Displaying Category: Rating_3

Star Wars The Last Jedi

Star Wars The Last Jedi ticketstubEpisode VIII is fun, but it feels very long and had possibly two endings too many. We get a lot with Rey and Luke, Finn and a new character, Rose, there's Leia, and Rylo, and Snoke... so like most Star Wars movies, there are several plots happening simultaneously, and that leads to my biggest complaint with the movie, the timeline. While Rey spends at least a week training with Luke, Finn and Rose and the others in the Rebel fleet are engaged in a battle and run off on a mission that lasts approximately five hours. I know this isn't new, it also happens in Empire Strikes Back, but I suppose my standards for this sort of time distortion are higher now.

The space stuff is always my favorite, and there is a lot of it in this movie. As with most Star Wars movies, this one opens with a pretty epic space battle that introduces some questionable physics (how do you drop bombs in space?) but it is cool, so I can (try) to let it go.

Another concern I have with this entire trilogy (so far) is the fetishistic attention on the big questions and mysteries of the series. Everyone is so obsessed with getting the big questions answered that it seems to have overtaken the actual enjoyment in basically mindless action set pieces, adventure, and fun characters.

This second movie in this trilogy ends in an interesting way that, I expect, sets up for a really interesting conclusion to the series (or trilogy, at least). I am still looking forward to it, despite my complaints.


Pitch Perfect 3

Pitch Perfect 3 ticketstubThe Bellas are back, again, for the last time, first blood, the revenge! The Pitch Perfect formula is carried into the third movie, but by this time, has been diluted by a lack of the compelling ingredients of the first movie and returning to the well-trod ground of the first two. The funny moments are still funny, but not at all surprising or original feeling. It's just comfortable and fun, and that's not a bad thing. The music is still good, but again, we know what to expect. While there is talk of a competition, the stakes are lower and not as much of an ending so much as a mechanic to get to the ending. We also get a lot of the Fat Amy character, and she is hilarious and possibly the best character to come out of this series, but I prefer more evenly spread attention across the entire ensemble.

It's a fun movie, and it brings the series to a pleasing end, but it definitely doesn't stand out.


Lady Bird

Lady Bird ticketstubThis seems like the sort of movie I would like, a teenager dealing with life and love and growing up, I'm into it and I'd heard good things about it. I believe it takes place around 2003 over the course of a year in the life of Christine, who wants everyone to call her "Lady Bird." This is her thing. She wants to be her own person who stands out from the crowd, while also, trying to fit into a crowd. She also desperately doesn't want to stay in California for college, so that's her big motivation, find a way to get out of Sacramento and out to the east coast. She has relationships, she tries theater and she lies. She lies a lot. About everything. This is also a movie about Lady Bird's relationship with her mother, and this is one of those things that bugs me, not about the movie, but about this sort of familial relationship. When parents aren't proud of their kids for anything, when there isn't praise, or love expressed. It's all about how the kid isn't good enough, is going to fail, needs to set their expectations low... but it's also a very real relationship, and certainly difficult for a young person to navigate while trying to discover their own selves.

The movie does all of these things well. The acting is wonderful, the music brings me back to that time, it's well shot, it's funny, I think my biggest disappointment is that it didn't move me. It may just be me, I certainly heard sniffles and sighs around me in the theater, and maybe the mother daughter relationship is the experience I'm missing. So it's a good movie, but maybe not as much a movie for me as I was hoping.


The Foreigner

The Foreigner ticketstubA summary of this movie reads a lot like Taken, a man with a past as a trained operative goes on a revenge mission against those who took his daughter from him. One of the main differences in this movie, though, are the political impacts and dealings happening parallel to Quan's search for the names of those responsible. Bronson is the Irish politician with an IRA past who Quan, played by Jackie Chan, threatens to get the names of the bombers. Both do an amazing job, but I think most notable is Chan in a dramatic role in a Western movie. There isn't a moment of comedy or camp anywhere to be seen. Just grief, and drive to find those responsible, and it's almost chilling. I would say the only thing that bugged me is the difference between the slow moving old man we see in the beginning of the movie, and the trained fighter we see later. Are we supposed to believe that Quan has kept up his training and works out regularly, but no one knows he's got skills? And I wasn't clear if he was an agent of the United States or just known by the US. I guess what I'm saying is that I wasn't entirely sold by Quan's background, but the movie was still good. Tense. Maybe a little too much watching people talking on phones. If you're looking to scratch a "serious action movie" itch, I think this would work for you.


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

If you're familiar with Luc Besson's film The Fifth Element you'll find Valerian is the comfy chair sitting right next to it. The look and feel of the worlds presented in Valerian are similar in all the right ways, though a fair bit more CG and less rubber suits. I'm sure those who prefer practical effects over the CG will be upset, but I found most of it to be more seamless and less distracting. The mystery behind the story is simple, but interesting in the way it pulls you forward in search of new details to explain the tragedy on the planet Mul. The rest of it feels like a series of loosely connected action sequences, that, while entertaining on their own, don't all fit together very well taken as a whole.

When looking at characters, we have the "I just follow orders" Valerian who seems to avoid following most of the rules most of the time. We also learn almost immediately after he's introduced that he's possibly the greatest perpetrator of sexual harassment in the known universe, and this is blown off like "haha, isn't it funny that this guy has slept with every female he's ever encountered ever, and now he's being extremely inappropriate with his partner while on the job." I think the audience is supposed to find this funny or endearing or kind of slimy, but we're also supposed to see Valerian as the hero, so I found myself very confused. He's cocky and arrogant and not great at following orders and the constant harassment of Laureline makes me feel uncomfortable. Laureline, on the other hand, spends most of the movie either saving Valerian, or being saved by him. She doesn't take a whole lot of initiative on her own, and I found that disappointing. She also grudgingly puts up with Valerian's harassment, even after knowing how much of a sleaze he is (she demonstrates her familiarity with his past within the first few minutes of being introduced). Honestly, my favorite characters were all of the side characters. Captain Okto-Bar is really trying to do the best he can to solve the mystery and deal with the threats to Alpha. Ethan Hawke does a wonderful job as charismatic a pimp. Rihanna is an amazing performer, eager to be recognized as artistic. Sergeant Neza serves well under the Captain. Even a funny little submersible pilot named Bob the Pirate is entertaining for the time he's on screen. And don't get me wrong, Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan aren't doing a bad job as Laureline and Valerian, I just don't find them to be nearly as interesting as the supporting cast.

Did I enjoy the movie? Yes I did, and it's because the action that is there, as disconnected as it seems most of the time, is fun. The worldbuilding is thorough. The aliens are curious and, well, alien. And I really want to get an explanation of what happened to the people from Mul. So, lots of interesting supporting characters, some really fun action and sumptuous art design throughout, I think Valerian does, in the end, work out to be an enjoyable movie. Just know that I have some pretty serious issues with the main characters and their highly inappropriate relationship, and the kind of bullshit "love conquers all" message at the end, but if you can keep your expectations fairly low and go in expecting a fun ride, I think you'll like it just fine.


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales ticketstubIf you had any concerns this Pirates movie might reproduce the complex multi-plot structure of the third movie, have no fear, Dead Men Tell No Tales keeps it simple. There's only one main story thread here, though it does take several steps and jogs and jukes to get to the eventual destination, it is at least not too difficult to follow. Though, I will point out that, given all these steps, there were a few cases where I forgot where we were on the journey and why. It's not terrible, you're still enjoying the trip, but it's not always apparent why this particular action sequence needs to happen. As with the other Pirates movies, the effects are excellent, though a little gross (the undead sharks in particular). If you're looking for a fun adventure and this is what's showing, I'd say there's no harm in checking it out, but don't expect a movie that's going to stick with you.


Alien Covenant

Alien Covenant ticketstubAt least I can say this movie isn't Prometheus. While Prometheus wanted to be deep and philosophical, Covenant wants to gross you out and make you uncomfortable, and I think this is to its benefit in the sense that this keeps it really simple.

The Covenant is a colony ship that stops to check out an Earth-like planet that may be better than the planet they were heading for. This also happens to be the planet that the synthetic David landed the ship from Prometheus on. I'll skip the rest of the details, but suffice to say, it gets creepy. A day later and I am still kind of disturbed by the turns this movie took. Once again, the spacecraft and the sense of function they project is my favorite part of the movie. The characters are kind of meh... Like Prometheus, most of the crew of 15 dies off before you even know their names. The rest that make it through more than half the movie don't give me much reason to care. The significant factor that was introduced with this movie is that they are all couples, so we get the sting of spouses dying, and that has impact, but again, because we don't know these characters for long, the impact is limited.

Another issue I have with Covenant is that it fails to reproduce the cat and mouse game we get in Alien, Aliens and even the following two or three movies. This adventure doesn't seem epic and if not for the fact that we're dealing with a colony ship carrying thousands of colonists, would have significantly less weight to it. It's an enjoyable movie, but still lacking the magic of the earlier entries in the series.


The Fate of the Furious

The Fate of the Furious ticketstubI think by now we all know what we're getting into with a Fast and Furious movie, and this entry into the series does not disappoint. Once again, the big bad is the mysterious Cipher, who forces Dom to work for her. On the other side, Dom's team is working to stop Cipher and repeatedly comes up against Dom. While not particularly original, it ends up being an engaging enough plot device. As usual, there's the usual assortment of vehicles and gadgets, and an extra large dose of hacking and movie hacker terms. In fact, what really stood out to me was how pervasive the hacking themes are in this movie. It was a big enough deal in the other recent movies, but it seems like it's half of this one. Overall, it's a big fun movie that gives you the usual angles on family and something new when it comes to the horrors of a world where nearly anything can be hacked. Kick back and enjoy not having to think too much.


Power Rangers

Power Rangers ticketstubMy memory of the Power Rangers TV show was of goofy slapstick comedy, people in costumes fighting in parks, and monsters and mechs fighting Godzilla style in model cities. This big scale movie does away with most of the slapstick comedy in favor of building stronger characters and infusing the whole bunch with some heart. We also get big budget special effects that really work well. My only problems with the movie go back to the source material. In an effort to save the world, the Power Rangers still manage to significantly contribute to the destruction of Angel Grove. But hey, they saved the world, so it's cool... There's also the prominent product placement throughout, but that's just how things work these days. Overall, a solid and fun movie that actually delivers.


The LEGO Batman Movie

The LEGO Batman Movie ticketstubIf you are expecting LEGO sight gags and pop culture references and Batman being dark and a full on dick, then you will not be at all surprised by this movie. It does have a bunch of funny jokes and fairly clever writing that appeals to kids and adults, it's just not really new anymore. If you're wondering if it'll be fun to see with your kids, then yes, go with your kids. Should you see it on your own? Eh... you could maybe wait to stream it and avoid all those kids who don't know how to use their indoor voices.