Monday, June 5, 2017

Wonder Woman

Grade:   A-                                                            

Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content)
Genre: Action & Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By: Patty Jenkins
Written By: Allan Heinberg, Zack Snyder, Jason Fuchs

Cast:  Gal Gadot as Diana / Wonder Woman, Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta,
 Robin Wright as Antiope, Danny Huston as Ludendorff, David Thewlis as Sir Patrick

What's it about?

An Amazon princess (Gal Gadot) finds her idyllic life on an island occupied only by female warriors interrupted when a pilot (Chris Pine) crash-lands nearby. After rescuing him, she learns that World War I is engulfing the planet, and vows to use her superpowers to restore peace.

Finally, a DC movie that is worthy of being called heroic in every sense of the word.  It's inspirational, aspirational, beautiful, exciting, touching, and totally refreshing!  Wonder Woman represents a warrior princess truly aspiring greatness in wanting to save humanity, to save people who are unable to help themselves from the greater powers of evil.  She is a fearless hero with strong and heartfelt values, like no other hero's we have seen in these type of movies, that takes on any challenge for the greater good, and does it with fierce confidence and thats just so awe inspiring.  At the same time, she has the calm and sweet nature that understands and has compassion for the innocent and people in need.  She looks for the best in human beings, representing hope, and how we should all aspire to be in living our lives. She truly is wondrous! She represents whats all good in us, taking out the strictly dark side that humanity is often drawn in to.  I love the message and female prospective this movie revolves around, and Gal Gadot pulls it off beautifully.  She is a true goddess!!  She is stunningly gorgeous and perfect for the role, not just because she is beautiful, but she is a wonderful actress, representing beauty inside, and convincingly hits every emotional and inspiring note. Chris Pine is also great here, and has perfect chemistry with Gal Gadot.  The supporting cast is adequate, but this movie is really about what Wonder Woman represents.  The villains may be the weakest part of the movie, yet necessary to the story. 

One of my favorite parts of the movie is the first act, which is the origin story, that takes place on a fantastical island with all beautiful and strong-minded amazon woman.  The visuals are so pleasing to the eye in all ways.  I love the look of the island, and all the woman and costumes, and just the presence and values of what this magical place represented.  As we move into the second act, we really get into lots of amazing action that is just so exciting and well done, as Wonder Woman has all the cool moves, and we just can't take our eyes off of her, and her stylish costume, and flowing hair, and awesome bracelets and shield, not to forget the cool golden lasso.  The final act is no doubt the weakest and a bit flawed, but it does have enough solid action, and it is needed to tie the story-line.  Having said that, I was a little disappointed on how the villains were represented, but its a small flaw for what is an overall very good movie.  It has a solid soundtrack as well, and you gotta love that guitar riff used when Wonder Woman does her thing!  It's one of the best superhero movies I have ever seen, its exciting and fun, and awe inspiring as I have mentioned numerous times, and a feel good movie in many ways.  Wonder Woman is a character that is needed and saves the DC universe movie world, and I hope to see her more in future movies.  

What I liked about this movie:
  • Gal Gadot is perfect, a goddess, and wonderfully acts a wonderful woman
  • Chris Pine is a great counter part to Wonder Woman
  • Beautiful images
  • Exciting action scenes
  • Sends wonderful and emotional messages
  • Great soundtrack

What I didn't like about this movie:
  • Weak characterization of villains
  • Weak final act
Who should see this movie?

I think this is a movie for all to see, as it stands for a true heroic story, and inspires good values in people, and its a lot of fun.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Grade:  B-

What's it about?

From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire's ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.

 As the movie begins, we don't get the normal Star Wars scroll to start, indicating the makers are trying to make its own type of movie, but what they do start off with is a little laughable in relation to theme music.   The first hour comes off as quite confusing, with the jumping around of so many planets, and introducing too many characters in a short period of time, then quickly jumping right into the plot.  It's a war story, and the looks of the movie are great, with fantastical visuals, awesome looking props and gadgets, and cool costume designs. I understand this movie is suppose to be a stand alone Star Wars movie, with no sequels to come,  and that's a good thing, because I don't really care about these characters much, and where they are going.  Why?  Because there is no real character development here, and very little chemistry going on, and not much to root for, as far as characters. I just didn't feel anything heroic going on here, because I didn't feel anything for these characters.  Outside of  Vader, the villains were not menacing enough for my taste. The action itself is somewhat entertaining, but some of the action is confusing, as far as the motivations by each character, and the set-up for action scenes to continue.  So, the characters are kind of blah in general, but there is a droid I like, and its there generally for comic relief, and for the most part, it works.  Darth Vader makes an appearance, and he has a scene that steals the show in my opinion.  So, I was mildly entertained through the action, and the appearances of Vader and droids. The story finished somewhat satisfying, but overall, a disappointment because of so many missed opportunities.

