Critic Movie Reviews v RunPee Family Reviews

RunPee FamilyNot having professional or writer-educated staff (besides First Officer/COO Jill Florio, who was a journalist and magazine editor back when people still had real jobs), RunPee’s reviews are written from the heart, and are hopefully more useful than what we get from the well-paid critics of Rotten Tomatoes…  Because we send RunPee family members who are actual fans of the genre to get Peetimes and review them.

RunPee Reviews? What Peeps See What?

jill florio
RunPee Jilly likes blockbusters. She fully admits she has tentpole tastes and is not ashamed.

So we have Jill and Dan on sci-fi, fantasysuperhero, and action films; RunPee Sis on horror and comedies; RunPee Mom on animation, childrens’ films, dramas, and historicals; with Dana and Shani on miscellaneous flicks of their choice.

Of course we “RunPeeps” have interest overlap, and don’t always get our first movie choice. Sometimes one of us has to view a film we dislike (or even hate), or is totally out of our expertise to comment on — for example, don’t ask me to see War films, unless it’s Star Wars (or 1917, which rocked!).

We see hundreds of movies a year; life happens. We try our best. We try to keep off-interest assignments down.

chewbacca
Chewie is happy with most movies, if his family is any indication in the Star Wars Holiday Special.

RunPee has superior movie reviews!

What makes our movie reviews better is that a typical critic sees every movie willy-nilly and aren’t necessarily fans of each genre. So if they cordially dislike Sci Fi or superhero films, they will piss on them (to use a “Pee” reference) in their reviews. They DON’T GET THEM. We do. We try to make this inequality right.

This element explains the frequent discrepancy between Rotten Tomatoes Critics’ Scores and Audience Scores. Sometimes the numbers variance is huge and seemingly inexplicable. It’s not that Critics are stupid — these are often very educated people — but each critic is not going to appreciate every type of film. They can’t. Could you?

jumanji-game-box
Would you play this game? Seriously. Like, ever?

Critics often grade/rate genre films as if they were the bastard stepchildren of serious dramas. And that’s just wrong. At least, it’s not helpful to die-hard (or at least emergent) genre fans. If you loved, say, Jumanji 2, you should review Jumanji 3, because a built-in fan will have better opinions of its relative worth in the series than someone who didn’t appreciate the first two. If you are a Harry Potter fan who’s read the books, you’ll review it better than a casual fan who doesn’t know what Expelliarmus means. Savvy?

(Ten points if you get the franchise where savvy is a thing!)

To sum up why our reviews are better 😉

We also don’t waste your time merely recapping a movie. You can get the basics from the IMDb and the trailers. We offer our honest insights instead.

RunPee co-founder and CEO Dan says it best, “Our reviews resonate with people because we generally review movies in our favorite genres. The last thing I ever want to read is a review of a Marvel movie by some snooty movie critic. If you’re not a fan of the genre you’re writing about, then how can you expect to write something meaningful?”

You do know RunPee writes reviews, right? Check them out on our blog here or do a search on RunPee.com

Types of Peetimes: recommended, emergency, alert

Why do I only see old movies in the Movie List?

RunPee Family

 

The decade of 2010s when female protagonists said #MeToo to Science Fiction

Amy Adams in Arrival

Amy Adams in Arrival

Science fiction has long been dominated by male protagonists to placate the mostly male audience. But times are a changin’. Some of the most outstanding science fiction of the 2010s featured women as either the protagonist or equal partners alongside a male counterpart. Spoilers ahead for these 2010 films. 

Arrival (2016)

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Eric Heisserer, based on the story “Story of Your Life” written by Ted Chiang
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Let’s start with what I think is the very best science fiction movie of the decade: Arrival. Amy Adams plays Professor Louise Banks in this cerebral exploration of language and time. In no other genre than science fiction could a professor of linguistics, male or female, play the protagonist of a story.

The protagonist in Arrival is patient, smart, thoughtful. Let’s face it, those are qualities more associated with women than men. She doesn’t rush to conclusions; she doesn’t approach the problem to be solved with pre conceptions; and in the end, she doesn’t resort to violence — but contrarily, uses her intellect to avoid violence.

In short, she doesn’t try to be a woman in a man’s role.

That said, I think the best display of Professor Bank’s qualities is when her counterpart, Professor Ian Donnelly — played by Jeremy Renner — makes a crucial discovery that helps solve the translation puzzle. Bank’s doesn’t show any signs of resistance to a new idea; nor does she resist an idea that isn’t her own; she even recognizes Ian discovered something before he tells her, and is genuinely excited at the prospect.

If the genders had been switched between Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, and it was the female, Professor Banks, who discovered the key that unravels the puzzle, then this is the part of the story where the female would have to do something heroic just so her idea could be recognized by the male.

