Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker in 4D

4d-rdx-poster
They actually don’t allow you to sit in other people’s laps at these things.

Somehow at the 2019 San Diego Comic Con I scored a free Regal Cinemas 4D movie ticket, handed to me by Dan Fogelberg — Jacob Kowalski himself — from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I decided the best possible use of this golden ticket was a 4D showing of Rise of Skywalker, the finale of the  Skywalker Star Wars Saga. I couldn’t think of a better use of this expensive freebie besides a Fantastic Beasts film (which wouldn’t come out soon before the ticket expired). So, I’m about to see my very first 4D movie excursion right now at the Regal Edwards Cinema in Mira Mesa, CA. (That’s in Northern San Diego.)

Spoilers start for Rise of Skywalker. I have to be specific, or not bother writing it up at all. 

entrance-rdx-4d
Welcome to the 4D chamber of delights. Or torture chamber. There’s some overlap.

Okay, I’m back. Here’s what I have to say about the 4D 3D D-Box experience for Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker

Good things, mostly:

The 3D was clear and worked well with the 4D story nods. Worth paying for both together if you’re going to bother with the extra expense.

The vibration feature was effective. This was probably the most effective element in the Rise of Skywalker‘s 4D version.

The wind feature helped set the mood well.

Temperature changes: I felt chilly a few times, but I’m not sure if it was just the wind feature in action. But this is supposed to happen. There probably should have been a few heat scenes during the fights.

Strobe lighting: A few times this worked, but it got distracting after the first few times. Mostly used in lightsaver scenes and anything with Palpatine. I think if you’re an epilectic you’ll want to NOT see Rise of Skywalker in 4D.

The seats rocked and bucked and yawed in tune with the spaceship action. But you stop noticing after a few times, and maybe this could have been done better. Or maybe they didn’t want people vomiting in their chairs. It felt like those old Star Tours rides at Disneyland, but without needing seat belts. I would have preferred more flying action AND seat belts.

Each lightsaber stab gave me an actual poke in the back, in different locations that loosely matched the movie fighting. More or less.

Some water mist on the ruined Death Star scenes were okay. Not enough, though. You are able to turn off the waterworks option on your seat console, so why not do this right for those who wanted it? More was needed. I barely noticed.

Smoke. Although it felt a little gratuitous since this wasn’t really that kind of film.

Scent: Um…a few times I smelt burnt rubber and that was it.

Overrated Things: 

Well, all of it, really, It still felt like they were trying too hard, and the few additions weren’t amazing enough to put me into the action. The effects got gratuitously repetitive, too.  It felt more like, “Oh, hey, they added a thing here. Now stop it.”

Oh, and if you get motion sickness easily, or have other health problems, don’t see RDX 4D motion movies.

There’s a long list of health warnings! 

4D-health-warnings
Look it up online if you’re unsure 4D is healthy for you.

 

Ultimately: should you shell out money for Star Wars in 4D?

Overall: 4D is still a cash grabbing gimmick. It’s fun to do for the occasional film (a RunPee fan told us it’s superb for Ford v Ferrari, and you can feel each gear shift and corner turn), but for Star Wars it was…meh?

I’d wait for the tech to improve before paying $25 for the experience. Do it once at a movie you’re excited about, and see if you’re willing to do it again.

The 6 Most Epic Lightsaber Fights in Star Wars (plus 3 that didn’t make the cut)

Movie Review – Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker (spoiler free)

Star Wars – Death Stars and Planet Killers: Enough Already

Movie Review – Like a Boss

 

Movie Review - Like a BossLike  a Boss: cute movie. No great shakes here. It’s pretty much what you’d expect — there’s lightweight  female empowerment, and cutthroat mean girl antics. Most scenes are pretty silly.

Tiffany Haddish is the MVP. She’s very droll. Salma Hayek is amusing as Claire Luna (“Clear Brilliant Moon”), but overshoots her character to the point where you can’t take anything she does seriously. There’s just zero jeopardy — although Hayek seemed to enjoy herself. So there’s that.

Rose Byrne is unfortunately forgettable as Mel, and I don’t really buy M&M’s close friendship. In real life, I would think Mia is too cool and Mel is too awkward. Or at least that’s how the films sells it.

I enjoyed the interesting take on the makeup biz, and there are actually some decent ideas: the One Night Stand makeup kit, the idea of two lipstick choices in one, and the ‘twin makeover’ contest. There’s a good dog penis gag (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write). I won’t give it away, but if you’ve ever had a boy dog, you’ll understand.

