Saturday, June 23, 2018

Incredibles 2

Plot: In a ploy to make Superheroes legal again, Elastogirl goes back to crime fighting while Mr Incredible stays home with the kids, including baby Jack-Jack. Of course it is never that simple, and soon the superheroes are being hypnotized. Can the kids save the day?  [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Incredibles 2 is a comedy and a family story. Like most sequels most of its satire was spent in the original, and now it is a bit warmed over. Still II is still clever, but now it is an action/sitcom.

We get a good dose of superhero home life when Mr Incredible takes care of super-baby Jack-Jack, who keeps developing powers to foil his caregivers.             

Incredibles 2 is a step down from the creative, satirical and family-oriented story of the the first Incredibles movie.

Written and directed by: Brad Bird

The Music: Zippy

The Visuals:
 Lively orchestral music by Michael Giacchino, and a capella music by DCappella. I never recognized the a capella music during the film. Perhaps it was deep in the end credits, or I wasn't paying attention. There is a new version of the end-credit sequence called The Incredits 2. I never realized that the end-credit theme from the first movie was such a hit. 

Rating: 
2.5 stars: a well-made animated movie; fun, but I won't see it again. 



More: This movie is set 3 months after the end of the previous movie, according to director Bird. 

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Adrift

Plot: Tami (Shailene Woodley) meets Richard (Sam Claflin) in Tahiti. They get a gig transporting a rich guy's yacht to San Diego, but there is a Hurricane; the boat gets swamped, and they are adrift. The films starts during the storm with Tami in the water; thereafter the timeline is chopped up to tell the story in pieces.  [imdb]    [photos]

Review: It's OK. If you like boats, maybe more than OK. Its love story before and after the accident and it is also about sailing  and survival after the accident.

The sailing and disaster half of the story were interesting, but the love story is lukewarm.

Shailene Woodley has some great acting moments. She is 80% of this film. No Oscar though.

There is a fun twist at the end, that gives them movie some punch.


Cast: Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin

Directed by:
Baltasar Kormakur

Written by:
Twins 
Aaron Kandell & Jordan Kandell, David B Smith; based on the book by Tami Ashcraft, originally called Red Sky in Mourning

The Music: Pretty quiet;

The Visuals:
Great seascapes. The giant waves were fun. I liked the shots of the accident, though they may not have been realistic.

Rating: 
2.0 stars: .



More: Did vegan Tami ever eat that Spam?

Major Spoiler! Don't Read This: The big twist makes Adrift less truthful story. Richard is a hallucination. Reminds me of Life of Pi.  Directory Kormakur justifies it call the story the emotional reality. He also points out the scene of a man sinking to the bottom of the sea is the opening scene, and second scene when Tami is playing the guitar on the boat - suddenly she is by herself. 

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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Ocean's 8

Plot: Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) gets out of prison, and sets up to steal a a bunch of jewelry from the Met in NYC. She recruits Lou (Cate Blanchett) and a roomful of other women to help. The characters are likable, and the caper action is lively.  [imdb]    [photos]

Review: I was pleasantly surprised by Ocean's 8. So what if you know the story, it is the characters that make it interesting. So what if it is wickedly improbable. It is isn't completely a caper movie; it is  equally a farce.

Interestingly, there isn't any male-bashing humor, or gender stereotype humor. 

I did not recognize Rihanna. She was pretty good. I really liked her in Valerian

Sandra Bullock is engaging, and Cate Blanchette is strong. Helena Bonham Carter was too over the top for me. I liked Anne Hathaway-

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Awkawfina, and a zillion cameos. 

Directed by:
Gary Ross

Written by:
Director Gary Ross and Olivia Milch

The Music:
Wonderful soundtrack by Daniel Pemberton. From that first note while the opening credits are going by, it is a cool jazzy soundtrack. I bought the album. 

The Visuals:
Just OK

Rating: 
3.0 stars: I enjoyed it. Clearly it is derivative, but so are 99% of movies. 



More: Ocean's 8 grew out of the relationship between George Clooney's character and Sandra Bullock's character in Gravity. Writer/director Ross wanted to think about whether Bullock could play the sister in the Ocean's movies.

Even More: How much different would the box office be, if there were a co-ed movie, or what all- male? This movie opened on Friday at 15.8 million, which is more than the first day number for Oceans 13, the last sequel. Forecasts are for Oceans 8 to be slightly lower than the gender-reversed version of Ghostbusters.

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Solo, A Star Wars Story

Plot: Young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and girlfriend Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) try to escape their home planet Corellia, but get separated. Han ends up in the army, but he deserts to take up a life of crime with Beckett (Woody Harrelson). After a caper to steal the space fuel coaxium from a train goes badly, he meets Qi'ra again who now works for a crime boss. Han, Beckett, and Qi'ra link up with Chewy (Joonas Suatamo) and head out to steal more. They get a ship from Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), and head to Kessel and coaxium mines. What follows is lots of thieving and double-crossing that leads to the twist-filled ending.   [imdb]    [photos]

Review: There are some great scenes in a story that is easy to follow. Like James Bond movie there are big, showy scenes that individually are fun, and a story to string these together. Most of the characters are well acted, and the end was surprising.

This is a Han that shoots first, and the fans like that. He also gets to talk himself out of trouble just like in older movies, and he brags, but gets caught doing so, like in the older movies. These are welcome fun. Ehrenreich said he tried to incorporate Harrison Ford's mannerisms.

I liked the robbery scene on the train, and the theft of the ore. I did not care for the Kessel Run portion of the movie, because the space monster seemed silly.

 I liked to performance from Alden Ehrenreich, and the irreverent tone that the writers gave him. I loved Donald Glover, he instantly made a character right from the beginning. Emilia Clark was not so great, aside from her initial scene on Kessel, she doesn't show much emotion. Perhaps her coolness was to foreshadow her inner loyalty, or it was just poor acting. Woody Harrelson as Beckett is a central figure in that he is the big-hearted, seen-it-all, rascal that Han grows up to be. He does a great job with it.

The casting of Erin Kellyman as be-freckled young pirate/revolutionary Enfys Nest was a little odd. I can easily imagine a young woman revolutionary. She would be strident, active, and urgent, and that is not what Erin showed us. After she takes her mask off she wants a drink, which seemed out of character; more like a has-been older pirate.  On the other hand, she may be a message that a revolutionary can be anyone. That ties into the end of The Last Jedi with all the children readying for the fight.

Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover, Erin Kellyman

Directed by:
Ron Howard

Written by:
Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan who are father and son. Lawrence wrote Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Force Awakes. 

The Music:
Orchestral music by John Powell with one song by John Williams. The music was familiar and briefly had themes from older movies, but was generally new melodies in the same style. 

The Visuals:
Top notch throughout, except the Kessel run, which I didn't care for. 

Rating: 
3.5 stars: It was fun to watch, and I'd like to see it again. Does it have a moral center? Maybe. Han did give his money away before he went thieving again.

Somehow this movie feels like a three and not a three and half, but the pieces are good. So I am staying with it. 



More: Veteren writer Kasdan says Han has a cynical, "I am going to survive this scene" attitude.

Spoiler: Han gave 99% of his treasure away to the photo-revolution, and stiffed his criminal partners. I'm not sure how true to the character of Han that is. Although it fits with winning the Millennium Falcon in a card game.

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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Tully

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This is one of the least representative posters for any movie. There are no kid's party scenes with stickers,
 although mermaids and cupcakes are featured. 
Plot: Marlo (Charlize Theron) just had her third baby, and she hires a night nanny to help her get some rest. Tully (Mackenzie Davis) turns out to be more than she seems, like Mary Poppins. She nannies baby Mia, but also Marlo, helping out in surprising ways. Marlo feels better and then the movies ends with a twist.  [imdb]    [photos]

Review: This is an magical-reality movie about motherhood played out so well by Charlize Theron, and accented by the wonderful and unappreciated McKensie Davis. I like the analogy with Mary Poppins, who primarily helped Mr Banks love his family more. Tully primarily helps Marlo learn to care for herself.

After you see the twist ending, one asks "What does it mean? That is the wrong choice. This a poem that is a little bit magic. The end is real for those of you who need it to be real, but also magical love story about mothers and babies and families and struggles and growing up and generations and all dipped in nostalgia & lost childhood.

I liked the performances by both Theron and Davis. 

Cast: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Ron Livingston

Directed by:
Jason Reitman

Written by:
Diablo Cody

The Music:
Eclectic mix featuring orchestral music by Rob Simonsen and two folk songs by Beulahbelle

Rating: 
3.5 stars: Could it be 3.0? Maybe. I liked both Theron and Davis. I liked the magical reality story. The end is satisfying, and people can read it how they want to. 



More: Formerly skinny Charlize Theron gained 50 pounds for this part. Pretty remarkable. It took her a year to lose it again.



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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War

Plot: Thanos wants to kill half the people in the universe in his form of Malthusian population control, and to do that he has to collect the six infinity stones that have been scattered about in previous Marvel movies. Thus we can unite many all the story lines in one movie. Thanos fights with all the boys and girls, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Spiderman, Star Lord, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, Gamora, and Black Widow. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: I needed to see this movie because it had been building for so long. It is like a new installment in a long running series, and it can tie up many loose ends.

I liked it. It was fun to watch. There were many small scenes with a few characters interacting, like an anthology. It was tied together by bad guy Thanos, who was smarter than most bad guys in that he had a reason for his death & destruction. Thanos (Josh Brolin) is the real center of the film.

Infinity War has a big surprise ending, that will keep me guessing until the sequel. At least this did not end like even other action movie. 

Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hollad, Chadwich Boseman, Zoe Saldana, Karan Gillan, Tom Hiddleston, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie. 

Directed by:
Anthony and Joe Russo

Written by:
16 people!

The Music:
Orchestral music by Alan Silvestri. Not so noticeable during the movie, but the end credits sounded good. 

The Visuals:
About like you'd expect. The fight scenes are not super detailed, and the is no blood and gore. They were trying to reduce the gross-out factor. 

Rating: 
3.0 stars: It doesn't feel like more than that. I do want to see it again though. 



SPOILERS: Wow, who would have thought so many characters would die. I thought they'd kill off some of the older characters like Iron Man and Captain America because those actors didn't want to do any more films, but it is almost the opposite. The younger characters died, leaving the old guard to pick up the pieces in Infinity Wars 2.

I suppose that there will be some time traveling or alternate reality that will allow everyone to come back to life. Publicists for Marvel say that the mass killing will cause major changes, and everything will not be business as usual.

It is important to note that AntMan, who has a movie opening this summer was not in the movie, and that Captain Marvel has a film next year prior to the next Avenger's movie. Captain Marvel was referenced in the teaser scene after the credits.

Worse SPOILERS: Seems that in the comic book, people who are killed by the soul stone are sent to the Soul World, which is inside the sole stone. In the comic, one character (Warlock) can communicate with them. 

Yet more: So why did tech billionaire Tony Stark have a flip-phone? Is this movie really set in the past? Seems not. It looks like that was a burner phone sent by Captain America to Tony in a previous movie. 
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Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Big Sick

Plot: Pakistani Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is a small-time stand-up comedian and he mets white-girl Emily (Zoe Kazan), and they flirt, have sex, and become a couple. Then Emily learns that Kumail's Pakistani parents will never approve of him marrying a white Christian girl, and she breaks up. Soon Emily gets very sick and lands in the hospital. Kumail goes to the hospital, meets Emily's parents (Holly Hunter/Ray Romano), and makes friends.  This sets up lots of sit-com fun after Emily wakes up. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: This is likable film. It has some refreshing new beats with a Pakistani family, some comedy club jokes, and a dose of hospital drama.

It turns out that the writers Emily Gordon and Nanjiani are married to each other, and this is based on a true story. I usually don't like true stories, but this was good. 

Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Aidy Bryant

Directed by:
Michael Showalter

Written by:
Emily Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani

The Music:
Not very noticeable

The Visuals:
Nothing special. Mostly speaking scenes 

Rating: 
3.0 stars: Fun to watch. Different. Still light. 



More: .

Even More: Easter egg, in the scene where Kumail returns to the hospital room after calling Emily's parents, it is really Emily Gordon in the bed rather than actress Zoe Kazan.

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