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The Shape of Water (2017)
Very entertaining movie
I'd never seen a Guillermo Del Toro movie before, but I'd heard of his movies and I was expecting an odd, fantastical film. "The Shape of Water" doesn't disappoint on that score, but I enjoyed the movie. The amphibious creature is very impressive. The movie makes you believe that the woman could fall for him. Octavia keeps it all real with her performance and earthy, snappy lines of dialogue. Michael Shannon gives his usual fine performance as the creature's cruel captor and keeper. His character is certainly "over the top" with his manner and cruelty. The sets are very impressive--the viewer is immersed in 1962 paranoid, cold war America. And of course the female lead actress deserves an Oscar for her portrayal of the mute janitor. She portrays so much emotion--love, desperation, kindness, anger--without a word. I will never be sure what motivates someone to write and direct such a story but congratulations to Mr. Del Toro!
Atomic Blonde (2017)
Very cool, stylish film
"Atomic Blond" is a very cool, stylish film. Charlieze Theron is spectacular of course as the secret, secret agent, and the rest of the cast is great as well. Anybody who can get all the plot twists upon first watching the film should probably be working for the CIA themselves, but you don't have to get all the parts to appreciate all the action and suspense. All the 80's music provides a cool soundtrack to the action. The backdrop of Cold War Berlin is realistically depicted with dark, gritty apartment buildings and small, cheap automobiles. I'll look forward to watching the film in Blu-Ray next time.
Logan Lucky (2017)
Not being a great big huge fan of the "Ocean" movies, I didn't run out and see "Logan Lucky" in the theaters. Like the Ocean movies this one unfolds at its own pace. It misses the star power and charisma of those movies (Mr.Clooney, Mr.Pitt) and also the evil, greedy villain getting their's in the end (Andy Garcia, Al Pacino). But the movie moves along briskly enough. I enjoyed the one of the final scenes with Mr.Logan and his daughter at the beauty pageant, that was touching. Daniel Craig has some good turns as Joe Bang (is that a play on James Bond?), Seth McFarlane gets some licks in as a asshole of a Nascar owner, and the soundtrack helps move the scenes along beautifully.
An Entertaining Romp
The latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" is another entertaining romp across the high seas, never stopping to make much sense but that's OK. The first half of the movie finds Captain Jack drinking and half-drunk all the time, which is kind of a shame. I guess the film makers were trying to emphasize how down and out he'd become. But some fresh faces inject some new life in the series, and the same thrilling chase scenes and impossible rescues are still in abundance. The English soldiers still can't shoot any better than storm troopers. It's escapist entertainment at it's best, which is all it is trying to be. I wouldn't be surprised though if they tried to make the next one without Captain Jack Sparrow.
Just as good as the first two
I am not sure how anyone who enjoyed the first two movies in this trilogy could be disappointed with "War for the Planet of the Apes". It has the same heart and soul and intelligence as the first two. Mr. Gerkis does another masterful turn portraying Caeser, the ape who is more "human" than the humans who are all trying to exterminate him. Woody Harrelson is also a good choice as the mad colonel. I especially enjoyed the early scenes, which were shot amidst towering waterfalls and dark caves, as the humans tried to flush out the apes in their woods. The plot and story line are both first-rate science fiction drama--it's all very believable that apes could someday rule the planet.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
"Blade Runner 2049" was an exceptional movie-going experience. The film is 3 hours long, but it pulls you into it futuristic world and you become immersed in the story and it's beautiful, haunting landscapes. The movie is slow. But seeing the director's last movie masterpiece, "Arrival", I knew to expect that. Seeing the 3 short films featured on YouTube was fun as well. As a fan of the first Blade Runner movie, I liked the way this movie cleverly keeps Deckard's true identity a mystery. All the cast members do a fine job, though it would have been fun to see the director's original choice to play Wallace, David Bowie, in that role. I saw the movie in it's regular format, and because of it's length it is not a movie I would run out the next night and see again. But I hope to see it next time in an IMAX theater. I owned the original "Blade Runner" soundtrack featuring Vangelis, and though I won't be downloading it this soundtrack is equally as haunting and atmospheric.
Despicable Me 3 (2017)
Not nearly as good as the first two, but kind of fun
I thought Despicable Me 1 and 2 were great fun, movies that you could watch over and over every few months or so and still laugh. Despicable Me 3 I hardly laughed at all, and can't see myself watching it again anytime soon. That's not to say it wasn't fun. The Minions were kind of funny as usual but the overall plot and script wasn't as witty and charming. Mr. Gru is not really a good guy or villain in this one. The interaction between him and his new found brother provided a few laughs. His new wife tries hard in her new role as mother to Gru's kids, maybe that could have been played up more. I've heard another reviewer say this was an unnecessary sequel, and that's hard to disagree with.
The Mummy (2017)
Didn't expect much
I enjoy Egyptian things, and I've enjoyed a lot of Tom Cruise films (Edge of Tomorrow, Collateral). I guess those were the kind of folks the movie producers were hoping to attract with this hot mess. I was hoping for something a lot of folks didn't like but I actually enjoyed (Gods of Egypt). I thought "The Mummy" might be like a long "Ancient Aliens" episode--silly but worth watching. "The Mummy" really wasn't, worth watching that is. The dialogue between Tom and the female Egyptologist are tortuous--Mr. Cruise looks young but you know he's in his fifties and he's spouting stuff like a college kid. Some of the scenes are so dark you can't see what is happening. At no time but the movie get scary. Russell Crowe's character reminded me of good cop\bad cop in "The Lego Movie", only Liam Neeson did it a lot better. My goal was to make It through the movie (I couldn't).
Assassin's Creed (2016)
Good Action Movie
"Assassin's Creed" is a very enjoyable action movie, with action, fighting and chase scenes just as thrilling and dramatic as anything in the Bourne or John Wick movies. Yes the plot doesn't make a whole lot of sense sometimes, and I am still not sure if the apple from the tree of knowledge is a good thing or a bad thing. I have never played the video games, and I am sure being familiar with them would throw a lot of light on what is going on in this movie. But it didn't really diminish my enjoyment of it. The director employs a lot of very hypnotic and unusual camera work, as Mr. Fassbender's character weaves back and forth through time. The ending seemed like they may be planning a sequel, where maybe we'll learn more about the Assassin's Creed, Knight Templars and the mysterious, powerful apple.
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Very good Sci-fi
Not being acquainted with the anime story, I enjoyed "Ghost in the Shell" and I liked the way the plot unfolded. The scenery was amazing- -I was wishing they had filmed more of the scenes at night. The daytime scenery was OK, but like Las Vegas it seemed drab compared to the night time cinematography. The futuristic world that 'Ghost in the Shell' creates is the most advanced science fiction I've ever witnessed--you never knew the robots from the "enhanced" humans and just regular, normal characters seemed to in the minority. By now it would be hard to recognize Scarlet Johanson playing some other character than a sci-fi super hero or advanced, experimental being.
Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Great Popcorn flick
"Kong; Skull Island" was a very entertaining popcorn movie; it kept my interest throughout, and never really slowed down much. I thought it was a good idea to place it in the time frame of the 1970's. Kong the ape was front and center and King Kong really was a king this time. The story was a good one--in another movie John C. Reilly's Robinson Curuso-type character would have stolen the show. But in this one each of the actors share screen time almost equally. The sound track features snippets of some of the best rock music ever recorded, and I liked the references to "Heart of Darkness" and the influences of Francis Ford Coppolla's "Apocalypse Now".
Great movie, uncomfortably real
Hats off to director and screenwriter James Mangold for putting a real- life, gritty spin on the Marvel Universe. The film is about as real as you could ever expect a comic-book movie to be. Anyone who has seen an elder suffer from the effects of dementia can appreciate Mr. Stewart's performance and the interaction between he and Wolverine. And the young actress who plays Laura is incredible, her character's edge makes the movie tick. I just hope we don't read about her 20 years from now, her life spiraling downhill. I can't see how a young person can't be hugely affected by these roles. As one who spent time in El Paso in the Army, I can say that having the movie backdrop in this area of the country (as well as Juarez) really added to its gritty, edgy quality. Congratulations to Hugh Jackman as well for a superb run as The Wolverine.
Incredible movie experience
"Arrival" is an incredible movie experience, featuring the super-smart, super-sensitive Louise as the linguist who gets to meet and "get to know" the aliens who have mysteriously arrived on earth. Yes the movie moves and unfolds very slowly, but it has to to make you feel the weird, stark-eyed fascinated uneasiness of the characters as they come face to face with these beings. I am not even sure there is a word or words that describes what that must feel like, but the movie makes you feel it anyway. Everything else in between is well done as well, the dream sequences with Louise and her child, the tension between her and the government types, the fascination and eureka moments as she begins to unlock their language and their reason for being here. Hats off to the director and to Amy Adams for an incredible performance.
John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
Can't Wait to See Chapter 3
John Wick is back for more revenge carnage in Chapter 2; no sooner then he finds and firestorms the garage\warehouse\den of thieves holding his prized automobile, another villain and another war breaks out. We find out more about the strange kill or be killed world he (reluctantly) inhabits. This time his dog lives, but about 110-120 bad guys don't. Gun enthusiasts enjoy the skillful way Mr.Reeves handles his gun hardware, and the realistic way his character is forced to change magazines frequently. It was cool to see Mr. Fishburne and Mr.Reeves back together again. I am thinking we'll see more of his character in Chapter 3. I will be looking forward to seeing the final installment of this very exciting movie trilogy.
The Great Wall (2016)
Chinese Cirque Du Soleil
"The Great Wall" unfolds like a Chinese Cirque Du Soleil. The movie has pageantry and color galore, Drum beats pound away, while flying warriors bound up and down, trap doors open, fireworks explode. And all this is accompanied by the barest of plots, the more outlandish it gets the better it matches the rest of the spectacle. Insert Matt Damon into all this, and you come up with the China-American hybrid idea the movie makers were supposedly after. The plot and screenplay are kind of pedestrian, but I would rather pay $15.00 and get this sort of entertainment at the local IMAX, rather than driving 4 hours to see it live in Vegas. All in all, I was certainly entertained, the two hours swirled by like a flying rocket.
John Wick (2014)
I finally got around to seeing "John Wick", folks say you should see the this one before seeing the 2nd. The movie is exciting enough, the soundtrack is loud and seems to ebb and flow with the level Mr. Wick's killing carnage. Mr. Reeves is certainly looking good for age 52, and is impressive as he jumps around wrestling and killing folks. I will never "get" the concept of someone going off to war because someone kills his dog and steals his car, but you certainly don't have to understand that to enjoy the movie. I'm not sure how many of these John Wick movies they can keep making without giving the character a little more emotional resonance. The way it looks now, "John Wick" is some kind of natural step between humans making and directing movies and artificial intelligence taking over the movie making.
A Cure for Wellness (2016)
Keeps you watching (and guessing)
"A Cure for Wellness", although not necessarily a great movie, does keep you watching and guessing throughout its 2 and a half hour run time. Dane DeHaan does a great job as Lockhardt, the young executive and reluctant patient at a strange spa nestled in the Swiss Alps. Mr. DeHaan reminds me of Leonardo DeCaprio in "Shutter Island". I've enjoyed all of the movies I've seen directed by Gore Verblinski, including "The Lone Ranger", but I was still surprised at how this film progresses so strangely and slowly. We basically follow Lockhardt around the spa as he tries to unravel its secrets, complete his mission of bringing his CEO back from his "treatments", and come to terms with whatever is going on there. I'm not sure he ever does and neither does the movie goer.
Stands on its own
Anyone looking for this "Ben-Hur" to overtake the classic version will deservedly be disappointed. This "Ben-Hur" stands on its own as some lively and moving entertainment. Yes, as in the original the chariot scenes and ships and oars and ramming speeds are the movie's best moments. But the rest of the movie seldom drags. The leading male actors don't have the gravitas of Charlton Heston or even Russell Crowe in "Gladiator", but their friendship and eventual falling out is believable. The ending may not be perfect but it is emotionally moving. A theater patron can approach this version and criticize it for falling short of the original or they can appreciate this movie on its own merits, and possibly be entertained. I choose the former
Still playing to full theaters
I saw "Moana" tonight in the local movie theater. I have been wanting to see it since Thanksgiving and expected the audience to be few. To my amazement the cinema was almost full, and I can see why. "Moana" is a fabulous movie--it will certainly leave you crying and smiling. I would imagine most of the folks in the audience now have seen it 3 or 4 times. I served a number of years in the Army in Hawaii, so I was attracted to the movie for that reason, and it was certainly a great movie going experience. The animated graphics capture the magic and beauty of Polynesia, the land and the ocean. And the story is a lot of fun. Highly recommended for all ages.
Certainly a long movie, but worth it
"Silence" with its largely unanswered questions of faith and and God and religion, it certainly a long movie, but worth seeing. The acting is incredible throughout--the English and Japanese actors both doing a superb job. The story of Portuguese priests in Japan in the 1600s was interesting for me, because I could see both sides. What value did this new religion bring to the ruling class of Japan? They were a culture who followed the beauty and power of nature, and some scenes in the movie, a stunning view of the moon for instance, highlighted this. The movie gets a little slow sometimes but some of the final scenes with Mr. Neeson and Mr. Garfield are some of the most moving and powerful I've ever witnessed. Anyone interested in this movie would do well to read James Clavell's "Shogun", another engrossing novel set in Japan and encompassing the same time period.
Welcome Back, Wizards
As a Harry Potter fan, it is hard to judge "Fantastic Beasts" without comparison to the Potter films. Fantastic Beasts has its own magic and charm, but gone are the supporting characters--Dumbledore, Snape, the Dark Lord, etc, which made the Potter stories so good. I can't see any of the characters introduced in "Beasts" as stepping into those roles. Colin Farrell does well as the dark magic heavy; Eddie Redmayne is great as Newt, the Zookeeper. As usual these days in Hollywood the special effects carry the day and make what was an OK movie into a very watchable one. They say this story arc has five more movies and I would imagine they'll take the story right up to the birth of Mr Potter. Should be fun!
Rogue One (2016)
Although it carries the magic of the Star Wars name, "Rogue One" is just another big, rather soulless Hollywood drama. I can't say I didn't get my ten dollars worth but there are episodes of "The Vikings" I'd rather watch. I actually enjoyed the "The Force Awakens" a lot more than I enjoyed this one. I felt the chemistry and tension between Jin and Cassian worked pretty well, although the reprogrammed droid was probably the most interesting character. Darth Vader's appearances are pointless and uninspired. "Rogue One" is an interesting chapter in the Star Wars saga, but the battle scenes do go on a bit. Forest Whitaker's character was certainly an incomplete and puzzling one--I suppose most moviegoers were familiar with his character going in. Here's hoping episode 8 lives up to the hype
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
Great World War 2 movie
"Hacksaw Ridge" is an extremely realistic and well-made World War 2 movie. Mr. Garfield sparkles as Desmond Doss, with the real-life's characters sweet earnestness and simple, religious convictions. The rest of the cast does well, too. Vince Vaughn is a convincingly tough Army sergeant. The battle field scenes are horrific and brutal. It is incredible that our fathers and grandfathers went through such horrors. Mr. Gibson brings it all back with a great directing touch and outstanding cinematography. As an Army veteran, I wanted to see the movie. I have enjoyed all of Mel Gibson's movies, though I would never want to see "Passion of the Christ" again. Now that he is back, I am hoping Mel continues to direct more outstanding movies like "Hacksaw Ridge".
Doctor Strange (2016)
Excellent escapist entertainment
"Doctor Strange" is quite a wild ride of whirling color and psychedelia, and borrows heavily from "Inception". I enjoyed the character of Dr. Strange--his coming to terms with his disability and the overall processes and challenges of opening his mind to it's endless possibilities. "The Ancient One" is quite a character as well, maybe in a future movie her challenges with the dark forces could be examined more. As a big "Hannibal" fan it was fun seeing Mads Mikkelson in his role as the rogue student. The other supporting characters are interesting as well. I enjoyed the different locales, especially the mind-blowing final scenes with Strange battling the dark forces. The first "Avengers" movie remains my favorite Marvel movie but this one is a close second.
Above average entertainment
I am not sure what the dismal ticket sales and generally bad reviews are all about with this movie. If you liked the first 2 Robert Langdon\ Dan Brown movies you should like this one. The only thing missing is a cool religious conspiracy angle. But "Inferno" has the same clues, chases, and surprises that its predecessors had. The plot twists don't make a lot of sense sometimes, I read the book years ago and I would still be hard-pressed to explain how one thing leads to another--but that shouldn't influence anyone's enjoyment of the movie. It certainly doesn't stop anyone from reading the books. I will be looking forward to "The Lost Symbol", hopefully that is still on.