How to Avoid Being Eaten by a Shark In a Shark Movie (or real life)

the meg shark mouth poster
Don’t be like dumb people in shark films.

Like shark movies? Ever wonder WHY we enjoy these monster/disaster/fish bait movies so much? I wonder that myself. It’s not like they’re teaching us how to avoid being eaten alive, hunted like prey, or anything useful.

So here’s the top ten ways to avoid becoming “chummy” with the sharks. (Get it? Get it? Sheesh.) I’m getting my safety information from National Geographic, but I’m also not an idiot. These things are common sense.

Top Ten Ways to Avoid Being Eaten by Sharks (with movie examples of what not to do).

1. STAY AWAY FROM DEAD THINGS IN THE WATER.

You’d think this would be obvious. Someone something will be hanging around said dead fish, whale, or person, eating the body. Always. People in the movies are always dangling around with tasty arms and legs, paddling about, curious and/or sad about the dead thing. Move along, people! (These are the same characters who think it’s a great idea to split up in haunted houses to look for clues.)

the reef shark movie
Swim away from the bodies.

Point: In The Shallows, Blake Lively’s character swam up against a chewed up,  bloody whale. That would have been a great time to LEAVE. Don’t even get me started on the people in The Reef.

2. On a similar note, avoid schools of fish, seals, or sea lions.

Don’t add to the buffet. Simple rules, here.

3. If you see a lot of seabird or dolphin activity, be aware they are attracted to the same food sharks like. 

So far, Rules 1-3 are variations on a theme. Stay off the menu when there’s a meal about.

4. ALSO SHOULD BE OBVIOUS: Stay away from fishing boats, which usually dump entrails and blood in the water. 

I just watched 47 Meters Down 2 – Uncaged. Vague and minor spoiler: some people surface right as a glass bottomed shark boat dumped chum in the sea for the pleasure of tourists. This did not go well for those people.

47 meters down 2 uncaged fishbait meme
Fixed it.

5. Are you bleeding at all? Menstruating, even? Get out of the ocean.

Sharks can smell tiny amounts of blood over large distances. That big snout isn’t just a container for teeth. Remember the movie Pitch Black? (Which wasn’t a shark film, but the idea still applies.) #BloodSmells

pennywise chapter one it
Ewww. Okay. Just no to blood.

6. Avoid storm drain release points. Likewise, places where sewage enters the ocean.

These ‘garbage’ points attract bait fish, which attracts the sharks who eat them. Also, gross! Don’t swim there! I live right beside a lovely bay on the sea with plenty of nice places to swim, and STILL see young families playing in the water around the YUCKY WATER, E COLI PRESENT, DON’T SWIM HERE signs.

Just because the water’s shallow doesn’t mean it’s safe.

7. Avoid: Harbor channels, steep ocean floor drop offs, river entrances, and any place the water is murky. And be aware that after rains, river entrances will sweep yummy baitfish out to sea. 

These are places sharks like to patrol. And they can see quite well in the muck.

deep blue sea shark fin
They can still see you.

8. Don’t swim at dusk. Or dawn or night. Or any time alone, in an isolated area, especially at night. 

Twilight isn’t the time only Vampires like to feed. Also, with the not swimming alone? You’re safer in numbers. Just like with Vampires!

Did you see The Shallows? Blake Lively should have known better than to swim alone at a remote beach like that, even in broad daylight.

the shallows with blake lively
Don’t swim alone on a super remote beach, not even if you’re Blake Lively.

9. Don’t wear bright colors (yellow and orange are supposed to be the worst), or reflective jewelry that a shark will interpret as fish scales. 

Although, back to The Shallows, the jewelry did a fantastic job stitching up Blake’s skin after her first shark encounter. So if you wear jewelry, consider the kind that can double as a needle and thread.

10. Don’t splash too much. 

Man, it annoyed me in The Reef when those survivors not only hung around the dead bodies, but kicked and splashed and made too much activity while drifting around the Pacific. This is how scared prey acts.

Remember in Jaws when Richard Dreyfuss lost his poison-laced spear? He was not in the shark cage anymore, and a really mean Great White was right there. Playing a legitimately smart character, he dove down under some flotsam in his scuba gear to wait out the shark presence. The scientist survived with no worries.

jaws movie poster
Great movie that actually featured smart people.

There are different ways to swim. Some involve a lot of splashing. Others have more sinuous moves. Try to do, say, the breaststroke. Or at least kick smoothly, under the water, if you’re holding onto a float.

And keep your pets, especially dogs, out of the water. They make a lot of commotion. The pet rat in The Abyss was an unusual case, but worked out for the rat. The bird in Deep Blue Sea was less lucky. I won’t spoil what happens to the dog in Crawl, but that’s an alligator movie, and I don’t have any details on gator attacks.

What if you’re diving and a shark does approach you?