Since the film premiered a day early (sometimes this happens and we never know why), the showing was totally sold out. The audience had fun, so I think it hit the target of being pleasant, fluffy, amusing fare. There are a ton of female friendship comedies just like this out there, and there will undoubtedly be more of them.

Overall, Like a Boss is exactly what you’d expect from the trailers, but it’s not worth a $15 movie ticket (unless you’re up for a non-demanding girl’s night out at the movies).

Note: I went from this to seeing Ford v Ferrari, and that really wasn’t fair to Like a Boss. #FvF is just that good.

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: I gave you 2 good, if short, Peetimes. One is in the beginning of the movie and the other is near the end. Since the movie is not very long, either one should do. I avoided the best scenes containing humor/mayhem/general wackiness.

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

Rated (R) for language, crude sexual material, and drug use
Genres: Comedy

Freebies and Swag from Opening Night of Like A Boss

Movie Review – Ford v Ferrari

The Lego Movie 2 – Video and Lyrics to Not Evil (by Tiffany Haddish)

Who rated Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker higher, men or women?

Who rated Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker higher, men or women?

If you go to IMDb.com you’ll see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has a rating of 6.9/10. And at Rottentomatoes.com #RoS gets a 86% from users. (And 53% from critics, but who cares what critics think?)

Infographic of every Star Wars movie ranked by fans on IMDb and RottenTomatoes

That’s nice to know, but user polls like that have always bothered me, because  I don’t know who’s voting. The assumption is that if enough people vote, then it really doesn’t matter. But is that a good assumption? Let’s test it and find out.

In the RunPee app we have a user’s poll — we call it the Peeple’s Poll — that breaks down user voting more precisely by age and gender. We also ask users to submit their expectation vote before seeing the movie to compare with their after-movie vote, to see how a movie performs based on expectations.

Lets see what the Peeple’s Poll numbers have to say about Rise of Skywalker.

Who rated Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker higher, men or women?

Raw data of results by gender

expectation
aftermovie
difference
men
75.9 81.5 +5.6
women
76.8 83.6 +6.8
COMbined
76.1 82.1 +6.0

Women have a higher expectation vote than men. And, their after-movie vote is also higher — by a wider margin. The last remnants of the Old Stereotype that Star Wars is for nerdy boys has been swept away.

An after-movie rating in the low 80% range is respectable. For context, an 82.1 score would put Rise Of Skywalker as the 28th best movie of 2019 — just slightly ahead of Joker.

Read the 2019 Peeple’s Poll Movies – Year in Review here.

Turns out men and women don’t rate movies equally. If we look at all votes for all movies we can see there is a slight, but noticeable, difference in how men and women rate movies.

Peeple’s Poll voting by gender for ALL MOVIES

expectation
aftermovie
difference
men
75.4 80.1 +4.7
women
76.4 82.6 +6.2
Women – men
+1.0 +1.5

Remember, the numbers above are for all movies. The expectation vote between men and women differ by 1.0 points, while the after-movie vote differs by 1.5 points. Not huge, but I think it’s interesting that women generally are happier with a movie than men.

Note: this is with over 80,000 total votes submitted.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker departure from average.

expectation

#RoS – overall avg.

after-movie

#RoS – overall avg.

men
75.9 – 75.4 = +0.5 81.5 – 80.1 = +1.4
women
76.8 – 76.4 = +0.4 83.6 – 82.6 = +1.0

Here we can see the departure from average is a little greater for men than women, but again, women still rate the movie higher.

However, in a deeper context, the trend is for women to have an expectation rating that is 1 point higher than men, and in the case of #RoS it’s 0.9.

Let’s call that a wash.

On the other hand, the trend, when considering all movies, is for women to have an after-movie rating that’s 1.5 points higher than men. In the case of #RoS, men are +1.4 and women are +1.0. Women’s after-movie rating is higher, but not by the margin we would expect according to average.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker expectation by age/genderInfographic, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, rating by men and women before movie expectation

You can see that, in general, women had slightly higher expectations across all age groups, except for the 20-29 range. But more interestingly, I think, the 20-29 age range was lower for both genders by wide margins. If you have some reasoning for, that I’d love to hear it in the comments. Notice also that, among women, those under 20 had the highest expectations, while those 20-29 had the lowest expectations. A stark contrast for two adjacent age groups. But, that’s life.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker after-movie by age/gender

Infographic, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, rating by men and women after movie rating

This is where it gets really interesting. What’s up with women under 20? We saw from the expectation chart that women under 20 had the highest expectation, but it’s crazy how much that groups after-movie rating stands out. My guess is that young women identify with the protagonist Rey and young men identify with Kylo Ren. I don’t want to get into anything spoilery, so I’ll leave it at that. But if you’ve seen the movie you can see how the outcome of the characters could have a strong influence on the weak minded young. 🙂

FAQ – Peeple’s Poll

Want to get punched in the nose? Go tell a teenage girl that #RoS sucked. Note: of the 2,800+ votes for #RoS women under 20 has the least number of votes at just 19. I’ll check back in a few days and update to see there are any changes.

