Monday, December 31, 2018

Some of the best and worst movies of 2018

It's been a busy couple of weeks. I just got done watching and reviewing Aquaman and Bumblebee. Both were added to the list of new movies I saw this year.

That list is compiled and ranked (worst to best) below.

It was an interesting year. There weren't that many superhero movies --- typically a main focus of my blogs --- and certainly there weren't that many good superhero movies.

The Christmas Chronicles

Worst movie of the year, by far.  If Netflix hopes to compete with the major movie studios, they need to step up their game.  This was no Christmas classic.

I thought Kurt Russell would've been a good Santa Claus, but the character was too out there.  The sheer stupidity of the other people in the movie (who saw flying reindeer and still didn't believe that Kurt Russell was Santa) was too much to overlook.

The musical number in the jail cell?  A hot steaming mess.  Maybe not even a hot mess.  Just a hot pile of dog crap.

The elves that looked more like little demons than elves?  Nah, I'll pass on that too.

It might be OK for young children who don't notice bad acting and can't tell the difference between a good story and a crappy one, but for anyone who has grown past that point?  Avoid this at all costs.

If you're drunk and want a good laugh with some buddies, maybe watch it for a bit.  It's almost hilariously awful.

Read my full review HERE


I've seen people actually defend this movie online.  It's ranked something like #47 on the year's worst movies.  47?  47?!  That's being very generous.  It's the season of giving, by my generosity stops when a giant gorilla is making penis jokes via sign language.

The Rock has a lot of good movies that cemented his status as a Hollywood heavyweight, but this script that involves a giant alligator, a giant wolf and a giant gorilla should've been an indicator that this might not be the best movie.

These movies that are so out there are hit or miss.  It's like all those young adult futuristic / post-apocalyptic novels that are turned into movies.  The movie studio executives seem to think they'll be massive hits, but they end of flopping and costing the studios millions on production.

In The Rock's defense, reading this script, he could've thought, 'This could be the next Jurassic Park.'  It's hard to tell by reading a script.  The trailer was a clear indication that this wasn't the next Jurassic Park.  Nowhere close.

The Rock deserves a Razzie for this one.

Read my full review HERE

Life of the Party

Unfortunately this one was a disappointment.  It didn't have an absurd plot like Rampage did.  It actually seemed like it could be good.

The idea of a middle-aged mom going back to college at the same time as her young daughter seemed like an easy enough comedy to make.

But somehow the characters in this movie never really got off the ground and there was too much focus on Melissa McCarthy's character 'evolving' rather than utilizing what should have been easy situational and fish-out-of-water comedy bits.

There were a few chuckles with this movie, but nothing really worthwhile.  It's one to probably even avoid on Redbox or Netflix unless you're really out of choices.

Read my full review HERE

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

I wasn't terribly impressed with Bryce Dallas Howard's acting ability in Jurassic World, but outside of that minor complaint the movie was good.  A nice restart for the franchise, even if it was just a bigger and badder remake of Jurassic Park.

The sequel to Jurassic World?  Blagh.  Jurassic World left us with Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Howard) kissing, obviously on good terms.  This movie picked up after an apparent break-up and didn't feature the two solid teen actors from Jurassic World.  Instead, it featured a cloned child whose character isn't endearing, a dying billionaire and had three villains!

The basic plot is that a rich someone (can't remember his name, honestly and it's not worth looking up) hires Claire and Owen to go to the island where the dinosaurs live because the volcano there is about to explode.  Owen and Claire foolishly think they're trying to save the dinosaurs, but find out quickly that the tactical team they are there with is only there to keep the dinosaurs for their DNA.

They plan to sell the dinosaurs on the black market at the mansion that is owned by Mr. rich someone.

Let's forget the fact that dozens of governments have satellites floating around in space that would notice a bunch of dinosaurs being hauled off on ships to a private mansion in the United States.

Anyway, clone girl ends up releasing the dinosaurs into the world (because that's a good idea?!?) and Claire and Owen drive off into the sunset.

Meanwhile a T-Rex is roaring menacingly at a lion that's minding his own business on a rock in a zoo.  This movie is a perfect example of stupid humans who will be their own demise.

Read my full review HERE

Game Night

This is a bit of a dark comedy.  Not entirely bad.  Not great though.  It was filled with a pretty impressive cast and everyone was believable in their parts.

Jason Bateman is one I'm not always a fan of because he seems to play the same character in a lot of his movies.  Always the same look.  Always the same tone of voice.  Always the same sarcasm in

He’s like the female Diane Keaton.  An actor is supposed to change things up.  Bateman was fine in this role though.

Game Night seemed like one if those action adventure comedies that you need to give a little leeway to. Kind of like Spy.

It started off somewhat believable but then took two or more turns to the absurd about halfway through.

The realism went out the window when Jason Bateman’s character got shot.

Funny enough, but not a comedy that was realistic in any way.

There was a bit of a surprise ending.  It's a decent Redbox rental, but not a classic you'll be wanting to rewatch 5 years from now and then again in 10 years.

Tomb Raider

Alicia Vikander made a nice Tomb Raider.  There were even a couple of really cool action scenes (a bicycle chase in London and a harbor fight in China)!

Unfortunately, the movie kind of floundered.  It tried to accomplish a lot, setting up how Lara Croft became the Tomb Raider, how her father died and her efforts to stop death if the villain gets into the ancient tomb he wants to get into.

Oh yeah, it also set up room for a sequel.  It's not bad, per se.  It was just a lot to take in.  Other movies have been just as jam-packed, but the writing was better and the movies were more memorable than this one.

I think they were a little too ambitious here and should've maybe stuck to the basics, focusing on telling a compelling story instead of trying to fit so much into this movie.

Read my full-length review HERE

Christopher Robin

I was never a big Winnie the Pooh fan.  It was okay, but I was a little too old for The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh by the time I saw reruns of it on TV.

Still, I liked the idea of an older Christopher Robin reconnecting with his Hundred Acre Wood pals.

The plot was pretty much that.  A disgruntled Christopher Robin is having problems with his family and at work.  Pooh comes back into his life and helps Robin refocus his priorities.  I'd feel bad about spoiling anything for you, but it was so blatantly obvious what the plot was that there weren't really any surprises in the movie.

Despite the happy ending, this wasn't necessarily the feel-good movie.

There were a few issues I had with the movie.  Pooh, Tiger, Piglet, etc., etc. were all a strange mix between animation and live action.  They looked very dirty.  They were in a post-World War II England, but they looked like they were from the dirty 30's instead.

I think more of a vibrant feel would've helped the movie.  I was really glad to hear the original Winnie the Pooh and Tiger voices --- or at least very close if they weren't the originals.


This was an interesting movie.  I thought the premise was different.  Based on a true story, a young woman who apparently doesn't know much about sailing finds herself stranded on a storm-ravaged boat in the middle of the ocean.

Her boyfriend, the sailor, is injured and she has to rely on her own smarts to survive.

There's a surprise ending (though I kind of expected it as it got closer to the end of the movie).

It was OK, but my big complaint about the movie is that it doesn't entirely make sense and left a couple of unanswered questions.  I guess the answer is that there maybe isn't an answer and it's one of those things that's just left up to faith.

The movie is a bit slow-moving, but it's a drama, so that is expected.

It's not a superhero movie or an action flick or a comedy with gut-busting laughter.  It's shot well and the acting is good.  I don't know what the critics thought about it, but I'm a little surprised there's not more talk about it going into award season.

It seems like a movie the Academy would be behind.

Deadpool 2

I was disappointed in Deadpool 2.  I was looking forward to it, too!  I thought the Celine Dion song and music video was genius.

The fact that there's an abridged Deadpool that kids can go see is also genius.

My first complaint is that Josh Brolin played cable.  There were at least a handful of other actors who could've done a good job portraying that character.  I don't think Brolin played the character well and I don't think the character's story in the movie was told very well.

He was more of a third-rate character while the focus was primarily on Deadpool and the teenage mutant he was busy saving / fighting with / bonding with.

I think Cable should've been a much bigger focus in this movie.  The final scene ran a little long, too.

Outside of that, it was a good movie.  Domino was great.  Reynolds returning to play Deadpool was awesome and we saw a better version of the Juggernaut than we've seen in other X-Men movies.

Looking back now, I may have been a little harsh with my rating, but it's mostly because I was looking forward to this Deadpool and Cable just didn't live up to my expectations.

Ocean's 8

They made a female Ghostbusters. Why not a female Ocean's 8? This movie didn't receive the backlash that the Ghostbusters movie received. I watched Ghostbusters and it wasn't a bad movie.

I'm not sure why it had to be all female. Why not mix the genders a bit? It seems that the recent push for female empowerment has forced certain aspects of pop culture (like World Wrestling Entertainment and the movie industry) into gender segregation.

In what world is it better to have females only interact with females and males only interact with other males?

I know that's not the message they're trying to send, but I think that's what some people are taking away from some of these remakes.

In the late '90s, Chyna was mixing it up with men in the wrestling ring. Ashley Judd was portraying a strong female lead in Double Jeopardy alongside Tommy Lee Jones. Lindsay Lohan was tricking her parents into rekindling their romance in a Parent Trap remake. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman were leading a movie as witches in Practical Magic.

The idea that there has to be a movie showcasing a strictly female cast in order to show how strong women are seems a little off to me.

While I understand that people want to change the fact that Ocean's 11 consisted of mostly male actors and the original Ghostbusters consisted of a team of 4 males, I don't think remakes are the way to go. Come up with a new story, instead of recreating history. Pave a new path instead of having sloppy seconds.

Take a look at Okoye (from The Black Panther) if you want to see a strong female done right. Granted, Okoye's name wasn't included the movie title, but these Ghostbusters and Ocean's 8 remakes are simply part of franchises that were already established.

They're just riding the coattails of previously established franchises.

Anyway, I was happy to find out that this wasn't a remake and wasn't a prequel.  It's actually a sequel to the Ocean's trilogy that starred George Clooney as Danny Ocean.

Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, Danny's sister.

Her reasoning for an all-female team was a little weak ('women are overlooked and therefore blend in better') but it's a good cast so I accepted that reasoning and moved on.

This heist movie isn't filled with fight scenes.  I don't know that it had any physical scenes like that actually.  No gunfire that I can recall.  It was mostly an explanation of an elaborate plot that Debbie Ocean schemed up while she was sitting in a jail cell.

Some of the things that worked out perfectly ended up working out a little too perfectly.  Someone, even a mastermind, wouldn't have been able to plan such a heist from a jail cell because you need access to the perimeter of the building to plan it out properly.

You need some inside knowledge of fashion and Hollywood, since this movie involves Hollywood actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway).

Also, where is Ocean's parole officer?  He/she just doesn't notice that Ocean hasn't checked in for a week?  There's no job lined up for Ocean after she is released from jail?  She's not required to show that she made attempts to get hired at a legitimate business?

If you take it for what it is --- a fun, easy heist movie -- then you won't be disappointed.  Plus, the cast is fun and they work well together.

If you start looking for plot holes, then you'll probably find them.

The Spy Who Dumped Me

This one surprised me.  I saw a quick trailer of it and though, 'Hmm ... that could be decent.'  I was going to see it in the theater at one point later this summer, but realized it had already been pulled.  It may be more of a bomb at the box office than a success, but the movie itself wasn't too bad.

I enjoyed the chemistry that Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon shared.  Their male co-stars --- Sam Heughan and Justin Theroux were also entertaining in their roles.  Ivanna Sakhno played a great villain.  Talk about a visually stunning woman!  She has this exotic face that could be a villainess in a variety of movies.

The plot was decent enough and had a twist and turn or two.  There was one point in the movie where I legitimately wasn't sure who the villain was.

There are some over-the-top moments as well, but they kept this movie mostly within the realm of possibility, which I appreciated.

I bought it on DVD on Black Friday since it was just a couple of dollars.  I enjoyed it well enough and will watch it again at some point.  It's not an all-time spy movie comedy classic, but it's a good movie.


Good for Sony!  They made some money with this movie.  Some surprising money.  In early 2018, when it was revealed that they were still filming scenes, I, along with a lot of others, doubted the quality of this movie.

How could they get the post-production done in time to make this a good movie?

Somehow, they did it.  Tom Hardy being cast as Venom was the move that saved this movie in my opinion.  He's a respected actor.  He's jumped into the superhero genre before.  He just fit the role of Eddie Brock very well.

This was no Topher Grace casting situation here.  Hardy made Venom his character and could run with it for additional movies.  I haven't kept track of the latest talks about a Venom 2, but I wouldn't be surprised if it happened.

While this isn't a groundbreaking superhero movie in a cultural aspect or cinematic greatness, it's a fun superhero movie that told a realistic story in a extraordinary setting where alien symbiotes exist.

Read my original review HERE

Mission: Impossible, Fallout

Admittedly, I'm not the biggest Tom Cruise fan, but I didn't mind this movie one bit.  I'd seen a couple of Mission: Impossible movies, but they weren't in order and I didn't see the first one or the second one (I can't remember which).

This movie was action-packed!  There were definitely moments that weren't too realistic, but the movie had you on the edge of your seat, regardless.

I have to hand it to Cruise, too.  I'm not sure if it was a stunt double, but there were definitely a few parts of the movie where he was running at full speed.  Not bad for someone his age.

I think what I liked about this movie is that it was more of ensemble cast.  The focus wasn't just on Cruise's character.  The addition of Henry Cavill as August Walker from the C.I.A. really helped the movie.

The plot, while a little over-the-top, made sense.  Not a bad movie at all.

The Incredibles 2

I saw The Incredibles and I thought it was a good movie, but I wasn't a massive fan the way a lot of others were.  It was a good movie, for sure.  I wasn't eagerly waiting for the second installment though.

This movie was similar to the first one.  It was a solid movie, as most Disney Pixar movies are.  The voice work was great.  The animation was top notch.  The story was good enough.  It wasn't anything that unexpected, but there were a lot of comedy spots.

The interaction between the different characters made the movie fun and provided some memorable moments.

It was obvious who the villain was and what was going to happen.  There's planting some seeds with a little foreshadowing and then there's hitting you over the head and slapping you in the face with it.

I mean, there were realistic looking guns in this movie and a death due to a shooting, so this wasn't exactly a full-on family-friendly movie.  If it were just for kids, I'd understand the blatant foreshadowing, but it's a movie for adults too, right?

I feel like they could've done a better job at covering up who the villain was.  Outside of that, it was a good movie.  Like I said before, these Disney Pixar movies don't really disappoint.

You know what you're getting when you go to see them and they always deliver what you expect to get.

The Predator

I've seen about half of the Predator movies.  I saw part of Predator, didn't see Predator 2, saw all of Predators, loved Alien vs. Predator, was not a fan of Alien vs. Predator: Requiem and, now, I've seen The Predator.

I liked Predators but this one was much better.  It had an interesting premise, with us getting to see Predator vs. Super Predator at one point in the movie.  It told a clear story, which is always appreciated.

This is what you'd expect.  There's some good action scenes.  The special effects are acceptable.  If you like the franchise and sci-fi movies, or alien movies in general, then you'll like this one.

There's a decent mix of new characters.  Olivia Munn, as Dr. Casey Bracket, showed more personality here than she did in X-Men: Apocalypse, that's for sure.  Thomas Jane plays a Marine vet who suffers from PTSD.

I've never heard of lead actor Boyd Holbrook but he was very believable as a highly-trained government assassin.  Keegan-Michael Key was the weak link of the cast.  Apparently he's a comedian, so I can see why he struggled with a more serious role ... even if the 'serious' role was in a sci-fi movie.

There's a child actor in this movie and he's pretty good.  The villain in this movie is very believable too.  Overall, I was impressed.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Can the Star Wars franchise come back after the very dividing Last Jedi? This was the first test and it was a box office flop. Then again, whose bright idea was it to try to find a younger version of one of the most iconic actors of all time?

Anyone who has to be a young Harrison Ford is at a disadvantage. Alden Ehrenreich is no Harrison Ford and he shouldn't have been put into that position.

There were other ways to continue on down the road with the Millenium Falcon.  Maybe Ehrenreich's character has the backstory he had in Solo, but instead of being Han Solo, he's his own character. He runs into Lando Calrissian's son (played by Donald Glover) and you continue on from there.

They could've even found a female from Chewbacca's species and made her the sidekick.

Anyway, if you forgot the fact that Ehrenreich is supposed to be Han Solo, it's actually a really good movie. If you can't overlook that, then you'd be wise to pass on this movie (if you haven't already).

Ant-Man and The Wasp

I spoke a little about female empowerment above. This movie certainly plays into that concept. Despite the fact that The Black Widow has been a prominent character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since Iron Man 2 (8 years ago), she still doesn't have a solo movie. This movie, featuring The Wasp, was actually the first Marvel movie to feature a female superhero character in the title.

That's a pretty cool achievement for actress Evangeline Lilly to hang her hat on.

Lilly and Paul Rudd make a great duo in this movie. They've got good chemistry. They don't take themselves too seriously and they bring a brand of comedy and action that only Ant-Man can. After appearing in three movies now, Ant-Man has established himself as a big part of the MCU. I've got to think we'll see a third Ant-Man movie (with The Wasp, of course).

We'll see what happens in The Avengers 4, but I certainly hope there's more of this dynamic crime fighting duo in the years to come.

Read my original review HERE


If you would've told me last year that I would be ranking Bumblebee up there with The Black Panther and Aquaman, I'd call you crazy.

Somehow they did it though.  They made a prequel Transformers movie after the franchise jumped the shark and it ended up being as good as the original Transformers (maybe better in some ways).

This was a great mix of storytelling of several characters and superhero action.  It's not just a bunch of explosions that became the Transformers movie trademark thanks to Michael Bay.  There's a good and multi-layered plot, very good acting and some good action scenes.

The only bad part was John Cena's somewhat lackluster acting.  He certainly didn't ruin the movie, but it could've been better had they found a better actor for the part.

This movie left me hoping for a sequel.

Read my full review HERE

The Black Panther

It's hard to believe it was just 10 months ago that The Black Panther hit the theaters. It was so widely anticipated and made such a big cultural impact that it almost seems like longer than 10 months ago that the movie was released.

It was a clear home run for Marvel and Disney.

While I certainly respect the fact that it was more than a superhero movie due to breaking ground when it comes to black people starring in a major action movie, the movie did have a couple of small issues.

It's not a 5 star movie, but it's very close!  Any minor issues can be overlooked because it was a great story with dynamic characters, it featured some fun battle scenes (on the top of a waterfall!) and it brought some futuristic technology to a country in Africa called Wakanda.

Read my full review HERE


Man, was I hoping this would be good and it was!  I really want the DC movie universe to keep expanding.  Thankfully, this was another step in the right direction after a somewhat rocky start to their attempts to recreate Marvel's success at the box office.

They've got big money in Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Henry Cavill as Superman and Jason Momoa as Aquaman!  Accept it, embrace it, sign them to good deals and make money (and hope they all stay healthy for several more years).

This first Aquaman movie was a background story, but it's a little different because it wasn't a prequel.  Many superhero movies tell the first story by setting it in a different time period.  This was current day.

They did a great job of mixing flashback scenes (that gave us more of an understanding of Aquaman's character) with contemporary fight scenes in the fun world beneath the ocean's surface.

Like I said in my original review just a week ago, this was an exciting mix of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars with Avatar visuals, telling the story of an underwater Thor.

I thought Wakanda was the most interesting place we'd travel to this year, but Aquaman even edged that out by a little bit, taking us to several underwater kingdoms that were all very exciting.

Read my full review HERE

The Avengers: Infinity War

What other movie could possibly be better than this one? It was a movie that was legitimately 10 years in the making.

Now, it could've fallen flat, but it didn't. It wasn't a Star Wars: The Last Jedi situation. It lived up to the hype!

This was a great movie with a complex plot that didn't leave fans disappointed. Fans may nitpick about this or that, but I haven't heard anything but overwhelmingly positive reviews of this movie.

Thanos was a complicated villain.  It's good that his story is being split into two parts.  This doesn't feel like a Lord of the Rings or Hobbit continuation, but I suppose it is.  Each Marvel movie, at this point, kind of continues telling the overall big-picture story -- even if it focuses on an individual superhero.

DC is doing a good job at catching up, but Marvel has a huge head start.  I'm not sure how long Marvel will be able to stay on top, but it'll be a long while if they keep putting out awesome movies like this.

Read my full review HERE

Related Content:
Some of the best and worst movies of 2017
Some of the best and worst movies of 2016
Some of the best and worst movies of 2013

Friday, December 28, 2018

Life of the Party - reviewed.

Melissa McCarthy was on fire for a while — several years. Has her time subsided or is it unrealistic to expect someone to stay on top of a particular field for so long? Especially a field that can be as fickle and wishy-washy as show business?

Those were the thoughts going through my head as I watched this movie. Probably not a good sign when you’re watching a movie and not actually paying attention to it.

The movie started off normal enough. It almost seemed understated compared to some of McCarthy’s other films.

I thought it could end up being a family comedy at first. But that soon changed ... somewhat.

The problem with this movie is that it straddled the line between family-friendly comedy and ‘outrageous’ comedy.

McCarthy is great at playing those potty-mouthed characters. But she’s kind of a one trick pony in that sense. I get the impression she’d like to break out of that mold a bit.

McCarthy’s acting was fine in this movie — good, in fact — but her character flopped back and forth between a normal mom who you could empathize with to that zany Melissa McCarthy trademark character.

It was a little bit hard to get a handle on what this comedy was supposed to be.  It was somewhat boring for an outrageous comedy, but it wasn't normal enough to be a family comedy.

I thought this movie would be an easy one to get right. A mom going back to school while her daughter is also finishing up her senior year of college?

Seemed like all kinds of fun could happen but the script didn’t live up to the potential.

Instead, we got a Melissa McCarthy movie that focuses on McCarthy’s character --- Deanna --- and almost just her character.  Deanna's daughter should have been an equal star in this story based on the premise.

Maddie (Molly Gordon) was just there for some punchlines.

McCarthy is great. But she excels when she has a good case and good material to work with.

Maddie's sorority girls were good, but the main plot just didn't focus enough on them.  This movie treated everyone not named Melissa McCarthy like they were just filler, at best.

Jack (Luke Benward), her young, college-aged love interest entered into the fray with a one-night stand.  He ended up being the son of a rude woman who didn't like Deanna.

I essentially tuned out after that.  I hung on as long as I could.

I think they should’ve gone full-on ‘outrageous’ like The Hangover and Bridesmaids or they should’ve left that stuff out and gone for an actual drama / comedy that someone like Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts would be cast in.

This movie lives in between those two places and, as a result, gets lost before it could even get started.

Related Content:
Bumblebee - reviewed.
Aquaman - reviewed.
The Christmas Chronicles - reviewed.
Tomb Raider - reviewed.
Venom - reviewed.
Ant-Man and The Wasp - reviewed.
The Avengers: Infinity War - reviewed.
The Black Panther - reviewed.
My most anticipated movies of 2018

Rampage - reviewed.

I didn’t intend on watching this but it was the best option of the flight I was recently on. So, Rampage it was.

Sometimes it’s best to go into a movie with no (or minimal) expectations because it surprises you.

I’ll admit that the movie didn’t start the way I thought it would.

Granted I didn’t watch every trailer so maybe the setup of the movie was previewed in one of those.

The Rock is a zookeeper (or zoologist?).  He has a special bond with one gorilla in particular.  A space crash, one mad scientist and a full-on mutation later, Davis Okoye (The Rock) is now teaming up with an attractive genetic engineer, Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris).

Davis' relationship with George was a bit corny. Or a lot corny. I don’t know exactly what it’s like dealing with apes, but I find it very hard to believe that they can understand dialogue the way The Rock’s character was delivering it.

A basic understanding? Sure. But understanding sarcasm (enough to flip a human off)? I doubt it.

I’m no animal expert so maybe.  I doubt it though.

The genetics theme is a bit overplayed.  It’s just like Jurassic Park. When will these movie humans learn?

Don’t mess with things you shouldn’t mess with.

Anyway, turns out there's not just a mutated, giant gorilla.  There's a wolf and an alligator too.

I won't spoil all of it (there's not much to spoil) in case you want to watch it but the animals are all teaming up in a common goal until Davis can get a chance to make George snap out of it.

There's a government agent (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who is kind of Davis' frenemy.  He's Against Davis and then he's helping him.  I felt like that relationship should have had a more pivotal turning point.  There wasn't though.

The villain (basically the scheming, corporate mad scientist) in the movie was played by Malin Ã…kerman.  She's a good actress and does well with the role, but at the end of the day it's all too cartoonish to be taken seriously.

I like a lot of light-hearted movies or over-the-top movies but this failed on those fronts.  It just wasn't that entertaining.  It was preditiable and too 'out there' to be remotely plausible.

Related Content:
Life of the Party - reviewed.
Bumblebee - reviewed.
Aquaman - reviewed.
The Christmas Chronicles - reviewed.
Tomb Raider - reviewed.
Venom - reviewed.
Ant-Man and The Wasp - reviewed.
The Avengers: Infinity War - reviewed.
The Black Panther - reviewed.
My most anticipated movies of 2018

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Bumblebee - reviewed.

Just when you thought the Transformers franchise had jumped the shark and was dead, they go and make one of the best Transformers movies there was.

I liked Transformers. Transformers 2 was a little long. Transformers 3 seemed to follow too many superhero movie stereotypes. Age of Extinction had the awesome dinobots and they did a good enough job with Mark Wahlberg's character, but it didn't have the same magic as the first movie. The Last Knight was interesting, but wasn't amazing.

Rather than go forward, they went the prequel route with an origin story for Bumblebee. How did the Transformers end up on Earth and how did Bumblebee lose his voice?

It's all explained in Bumblebee.  It makes sense that Bumblebee is the main focus since he's been, arguably, the biggest focus in the Transformers franchise so far.

Optimus Prime is the Transformers' leader, but Bumblebee is the connection to the humans in the last five movies.

Bumblebee follows the movie timeline well enough given that it's a prequel that was overseen by a different director than the originals.

You're shown Cybertron right off the bat. I don't vividly remember the 80's Transformer series, but I saw the animated movie within the past couple of years and this seemed to give off the same vibe as the movie did.

There weren't Michael Bay-level explosions and the action was really great.

Throughout the movie, the Transformers and Decepticons' movements were very nimble. I'm not sure if that's due to advances in technology or if it's because they filmed it differently. Whatever they did, it worked!

The Decepticons were distinct and fun this time around.  They weren't all silver and difficult to tell apart.  That's an issue I sometimes had with the Transformers movie franchise.

Their interactions with the humans was interesting.  I especially liked the female Decepticon.  She was very conniving and a formidable foe for Bumblebee in this movie.

There's a scene on a nearby planet in the Milky Way galaxy that involves these two Decepticons that was done very well.  I felt bad for the Transformer in that scene.

I'd heard the name Hailee Steinfeld, but I wasn't familiar with her work. She was a great choice though!

From the very first scene we were introduced to Charlie Watson (Steinfeld), it was very easy to connect with her.

There's a backstory involving her father. She has an annoying little brother. Her family dynamic is part of the plot and builds to the end of the movie.

In just one movie, Charlie is as entertaining a character as Sam Witwicky was in three Transformers movies.

I'm not sure if the Transformers movie will move forward somehow, but if it does it would be nice if they could work Charlie in somehow.

After all, Whitwicky doesn't show up until the 2000's.  This movie was set in the 1980s, so they could do a 90's story where Bumblebee and Charlie reunite for another adventure.

There's some decent comedy with Memo (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), who has a crush on Charlie.  His role was a little stereotypical, but the character was a little awkward so it felt different.

Charlie wasn't your typical character, so her relationship with Memo didn't feel like a complete copy of Sam Witwicky and Mikaela Banes.

I'm not sure what else Lendeborg has been in, but he seems like he'd have potential in other roles as well.  He was completely believable in his role as an overlooked nerdy neighbor who has puppy love for the girl down the block.

He provided a lot of the understated comedy.  It wasn't in-your-face comedy, but it was little body movements or glances, along with his delivery, that had the audience chuckling.

WWE's John Cena was in the movie.  His acting wasn't too bad at the beginning of the movie, but by the end of the first scene and on to the end, he wasn't believable.

He's got a long way to go if he wants to catch up to The Rock in the acting department.

That being said, he was fine.  He didn't necessarily add to the movie but he didn't take away from it either.  He did his role well enough to get by.

He wasn't full-on villain in this movie, so maybe it would've been better if he didn't have to portray a character with layers.

Landing a role like this isn't a bad way to kick off a Hollywood career, but I doubt Cena's character would be continued on into any Bumblebee sequels.

There were a few other minor characters and they were all developed quite nicely throughout the movie.  The storytelling in this movie was much better than the last three Transformers movies.

That was one of the most impressive things about this movie: that it managed to be good after a few sloppy outings in the franchise.

Hopefully we'll get more Transformers movies like Bumblebee.  This movie proves that there's no need for a complete reboot and that there are more still Transformers stories to tell.

Related Content:
Transformers: The Last Knight - reviewed.
Aquaman - reviewed.
The Christmas Chronicles - reviewed.
Tomb Raider - reviewed.
Venom - reviewed.
Ant-Man and The Wasp - reviewed.
The Avengers: Infinity War - reviewed.
The Black Panther - reviewed.
My most anticipated movies of 2018

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Aquaman - reviewed.

I was really hoping DC's Aquaman would be good. Apparently it did $100 million in China already and is expected to make that much opening weekend in the U.S.

There's even talk of a sequel.

That's great news! Some people are DC and some are Marvel. I'm both. Some are Star Wars and some are Star Trek. Again, I'm both. I want DC and Marvel to do great because that means more movies that are made that I get to watch, enjoy and own.

More good news for you: Aquaman isn't just doing well financially. It is actually a good movie!

I went into the theater hoping for the best and walked out very pleased with what I got.

Summarizing it, Aquaman was a great mix. It was Star Wars meets Lord of the Rings starring an underwater Thor with Avatar visuals. Oh, it also had a great soundtrack. It could've very easily been one gigantic hot mess. Yet, it wasn't.

Aquaman captured a lot of the great elements from those previously mentioned movies. The movie featured a Lord of the Rings-style journey. It was a Star Wars-like adventure. The visuals were so dynamic! All kinds of scenery that one can only imagine.

Aquaman / Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa)
While many compare Thor to Superman due to their similar strength and flying ability and red cape, I think the movie Thor is more comparable to Aquaman. They've got the mythology that is a permanent part of their characters. They aren't aliens from another planet. Their history is rooted in mythology.

Jason Momoa's Aquaman isn't just an underwater Thor though. Momoa was the perfect choice for Aquaman. He's got some good comedic chops. He probably needs to work on his more dramatic delivery, but he's passable in that area.

The tattoos and look automatically gives him more of an edge, which gives Aquaman a much-needed boost of credibility. He was probably one of the more made fun of characters of the past few decades --- probably because there wasn't a great representation of him that was distributed to the masses.

We got a glimpse of his sense of humor in Justice League and it continued on in this solo movie. Momoa's comedy is almost dry.

 He has one-liners that aren't necessarily laugh-out-loud funny, but they make you smile and chuckle time and time again.
Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and King Orm (Patrick Wilson)

He was great at the action scenes. There were several memorable action scenes in this movie.

When you watch it, look out for these scenes: the submarine, the Italy fight scene and the final fight scene. All three had great cinematography, weren't too heavy on the CGI and were extremely creative!

The movie was jam-packed in terms of the story but it didn't feel long. It didn't give you a Transformers 2 or Pirates of the Caribbean 3 feeling, looking at your cell phone and checking the time --- wondering just how long the movie has been going.

The story felt complete. It was clear. There were some diversions, as there are with most 'journey' movies, but the writers did well at bringing any side storylines back to the central story of explaining who Aquaman is and what he's about.

Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II)
Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), for example, has a large role in this movie. Still, he's not the main focus. He's plot B instead of plot A. It's all connected though.

I wasn't familiar with Manta from the comics (Aquaman was never one that I rushed out to grab), so I can't say how he compares to the comics. I thought he made for a great movie villain though.

The writers did a great job at introducing us to Manta, giving us some inkling of what he can do and also leaving plenty of room for further development in any possible sequels.

 Overall, the storytelling was impressive.

There were a couple of minor plot points that were left unexplained, but they were fairly minor.

Nudis Vulko (Willem Dafoe)
Just how did Aquaman travel from the Sahara to Italy so quickly?

And when did the young Aquaman meet Nuidis Vulko (Willem Dafoe)?

Both of those could've used about a minute more of explanation --- even if it was just visually.

When I saw Dafoe, I immediately saw him as the Green Goblin from the original Spider-Man trilogy. 

After a few scenes, I got accustomed to the fact that he wasn't a villainous character (something he's so good at!) this time around.

Dafoe did a good job in his role of sensei in this story.

By the middle part of the movie, I wasn't seeing him as the Green Goblin in a wetsuit.  I was rooting for him to survive any battles and make it through to the end of the movie.

Going back to another example of the impressive producing and writing, there were several flashbacks in the movie, but they were done so nicely that it didn't distract you from the present day storyline.

The flashbacks were a welcome glimpse at how Arthur Curry grew up.  There were probably 4 different Arthur Curry actors, including Momoa.  The casting directors did a very good job at making sure they looked like Momoa.

The teenage actor looked the most like him.  While I wasn't blown away by the child actors (and one teenage actor), they accomplished their task of quick flashbacks.

Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman)
Atlanna was a big part of the story, naturally.

As his mother, she's Curry's link to the world of Atlantis.

It wasn't Nicole Kidman's most memorable role, but she did well with it.  She made you feel the appropriate emotions at the times you were supposed to feel them.

The first action scene featuring Atlanna was a shot well with great camera movement, but it was almost a little too CGI-heavy.

I don't know if that's because Kidman wasn't doing most of her own stunts or if it was just a result of the unique cinematography.

The somewhat distracting CGI is quickly forgivable because it's the first scene of the movie and you're anxious to see where the rest of it goes.  There was good chemistry between Kidman and Curry's father (Temuera Morrison).

Speaking of CGI, they did a great job with giving us a young Kidman and Morrison from the year 1985.  Making Kidman look young was probably much easier, but they did a great job of making Morrison look like a young man.

King Orm (Patrick Wilson)
King Orm (Patrick Wilson) is Curry's brother.  He's a true Atlantian, unlike Curry.  That leads to some tension.  Orm has all kinds of motivations and Aquaman has various struggles but the two have a natural tendency to cross paths.

They cross paths much sooner than I would've expected.  That doesn't leave you disappointed at the end of the movie, though.

I was a little surprised when I saw that Wilson was going to be in the movie.

I didn't know what role he had, but he didn't really seem like someone I automatically wanted to see in a superhero movie.

Mera (Amber Heard)
That being said, he did a great job.  He was a good choice.

Someone sitting next to me had one question when she saw Mera (Amber Heard) appear on-screen: "Does she think she's Ariel from The Little Mermaid?"

I guess she does kind of resemble her with the green bodysuit and the red hair.  I looked at the comic book depictions and I guess Mera's hair was maybe a little too red at times.

Maybe it could've been more orange than red?  She looked good regardless.

Heard won't win any awards for this performance.  At times I thought she was pretty stiff.  At others she and Momoa seemed to have a nice chemistry.  It wasn't too over-the-top.  It was somewhat understated and it worked well.

I assume that Heard would grow into the role of Mera in any future movies.  You could tell this was her first outing with the character.  The fight scene in Italy was a great moment for that character --- probably the standout for her in the movie.

King Nereus (Dolph Lundgren)
There were several other characters in the movie, including Dolph Lundgren (the awful Masters of the Universe star), who played a King (and Mera's father).  He did well in his role to my surprise.

If I were a more avid Aquaman fan, I'd be upset that they changed King Nereus (Lundgren) from Mera's betrothed to her father.  Marvel has done this a few times as well -- most recently changing Hela in Thor: Ragnarok from Loki's daughter to Loki's sister / Odin's daughter.

I'm not a fan of those changes.  Rather than change King Nereus entirely, why not just introduce a new character as Mera's father and leave King Nereus out of the movie altogether.

He could potentially show up in a future movie.

Things like that do irritate me, but I'm not that avid of a fan so it didn't bother me.

I won't ruin anything but even Julie Andrews stars in the movie!  That's right, no cameo in Mary Poppins Returns but she is in Aquaman.  Go figure.

All in all, Aquaman was a really good movie and I'm hoping that gives DC another incentive to go forward with their DCEU.

They can compete with Marvel if they do it the right way.  Jumping into mash-up and team-up movies probably wasn't the way to go.

Marvel started slow and built to The Avengers and Thanos and look at how well that did for them.

Those introductory movies aren't as much fun as the team-up movies, but they are required to get the audience familiar with the characters in your story and to get them excited for more.  Aquaman definitely accomplished that goal.

Related Content:
The Christmas Chronicles - reviewed.
Tomb Raider - reviewed.
Venom - reviewed.
Ant-Man and The Wasp - reviewed.
The Avengers: Infinity War - reviewed.
The Black Panther - reviewed.
My most anticipated movies of 2018

Thursday, December 6, 2018

December 2018 Box Office predictions

I'm not one to predict financial results at the box office. I've never really tried that before.

However, what I am usually good at is predicting what's going to bomb and what's not going to bomb. I sit in the theater and see the trailers and go, 'That's going to be awful!'

That's what happened with Baywatch, Jupiter Ascending, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Ghost in the Shell, the latest version of The Mummy and various others.

I sat there thinking, 'How could anyone think these were good ideas?!'

This is the first time I've voiced my opinions in a published format.

Here goes nothing.

Here are my predictions for some of December's movies:

Prediction: Hit

Like I've already told some of my family members, this is an underwater Thor. This is going to be good for D.C.

While they've has a few issues with some of their other movies, they got this one right the moment they cast Jason Momoa as Aquaman.

He gave the character a much-needed update. The look isn't cartoonish anymore. He looks like a bad-ass!

That's how he was presented in Justice League. He also displayed comedic ability at the same time. I have a hunch it'll be a great blend of action, comedy, drama and special effects.

All the while it will showcase Momoa as a key player in the DCEU.

If they hold onto Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Ezra Miller and Jason Momoa, they could have several successful movies in the future --- solo or ensemble.

Mary Poppins Returns
Prediction: Bomb

It's like Solo: A Star Wars Story. Why would you put an actor in the position of playing an iconic role? Even if the story is good, people will inevitably compare Emily Blunt to Julie Andrews. While she's alright in several movies, there is no winning a comparison battle against Julie Andrews ... especially as Mary Poppins!