Stay as still as possible if you can’t easily exit the water. But if you’re actually attacked, or if the shark has you in its mouth, don’t play dead. Attack back with everything you can, and try to get the shark in the delicate areas of eyes, gills, or snout. If you recall, in Deep Blue Sea, a large crucifix made a great shark weapon.  (Again with the useful jewelry…hmmm…)

I’m not saying to use movies for your guide in survival situations, but at least these are things to think about.

Overall, Be Aware of Yourself in the Water

When all is said and done, here’s the note attached to the credits of 47 Meters Down: Uncaged Sharks kill ten people a year. People kill ten million sharks a year. So the idea here is to be aware, but not paranoid. Note also that this statistic doesn’t include people who are attacked and survived. Famous surfer Bethany Hamilton probably didn’t commit any of these Ten Deadly Sins, but lost an arm anyway.

bethany hamilton unstoppable movie poster
Bethany Hamilton, still rocking it.

Just be think of how sea predators work, and you won’t have to avoid swimming in the ocean altogether. And if you feel something touch you while swimming, calmly but efficiently get the hell out of the water.

Don’t be like the stupid people in these shark movies:

Movie Review – 47 Meters Down: Uncaged

Newie Review – The Reef – Low Budget, Decent, Non Campy Shark Movie

First View Movie Review – Jaws 2

The Shallows – First View Movie Review (2016)

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

 

Virgin Movie Review – Jim Carrey’s The Grinch (2000)

Jim Carrey is the grinch
He’s a mean one. Also deranged, and possibly a pedophile.

Holy hell, this was directed by Ron Howard? Normally I love his touch. And as for Jim Carrey, I’ve always been a fan. Not with this. This is the Carrey equivalent of Bill Murrey’s Garfield: a true WTF?

I imagine (and know for sure, based on my own great-niece’s preferences) some people like this Grinch. Maybe they weren’t weaned on the 26-minute 1966 animated Dr. Seuss version like I was, that with even this year still made me cry with happiness. CRYING. TEARS running down my face.

[pullquote]This one? I was confused. I was bored. I had a headache from the non-stop and frankly exhausting Grinchy chatter intended as humor, and came off just weird — the bad kind of weird.[/pullquote] It felt more like a Tim Burton offering. (Which is weirder than ever for me, since I normally am not a Burton fan. But then, I just did a Virgin Review of Tim Burton’s 2001 Planet of the Apes and kind of loved it. It’s clearly opposite week for me.)  😉

Even Max the dog couldn’t save this effort, and I previously gave the 2018  ‘meh’ new Grinch full length animal feature a D+ for cute animal action. This one, sadly, gets only a D, at best, for Whoville’s creative set design, and a nice kiddo as Cindy Lou Who. This Cindy Lou was sweet, and saved the 2000 Grinch from a D- or F+ grade.

By contrast, I gave the old 1966 Christmas special an A grade, and I don’t give that grade away easily. I expected it look old at the seams…but it happily held up through time, and made my own heart swell three sizes by the end.

Back to the 2000 live-action Grinch. I watched it last night with zero foreknowledge and the best of intentions. And for the first time in EVER in Netflixing films, I had to fast-forward over entire sections of dullness. I would have turned this off and picked something else,  but had to watch it through for my review.

Also, I wanted to know why the Grinch was compelled to sound like Sean Connery? Minor note, but it distracted me. [pullquote position=”right”]Jim Carrey normally is brilliant in his vocal and physical humor. Was he directed to filibuster like this?[/pullquote] Is he proud of this film?

There were a few funny jokes landing among the barrage of awkward efforts: I thought the joke about Santa’s reindeer was cute: “On Thrasher and Crasher and Vomit and Blitzkrieg…” <—- heh. Some moments of cleverness stuck, but most felt like film spaghetti tossed at the wall to see what would stick. Robin Wiliams mastered that kind of improvisation, and maybe that’s what Carrey was going for.

Even the songs lacked. I expected a fun delivery of the classic “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”…well, yawn. Then the final “Fahoo Foray” song was merely competent. Moving on.

What about the Whos in Whoville? Here was another cardinal sin:  these townspeople were unpleasant, underhanded, and a little bit creepy. While the Grinch, instead of being merely a cranky, damaged soul, was just deranged. I have no idea why this movie went down the paths it chose. Dark, weird, sinister, yada yada. [pullquote]The Grinch tale at heart is a story about alienation, rejection, and isolation, but it isn’t supposed to make you wonder if predatory sexual advances (with a whiff of pedophilia) are appropriate.[/pullquote]

The Cindy Lou character saved this version me, but expanding her role also undercut the rest of what should have went down that fated Christmas morning in Whoville. I know this is subjective, but one nice child can’t a plot pivot make. I didn’t buy this Grinch’s transformation: I don’t think he did either. We weren’t given a beat to breathe or let the story have any emotional landing space.

