Spoiler-iffic Review of Terminator – Dark Fate

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

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

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

Talking Dark Fate

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

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

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

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

Terminator Dark Fate - Carl
#ThereAreNoDrapesButWhatWeMake

Where Dark Fate Failed

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

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

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

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

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

Hasta La Vista, John Connor?

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

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

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

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

More Pissy Thoughts

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

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

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

Moving on.

Dark Fate: Girl Power Version

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

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

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

Sarah Connor…is back

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

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

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

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

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

So, I had to see Dark Fate again

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

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

It seems like it, but honestly, in spite of my annoyance, Dark Fate really is a good movie.

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

Judgement Day: Now What?

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

Chew on that.

Movie Grade: B+

Ranking the Terminator Movies

Official Movie Review – Terminator: Dark Fate

Movie Review – The Terminator

Terminator TV Series: The Carlenator

In Defense of Terminator 3

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the Main Plot of a New Buffy Show?

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

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

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

That could be a hell of a movie.

 

 

Terminator TV Series: The Carlenator

Ahoy there. Spoilers for Terminator: Dark Fate ahead!

Terminator: Dark Fate isn’t blowing the doors off the box office. It opened with a slightly disappointing weekend of $29 million: $1 million below expectations. In fact, the past three Terminator movies (Salvation, Genisys, and Dark Fate) all failed to meet box office expectations, throwing the future of the franchise in doubt.

Personally, I can’t get enough Terminator. I say keep them coming.

Terminator Dark Fate - Carl

But you know what I would love, Love, LOVE to see? A Terminator TV series that chronicles the adventures of the T-800 (Carl/Arnold Schwarzenegger) meeting Alicia and her son Mateo. It wouldn’t need to be a badass action drama. It would work fine as an comedy, with a sprinkle of action here and there. I would imagine the plot would focus around Carl coming to grips with his existence and searching for purpose, with a little bit of a one man A-Team theme where he occasionally helps out people who are in trouble.

If you’re thinking that Arnold is too old for this, then remember that they de-aged him for Dark Fate. The de-aging technology is getting better and better. It’s getting to the point that they wouldn’t even need Arnold to participate. They could use a double on-set and replace him in post production, along with a synthesized Arnold voice.

What do you think? Would you watch a show like this?

Rewatch Review – Dave (1993) … And A Few Notes about Post Scarcity & Star Trek

dave movie trailer 1993 kevin kline
Hail to the chief, even when he’s in the shower.

We should be so lucky to have a real life scenario where Dave, the movie,  happens. I was delighted to re-catch the 1993 film  last night… and finished  off with a real smile on my face. Plus a positive attitude, and a lot of wish fulfillment. Watching again this was a great time and help up surprisingly well so many years later.

Note of excitement that’s only a  little political:

The idea that if we just took a good hard look at our spending choices in the US Budget, we could move that cash into positive reforms, is exciting. I realize it’s not that easy — each cash allowance is earmarked for different departments, and if they don’t spend it they lose it…but that’s a broken system. We should focus on sending money to issues that will help humanity suffer less. Not to buy thousand-dollar staplers for administration employees. (Yes, look this up.)

So, avoiding political battles. I don’t want to upset people. But Dave is just such a darn feel-good movie about what could happen if someone who really wanted to help people became a public servant, and if we had a a simple but smart accountant take a sober look at where we’re leaking money (like millions of ‘petty cash’ allotments), and make some big budgetary changes.

Alright, alright, I’m not saying (as Dave posits) that we can get a job for every American who wants one. But isn’t this what FDR did? The Conservation Corps of America said, “Hey, if you’re able bodied, let’s make stable trails, and safe roads, and solid hospitals…” — and that’s certainly better than sending out a welfare check for no work at all.

In Dave, the message is that people WANT to be productive and feel their days have structure and meaning. Sure, some people would rather be fishing or playing video games, but that’s better than having desperate people become criminals and overload the expensive penal system. Let them fish. Maybe they can help feed their families or communities; never a bad thing.

A Post Scarcity Economy can happen — think Star Trek

I’m getting political again…but I just really think we can do this. We almost have most of the Star Trek post scarcity indicators:

  • Replicators that can create anything off the waste products society makes, from the molecular level up (ie – industrial 3D printers getting better all the time).
  • Self driving cars to prevent millions of expensive accidents and illegal acts.
  • Holodecks to keep people content, entertained, and mentally active (VR and AR simulations are constantly improving. At the last Comic Con, I WALKED ON THE MOON. It was real enough to make me cry with joy). Rome had a good idea with their Bread and Circuses program, cynicism aside…
  • AI – Self-aware, self-replicating computers that can take over the most menial of jobs, be our expert medical diagnosticians, run simulations on how society can benefit most from automation, etc, and so on, ad infinitum (The Singularity could happen any time now).
  • Nano Tech that can create durable goods  with almost unlimited strength  capabilities, including the possibility of Space Elevators (Getting closer every day).
  • Warp Speed and Transporters are not really a thing soon, but we don’t need those to make Earth a paradise for all. We don’t live in a United Federation of Planets just yet. 😉

We aren’t at these scientific levels yet, but many will probably happen in our lifetimes, making goods, education, health, and basic services available to all, almost freely. This is what a post-scarcity economy could mean for humanity.

And honestly, if you think about it, most people want to contribute their skills to betterment in some way. There’s no downside to smarter resource allocation.

Dave (the movie) shows what happens when Dave (the character) — a smart, honest, and caring person who only wants to be a public servant performing the job the country ‘hired’ him to do — accidentally gets into office, and has a chance to do just that. No egos. No excess. Just: Do. The. Job.

Why should “the normal” be to expect less from our leaders? Politicians aren’t celebrities. They are public citizens. And we hire them to make things better.

dave kevin kline and sigourney weaver
Seriously adorable couple.

What else? The characters were great!

Dave (Kevin Kline, in a fantastic double role performance), gives us a comic, sweet-spirited, fascinating take on “What If?…” He’s never been this lovable in any role.

Sigourney Weaver did a bang up job as Dave’s muse, and Frank Langella  (as always) was perfect as the corrupt Chief of Staff you love to hate. “You’re LINT!” might have been my favorite line.

Speechwriter Kevin Dunn as Alan was simply adorable, but the MVP role goes to Ving Rhames as Duane, the “president’s” bodyguard. I melted when he finally opened up about how sweaters made his neck look big. His final line to Dave, about taking a bullet for him, was sentimental without being gooey: a perfect character development moment.

And Duane’s last-second scene at Dave’s office door made me grin like a freaking fool, realistic or not. Just happy vibes all around. Share this movie with everyone you know.

Yes: Real People Cared Too

A LOT of real life politicos, TV hosts, pundits, and celebrities (Hi Arnold!) played themselves in Dave. Clearly, some important folks got the humor of the film, and the sweetness, and also maybe cared about making our country a better place for everyone.

Lastly. Thank you, Director Ivan Reitman (of Ghostbusters fame) for making a seemingly fluffy movie with a ton of heart and hope for all Americans.

Movie Grade: A

Why Avatar Deserves to be the Number 1 Movie Over Avengers: Endgame

Na'vi girl in avatar
It’s not easy being Blue…

With Avengers: Endgame passing Avatar to become the highest grossing movie of all time, I’ve recently gotten into a lot of heated debates with my friends as to why I think Avatar is more deserving of #1.

So I’m going to tell you — in a more calm manner than I do my friends — why I think Avatar is still Number 1.

Avatar Revolutionized Film-Making

The first thing we can’t ignore is that Avatar pushed new boundaries for film-making when it came out. Avatar revolutionized the visual effects industry with its ground-breaking CGI…which still looks amazing 10 years later.

Don’t get me wrong — if you know what to look for, you can easily spot where they took shortcuts with the effects. For example, how several of the wildlife creatures are sleek and black…meaning they didn’t have to render a lot of texture on the skin. But all of it still looks spectacular.

With Avengers: Endgame, while the CGI is on a technical level better than Avatar, doesn’t push it to the next level, and still looks on par for Avatar.

If you put these two movies side by side, it would be hard to tell whose CGI is better.

Anvengers endgame superheroes
However, we DO know everyone’s name here…

Better Characters? Or Just More of Them?

Now let’s talk about the characters. It’s been a joke for a while now that people can’t name a single character from Avatar, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have good characters. The actors give great performances to bring them to life, and you feel genuinely sad when someone dies.

Now of course Avengers: Endgame has superb characters: that much can’t be denied, but the main reason we feel so bad when someone dies in Endgame is because we have seen these characters on screen for quite some time. Endgame wasn’t just a one and done, it built up over 20+ films. Avatar had to build its characters in one go. And this leads nicely into my next point…

Avengers: Endgame didn’t come out of the blue with Marvel expecting it to flop. It came out a hit from the beginning. Book-ending 11 years worth of movies Endgame had so many people behind it already. Avatar had Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel come out a week after it, because Fox thought Avatar would flop. Not even Fox backed up Avatar.

And one small extra point: both of these movies came out a second time with additional features in the movie theaters. But generally everyone agrees that Avengers: Endgame extra content sucked, while Avatar came out with essentially a Directors Cut of the film, which just made it better. 

avatar na'vi man and woman
You have to admit, they look good together.

The World Building is Unmatched in Avatar, Comparatively

Now my favorite part: the world building. The world building on Avatar is done extremely well. Watching the movie, you learn about these alien creatures, what happened to Earth, how the tribe works, how their lives work, and so much more.

In Avengers: Endgame, while yes, there is some world building done through the characters, at the end of the day it’s Earth, it’s New York. You understand it’s being destroyed, but if you want to know what happens after that — and to get more of the world building you have to turn to other Marvel associated content.

For example: you don’t know what happened to clean up New York in 2012 unless you watch a special they released, shortly after the original Avengers film. In Avatar, once the tree is destroyed you see the aftermath; you see where the Na’vi go to hide; you see what happens. There are some questions left unanswered, but at least I only have to wait until 2021 to get some answers, where as with Marvel I have to watch every TV show they have to figure it out. [Editor’s note: the TV shows are optional, you know — you don’t even need to see Agents of SHIELD, unless you’re a huge Agent Coulson fan…]

thanos in avengers endgame with his sword
Seriously. Is that a sword or a helicopter propeller?

What About…the Plot? And the Villains?

And, of course I have to bring up the last point I hear all the time…the plot. I constantly hear Avatar’s plot is basic and boring. Which I don’t understand; both movies basically have the same plot.

It’s just that in one, the bad guy is greedy and want to destroy nature to get to minerals to fill his greed…and in the other you have the villain who wants to control the population, and kills half of the living organisms in his way. Both of these villains are the same. Both are so blinded by their own ways that they wreck everything else in their way.

And besides that, it’s your standard good vs. bad scenario. It’s nothing new, but when you watch these movies you get so invested in what’s going on. As far as I’m concerned, the plots follow the same beats, just like every other movie ever. 

Really. Both are Winners.

Listen, at the end of the day both of these movies are fantastic, and both have their flaws. But you can’t deny the impact and influence Avatar has had on movies.

Everything I said just either agreed with one person or pissed off another; there’s nothing I can do about that. But I do invite everyone to comment below with your counter arguments, or even just your thoughts.

Avengers: Endgame Re-Release Extra Footage Explained

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

Avengers Bests Avatar at Box Office – But Avatar Is Still #1 in My Heart

Movie review : Avatar

Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame

The Essential Tarantino – What to watch before Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Tarantino just released his ninth film, Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood.  The movie follows the lives of fictional characters actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), and real life actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), in the days before the Manson Family murders.  The movie debuted in second place behind The Lion King, and is receiving rave reviews. Now is the perfect time to review the director’s catalog and suss out the essential Tarantino films. 

Reservoir Dogs

Tarantino’s first film premiered at Sundance in 1992, and was picked up by Miramax.  The film also played at Cannes. The story concerns a group of bank robbers reconvening after a bank heist gone wrong, to figure out what happened.  The movie introduced several staples of Tarantino’s work, including pop culture references (the Madonna debate in the opening scene), long scenes of dialogue (including the opening scene), profanity, extreme violence, a story told out of chronological order, and a hip soundtrack. 

The movie features three actors Tarantino is fond of working with: Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, and Tim Roth. The title doesn’t have a specific meaning. It just sounds cool. 

Pulp Fiction

When Tarantino returned to Cannes in 1994, he was a star.  He had a following, and anticipation was high for his new film Pulp Fiction.  Inspired by pulp novels, the movie weaved together the tales of several criminal figures, including two hitmen (John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson), a corrupt boxer and his girlfriend (Bruce Willis and  Maria de Medeirios), a gangster’s girlfriend (Uma Thurman), and two robbers (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer)….among others.

Pulp Fiction took Cannes by storm and won the Palme d’Or.  It revived Travolta’s career! The movie was nominated for Best Picture, and Travolta, Jackson, and Thurman were all nominated for Oscars.  Tarantino was nominated for Best Director. Tarantino and Roger Avary won Best Original Screenplay. The film also received a nomination for Best Editing.

This is the director’s most essential work, and the film against which all his other movies are judged.  

The last quarter of Four Rooms

Four Rooms is kind of a “throw away” film.  It was a fun anthology where four directors each got to direct a quarter of the flick.  To illustrate how forgettable the movie is, I can only remember three of the four sections of the movie. 

Tim Roth plays a bell boy who will break all of his mentor’s rules by the time one fateful New Year’s Eve is over.  Tarantino directs the end of the flick — the last room that Roth has to deal with. This section of the movie is a remake of a classic “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” episode that originally featured Peter Lorre. 

Bruce Willis, Quentin Tarantino, Jennifer Beals, and Paul Calderon play a game of poker, where the stakes go beyond money. This section of the movie is wicked fun…and if I were programming a QT film festival, I’d definitely include it.  

Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2

Volume 1 is Tarantino’s martial arts film.  And Volume 2 is his first western. But together, they’re a compelling drama about revenge and its consequences.  (Tarantino has gone on record saying that he recently talked to star Uma Thurman about making a part 3 featuring Vernita Green’s adult daughter seeking vengeance against her character.) 

The House of Blue Leaves sequence in Volume One is probably one of the longest action scenes ever filmed.

The change of tone in Volume Two is daring. Thurman gives a tour de force performance as The Bride.  These movies came out during a period in my twenties when I felt a lot of anger. There was something about them that was very special to me. A catharsis. Waiting for Volume Two to start was like waiting for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King to begin.  

Inglorious Basterds

I’ve only seen this one once, so it’s hard for me to speak of it eloquently or at length.  There is something quite satisfying in Tarantino’s rewriting of history. Violence and revenge are major themes of this film as well.  Christoph Waltz won his Oscar for this movie and he as cold blooded and terrifying here as he is lovable in Django. The tense opening scene is a breathtaking highlight.  Our review is here

Django Unchained

Tarantino crossed the Western and the Blaxploitation film to create this controversial picture.  Say what you will about it, but the image of the slaves’ abused ankles alone at the beginning of the film drove home the horror of slavery to me, in a way few things ever have.  I have never forgotten it. The inhumanity of it. Whatever other parts of the movie may be over the top, that stuff really happened. Christoph Waltz’s retelling of the Broomhilda legend is a highlight.

Take RunPee to the Movies

Don’t miss the best parts of a Tarantino film or any other movie.  Use the RunPee app every time you go to the movies. Especially for films that are over two hours like Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.  We add new Peetimes every week for all the Hollywood hits. You can also keep up with all the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RunPee/.  

Movie Review – Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

Movie review : Inglourious Basterds

Movie Review : Django Unchained

Hey, #Tarantino fans, are you ready for #OnceUponATimeInHollywood?  #GoldenMan takes a look at QT’s #filmography with The Essential Tarantino.  #ReservoirDogs #PulpFiction #Uma #TimRoth #Travolta #SamJackson #ChristophWaltz

Avengers Bests Avatar at Box Office – But Avatar Is Still #1 in My Heart

avatar na'vi man and woman in blue
Hawkeye would fit right in on Pandora.

Avatar is one of my all time favorite movies.  So I’m a little torn that Avengers: Endgame has broken its box office record. Yes, it’s cool that a superhero movie is now the reigning box office champ of all time.

Endgame is the reigning champ

And it’s an impressive feat wrapping up 11 years worth of a series of movies so successfully.  Some series never even make it off the ground (I’m looking at you King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and The Mummy 2017).  Other series have no expiration date (*ahem*James Bond *ahem*).  So to wrap up an epic story in an emotionally satisfying way is no small feat.  Marvel deserves all the kudos they are receiving.

And it’s not that I’m not a fan of Marvel or the actors involved.  I was a Robert Downey Junior fan long before Iron Man came out.  I loved watching Paul Rudd and Mark Ruffalo in art house films for years.  I’ve adored Scarlett Johansson since Lost in Translation.  I’ve crushed on Gwyneth Paltrow ever since Shakespeare in Love.

So Endgame meant as much to me as anyone else.

avatar by james cameron
Avatars In Love.

What I love about Avatar

But, Avatar.  Avatar is something different. It came out of nowhere and wasn’t part of a franchise or any preexisting property.  James Cameron took audiences to another world.  Avatar reflected my spirituality. For instance, the idea that we are all connected.  Plus, it came out at a time in my life when I needed a beautiful world to escape to.

It could be worse

If it had to happen, I’m glad Avatar was beaten by another movie I like.  At least it wasn’t a Jason Bourne film or a Transformers movie or a Fast and the Furious entry (they look fun, but I don’t keep up with them).

Still, it does kind of sting.  And it feels like Daddy beat Mommy at a
popularity contest.  As long as no one gives Jason Bourne super powers, I guess I’ll be okay.

(Kevin Feige, if you’re reading this, that Howard the Duck/Spider-Ham movie would really ease my pain.)

Movie review : Avatar

Endgame spoiler free review – We got what we needed!

Why Avatar Deserves to be the Number 1 Movie Over Avengers: Endgame

Was The Infinity War Snap actually random in who was dusted?

Fast & Furious 1 & 4 Is Really ONE MOVIE

Dominic "Dom" Toretto
Dominic “Dom” Toretto

I finally watched a couple of Fast & Furious movies. Even though the upcoming film is called Hobbs & Shaw, I do know they are a F&F spin-off, and was curious about WHY WHY WHY there are all these movies out there about fast cars and criminals? Why these are movies so popular?

I adore action films, but am not automatically into the whole ‘root for the villain’ thing. Some may have a ‘heart of gold’  — but Dom and Brian had not gelled yet in the 2001 story, so I was like, “Meh.” Neither were close to the anti-hero levels of Han Solo or Robin Hood…and certainly not Malcolm Reynolds (from Firefly/Serenity). Or even Diesel’s own beloved Riddick character from Pitch Black.  Not yet.

At this point, these dudes were just testosterone-oriented criminal adrenaline junkies in LA.

And as for driving fast, I used to flash people in San Diego driving down the 805 at 100 MPH over the Mission Valley interstate bridges…but grew out of that after college and a few very expensive speeding tickets. (My boyfriend had a convertible and we thought we were immortal, and I have a cute butt…it made sense at the time, but was frankly stupid).

So at the tender age of 50, I just watched F&F 2001, and was appalled. Here’s a bunch of criminals doing totally unsafe things that should kill bystanders. With women dressed in almost no clothes, saying they will do sexual acts with racing winners they don’t even know, and behaving far more sluttily than my innocent butt-flashing highway moments ever were.

I watched this, which was essentially a movie of the video game Grand Theft Auto, and thought exactly this: “???”

Why was this popular enough to spawn a franchise that will be 9 movies long by 2020, and how did I never see any of these?

I can’t say. The original F&F 2001 had an ending that was ambiguous at best. I can appreciate that as a bold choice, but since the movie had almost no plot, it didn’t feel earned. It’s 75% racing, 10% sexy stuff, and then the story picks up the scraps. I guess driving dangerously fast didn’t interest me any more.

I was more involved in Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, the Marvel movies, and, of course (to me) the Lord of the Rings. (And now you know what geekhoods I love best.)

It actually took watching the 2009 (the 4th) film, which follows up exactly where the first movie leaves off, to get me on-board.

Finally, the movie came together. I’ll say the best thing — if you’re still new to the franchise — is to watch 2001 and 2009 as one movie. Back to back. That makes one decent story and serves as a fine introduction to what comes ahead.

2009 cut down on the ‘male gaze’ aspect immensely, to my relief, I guess. If I wanted to see that kind of female behavior, I’d find some porn. The men keep their clothes on on F&F, and their clothes are not skin-tight either. Why can’t we see some male flesh? Oh jeez. I’m barking down a well. (It’s not like I need to see that, but it would at least be fair. I still like butts.)

So, why do the women have to be essentially naked if the directors want half the population to watch their films? So, yes THANK YOU that the women, seven years later, are allowed to be real people and not simply male decorations. I say this understanding that the few women racers were also bad-ass…but they were still totally hot and dressed to show it. This was off-putting. How is this relatable?

But back to the Fast & Furious origins storyline:

If I was baffled by the appeal of the first movie (Vrooooom, vrooom, NOX, boom!), I liked where things continued in 2009. The Mexico borderlands sequence was an incredible nail-biting experience (but still felt like a video game, granted). And the Brian/Dom relationship was allowed some space to unfold, finally. It wasn’t just trading insults from hate (it was trading insults from bro looooooove).

I like adrenaline too, but mine is legal and low key: rock climbing, cave rappelling, plane jumping, traveling solo in foreign countries, bungie jumping, sword fighting, backpacking, and aerial acrobatics. It’s not like I’m a boring person. But I dress for comfort, not to attract men. I think I was spoiled by being an Outward Bound instructor in my younger years. I was valued and admired for my outdoor skill set and leadership ability, not for cleavage and sexual taunts.

Probably you want me to shut up on all this. So I’ll get back to the plot.

RunPee Dan wrote an extensive and very helpful article about the entire series. Granted, he skipped a few films, but these are arguably worth skipping, based on both the Rotten Tomatoes Meter, and RunPee Sis’s definitive recommendations (as a F&F UBERFAN). (Seriously.)

Sooooo, what should you watch to get started with the Fast and Furious oeuvre?

Like I said, I think 2001 and 2009 should be viewed back-to-back as one film. 2009 picks up right where 2001 leaves off and flows seamlessly together. Both are exciting (but 2009 is just damn better, okay?).

I’m going to make a judgement call and say they are one good movie, but only when viewed together.

Everything changes after the 2009 film, with the 2011 addition of Dwayne Johnson — AKA The Rock — but that’s not important for now. 2001 and 2009 are the important bro foundation between Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker), and their love for…well, driving really fast. They bond. Bonding is good, right?

I will say Vin Diesel definitely has the charisma to anchor a franchise. (Really. Watch Pitch Black, please. And, lest ye forget, he’s also Groot.)

I’m reliably told the story gets more ‘heroic’ in subsequent iterations. So I’ll be watching to see the inevitable Vin vs Dwayne mano a mono fight (I love them both, even if they are…well…fungible.)

BTW: Apparently Vin and The Rock really, REALLY dislike each other. Does anyone know why?

Hobbs & Shaw’s Backstory from Fast and the Furious

Fast and the Furious – Furious 7 Movie Review

Movie Review – The Fate of the Furious – F8

Movie Review – Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw

 

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

Was The Infinity War Snap actually random in who was dusted?

Thanos Snap
Is it really random? Or was there a plan?

A thought occurred to me last night while watching a YouTube video about Thanos’  Snap: were the people who became dust selected at random? At first glance I always assumed so, but maybe not.

I’m not a mathematician, and questions of probability can confound even professors of mathematics.

I’ll lay out my reasoning and you tell me if I missed something in the comments.

We know Dr. Strange observed 14,000,605 outcomes of the conflict with Thanos, and in only one of those outcomes did it end satisfactorily for the Avengers in Endgame.

Dr. Strange voluntarily gives up the Time Stone, and perhaps performs a few other tasks we don’t know about, to set the course for the one favorable outcome.

Spoilers follow for Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. Make sure you’ve seen these before reading further!

The question is: how did Dr. Strange know Tony Stark/Iron Man would not be dusted?

The simple answer: Dr. Strange watched the outcome and knew Tony survived after a certain chain of events occurred.

Right? Then the snap itself does not randomly select lifeforms to dust. If an event — Tony surviving The Snap — always follows a chain of previous events, then it is a determined event, and not random.

If the snap itself randomly selects, then each snap will select a different set of lifeforms to dust. Therefore, all Dr. Strange could know is there’s one chain of events that ends well for the Avengers, as long as Tony doesn’t get dusted.

Remember, based on the outcome of Avengers: Endgame, the only solution Dr. Strange saw was for Tony to be the one, and the ONLY one, to reverse The Snap.

What do you think?

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

Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame

Avengers Endgame – long breakdown to describe what you just saw (Massive Spoilers!)

Avengers Infinity War – Whose Fault is the Snap?