Saturday, September 18, 2021

Movie Review: Copshop

A police precinct is being stormed by a group of killers. We have seen this before. Lots of shooting and killing and explosions. We have seen this in every action movie. As far as I saw, the new movie “Copshop” is nothing new with the possible exception of actress Alexis Louder who steals this movie from Gerard Butler, who plays one of the criminals held in a cell at the precinct. The huge mystery here are the high 80% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, considering the movie is at best average with only a 6.6 on IMDB.

I thought the acting was OK, the ending was mostly predictable, but it was too boring in too many areas and nothing new. My rating is an anemic 50% and a pass on this one.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Movie Review: Cry Macho

At age 91, its impossible to believe that Clint Eastwood is still not only directing, but acting in movies. Considering his age, and the number of movies he can potentially still make, it is equally as hard to believe that he would choose a script as bad as “Cry Macho” to both direct and act in. What was he thinking with this waste of 2 hours?

This story is stunningly boring – mostly from the middle 85% where amazingly it seems like absolutely nothing is happening. This movie reminds me of the recent Liam Neeson movie “The Marksman”, where a man is on the run with a Mexican boy trying avoid a group of people out to kill them. Unfortunately most of this movie is about the boy and Eastwood’s character hanging around a farm, having dinner. As far as The Marksman it is an OK movie where Cry Macho is so boring that I almost left the theater several times.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for Cry Macho are a very low 50% and my rating is in the 30% range ranking this film as a must miss. This film should be called Cry Boring.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Movie Review: The Card Counter

“The Card Counter” is one of those movies that in my opinion is different weird, rather than different good.

The title is obvious enough, about a man who calls himself William Tell, played by actor Oscar Isaac as we follow his life that is entirely about playing cards. What is fascinating to most people is how anyone can do nothing but play cards for hours on end, and never get bored? Even when playing for money, most of us would dose off or fade into a coma while doing nothing more than playing cards all day. I thought the explanation of card counting was a good part of this story- due to the fascinating mathematics that is an extremely impressive achievement for whoever invented it. Other than that, there is no way I would recommend this strange story or understand why so many critics liked it.

The problem here is, the “lets be different and surprising at all costs” is what killed this entire film. I can only guess that because the great writer/director Paul Schrader is involved, most critics give this film an automatic thumbs up. My opinion is that this movie is too boring in too many areas, too strange and too hard to follow for those of us who fell into a coma about 50% through this extremely strange story.

The only high point is the acting of the lead, Oscar Isaac, along with Tiffany Haddish who showed she can also do some serious roles. Willem Defoe is also in this film, but its only a small role.

Due to the overkill of weirdness and a story that was too strange to like I do not recommend this movie, despite the high critical ratings on Rotten Tomatoes of 86%.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Movie Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

The ratings on Rotten Tomatoes for the new Marvel Movie “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” are an extremely high 92%. Save a very well shot karate fight on a bus, similar to the recent movie “Nobody”, I saw nothing in this two hours that warrants such a high score.

I thought the story of this movie was all over the place, with a young Chinese boy being trained by his father to be a trained fighter and killer – who later leaves home to park cars in Los Angeles. Latter parts of the story reunite the boy with his father back in China, now traveling with his close friend Katy played by Awkwafina. I did admire the martial arts training that the main character Shaun played by Simu Liu had to go through to play this role – given that he was not already a martial arts expert. This is definitely not a bad movie, but also not a great one either because we have seen all of this before. There was also way too many scenes that were too long and too boring.

I thought the ending was way over the top, involving flying birds and of all things, flying dragons.

This movie is a solid 75% for fans of martial arts films only. I give Shang-Chi a mild recommendation.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Movie Review: Reminiscence

The new movie “Reminiscence”, starring Hugh Jackman is one of those rare bad movies that it is extremely hard to review, because it is so bad. I have often wondered, how many bad movies can a very famous actor can make before their career goes south? Without a doubt, this is the worst movie Hugh Jackman has ever made, so bad that its impossible to understand how he could have read the script and agreed to act in this film. I have always known that there are actor/studio contracts that are signed and favors that are agreed to in Hollywood. I have seen way too many movies like this one, where a named actor has made a movie that they should have known from the script, was too bad to make.

The plot is absurd, the story starting sometime in the future, with the city of Miami completely flooded because of Global Warming. In the future, there is a machine that can read peoples brain waves displaying their thoughts on a computer screen. This idea reminded me of the 1983 movie “Brainstorm”, the last movie for Natalie Wood. In that movie, they were able to record brain images for people at the moment they died, resulting in some memorable scenes and a pretty good film. In this movie, the main character Nick Bannister played by Jackman is trying to find out what has happened to his girlfriend Mae, played by Rebecca Ferguson, by using this brain wave machine. Actress Thandiwe Newton plays Emily, Nick’s friend who throughout this film, tries to talk him out of everything he is doing. Admittedly while watching this film on HBO Max, I fast-forwarded the movie too many times, at 15 second intervals, because this movie was so hard to sit through.

By the time you are 85% through this very bad movie, you are more interested in it ending, than ever caring enough to fully understand what is happening in this very poorly told story.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for this film is an extremely low 37%, and I agree with this assessment, suggesting that this movie should just die in a DVD graveyard.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Movie Review: Protege

Some movies seem like they are a jumbled version of so many other films, or scenes within similar movies that are just thrown together. The new movie “The Protege” is one of those films with a flimsy storyline tied together with action karate scenes and a pretty dumb ending all of which we have all seen many times before.

The Protege stars Maggie Q, one of the more well known female/movie karate experts. Many of her action scenes are very impressive but not nearly enough to save this mostly bad movie – about several hired killers that are all out for revenge. Michael Keaton also stars as one of the antagonists and once again Samuel L. Jackson is in this movie as the friend to Maggie Q’s character. My question as I sat through this excuse for violence and explosions is why any of these 3 actors read the script, and then agreed to make this film. Why was this bad screenplay even greenlighted in the first place?

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for Protege are a low 62%, with my rating around 40% and a recommendation that this run of the mill action movie should be skipped.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Netflix Movie Review: Beckett

A car accident involving a young couple, Beckett played by John David Washington and April, played by Alicia Vikander leads to a complex kidnapping involving dirty cops that results in Beckett running for his life for the entire movie. This is the main problem with the new Neflix movie “Beckett” because watching someone run through the hills and forests of Greece can become very old, very quickly.

One of the most interesting things about this film is trying to figure out why Alicia Vikander agreed to take a part this small and insignificant given that she recently won an Academy Award. This film starts out well enough with the relationship between April and Beckett traveling together in Greece, but then it deteriorates into a mostly on foot series of chase scenes with a very injured Beckett running from one person trying to kill him after another. The fact that Beckett is so injured from the car accident and being shot multiple times makes just about all the action scenes in this movie incomprehensible. One of the last scenes involved Beckett jumping 4 stories of a parking garage on purpose to land on a car he was chasing after being severely injured by yet another gunshot. This was probably the stupidest scene in this pretty bad movie. After Becket landed on the car, still alive, was one of those times where you just had to wonder what the director was thinking.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings this time around of 51% are correct along with the very low 38% audience ratings. My rating is also about 50%, mainly because of the constant running scenes and the fact that no human body can be injured this badly and continue to function. I rate Beckett as a pass.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Apple Movie Review: Coda

The new movie streaming on Apple TV “Coda” is about a teenage girl in high school, who is the only hearing member of her family with extraordinary singing ability. Ruby Rossie, played perfectly by actress Emilia Jones is the most valuable member of her family due to her hearing ability. Her father owns a fishing business and Ruby’s ability to hear makes her importance to the family business paramount, creating a great deal of responsibility and pressure for a girl so young. She has a brother a few years older who is also deaf and has problems with Ruby being so important all the time.

From the start of this outstanding movie, it was immediately obvious that this was something special. A rare film that you will remember long after you see it. Coda is the reason why avid moviegoers to to the movies – to hopefully stumble on a great film. Coda is one of this films.

Marlee Matlin stars as Ruby’s mother, and since winning the Academy Award in 1986 for “Children of a Lesser God”, Matlin has continued to be one of the very few deaf actors to appear in mainstream movies. Troy Kotsur plays Ruby’s father Frank and the owner of a fishing business that is getting ripped off by the bigger players who underpay for the fish they catch, and add a Government backed machine to track the movement of each fishing business. This side story is a very important part of the story because of the responsibility it adds to Ruby’s life as a teenage girl about to go to college.

Most impressive is actress Emilia Jones who plays Ruby. She can not only sing, but is a natural actor – so good in this movie that in my opinion, she is a shoe-in to receive an Academy Award nomination for best actress. I was also impressed with the music in this film, as Ruby’s music teacher tries to teach her how to be a great singer, leading to a shot at a scholarship at a local music school. Ruby’s conflict over leaving her very dependent family and pursuing music school provides the best parts of this excellent film.

The Rotten Tomatoes reviews for Coda are an extremely high 96% – and I agree with this high rating and give Code my highest recommendation.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Movie Review: Respect

Arguably just about the most important word in the English language is “Respect”, the title of the new biopic about Aretha Franklin, starring Jennifer Hudson. Respect is what we all want, what we all work for and just because a person deserves respect, because they have earned it from years of hard work – does not guarantee that we will ever receive it.

This new biography about the life of Aretha shows how difficult getting respect or even a hit record in the music business is. Aretha Franklin put out 9 albums and did not have one hit within any of them. Her career proved once again that to be talented is only small part of the battle. You have to be able to perform in front of thousands of people, handle the pressure and exhaustion of touring around the world, with financial worries and the highs and lows of the fickle opinions of both fans and random critics along the way. You also need the skin of rhinoceros to handle all the bad people that are out to knock you down. The late Whitney Houston showed better than anyone how not to be extremely talented and world famous.

Amazingly, Aretha gave birth to two sons when she was only 13 and 14 years old with two different men. Unfortunately this movie did a very poor job including these two children in this story; only showing them in one scene when she visited them when they were living with her stepmother. There was no mention that she was 14 years old and already had two children.

Towards the end of this movie, we see that Aretha had her share of problems at the top of her career. She was an alcoholic during a time where she lost her ability to handle so much pressure and stress after so many years. There was a small scene early in the movie where she might have been molested by a family member. It also seemed that Aretha did not have much to do with raising her sons, when she was very busy with her music career. Aretha was married twice. Her first husband, played by Marlon Wayons, physically abused her during the time he tried to manage her career. Her second husband was her road manager and they had one child, and her fourth son was with another man. She had numerous problems with her father, played by Forest Whitaker during the time he tried to manager the start of her career. The most important part of this story, was about Aretha learning to take charge of her own career, rather than relying on the opinions of others about what she should sing.

Some of the problems with this movie are that it was way too long at 2 hours and 25 minutes. The movie was slow and weak in too many areas. There were not enough singing scenes, showing the talent of Jennifer Hudson. There seemed to be way too many unnecessary additions to the story that slowed it down even more. Unfortunately, due to these weaknesses it is unlikely that Jennifer Hudson will receive another Oscar nomination because the film on the whole, is not strong enough.

I mostly agree with the Rotten Tomatoes critics and their relatively low 63% ratings. I give this movie a recommendation only for Aretha Franklin fans, for the rest this one is a toss up.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Movie Review: Free Guy

The new movie “Free Guy” starring Ryan Reynolds as “The Guy” has more to do with marketing than a movie. This film has elements of “Groundhog Day”, “Star Wars”, “Men in Black” and the “Matrix” all rolled into one giant series of events that occur inside of a computer game. We have all seen this before, as well as most or all of the action scenes in this film. The mystery here is why the ratings are so high for this movie, 84% on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.7 on IMDB. None of this makes sense. Most movie is a passable 70% only because of the special effects.

Other actors in this film are Channing Tatum who plays one of the action figures inside the computer game and Lil Rel Howery (easily the most unusual name of any actor in movie history), who plays the Guy’s friend. Life inside of this computer game is all about bank robberies, people getting shot, beaten up and hit by cars – more than a few times. It was hard to see the point of all of this, mainly because the story was disjointed and for the most part, rather boring.

My rating for Free Guy is a passable 70% only for the special effects with a border line recommendation.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Movie Review: The Suicide Squad

The movie “Suicide Squad” released in 2016 was a bad movie, rated 26% on Rotten Tomatoes. The new version, “The Suicide Squad” is getting 92% on Rotten Tomatoes this time around. Considering that the idea of both movies is the same, “over the top, weird insane action and special effects with no real story”, I am having a hard time understanding the huge difference in the critical opinions with this new film.

This sequel does in fact have better special effects and stranger characters, including a man-shark creature called “King Shark” played by Sylvester Stallone. A man who can shoot pokadots at people to kill them and who also really hates his mother. A giant star fish who can control the minds of other people by attaching other small star fish to the faces of other people. The character played by Idris Alba has a mask that looks like the lizard-like creature in the Alien movies. All of this is original, crazy, never seen before insane action, with no real story.

The character of Harley Quinn played by Margo Robbie (the only character to return from the first movie) has a much smaller role in this version, but with her same over the top karate scenes where she is attacked by many people at the same time and managers to easily defeat them all.

Even considering the greatly increased budget for special effects, it is very hard to understand the huge increase in critical opinions for this new version. Once again, there is no story here and while the special effects are impressive, this is not enough to save this film.

My rating for this movie is more in the 65% rating, mostly for the special effects – with a marginal recommendation for only the most rabid Marvel Comic fans.

Movie Review: Jungle Cruise

Some years ago, some Disney executive probably said, “Why can’t we combine the African Queen with Raiders of the Lost Ark?” From this one idea the odds are pretty high that the new movie starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, called “Jungle Cruise” was created. The problem is that this movie was probably made as a vehicle for two of the hottest actors right now, rather than writing a great story first and then getting the actors later. I could be wrong, but after seeing Jungle Cruise this sure seemed like the most likely scenario.

The start of this story seemed so familiar with the start of "Raiders Of the Lost Ark”, in this case there is a disease curing leaf of an impossible to find tree, somewhere in the jungle. Dr. Lily Houghton, played by Emily Blunt has to travel to the Amazon and rent a boat, captained by Frank Wolff, played by Dwayne Johnson. Once they meet, this entire movie is an excuse to create one action scene after another – and it all seems like we have seen this many times before. There is nothing new here, nothing memorable. This is not a bad movie, but definitely not a good enough movie to recommend, despite the special effects that at times were good.

I agree with the low 63% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and rate this film a pass.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Movie Review: Stillwater

The new movie “Stillwater” is one of the few movies I have seen where the trailer makes it look like a high quality blockbuster, but in realty the film is a huge dud. The problem with Stillwater is simple. Its horrendously boring. Why the producer of this bad movie decided to make it run 2 hours and 20 minutes, with the story could be told in 80 minutes is anyone’s guess. The logline of this movie is about a construction worker is living in France while trying to get his daughter out of prison for a murder she did not commit. The problem is there is so little story to tell here, that they decided to add so much filler to stretch the runtime to 260 minutes, that you can actually go into a coma sitting through this incredibly boring waste of way over two hours.

There is a side story where the main character Bill, played by Matt Damon becoming involved with a French actress and her 9 year old daughter, but even this secondary story is another extreme waste of time. Bill’s daughter who is in a French prison is played by Abigaile Breslin. I am actually surprised that both Damon and Breslin read this script and still decided to make this bad movie.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating of 72% is wrong. This movie is 60% at best and should be skipped by all.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Movie Review: Joe Bell

The new movie “Joe Bell” is the true story of a father who lost his gay son to suicide all because of high school bullying. To honor his son, Joe Bell decides to walk across the country by himself to raise awareness to the tragedy of bullying.

Bullying has been a problem in schools for many years, and due to social media and other reasons, this issue has gotten even worse over time resulting in extreme anguish, depression and suicide for too many children around the world. Bulling has always been considered a generic human reality, part of the ride of that comes around during childhood. But bullying also exists in adulthood, even during our working lives. In all cases, bulling can cause extreme psychological and physical damage to the victims, ultimately causing all of us to ask why it exists in the first place. What is it within certain people to temporarily feel good about themselves by making someone else feel horrible about themselves? What is the gain here? Do people who bully lack so much empathy, that they just cannot stop relentlessly torturing someone else? Bullying is also an issue not isolated to boys, girls can be just as bad or worse when it comes to this tragic problem.

The story of Joe Bell is one of those true events where the movie rights are bought by someone with clout, in this case, Mark Wahlberg who stars as Joe Bell. This story is a very impressive one with a great message and a double tragedy. The problem with this film is there is not enough story to tell to make it an engrossing two hour movie. The screenwriters decided to tell this story backwards, beginning with Joe Bell on his cross country walk, next to his imaginary deceased son intermixed with flashbacks. Sometimes the flashback method of storytelling can work, and other times, it can make the story hard to follow. I thought this story would have been better told in chronological order.

What happens to Joe’s son Jadin, played by Reid Miller, is told well enough with much of the bulling depicted in this movie very hard to watch. Joe Bell gives speeches at high schools during his walk across country and I thought more of these speeches would have resulted in a better movie with less walking scenes and more emotional speeches, trying to educate young people about the damage they are causing too many young people with their cruelty. There are a few good scenes with Wahlberg and actor Gary Sinise who is a local Sheriff who also has a gay son.

Due to the great message and good acting in this movie, I was very surprised at the extremely low 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 5.2 on IMDB. My rating for this movie is about 70%, mainly because the true story and message are both so strong. I give a marginal recommendation to Joe Bell.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Movie Review: Old

In my opinion, the most unusual writer/producer/director career in the history of Hollywood belongs to M. Night Shyamalan.

Shyamalan’s first movie was the “The 6th Sense”, released in 1999. The 6th Sense was a monster hit, with one of the best screenplays and arguably the best ending of any movie ever made. Since then, Shyamalan has been trying to get back to the heights he reached 22 years ago. In 2000 “Unbreakable” was released and I thought this was a very good but not great movie. Another honorable mention was “Devil”, released in 2010 and Split, released in 2016. But these two movies were just good films nowhere near the level of The 6th Sense.

After Unbreakable, Shyamalan has written and directed mostly average movies, with the exception of “The Lady in the Water”, and “After Earth” that were both regarded as bad productions. Unfortunately Shyamalan's new movie “Old” is once again another average movie. It is easy to understand that due to Shyamalan’s extreme dedication to the craft of movie making and the time it takes him to write, produce, direct and then release a new film – that movie making is one hell of a challenging industry to dedicate your life to. I personally have heard stories of Shyamalan even mortgaging his own home to get the funding to produce a new movie. Despite enormous amounts of work, script rewrites, production problems, there is never any guarantee that any movie will be great or even make money.

After spending years writing, producing and directing and finally releasing Old, I can only imagine how disappointed Shyamalan is now after seeing the relatively poor 50% scores on Rotten Tomatoes and 6.2 score on IMDB. I would rank Old in the low 70% range because it is not a bad movie, just not good enough to be something that will be respected and remembered for a long time. The premise of Old is, “Several people are vacationing on an Island, where they wind up on an ocean cove surrounded by rocks that they not only cannot escape from, but also makes them age extremely fast”. Granted this is a new and very unique idea, but unfortunately watching people age, die and try and escape their confined Island cove, became old as fast as the people were aging.

There is a pretty good and surprising ending, that Shyamalan always tries to put in all of his movies, but not enough to save this film. Once again, Shyamalan himself, just like Alfred Hitchcock did in many of his movies, appears in this film as a van driver.

Finally, I give Old a marginal recommendation, mostly for die hard fans of M. Night Shyamalan.