A tale of two Grinches
Some Grinch on Grinch action.

Alternatively, the new 2018 full-length Grinch movie didn’t make me cry either. It had nice technical animation and cute critters, but the story was a cup of plain vanilla yogurt.

So here it is: I say it’s time to stop messing with a classic. It’s like when Peter Jackson made that short Hobbit book into three bloated, sometimes off-putting films: like butter scraped over too much bread. If you’re a big LOTR fan, you’ll get the reference.  But anyone who’s had breakfast will get it anyway. 🙂

Movie Grade: D 

Movie Rewatch Review — Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

In Defense of the Grinch (1966)

A Novice Rocky Review

rocky and adrian
Rocky — a love story.

I’d never seen the original 1976 Rocky in the past, because it seemed to be a “boxing” movie, and watching people hit each other into a bloody mess has never been my bag. Somewhere along the line I watched Rocky III, which was a decent enough film. It was sad and then triumphant. But I never became a Rocky fan. I did see Rocky IV, but thought that one wasn’t good, and then gave up on the whole thing as more decades of Rocky  and Rocky-adjacent films passed me by.

With Creed II killing it in theaters, all the Rocky movies have been re-playing on TV, so I DVRed I-III for a newbie review. I can’t quite call it a Virgin Review, since I did see two of the eight films in the franchise (although if you ask me for any details, all I remember is III is the sad one and IV is the one with the blonde Russian boxer.)

[pullquote]I figured it was time to see what the fuss was about with Rocky the First.[/pullquote] I recently watched Jaws this summer, to prep for The Meg, and thought Jaws was truly an A+ film. I was too young to appreciate Jaws when it came out, thinking it a horror monster movie, when it really is not. It’s about three men and what they are made of when it counts. (Jaws is a perfect film. I gave it an A+  and posted a glowing rewatch review here.)

Well, Rocky is not really a boxing movie. The cold open shows Sylvester Stallone in a match, but we don’t see any more fighting until the end with the big champion-ship match. The plot is really more about this somewhat under-educated man with an unappealing job of collecting loan debts. He’s rough around every edge, but as you watch, you can sense he’s also so much more: he loves animals; is enamored with the shy bookish woman at the pet store; he tries to help a young girl on the streets, and, most tellingly, doesn’t break the thumb of the man he’s ordered to hurt when collecting a debt. Rocky also loves music. He fights because it’s the one thing he feels he’s really good at. [pullquote]He’s as insecure as everyone else seems to be in the story. One could argue Rocky is more about overcoming your self-loathing than fighting.[/pullquote]

More than being a sports movie, it’s a love story and a drama. The scenes where Rocky tries to bring Adrian out of her shell are unusual: he likes the quiet girl that doesn’t speak words if she can help it. He gave her enough self-confidence to tell off her abusive brother, in a wonderfully acted and taut scene. I don’t understand why Rocky is even friends with Paulie, but I think we are given to understand Rocky likes everyone, and doesn’t hold their personality defects against them. What a rare trait, and something to consider in our own lives.

[pullquote position=”right”]Rocky is also clearly a drama. The two fight scenes are more efficient than gripping, and I have no problem with that.  But the scenes that truly stick out show Rocky with coach Mickey, Rocky with Paulie, and Rocky with his strangely sympathetic loan shark.[/pullquote] The one big scene with Coach, played in an astoundingly profound, yet gruff way, needs to be seen once, then seen again. It’s sorrowful, hopeful AND hopeless, and features two significant monologues, spoken to a closed door in one case, and then from listening alone in a stairwell for the second. This turns into a  masterful, surprising, and deeply moving pair of performances. Rocky and Mickey are damaged people who don’t know how to trust or feel hope again…yet the two men come together as the camera pans out to a wide shot on the streets, without any words at all. Its beautiful. You could cry right there. I hope this scene, and Burgess Meredith in particular, won an award. [pullquote]It’s that good. You feel you’ve witnessed a great moment in cinema.[/pullquote]

Here’s a video of this duology of monologues. Watch this again, because scenes like this don’t come around very often: 

I had no idea Rocky was a good movie, let alone a great one, which puts me in my place. It’s got seven sequels for a reason. (Maybe I need to see the first Fast and Furious, by my logic?) 😉

Many iconic moments stood out that I only absorbed through pop culture til now:  when Rocky cracks five raw eggs into a glass and sloppily gulps it down. When Rocky, trying  to make a point with Paulie, beats up a side of beef so furiously that he breaks its ribs. When Rocky runs through the streets of Philly, pre-morning, and triumphs over the stairs that left him winded earlier, as the Rocky theme song we all love crescendos all around, Rocky’s arms making a V to the skies as the dawn emerges from the night. (I’ve got goosebumps remembering this.)

