Friday, December 21, 2018

Aquaman (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 143 min
tesg's Rating: Four stars (out of four)

This obviously won't be a four-star movie for everyone, but I was suckered in from the word go.  It's got the love story, it's got the humor, it's got the predictable plot twist (which, despite the fact I guessed was coming, still practically made me shout out "YES! YES!  HOLY SHIT YES!" when it came), it's got the cheesy internal battle for control of an ancient fantasy world, it's got the fight scenes, and it's got the epic battle, and they're all some of the best in the superhero genre.  The fight scenes are shot single camera video game-style with the visuals circling and hovering above the action in a way that can't possibly be real.  And the battle scenes aren't blurry incomprehensible messes.  They ACTUALLY MAKE SENSE as you watch them.  It's like the biggest budget Roger Corman movie ever.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Mule (2018)

Rated: R - Runtime: 116 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

This is apparently based on a true story of a 90 year-old drug mule who got away with some significant runs based on the fact that nobody would suspect him. It plays at a slow, low-key pace that kind of aligns with the primary character. I've seen some reviews complaining about that, particularly in regards to the parts Lawrence Fishburne and Bradley Cooper play as DEA agents, but as someone who spent 20 years working closely with DEA and other agencies, I can attest this is pretty much how they operate.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Rated: PG- Runtime: 117 min
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

Peter Parker has been Spider-Man for around ten years now. He's the only Spider-Man. That is, until Miles gets bitten by a radioactive spider and Kingpin builds a supercollider that...inadvertently?...brings in a bunch of other Spider-people (and one Spider-pig) from parallel universes. Basically, they stole the idea of the Multiverse from the CW Arrowverse and not only made a movie, they released it the same freaking week the Arrowverse had its annual crossover shows revolving around a plot that relied heavily on the Multiverse.

The animation sometimes has a very computer look to it, sometimes a very comic book look to it. It's too long and not as fun as it should have fact, I'd go as far as to say it's darker than any of the live-action Spider-Man films...but I wouldn't call it a bad movie either. I suspect comic book fans will be way more into this than movie fans.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)

Rated: PG - Runtime: 112 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

Remember the first movie, Wreck-It Ralph?  Wouldn't it make more sense for the sequel to be called Ralph Wrecks the Internet?  WELL WOULDN'T IT?  HOW FREAKING HARD WOULD THAT HAVE BEEN.

I found this a far more entertaining watch than the first one.  The depiction of pop-up ads and clickview sites as street panhandlers is dead on.  There are cameos galore from the Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars universes, but the scene that really elevates the movie is the Disney princesses scene.  That alone is worth the price of admission.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

BumbleBee (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 119 min
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

You remember the low budget action flicks of the eighties where high stakes  things happened and kids inexplicably broke into military installations and saved the day?  This is EXACTLY one of those.  Maybe not even as well done.  It couldn't hold a candle to "Wargames".  It's not even on the level of Michael Bay's first Transformers movie.

But the kids...the little kids...ate this up.  They LOVED it.  Teens?  I don't think so.  Adults? can make a drinking game out of spotting the wide open plot holes.  You'll be so smashed by the end you'll need a cab to get home.

Green Book (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 130 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

If you're expecting a high tension race drama political piece, forget it.  While it has its moments, it's actually more of a comedy budding bromance.  Lots of laughs and way more fun than you're expecting.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Widows (2018)

Rated: R - Runtime: 128 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

This is the darkest Ocean's 11 sequel ever.  It's not really, of course.  It has nothing to do with that franchise, but it uses that template.  It's far better written and far less fun than any of those movies.  Most characters are desperate, nasty and relentless.  This is a tale of survival of the fittest more than anything, and it's really well done.

Where it weakens is the ending.  Without spoiling that, I don't see how the direction they go could be plausible.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Suspiria (2018)

Rated: R - Runtime: 152 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

Dario Argento's original trippy, colorful horror cult classic succeeded on visuals and atmosphere.  There really wasn't much to the story, it was just good enough.  It assaulted you with colors and crazy music and got the hell out in about 90 minutes.  Nothing looks or feels quite like it, and that's what makes it work.

Luca Guadagnino's take on this is exactly the opposite.  The story is the same basic premise, but it's far more complex.  The characters are greater in numbers and have more depth.  The surroundings are...muted.  The rich colors of the original are nowhere to be seen.  The music is subtle and haunting.  And at a 2 1/2 hour running time, it's in no hurry to get to the point.

And yet, I was never bored.  I would not have cut a thing out.  It kept my attention all the way through.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018)

Rated: R  - Runtime: 157 min
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

I was a big fan of the original Swedish miniseries version on Stieg Larrson's original trilogy.  Larrson died, but apparently the family hired a writer to carry on the story.  And his books, and this movie, just don't have the edge Larrson's books had.  It's like watching the boring parts of a Bond movie.

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 135 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

There's a scene where Mercury is being interviewed on the radio and, having failed to get "Bohemian Rhapsody" released as he first single from "A Night at the Opera", gets the guy to play it. As it starts, a collage of one-line negative critic responses to the song from back then appear on the screen. They were all proven wrong by the public, who made the song massive.

That's exactly what's happening with the movie. The critics hate it, but the masses love it.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

Rated: R - Runtime: 141 min
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

The opening scene is the best scene in the movie.  It's a great visual and it builds intrigue.  The end of said scene doesn't really make a lot of sense by the end of the movie, at least to me, but whatever.  The plot twists are so abundant it's like being a dog in a room full of squirrels.

Jeff Bridges delivers a standout performance, but it's not enough to make the movie as a whole stand out.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Venom (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 112 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

I was pleasantly surprised by this. It was way more fun than I had been led to believe. Not quite on the level of "Ant-Man" but kind of in that direction. And it didn't overstay its welcome.

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Star Is Born (2018)

Rated: R - Runtime: 135 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

This is the fourth telling of this story on the big screen dating back to the 1930's where a troubled star in decline discovers and falls in love with a girl, their careers moving past each other like ships in the night.  (The characters in the first two movies were actors, the latter two musicians.)  This version sticks to the tried-and-true format of its predecessors. If you've seen the earlier versions, nothing here will surprise you. Why it works is the spartan way it's largely told. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga's chemistry is so good it tells part of the story without a word being spoken.

I almost went two and one half stars because it feels overly long and bogs down at times. But the ending brought it back for me.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Predator (2018)

Rated: R - Runtime: 101 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

This is a mix of comedy and action that's just about perfect. The dialogue and the character interaction really makes this work. It's really well paced and doesn't overstay its welcome.

Definitely get popcorn, though. This movie requires it.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Rated: R - Runtime: 128 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

In the Buchanan County, Iowa Courthouse on the door of the county attorney's office is a sign that simply reads "Why can't we all just get along."

Truth is, we can.

But we probably never will.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 120 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

Boy dates girl for a year, boy takes her home to meet the parents, boy turns out to be filthy rich and all but outright royalty.

There's all sorts of fierce jealousy and class ridicule of the girl who is dating the boy, which only served to remind me why I don't date..

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Meg (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 113 min
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

This is about as big and dumb as movies get with just about every gimmick these movies use, from the down and out hero to the nemesis of the down and out hero to the budding romance to the cute and unusually bright kid who has no business being anywhere near such a situation to the OH MY GOD DID THE SHARK EAT THE CUTE LITTLE DOG OR THAT GUY IN THE INFLATABLE HAMSTER BALL to the...well, you get the idea.

It has three too many plot twists and three too many endings, but it was still a better production than I was expecting. Still, not even remotely on the level of the second greatest shark movie ever made (Jaws) or the greatest (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou).

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Eighth Grade (2018)

Rated: R - Runtime: 93 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

That scene in the mall at the food court where Kayla is hanging with the high school kids and smiling and nodding and feeling embarrassingly out of place? That's me to this day at any lunch or dinner I have to go to with people I don't know. Except that I usually want to kill everyone there.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 147 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

This is one hell of an action thriller, thanks entirely to the action. The story is a parts bin assembly of Bond and M:I-style sequences that we've seen before. So while being really unoriginal, it's a ton of fun and really well put together.

Now what I want to see is "Hot Shots! 3" where Charlie Sheen satirizes the hell out of Ethan Hunt.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Sorry to Bother You (2018)

Rated: R - Runtime: 105 min
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

Some people are calling this the comedy of the year. I and this audience didn’t laugh much. I saw a comparison to ‘Get Out” and even “Being John Malkovich.” It isn’t even remotely on either level. It tries WAY too hard to be clever and surreal. The end result isn’t bad, but it’s not great either.

A lot of people will walk out saying what one woman walking of this show said...”I have NO idea what I just saw.”

Friday, July 13, 2018

Skyscraper (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 102 min
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

You KNEW this was going to be ridiculous, and the problem is, it's ridiculous in a completely serious way.  For a movie like this to succeed, it needs to have a certain amount of cheese and silliness.  This movie lacks that.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 118 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

It's probably helpful to re-watch the first movie and maybe the most recent Captain America movie to be up to speed, but this is still a fun couple of hours with a lot of laughs.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Won't You Be My Neighbor (2018)

Rated: Not Rated - Runtime: 94 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

When I posted my star rating on social media, I immediately was asked by different people "Why not four stars? What's wrong with it?" 

Nothing.  Nothing at all.  It's a fine documentary about an extraordinary man.  It's just not an extraordinary documentary.  It could have aired on PBS without a theatrical run.

But the reaction is a testament to how the memory of Fred Rogers is treasured.  He loved the world almost unconditionally.  And the world still loves him back.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Incredibles 2 (2018)

Rated: PG - Runtime: 118 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

This is exactly the sequel everyone wants. It's familiar without being a rehash, it's got that whole modern atomic age look you want from Bird, it's seriously funny at times (if Jack Jack is on the screen, you're probably laughing), the action sequences are good, and the story is solid.

I picked the villain pretty early on, but that's about as big a complaint as I got.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Ocean's 8

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 110 min
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

The best part is the ending. The build-up to get there is sooo boring. They follow the "11" formula a little TOO closely but forgot to add the cleverness. Something was just missing there. So it's one of those "Yeah, I've seen this already and it was better the first time" type deals.

The wrap-up, though, was pretty great.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 135 min
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

Remember when Star Wars movies were fun? Oh wait, right, that was only the first one. Well now here's a second one. Sort of. It's a failed heist caper followed by a make-up heist with way too many plot twists and not quite as much humor as I'd hoped for, though it has its moments.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Deadpool 2 (2018)

Rated: R - Runtime: 111 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

They gave it about double the budget of the first movie, which means better effects and more of pretty much everything...more action, more comedy, more fourth wall, even a couple more X-Men.  It's a ton of fun, so much so I went twice in the same day.

There's no scene after the credits, but there's two during the credits, and the second one is the funniest scene in the movie.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 156 minutes
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

Two and a half hours and there's no ending?  There's a part TWO?  What the hell, movie.

Friday, April 20, 2018

A Quiet Place (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 90 minutes
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

A bunch of giant insects who are blind and hunt by sound are eating everyone.  We're focused on a rural family surviving on their farm who somehow have functioning electricity well into a year of this.  It is kind of cool how the story is told with little dialogue and focused on noises, but the end resolution seems too simple for someone else to not have thought of way earlier, let alone when the character who stumbles upon it doesn't even realize it until it's too late for another character.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Isle of Dogs (2018)

Rated: PG13 - Runtime: 1 hr 41 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

So is this Anderson's way of apologizing to dog lovers for the number of pups he's killed off in his previous movies? I know people who hate his movies for that very reason.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Ready Player One (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 140 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

This movie is sort of a tribute to pop culture easter eggs, so much so that the end resolution revolves around one.  The story and pacing are decent enough and some people will probably go to multiple viewings just to catch things they missed the first time around.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Death of Stalin (2018 US)

Rated: R - Runtime: 107 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

I heard somebody call this a "historically accurate satire." That sounds like something the Monty Python group would say, and that's what this feels like...a Monty Python skit. Indeed, Michael Palin is among the cast, which also includes Steve Buscemi, Tom Brooke, the newly disgraced Jeffrey Tambor, and a host of British and American actors who are making no effort whatsoever to sound like Russians or anything other than themselves.

The script doesn't try either.  Lots of proper British and Buscemi is channeling every angry Buscemi character he's ever done, F-bombs and all. It just adds to the silliness, and this movie overflows with silliness.

All of it is set to a backdrop of really nice looking period sets and music.

Pretty good and funny dark comedy overall. Highly recommended in particular to Python fans.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Unsane (2018)

Rated: R - Runtime: 97 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

This is a terrific psychological thriller from Steven Soderbergh who firmly plants your opinion in one direction, then spins it around and makes you unsure just what the hell is going on. The visuals are haunting with some scenes where they don't even light he character's faces. The soundtrack is so sparse that when it pops up, you notice. The aspect ratio is REALLY narrow, adding to the claustrophobic effect. This is REALLY well put together overall.

Love, Simon (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 109 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

I think it's a sad statement on society that "coming out' even still has to be a thing, that people can't just show up and introduce their same-sex partner to friends and family in the same way heterosexual couples do, just skipping the whole "gay" talk.  This movie sort of addresses that in a clever segment that asks the question "Why is heterosexuality the default?"  It's a funny bit.

The rest of the movie is cliche rom-com, but it's more than charming and funny enough for its target audience.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Tomb Raider (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 118 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

This is based on the story line of one of the video game releases, and it feels like you're watching a video game with lots of similar action (long ladders to carefully navigate, hidden things to find or figure out, and action no human could ever survive) and dialogue that's not quite as satirical as the video game dialogue used in last year's Jumanji, but...yeah.

Still, it's paced really well and never loses your attention.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Death Wish (2018)

Rated: R - Runtime: 107 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

I was all in the moment I saw the trailer associating Eli Roth and Bruce Willis's names with the Death Wish franchise.  I would've bought an advance ticket that day if they were on sale.  I had grand visions of the graphic violence Roth could bring and the humor Willis could add.

That doesn't really happen, least initially.  The setup break-in doesn't come near the graphic rape scene of the original, being replaced by minor clothed sexual assault.  Some of the robbers even appear to have morals.

But that all changes when we get to the garage, which is EXACTLY  what I was looking for.  Which figures, since that's primarily what they used in the trailer.

I probably liked this way more than I should have.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Game Night (2018)

Rated: R - Runtime: 100 min
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

This is really funny at some points and outright cringe-worthy at others. There are plot holes aplenty and one too many twists, but this is playing to the Lite FM crowd, which pretty much thinks two and one half star movies are the greatest thing ever, so it's playing to its audience.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Early Man (2018)

Rated: PG - Runtime: 89 min
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

Pretty simple premise. A group of bigger bullyish thugs muscle the cavemen/women out of their happy little valley, they want back in, and the whole matter is settled over a football (soccer) game.

Not exactly groundbreaking, but a fun way to kill an hour and a half.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

I, Tonya (2017)

Rated: R - Runtime: 120 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

It's almost sad how much fun this movie is to watch. Tonya Harding's complete train wreck of a life is unfolded through the well-known names involved in or around "the incident"...the attack on Nancy Kerrigan ahead of the 1994 Winter Olympics, the buffoonery behind the attack being absolutely mind-boggling. The story is often told through recreations of interviews and a lot of third wall dropping.

Not ONE single character is likable. Not even Nancy Kerrigan. But Allison Janney as Harding's mother is deliciously evil, stealing every scene she's in.

Black Panther (2018)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 134 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

So we have a so-called 'third world" country in Africa called Wakonda which lives under old tribal and monarchy rule as far as the world knows, but secretly mines a metal that can be used for pretty much anything from curing wounds to holophones to copying Steak n Shake's chili recipe. Some think they should use it to better the world, some think they should use it to rule the world, and some outsiders want it for unscrupulous purposes.

There's a biblical-style mini war, a Fast & the Furious-style car chase, a Kill Bill-style fight in a club that is laid out exactly like O Ren Ishii's hangout, and the usual witty Marvel humor.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 119 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

Well, it's dumb, but it's dumb in the best possible way.  Tons of fun and laughter in a way that reminded me of Sky High.  I can see why this has had the duration it's had at the box office.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Shape of Water (2017)

Rated: R - Runtime: 123 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

I have a soft spot for Universal's classic "Creature from the Black Lagoon".  This movie is such a blatant ripoff tribute to that classic...I refer to it as "Amelie meets the Creature"...that I have to wonder if Universal pondered trademark infringement.

It's something way more than Creature, of course.  It's a visual and aural feast and a beautiful love story with characters that have far more depth.

Probably my second favorite del Toro feature behind "Hellboy II: The Golden Army".