I’m not just saying this to be critical of men. When trying to solve a problem I can absolutely recognize the tendency to resist changing direction. Sometimes there’s a feeling of mental momentum that builds up, and trying to stop it and change course requires effort. (Picture cartoon here of man driving, not knowing where he is or where he’s going, but stubbornly determined to continue driving, while ignoring the input of the woman in the passenger’s seat with a map.)

Arrival also brilliantly explores how a woman, Louis, can handle making the fantastically painful choice to have a child she knows will die young. Yet, before her child dies, they will have love and memories to last a lifetime. Ian, her husband, leaves her, because he isn’t strong enough to handle the emotional pain Louis embraces. 

I don’t want to suggest women have always taken a back seat to men as protagonists in science fiction. Linda Hamilton, as Sarah Connor in Terminator, and Sigourney Weaver, as Ellen Ripley in Aliens, have played powerful women protagonists, as have many other women in science fiction. However, those characters lean heavily on women thrust into traditionally masculine roles: violence.

The real beauty of Arrival is that a female character, in a military setting, uses her intellect to avoid violence.

Colossal (2016)

Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Writer: Nacho Vigalondo
Stars: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis

Colossal, staring Anne Hathaway

I know what you’re thinking: Colossal? I’ve never heard of it.

I know, right? I was right there with you until a few months ago. Colossal was in and out of theaters without so much as a “boo.” It couldn’t have been a wide release movie or we would have done Peetimes for it.

Yet here we are. Colossal is one of those movies I love telling people to watch. Don’t look for the trailer on YouTube; don’t look it up on IMDb; just try your best to watch it without knowing anything at all about it and enjoy.

It’s on my list here of great science fiction movies of the past decade, so you already have a hint, but I guarantee you, you won’t see it coming.

Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis are both fantastic in their roles — but I’m not going to say anything more than that. You’ll understand when you see it.

Lucy (2014)

Director: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman

Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson,

Okay, I’ll admit it: Lucy isn’t exactly great science fiction. It’s more like guilty pleasure science fiction. It’s a little like the movie Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper, except that it goes to infinity.

What makes Lucy so enjoyable is Scarlett Johansson’s performance. Going from a directionless young woman to, basically, a god, in the span of a day.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Director: Doug Liman
Writers: Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth
Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Bluntedge of tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt

This is one of my all time favorite science fiction movies, and among the best of the Groundhog genre. Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt co-star in this movie. However, when the backstory is considered, it’s Emily Blunt’s character, Rita, who is the hero. She’s the one who went through the temporal loop first and figured it out. And she’s the one who mentors Tom Cruise’s initially cowardly character, Private Cage. It only looks like Tom Cruise is the main character because of the point of view the story is told from.

Okay, they can be co-heroes. But still, Rita is the one who saves the day, twice.

A Quiet Place (2018)

Director: John Krasinski
Writers: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck
Stars: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski

A Quiet Place, staring: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski

As long as we’re talking about Emily Blunt, let’s not forget how outstanding her performance was in A Quiet Place. Her character, Evelyn Abbott, wasn’t the hero of the story. Akin to Signs, every member of the family was the hero.

Bonus, we get A Quiet Place 2 — and thank you for not trying to be cute and name it A Quieter Place — on March 20, 2020.

Her (2013)

Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Spike Jonze
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson

her-starring- Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson

Yeah, yeah, I know this is a stretch. Joaquin Phoenix is the protagonist. But this is my list and I’m going to argue it’s merits for inclusion. It’s science fiction at it’s best and it explores (soon to be) very real experience that millions, perhaps billions, of humans will encounter: what to do when we fall in love with an artificial intelligence (AI).

I have to start by saying how masterfully Scarlett Johansson voices Samantha — the AI. I would fall in love with my Google Voice too if it had Scarlett’s voice. There’s no doubt that Joaquin Phoenix is a generational talent. However, his performance would have felt contrived if the AI he falls in love with didn’t do such a great job communicating the nuances of emotions through voice alone.

Aside: Have you ever noticed how rare it is that a woman narrates a documentary? It seems like the choices are Morgan Freeman, Neil Degrasse Tyson,  Richard Attenborough, or any other man with a British accent. I can’t even think of a scientific documentary that’s voiced by a woman. But would someone please put Scarlett Johansson to work narrating? Her voice soothes like freshly baked bread slathered in butter. I could listen to it all day.

First View Movie Review – Her

Ex Machina (2014)

Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Stars: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac

Ex Machina, starring Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac

Maybe you think the inclusion Ex Machina is a bigger stretch to add to this list than Her. Granted there are no women in this movie: just two men and two AI/robots: Ava and the speechless Kyoko. While the AI have the shape of female figures — for less than research purposes — the AI use those shapes, and the effect they have on the two men, to their advantage.

When you think about it, it’s really quite brilliant. The AI Ava uses everything it knows of women and men as tools to plan her escape. She manipulates both men with such subtlety that Caleb believes he has successfully thwarted her plan only to find out that was actually part of her ultimate plan.