The training montage scene that should never be considered a Peetime:

And then, of course, the climax: Rocky blinded, bloody, and beaten, calls plaintively for Adrian. When she makes it through the throng, I thought this would be the time to say they love each other, which they do. I lapped up every second of that. Remember when this film came out in 1976, audiences were still hopeful movies would leave them happier than when they came in. Now we are cynical and a bit jaded, so it’s nice to see an early film that awards the viewers for their patience, as a slow tale reaches a beautiful conclusion.

I think the only reason this film doesn’t get a Plus on that A, is from the confusing ending. Who won the fight? I have no idea from watching it. I asked my mother, also watching, who won and she had no clue either. Nobody was punched out on the ground. We re-wound the scene and still didn’t understand what happened, although I could barely make it out that Apollo Creed mumbled something about a re-match. So, was it a tie?

I texted a friend and asked WHO WON IN ROCKY? He said Creed did, from “points” — and the denouement is about Creed respecting Rocky enough to give him a real chance for the title next year. Or something like that? When I watch Rocky II I might understand better, but I think it’s unforgivable to keep your non-sport oriented viewers this confused. At that time in movie history, sequels were not much of a thing, so this might have left us confused forever. I don’t mind him not winning: I just want to know what happened without asking the Wikipedia. (It turns out they professed love and a vow to not have a re-match? I am not sure how I’m supposed to know this from watching it on film.)

There’s a nice bit of background to Rocky: Stallone himself wrote it, and the story says he was down to around $106 left to his name. The studios offered him $300, 000 for the script and wanted to put someone like Burt Reynolds in the role. Stallone turned it down, insisting that he should star in it. The rest, I guess, is history, as per Wikipedia:

The film, made on a budget of just over $1 million, was a sleeper hit; it earned $225 million in global box office receipts, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1976, and went on to win three Oscars, including Best Picture. The film received many positive reviews and turned Stallone into a major star.[4] In 2006, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”. Rocky is considered to be one of the greatest sports films ever made and was ranked as the second-best in the genre, after Raging Bull, by the American Film Institute in 2008.

Movie Grade: A

The Rocky theme music for your nostalgic enjoyment, and good luck getting it out of your head:

PS: I’ve started noticing the use of holidays in films. Well, in this case, Rocky could be called both a Thanksgiving movie and a Christmas flick. Pay attention the next time you watch it. 🙂


Here are our detailed Rocky I–Creed II reviews, from a Rocky Virgin who’d never seen any of the films  in the franchise before.

Some related reviews we think you’ll like:

Movie Review – Creed II

Movie Review – The Meg

Movie Rewatch — Jaws

Virgin Movie Review – RED 2

Not even Anthony Hopkins could save RED 2
This time the band didn’t bother coming together.

Well, now. I recently re-watched RED 1, and loved it. I gave it an A. So maybe you can understand my disappointment when I say this sequel was the pits. It made almost no sense, even with Anthony Hopkins doing his usual bang-up performance, acting his heart out in a film so completely narratively lacking. What the hell happened here?

Sometimes a sequel isn’t warranted, even though the original left on-screen hints there was more to come. They should have stopped right there, leaving their future to our imagination. RED 2 (still shorthand for Retired, Extremely Dangerous) has none of the charm or style marking the first film. I want to shake the producers for making this dreck happen, for forcing it into existence. WHY?

The original great ensemble didn’t come together. Most of the main characters were completely sidelined or missing entirely. Our ex-Russian KGB expert came in and out like a pee break (as in, his role was like a 3 minute Peetime over the course of the film). Helen Mirren fared slightly better, but had only one or two lines with any of the warmth she showed before. Sure, she can shoot like nobody’s business, but her role was frustratingly fungible and spare. She acted like she knew it. Paycheck time, I guess.

Morgan Freeman’s absence was sorely missed. I know he had stage 4 cancer in RED 1, but hell, this is a movie; they could say it went into remission and no one would bat an eye. Why make continuity a thing when your second best character is missing, without a single line bemoaning his off-screen apparent death? He’s still acting in 2018, so its not like the actor died. My best guess is Freeman read the incoherent script and passed.

Which leaves us with Bruce Willis and John Malcovich turning the ensemble into a duo. It’s like a band of two reuniting on a cruise ship gig because the rest of the musicians retired. This time, Willis and Malcovich have no chemistry at all all. They barely looked at each other. In fact, Malcovich only had on-set chemistry with Willis’ love interest Mary Louise Parker. She did her usual quirky fun job, but it couldn’t save RED 2 from a poor overall performance. 

Who else appeared? David Thewlis (Professor Lupin from Harry Potter), Catherine Zeta Jones, some cringingly bad bad guy whose name I can’t be bothered to look up, and Byung-Hun Lee as Han, the new mercenary who’s Death Incarnate all movie long, but turns into a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Softie in the end. The transition didn’t work, though, unlike Karl Urban’s good turn in RED 1.  Thewlis was quite good as The Frog, and should have been in more scenes. Zeta-Jones…well, looked good. As a past flame for Willis’ character, she pulled off a workmanlike job. The script didn’t give her much to work with. Too bad. Too bad for everything: I was really looking forward to this sequel.

