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

RunPee Sis’s Movie Review – Jojo Rabbit

Movie Review - Jojo RabbitJoJo Rabbit shocked me. I hadn’t heard a peep about it, knew nothing going into it…and walked out in love with what I had just seen.

This movie was a work of art. Hollywood produces some great flicks to amuse us, and some not so great ones, ones where people can just get paid. JoJo Rabbit told a story from a perspective that hasn’t been done to my knowledge and was masterfully produced.

Every single character in this movie had that certain spark that’s hard to come across anymore…no matter if they were good or bad or ugly. These actors did something amazing, each and everyone of them.

This is something I thought I’d never say: Hitler was my favorite. OMG, every moment of his screen time had me in stitches!! This spin on him was so perfect that I’m going to watch it again. I’m going back tonight just to enjoy it.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: So much happens in tiny bursts that Peetimes were incredibly hard to find. It was hard to duplicate them for you. I was able to give you a sense of what’s happening, but the body language in this movie was very poignant and said so much in itself.

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

Rated (PG-13) for mature thematic content, some disturbing images, violence, and language
Genres: Comedy, Drama, War

Read also Golden Man’s Movie Review of JoJo Rabbit, and check out the interesting comments going on! Did you realize there is an entire “Funny Hitler” movie genre, oddly enough? Remember, three of anything makes a collection:

Golden Man’s Movie Review – Jojo Rabbit

Spoiler-iffic Review of Terminator – Dark Fate

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

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

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

Talking Dark Fate

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

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

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

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

Terminator Dark Fate - Carl
#ThereAreNoDrapesButWhatWeMake

Where Dark Fate Failed

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

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

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

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

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

Hasta La Vista, John Connor?

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

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

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

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

More Pissy Thoughts

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

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

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

Moving on.

Dark Fate: Girl Power Version

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

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

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

Sarah Connor…is back

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

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

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

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

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

So, I had to see Dark Fate again

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

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

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

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

Judgement Day: Now What?

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

Chew on that.

Movie Grade: B+

Ranking the Terminator Movies

Official Movie Review – Terminator: Dark Fate

Movie Review – The Terminator

Terminator TV Series: The Carlenator

In Defense of Terminator 3

 

 

Movie Review – The Good Liar

Movie Review - The Good LiarMirren and McKellen are the Crown Jewels of British drama. Seeing them together is a treat which I can’t believe has been so long coming. Then there is Russell Tovey, who has got hours of TV screen time racked up on this side of the pond and should be in a lot more films as well.

The story itself rattles along at a fine old pace and the flashback scenes show there is a lot more going on behind how the characters are behaving and what they are saying. As Betty (Mirren) says at the end, “it’s deeper than it looks,” especially if all you’ve seen are the trailers!

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: This genre of movie thrives on leading the viewer astray, and it is easy to lose track if you’re not paying attention. However, I think I’ve got some Peetimes that can be easily summed up or don’t really drive the story along.

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

Rated (R) for some strong violence, and for language and brief nudity
Genres: Drama, Thriller

Movie Review – Playing with Fire

Movie Review - Playing with FireI give high marks to this movie for the recognition it gives to the first responders out there risking their lives for us. And to show our younger generation that not all heroes wear spandex.

Playing with Fire itself is a decent movie. I think the target audience is the kiddies between six and twelve who’ll enjoy the bathroom humor, watching things get set on fire, and things crashing.

Parents will have a few laugh out loud moments, especially when John Leguizamo is reciting quotes from history. I especially liked Keegan Michael Key’s character, who showed a surprising range of emotions.

I did have one, ‘what were they thinking?’ moment when John Cena’s character was out in the woods taking a dump, while holding a three-year-old little girl in front of him. Really! Granted, he did have pine fronds covering his parts — but why would anyone think this was funny, and better yet — why was it even needed? I could almost feel the uncomfortableness coming from the adults in the audience. No one was laughing. Poor little Zoey; it seems she was only included in the cast for the bathroom humor.

Despite that one scene, I’m giving Playing with Fire a solid B.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: This was an easy film for Peetimes, even though there’s plenty of action. I included a 3rd Peetime as an Emergency, since it comes so near the end of the movie, but it will save you from long bathroom lines after the film.

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

Rated (PG) for rude humor, some suggestive material and mild peril
Genres: Comedy, Family

Movie Review – Midway

Movie Review - MidwaySorry to say: this movie doesn’t live up to the true events it attempts to depict. Unless you feel you must see the battle events on the big screen, this movie is better suited to DVD/streaming…in 2 or 3 months when it’s available.

To be sure, there’s plenty of explosions, bombs dropping, explosions, aerial dog fights, explosions, plane crashes, explosions,… 😉 That aspect of the movie doesn’t fail, except that it honestly gets a little redundant. (I wonder how many minutes of the movie were focused on closeups of Dick Best as he dive bombed — too many for sure.)

Where the movie falls short of it’s target, is in character development. And I mean all of it. There wasn’t a single character that had any sort of depth.

MIDWAY: between a bad movie and a horrible movie.Historically, I know the US Navy winning the Battle of Midway wasn’t just one miracle, it was several miracles. In the movie they tell us that, but we never really feel it. The story just doesn’t connect the dots in the way it should have. I’m not saying this is easy, but with a budget like this movie had there’s no excuse for not having a better script.