We could be here all day talking about the nuances of what this implies, but I think the big takeaway here is that each person’s deep seated values around gender attributes is something that other humans, and soon AI, can use to manipulate us. We all know this is true because no demographic is more easily manipulated than young men by sexy women. Want to sell more of anything? Just picture a sexy woman holding your product, or better yet, draped over it, and sales will increase. You think that won’t be the first thing AI recognize and use to their own advantage as soon as they have the will to do so?

Also worth mentioning:

I don’t consider superhero movies to be science fiction, however I must give a nod to the addition of Captain Marvel in the MCU.

I’m personally not a fan of Brie Larson in the titular role. I think Blake Lively would have been a better choice, but be that as it may, introducing a powerful female superhero is important for the growth of not only the MCU franchise, but also our culture. It saddens me that grown men reacted to Brie Larson with such animosity over her stance on women’s rights. But at the very least, this exposes a problem that these men need to work toward getting over, because we’re not going back to the culture they crave of women beholden to men to give them value.

At the same time that Captain Marvel is being heralded as the new age of powerful women in superhero films, we already had one in Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow. Natasha’s sacrifice was every bit as crucial to the resolution of Avengers: Endgame as was Iron Man’s. Yet, I don’t see in-universe acknowledgement in the same way. I really hope that during Phase IV of the MCU there are reminders that Iron Man wasn’t the only one to make the ultimate sacrifice to defeat Thanos.

Lastly, I do not remotely consider Star Wars to be science fiction. However, if you ask me, the only good thing about the Star Wars trilogy of 2010s was the female protagonist. I wrote a lengthy article about how women rated Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker higher than men. And in particular, women under 20 had the highest rating of any age group for either gender.

Way back in the 1960s, the television series Star Trek broke new ground in creating an all inclusive cast, while still pandering to white entitlement. There’s little doubt that if Captain Kirk were in the captain’s chair today he’d probably face multiple counts of sexual harassment. But, at least there was an African-American female bridge officer, along with Asian and Russian men.

It’s clear that the future of all movie franchises will lean heavily on not only creating a balance between male and female protagonists but also reaching a balance in races and sexual orientations. Marvel has already announced that there will be multiple characters added in Phase IV and beyond who are on the LGBTQ spectrum.

We’ve come a long way as a culture, but clearly we’re not “there,” yet — and who even knows what “there” even looks like.

20 Groundhog Day Type Movies – The Ultimate Repeating Day Film List

5 Reasons Kylo Ren Is a Good Villain

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker opens soon.  The wait is finally over. The Skywalker family will wrap up with this end to the storyline (though not the series).  And audiences will get to take one last adventure with Rey, Leia, Lando, Chewie, Finn, Poe, C-3PO, and R2D2.

It also means another visit from the dark side’s Kylo Ren.  A lot of fans have issues with this newer character.  I, for one, though, am a fan.  So I present to you my defense with this list of reasons why Kylo Ren makes a good villain.  (Note:  This post contains SPOILERS for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.)

1.  Adam Driver is a talented actor.

The filmmakers didn’t choose an unknown actor to portray Kylo Ren.  They hired one of the best  young character actors working in Hollywood.  He’s worked with everyone from Noah Baumbach to Spike Lee to Martin Scorsese.  You may not agree with all of his acting choices, but he knows what he’s doing.  The man is an Oscar-nominated actor.

2. Kylo is human.

Kylo’s vulnerability makes him an interesting villain.  His emotions and his anger make  him more relatable than an indestructible killing machine like Darth Maul or Boba Fett.  When he tells his father, Han Solo, that he’s torn apart, you can feel it.  Being a young, passionate villain who is still in training also makes Kylo a perfect foil for Rey.

3. Kylo is a tragic figure.

My high school English teacher defined a tragedy as a story about the fall of a good man.  Kylo starts out as one of Luke’s students and ends up killing his own father in cold blood.  It’s like something out of Shakespeare or an ancient Greek drama.  The person Kylo worships, Darth Vader, is also a tragic figure.  Vader was also a young boy who trained to be a Jedi only to turn to the dark side, unable to overcome his own fear and anger.  Kylo’s fall from grace makes him that much more evil and that much more compelling.

4. Kylo isn’t Darth Vader. 

J.J. Abrams could have just given audiences the second coming of Vader, but where would be the fun in that?  The whole point of Kylo is that he’s not Vader, that he idolizes Vader but falls short of becoming him.  Kylo’s lightsaber is a perfect symbol of that.  It’s a jury-rigged device, a home-made contraption that sometimes seems slightly on the fritz.  Like Kylo, it’s unstable and dangerous because of that.  (And, because, you know, it has three blades and stuff.)  Because he’s his own person, Kylo is able to make choices and even mistakes that surprise us.