What good things can I say? The cool soundtrack from the first didn’t happen for the 2nd. The plot skipped and jumped; the actors mumbled most of their lines, and the plot was made of Swiss cheese. I still don’t know what the Red Mercury bomb was supposed to be — it sure didn’t make a lick of sense. Wait: these aren’t good things.

Let me try again. Willis and Parker were fine together. Parker’s pleasant presence provided the most laughs. The gag about the gang stealing Han’s plane was amusing, with a good payoff.

The worst crime in this crime movie: it wasn’t funny. RED 1 is all about the fun. There’s enough other, more serious Gun Movies out there if that’s what you want. I hope RED 3 is never a thing. Let these RED ex-agents finally retire.

Recommendation: Pass.  Stream it free, if you must. It’s a much longer movie then RED 1, but that didn’t make it better.

Movie Grade: D+

Note: A virgin movie review highlights films from the past that we haven’t seen before, unlike a regular review from a current film, or a rewatch review from something we’ve seen previously. 

Movie ReWatch Review – RED

Virgin Movie Review – Guardian

Well, this was a typical disaster film that somehow I missed on the first round. I LOVE disaster movies, and thrillers, of which Guardian managed to tick on both boxes. The problem here is that it wasn’t much of a film, being both derivative and predictable. The lead actors seemed to sensed this, apparently, since they pulled a performance that seemingly was all about the paycheck.

I see a lot of thrillers and usually love them. This makes me a harsher critic than some: for example, watching this with my mother, she thought Guardian was the BOMB. Me, I thought: meh. Seen it before, many times. It was basically  Top Gun on the ocean. The bar pickup scene, the bucking of authority figures, the sad ‘father’ backstory of the lead (Ashton Kutcher), and the climax of the Maverick character saving the day…seen that, done that. Kutcher even had a young Tom Cruise flavor. So…yeah, wasn’t hugely impressed. And Kevin Costner basically reprised his reluctant mentor role from Bull  Durham. Top Gun and Bull Durham are great flicks, but I’m not sure we needed to see this story again.

Whatever. Costner is aging and looks it, but did a nice job as the troubled, yet tough as nails instructor. I honestly hope it’s not that difficult to make it in the US Coast Guard, but what do I know? The boot camp scenes made it look  pretty awful. When you’ve seen other films about boot camp stress, like Stripes and Private Benjamin, I have to wonder what things are really like for the grunts in the military.

Costner basically pulled an “Armageddon” role, so it’s up to you whether this film is your cup of tea. What I did enjoy were the bookend scenes of the Coast Guard rescues in the Bering Straits. I’d have given this a much higher grade if it was all about the sea rescues, and not the typical rebellious garbage at the Coast Guard Academy.

My real hope is that after this film , the Coast Guard got a lot more recruits. (Jurassic Park saw a lot of young folks learning to be Paleontologists after that film, for example.)

So, is the role of Fischer basically Maverick? Yeah, mostly. We see a lot of things we’ve seen before: teacher abuses student and bonds with him, student flirts with a hard to get girl in a bar with a dorky line, and a rescue scene proving the metal of the fresh young buck.

I’d like to have skipped the boot camp stuff, personally. The sea rescues were exciting and the best part of the film, leaving me thinking we could have skipped the origin story of Fisher and had more insights into Coast Guard life. The sea cave climax was really cool. The Bering Straights scenes were fascinatingly dangerous. It was hard to follow some of it during the chaos, but I think that was intentional.

The best and most resonant part of the film was the about the Legend of the “Guardian” that helps drowning sailors. This part of the film alone elevated the movie from pedestrian to worthwhile. So pay attention to that when you watch the film.

To Sum: the flick is derivative and a bit boring in the middle stretch. I’d suggest streaming this and kicking back for a mostly middling, yet sometimes exciting film. 

Movie Grade: B-

 

 

Movie Review – The House With A Clock In Its Walls

I wish this film was better. It started out lively, with some nice funky humor for a while. There were good production values throughout. Unfortunately, the story went downhill fast at the middle mark, and became a dreadful muddle by the end. I watched the children in the theater to make sure it wasn’t just me, and yup…the kids were bouncing around, completely bored, even during the climax. Bummer.

[pullquote]Here’s my thinking: it’s not Harry Potter, folks.[/pullquote] Don’t toss your money away to see this in the theater. The kid is decent enough (he gives the erratic script a real go), but he’s hampered by the adult actors at every turn, and sadly, the work of the other children as well. The “Turby” stuff went nowhere — a pity.