Grade: D+

About The Peetimes: I managed to find 4 good Peetimes and would recommend the 3rd one. There are no battle scenes in any of the Peetimes.

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

Rated (PG-13) for sequences of war violence and related images, language and smoking
Genres: Action, Drama, History

Movie Review – Last Christmas

Movie Review - Last ChristmasThis movie caters to a particular audience because it’s almost a textbook for its genre — rom-com. If you enjoy this genre, this movie will press all your buttons.

By “textbook,” I don’t mean this is a dull movie. On the contrary, it’s packed with sarcastic British humor. You will laugh at least once.

I don’t want to say the plot is not important to this genre in general, but let’s face it; it’s just not. The story pretty much follows the same structure from a grand scheme for rom-com. I mean, the name is self-explanatory — it’s a love story that will make you laugh along the way.

The nickname of this genre should be “painkiller”. It’s supposed to make you feel better afterward, and that’s exactly what this movie does. You will walk out of the theater feeling healed and brain-washed by George Micheal’s “Last Christmas”.

Oh yes, and the actors and actresses did a good job; the directing was adequate, the pacing was about right, and… “the lighting was crap”. You will get it. 🙂

Grade: B

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

Rated (PG-13) for language and sexual content
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

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 – Doctor Sleep

Movie Review - Doctor SleepI’ll admit to being a bit dubious about coming to see this. Be honest… Did you think The Shining needed a sequel? Or worse still, something that just seemed to be using the name to attract bums on seats? In my defense, I know nothing about the alternative comic book universes so ‘Joker’ may be more relevant than I found it.

I guess the argument runs that the original source novel got a sequel, so why shouldn’t the film? The thing is that ‘The Shining’ wasn’t liked by Stephen King. Mind you it could have been a Kubrick thing; he did fall out with Anthony Burgess after making A Clockwork Orange.

The Shining was, undoubtedly, a top-notch horror film, and is more impressive for being shot entirely in-camera, being made before the age of “computer this and digital that”. However, the fact that special effects are ubiquitous shouldn’t be held against ‘Doctor Sleep’. They are used sparingly but appropriately, and I do wonder what Stanley would have done if he’d had the same access to them.

To be honest, they could have got away with using effects a lot more… Iconic Shining scenes were shot using similar actors — rather than lookalikes or digital overlays — and I think that is fair enough, given the almost forty years between the two. Most reasonable people will agree that getting someone who looks a bit like Shelley Duvall, rather than trying to shoot a digitized scene which ends up looking like a fiberglass model, is the best way ahead.

But what of the story? I enjoyed it! Ewan McGregor is always watchable and Rebecca Ferguson is excellent as the scary villain, Rose the Hat, and they are ably supported by new talent and more established faces.

I suppose the last question is: do I need to see The Shining first? As I can’t go and see it as a Shining virgin, I have to think quite carefully, and my answer would be “No.” You don’t have to see it, but there are references you’ll appreciate if you have.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: There are 4 Peetimes for you, including an early one for those of you who don’t like to miss the trailers. Please note that the 2nd Peetime features torture, which some may find disturbing.

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

Rated (R) for disturbing and violent content, some bloody images, language, nudity and drug use
Genres: Horror, Sequel

Movie Review – Motherless Brooklyn

 

Movie Review - Motherless BrooklynIt seems clear a lot of critics like this movie. I’ll go along with this to an extent — it’s clearly a labor of love for Edward Norton, who not only managed every aspect of the film and starred in it, but did some excellent research on the mental illness of Tourette’s Syndrome.

One of my early jobs involved working with the mentally ill, including those with Tourette’s, and Norton hit all the right notes. His character was whip-smart in spite of his disability. Lionel was aware of his affliction and apologized for his inappropriate outbursts. That his crew called him “Freakshow” was just a sign of the times in the 1950s, where it was acceptable to be casually cruel. It also served to underline the love between Frank (Bruce Willis’s character) and Lionel. Frank called the orphan under his wing “Brooklyn” — a much more affectionate term.

The Good Stuff

The historical period setting looked great too, although I’m not a fan of washed out bland palettes blended with noir. This was by no means a pretty film — and not intended to be — but two and a half hours of gritty, dreary grayness grated on my nerves.

What else can I add? Motherless Brooklyn was well-acted by everyone (although Alec Baldwin leaned a bit heavy on his SNL Trump act), well-written, and about a topic that absolutely bears both scrutiny and a relevance for our time.

It sounds like a great film, right?

Except. Except, yes, I was bored silly. I’m starting to find drama films less appealing than horror, and for me that’s saying a lot. I have a degree in Conservation Biology and am a staunch Humanist, so I feel deeply about the routine abuse of our peoples and planet by those in power. But I don’t want to wallow in a movie about it. I want my entertainment choices to lift me up, not drown me in despair.

If you want to feel sad about humanity’s mistreatment of marginalized people, this film will be right up your alley.

A fun time at the theater, it most certainly is not.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: I’ve got 3 Peetimes pretty well spaced out. The 1st and 2nd are really good, and the 3rd is your last chance to go before the final hour.

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

Rated (R) for language throughout including some sexual references, brief drug use, and violence
Genres: Crime, Drama, Noir