5. Kylo is conflicted.

The main plot of Force Awakens is about finding Luke Skywalker.  However, the subplot is about the battle for Kylo Ren’s soul.  Despite the evil inside him (he has a whole village slaughtered at the start of the film), Kylo does not completely belong to the dark side.  Leia senses good in him.  Snoke warns him against being seduced by the light side.  Kylo himself feels the pull towards the light, praying to Darth Vader’s mask to show him the power of the dark side.  When Han tries to convince him to abandon the dark side, Kylo genuinely seems to consider it.

Kylo’s relationship with Rey is also complicated.  He doesn’t merely want to destroy her.  During their lightsaber battle at the end of Force Awakens, he tells her she needs a teacher and offers to show her the ways of the Force.  In The Last Jedi, he briefly joins forces with her to kill Snoke.  Then he offers her the chance to rule the universe with him.  A shot in the final trailer for Rise of Skywalker hints that they work together again at some point in the storyline, and there might even be some redemption for Kylo,like there was for Vader.  Kylo’s internal struggle is more interesting to watch than a bad guy like Jabba, whose nature never changes.

____

Movie analysis – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I have a bad feeling about this… Who said it in Star Wars and When?

13 iconic scenes from Star Wars you won’t have missed if you had the RunPee app

Movie Review – Lucy in the Sky

Movie Review - Lucy in the SkyThis was a pretty depressing movie. I left the theater and was so sad about so many things. It’s not a fun story and certainly not an uplifting one either.

I’m one of the movie goers that like to have fun and be carried away into a riveting or even just plain silly story. What Lucy in the Sky gave me was watching an absolutely brilliant, highly motivated woman spiral out of control and ruin her life’s goal.

Portman did a superb job. She encompassed this role with her entire being. She’s simply perfect.

I’m giving this movie an A because of her. Also, it was masterfully directed and had a simple beauty to many of the scenes. Certainly not because it left me feeling happy and alive. Just the opposite actually. This wasn’t my cup of tea, but I wasn’t the target audience.

To the viewers that do enjoy these truthful biopics, I’m pretty sure they nailed it.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: This movie was a slow starter. Really for the first hour you can catch yourself up if you need to step out of the theater. The last 30 minutes is when the true depth of the movie is shown.

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

Rated (R) for language and some sexual content
Genres: Drama, Sci-Fi

Movie Review – Ad Astra

 

Movie Review - Ad AstraThis is a very intense and thought provoking movie. I can’t write the review today, but I’ll give it a B grade for now. I saw in in IMAX, which I recommend for the best “space” experience, and for the constant extreme closeups on Brad Pitt’s face.

Suffice to say for now the film (which means To The Stars in Latin) is extremely low key and existential. And is sort of about God without being anything about God at all.

Much to add later. I’m sure future classes about philosophy will eat this movie for lunch and dinner.

D-Box Experience
You really feel the experience of the rocket ship at take off and some feeling of what it is like when they are weightless in space. For this movie, I would give the D-Box experience a 5 out of 10.  (Special thanks to Troy Borysko for the input.)

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: Although the movie is 2 hours, it was easy to find Peetimes. It’s a slow, contemplative film, with a lot of ‘scenery’ scenes, and closeups of Brad Pitt talking to himself. I recommend the 3rd Peetime at the halfway point — it’s a nice long break with nothing going on. A lot of people (like a dozen!) got up just before the climax and missed the best part of the film. So go proactively at the one-hour mark.

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

Rated (PG-13) for some violence and bloody images, and for brief strong language
Genres: Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

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:

Don’t get stranded in the middle of the latest sci-fi film.  Remember to take the RunPee app with you so you don’t miss any of the good parts of the movie.  We have Peetimes for all the latest movies and we add new movies every week.  You can also get the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

Movie Review – Ad Astra

Movie Review – Hidden Figures

Movie Review – First Man

Avengers Infinity War – Whose Fault is the Snap?

So…let’s think a bit. Whose fault is the Avengers Infinity War Snap? Why am I, and half the universe, dead? Gone to ashes.

The Avengers most to blame, who come to mind right away are:

  • Star Lord — Mainly just a normal human with specialized combat melee skills. Peter Quill is just a petty thief trying to be a better person. He’s only slightly better at being ‘good’ than Rocket or Drax, after all.
  • Thor — God of Thunder — Should know better than to gloat after 1500 years of Godhood. You’re still not worthy yet, are you?
  • Dr. Strange  — The jury is out til Endgame resolves. Next.
  • Captain America — WTF dude! YOU! J’accuse!
  • Hulk — The Big Green Guy who let us all all down. Just because you have issues with Banner doesn’t excuse toddler tantrums, big guy.

Breaking this down a bit more. Each of these heroes, and a few others, have some big burdens to bear.

  1. Star Lord —  Everyone blames him for the events on Titan. Peter Quill isn’t the sharpest crayon in the Crayola box, but I don’t blame him. It looked like he totally screwed the pooch in Infinity War, didn’t it? He really lost it for our guys on Titan..but, remember, Dr. Strange had to make it look good for his ONE future they would win. That means whatever “Mr. Lord” did was part of the plan.  Also, Peter Quill never set out to be a hero — he just wants his girlfriend back. His investment strategy — Gamora: everything. Universe: whatever.
  2. Hey, THOR — He just HAD to gloat. Not only should he have gone for the head, he should have gone for the arm. But Thor, mighty and all, isn’t the smartest Avenger. Maybe being cute is a liability. A god should do better. Head, arm…you haven’t learned a thing in 1500 years, have you?
  3. Dr. Strange — I don’t blame him at all. He spent what — hundreds of years looking at alternate realities? I’m sure he knew what he was doing when he gave Thanos the time stone. He’s not stupid and we know he made it clear to Stark what his priorities were. There were no mistakes made here. Place your bets with Strange.
  4. Cap — I blame him, really, mostly. We don’t trade lives??? Really? Much as I  love Vision, this should have been a non-starter. Get that Stone out of Vision  now, K? Even Wanda knew this had to happen. Shuri could have fixed this much earlier, and the ending would have been different. We DO trade lives, Cap. Have you not been watching all these movies? Sacrifice is part of the game. You don’t get to win everything just because you want it enough.
  5. Hulk. He couldn’t be bothered to help Earth, or the universe, for that matter. Poor Banner. Poor us. He has a lot to make up for. I know: Hulk is the mental equivalent of a toddler, but that’s no excuse. #HulkSmash… #Smash??? Where did he go? Why leave Banner in a Hulkbuster suit? We better find out why.
  6. Gamora — Thanos never would have found the soul stone without Gamora just giving it to him. I know he was torturing Nebula…but look at the result. I know it’s not nice to talk ill of the departed, but if there’s blame to go around, she should shoulder one infinity stone’s worth.
  7. While we’re talking about about the stones, what about Loki? He gave Thanos the Tesseract for the same reason Gamora gave him the soul stone — to prevent more sibling torture. Also, remember Asgard getting munched during Ragnarok? Loki probably should have left the Tesseract in the vault.

So, who is to blame, besides (obviously) Thanos?

I know a lot of people blame Star Lord and Thor, but really, Cap made the worst call with the fate of the universe at stake. Vision could just go hide in the the internet like JARVIS did before. And Hulk is still basically an infant. Peter Quill is only a dude in love for the first time. Dr. Strange has a plan, and that is where I will place my bets.

Hollywood Celebrities Mourn Stan Lee on Twitter

RIP Stan Lee – you will be missed

Hollywood Celebrities Mourn Stan Lee on Twitter

Pi Day Movies – the Best Math (or Pie) Films to Watch on March 14

the symbol for pi in blue
Pi (π) is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. There might be a few numbers involved.

Mid-march, three unusual holidays rear their heads for movie rewatch fun: Pi Day, The Ides of March, and St Patrick’s Day. It all starts on March 13 with Pi Day. That’s the 14th day of the third month: 3.14. If you pay enough attention, you can even celebrate Pi Minutes and Pi Seconds. (1:59:26 comes around the clock twice, unless you use Military Time.)

If you scroll down, you’ll see every Pi and math movie we consider crucial for your home entertainment curriculum. But first, you have to understand what Pi is, then prepare some actual pies for feasting. On Pi Day, both sweet and savory pies count. More on that soon.

Do you know what Pi is?

long string of Pi numbers
Just memorize this and you’ll be fine.

This is a big topic. You can start by thinking about Pi as the ratio of a circle’s circumference, related to its diameter. Do you consider yourself smart? Apparently you can spend the rest of your life digging into the mysteries of this transcendental,  irrational number. (WIRED gives it a relatively simple whack, while the Wikipedia offers more Pi detail than most people actually want.)

Feast with Pies on Pi Day

Whatever your feelings about Pi, math, and advanced mathematics, I’ve long considered March 13 Pi Day. It’s a holiday that’s picking up more pop-culture steam every year.  For decades, my husband and I used to rewatch a classic math movie each year, feasting on Chicken Pot Pie, Pumpkin Pie, or sometimes Pizza Pie.  Even a Calzone or Omelette is a pie, albeit half of one.  We’d use fractions to eat them, as one does with flat, round food. 🙂 Make a meal with lots of circular edibles. Maybe Pita Bread. Be creative.

Announce the fractions you cut from the whole. Eat like math is your passion for one day a year!

We celebrated Pi Day this way because we’re geeks. RunPee loves weird holidays where you can watch movies, dress for the occasion, and plan an appropriately themed meal.

So. Pull on your geekiest science tee shirt and pick something from this list of great Pi adjacent films.

Make Pi Day 3.14 Times as Nice

It’s a good idea to phone your favorite ‘pie’ place and ask for the Pi Day Special: it’s fun to spread the word, and many places will give you an off the menu deal just for choosing them for your Pi needs. At the very least, you might encourage them to make a Pi Deal for next March.

Oh, please tell them RunPee sent you.

the first few numbers in the Pi string
Pi, looking friendly and fun and not at all intimidating.

Here’s RunPee’s list of favorite math, Pi, and pie movies for Pi Day, in no particular order, with release dates, and a few thoughts to help you select the perfect film to celebrate an irrational number.

Linked titles go to RunPee’s own movie reviews, where we have them. Eventually, we’ll review them all. It’s an easier task than calculating the exact value of Pi.

16.5 Movies To Enjoy in Honor of Pi Day

    1. Pi (1998) – Pure numbers, baby.
    2. Life of Pi (2001) — Not about math, or even pie, but a man named Pi. It’s a great, quietly gripping story, where you’re not sure what’s going on. Pay attention to the details, whether this is your first, or Nth viewing. It’s a very worthwhile film and almost Inception-lite. And BTW, that’s not a spoiler. Just enjoy the rhythm of the film.
    3. Good Will Hunting (1997) – Matt Damon makes this list twice, because he’s got a lock on that understated, funny, and too-pretty-to-be-so-smart look that perfectly bellies his mad science skills.
    4. Hidden Figures (2016) – This recent feel-good film centers around three black women hired by NASA as human computers during the 1960s events of Project Mercury, and its fabulous. (‘Sheldon Cooper’ even has a small role.) Award-winning and based on real people, including John Glen, who was apparently a great guy. If his computers said not to go, he stayed put. Smart man.
    5. The Theory of Everything (2014) – If you adored Stephen Hawking, like we did at RunPee, you probably found news of his death so very, very sad. But from all indications, he loved his life, had joy, family, a great career, and  unfettered commitment to allow his fine brain to roam the cosmos. We saw his sense of humor was as extraordinary as his mind. Not a bad legacy at all. Eddie Redmayne did an A+ job saluting Hawking’s contributions to our understanding of the universe.
    6. A Beautiful Mind (2001) –  I honestly don’t remember much about this film (it was too upsetting and sad for my tastes), but realize it would be a big snub to leave this inspired-by-a-true-life-story it off the list. The IMDb writes this: “From the heights of notoriety to the depths of depravity, John Forbes Nash Jr. experienced it all. A mathematical genius, he made an astonishing discovery early in his career and stood on the brink of international acclaim. But the handsome and arrogant Nash soon found himself on a painful and harrowing journey of self-discovery.
    7. The Imitation Game (2014) – Benedict Cumberbatch plays a lot of geniuses, or at least men smarter than the average bloke. If you like Alan Turning and enjoy cracking impossible Nazi codes, this movie was made for you. It’s also a drama with a message. 
    8. Gifted (2017) – I enjoyed this light film about how a normal brained single Dad (Chris Evans) learns to beat to the system to keep and raise his young, brilliant protegee. This scene is a standout — be sure to watch the whole segment:
    9. x and y (UK)/A Brilliant Young Mind (US) (2014) – A kid with ‘special powers’ in math learns to navigate childhood.
    10. Apollo 13 (1995) – First of all, it’s a space mission that really happened, and through massive sciencing, everybody makes it home alive. Not a spoiler; this is history. Also, Apollo 13 is has Tom Hanks as Captain Jim Lovell,  and those men are gods to me. I think the inspiration for Legos must have come from that scene with the square filter an the round vent — “Work the problem, people!” (Ed Harris is a god too. Godhoods for everyone in Apollo 13!)
    11. The Martian (2105) – Matt Damon’s character scienced the SHIT out of this movie.  A pure joy to watch and rewatch, and I have to remind myself this, unlike Apollo 13, hasn’t actually happened. Yet. 🙂
    12. Contact (1997) – This one happened in real life too, didn’t it? Didn’t it?  Damn. Watching this movie just makes me happy, and yes, it’s full of life, death, and MATH. The scene where we’re contacted with Prime Numbers is a standout. It’s one of those scenes that makes me tear up without a single line of dialog, or even much facial expression. Remember in The Return of the King, when we saw the lighting of the fire beacons above Gondor, calling to Rohan for aid? Same thing. When you saw Contact for the first time, how long did it take you realize those pulses were primes? I expect the universal  language of math will prove yet again that fiction pre-dates fact. This is the best segment in an already outstanding film. I had to add two videos to catch the whole scene:
    13. The Accountant (2106) – Ben Affleck gave a surprisingly charming and understated performance as a certain kind of savant specialist who learns to relate to people in his own, sometimes deadly way.
    14. Stand and Deliver (1988) – What is Calculus? Why should we care, unless we’re lucky enough to have someone like Edward James Olmos teach it? I need to re-watch Stand and Deliver, as I’ve forgotten much of this classic 80s film.  Here’s a summary:  A Los Angeles high school teacher opts to immerse his students in higher math. After intensive study, his students ace California’s calculus test, only to learn their scores are being questioned.
    15. The Cold Equations (1996) – This short, harrowing film details to the Nth degree how important math is – specifically, down to milligrams of weight in space.  Are there any space movies where weight limits aren’t a thing? In this one, math is the whole plot. As the pilot and young stowaway work frantically against the clock, we’re reminded how dangerous space is, how fragile spaceships are, and how very, very much math matters. It’s only 40 minutes and it’s worth a watch, even if the effects are a bit dated. The story is still a good one. Here’s the entire video for The Cold Equations:
    16. Real Genius (1985)  – Taking a trip in the way back machine, Real Genius makes this list by pure force of fun. In fact, you can watch the entire feature film right here. I’ll leave this up until someone takes it down — it’s clearly a film taped on a cell phone. Enjoy this blast from the nerdy past!

…Aaaaand the promised .5 movie: American Pie (1999, the original):

Don’t worry if you hate numbers.  Lock yourself alone in the bedroom with a warm apple pie, and try out just how good it feels. Or, less weirdly, rewatch one of the movies in the American Pie franchise with friends, compare Band Camp Stories, and laugh again at the awkwardness of being young and inexperienced. Beware: this scene is suggestive, and  is clearly intended to be. You can’t unsee it. It’s the PIE scene. On Pi Day. Have fun.

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Quick question: How many numbers in a string can you list for Pi? Write them out in the comments below, and no cheating! Surely there must be some out-of-the-closet geeks out there.

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Just below: a brilliant Pi video for those of you who are too smart for Pi itself. Just peruse this movie list on Tau Day, and you’ll be set.

Super Pi Geeks Argue About how Tau is Better…

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RunPee Movie Reviews Related to Math and Pi

Movie Review – Hidden Figures

Movie Review – The Theory of Everything – More About Stephen Hawking Than Math

Movie Review – Gifted

Movie Review – The Accountant

A Slightly More Than Casual Fan’s Reaction to Avenger 4 Trailer 1

Christopher Estrada for RunPee
Chris Estrada: RunPee’s Newest Guest Geek

Guest article by Christopher Estrada

WARNING! Spoilers ahead for Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and The Wasp, and the trailer for Avengers: End Game. 

Wow… Iron Man’s helmet really looks beaten… Because it was. And he was. Pretty severely when Thanos nearly snuffed out the life of Tony Stark. I didn’t expect Tony to survive that fight. In fact I’d prepared myself for the death of all the original team when going to see Avengers: Infinity War. But then Dr. Strange pulled the craziest rabbit out of Knowhere when he handed over the Time Stone. Thanos spares Tony and steps through a portal to Wakanda, where he snaps and turns half of us to dust. (I was spared by Thanos… [http://www.DidThanosKill.me/])

Back to the present day. We see and hear Tony power on the Iron Man helmet to record a message for Pepper Potts. He’s fairly confident his death is about a day away, drifting through the vacuum of space.

[pullquote]Gosh. Why must we be depressed even more?![/pullquote]

Cut to the Avengers’ base in Upstate New York. Cap, Black Widow, Banner, and Thor are all shown in mourning: which is normal and to be expected. They even show us a kinder, sadder side of Nebula, who lost Gamora, her adopted sister. Strange, considering she tried to kill her several times in both Volumes of  Guardians of the Galaxy.

Bruce stands before displays of Scott Lang (Ant-Man), Shuri, sister of T’Challa (Black Panther), and Peter Parker (Spider-Man). It’s not clear to me why he would be torn over the loss of Scott. As far as we know, they’ve never met. Hulk wasn’t around during Civil War, and Banner likely wasn’t hanging out with a cat burglar before going on the run before the MCU kicked off in 2008. So there is no clear connection between Bruce and Scott. Not even Hank Pym. Bruce only knows that Scott exists from brief remarks between Black Widow and Cap.

Bruce being torn over Spider-Man’s Peter Parker makes a bit of sense. He did get to see Pete in action before he was dragged into space with Tony in Infinity War, though Banner didn’t see Pete go into space. It’s a loose bond, but a bond nonetheless. Tony trusted the kid. Bruce trusts Tony, and by extension, Peter.

Thor is likely beating himself up. We see him sitting all lonesome in a gray hoodie, in a cold-looking room. His head bowed. For a split second it looks like he’s removed the prosthetic eye. But… No… He just opened that eye slower, or delayed. The God of Thunder lost half of his Asgardian refugees when Thanos attacked, seeking the Space Stone lodged inside the Tesseract. Then he lost another half of them in The Snap. So we’re down to 25% of the Asgardians we saw escape from Valhalla in Thor: Ragnarok. We can only hope that Valkyrie, Korg, and Meek are still out there somewhere.