What I liked about the movie:

  • Great cinematographic visuals
  • Cool gadgets and costume designs
  • The appearance of Darth Vader 
  • The comic relief of droid K-2SO

What I didn't like about this movie:

  • Weak characters and their development
  • Too much moving around and confusion in the plot

Who should see this movie?

Anyone who is a Star Wars fan, as you will get something of value here.  Non Star Wars fans may just not get it, and be lost and bored.  Because, even though it's considered a stand alone Star Wars movie, it's still Star Wars, and it reminds us of what we liked in the series, and we to get cameos and nostalgia feelings that real fans long for.
Feed Shark

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Grade:  D+                         

Rated:  PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality)
Genre: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By: Zack Snyder
Written By: David S. Goyer, Chris Terrio

Cast:  Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

What's it about?

Superman (Henry Cavill) considers Batman (Ben Affleck) to be nothing more than a violent vigilante and Batman considers Superman's almost unlimited powers to be a threat to humanity. Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) takes advantage of their mutual antipathy and with a little kryptonite tries to get them to destroy each other.

Wow, what a big disappointment!  The recent big-budget super hero films are getting worse and worse, and this one may be the worst of them all.  It's quite confusing, as I don't understand the behavior and motivations of the characters.  It's very bizarre and frustrating to watch.  It's very much an anti superman movie, which to me is very disturbing.  Superman should be a hero!  There is nothing heroic at all going on here, as it's a negative story all around.  One of the biggest problems is there is no sense of realism or humanity going on -- it's firmed like a comic book, which I dislike.  It's a solid cast, but their story-lines are just ridiculous.   Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is just way over the top silly, I suspect to be some comic relief, but it just had my eyes rolling.  Superman hardly speaks.  Lois lane is so useless, they invent absurd plot points trying to make her relevant.  Batman is totally confusing, not just to viewers, but to the character himself, who seems lost.  Alfred looks and actually talks like an over-the-hill Tony Stark (aka Ironman). Then we have Wonder Woman, who has motivations that make no sense, but hey, she is totally hot!  When she made her first appearance in her costume, the audience erupted.  All of this might be okay if they made it all fun, but its a joyless film for the most part.  Now, its not all a total failure.  It does have some cool visuals, and a couple decent action scenes, and a decent sound affects, and throw in a hot Wonder Woman, and we go from an F grade to a D level.  Even though story tries to rectify itself in the end, it's way too late.  I think it's a bad influence for kids.   This movie needs to be avoided and forgotten if they are to continue on successfully with the super-friends franchise.

What I liked about this movie:
  • The visuals and sound effects
  • Wonder Woman!
  • One awesome fight scene involving Batman
What I disliked about this movie:
  • It's shot like a comic book
  • The story-line is absurd
  • The characters are acting ridiculous
  • It's joyless and anti heroic
  • It's a bad influence for children
Who should see this movie?

I personally hope no one see this film, but its probably best suited for young adult males.  It's certainly not for young kids as its quite dark and gruesome.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane

Grade:  B                

Rated:  PG-13 (for thematic material including frightening sequences of threat with some violence, and brief language)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By: Dan Trachtenberg
Written By: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle

Cast:  Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle,  John Goodman as Howard Stambler, John GallagherJr.
as Emmett, Bradley Cooper as Ben, Cindy Hogan as Neighbor, Woman Mat Vairo as Jeremy

What's it about?

A young woman wakes up after a terrible accident to find that she's locked in a cellar with a doomsday prepper, who insists that he saved her life and that the world outside is uninhabitable following an apocalyptic catastrophe. Uncertain what to believe, the woman soon determines that she must escape at any cost.

This is a very entertaining genre mix, with plenty of mystery and suspense, with a touch of horror and comedy, and to finish it all off, a pretty decent action-thriller.  This could be bad or good, depending on your perception.  I liked the first hour of the movie best, as it really had me gripped and invested on what was happening.  It kept me guessing with some added twist and turns. Goodman is the real genius here, and the true mystery.  I also like the Michelle character, who acts smartly in the movie, where as in many other movies of this type, the character typically acts stupidly.  It's a fresh and smart take on a victim-like character. The last part of the movie on the other hand, was a little disappointing, as it becomes a different type of movie, and the adjustment is just so weird.  None-the-less, it had its own entertainment value, I just wish it was done a little differently.  On a whole, I enjoyed the movie, as the acting was solid across the board, and it's a story that keeps you wondering even after its all over -- a great conversation piece.   I wish I knew a little more background on the characters, but I suppose that's part of the mystery.   Whether or not its a sequel to the Cloverfield movie is debatable in my opinion, but you can make some comparisons.

What I liked about this movie:
  • John Goodman is perfect for this role
  • It held my interest from beginning to end
What I didn't like about this movie:
  • It shifts genres too abruptly for my taste
  • The lack of information on the characters
Who should see this movie?

It's hard to say, as it is not genre based.  I will say, it's entertaining, and I was never bored, and there is a little bit of everything to satisfy most average movie goers.  It's PG13, so there isn't too much offensive going on here, but its not for young kids.  I will also say, its not like Cloverfield, although it does have some elements of that type of movie.  It's not a masterpiece, but it's a good one time watch.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

Grade:  C+

Rated:  PG-13 (for martial arts violence and brief partial nudity)
Genre:  Drama, Action & Adventure
Directed By: Woo-ping Yuen
Written By: John Fusco

Cast:  Michelle Yeoh as Yu Shu-Lien, Gary Young as Te Junior, Donnie Yen as Silent Wolf,  Harry Shum Tiefang, Jason Scott Lee as Hades Dai, Roger Yuan as Iron Crow

What's it about?

Based on the fifth and final book from the Crane-Iron Series, this sequel to 2000's martial arts phenomenon Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon follows a new adventure on the hunt for a legendary sword. Michelle Yeoh reprises her role as Yu Shu Lien from the first film, with Donnie Yen and Harry Shum Jr. co-starring.

This is an unimpressive imitation of the original masterpiece, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  Having said that, the original was so great, that it would be a difficult task to even come close to its greatness.  This one lacks the heart and romance of the first, and has a ridiculous story, but it is beautiful to look at, and the fight scenes are well done and exhilarating.  There is no real feeling for these characters, as we just don't care about them.  This one is really just all about the action, but it is very good with some impressive originality.  Michelle Yeoh is back, and she is always solid, but even she can't save the story.  I am also a fan of Donnie Yen, aka IP Man, who is a nice addition here and very good in his fight scenes.  However, the rest of the cast is mediocre at best.  Despite all of its flaws, if you can keep from comparing everything to the original, and just enjoy it on its own, its not a bad action flick with some awesome visuals.

What I like about this movie:
  • Awesome action fight scenes
  • Beautiful to look at 
What I didn't like about this movie:
  • Poor story telling
  • Lacks the heart and romance of the original
  • On a whole, mediocre acting
Who should see this movie?

As I said, if you can judge this movie on its own without comparing to the original, and you enjoy a solid martial arts film with lots of cool action, it's a slight recommend from me, and its on Netflix.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Revenant

Grade:  A-                   

Rating:  R (for strong frontier combat and violence including gory images, a sexual assault, language and brief nudity)
Genre:  Drama, Action & Adventure
Directed By: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Written By: Mark L. Smith, Alejandro González Iñárritu

Cast:  Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, Tom Hardy as John Fitzgerald, Will Poulter as Jim Bridger,  Domhnall Gleeson as Andrew Henry, Paul Anderson as Anderson Lukas Haasas Jones

What's it about?

Inspired by true events, THE REVENANT is an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man's epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption.(C) Fox

This is a very well made movie, with excellent performances across the board (especially Leonardo), and beautifully looking.  Having said that, it can be very disturbing to watch, and for some, may make you hate nature.  Nature can look pretty on a photograph, but in reality, it can be very harsh and dangerous.  In fact, I had a very dark feeling watching most of this film.   On the other hand, I enjoyed it for its art in movie making, and the outstanding acting of DiCaprio.  He is very well deserving of taking the Oscar this year, and I hope he does.  The story is also inspiring, showing a mans amazing will to survive -- it's an awesome adventure.  Beware though, it is very graphic in its violence and gory images.  It's one of the best movies of the year.

What I liked about this movie:
  • Outstanding acting by all, especially by DiCaprio
  • Beautiful images
  • Well written
  • Inspiring
What I didn't like about this movie:
  • Perhaps its a bit too graphic
  • Has many dark moments
Who should see this movie?

It's defiantly a film for mature audiences only, and not for the squeamish.  If you enjoy good acting and survival adventures, this is as good as it gets.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Point Break (2015)

Grade: C                                   

Rated:  PG-13 (for vioelnce, thematic material involving perilous activity, some sexuality, language and drug material)
Genre: Action & Adventure
Directed By: Ericson Core
Written By: Kurt Wimmer

Cast: Luke Bracey as Johnny Utah, Edgar Ramirez as Bodhi, Teresa Palmer as Samsara, Delroy Lindo as FBI Instructor, Ray Winstone as Angelo Pappas, James LeGros as FBI agent

What's it about?

An undercover cop makes his way into a scene of bank-robbing extreme-sports atheletes in this remake of Kathryn Bigelow's Point Break. Ericson Core directs from a script by Equilibrium's Kurt Wimmer. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi

This film is not nearly as good as the original Point Break from the 80's, but the stunts and visuals are superior here, and that's all you would go to see here -- I thought it was worth seeing on the big screen.  Forget the cast, and acting, and story-line, as this is all about super cools stunts and beautiful scenery.  I enjoyed the film for that alone -- enough said.

What I liked about this movie:
  • Awesome stunts!
  • Amazing visuals!
What I didn't like about this movie:
  • Poor acting and story-line
Who should see this movie?

Adrenalin junkies, or just fans of cool stunts.  If you like the trailer, you will probably like the movie, if you don't care about the acting and story that is!  It's worth seeing on the big screen at the bargain prices.


Grade:  C+                    

Rated:  PG-13 (for brief strong language)
Genre:  Drama
Directed By: David O. Russell
Written By: Annie Mumolo, David O. Russell

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence as Joy, Robert De Niro as Rudy, Bradley Cooper as Neil Walker, Edgar Ramirez as Tony, Diane Ladd as Mimi, Virginia Madsen as Terry

What's it about?

Based on the true story of a woman (Jennifer Lawrence) who had been very good at creating useful things since she was very young. Eventually she decided to go all in with her latest invention when the shopping network QVC was becoming popular on cable TV.

It's not a bad movie, but I didn't care much for it.  I will say the cast and acting is excellent.  But, the story itself is not very entertaining.  It is a true story, and I guess it's somewhat interesting how this Joy character becomes a success, but I rather have just read about it in the news.  It's supposed to be inspirational, but I found it to be quite the opposite -- very discouraging in fact.  I just couldn't connect with the characters on an emotional level despite the script being well made and acted.  Its a very blah movie at its best.

What I liked about this movie:
  • Wonderful cast and great acting

What I didn't like about this movie:
  • The story-line didn't interest me
  • I found the outcome discouraging
Who should see this movie?

I tend to think this movie suits woman best, but there is something for most audiences to enjoy.  It just wasn't for me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Daddy's Home

Grade:  C-                          

Rated:  PG-13 (for thematic elements, crude and suggestive content, and for language)
Genre: Comedy
Directed By: John Morris, Sean Anders
Written By: Etan Cohen, Adam McKay, Chris Henchy, Brian Burns, Sean Anders

Cast:  Will Ferrell as Brad, Mark Wahlberg as Dusty, Linda Cardellini as Sarah, Thomas Haden Church, as Leo, Hannibal Buress as Griff, Owen Vaccaro as Dylan

What's it about?

An affable radio executive finds himself competing for the affections of his step-children following the unexpected reappearance of his wife's ex-husband in this Paramount Pictures comedy. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

This is below par for Will Ferrell.  I personally think his movies are hit or miss, and to me, this is a slight miss.  The laughs are far and few between.  The story-line isn't particularly interesting, and the writing is poor.  The actors can act, but they had nothing good to work with here.  The kids are forgettable, as the movie is on a whole.  There are much funnier movies to see than this.

What I liked about this movie:
  • It has its occasional laugh
What I didn't like about this movie:
  • It just wasn't funny enough
  • Poor script and acting
Who should see this movie?

Even the Die-hard Ferrell fans will be a little disappointed.  It's not without some laughs, but this can wait for a rental on a rainy night.  It's a PG13 for a reason, so I would keep kids under 13 away.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

Grade:  B                                                                                           

Rated:  PG-13 (for sci-fi action violence)
Genre:  Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Written By: J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, Michael Arndt

Cast:  Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Domhnall Gleeson as Gen. Hux, Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega, as Finn Carrie Fisher as Leia Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker

What's it about?

The Star Wars saga continues with this seventh entry -- the first under the Walt Disney Co. umbrella. The film will act as the start of a new trilogy set after the events of Return of the Jedi. J.J. Abrams directs from a script by Michael Arndt. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi

By now everyone has heard of Star Wars, and you are either a fan of the original, or not.  This version I believe suits the true Star Wars fan, as well as the new and upcoming younger fans.  This film didn't blow me away, but it plays it safe to cater to what fans want and expect of Star Wars.  It blends some of the old stars with that of new and talented younger stars.  I very much liked most of the characters, and the cool robots like BB8.  They bring lots of fun.  Daisy Ridley is a star in the making, and I hope to see more of her in the future.  We get plenty of action with cool special effects.  I do not want to spoil anything, so simply put, it's an entertaining movie that brings Star Wars back into the forefront of the entertainment news, and will break many attendance records.  It will break records on its name alone, but personally I didn't think it a great movie -- but its entertaining enough and it brings excitement back to the franchise.  It also makes me excited to see the next Star Wars movie to come, as we are left with a cool cliff-hanger.  I like the story-line, and where it seems to be headed in the future.

What I like about this movie:
  • Han Solo is back!
  • Most of the new characters
  • Cool special effects
  • BB8
  • The warm nostalgic feeling it brings
What I didn't like about this movie:
  • Slight disappointment in the villains
  • They played it a little too safe
  • Lacked that certain emotional element I want
Who should see this movie?

Any Star Wars fan, and any science fiction fan in general.  Its solid entertainment, and it will follow with many sequels.  I think the kids will get a kick out of it as much as the older fans.  It is PG13 for violence, but its just Sci-Fi type Violence.  You may not want to bring very young ones, but I think its safe for most kids.

Feed Shark

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Hateful Eight

Grade:  D-                           

Rated: R (for strong bloody violence, a scene of violent sexual content, language and some graphic nudity)
Genre: Western
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino

Cast:  Samuel L. Jackson as Maj. Marquis Warren, Kurt Russell as John "The Hangman" R.. ,Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue, Walton Goggins as Chris Mannix, Demian Bichir as Bob, Tim Roth, as Oswaldo Mobray

What's it about?

A bounty hunter (Kurt Russell) transporting his prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is forced to hold up along with other strangers in an isolated store due to a blizzard. While there he must try to figure out who might be the biggest threat to his mission.

This movie pretty much sucks.  It's for the real die-hard Tarantino fans only.  I enjoy some of his movies, but this one is so self indulgent.  It runs like a long stage play.  It tries to be clever with the dialogue, and it tries to be amusing, and it goes way over the top with so much cartoonist blood splatter.  I didn't think it was clever, and I didn't laugh once, and I thought all the violence and blood was just sickening.  The acting is just too much, and very self aware.  They were all there just trying to have fun and show off on the screen, and it's hard to take it seriously, which can be okay as long as it's fun -- but I had no fun.  It runs for almost 3 hours, and that's way too long to watch a movie without any fun.  I might add, the soundtrack is boring.  Sorry Quentin, but I think you will lose some fans on this one!

What I liked about this movie:
  • It eventually ends
What I didn't like about this movie:
  • It comes off like a stage play
  • Way too vulgar
  • Way too much blood
  • Not amusing
  • Not as clever as it thinks it is
  • Way too long
  • Awful score
Who should see this movie?

I think some of the real Tarantino fans will probably like it, but the rest of us, beware! 

The Big Short

Grade:  A-                   

Rated:  R (for pervasive language and some sexuality/nudity)
Genre:  Drama
Directed By: Adam McKay
Written By: Michael Lewis, Adam McKay, Charles Randolph

Cast:  Christian Bale as Michael Burry, Steve Carell as Mark Baum, Ryan Gosling as Jared Vennett,
 Brad Pitt as Ben Rickert, Karen Gillan as Evie, Marisa Tomei as Cynthia Baum

What's it about?

Writer/director Adam McKay joins forces with Paramount Pictures and Plan B Entertainment to adapt Michael Lewis' best-seller The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, which centers on the housing a credit bubble of the 2000s. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Simply put, it's a very well made movie, and despite what sounds like a boring plot, it's entertaining.  It has an amazing cast, most that is wasted, except for the Steve Carell character who is the star of the story.  He can do anything, and he totally steals the show.  Being a true story, its also quite educational.  The subject matter can be depressing, but they try not to make it morbid, and sometimes it's actually amusing.  It's not a movie for everyone, but it is very well written, and superbly acted, and it's worth seeing.

What I liked about this movie:
  • Steve Carell is great, with a wonderful cast
  • Well made
  • Educational
What I didn't like about this movie:
  • Being true to life, it can be a downer
Who should see this movie?

It's a movie for mature audiences.  It's fairly slow moving, with really no action.  It's all about the situations and dialogue, but as I said, it's very well made and entertaining.