I'm not sure why they didn't make Blunt a pupil of Mary Poppins or a daughter or granddaughter or maybe the next in line to have the title. While those are tired ways to continue on a franchise (or develop a franchise), they're more acceptable than casting someone entirely new as a beloved and iconic character.

If Disney wanted to do a sequel, then just bring in Julie Andrews for the entire movie. If she didn't want to do it, that's fine. There are other ways to go about it. They apparently got Dick Van Dyke on board for a cameo. That's a starting off point. Mary's umbrella isn't an actual person. They could incorporate that. Maybe explore just who Mary was and where she came from.

Are there dozens of other cloud-riding nannies out there? Did Mary leave her powers for someone else to take charge of?

It'll probably do well enough at the box office because it's a family movie and the Christmas season is when families go to the movies. It's when schools take field trips to the movies. It'll surely generate some sales with the powerhouse that is Disney promoting the movie on so many mediums.

That being said, it won't do what they're expecting and hoping it to do.

The Mortal Engines
Prediction: Bomb

It's like so many other novels turned movies in the past several years. You can't just up and capture the success of Harry Potter or The Hunger Games.

While this concept is different, it's a little too different. Harry Potter's land of wizards and Katniss Everdeen's teenage death battles are 'out there' concepts too, but they're based in reality more than a movie like this.

It's unique, so I'll give them that, but entire cities doing battle on giant machines like an episode of Robot Wars? I don't see many people clamoring to see it.

As soon as I saw Washington, D.C. rolling around on a giant tank, I knew it wasn't going to be good.

Prediction: Hit

I'm kind of surprised by my prediction. Originally I thought it'd be the nail in the coffin for the Transformers franchise (which I've enjoyed more than not). After seeing the trailer, however, I think it could be a fresh start. They got away from Mark Wahlberg and the original trilogy and are focusing on the main drawing point: the Transformers themselves.

It won't be a big explosion fest, which most people tired of. I think it'll be interesting to see the origin of Bumblebee and some of the other Transformers and Decepticons.

I don't know that John Cena is going to be that impressive with his acting, but the young actress -- Hailee Steinfeld -- seems authentic enough to draw people in. It's not going to be massive, but it'll surpass expectations.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Prediction: Bomb

I don't see this movie having much wide appeal.

Number one: it's a somewhat involved Spider-Man storyline. Most people are familiar with Spider-Man, but not multiple Spider-verses.

Number two: it's an animated movie. It's not Lego Batman and it's not a Pixar guaranteed hit. It's not a regular superhero movie. It's got a niche audience and I don't think it'll be able to compete with the busy December schedule.

The storyline may have worked as a live action movie, but I see it having limited potential as an animated movie.

The Spider-Man universe is cool, so I hope it does do well in a way. I just don't have any faith that it'll happen.

Related Content:
• Will Hollywood outplay its hand on female superheroes?
• Tomb Raider - reviewed.
• Venom - reviewed.
• Ant-Man and The Wasp - reviewed.
• The Avengers: Infinity War - reviewed.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Will Hollywood outplay its hand on female superheroes?

There was a recent article on Deadline that mentioned the wave of female superheroes that aren't only appearing in upcoming movies, but getting lead booking.

It talks about Harley Quinn, Black Widow, Capt. Marvel and, of course, Wonder Woman.

It's an interesting read.

My question, which the article also asked, is: will the supply exceed the demand.

One woman they spoke to said she didn't think so.  She was a biased source because she's currently involved in a female superhero project herself.

My answer is: it depends.  It all depends on how Hollywood handles it.

There's a misconception that the comic book genre is a boys club.  Supergirl, Elektra and Catwoman all got solo movies.  Supergirl came out in the 1980s.

True, the reception to those movies was poor.

The poor reviews and box office for SupergirlElektra and Catwoman were well-deserved.  Those were three of the worst superhero movies of all time.

I think Elektra was a little better than the other two, but not by much.  They should've utilized Ben Affleck for the movie that was essentially a sequel to Daredevil.

That movie, too, earned bad reviews.  Daredevil was leaps and bounds better than Elektra though.  It doesn't have anything to do with women not being a box office draw either.

I think comic book fans are very open to seeing females in a lead role.

We've been asking for a Black Widow movie for years now.  Only after the success of Wonder Woman did Marvel give it real consideration.

That's the mistake Hollywood can't make.  Fans won't accept a female superhero simply because she has female parts.

They need a good story.  They need a good actress.  They need good action sequences (visual and creative).

If Hollywood throws out movie after movie with females directing and leading in the movie just because they are females, it's not going to work.

The product needs to have high quality.

That's what worked with Wonder Woman.  A lot of people are probably eager to cash in on that success, but it'll take more than some rip-offs to make it work.

Supergirl doesn't get better ratings than The Flash because it's not as good of a show.  It's not because she's a female.

Supergirl gets better ratings than Arrow because Arrow has jumped the shark.  It doesn't have anything to do with gender.

I'm excited that we may see a focus on some characters who don't always get a spotlight. 

I'd like to see more of Harley Quinn, some Black Cat and a proper depiction of Rogue, but I'd also be thrilled if Nightcrawler, Beast, Mr. Sinister, Robin and Martian Manhunter had projects centered around them. 
That's because I like those characters.

It's all about the quality of the character and the story.

As long as Hollywood remembers that when making these movies, they'll be fine and the superhero movies will continue to profit.

They've definitely got to be careful on timing.  You don't want Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel movies coming out in the same month, just as you wouldn't want Thor and Superman movies coming out at the same time.

I just hope they focus on telling good stories.  As soon as they start trying to specifically cater to one audience and focus on that alone, it'll be a very fast downward spiral.