The other thing I notice from the after-movie chart is, among men, those in the 30-39 range had the lowest rating for the movie of any group. Why? Let’s see… A man of about 35 would have been around 15 when Phantom Menace came out. Does the scar of Jar-Jar still haunt them? You tell me.

One other statistical result is worth mentioning, and that’s the percentage of votes by women vs men for all movies and for #RoS.

Percent of voters by gender

# of votes all movies
# of votes Rise of Skywalker
women
27,756 810
men
56,031 1,945
women/men %
49.5% 41.6%

You can see that overall women don’t submit votes in the Peeple’s Poll as frequently as men. (2 votes by men for every 1 vote by a woman.) However, I don’t have any overall gender demographics for RunPee app users. I can only go by users who submit votes in the Peeple’s Poll and submit their gender.

For Rise of Skywalker women account for 41.6% of the votes, down 7.9% from the overall trend. My interpretation is that, while women rate #RoS higher, men account for a disportionate percentage of the audience. At least among RunPee app users.

We’re just getting started here. Tell me, what other sorts of statistical breakdowns would you like to see in the future?

Movie Review – Star Wars – Rise of Skywalker (spoiler free)

Star Wars – Death Stars and Planet Killers: Enough Already

The 6 Most Epic Lightsaber Fights in Star Wars (plus 3 that didn’t make the cut)

 

Movie Review – The Grudge

Movie Review - The GrudgeThe Grudge didn’t impress me at all. It was a cool story but it was told all wrong. Before I get into everything I felt was wrong with it, my one compliment: there are chilling moments. A few times the hair on my neck stood up. It had potential.

My biggest turn off was how they would jump around in time and storylines. It felt discombobulated — that works in a lot of movies — but in my opinion, not this one. When I was thinking about it last night, I redid it in my head with a continual progression. If they would have formatted it from the past to the present it would have flowed better.

I was not a fan of Andrea Riseborough. She brought no strength to the role of mother and cop. She just wasn’t believable at all. She should be furious with wardrobe too. They made her look like a stick man.

Demian Bichir as Goodman fairs about the same. He didn’t bring anything to the movie, except whispers. Every line he mumbles is whispered. It was annoying.

I found myself thinking about how many aerial shots of them driving around were shown. I already knew it was a super short movie, so why are they filling time with useless scenes? They just didn’t have what they needed to do a good movie. The writing was bad, the acting wasn’t great and the director dropped the ball. It should have been better.

This would make an alright Netflix night, but I wouldn’t have high expectations.

Grade: D+

About The Peetimes: With only 85 minutes of movie time, I chose to submit 1 Peetime. I situated it right after all the initial reveals and before the pieces start coming together for the finale.

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

Rated (R) for disturbing violence and bloody images, terror and some language
Genres: Horror, Mystery

Movie Review – 1917

Movie Review - 1917I usually don’t watch war films, but I was so intrigued by the filming style that I decided to give 1917 a shot. I’m really glad that I did.

I think movies these days add a lot of unnecessary dialogue and scenes to add drama. However, this movie did very little that took away from the main storyline. Because the camera never left the side of the main characters, I was able to experience everything with them. There was never a moment when I wondered what a character was doing.

I think it was important to stay with the main character because it allowed the audience to see that every moment was crucial. I felt the urgency and emotions of the main characters because I witnessed their speed bumps along the way. Seeing this movie in the theater is definitely going to add to that feeling and allow the viewer to appreciate the excellent cinematography.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: Everything blended seamlessly in this movie. 1917 follows the journey of the main characters’ every move, and leaves little room for irrelevant dialogue. This made it both a blessing and a curse to find Peetimes. There were three scenes that didn’t take away from the story, and these scenes made for excellent Peetimes.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of 1917. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence, some disturbing images, and language
Genres: Drama, War

Is there anything extra during the end credits of 1917?

Movie review from a history teacher – 1917

RunPee – Our 2109 Movie Review Rankings (and who was stuck with the worst films!)

Avengers: Endgame - And I, am the all time box office leader.

Avengers: Endgame - And I, am the all time box office leader. $2,797,800,564 world wide. You can buy a lot of Infinity Peecoins with that.

