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

Movie Review – Abominable

 

Movie Review - AbominableWell, here I sit at my computer, absolutely gritting my teeth….again.

Here at RunPee, I am the animated film expert. I can qualify that statement by telling you I’ve been watching animated films for more than half a century. I kinda know what kids like and don’t like.

Abominable is a kid’s movie. It’s as simple as that. One critic wrote that the plot of Abominable was ‘childish’, like that’s a bad thing. Those critics that gushed over the likes of Les Miserables and The English Patient are now panning Abominable. Not cool; not cool at all.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest and am no longer gritting my teeth, I’ll review this film the way it should be reviewed; from a kid’s point of view.

Abominable is an absolute delight. Keeping in mind that little kids respond to sound, color and movement, this sweet film satisfies all three requirements. The sound of violins fill the movie, the color was exquisite, and the action was very much child friendly. So there, my criteria was met in all respects.

Some critics claim that the story was boring, and the theme was over used. The story was anything but boring; it hit on sadness over the loss of someone dear to them, the importance of family values, and eventually healing from the loss. And as far as the theme being over used; no child will ever tire of seeing plush toys coming to life.

I loved Abominable and will be taking my great-granddaughter to see it tomorrow. You do the same.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: This was an easy movie for Peetimes. The 2nd Peetime gives you an extra 30 seconds that you should put to use, because the movie continues for another 35 minutes and shouldn’t be missed.

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

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

Movie Review – SmallFoot

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

Movie Review – Rambo: Last Blood

Movie Review - Rambo: Last BloodFirst off; if you’re a fan of all the other Rambo movies, you are going to love Last Blood. He does some major damage to the bad guys, and isn’t this why these movies have so much appeal? The violence in this film was so very graphic, that I did have to turn my head and look away a couple of times. But again, isn’t this why we continue to go back to see John Rambo do his thing? He has certainly perfected the art of killing in some very creative ways.

Even though this Rambo is as predictable as all the other movies, I still enjoyed it it. Just as Stallone was able to bring the original Rocky back for each of the movies, he brought the essence of the first Rambo back to complete this bloody saga. It was fun to see Stallone still able to look and act as menacing today as he did in 1982.

The pacing was very good. There were no protracted dialog-driven scenes, and better yet, no unnecessary love scenes. I can’t really comment on the writing, because most of the time I couldn’t understand what Sylvester was saying. He is much better at shooting than speaking.

So, if maybe you’ve had a frustrating week and need to blow off a little steam, just head for you’re local theater, buy your ticket for Rambo: Last Blood, get a good seat, and live vicariously through the last 20 minutes of this movie. You’ll be a new person walking out of the theater.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: There was a great deal of plot and character development in the 1st 1/2 of the movie, and a great deal of action in the last 1/2 of the movie, making it a little difficult to find a down time long enough for a Peetime. Fortunately, just about 1/2 way through the movie, there was 4&1/2 minutes of exposition that could be missed, since it was easily summed up in the synopsis.

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

Rated (R) for strong graphic violence,grisly images, drug use and language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Thriller

Movie Review – Tangled

 

Movie Review - TangledI’m only 3/4 of the way through my first viewing of Tangled (yes, my 1st time) and I love it already so much I’m willing to give it an A+. Of course, they could screw it up during the climax and I’ll have to change my review, but so far I’m completely delighted.

Tangled: beautifully animated, very funny, and packs in a lot of adventure. I’m stingy with my A grades, and give almost nothing an A+, so this is a good endorsement from us at RunPee.

Great Characters

There’s a handsome Han Solo type of rogue. Which…yay! And of course there are amusing animal sidekicks. What’s cool is that both the horse and chameleon have a ton of attitude, which Disney doesn’t usually do. Actually, their “men” aren’t usually ‘jerks with a heart of gold’, except for Flynn here, and  Naveen in The Princess and the Frog. So this is kind of a treat. Ahem.

I smiled a lot, especially with the Snuggly Duck ruffians singing about their dreams. Really. What could be more cute than that scene?

This movie made me happy.

A Great Villain

Then there’s Gothel, the ‘wicked’ adoptive mother. She’s an awesome villain. Her songs are totally fun, and she’s actually nice to Rapunzel. She really is. She’s affectionate, goes out of her way to get Rapunzel a birthday gift, and gives the girl a decent life (albeit as a complete prisoner) with games, books, paints, a great kitchen, craft supplies, a lot of leeway for doodling all over the walls…pretty much anything one can do inside a nicely appointed tower.

Gothel’s not evil so much as selfish…but not completely unrelatable. She’s not about riches or power. She just wants to stay young and live. Ursula from The Little Mermaid is still my favorite Disney villain, but Gothel is surprisingly interesting. I liked her better than Scar from The Lion King, and he was previously my second favorite Disney villain. Good job, Tangled!

And a Disney Easter Egg or Two

I find one in the movie Tangled: a stylized depiction of Snow White’s Poisoned Apple painting on a stairway balustrade in Rapunzel’s Tower. Easy to miss, but it’s there.

Also, Rapunzel and Flynn show up at the Coronation scene in Frozen, which is pretty cool. Her hair is still short and brown. Disney doesn’t want to be a shared universe, but now that Pixar/Marvel have been absorbed by the Mouse, things are changing.

Tangled, Overall

I’ll be watching the last part of this movie tomorrow (I have to see Ad Astra tonight to get Peetimes) and really hope Tangled’s climax doesn’t let me down. I’ll be back soon to let you know if this is truly an A+ film.

UPDATE After Finishing Tangled: I’ll keep the A+. It met up with my expectations, even though I thought they could have wrapped up Mother Gothel’s story a little less gruesomely.  Put her in prison or something, like the Stabbington brothers, who were, you know, actually evil. I did love the return of the ‘dreamer’ ruffians, though. See? Some people are redeemable. (I really would like Disney to stop with the bad parent theme, like they did with Brave.)

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: This Disney classic was re-released in theaters this Friday. When I do Peetimes for Disney Princess films, I do my best to avoid any songs, which is what most fans want to see. Some exposition or mild plot scenes are chosen instead, but are well-summarized in the synopses. Tangled has 3 good Peetimes, so you won’t be lost when you get back from the toilet. Pick any.

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

Rated (PG) for brief mild violence
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical, Romance

Movie Review – The Little Mermaid

The Lion King – Rewatch Review of the Animated Classic

Movie Review – Beauty and the Beast