade: C+

About the Peetimes:  Since this is a surfing documentary and NOT a shark attack movie – at all – I’ll assume peeps who know of Bethany Hamilton are coming to see the fine surfing action & cinematography. Therefore I focused my 3 Peetimes on the many voice-overs and interviews you can find elsewhere online. The Recommended Peetime comes at 57 minutes, but all are just fine.

There are extra scenes of Bethany’s real life playing all across the credits, so you will want to stay throughout the very short ending. (What we mean by anything extra.)

The credits run for approximately 2 minutes.

Rated PG for some thematic elements. Genres: documentary, drama, true life story, sport.

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

https://runpee.com/newie-review-the-reef-low-budget-decent-non-campy-

http://runpee.com/jaws-runpees-re-watch-review/shark-movie/

Movie Review – The Meg