Dave's Movie Review Page
I have been going to the movies on a regular basis and offer my thoughts and reactions here. So here is my take on these movies for what its worth. Agree, disagree or ignore its your choice ;-)
February 16th 2017 - John Wick 2: Maybe not the bloodiest movie of all time (see underworld), but as a shoot-em-up it is certainly in the top 5. This movie is probably dangerous to your mental health. At the end of the movie most of the people just sat in the seats (stunned?). The plot is simple enough, but the unstated story is not. It is actually about the 13 families of the oligarchy, the so called "high table" and how power is passed from generation to generation. John Wick is himself a likely product of the CIA or something, think Jason Borne on steroids. Even with his tactical linings (bullet proof fabric) he took so many hits he should have died from shock. Well its only a movie after all, right? I do not recommend this movie, there needs to be a classification above R.
January 9th 2017 - Underworld Blood Wars: Holy blood bath Batman! Seriously folks, this is perhaps the bloodiest movie I have seen. Apparently I missed an episode, but no matter, easy enough to catch on to the story line. Vampires fight Lykans lots of bloody death on an epic scale. But wait, Selene dies and comes back from the dead in an arcane ceremony in the fortress of the north. Not only a miracle, but a timely one at that since she shows up at the east coven castle just in time to kill... oh wait, not supposed to give away the ending. But you probably get the idea ;-)
January 3rd 2017 - Passengers: An interesting Robinson Caruso type of movie set in space. An impossible failure wakes a sleeper on a 120 year journey to another planet. He is heading out on a colony ship as a mechanic, meaning he is not a first class passenger. With 80+ years awake and alone to look forward to he thinks about suicide, but doesn't go thru with it. Later he hatches a plan to wake another sleeper for company knowing he would be condemning them to his own fate. After much soul searching he selects his companion and wakes her up. After a brief romance she eventually finds out what he did to her, ruining her plans to become a world famous author writing about the journey to a colony planet and returning to earth, something no one else has ever done. Unbeknownst to them the ship is in big trouble with escalating failures of all types. Eventually another sleep pod failure wakes up a member of the crew and they start trying to figure out how to save the ship and all the others on board. It gets a bit sketchy from there (as if ;-)
December 27th 2016 - Assassins Creed: This movie had great potential that was mostly unrealized. The main gimmick is a robotic arm that is connected to the "memories" they stimulate from DNA making the experience more real with movement appropriate to the experience. The robotic arm is interesting, but unnecessary and distracting. Where the movie failed most completely is the ending leaving you feeling like you do 2 hours after a chinese meal, empty and unsatisfied. Most important is the use of technology required to decode and stimulate genetic memory. Movies like this are required as disclosure of technology kept secret, but soon to be disclosed. The Matrix series is such a "required" disclosure. According to the rules of our game the rulers must disclose how they rule and the ruled must acquiesce to the use of the disclosed technology. This is such a movie and as such we should be aware of the implications. For this reason I highly recommend everyone see this movie and contemplate what such technology could be used for.
December 23rd 2016 - Rouge One: The run up to the alliance's engagement of the Imperial Death Star turns out to be a white knuckle thriller, more exciting that the rest of the trilogy. Even though we know they were successful in getting the Death Star plans and destroyed the Death Star thereby, we find ourselves sitting in suspense rooting for the rebels. Intrigue between Rogue's father the weapon's inventor, the Death Star's science commander and Vader adds a level of interest and suspense as they try to get the plans out of the system and to the rebel command. The CGI is especially well done keeping it in check, but enough pop to make us believe it possible. A very well done addition to the Star Wars franchise.
November 21st 2016 - Fantastic beasts: Evidently set in NYC circa 1920 a Hogwarts "misfit" wizard is in search of a magical creature from a broker in the city. He naturally runs into some pretty outlandish troubles with some of the creatures he has in his pocket universe that escape at inopportune times from his travel case. Meanwhile the city is terrorized by a malevolent entity who tears down buildings and passes under city streets like swimming under water. The magical authorities in NYC are not amused with his antics and arrest him, sentence him and a cohort to death on the spot. Seemingly incidental characters soon are revealed in critical roles to save the unlucky duo and the city generally. I really love JK Rowlings' writing and the subtly of her character development. No spoilers... go see it for yourself.
November 14th 2016 - Arrival: 12 ships show up at various places on earth making no move positve or hostile. At first governments cooperate setting up communication links to all 12 sites to try to figure out what they want. Our government seeks the help of two noted linguists and selects a woman Louise Banks, who helped in a previous critical situation, to help them figure out how to communicate with the aliens. The aliens are very large 7 legged "octopus." They make noise that we can't understand, but can draw characters with their own ink. Over time Louise and Ian (Avenger's Jeremy Renner) work out enough of a translation scheme to make progress, but naturally governments don't think they can wait and want to get it over with. Louise must make a big decision to save them and maybe everyone else as well. I thought the movie seemed pretty well done and included elements we all might keep in mind. I say this because it is likely that Hollywood was paid to produce this movie as an introduction to our off-planet frien-emies and what first contact might be like. Just like the new war movies being produced today, space aliens movies are in resurgence as our controllers are getting ready for whatever public reaction may be like and how to deal with it when it comes.
November 10th 2016 - Dr. Strange: A Marvel Avengers Sorcerer play pitting a brilliant PHD surgeon against the most powerful evil force in the universe. How's that for maxing out the threat level... Like you might expect the difficulty rating is high and the characters are less than likeable, but do redeem themselves for the most part. Since it would be impossible for Dr Strange to beat the most powerful force in the universe, how do you suppose he did it... That is what you will have to go and find out for yourself (no spoiler here). That said, there are a number of concepts explored by the movie that I would call unusual. I speak of esoteric knowledge not normally featured in this kind of adventure film. I think it was well worth the time!
October 25th 2016 - Jack Reacher Never Go Back: This movie did not garner good reviews and it is for cause. However pretty much anything with Tom Cruise is worth seeing. Action and suspense all there if perhaps a bit short lived. I think we are used to seeing an exciting chase scene last much longer and more of them probably. Maybe next time he will let someone else direct.