2019 closed out a decade of movies, not so much with a bang, but with a snapAvengers: Endgame was a tour de force that culminated a decade defined, both culturally and monetarily, by the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Between 2010 and 2019 MCU movies brought in a combined $21,738,254,556. (That’s all MCU movies except the first Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, both of which came out in 2008.)

Avenger’s Endgame was just one of the 152 movies we added to the RunPee database this year.

According to the Peeps — people who do Peetimes for RunPee — we had a pretty decent crop of movies in 2019. Here’s a breakdown of the grades our Peeps gave to all the movies this year.

2019 - All movie grades by Peeps
93 of our movies were rated B or better — 65%

We really appreciate all the comments we get about our movie reviews and grades. We’re not anything like professional movie reviewers, but we do our best. Our goal is to give you our honest feelings about a movie, without spoiling it.

Because we see all wide release movies, we’re often stuck watching really bad films.

Each of the Peeps likes to think that we’ve suffered the most by watching the worst movies, but numbers don’t lie. Looks like I (Dan) win The RunPee Award for watching the most crap movies in 2019. I had 4 movies I rated below a C-, Sis and Jill both had 2, and Mom just 1. RunPee Mom really likes to think she’s the martyr, and to be fair, she has watched a number of really bad movies, but not this year. 🙂

Here’s a chart breakdown of the above data2019 Peeps grades chart

 

2019: movies that stood out, for better, or for worse.

RunPee Sis (Christene Johnson)

As I look over my list of movies for 2019, I’m struck by the fact I enjoyed almost all of them. Almost being the key word in that sentence. I gave out only one F this year, and it was totally earned. Hands down, the worst of the worst for me was The Lighthouse. Before I shred this movie apart again, I have to include my favorite movie of the year, JoJo Rabbit. I wish there was a better grade than A+, because it deserves the highest of all praise.

This is where I noticed something very interesting. My expectation going into each of these movies were polar opposites. Seeing the trailers for The Lighthouse had me instantly enthralled. It contained all of my favorite things. I love both Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. I’ve always been entranced by anything water and storm related, so my expectation was at an all time high. I knew I’d love it, and waited months on pins and needles to be blown away.
Now let’s hop over to JoJo Rabbit. I saw one trailer for it and dismissed it right away. I don’t like war themed movies and I’m not really a fan of movies set in the past. I was dreading doing Peetimes and forced myself to suck it up and do my job.
I was 100% wrong on so many levels with both of my expectations. Where the movie I was waiting for, The Lighthouse, had me seeing red and wanting throw my popcorn at the screen, JoJo Rabbit was as refreshing as the spring after an unusually hard winter. There is a quote from Bill Watterson that says, “I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep my expectations.” He’s absolutely right. My high expectations for The Lighthouse and low expectations for JoJo Rabbit demonstrated that philosophy perfectly.

Jill Florio (RunPee co-founder and COO)

Peanut Butter Falcon: A+
The absolute best movie of 2019. And this isn’t even the kind of film I usually like, so you should take my word for it. I lean towards fantasy/Sci-fi/Superhero stuff. This is none of the above. It’s just a gorgeous drama, beautifully written, with superb dialog, amazing characters, lovely on-location scenery, meaningful connections, consistent humor, a rollicking tale, and a satisfying ending. The audience laughed and clapped and walked away happy. It’s just crazy good. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll conclude by saying SEE THIS. You don’t even need your tissue box. What are you waiting for? It’s out on DVD right now. Definitely going on my annual rewatch list. Really, shoo, shoo: go watch it.

Avengers: Endgame: A+
Okay, this was a phenomenal feat. How to wrap up 20+ movies in a way that people will universally be happy? I would have said that’s impossible. We’ve all been burned by franchises that falter at some point, or have a “Chris Carter ending” (ie – X-Files) that make you feel stupid for believing things will be resolved. I don’t know who sold whose soul to do it, but Avengers: Endgame pulled off a cinematic miracle. Are there any MCU fans that were let down? As a Browncoat in Firefly would say, “We’ve done the impossible. And that makes us mighty.” I’m not bothering to explain anything from Endgame, because you’re either an MCU fan that doesn’t need a synopsis, or you’re not the target audience. This was a once in a lifetime event. I don’t even care what happens in the MCU after, because I am replete. [Contented sigh.]

Escape Room: A+
I have no real clue why I gave this such a high grade at the time. I think I was surprised by liking it. It’s probably just worth a B+, thinking about it now. It was cute and mildly clever, and I had a nice time watching it. Sometimes things just shift in your mind over time, and an A+ is totally off in this case. So do I go back in and change the grade?

