Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Tags

The time has arrived! Once again, it’s blockbuster season, and I will be attending movies most every Friday with a bunch of other single guys that don’t have dates. Don’t judge. To kickoff the second best season of the year (football being first, of course) Marvel gives us Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. Lets make this easy by just comparing it to where it stands among the other Marvel movies. If the first Avengers is the best, then GGv2 sits in the second group alongside the original Guardians, and the second two Captain America’s: Winter Solider and Civil War. The story is well done, bringing it lots of small pieces without making it feel cluttered or leaving any necessary characters underdeveloped. The action scenes are good and fairly well spaced. The best part is that you really fall for the individual characters and the team as a whole. They tell a lot of jokes, and they hit far more often than they miss. The only real problem is that GGv2 is a sequel, it lacks that fresh out of the box feel of the original. But if that is the biggest issue then GGv2 should rank among the best sequels ever.
Taking your kids is going to be slightly complicated. They cuss a handful of times, very much on purpose. And there are a few sexually themed jokes. They might fly right over your kid’s heads, but I’m letting you know they’re there. I don’t remember any blood, and all the fighting is sci-fi, unrealistic stuff.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Tags

Saw two movies yesterday, the lesser rated of which is King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Critics have hammered KA and it is the first bomb of the Summer, but I kinda liked it. KA is more original and unique than most of the blockbusters coming up. Not to say the story is completely fresh, but the execution is different, and the hero is more Jack Sparrow and less Captain America. The editing is also pretty uniquely done, and how often do I talk about editing? The acting is average for a Summer blockbuster, but the scenery is pretty and the behind the scene people knew what they were trying to do. Of the three main movies out so far this season: KA, Guardians and Alien, Guardians is far and away the best, but KA is better than Alien. I don’t think everyone should see KA in the theater, but it isn’t a bad choice for action fans on a rainy day.
 
There is a smidgen of blood, and they fight frequently, but never barbarically. No sex and they only cuss enough (once or twice) to get the rating up to PG-13.

The Shack

Tags

I don’t know exactly how to write a movie review for The Shack. You either already know you are going to see it, or are uninterested and won’t be seeing it. The Shack isn’t fun in the way most movies I am entertained by are fun, but no one expected it to be. I will say that I have seen some really bad faith based movies. In fact, most of them are bad, cringe worthy, and practicably unwatchable. The Shack is none of those three things. They spent the money to hire actual actors (and that makes a world of difference); the writing is average for a movie (therefore, miles ahead of most faith based movies); and the production values are also of reasonable quality. The story is good, they handled the rough parts tastefully, but still with most of the impact, and if you buy the premise then the characters will pull you in.

I don’t think you would have had to have read the book to be able to grasp the movie, but it would help, of course. As far as movies go, The Shack is the best player on the JV team; a stand out as long as you’re not comparing it to the bigger, stronger players. But as far as faith based entertainment goes, it is top shelf.

The kids will be fine, as long as you don’t mind answering a bazillion questions on the ride home.

Oh! I almost forgot the best part. Overly religious people will be crapping their pants. They’ll be tripping over themselves to misquote or argue some irrelevant point. It brings my heart great joy to watch religious people scramble.

Kong: Skull Island

Tags

Kong: Skull Island is pretty good, but that’s it, just pretty good. Kong, and the other beasties, look good; I never really stopped to notice that they were all CGI. Can’t say the same for the actors though. There were some talented people in the movie, but I feel like they sorta mailed it in. Blame for that usually goes to the director, but the directing wasn’t all bad either, b/c he tied a story together that we all already know, and made it seem somewhat fresh. But, you could lay that credit at the feet of the writers; but you’d also need to shake your head at them for mixing too much cheese and pretension in with their quality work. So…..K:SI is just pretty good. Better than the last King Kong movie, but not as good as other stuff that is out right now, and certainly not as good as some summer blockbusters will be.

So you can put K:SI on your to rent list, but not at the top. For the kids: they wanted to make it PG-13, so they threw in two cuss words, and there are some moments when guys are bloody and beat up after getting in a helicopter crash or eaten up by one of the monsters. Middle schoolers will be fine, not so confident that younger kids would be.

Logan

Tags

Do I gush over comic book movies? Yes. Should Logan win an Oscar anyway? Also yes.

Normally, I’m one of the last to leave the theater, I don’t get in any hurry. I did my same, non-hurried shuffle at the end of Logan, but most people were still in their seats as I walked past. They looked shell-shocked, and undoubtedly felt emotionally drained, like I did. Leaving Logan you almost feel like you’ve been in a fight, beat up a little bit. My armpits were sweaty, my heart was a little heavy, but I felt very satisfied. It was like watching Schindler’s List or Passion of the Christ; an emotional experience that empties you out in the best way.

You know how books are normally better than movies, b/c the book has so much more time to develop the characters and plot? Well, Logan is the closest movie I’ve seen to replicating what a book can pull off. Part of that is b/c we’ve been watching Hugh Jackman develop the Wolverine character for 15 years, and part of it is b/c there is no wasted motion in Logan. The acting is good, the fights are, finally, appropriately brutal, and the special effects are subtle and blended in perfectly. What sets Logan apart is the story and the characters. Bottom line, it was just a really fantastic movie.

It’s rated R. They cuss, stab people in the head, and don’t hold back on the death scenes. Logan ain’t a kids movie, but the only reason you should skip it is if you can’t enjoy a movie b/c of the things in the previous sentence.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Tags

It’s the second worst time of year to go see movies that are both fun and of some quality (the first two months of football season being the worst time). Last week xXx was so bad that no amount of explosions could save it. This week Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is better, but not still not real good. Resident Evil is a video game made into a movie (check in the bad column), there are like six movies in the franchise (check in the good column), the acting is atrocious (bad), the plot line across the movies is surprisingly coherent (good), the plot line on any given movie is unsurprisingly incoherent (bad). RE:TFC’s dedication to action is on the same level as a 7th grade girl’s dedication to Justin Bieber though, there is just enough time to take a breath after the last action scene before a new one starts up. Its paced like a Monster Truck rally. This installment is a bit more gory than previous installments, there’s blood and practically none of the monsters have skin, and there are dismembered zombie bodies everywhere, etc.
 
Fans of the franchise and fans of action movies will enjoy RE:TFC (I liked, I supposed, but I won’t be clamoring to see it again.), but this is not a “good” movie. Most people won’t enjoy it. If you need to know about the kids go reread the “practically none of the monsters have skin” line.

Passengers

Tags

I went to watch Passengers with extremely low expectations, and those expectations were greatly exceeded. The reason for the pleasant surprise was Chris Pratt. I wish he and I could be friends. He is in just about every scene in the movie, and in every scene I’m buying what he’s selling. Well, except for the ones where the science gets really wonky, but that is par for the course for a space movie. But 90%+ of the time I was watching I was all in. And that is the beauty of Passengers, it isn’t an action movie until late, and there is a lot of quite times, but I stayed engaged through the whole thing. It was good, way better than it had any reason to be. The story is fantastical, but doesn’t get in the way, and the pacing is even, up until they try to blow everything up at the end. The acting is good, with my boy Chrisy Poo leading the way. You don’t have to go out of your way to see it in the theater, but definitely catch it on Redbox.

You kids won’t enjoy it. It is safe for them, but they’ll think it is slow and boring, b/c they won’t get the tension.

Assassin’s Creed

Tags

Assassin’s Creed is a movie based on a video game. Wait! Wait! Before you automatically write it off as bad, let me tell why its bad. Truth is, I loved it. Best action scenes of the year, with the airport fight from Captain America: Civil War being the only one better. The action is great, the story is reasonable for an action movie, and they spent money to hire real actors. I really liked it. But there is one big weakness, and that is w/out an understanding of the video games the plot is a huge mess: holes, contradictions, head scratching, the works. (The little weakness is that its choppy, it starts and stops a lot) There will be plot holes and dumb stuff even if you’ve played the games, but without that history I imagine following it would be tough.
 
So if you can suspend your disbelief, or if you’ve played the games, I highly recommend Assassins Creed. It is a good action movie.
 
There is a lot of stabby stabby, and they fight the whole time, but not much blood. AC isn’t made for young kids anyway.

Rouge One: Star Wars

Reviewing a Star Wars movie is a bit tricky, do you just review it on its own merits or were it fits inside a cultural touchstone? Rouge One is a Star Wars movie the same way Balboa was a Rocky movie; you got the atmosphere, but it’s different than what you remember.

The first half hour of RO is a mess. I’m a low grad Star Wars geek and I was confused. But that might be the problem, looking for where it fit, and looking for continuatiy, instead of just watching. I’ll stand by the first half hour being a bit off though, b/c after that RO hits its stride and settles into an even pace, and a story arc of its own. The acting could be better, everybody looks like they are trying too hard, but the special effects are immersive and pleasing with one exception. The direction, writing and behind the scenes stuff is what you’d expect from Disney. And come to think of it (I’ve never written anything like this before), the sound was perfect; the Star Wars you have in your mind’s eye, better than the original.

We were almost all smiles afterward, and discussed the finer points of the movie. That’s a good sign, b/c after bad movies we end up talking about something else. With that said, I can’t give a wholesale, ringing, “everybody should go to the theater to see this movie” endorsement. It is the best movie in theaters right now, and needs to be watched, just don’t prioritize it over more important Christmas activities. I don’t really think I need to comment about bringing the kids, you know what you’re getting with Star Wars.

Dr. Strange

Tags

As soon as the credits started to roll the guy I was sitting next immediately declared Dr. Strange as the best Marvel movie he had seen, siting the visuals above all.  As y’all might remember, I rate movies based on fun and entertainment, rather than any artistic merit or particular trait.  So, I’m not going to go as far as he did, but, without a doubt DS will keep your attention every second you’re watching it.

I am going to say every single negative thing I can think of to say about DS.  This is an origin movie, so there are a couple of times they just have to point the camera at someone’s face and let them do a monologue explaining some plot point, and occasionally the origin moves to fast (meaning Dr. Strange goes from zero to hero at an accelerated pace).  The bad guy isn’t as epic as a Loki or a Red Skull.  And….uhh…that’s it.

You’ve seen the trailer, you think the visual effects will be like Inception.  Nope, they’re on a whole new level.  I’ve only seriously considered trying drugs a couple of times, (the laughing gas from my wisdom teeth removal might be the most fun I’ve ever had) but just 20 minutes into DS I’m thinking, “this would be the greatest trip ever!”  So, the CGI is superb, the acting is good and only clunky during the previously mentioned monologues, the story is right in line with what you expect from Marvel and the direction is surprisingly even and well done.

Lets face, you’ve already decided that you want to see it, and you are just reading this blog for confirmation.  Well, confirmation provided.  DS is really, really good.  Plan on seeing in sometime between now and Thanksgiving break.