September 27th 2016 - Sully: You might think a movie about a plane landing on the Hudson river would be anticlimactic given how much news coverage there was at the time. But they managed to find an angle that made it very interesting and even a bit suspenseful. By focusing on the NTSB review we are drawn in to the event as the pilots saw it. Naturally the authorities wanted to make it about pilot error. So when Sully (Tom Hanks) stood up to the questioners and forced them to account for human surprise reaction time, they proved that there was no way to return to the airport and the decision to land on the water saved all their lives and many more on the ground. Turned it into a real feel good movie.
July 29th 2016 - Jason Bourne:
As you would expect the movie is true to its conception of the super agent
who goes from one insurmountable obstacle to the next defeating opponents
left and right to win out as always. So lets look at what else the movie
July 26th 2016 - Star Trek Beyond (Credulity): We are all accustomed to suspending belief when it comes to our favorite shows. Here is an example of something so far beyond credibility that the movie's title makes sense. Kirk gets to trash another Enterprise and comes back against impossible odds to save a space station said to be home to millions. Its very slick and the characters act and speak much like the originals with the expected awesome CGI. I have no doubt civilizations exist with technology and resources to build very large ships and habitats, but lets be serious "millions of people," a glass house in space? I very much liked the concepts evidenced in the station's design, seemed well thought out. Most of you won't be disappointed, but I'll bet some of you come home wondering why it wasn't as good as you remember!
June 19th 2016 - Warcraft: An adaptation of the Computer game of the same name. I thought it was well done with plenty of action and a reasonable plot. I was troubled by some audience goers bringing their little children to see it. Maybe there is little difference between playing the game at home and seeing it on the big screen, but I can't help but wonder what they are thinking to let them do either. The critics got it wrong, it is great escapist action with potential to be a franchise like Avengers.
Captain America: Civil War: World powers want to reign in the Avengers on the premise that all the collateral damage is their fault. A lame assertion is also made that because they are so strong the threats to society have become that much worse. In short; Super Heros give rise to Super Villains. It seems to work that way in the movies doesn't it, but would it in real life? Anyhow Stark is feeling remorse over a particularly heart rending death and sides with world authority. Captain America thinks it is wrong on many levels so there is a split. Naturally there is another "super villain" to deal with and the two sides tear things up for different reasons. The authorities are more or less helpless to control either group and the mayhem continues to the conclusion. Great action you have come to expect from Marvel.
July 9th 2015 - Mad Max: Fury Road: Pretty much edge of seat material from beginning to end. I vaguely remember one of the first installments in this franchise. What impressed me most in this one are the war machines. I very much doubt many were 3D real, more likely CGI, but fun to see anyway. Lots of action and a somewhat soft ending I really didn't get. I suppose it must have been consistent with the MadMax archetype.
June 18th 2015 - San Andreas: High drama literally.. For a disaster movie happening on a vast scale the focus of the movie seems off. In spite of all the destruction everywhere the entire movie was about a single family and the father's valiant effort to save them. Don't get me wrong, it was entertaining, but sort of like when you get done with the snack you wonder what's for desert.
May 5th 2015 - Avengers Age of Ultron: Stark succeeds in creating a machine intelligence that takes over his lab and the Iron Man robots he has developed. Naturally there has to be an evil genius at work behind this dastardly development who is bent on the total annihilation of Earth. So they all get together again to foil the bad guy's plot and save the planet. Yeah I know, not very much removed formulayically, but the CGI and action is intense. If you didn't see it, rent the DVD ;-)
March 21st 2015 - Kingsman: A James Bond-ish movie featuring a mad billionaire trying to save the planet by killing off a billion people or more. The premise is that he manufactures and gives away cell phone sims that connect to his private network for free phone and internet. The catch is that he can send a signal thru the phone that drives people mad while reducing inhibitions. The net effect in testing is that they all kill each other. Kingsmen find out about the threat and work to disarm the madman, but their head man is subverted and things go south. It's worth the time, but its not as cool as Bond.
March 11th 2015 - Chappi: Chappi is crappy (sorry couldn't resist ;-) The premise is an old one, but they did a nice job on District 9 so even though the reviews we so so I gave it a shot and missed. Anyway things were going along ok for a bit then we got hijacked by these not very bright joburg bangers. I don't really need to get in the weeds here, suffice it to say that Chappie becomes aware in a banger gang setting. Chappie is forced to help them rob a armored truck. Meanwhile a bad guy in the robot factory infects all the androids with a virus so his police bot can get some action. You can probably guess the rest except for the ending. I won't spoil it for you, but you will need to suspend any belief in logic.
January 24th 2015 - Never Lose Focus: Will Smith & Margot Robbie are con artists who team up in a theft ring. They one up each other and part unfriends and unhappy. Later on they are involved in another caper with a LOT of money at stake. He pulls off the job, but a twist at the end you never saw comming was cool.
January 16th 2015 - The Hobbit: Battle of 5 Armies: A fitting conclusion to Hobbit Bilbo Baggin's story. This movie brings all the benefits of current technology to the story without overwhelming us with over the top effects. By now the film is out of most theaters, so enjoy it on DVD. I will buy the complete series when it comes out ;-)
November 25th 2014 - The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1: The previous episode had quite a lot more content. This episode is a continuation of the plot line except that very little changes. We find out that our hero's district was destroyed after their victory and Katniss is enlisted to lead a rebellion, but the pace is slow with no real intrigue or tension. If you are looking for edge of the seat adventure, move on and save your time.
November 19th 2014 - John Wick: Keanu Reeves is a great actor and initially makes us feel some empathy for his character in this shoot-em-up movie. Ultimately the justification can't stand up to the level of violence he portrays. Granted that the folks he kills so callously are not saints and some were trying to kill him too, but to my mind there is a limit. I do not recommend this movie no matter what the critics may say. It is simply too gratuitously violent.
November 13th 2014 - Interstellar: Lots of buzz about the cgi, and initially I was quite taken with it as well. However, aside from the real possibility of famine caused by climate change, the rest presents some challenges to even sci-fi credibility. That said, it is a worthwhile investment for entertainment value as the story itself is well written even if the science is lame. You will like the end so no spoiler ;-)
October 22nd 2014 - Fury: Fury is the story of a tank squad in WWII focusing on the last stages of combat in Germany. One tank has made it all the way from Africa thru France and Belgium to Germany where things are not going so well. With only 5 tanks in his squad the staff sergeant in command loses his auxiliary driver who has been with him from the start. HQ pulls a green clerk typist off the truck and assigns him to be the new driver. This kid is not happy and neither is the commander. They go thru some rough times where the other 4 tanks are lost. In one battle 3 of the tanks were obliterated by a German Panzer... very realistic cgi. Finally they were assigned a task to hold a crossroad where a very large German force will go on the way to wiping out a key allied force. A very heroic ending where they do pretty well against overwhelming odds. Be advised this is a very graphic movie. I am not sure if I have seen one more so. If you don't like to see how it was, it may not be for you.
September 30th 2014 - The Equalizer: Like the TV series of the same name the premise is similar. The vibe is updated with today's military / seal technology, but essentially the same. I enjoyed the movie and Denzel's smooth moves in defense of the woman and the non-stop action. Was worth a look !
September 3rd 2014 - November Man: Charles Bronson a hard drinking spy / killer goes ballistic when his former boss sends him to Russia on an extraction of his former "wife" also a spy. The op goes bad and the Russians are trying to kill them and the CIA is as well to keep her quiet. The CIA calls an audible and the extraction team becomes the terminator. While he is rescuing her they shoot her in the chest thru the windshield and he vows to get revenge. Within minutes he has found the CIA team and blocks their exit killing all but one of them. This is the first ten-15 minutes of the movie and it gets more involved from there. Like action / suspense go for it...
August 13th 2014 - Hercules: Hercules and his band of mercenaries are hired by a king to defend a kingdom. Promised twice his weight in gold they all agree to go against overwhelming odds and help the kingdom defeat the outlaws. After training the king's men for a short time the king demands they go and defend a town close by and are nearly defeated when taken by surprise. Hercules demands that the king give them time to train the troops into an army and leads them against the outlaws. In a heroic and strategic battle they defeat the outlaws and are given their reward. There is a nasty plot twist where they find out the truth of their engagement. You will have to see the movie to find out what they did ;-)
August 6th 2014 - Guardians of the Galaxy: A fun movie about some pretty inept characters competing to possess a stolen orb. Although they don't know what it does, when they all become targets of the bad guy Ronan and others out to get the orb, they have to form an alliance to keep the orb away from the bad guys. This is a fun and action packed movie well worth the investment.
July 29th 2014 - Lucy: Scarlett Johansson of Avengers fame is the star of this show. In a kind of silly chinese gangster plot to distribute the next great recreational drug, they kidnap people and force them to carry drugs in the belly to other countries where they are intercepted to extract the drugs. Like I said silly, but Lucy gets kicked in the midsection by a particularly vicious bad guy which breaks the drug bag. The effect of so much of the drug sets her off on a hectic chase to find a way not to die from the overdose. From there it gets pretty intense. Highly recommended.
July 1st 2014 - Transformers Age of Extinction: For a movie that was completely dismissed by the critics , 17% on the Tomatoe Meter, it was very satisfactory to me ;-) It has also racked up $100+ million in the first weekend! I agree that some of the dialog seems to have been written by a moron and even my credulity was stretched to the limit, but... The action is fierce. On the downside humans are portrayed as self obsessed, viscous killers willing to sacrifice anything or anyone to get rid of the alien robots. Ironically they are in league with some aliens that have no regard for humans at all. Anyway... leave your discernment at the door and go enjoy 2 1/2 hours of action packed mayhem.
June 17th 2014 - How to Train Your Dragon II: Its really hard to do a sequel, especially when the first movie was such a sweet one. However, Dream Works / Disney pull it off pretty nicely. If you go, and you should, you will be surprised by a number of developments so I won't spoil them for you. If I have a bone or two to pick they would be about the trajectory of the story. The writers obviously had an ending in mind and did a few things rather heavy handedly to get there. IMO they might have been better served to continue a surprising plot development that had real potential for Hiccup's personal development. Ah well, hindsight being as always...
June 12th 2014 - Edge of Tomorrow: Gets high praise from reviewers and audience, but I think not so much. A very interesting premise about resetting the day to do it over. A very clever trick by the invading race to insure they will overcome the indigenous peoples. If they are losing, they reset the day and get a do over. Tom Cruze gets the power to cause the reset by killing one of the super bad guys and getting its dna in his blood. A great many do-overs later he learns he has to go it alone. This is where it gets tricky... the ending left me incredulous and no spoiler about him getting the girl :-)
May 28th 2014 - X-Men Days of Future Past: In a word "Excellent." Fast paced action, empathy toward early character's situations and a fun new character Quick Silver (faster than a speeding bullet times ten). The film is well worth your investment, whatever it might be ;-)
April 28th 2014 - Transcendence: Some of you may know that I don't pay too much attention to critical reviews. If the audience likes it, I take that as a good sign. At 45% on the audience's tomatoe meter it has a pretty dismal rank. However, I wanted to go to a movie this morning so there you go ;-) It was not that bad nor was it very good. The premise is lame from the git go, but hey, I like sci-fi and sci-fi it is too. The computer in the beginning was eminently believable. Today Big Blue III (Jeopardy champ) emulates human responses pretty darn well. But, we go from there to the deep end real fast. The genius computer whiz gets poisoned so his wife wants to save him as an AI. Things pretty much go down hill from there. Except for the idea that such a machine could amass a fortune very quickly and do anything it wants including save the world (sort of). That part we can understand, but most of the rest not so much. It would be interesting to see what could be done with unlimited resources and all the knowledge of the race at one's command. What the heck, how much can you bitch about a decent sci-fi movie on a $6.50 ticket...
April 9th 2014 - Captain America: I have come to expect a level of quality in Marvel's adventures. Captain America The Winter Soldier does not disappoint. Fast paced with a plot twist or four it keeps us riveted to the story. CGI may be somewhat over the top in 3D, but it is a large part of why we go; so.... Spend some time with someone at the theater, you won't be disappointed.
March 31st 2014 - Noah: Maybe the drought is over and some good movies will be seen (maybe). I liked this movie -- strong characters well played. Interesting to see Emma Watson in something new. She did the part well IMO. I have always though the premise of god's wrath at mankind's folly was lame, but like all fiction if you can suspend belief and simply enjoy the plot I think you too will find it interesting and entertaining. The watchers are especially imaginative as fallen angels becoming rock people was a good idea.
March 27th 2014 - Divergent: Movies have sucked bad enough that it has been more than a month since I last saw one (and it sucked too -- see Pompeii below). Divergent changed that for the better. According to critics the 80% of audiences that liked the film are dumb teenagers engaged in thoughtless wish fulfillment. Right on.... Good movies that entertain don't have to be oscar candidates or please critics who have inflated egos. One reviewer actually disparaged it by comparison with Hunger Games which I did not quite hate. So lump me in with those that are pleased to see good acting in an action movie that moves along smartly and finishes strong.
February 21st 2014 - Pompeii: Sometimes you should believe the reviews. The special effects did not even begin to make up for the lack of integrity in this film. Forget any illusions you may have about the history of Pompeii and the Roman Empire. This movie seeks to bare the souls of the men and women of the times only to spend any credibility we might have been willing to invest in portraying a 10 year old boy as the last horse whisperer from the horse clan killed by the very same men he now faced in Pompeii. I have a bridge to sell if you are in the market too. I was so disgusted by the ending that I walked out of the theater. If you think I am wishing I made a different choice you are right and you still can if you haven't got your ticket!
January 16th 2014 - 47 Ronin: Although it is a movie about old Japan and imperial control of the warriors (Samurai), it offers what feels like a glimpse into the village life the samurai lived and their pure dedication to excellence & skill. I don't know how accurate the portrayal of that life and dedication is. However, if any community was able to live that pure a life a lot of our issues would go away. Not the political ones, the Shogun did what he had to do to prevent a regional war just as our politicians would.
January 10th 2014 - Lone Survivor: A "true story" of a Seal Team in Afghanistan on a recon mission to find a Taliban Commander. The operation is blown at the start by tribesmen driving a herd of goats into their hiding place. The team leader recognizes the mission is over and releases the tribesmen. The seals try to get away, but don't find a way out or a place to get radio communication back. They do get a message out by sat phone, but the gun ships were sent on another mission and can't help. Rescue choppers are sent without gun ships to cover and one goes down as a result so help isn't coming any time soon. Life gets even tougher for the seals and things go really bad. There is a twist related to the decision to free the tribesmen and the cavalry does arrive (not a spoiler - its the title of the movie). The problem with the movie is the operational premise and execution. In the begriming they had high air cover for 6 hours, but not available to protect the mission. There was no way to help them if they missed a check in. They were on their own in a suspected Taliban stronghold without support or proven communications availability. Lots of folks; villagers, Taliban & Seals died because of this stupidity. This is not a movie about heroes, although there are many, this is a movie about the courage of 4 men and the inadequate support our military seems to be (in)famous for.
December 17th 2013 - The Hobbit - Desolation of Smaug: Highly imaginitive story developement continues in this epic trilogy of Bilbo's adventure. As in the book Bilbo uses the ring to live up to the reputation Gandalf bestowed upon him with the Dwarves while Gandolf goes off into another part of the story line. In this version Gandolf's part in the tale seems smaller, but at the same time more intense. The visualization and detail of the world Jackson creates is well worth the time to see. What some critics say of the pace and length of the film have merit, but this is a faithful if over long adaptation / interpretation of Tolkins work. Go with my blessing my son, and enjoy ;-)
December 6th 2013 - Ender's Game: I was reluctant to see this movie on the basis of its premise, to wit, children trained for war. It is true that the young have always died for those too old to make war. All too often because the old are unable or unwilling to wage peace. However, they did make a good point, that in an alien space war, fast reflexes are critical. I lost mine somewhere around 35 (if I ever really had them). A friend of mine was always faster at every age. So back to Ender's Game... I did like the development of the characters and the plot unfolded in an interesting direction. The end of their training is a bit of a shock we never see coming. It is worth your time to go see this movie. I bet it will provoke your thoughts about authority and the application of overwhelming force.
November 26th 2013 - Hunger Games Catching Fire: Evidently this is a serial / cult movie (wish I had known going in ;-( In summary a very dark film about a post revolutionary country that is ruthlessly suppressed by a dictatorial government backed by the military. In this installment very little effort is made to develop the characters for new viewers of the game like me. Certainly not enough to make any of the characters likeable or believable. If you aren't already a fan, this installment is not likely to make you one. A good deal of action and a fast twisty close are the only redeeming elements.
November 22nd 2013 - Thor The Dark World: Been quite a while since seeing a movie. However, Thor and the other Marvel characters are a must see for me. The Dark World has a lot of moving parts. Harking back to the foundation of the universe it is the story of the war waged by the forces of light and darkness. Asgard vanquished the dark forces to protect the 9 realms long long ago, but we find out that the cycle repeats every 5000 years. Now those dark forces have come to earth and Jane Foster is possessed. There are some great plot twists interspersed in the relentless action that surprise and enthrall. As is usually the case with hero movies, the bad guys get more powerful and the good guys have to work harder to make a good showing. You will be happy to know it all turns out alright, sort of.
September 10th 2013 - Elysium: Matt Damon plays the reluctant bad ass once more in this dark vision of sci-fi gone amok. He is poisoned with radiation in a very preventable industrial accident and cut loose to die by a robot with orders from above. He makes a deal to get to Elysium where he can be cured by taking an impossible mission. Given extreme technology in the form of an exoskeleton suit he has to get to the person who cut him loose to die and download his brain into his own. So lots happens in a blur of action (literally a blurry movie) leaving us to wonder what we really saw. But fear not, he fulfills the mission while he dies and frees all of humanity with citizenship and free medical care. Good action flick, lame premise, poor cgi - go see the matinee and save a buck or two.
June 26th 2013 - Man of Steel: The story is remade with today's technology to good advantage. One could nit pic some of the details and to be honest some of what happens is hard to swallow, but as entertainment is is first rate. Go and have a good time. In case you are curious (I was) there were 7 previous Superman movies, source imbd.com.
June 4th 2013 - After Earth: A hard movie to categorize. On one hand it is a sci-fi future space tale. On the other it is about a commander and his son on a training mission. The ship they are on is damaged in a meteor storm and "travels" (like a warp jump) to the nearest planet which turns out to be deadly, quarantined, old Earth where all life has evolved to kill humans (no explanation there). So naturally the other passengers on the ship are all killed and the commander is hurt bad with broken legs so only the son can call for help. Only issue is that the emergency beacon is in part of the crashed and broken ship 60 miles away across very hostile terrain. It comes down to a story about a boy proving himself to himself and saving his dad against pretty daunting odds. I like WIll Smith and Shyamalan movies and this one is well done. I think they could have done better / more with the tech aspects and the main threat was pretty sketchy, but the pace was good and the visuals very good. I did not know until now that the actor that played the son was really Will Smith's son. That explains a lot about the impressions left by this movie (not in a good way).
May 29th 2013 - Star Trek Into Darkness: All the familiar characters reprised with new faces and much better CGI. They made many of the originals with models on strings and real film cameras. This incarnation is entirely imaginary and takes place in settings that never existed. Some of you older trekies may be put off by the reuse of an older story with new twists. Those who are fresh to the franchise will love the non-stop action for what it is.
May 2013 - Ironman 3: Compared to The Avengers this movie comes up short. Because the action is so focused on Stark and the crazed adversary the action gets slow from time to time. The ending was somewhat confusing as well. No spoiler, but I am not sure why they put it out there like that. A good movie that lives up to its predecessors even if not in comparison to my favorite movie of last year!
Last of the Tower Theater movies it is now a Harkin Theater
March 26th 2013 - Olympus Has Fallen: A former secret service agent who once guarded the president is trapped in the White House when it is attacked and taken along with the president and the chiefs of staff. A very well organized terrorist group lead by a mastermind seems to have a goal of blackmail, but really plans to anahilate the US using it's own missles. Lots of dumbass military seat warmers confronting a situation outside their control. One very effective agent inside who barely gets the job done. A pretty good movie with lots of dumb plot twists, but still an edge-of-the-seat ride.
January 22nd 2013 - Last Stand: Arnold Schwarzenegger; need one say more... Only that the level of violence was pretty extreme even for him. The critics were grudgingly enthusiastic and audiences were more so. I wouldn't go see it again, but am not sorry I saw it once. Maybe that's as good as it gets for movies like this.
January 15th 2013 - Zero Dark 30: A hard movie to watch. Hard to tell if the depiction of detainee treatment is accurate or if the events / persons portrayed are or both. Evidently they included a third helicopter that was never used in the removal/rescue and if not how they got them all out. It never reached the level of suspense or action until the very end by which time I was feeling pretty disgusted with the whole affair. Getting Bin Laden was obviously an important blow to Alkida leadership. But like politics and sausage not something for the average person to watch. You should go see this so you don't forget what we are capable of and to remember it is sometimes necessary to do so, but at the same time realize that torture is known to produce wrong intelligence and many of the tactics portrayed were unsuccessful. In one scene the actors discuss the fact that the detainee did not give them anything, but that they could convince him that he did and that his information had saved american lives. That was the actual turning point when he did give up real intel, not when he was being water boarded, but when he was tricked by skilled interrogation.
January 3rd 2013 - Hobbit: Almost every movie adaptation of an adventure book has been lame or at least short changed. Eragorn comes to mind as one of the worst ever IMO. The Ring series was well done and I continue to watch it occasionally. Hobbit is on a whole new level made possible only with today's CGI and motion camera techniques. The action is faithful to the book and the interpretation is quite well done. The big surprise is that this 2+ hour movie is Part One! I am so looking forward to part two!!
September 25th 2012 - Dredd: Cops with super weapons tackle gangs in a 200 story slum under lock down (war mode). No one can get in or out while they and the gangs battle for survival. Its not all that good as a movie, the premise is weak and antisocial. You are however caught up in the action and identify with the two cops who face overwhelming odds. Odd that we experience such an identification while we watch so many killed just because they were there or were forced to carry a gun. It is a problem for all gangs that some are forced into, but the punishment in this movie is death for all, victim and perp.
September 11th 2012 - Bourne Legacy: Like I said earlier I was looking forward to The Bourne Legacy & Total Recall. Unfortunately life passes and movies fade away before you can grab them sometimes. Total Recall got away so I will have to borrow the DVD someday. Bourne Legacy was quite good in my opinion. I couldn't figure out how they were going to bring Jason back and now I know. They simply invented a new character and a whole new explanation for his quick wits and super reflexes. IE drugs. So now they have new characters and can keep the franchise alive indefinitely. Sounds good to me ;-) Within the context of the plot Jeremy Renner (the new Jason) is someone we root for. Within the context of normal life he is a stone killer running from us (the government). The really scary thing about this movie is how (we) use unlimited resources to track these two characters down and try to kill them for what they know in a matter of 24 hours.
I will be skipping Spiderman in case you were wondering. The plot sounds so lame and I never much cared for the character in the first place. The professional reviewers really lambasted it and I think I'll take the hint this time.
August 14th 2012 - Brave: Disney & Pixar... what else do you really need to know. Pixar really shines delivering super realistic scenes in the 2D version. I assume it was even more awesome in 3D. Pretty much everyone liked the movie and gave it good marks in the reviews. Some carped about it having a weak plot and it is true, but what do you want in a movie targeted to a PG audience. Buy the DVD and enjoy it with your kids. The lesson is somewhat subtle, but there is one.
July 31st 2012 - Dark Knight Rises: Awesome toys! They had to up the ante in the bat cave given the competition from the Iron Man movie toys ;-) That's as much as can be said for this movie. Batman was well and truly f---ed. They spent so much time baring his broken soul that the rest of the movie just sort of drifted along. Then the super villain is revealed to be one of the "Defenders" who isn't very super after all, just real strong and with a disfigured face. He beats up batman which was not so hard given the long absence from crime fighting. Then he casts him into an "inescapable" prison after breaking his back to go along with his broken soul. I will let you figure out how the rest of the story goes, but I think you get the idea.
June 26th 2012 - Prometheus: Wow - save some money and buy an ice cream instead. The reviewers were impressed with the effects, but what they didn't say was how bad the plot sucked. They said the plot was weak, lacking, could have been better... They should have said a box of rocks has more personality than this movie. Unfortunately it is not just a prequel, the door was left wide open to follow the escaping cargo ship to the home planet for more alien fun.
June 19th 2012 - Avengers: Second look... was just as much fun as the first time ;-)
June 5th 2012 - Battleship: The reviewers don't think much of this flick because it has no "socially redeeming value." It does, however, entertain ;-) At its core is a silly premise that an alien race would send a few ships to conquer a world. They might have pretty cool weapons, but they were pretty pitiful as weapons of mass destruction. Fun action film with good special effects. If you like action, and don't mind if it is somewhat lame, go see this one ;-)
May 31 2012 - MIB 3: If you liked the first two you will like this one too. K is looking pretty old though and J does most of the adventuring. No spoiler...
May 24 2012 - Avengers: Awesome movie! Has all the heroes, but you know that. I may go see it a second time ;-) As you can see its been a while. Not because there wasn't much to see (I didn't think so), but because life is good and busy as heck...
October 6th 2011 - Drive: I read all the reviews and was looking forward to some good action with chase scenes and typical if graphic shoot-em-ups. Imagine my surprise when everything I read did not bear much resemblance to the movie. Well not all, the ones that said it was a quiet thriller were half right. It was very quiet, given the lack of dialog throughout, but thrilling... not so much. I never warmed up to any of these characters. There was little or no attempt to make us care about them and therefore what happens to them is of little interest. Even the woman who is supposed to be the good one does not inspire. After all, she carried on an affair right under her son's nose, what did they expect when her husband comes home from prison... The critics are shown to love art firms, so called film noir, and to be incapable of calling a spade a spade. IMO this film was poorly represented (rotten tomatoes' critics mislead yet again). Its not really a bad film, it just isn't all that good or have very much action, just some very graphic violence which in itself is gratuitous. I despair of finding a movie review site worth reading.
September 29th 2011 - Killer Elite: A supposedly true story about British SAS assassinations of an Oman oil Shake's sons and the revenge killings ordered by him. Holding Hunter hostage, the shake demands Danny kill the three men responsible for his son's deaths. The fact that they are SAS trained assassins is only a minor inconvenience. Danny has adventures that end killing 2 of his friends / accomplices. The ending is left open so they may be thinking sequel... Its an OK movie, but I wouldn't bother.
September 15th 2011 - The Debt: Spoiler alert (as if I could ruin this movie ;-) Advertised as a thriller it falls seriously short. Tired Nazi hunter story circa 1965. Turns out they didn't get the bad guy after all, but they lied to cover it up. So the ex-mosaad woman is called upon to kill the recently surfaced target before he can reveal the lie. Some decent acting, but just can't overcome the weak script / concept. The most low key thriller you will ever see. Save the planet and your money!
September 8th 2011 - Planet of The Apes: Save your money! Again Rotten Tomatoes misleads. Using the same CGI technology as Avatar is the best thing that can be said about this movie. Even given the silly premise, you have to be pretty much brain dead to believe that an injection of a miracle virus would make an ape intelligent over night. As a dedicated Sci-Fi addict I am accustomed to suspending belief. This movie requires belief be broken completely. Spoiler Alert: The ending is so far fetched I don't know where to start. Suffice it to say that you are still safe from intelligent apes while entering Muir Woods National Monument beyond the Golden Gate Bridge.
August 11th 2011 - Cowboys and Aliens: This one is kind of cool. although the critics were pretty hard on it. As usual I am not sure what the critics expected. The director is Tim's brother Jon Favreau. Perhaps they thought Jon should have done better with a low budget summer flick given his success with Transformers. Whatever... go and enjoy it.
August 4th 2011 - Captain America: A fun movie with an odd ending (no spoiler). A hapless 130# weakling not more than 4 feet tall tries to join the Army to fight in the war. He is turned down every time, but recruited by a German scientist for special forces. He does miserably in basic training, but manages to be the best with brains and courage. He is selected for the initial trial of the secret weapon, a machine invented by the doctor and built by Tony Stark. He is turned into a 220# 6' 5" hulk and becomes the poster boy for recruiting. Eventually he gets to go defeat evil forces and be a real hero. Just what you expect and did not disappoint (me).
July 28th 2011 - Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows (2nd look): I like to see movies I like more than once on the big screen. Sure I will buy the DVD one day and watch it to death, but even a decent home theater setup can not match the big sound and the big screen. Watching a second time reveals nuances passed over initially and I was surprised at some of the content I had simply missed entirely. Probably a function of seeing it at 1:30 AM ;-) Anyway it made me nostalgic, so I went and bought the other Potter movies I did not have including Part one of the Hollows. Recently I watched The Half Blood Prince on DVD. First time since it came out (except maybe on TV), enjoyed it as well. Personally I hope they continue the story. I am sure there is plenty to do in the wizarding world that will keep us interested.
July 14th 2011 - Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows (double feature): The local theater did a double feature with part 1 at 9 PM followed by part 2 at 12 AM. What a zoo (in a good way). They had several theaters running at the same time so maybe 400-500 folks watching the movie. Lots of young witches in costume ;-) I think we are most surprised by the plot twists at the end. No spoiler here, but certainly the saga could be continued. I think you will be satisfied with the thoughtful treatment of these characters we have come to know for so long. Go and see for yourself.
July 7th 2011 - Transformers Dark of the Moon 3D: An ambitious project for a comic book movie. Lots of CGI and 3D effects. Somehow you stop noticing its in 3D, it seems natural now to watch a movie with "depth". I found myself watching the autobots "transform" and thinking the artists can't make up their mind how they do it. It seems like a random process of moving parts. Some critics hated this movie --- audience loves it. It is a great summer movie with lots of eye candy. The girl and the cars are very sexy. The battle scenes have good tension, if not edge of the seat anxiety. The script is what you expect (more or less). An entertaining use of 2Hrs and $8 ;-)
June 30th 2011 - Super 8: Kids in 1979 making an 8mm zombie film accidentally photograph a train crash the air force is trying to cover up. A bad-ass alien life form on board has escaped and the air force wants it back. The film is sweet in the handling of the kid's interactions with each other. Easy to see them as real characters (hard to do most times). Some good suspense here, not to mention a great train crash!
June 23rd 2011 - Green Lantern 3D: So so script and weak direction. Ace test pilot, Hal Jordan, has to defeat two super automated fighter jets and does so, but freezes thinking about his father who was killed in a similar jet crash. Give us all a break... So, he has been an ace test pilot for a long time, but just when he succeeds, where no one expected him to, he freezes... yeh right. Ok its not a great movie, but the CGI is awesome and the evil Paralax would be best seen in 3D. Worth the extra $ for 3D. PS One of the trailers was for the new Transformers (great 3D effects).
June 9th 2011 - X-Men First Class: Sucks... Admittedly I am not a big fan of X-men, but the last one I saw was way better than this. You are never drawn into empathy for the characters nor perched on the edge of your seat with anticipation. Not even chuckle, although 2 or 3 in the audience did laugh once. Another case of Rotten Tomatoes deceiving me. I guess I should give more weight to the negative reviews. Barely good enough to be worth the $5 matinee.
May 12th 2011 - Thor: Legendary characters with comic book treatment in 3D. The CGI depiction of Asgard is pure eye candy. It has to make comic book illustrators green with envy. I think the actors did a good job with their characters. Thor's transformation to a caring hero from a self centered brat with magic powers was a bit forced; it basically comes out of no where. He turns around his entire personality after a couple of hours on Earth and intends to sacrifice himself to save his instant girl friend and some humans. But of course, that is what heroes do after all, so we forgive the creative license and enjoy the flick. Caveat; this is a film that doesn't get a lot of bang from the 3D buck. Many of the scenes are too dark for depth to stand out. You might consider saving the 3D premium and seeing it plain.
May 5th 2011 - Fast 5: Action flick with Vin Diesel & Dwayne Johnson so you know what to expect. Credibility is strained at every turn however. Their plan is to rob a South American drug lord after a jail break so they have enough money to disappear forever. Sounds good, but they soon need a crew and some very expensive toys to pull it off. Not to mention being chased by some of the best bad ass federal agents alive. So if you ignore the unlikely appearance of a couple of million bucks in toys, equipment and a 5 ton safe, its all good. There are several intense chase scenes with a seriously twisted one near the end. No spoiler, but I don't know how they did it without killing anyone. Definitely worth a look, high marks for entertainment value.
April 21st 2011 - Limitless: After sitting in his squalid apartment for weeks, hoping for inspiration, a down and out, wood be writer, gets a dear john send off from his up and coming girlfriend. Out of money from the advance he got to write a book, he is at a low point when a chance encounter with his ex-wife's brother gives him a chance to cage a few drinks. The ex-brother in law seems to be doing well enough, finds out his situation, then offers him a special pill worth $800. He takes the pill and right away he writes several chapters of the book and takes it to his publisher. The rest of the movie plays with the possibilities in pharmaceutical memory and intelligence with a subplot about losing and regaining the source of the pills he needs to keep up his abilities. It is an OK movie that never really gets you on the edge of your seat. Anticlimactic ending leaves you cold. Surely they could have done better.
April 14th 2011 - Source Code: Decent action movie with a sketchy plot. Some edge of seat action, a romantic interest and boy gets girl twist. You may not be real impressed, but likely not disappointed either.
March 31st 2011 - Paul: Rotten Tomatoes really got this one wrong! Usually I tend to agree, but this movie purely sucked. I have never walked out of a theater, but this one was cause. The cliché humor is sophomoric at best and the protagonists are just plain lame. The worst part is that I think the director intended them to be that lame. When the pair from the UK walked into a biker bar for dinner it was too much. No one in their right mind would stop for dinner at a biker bar even if they are from the UK. I happened to catch a review by Ebert on PBS and they both gave it thumbs down. Unfortunately I had already wasted my time and the $6.00. I will keep this one in mind when evaluating future Tomatoes reviews. They obviously have a much lower opinion of our movie going mentality than I thought.
January 19th 2011 - Green Hornet: Read the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, they are as good as any I would make. I thought the idea of the Green Hornet as a bungling, playboy, thrill-seeker was lame. It did nothing for the movie. One reviewer said Kato stole the show and I agree he did a very good job playing the role. I did get several laughs, some from stupidity and some from great lines. They seem to have left an opening for a second movie... I would advise against it.
December 30th 2011 - True Grit: This is a tough one... In a sense it is a very hard edged movie. Maybe the old west really was that violent or maybe just the Cogburn character is. The PG13 rating is misleading, the images are more than disturbing. Some are gratuitously graphic. I probably saw the original with John Wayne some time past, but don't recall the details. I doubt it was this graphic or as hard edged. Lots of critics and regular viewers liked it, I am not sure I did.
December 17th 2011 - Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows: Liked it enough to see it a second time. Like a lot of flicks, seeing it again reveals details missed the first time. I do like J. K. Rawlings work!
December 2nd 2010 - Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows: I liked it
November 18th 2010 - Unstoppable: An action / suspense film worth seeing. Not as intense as Inception, but then not much else is or has been.
October 21st 2010 - RED (Retired Extremely Dangerous): An engrossing film... Not so much suspense as it is a dark exposition of the character's character. At least one of the characters gets out on the plus.
September 30th 2010 - Legend of the Guardians: A visually stunning CGI flick about a world of owls. Young owls are forced to choose sides not really knowing what it is about. A pair (brother & sister) escape to find the Guardians and learn what it is to fight evil. Pretty standard fare for a summer movie. IE Reasonably entertaining, suspenseful in the right places and with an aw-shucks ending. It has a PG rating, but parents should be advised that it maybe too violent for very young kids. Critics not thrilled, regular public liked it by a good margin. I agree that it was worth the $5 ticket.
September 23rd 2010 - The Town: This is a movie about bad guys and cops with an improbable love story line. IE. One of the bad guys falls for a victim (the bank manager they robbed). Some reviews point out how predictable the movie is and it is true. Some reviews say it is exciting and a fine way to spend a couple of hours and this is also true. Go see it when the theater has the matinee special, you probably will be satisfied.
August 27th 2010 - Took my own advice and saw Salt again :-)
August 19th 2010 - Expendables: This movie got a rating of 39% positive at rotten tomatoes... I should have paid more attention and seen Salt for the second time. The sheer scope of the violence is hard to describe. At least with Salt the violence had a point. I have lived a sheltered life I guess.
August 12th 2010 - Inception second look: More than one review said a second or third viewing might be necessary to explain the action and reveal more detail. I was surprised at the nuances I missed the first time. There were several parts of the plot that stood out the second time. Seeing it the second time did not dull the impact of the suspense and in fact clarified the end of the movie.
August 5th 2010 - Sorcerers Apprentice 2nd look: The reviews for the current crop of movies were not great, so I will take a second look at one or more. I like this movie and will look for the DVD down the road.
July 29th 2010 - Salt: A female Bond... in reverse. She is a Russian double agent trained in childhood for unquestioning obedience and planted in the CIA. While the action is intense, it is also somehow hard to believe she can take down 4 or 5 armed men at once or jump from the top of an elevator shaft or from rooftop to rooftop of moving trucks (three times!). So OK, you need to be uncritical when going to see a summer thriller and it does deliver on entertainment. I liked the twist at the end as well. Do ya think there is a sequel in the works?
July 21 2010 - Inception: This is a real edge of the seat thriller. The movie doesn't waste a lot of time setting up the plotline. The action picks up steam fast and the suspense never stops. You quickly forget where they really are and get sucked into the action, which is intense. Some good acting in this movie as well as some folks you will all recognize. A definite must see movie.
July 15th 2010 - Sorcerers Apprentice: This one got some mixed reviews, mainly based on the director's & Nicolas Cage's reputation. I don't know what the various reviewers expected. I think it is just a typical Disney summer movie production. I like / liked the Shrek movies and if you did too, you will enjoy this one as well. It is kind of sappy (like Shrek), but they manage to entertain with good special effects and high powered villains. The apprentice, Dave Stutler, is played by the actor JAY BARUCHEL that did the voice of Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon. I liked Hiccup in Dragon. Maybe that has something top do with liking this movie.
July 8th 2010 - Eclipse: I had not seen any of the Twilight Saga, but was intrigued by the reviews and the 52% rating at rottentomatoes. I liked the movie overall, probably because I had no preconception from the earlier installments, one of which is said to have sucked bad. I liked the fact that it wasn't one of those dark horror movies, but one that actually made a credible attempt to portray werewolves and vampires in a "realistic" light. This is a good movie to take your girl or wife to. She will like the story and you won't think it sucks ;-)
July 1st 2010 - The Last Airbender: This movie got killed by the critics. It was given a rating of 8% at rottentomatoes! I went to see it anyway based on the trailers I had seen. I walked out thinking the acting deserved no more that a 3 of 10. The main actors were kids that did not seem to have any energy or experience acting. One reviewer suggests it is the director's fault in not getting a good read by the kids. I don't know, but it detracted seriously from the movie. That said, I enjoyed the story and the effects were intriguing. A lot of imagination went into creating the sets, especially the Fire Nation's Vessels. An entertaining, if slightly disappointing, movie with moderately good action scenes and effects.
June 17th 2010 - The Karate Kid: Pretty much what you expect it to be. It was entertaining, if a bit slow developing. Jackie Chan (Mr. Han) gives a good performance taking the "Kid" on a journey into a China few see. One element they could have dropped is Mr. Han's fixation on the tragic death of his wife and son in a traffic accident. IMO it added nothing to the plot or the character except perhaps as a nod to explaining Mr. Han's exclusiveness. If you missed it, go rent the DVD, you will enjoy it!
June 3rd & April 15th: How to Train Your Dragon: If you can't guess from the fact I went twice, get a grip! I really liked this movie. The plot is sweet, even with the Vikings trying to kill the dragons at every turn. You gotta love Hiccup, a 50 pound weakling in a land of 300 pound mounds of mussel. Where the men are men and the women are too. If you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it, but the plot develops in a completely unexpected direction with a great ending. I bought the DVD!
May 27th 2010 - Shrek: If you liked the other Shrek movies, you will probably like this one as well. I though it was good for a family oriented Disney movie. It manages to keep you in suspense until the very last, so kudos to the staff.
May 20th 2010 - Iron Man 2: Great new gadgets and indestructible flying suits the government wants for itself. Naturally Tony Stark doesn't want to play, so there is a whole subtext going on with a senator involved with a mad scientist who want to steal the suit (gee wonder what will go wrong there?). All's well that ends well (of course).
April 15th: How to Train Your Dragon: See June 3rd above
April 8th 2010 - Clash of the Titans: This one features Sam Worthington (of Avatar fame) as Perseus. Some reviewers found Perseus lacking and I mostly agree. Compared to the performance he gave in Avatar, this one seemed pretty dead-pan. It is a good action movie and well worth renting for a "night out".
April 1st 2010 - Alice in Wonderland: Johnny Depp was good, the rest, not so much. If you are going to do a remake, it is a good idea to do it better than the first one, don't you think? For all the flashy effects and dazzling scenes, it falls short.
January, February & March 2010 - Avatar: I saw this one 12 times and own the DVD. The vision James Cameron brings to the screen is so realistic, it compels you into the Na Vi world without any room for skepticism. It is very easy to simply get lost in this idyllic world. The effects brought to life for this movie are not likely to be matched any time soon. The studio gambled $400 million over 4 years and created a true block buster. That is way too much money to risk for most studios to attempt a copy. The plot is kind of tired and predictable, but that is easy to overlook while you are immersed in his world. In case you can't tell, I think this is the best movie I have ever seen and I have seen nearly every Sci-Fi movie ever made. It is also the highest grossing movie of all time and by such a wide margin it may really be for all time.
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