Rise of Skywalker: A-
I’m…pleased. I could end this blurb here, but I should probably explain. I was 12 when A NEW HOPE (just Stars Wars, back then) premiered. I waited, like many others, for 6-8 hours in line to see this film in the theater. Not even Lucas’s later futzing could ruin Star Wars for me… Until the frakking Ewoks — and the prequel Force retcons — came along to make my faith in the Force falter. The Force Awakens gave me new “hope” and although the newer movies were hit and miss, I was satisfied with the saga finale in Rise of Skywalker. I’m just glad it didn’t suck. And you know what? Grading Star Wars on a curve, I have to admit I more than liked how things concluded. Please, Lucasfilm, stop making these movies. We’re done and it was good. Thank you.

Downton Abbey: A-
When I first watched Downton Abbey on TV, I was captivated. I’m not sure why. There weren’t any spaceships. I just enjoyed the story, even if some subplots totally failed (hello, Anna and Bates). Before the film came out, I was excited, and rewatched the entire six seasons to get ready. The series rewatch was still pretty good the second time around. The movie is just like that: pretty good. And they dropped the Bates’ endless blahs, so yay! I can’t say this is a great film, but if you are a Downton Abbey fan, you’ll be pleased with how the story continues. So pretty, so fun, and everyone we liked is back for seconds, on top of their game.

Knives Out: A-
What a surprise! After royally messing up The Last Jedi, Rian does us proud in an amusing and coherent mystery story about a family of awful people that we’re fascinated to watch. It works, even on several viewings. I was glad to do the Peetimes for it, because it’s a ton of fun and never cheats. Perfect casting, BTW.

The Lion King: A-
I am not entirely on-board with Disney making “live” versions of their classics, but this made me laugh, made me cry, and ultimately moved my soul. I think it was the casting and beautiful visuals. It’s not an A+ like the animated original, but I can’t help but feel reminded that adopting the Hakuna Matata motto is more important as you grow older and life gets more complicated. This is the best version of the animated updates in my opinion, and I think it’s largely due to some stirring and amusing scenes that just made me…happy. There were a few parts that actually improved on the original, and I can’t say that often.

Terminator: Dark Fate: B+

I liked it. Didn’t love it, but I’m okay with that. Not sucking is a great feat these days in a franchise revival. I don’t even care that the otherwise decent T3 was tossed out of continuity. I would have felt better about this film except for three things:  1. The Tar Terminator was trash compared to the T2  liquid metal effects (and awesome acting by Robert Patrick), and 2. the new Chosen One was completely forgettable. I don’t even remember her name or what she did in the movie. Truth. And 3. The unceremonious death of someone. ARG.  I am not going to forgive this.  I can’t. I’m mad as a hornet.

Dark Fate good things: Grace Mackenzie. Linda Hamilton. Arnold. Carl selling draperies. The subplot about immigration. Eating chips. And, of course, sacrifice for the greater good. This is a fine entry in Terminator canon, but I need time to get comfortable with some of it.

Jumani 3 – The Next Level: B
I admit, I was disappointed. I adored Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It was one of my favorite movies of that year. This one was….IDK. Passable. Maybe I was expecting too much from a threequel. I liked it, but have no real desire to watch it over and over like I did with the previous film. I didn’t laugh as much. The plot was….um…what was the plot? Something about yet another jewel. The body swaps weren’t as fun. There were some weird set pieces. But since I was so looking forward to this film, it sticks out in my mind as something worth discussing. I think a B grade is just about right.

Happy Death Day 2U: B
I loved the original Death Day film with it’s comedic, horror-lite, tight mystery story. This was a good follow-up that I did — admittedly — enjoy, but it didn’t approach the delight of the first. What stands out: genre hopping! Instead of horror/mystery/comedy, we got something like a Back to the Future sci-fi flick. It was a good follow up. Recommended, but not wonderful.

Spider-Man Far From Home: B
Not my favorite MCU film, but a decent coda to the MCU Infinity Saga. I wish it had been as fun as Spiderman: Homecoming, but it did a nice job concluding the long and winding road of Marvel storytelling. I’m worried, though. Phase Four needs to be better than this.

Ad Astra: B
I have such mixed feelings on this Brad Pitt almost-solo wonder. There are other characters, briefly, but none of them matter. We get some super interesting set-pieces and quite a bit of philosophical interpersonal conception. Yet…it’s often deadly dull. This movie stands out by being great occasionally, and frequently bad. I look forward to seeing how this stands up to time. I mean, space movies are my thing. But this is more 2001 than Guardians of the Galaxy.  Fair warning: I didn’t like Gravity, which this is sort of like. “Brad” Astra (Ha, get it?)  is more serious and contemplative than adventurous, with a few short but memorable set pieces on various objects in our solar system. You tell me: I just didn’t know what to do with this film.

First Man: B
I wanted to love this, the same way I loved Apollo 13 and The Martian. Perhaps focusing on an emotionless man was the root of the evil. How could the first lunar walk be so boring? I love space. I used to work at AstroCamp, and adore space films. I think Tom Hank’s Jim Lovell said it best in Apollo 13: “Armstrong? Really?” How could such a momentous occasion be so miserable an experience? The man is on the MOON. Try to enjoy the moment. If you can’t appreciate being the first man, give the chance to someone else, who would feel the wonder and joy. For comparison, Second Man Buzz Aldrin was bounding around in excitement. As would I. And probably you. Honestly, thinking about this makes me just mad. First Man gets a B from being competently filmed and well acted, but don’t expect to like anything on screen. What a mirthless excursion.

The Hustle: C-
I don’t want to discuss this. It was bad. Just go see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels again.

Beach Bum:  D+
I love Jimmy Buffet — who was in this trainwreck — and I want to be a professional beach bum someday in my own version of Margaritaville. I was excited to see it! Too bad Beach Bum was garbage. I think this is a film to watch absolutely stoned out of your gourd. You tell me if that improves it.

47 Meters Down: D-
Singularly the worst movie I saw all year, and I am pretty forgiving of shark films. So much wasted opportunity. They could have made a fabulous undersea sunken “lost city” adventure, patrolled by blind cave sharks. Instead, it was just another jump scare movie where we don’t know who will survive by the end. Keep in mind, sharks are — in reality — animals, not monsters. The original 47 Meters Down was a fine film that did right by the genre.

This was just a jumbled, murky, messy, pointless opportunity to exploit shark mania.

Seriously, this could have been a fascinating and exciting story along the lines of, say, “Indiana Jones and the Lost City of Sharks“. I suppose I’m asking too much. Don’t pay any money to see this on any level. It barely misses an F, because there were occasional moments that didn’t totally bomb. The movie has zero connective tissue to the sensible story in the first film. Pass.

RunPee Mom (Ginger Gardner)

They Shall Not Grow Old: A+
Superior to any other war movie ever made. There’s a Russian proverb that says, “A wide road leads to war; a narrow path leads home.” No other movie has exemplified this more than TSNGO. This should be included in every course on military history.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: A
This movie was perfect in every way, right down to the fact that Tom Hanks and Fred Rogers are actually related.

The Art of Racing in the Rain:  B+
For all animal lovers. I applaud the fact that this movie was from the dog’s point of view, and Kevin Costner was the perfect voice for Enzo.

Stan & Ollie: A
As a kid, I never really enjoyed the Stan & Ollie act. I didn’t like the fat guy constantly yelling at the skinny guy. This movie wasn’t so much about the act, as it was about the men behind the act. I believe that John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan both deserve an Oscar nod for their performances.

Blinded by the Light: A
I love Bruce Springsteen, but this movie was so much more than a great soundtrack. The overlying story of a culture clash between the father and son was intense and well played out by Viveik Kalra, as the son, and Kulvinder Ghir as the father. In this year of some really great music bio’s, Blinded by the Light took an entirely different approach to spotlighting the music of the The Boss.

Dan Gardner (RunPee CEO)

Ford v Ferrari: A+
What a surprisingly delightful movie. Of course the partnership of Matt Damon and Christian Bale packed a powerful one-two punch. I expected that and wasn’t disappointed. But everything about the movie just cruises.  It’s movie making at its finest.

Knives Out: A
This is my sleeper of the year. On the surface, this movie is funny and enjoyable. But the subtext of this movie is brilliant. The message that immigrants are the real moral backbone of this country — while entitled white boomers are responsible for its decline — is so subtle that it seems like no one noticed. But once you see it, you can’t help but see anything else.

Yesterday: A
The screenplay is written by Richard Curti: Love Actually, About Time, War Horse, The Boat that Rocked, etc. That’s all I needed to know.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: B- and falling.
RoS had many enjoyable moments, and that’s about it. The more I think about the story, the more I get annoyed. JJ Abrams doesn’t deserve to be piloting this franchise. There are so many errors in storytelling in this movie that it could serve as the exemplar in a class on how not to tell a story.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix: D-
At least Rise of Skywalker had enjoyable moments. Dark Phoenix was so bad as to be cringe worthy.

Hellboy: F-
Even if Hellboy came out 25 years ago, it would have been criticized for lackluster special effects. And as bad as the effects were here, it will only be remembered for being so forgettable.