Jack Black has a few good moments in the beginning, but this isn’t his best work (although there’s few movies he’s impressed me in, granted — Jumanji 2 being the exception). Why is this man getting work? His comedic timing is just strange. That works, somewhat, in the early stages of this wacky, kiddie horror house movie. Then the plot gets…well…”stupid” (that’s the only word that fits), as the story ineffectually tries to escalate the jeopardy. [pullquote position=”right”]The “stupid ball” is passed around a lot in the finale.[/pullquote]

Between the increasingly weird script and missed narrative opportunities, I can only say, “WTF were the writers thinking? Who greenlit this garbage? And why was a chair the best character?”

Even Cate Blanchett couldn’t elevate the lackluster material presented. How did she decide to throw her lot in with this? Did she hope to become the next Professor McGonagle? (Harry Potter reference, again, but Blanchett must’ve badly misjudged this.)

I really, really don’t know what happened here. It’s ultimately a movie mess that started out quite nicely. [pullquote]I’m grading it in the (low) C range and not worse, because it looked pretty, and had early potential with the surreal atmosphere,  incessant ticking clocks, and creepy toys[/pullquote]. There was enough goodwill to carry the audience for part of the show. But by the time the pumpkins started puking,  I had to give up. Give this film a firm pass. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Movie Grade: C-

About the Peetimes: Here are 3 good, long Peetimes, spaced well thru the film. This was easy to get Peetimes for, since a lot of the exposition is either repeated, or provides plot points that kind of peter out, storywise. 

Sorry YA movies that never finished their franchises

Where fighting becomes foreplay!

I’m the member of the RunPee family who LOVES the YA (young adult) Dystopian/Fantasy genre. Harry Potter is still an obsession for me (and I’m 50). I re-read The Hunger Games every year, and watch the franchise even more. I even think Twilight was decent, although The Host was better.

So, what’s the deal with this post-millennial spaghetti-on-the-wall approach to YA series? Do the studios really think every dystopian and fantasy series is worthy of the full big screen treatment? And if they do put out an origin story on spec, do they care about following through with the series? And what happens when the young actors age out of their roles?

Am I just barking down a well, here? Woof, woof — does anyone care ?

I ask right now because I just watched The Darkest Minds (2018). It was…okay. Was it good enough to follow through to the end of the franchise? I’d probably say no. I’ve been burned a lot recently.

Here’s a list of YA series that will probably never see completion, for better or worse:

A Wrinkle In Time (2018) — This was just awful; totally incomprehensible. The company spent some money on it, but somewhere along the way it devolved into a hot mess. I don’t expect any of the sequels will be forthcoming.

A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004) — There are so many childish books in this series that kind of sucked — I lost interest early on while reading them. How many of these books came out? I can’t say. I couldn’t be interested enough to watch any of them onscreen. Remarkably juvenile writing, IMO. (Looking it up, three movies of the 13 books actually made it to the theaters.)

Maze Runner (2014-2018) — I recently rewatched Maze Runner, and I have my opinion — it’s an okay version of an actually quite decent book. The sequel was middling, and the third film was frankly awful. Is there more to come? Do I care? This is ridiculous. Nothing made any sense in the 3rd film, and my Peetimes probably reflected this.

Divergent (2014-16) — I’m not sure how many books made it through to the screen. Three? Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant? All I have to say is that the first movie hewed close enough to the book to be worthwhile, and things fell apart quickly after that. I think I turned off Insurgent halfway through, and certainly didn’t bother with the third. Is there more? Do I care? (Note: Ascendant is supposed to follow soon as a TV series, but Shailene Woodley isn’t bothering to appear.)

The Chronicles of Narnia (2005-10) — This one hurts. As a child, waaaay before I picked up The Lord of the Rings (best book ever penned), this was my absolute favorite novel series in the world. In the universe! I believed if I had enough faith, when I died that I’d go to Narnia. I even had a special role — I was a forest nymph. My best friend and I made up stories about our lives in a magical meadow in Narnia…and as grownups, we re-met to hold our hands and hold our breath, trembling with excitement, and watch The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe on the big screen. And you know what? It was kind of lame. Prince Caspian was about the same, while my favorite book, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, was only a little bit better. Not better enough to save the series. If they ever do The Silver Chair, they’re going to have to hire newer, younger actors in a sort of soft reboot. Oh, well. I’ll always have The Lord of the Rings to rewatch.

The Golden Compass (2007) — to be honest, I tried to read the book and stopped pretty early in. I would love to give this series the full shake, but it seemed so…well, dark. It’s called His Dark Materials, so I guess that is to be expected. From the photos and the trailer, it looks really pretty, but it flew so far under the radar that I kind of can’t be bothered. One case where riding a super cool polar bear just isn’t enough.

I am Number Four (2011) — I did like this movie. I like the science fantasy aspects, and the story was well supported by both cast and narrative. Not enough to save it, however. Next.

Eragon (2006) — I didn’t bother with this one, so I’d love to hear if anyone enjoyed it. Dragons and fantasy sounds right up my alley, but all reviews say this was the pits, and there’s no news for keeping the saga going.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians (2010 and 2013) — These were pretty good! So why the silence? Good novels, decent films…and crickets. I would have stayed with this one. Bummer.

The Black Cauldron (1985) — Well, hmph. The Chronicles of Prydain is an underrated classic, and I’d love for some studio to try this again. The seven-novel YA series was my second youthful favorite adventure tale after the The Chronicles of Narnia, and since this one kickstarted so long ago, a reboot might do well. I mean, they did this one in the 80s! I doubt anyone has anything to hold against this poor attempt to get Taran’s saga going. Disney owns it, and they might be ready to option it again. Please, somebody give this excellent series a fair chance.

Vampire Academy (2014) — This sounds great on paper, sort of like a Harry Potter/Buffy match up. I’d watch that. Except somehow this was so bad I’d never even heard of it. Someone must have really screwed the pooch to mangle a really cool premise like this.

Ender’s Game (2013) — This one is truly a bad deal for us all. The book is magnificent. It was only a middling movie. You could watch it, and even sort of enjoy it, but Orson Scott Card’s literary masterpiece didn’t manage to move people in the theater. Maybe they can reboot it sometime and get the entire series done right. Or better yet, leave it be. Just re-read the novels.

The Mortal Instruments (2013) — Another one that slipped under my radar. There’s six books in this one, and people say the novels are fine. That doesn’t mean it translated well to the cinema, since it slid quietly into dust.

There’s more. I can delve further into the failed classics and promising franchises, but it’s frankly too depressing to keep going. Feel free to discuss what I missed and what I’m wrong about in the comments.

As for me, I’ll still keep the flame burning. I’m a believer in the genre, and I know there’s some good ones yet to emerge. Besides, someone has to watch these films and get the Peetimes for RunPee. 🙂

Related: 

Movie Review – The Darkest Minds

Movie Review – A Wrinkle In Time

Movie Review – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Movie Review – The Mockingjay, Part 2

Movie Review – Maze Runner, The Death Cure

Movie Review – Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Movie Review – The Vampire Academy

Movie Review – Twilight Eclipse

Movie Review – Twilight New Moon

Movie Review – Twilight Breaking Dawn, Part 2

Movie Rewatch Attempt – Jurassic Park III

Known and reviled by most as the “worst Jurassic movie,” I sit here and wait for a for Jurassic Park III rewatch at the most dinosaur-themed brewpub I’ve ever seen, The Bronto Meadery in San Diego. Bronto Meadery is hosting a  viewing all four Jurassic movies before Fallen Kingdom weekend hits the US, drinking handcrafted mead, and enjoying dinogeek fellowship. (I recommend the Pure Bronto, if you get a chance to sample the mead.)

JP III is the one with the Spinosaurus and the telephone, if you forgot which one this is.

What’s good: Dr. Alan Grant is back, and so is Dr. Ellie Sattler. They do a  decent job. Nothing great, but they show up and try to act a little, more (Grant) or less (Sattler). Also good: the Aviary Scene, which is a callback passage from the first Michael Critchon novel that didn’t make it into the first movie. Also, the kid in this one isn’t annoying — a definite plus.

What’s terrible: Tea Leone. Her character screams and squeals her way across Isla Nublar, attracting every predator in range, warm blooded or cold. I have a hard time getting past that. These guys should have died in the first ten minutes. And the director should have made the Grant character smack her upside the head.

What else it lacked? Any sense of magic, or wonder, or fun. This is the movie that killed the franchise for a long, long time.

The Bronto Brew didn’t manage to get the movie up and playing, so I had to write this short blurb based on some old memories. I downloaded the film and will watch it as soon as I can, and post a legit rewatch soon. In the meantime, tell me what you thought of the (now) 5 Jurassic films, and which ones stood out in a good or bad way.

Movie Grade: C-

 

More on RunPee.com: 

The Real, Complete Re-Watch Review for Jurassic Park III (with fun bonus videos)

Review of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Missed

Or click here to read everything we’ve written about the Jurassic movies. RunPee loves science. Even bad science, because it’s fun to pick those apart.

Movie Review – Hotel Artemis

This is one stylish mess. It’s got the noir notes, the off-kilter sensibilities, and a big muddled stew of a plot. Let me mull on this review a bit.

Movie Grade: C+

Alrighty. After due thought, I still think Hotel Artemis is trying for something it just didn’t reach. But I’ve got a sense it might grow into a minor cult favorite with time. [pullquote]The acting is very good (Jodie Foster never disappoints), the idea of a secret hospital for criminals in the near-future is intriguing, and the water riot is a great framing element. [/pullquote] There’s a noir-ish Blade Runner sensibility to the endeavor. I liked seeing Dave Bautista in a new role, and he really did a bang up job, proving that his fun work in Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t a fluke. Jeff Goldblum plays the persona he’s marketed for himself with flair, but I wish he’d had more screentime.

Where this movie falls apart is in the sloppy narrative (there’s just not much story being told), and the relative lack of action in something being touted as as action film. Misleading trailers is a particular pet peeve with us at RunPee. (Rather than marketing something in a certain way just to get butts in the seats, wouldn’t it be nice to have the studios do service to their films by preparing audiences…ah, forget it. That’s probably never going to happen.)

Fine acting aside, the flashback scenes with Foster are unexpectedly weak. We saw the same sequence several times and didn’t get much payoff. Actually, most of the subplots didn’t work at all.  I’m not sure backstory is necessary to this kind of experimental film. It’s the concept that’s most interesting, encapsulated in Foster’s great line that it’s “Just another Wednesday” at the Hotel Artemis…where every night is a slice of life (and death) from the criminal underbelly of the City of Angels.

I think if people go into this with a sort of artsy mindset, the good things will be enough to carry the audience along.

One last note. Scriptwise, this would make a great play. It seems practically made for the theater, with one major set location, the small-scale jeopardy, and a very confined cast of characters who do a lot of talking (and not much else).

———-

New Movie Grade: B- (Taking away the expectation of an action/adventure flick definitely raises what’s compelling about about the concept of this kind of movie experience.)

———-

Runpee Meta: This movie moves along quickly and is somewhat confusing, making finding Peetimes a challenge. I’ve given you a long one and a short one. Both are before the mayhem to follow, so you won’t miss any action scenes when you step out. 

Movie Review – Overboard (2018)

I’m not sure why anyone felt a need to remake *Overboard*. The 1987 original has a sparkling and famous cast, led by Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel. It was sweet, it was funny, and despite the kind of casual sexism often shown in that era of movies, was a small cult classic. I loved it. I still love it and watch it when I need cheering up. [pullquote]But, remember, as major hits from the past go, this is still minor-league. It would be like remaking *So I Married An Axe Murderer*. Both are cute, fun little romps, perfectly made — but not exactly in the realm of important films of the 80s.[/pullquote]

I can see re-doing *Ghostbusters* , a major movie from that time, still on any complete must-see movie list. That remake was gender-flipped, and featured good natured cameos from almost everyone in the original. Which leads me back to *Overboard*.

Someone must have noted when the gender swapped *Ghostbusters* made enough of a splash to justify its existence, and thought the concept would work for other old properties. Cue *Overboard*.

Does it work? Yes and no. With the gender reversals and current climate of correctness, it’s a lot less sexist. It also features a large Latino cast to balance out all the blond girls. The good mom (Kate, by Anna Faris) finds love and  a father to her girls; the selfish alpha male (Leo, by Eugenio Derbezlearns to be warm, caring, and responsible…so the message is nice and the audience walks out happy. There are legitimate laughs along the way, mainly via Leo struggling to learn construction under the benevolent hazing of his co-workers. I smiled a lot. This should all be fresh and new for audiences not raised on the original.

[pullquote position=”right”]What doesn’t work is how underwhelming this version is. It’s not as charming as it hoped to be, and the cast doesn’t have that ringing chemistry of the first. The family moments feel rushed and unearned.[/pullquote] Kate’s “nurse” story lacks the cool cleverness of Kurt Russel’s “Wonders of the World Golf Course” scenario, and the children don’t have enough anything memorable to do. The side-plot with Leo’s rich family is simply dull. That’s way too bad; the antics of the crew on the “Immaculata” were wildly entertaining.

On all these levels, *Overboard 2018* doesn’t come close to adding anything interesting that a remake should. Only the character of Leo is consistently amusing, but with his role doubling for the formidable Ms. Hawn, the actor really doesn’t stand a chance in comparison.

If you’re a huge fan of the 1987 original, you might enjoy this reboot. It’s nowhere near as charming, but has its moments. There are many lines lifted exactly from the first, with expressions and tones carefully rendered the same way (ie: “Sometimes dads leave”). A lot of memorable shots are nicely echoed (as in the quiet, tension-crackling scene of the limousine driving toward Elk Cove ). It’s fun to find these elements honored and recreated.

One thing I would have enjoyed: there should have been cameos from the original cast scattered around, as they did with the aforementioned ghost busting movie. If they didn’t want to be that self-referential, they could have slipped in cameos to the extra scene during the credits. I was mystified by the cameo absence. Evoking exact phrases and scenes from the ’87 version showed that they weren’t hiding their roots. And it would have lent a respectful sense of fun for actors and viewers alike.

Enough about comparisons. I’ll grade this movie a B- on its own merits: it’s likable and fun enough for an easy afternoon at the theater. If you want to see something much more touching, that’s rollicking and straight out funny, with far superior acting, rewatch the original.

Movie Grade: B-

Read more: