Movie Review – Jumanji: The Next Level

Movie Review - Jumanji: The Next LevelSo here we go again! If you saw Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle you’ll know what to expect: action, thrills, and humor in abundance, but with enough tweaks to make things interesting.

If you’ve seen the trailers and, to be honest they’ve been difficult not to see, then you’ll know the premise is the same as before: a group of friends get sucked into a game and have to win to get back home.

They’re ascribed avatars with varying strengths and weaknesses, and a lot of the humor comes from the mismatch between the real world person and the character they’ve been landed with. This time around the characters are enhanced by another generation, and this leads to more comic situations.

Once again, the CGI is flawless and the action is very well choreographed. The animals are believable and the fights are exciting. The humor is pitched at the right level so it doesn’t distract from the story.

Enough is the same that you know what’s going on, but enough is different to make it interesting. All in all, it’s a brisk romp and the two hours flies by. I’ll be seeing it again within the week!

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I’ve managed to find a few Peetimes which can either be easily described or appeared in the trailers. Be warned though…there is action throughout this film, and it starts pretty soon after each of these Peetimes!

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Jumanji: The Next Level. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for adventure action, suggestive content and some language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy

Movie Review – Playmobil: The Movie

Movie Review - Playmobil: The Movie I’m thinking the little tykes from ages 2 to 6 will enjoy this movie. My great granddaughter, age 6, has been an avid watcher of the Playmobil videos on YouTube for several years. I honestly think children older than 7 or 8 will be bored with this simple animated film.

I found the movie irritating, frenetic, and loud. So loud. Most parents will feel the same way, plus there’s no adult humor for us to snicker about, like we see in the fine Lego movies.

I’m sure there is some sort of plot, and maybe even a message to kids in there somewhere, but the dialog was so unintelligible that one can only guess what it was.

An average grade of C is the best I can give Playmobil: The Movie.

Grade: C

About The Peetimes: As with most animated films, this gave me several opportunities to get good Peetimes. Both are of equal length, so let your little one’s bladder decide which to use.

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

Rated (PG) not available
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family

Movie Review – The LEGO Movie

Movie Review – The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Are the Four Lego Movies Sequels or Prequel Films?

Movie Review – Frozen 2

Movie Review - Frozen 2Obviously, I’m not grading this movie based on how well I personally enjoyed it. I, a 52 year old man, live in a galaxy far, far, away from the target audience of pre-teen girls.

I’m confident that the aforementioned young girls will be delighted with every moment of the movie. In particular, I think my 6 year old niece is going to obsess over getting a water horse doll for Christmas. (Mission accomplished, Disney marketing department.)

That being said, I don’t think this movie will have the cultural impact the first did. Again, I’m not the target audience, but it didn’t feel like there was a musical number equivalent to “Let it Go” in this sequel.

Plus, the plot felt muddled. The first Frozen had very clear motivations for the characters. Frozen 2 has the plot complexity of a Fast and Furious movie: arbitrary plot devices as an excuse to have another car chase. Except in this movie it’s arbitrary plot devices as an excuse for another song.

I would suggest that mom and dad flip a coin to decide who “gets” to take the kids to see this. This isn’t Pixar. There’s not much adult entertainment. About the only relief we get are a few moments of Olaf wisdom that are chuckle-worthy.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: No songs were used in the making of any of these Peetimes. 🙂 The three Peetimes we have are all pretty good, but we recommend the 3rd, and last, Peetime. The movie is really about 1 hour and 30 minutes long, not including the 12 minutes of credits.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Frozen 2. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for action/peril and some thematic elements
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Sequel

Frozen Adventures You May Have Missed

Movie Review – Charlie’s Angels

Movie Review - Charlie's AngelsCharlie’s Angels wasn’t that bad. I’ve never been a fan of the franchise, but I personally liked this one the best.

Kristen Stewart was pretty darn good. Normally all I see is Bella Swan, but not once during this did I see her that way. She really had a spark to her.

The plot was pretty predictable, but the acting made up for it. There were some funny moments and little things passed around that gave you the essence of humor, not the slapstick in your face kind.

There were a few twists that I didn’t see coming and that pleased me. All in all, it was decent. I would probably list this as a “curl up on the couch and watch” kind of movie, but I did see it in Dolby Surround and it sounded great. So if you’re really into how this movie sounds and feels, check out the Dolby version.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes:  Two good Peetimes, nicely spaced apart. 

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

Rated (PG-13) for action/violence, language and some suggestive material
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy

The Essential Kristen Stewart

Movie Review – The Aeronauts

Movie Review - The AeronautsThis was a nice way to spend an hour and (nearly) three quarters. Lots of lovely visuals, chemistry between the cast, and a few thrills thrown in for good measure.

I’m not sure how much of the visuals are CGI, but a good proportion of them are. Nothing in London is taller than the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster. (Big Ben for you non-pedants!) The air is quite clear, and there wasn’t one aeroplane, so there couldn’t be much live footage. Also the actual ballooning was done in the Midlands so they wouldn’t accidentally splash down in the Thames. Still, it was all very pretty and nicely done.

The cast seemed to work well together, but then Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne proved they can work together on The Theory Of Everything.

One slight niggle is that Himesh Patel seems to have a lot of presence in the publicity but his actual screen time is quite low, perchance a case of cashing in on the success of Yesterday?

The thrills come from the fact that it is a (partly true) story of the early days of aviation meteorology, when they didn’t know how atmospheric pressure, temperature, and content varied when you went so far up, but I’ll say no more on that subject.

It deserves to be seen at least once on the big screen to appreciate the visuals, but it will have a longer life as a passably pleasing way of passing a wet Sunday afternoon.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: This movie has some stunning scenery, and a lot of it. I did my best to avoid the pretty bits in the Peetimes.

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

Rated (PG-13) for some peril and thematic elements
Genres: Action, Adventure, Biography

Movie Review – Arctic Dogs

Movie Review - Arctic DogsI just saw a headline that questioned if a child under five should see Arctic Dogs, due to rude humor and lots of action. My question is; would children over five want to see this film? It’s not a boring movie by any means. I truly enjoyed it, but it seems that the generation, of which my six year old great granddaughter is a member, is getting more sophisticated in their viewing preferences. My point is, anyone –even those under five will like this film — it provides lots of color and movement, and that’s what the kiddies, and some adults, like.

I was happy to see the movie touched on global warming, a subject children should be made aware of as early as possible. Arctic Dogs did a fine job teaching perseverance in the face of adversity — you know, like a fat walrus, with the voice of John Cleese — trying to melt the Arctic. Our little white hero Swifty showed if you want something bad enough, like being a Top Dog, no sacrifice was too large to make. Good for him.

Jeremy Renner did a fine job giving personality to Swifty, and Heidi Klum was excellent as Jade, Swifty’s love interest. And doesn’t John Cleese make the perfect gentleman villain? But James Franco’s character Lemmy just grated on my nerves.

Arctic Dogs will win no awards, but it’s still a fun little movie.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: This is a short movie needing only 2 Peetimes. Let your bladder decide which is best for you.

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

Rated (PG) for some mild action and rude humor
Genres: Action, Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy

The Cast of Voices for Arctic Dogs

Official Movie Review – Terminator: Dark Fate

Movie Review - Terminator: Dark FateAll things considered, I’d say Terminator: Dark Fate is a worthy successor to the 1991 Terminator 2. After 28 years, 3 other Terminator movies — plus a TV show — it’s hard to think of Dark Fate as the 3rd movie in a trilogy, but that’s where it belongs.

Dark Fate had the potential to be an A, even A+ movie. The bones are there, but the flesh has a few too many blemishes. However, I think it earned a good B+ grade.

The action scenes won’t disappoint; they come early and often, and really pack a punch. If anything, there was too much action early, because by the end it feels a little anticlimactic.

Hands down, the best thing about this movie is Mackenzie Davis as Grace. She steals every scene she’s in — which is most of the movie. Her action scenes are creative, and she has the physique to make her character believable.

Kudos to the writers for giving Sarah Connor’s character a great return. Her character arc from the end of T2 to now works, and Linda Hamilton rocks the gritty, sarcastic attitude of her aged character.

My single biggest complaint is that the new character of Dani Ramos has some problems. After seeing the movie with my wife and mother, we all agreed she was the weak link. Upon further consideration, I don’t think it’s the actress’s (Natalia Reyes) fault. The writing for her character was caught in a conflict that just wasn’t going to work well. I’ll get to that in more depth below in the spoilers section.

Spoilers For Terminator Dark Fate Below
I’m including this in the spoilers section because I’m not 100% sure everyone knows Arnold Schwarzenegger is in this movie. First, I want to point out that I love the direction the writers took Arnold’s Terminator character. I was expecting something fresh and got it. Arnold’s scenes with Sarah were pure gold. It’s really cool to see them come full circle.

Here’s the conundrum the writers created for the character Dani: as the story develops, the audience is lead to believe, mainly due to dialog by Sarah Connor, that Dani is the “new Sarah” and that she’ll give birth to the leader of the resistance. However, as we later discover, Dani is the leader of the resistance herself.

In a perfect world, when the twist is revealed, the writers want the audience to think: Gee, I didn’t see that coming, but now that you think about it, the clues were right there.

That’s a tricky plot twist to pull off, and quite a challenge for the writers to undertake. I think they at least deserve kudos for trying. And I’m not saying they failed miserably. They just didn’t do a great job.

The problem: if they make Dani’s character appear strong and competent,  it will be obvious she’s the resistance leader. Therefore, they have to hide those attributes. At the same time, if they don’t make Dani appear strong and confident, then when the twist is revealed, it feels unrealistic.

Early in the movie we see Dani as the leader of her household, inspiring her brother, giving her father chores to do. It’s simple, but it shows she knows how to manage. When she and her brother arrive at the factory where they work and discover that her brother’s job has been replaced by a robot, she tells her brother to do her job…while she goes and complains to the manager. She ignores her superiors along the way, who advise her it’s not her place to question management. That’s another subtle nod to her confidence and “take charge” style.

After that point, she does nothing but cry over the loved ones she lost, and continually puts herself at needless risk as she questions (and sometimes ignores) Grace’s  guidance.

But it could have gone another way. The writers could have chosen to skip the twist at the end, in favor of jumping all over it from the very start. Make it obvious that Dani is a natural leader right from the beginning and never let up.

When Sarah Connor shows up and assumes — because Dani is a woman and the resistance sent her a protector back in time — that Dani is the womb of the future, then Dani can turn the tables on Sarah, and point out that times have changed, and women don’t need to just be vessels anymore.

I get it; writers like to be subtle — especially good writers — but it’s not always the best choice. I think on this occasion, setting up a conflict between Dani and Sarah as the same (but different) would have worked better.

One twist I did like about this story is that Judgement Day isn’t caused by Skynet.  It’s a completely different AI — created for the same basic objective — that becomes the downfall of civilization.

Essentially…saying that one way or another, an AI apocalypse is inevitable. 

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: This movie is really packed with action, but I made sure none of the Peetimes contained action scenes. Of the 3 Peetimes, I would recommend the 2nd one. It’s near the middle of the movie and nothing important happens. The 3rd Peetime isn’t bad, but it’s definitely the worst of the bunch. There are a few good one-liners that you’ll miss.

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

Rated (R) for violence throughout, language and brief nudity
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Read Rob Williams’ Terminator review: Grade A.

Movie Review by RunPee Rob – Terminator: Dark Fate

Movie Review - Terminator: Dark FateI went into this film with mixed feelings. The original landed in the mid 80s with barely a ripple. A relatively small budget film by a new director, with not a well known cast. But it took off.

The early 90s saw T2 launched with a lot of ballyhoo and fuss — and it worked! The new cinematic technology really helped drive the story — apparently James Cameron was considering using a claymation technique for the T-1000. (Can you imagine Arnie vs Wallace and Gromit?)

The current millennium’s offerings seemed to be less successful, maybe due to the absence of James Cameron. Who knows, but personally, I wasn’t sold on the third installment, and still haven’t seen the fourth and fifth ones!

Then the latest episode was announced. Cameron is writing and producing. Arnie is back. As is Linda Hamilton. (Maybe it’s because we’re a similar age, but I think she still looks stunning!).

There are some new faces to keep things fresh. Gabriel Luna is easily a match for Robert Patrick as a soulless automaton. The big problem was always going to be: does it work? James Cameron said it was the rightful third episode and the others could be ignored…so will it slot into the world created in the first two films?

The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Not only does it fit in, but it does so very smoothly. It is a matter of a few minutes worth of exposition, and you can sit back and enjoy the new story without worrying about loose ends.

And what a story it is! It rattles along at a fair old clip pretty much from the first few frames. There are slower sections where characters new and old are explored, their relationships examined, with even a few laughs, but this is undoubtedly an action movie! Fights, chases, explosions, all over the place.

In short, a well thought out and executed thrill ride.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I worked hard to avoid the amazing action scenes in any of these Peetimes. Anytime my pulse dropped below 100bpm felt like a good time to run and pee. Note from Dan Gardner (RunPee CEO) These Peetimes are from a newly christened Peep: Rob Williams, from the UK. Terminator: Dark Fate is released in the UK one week earlier than here in the USA, so Rob was able to get Peetimes for us. I’ve worked with Rob for a few weeks, training him on how we do things, but this is his first “live run.” From what I can tell he did a bang-up job. I hope you agree. 

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

Rated (R) for violence throughout, language and brief nudity
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Movie Review – Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Movie Review - Maleficent: Mistress of EvilThere really isn’t a lot to say about this Maleficent sequel. It’s gorgeous to look at. If you like fantasy movies, you’ll have a great time.

Angelina Jolie brings back that good/evil vibe she did so well in the original. She also doesn’t look a day older from way back when, so I assume there was some CGI de-aging and very smooth fairy-tale make-up going on. Good on her. And good on everyone involved. The story isn’t gripping or even worth discussing, but it’s still just a lovely film.

What was better about this movie than the first is that it’s a brand new story. The classic tale had to conform somewhat to the Disney Briar Rose/Aurora/Sleeping Beauty concept. More or less. From the ‘evil queen’ point of view, except totally not. Evil is relative.

Maleficent 2 got to be a fresh new movie with a totally different concept. It didn’t let anyone down. The audience laughed, gasped, and even applauded at the end. I had a great time, and it was clear everyone left with a smile on their face and a spring in their steps. It’s nice to see a sequel surpass the original.

If you like fantasy movies, see this in the theater on a good screen, and reserve a good seat location for your ticket money. It’s that pretty. There aren’t a lot of good fantasy films out there, not compared to the current plethora of action, thriller, or sci fi flicks. This one’s worth it (again, if you like high fantasy and tales of magic).

To be totally honest, you’ll be completely lost if you haven’t seen the original, since almost no time is spent on exposition.

Go see the original again, and then this, and if you liked the first, you’ll love the second.

Grade: A-

About The Peetimes: Here are 3 good Peetimes — I recommend the final one before the climax, but any will do. This is such a pretty movie, and I didn’t want to make Peetimes over the big fantasy scenes, so these are more like transitional sections with exposition I’ve summed up in the synopses.

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

Rated (PG) for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and brief scary images
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Sequel

First View Movie Review – The Princess and the Frog

 

Movie Review - The Princess and the FrogThe Princess and the Frog is a suitably good and modern take on the “Princess” theme, with a jazzy little soundtrack and some true comedic moments. But is it moving? Inspiring? Maybe. Tiana, the Princess in question, is a good role model, with a solid work ethic.

Which makes me think…Tiana has a job. She works. Do any of the other Disney Princesses work at all, ever? Even the ones that aren’t royalty to start with seem to do…nothing. Belle, for example, apparently reads all day, to the amazement of the drooling illiterates around her. Cinderella worked hard, basically as a slave, but I wouldn’t call what she did a job.

Aladdin at least has a profession: petty thief. Most Princes only seemed to ride around the country, looking for sleeping Princesses to kiss. But, you know, this review should be about Tiana. 🙂

Tiana wants to own a jazz club in New Orleans, which is a nice achievable goal. She works at least two jobs to get to her dream, and her parents aren’t abusive, so it’s not like there’s an evil stepmother in the picture, for once.

Which leads to the villain: the Voodoo guy. He has no motivation in the plot except to be evil for evil’s sake, and he really drags the film down. His stuff is so boring I can’t be bothered to look up his name. I know it’s hard to make a good villain, but when Disney hits it out of the park (as with Ursula or Scar) magic happens. We start to care about the story.

In The Princess and the Frog, I only cared about the actual ‘frog’ sections, which are definitely delightful. The swamp scenes with the firefly and alligator are super fun, and emphasize the solid narrative message that looks can be deceiving. Prince Naveen is even quite ‘charming’ in his selfishness, and he has a nice arc with Tiana, who brooks no foolishness. Good for her.

But there’s the redneck scene, which is a kind of throwback to the stereotypical storytelling I’d expect from Old Disney, dragging the movie down. Ugh. (And that’s why their sequence makes a great Peetime, having nothing to do with the plot and offering very awkward humor.)

So…I’d call this a middling Princess film. I was pleasantly surprised how Disney incorporated a lower class American heroine that wasn’t in love with a man because he was attractive and royal. And I liked how Naveen was sort of a brat, who grew to love Tiana for her personality, not for her beauty.

Altogether, The Princess and the Frog is a nice movie that showcases a young woman of color in a way that never feels racist: her story is not about skin at all, unless you count the green froggy kind.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: If you can hold off for the Recommended 2nd Peetime at 51 minutes, you won’t miss any songs, and the scene in question is really quite dumb. We also provided an early Peetime at 40 minutes in case you really need it (it includes a minor song).

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

Rated (G) none
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

New Disney Princess Celebrates Racial Diversity