 

2019 Peeple’s Poll Movies – Year in Review

What’s New in the RunPee App Version 5.0 – Movie posters can can draw on, MCU Peetimes at a glance, and much more!

A Open Response to Kevin Feige (re: Using the Bathroom During Endgame)

Movie Review – Little Women

Movie Review - Little WomenThough I never read the book, I can see why it is so loved. This movie perfectly describes the journeys — and the sacrifices —  that women must undergo, especially in light of the times.

I was able to connect with the desires of the women, and their battle between what they desire and what is practical.

The movie did an amazing job of showing the emotions of the characters and the interpersonal relationships between them. Though no scene was overly dramatic, the message still resonated with me.

I would watch this movie in theaters again.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: The story follows the lives of all the main female characters. The present storyline gives context to the viewers through flashbacks, so it was difficult to find Peetimes that wouldn’t take away from the context.

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

Rated (PG) for thematic elements and brief smoking
Genres: Drama, Romance

Movie Review – Spies in Disguise

Movie Review - Spies in DisguiseThe messages Spies in Disguise delivers should resonate with parents. First, the young scientist/inventor is called “weird” by the kids at school. Throughout the movie that label is challenged, and turned into a compliment.

The second message the story emphasizes is nonviolent solutions to problems. The spy Lance Sterling solves problems with explosions. On the other hand, Walter solves problems with nonlethal doses of glitter. In the end Lance comes to trust Walter’s judgment.

There’s plenty of funny hijinks for kids to enjoy and some of the scenes are funny enough to make adults laugh out loud. While Spies in Disguise doesn’t have the broad ranging entertainment as most Pixar movies, it isn’t one of those movies mom and dad have to flip a coin over who has to take the kids. There’s enough here for everyone to enjoy.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: I have 3 Peetimes spread out nicely. We worked hard to avoid the best (and silliest) action scenes and humor in any of the Peetimes.

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

Rated (PG) for action, violence, and rude humor
Genres: Action, Adventure, Animation

Movie Review – Uncut Gems

Movie Review - Uncut GemsThis is one of those movies that is impossible to grade. That’s because on the one hand, the acting — especially by Adam Sandler — was terrific. And honestly, even though Kevin Garnett played himself, he still did a fantastic job with the nuances. Hat’s off to him. I’d love to see him get a role in a movie where he’s not playing himself,  and see just how far he can go.

However, I hated watching this movie because the story is brutal. The character that Adam Sandler plays — Howard — makes so many bad decisions that it’s painful to watch.

Honestly, don’t see this movie unless you want to torture yourself.

If I could erase this movie from my memory, I would.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I wish there were more Peetimes for this movie, but you’ll understand when you see it. There’s a LOT of dialog. I have a decent early Peetime but if you can wait I’d recommend the 2nd Peetime. It’s super long and has very little dialog and is very easy to summarize.

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

Rated (R) for pervasive strong language, violence, some sexual content and brief drug use
Genres: Comedy, Crime, Drama

The Force is dead. Long live the Force.

<rant>

I saw Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker twice over opening weekend — just to make sure the Peetimes were spot on.

The good news is that it’s an enjoyable film, if you just don’t think about it too much. But if you’re like me, and you can’t help it, you’ll find that you like the movie less and less.

Who made this mess?

To be fair, it isn’t all J.J. Abrams’ fault. Lucas crapped on Star Wars way back in the Phantom Menace with the whole midichlorian debacle. I remember there was considerable optimism when Disney announced Abrams was going to oversee the Star Wars franchise, but I’ve seen enough of Abrams to know that he wasn’t going to fix the Force. If anything, he’s made it worse.

What I love about the Force?

Star Wars: A New Hope introduced audiences to this mysterious but ubiquitous Force. “May the Force be with you,” is one of the most memorable movie quotes ever. It sounds like saying, “Good luck,” but goes much deeper than that. Deep down it’s akin to the Buddhist concept the Middle Way, or Eightfold Way — don’t stray too far in the direction of indulgence or austerity.

When they get it right in the movies, may the Force be with you translates into: may you take the path laid out by the Force and find your way to an end that is balanced between extremes. 

The Force feels right because it acknowledges that good and evil aren’t intrinsic to an action. A shark eating a seal isn’t evil. Sharks must eat to survive. And in hunting the seals they keep the seal species healthy. When an ecosystem loses its predators the prey often increase in numbers to such an extent they threaten not only their own survivability, but the survivability of the entire ecosystem. Like the Force, an ecosystem works best when there is balance.

Bringing balance

The Dark Side of the Force represents greed; the desire of power for the sake of power; killing for sport, not survival.

But if that’s so, then there must be an opposing Light Side of the Force, which is the desire to do good for the sake of good. This light side of the Force is only hinted at in the movies. And this is where the mistakes begin.

The Force Bible

I don’t believe Lucas or J.J. Abrams ever intentionally sat down and wrote a bible for what the Force is and how it works. It’s the storytellers’ prerogative to keep the audience mystified. When done properly, it works wonders. But a storyteller can’t keep themselves in  a mysterious place  of making things up to suit a preconceived outcome.

Both Lucas and Abrams keep the Force vague  so they can make it work the way they needed it to, in order to tell the story they wanted to tell. Any skilled storyteller would tell them that approach doesn’t work. (Okay, they’ve made billions, so I guess it works, but they end up producing high caloric stories: they feel good when we watch them, but we feel like crap later when we think about it.)

Better storytelling

Good storytelling involves defining a universe and its characters so they tell the story. Once you have a well crafted character, they will tell you what they would do. The author telling the character what to do is cheap and obvious. And that’s essentially what we get out of Star Wars stories today. We’re told everything that happens. There’s no figuring things out; there’s no feeling of synthesis as disparate threads inevitably weave together in an outcome that couldn’t have been predicted, but seems obvious in afterthought. No, in Star Wars there’s only characters acting inconsistently to achieve the outcome of Lucas/Abrams’ vision.

Fixing the Force

There’s almost no fixing the mess they’ve made without a reboot — and that’s not going to happen. The only solution I see going forward is to introduce another Yoda-like character who re-explains the Force and how it works. They would need to reimagine much of the existing canon created in the Star Wars universe, but they’ve been wildly inconsistent so far. Why stop now?

First and foremost, drop any genetic relationship to the Force. That’s just absolute crap from the start. It’s absurd to think that gurus, saints, or prophets,  can pass on their knowledge genetically. Why should it be any different for the Sith and Jedi? What can be passed down is the teaching.

Also, by making the Force a genetic trait it creates elitist royal bloodlines of the Skywalkers and Palpatines. While the concept of the Force feels real on some level it’s a real turnoff to think that true mastery of this mysterious Force is off limits to we plebeians.

There are numerous examples of Jedi talking about “balance in the Force.” It’s time to formally adopt the concept of the Middle Way, by acknowledging that good and evil are the same as positive and negative charges in particle reactions and will always be conserved. For every good there will be an evil, and visa-versa. And as such, the power of the light side of the Force, represented by the Jedi, will always be balanced with the dark side of the Force, represented by the Sith.

Video Essay – How to Film a Good Sword Fight

In Phantom Menace there were hints of this. The Jedi were described as impartial arbiters of the galaxy for thousands of years. As such, they didn’t intend to do good or bad, but only arbitrate and enforce contracts/laws. However, as time went on they grew inclined to take sides in some situations and do what they thought was right/good. In doing so they created the imbalance in the Force and thus gave rise to the power in the dark side, themselves.

It’s a common and compelling trope that the protagonist unwittingly creates its own opposition.

Hold on, you say, there were lots and lots of Jedi and only two Sith in Phantom Menace. True. But as I’d recommend, the combined power of the two Sith alone balance out the combined power of all the Jedi combined.

This introduces another interesting plot twist: Darth Maul and Palpatine share all of the power of the dark side of the Force. Even though Palpatine is the Sith master, it still leaves an incredible amount of power for Darth Maul. Making any fight between Maul and any individual Jedi unfair. However, as Maul, and later Vader, kill off the Jedi, they are inevitably killing off their own power. The balance is continually maintained. If Palpatine truly had every Jedi killed then he would be left powerless. And by using the dark side he would inevitably recreate his own opposition. There’s no way around it.

Transcendence through Gnosis/Knowledge

Wait,  there would be one way around it. During the climactic confrontation in Rise of Skywalker I momentarily thought Rey might possibly take the following approach. She could come to a new understanding of the Force, that while the balance must be maintained it can be maintained inside one person. She could have mastered both the dark side and the light side simultaneously. Making her inconceivably more powerful than Palpatine, who was limited to only the dark side.

It would have been an ending similar to The Matrix, when Neo realized that he was beyond the rules, and could create new rules as it suited him. Once Neo achieved gnosis/knowledge, he moved beyond his adversary, who was still rooted in the rules.

Imagine the satisfaction of seeing Rey achieve a level of gnosis/knowledge —where she could contain all of the dark and light side of the Force — continually balanced, like the Hindu god Dattatreya who contains the triad Brahma/creator, Vishnu/preserver, and Shiva/destroyer as one.

That’s the story I want to see. I guess I’ll have to write it myself.

</rant>

Movie analysis – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker