Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Braven lets you see the studly Jason Momoa while we wait for Aquaman to hit theaters

Movie Title:      Braven

Grade:   C

Rating: R, 94 minutes

In a Nutshell: 
Directed by  Lin Oeding, this Canadian action flick is all testosterone.

Nothing like a relaxing winter day at the cabin.  Ha ha  My dad has a cabin in the mountains near Park City, so I kept imagining what we would have done if we had been in the same situation.  Die a horrible death, most likely.


Tips for parents: 
  • Some profanity, including TONS of F-bombs.
  • Lots of brutal fighting.
  • Some bloody, gory deaths.
  • You see Jason Momoa shirtless.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Needed supplies at your cabin: ammo, guns, knives, bear trap, bow & arrow, a PHONE!
  • Family
  • Don’t do drugs.
Things I liked:
  • Beautiful scenery and wildlife.
  • Wow, Jason Momoa is HUGE.  He even makes Stephen Lang look small in comparison. Until an AquaMan feature film from the Justice League comes to the big screen, I’m happy to see him in anything.  It’s fun to watch him kick bad-guy butt, but otherwise, the movie isn’t very good. Did you know he’s married to the petite Lisa Bonet?


Things I didn’t like:
  • Dumb dialogue.
  • Some silly choices that make you scratch your head.
  • I really liked Garret Dillahunt in the TV sitcom Raising Hope: Season 1 by Fox, so it’s hard for me to take him seriously in a drama. 


Friday, February 16, 2018

The Shape of Water is certified fresh

Movie Title:     The Shape of Water

Grade:   A-

Rating: R, 119 minutes

In a Nutshell:   Certified fresh!  This "adult fairy tale" was produced, directed, and written by Guillermo Del Toro.  The film combines a love story with science fiction and Cold War drama.  Some critics have likened it to Beauty And The Beast meets Creature from the Black Lagoon.  It's odd, for sure.

This film has received more Oscar nominations than any other film!  Many of them are technical noms.  We'll see how many they win.

Tips for parents: 
  • This movie is rated R for a reason.  It's not appropriate for children's viewing.
  • A LOT of full frontal nudity of a woman.  Another woman opens her shirt to reveal her bare chest.
  • Woman pleasures herself in a bathtub
  • Crude language, F-bombs, and profanity
  • You see a married couple have sex.
  • You learn sign language for some words.
  • Racism
  • Homosexuality
  • Hypocrisy 
  • Hope, compassion, humanity

Uplifting theme: 
  • Feeling incomplete and unfulfilled in life and how we fill that void.
  • Love can’t be defined.
  • Humanity, outsiders
  • Friendship, loyalty

Things I liked:
  • Sally Hawkins gives a really great performance with no words.  Guillermo Del Toro said that he wrote the movie with only her in mind.  Her character's last name is "Esposito" which is Italian, given to orphaned children, meaning "exposed" or "abandoned."
  • Michael Shannon is fantastic, as always.  He successfully makes you hate his guts. 
  • The talented ensemble also includes Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, and Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer.
  • Some people watch a classic scene from a Shirley Temple movie.  Music and dance play a role in the movie.
  • Beautiful production design with incredible colors.  It uses practically every shade of green.
  • I loved the Old Hollywood nods to lots of other movies.
  • A surprising musical number.
  • Doug Jones spent three hours every day to get into his costume.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Way too much nudity, awkward sex, and crude language.
  • The end is pretty predictable.
  • A bit of a creepy love affair.

Interesting lines:
  • “He’s not even human.” – Giles (Richard Jenkins)
“If we do nothing, neither are we.” – Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins)
  • “Life is but the shipwreck of our plans.” – Daily Thought
  • “I’m not a good liar…except Bruster.  It takes a lot of lies to keep a marriage going.” -   Zelda  (Octavia Spencer) 


Hostiles shows the brutal wild West with solid performances

Movie Title:      Hostiles

Grade:   B

Rating: R, 135 minutes

In a Nutshell:   While this film fits in the Western niche, its narrative is still relevant to today.

Tips for parents: 
  • A man is shot and scalped within the first 3 minutes.
  • F-bombs and other profanity
  • Lots of brutal carnage and burials in the wild West.
  • Subtitles when the Indians speak.
  • Lots of brutal fighting.
  • Dead body hung from a tree.

Uplifting theme: 
  • At the very beginning of the movie, you see the words, “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.  And it never yet melted.”  = D. H. Lawrence
  • Hope, faith
  • Humanity
  • Respect for others not like you

Things I liked:
  • Rosemund Pike is always a pleasure to watch.
  • Christian Bale gives a solid performance with impressive depth and seems right at home in 1892 frontier America.  This is his second Western.  His first was 3:10 To Yuma
  • I thought it was interesting to learn that the film was shot in chronological order.  That rarely happens.  Most of the film was shot outdoors in New Mexico and Arizona, exposing the actors to the hostile elements.  Q’orianka Kilcher suffered heat stroke during filming.
  • I first noticed Stephen Lang in Avatar.  He’s the quintessential military man.
  • Beautiful landscapes that make you realize that parts of America haven’t changed one bit in hundreds of years.
  • Wes Studi plays a respectful Chief Yellow Hawk.
  • Director/writer Scott Cooper has gotten a lot of attention for his solid work with this film.
  • Satisfying character arcs for several characters.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Sometimes it’s hard to understand what people are saying.  With all those beards, you can't even read their lips.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to see what’s going on in the night time scenes when it’s dark.
  • The Native Americans are fairly one-dimensional characters.
  • It's slow moving.
  • The content is dark and grim.
  • I sure am glad I didn't have to live back then.

Interesting lines:
  • “If I did not have faith, what would I have?” – Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike).
  • "Sometimes I envy the finality of death, the certainty, and I have to drive those thoughts away when I'm weak." - Rosalie

If you like this movie, you'll probably enjoy
Dances with Wolves



Maze Runner: The Death Cure ends the YA dystopian trilogy

Movie Title:   
Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Grade:   B+

Rating: PG-13, 114 minutes

In a Nutshell:   This third film provides a fitting finale to a thrilling young adult book and movie franchise. 

Congrats to my friend, James Dashner, for all of his success!  That must be so satisfying to bring a book to the Big Screen!  (My books are all non-fiction.)  

You get to see Dashner in one of the scenes where Teresa and Ava are presenting information to the WCKD board members.  Dashner is the only one on the board who doesn’t speak.  I loved the cameo!  

My tiny claim to fame is that he and I both did a book signing together many years ago and later spoke at the same writer's conference.  I'm so happy for him!

Tips for parents: 
  • Some creepy faces
  • Violence, fighting
  • Explosions, tons of destruction
  • Scary zombies that chase you...really fast!
  • Some profanity.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Bravery, loyalty, friendship
  • Hope

Things I liked:
  • Dylan O’Brien was seriously injured during the last installment in the series, so fans have waited two years for his recovery and this release.  He's a talented young actor with great promise.
  • Lots of action sequences!  Tons!
  • If you like zombies and teen dystopia, you’ll enjoy the crazy chaos.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Not a lot of dialogue, since everyone is running around most of the time…thus the title.
  • Aren't we glad we have teenagers to save the world?
  • Fans of the books will notice quite a few changes in the film.
  • Those who haven't seen the first two movies or read the books won't feel as invested in the characters as the die-hard fans.   Fans will be interested in seeing the end of the trilogy, but first-timers might be confused.
  • The character arc over the course of three films isn't as big as you would hope.

Check out my movie reviews of the first two movies here:

Maze Runner

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Did you miss the first two movies in the franchise? You can order them here:




Thursday, February 15, 2018

Proud Mary showcases Taraji P. Henson

Movie Title:      Proud Mary

Grade:   C

Rating: R, 1 hour 29 minutes

In a Nutshell: Who doesn’t love Taraji P. Henson?  I thought she was great in Hidden Figures, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  She is equally competent on TV, such as in Empire Season 1 and Person of Interest: Season 1.  

I expected great things from her in this film and wasn’t disappointed.  She’s much more talented than this script and is the only reason worth seeing this movie.

Tips for parents: 
  • Violence, murder
  • Several people beat up a young boy.
  • F-bombs and other profanity.
  • Bloody deaths.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Family
  • Second chances, redemption

 Things I liked:
  • Danny Glover still has it, although he's so lovable that it's hard to take him seriously as a hard-core hit-man boss.
  •  I was waiting for that famous Tina Turner moment when the Proud Mary song would play while Taraji kicked butt.  You have to wait a long time, but it's fun when it finally happens.

Things I didn’t like:
  • The blonde wig doesn’t quite work for Taraji like it did for Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde, but we get the point.
  •  Cliched Russians.
  • Not a single cop to be found, despite all of the violence and shooting in the neighborhood.
  • That last shoot 'em up scene was ridiculous.
  • No advance screenings for the media or critics to preview the film.  Haven't the producers heard of marketing?



The Cloverfield Paradox is a confusing one

Movie Title:   
The Cloverfield Paradox

Grade:  D

Rating: Not rated officially, but it should be R.

In a Nutshell:   To call Cloverfield a trilogy is a bit of a stretch.  The three films are loosely related with a few connected Easter eggs, each one depending on the former films to garner fans and box office success. 

The fan base is small, as evidenced by the very limited theater release.  The biggest surprise is that the first time the trailer for the movie was ever shown was at Super Bowl LII (2018), which was the very same night the movie was shown on Netflix.


Tips for parents: 
  • F-bombs and other profanity.
  • Lots of violence.
  • Gruesome, gory, gross deaths.
  • Disgusting worms.
  • Creepy, but helpful, dismembered hand.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Teamwork, friendship, loyalty
  • Sacrifice
  • Humanity, family

Things I liked:
  • I actually liked the first two installments in this franchise. I like that the three are different from each other and make you try to think.
  • Chris O'Dowd has the best lines in the movie.
  • The lovely Elizabeth Debicki has quite an entrance.
  • This will be a fun movie to make fun of at a teenage late-night party.
  • Some of the acting was good.

Things I didn’t like:
  • J.J. Abrams is great at NOT telling you what’s going on.  Your brain will explode if you spend too much time trying to figure out any of this. It’s occasionally entertaining and mostly confusing, meant mostly for Cloverfield fans.
  • David Oyelowo is too good for this silly script.
  • You’d think that everyone on the space station would be able to speak the same language.  Tam (played by Ziyi Zhang) kept speaking Mandarin with no subtitles.  People spoke to her in English and seemed to understand what she was saying, which is just another odd element in the movie.  I’ve actually been trying to learn Mandarin, but subtitles would have been super helpful since I’m terrible at Mandarin.  
  • Rumor has it that the next chapter in the Cloverfield story.  Next?  Yeah, you heard me.  Do we really want more of this?  There is talk of an entire Cloverfield universe.  (sigh)  
  • Apparently, the Cold War is still going strong in the future.
  • Multiverse nonsense.  There are way too many theories, dimensions, and timelines going on here for the average person to keep up with or enjoy.
  • Some really dumb lines like, "We're going to survive!  We have to!"
  • Cat fight in space.   ha ha
  • The original title was “The God Particle.”  Then, it was advertised as "Cloverfield 3."  No wonder we're confused...so are the writers.   

Interesting lines:
* "If you're asking if I'd be willing to kill 3 people to save 8 billion, wouldn't you?" -  Jensen   (Elizabeth Debicki)

You can see my movie review for 10 Cloverfield Lane here.  


Fifty Shades Freed ends the trilogy of trash

Movie Title:   
   Fifty Shades Freed

Grade:   F

Rating:  R.   Why isn’t this rated X?

In a Nutshell:   Why is this trilogy of trash on the big screen?  Why isn’t this sold as the pornography it is?  

I realize there are women who eat this franchise up, but it’s a pathetic money grab and poor excuse for a romantic Valentine’s movie.

Now that this movie is done, we are all fifty shades FREED and hopefully never have to talk about this garbage ever again!

Tips for parents: 
  • No.  Just no.

Uplifting theme: 
  • This is pure garbage with no redeeming quality whatsoever.

Things I liked:
·       Absolutely nothing.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Pretty much everything.  
  • The dialogue is ridiculous and often laughable.
  • The premise is ridiculous.
  • Ridiculous treatment of women.
  • Christian Grey is ridiculous.