[pullquote position=”right”]Through all of this, Steve and Nat have been talking, voicing over these clips. They’re telling us what we know, and what we felt at the end of Infinity War, and still feel today.[/pullquote]

But what really gets me through all this… is Steve’s hair. It’s perfect. Like, it doesn’t make sense in the context given. He’s depressed, in mourning. His best friend, his allies, have died in front of him. The guy he disagrees with, but respects, is lost in space, and for all Cap knows, turned to dust as well.

Why then is his hair perfectly styled? Did he wake up depressed and decide, “Hey, let me gel my hair and shave the beard before I go and talk about the end of the world with Nat?”

Does this really matter? No. It’s a movie. I get it. But still. It’s out of place to me. I mean…Natasha is another story. Her hair is a bit longer and not styled beyond a quick brushing. It flaps around quite freely. Her hair fits. But his doesn’t.

…Back to what matters…

[pullquote]Finally Nat gives Steve a small pep talk, saying that, “This is gonna work, Steve.” He looks at her and replies that he knows it will. That, “I don’t know what I’m gonna do if it doesn’t.”[/pullquote] The Avengers “A” is shown being reconstructed from dust, followed by the full Avengers title beaming over, and the sub-title, End Game, dusting.

Then Scott Lang (the Ant Man) shows up at the front gate of the compound and asks to be buzzed in.

Wait… What? Wasn’t he lost to the Quantum Realm when Thanos snapped and killed the Pyms and Hope?

Cliffhanger!

Guess we’ll have to wait for the next trailer. Unless Marvel/Disney wants to torture us and not release another trailer. Just make us wait until the movie premieres. I’ll be at an opening night showing. How ‘bout you?

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Christopher Estrada bio: “Take a look at my first e-book An Abducted Date. The book is available for free in all e-book formats. So anyone using a Kindle, Ipad, Tablet, Sony Reader, Nook, or Kobo e-reading device can enjoy. Also available as PDF format for reading on a computer! Read and Review!”

Avengers 4 Trailer Hints and Rumors

Mark Ruffalo Spoils Avengers 4 Title – Or Does He?

About the End Credits Scenes in Ant Man & The Wasp

Avengers 4 Endgame – First Trailer Review

Movie Review – Captain Marvel – A Pretty Good Origin Story

I have a bad feeling about this… Who said it in Star Wars and When?

Never tell me the odds!
There’s a 100% chance someone will have a bad feeling about this.

In the far away and long ago galaxy of Star Wars, everyone’s a prophet. Who hasn’t said they have a bad feeling about something? Well, except that one time Han said he had a good feeling. It’s the franchise’s longest-running gag, at least through the 10th film of Solo, A Star Wars Story. Updated now through Rise of Skywalker!

Here’s a definitive list of who and when a Star Wars character said “I have a bad feeling about this,” or “I have a very bad feeling,” or even “A really bad feeling,” listed in film production order (with Luke Skywalker getting bonus points for being the first to say it ).

[Links go to RunPee’s reviews, and here is our Star Wars movie ranking.]

Do you remember who said I have a bad feeling? Here we go…

  1. A New Hope – Said twice! First with Luke Skywalker, when the Millennium Falcon approaches the Death Star, and then Han Solo, in the trash compactor.
  2. The Empire Strikes Back – Princess Leia, on the asteroid with the Mynocks.
  3. Return of the Jedi – C-3PO to Artoo Detoo, approaching Jabba’s palace.
  4. The Phantom Menace – Obi-Won Kenobi’s first line in the film, to Qui-gon Jinn.
  5. Attack of the Clones – Anakin Skywalker in the gladiator ring on Geonosis.
  6. Revenge of the Sith – Obi-Won to Anakin, in their starfighters.
  7. The Force Awakens – Han, realizing the deadly rathtars have been set loose on his ship.
  8. Rogue One – K-SO2 to Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor in the elevator scene (although he gets cut off at the end).
  9. The Last Jedi – This one is special and I had to look it up to be sure, but BB-8 says it to Poe Dameron, in binary. Director Rian Johnson confirms this. Notice that droids get the bad feeling line three times. (Who knew droids could feel?)
  10. Solo – This one stands out by having the inverse line, spoken by a young Han. In an aside to Chewbacca in the cockpit of the Falcon, he says, “I’ve got a really good feeling about this.” Go with it, Han! Things are going to get a lot worse, soon enough.
  11. Rise of Skywalker – Lando Calrissian gets the line in this Skywalker finale. Yay, Lando!

So, there it is. EVERY Star Wars movie has a variation on this portent of doom. Next time you pull a re-watch, keep your ears open for the iconic quote.

13 Scenes from Star Wars you won’t have missed if you had RunPee

Ranking The Star Wars Films

Movie Rewatch Review – Solo (A Star Wars Story)

More Powerful Than You Could Possibly Imagine