Sunday, August 11, 2019

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 111 min
tesg’s Rating: Three stars (out of four)

Let us take you back to Halloween 1968 where kids end up in a haunted house and take a book belonging to Sarah. Horror stories start to appear on blank pages in the book and then actually happen.

The movie looks pretty great and is paced relatively well. Guillermo del Toro had a minor hand in this so the monsters look pretty amazing. There’s a cool drive-in scene to boot.

At a PG-13 rating, I again have to wonder just how the hell Annabelle Comes Home ended up with an R. This is FAR scarier and more graphic.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 138 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

Basically you've got two unlikely and mostly unwilling partners recruited by the CIA to bring down a guy who calls himself Black Superman (Black Six Million Dollar Man would have been more accurate). It's big and dumb and funny as hell and has some seriously impressive action scenes, particularly the climax scene with a helicopter. Idris Elba is a phenomenal bad guy, and Ryan Reynolds shows up a few times with a very Deadpool-like persona that is hilarious.

You will spend 75 percent of this movie grinning from ear to ear. This is a serious crowd pleaser popcorn movie.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Rated: R - Runtime: 159 min
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

There are great movies you can watch over and over again. There are great albums you can listen to again and again. Absolute classics. But hanging around watching them be created would for most people be like watching paint dry, and a lot of this movie feels like you're watching the creative process instead of the actual movie.

It's interesting at points, it has lots of very pretty women and things to look at, and a lot of interesting characters. But none of the supporting characters really get a chance to be showcased, and the whole thing just isn't as clever as you'd expect from Tarantino.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 129 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

This is easily the best of the post Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies, which has had like three different iterations if you count the animated "Into the Spiderverse" nonsense.

Parker and his classmates are on a summer school trip to Europe to see cool shit and maybe get laid.  Trouble erupts and Nick Fury enlists Spidey to help.  A  plot twist Helen Keller could have seen coming ensues, and then stuff needs a fixin'.  But it works because it's light and fun, which is sorely needed after the Avengers opus.

Sony did the last movie, "Homecoming", in cooperation with Marvel and Disney to get Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  This movie feels more like something Marvel/Disney did themselves, then handed over to Sony for distribution.  It's that much better.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Annabelle Comes Home (2019)

Rated: R - Runtime: 105 min
tesg’s Rating: Three stars (out of four)

The thing to understand going in is this is a thriller, not a slasher. The “bloodiest” scene in this involves a mishap with spaghetti sauce. The setup, pace, and scare moments are pure teen slasher flick, but if you want blood and bodies, you’re not gonna get it. This can probably go right to cable or broadcast TV without a single edit.

It is, however, well rounded, well paced, and has solid character development. Even the stupid girl doing the stupid thing turns out to have a pretty good reason for her actions that leads to a really touching ending.

Pleasantly surprised.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Toy Story 4 (2019)

Rated: G - Runtime: 100 min
tesg's Rating: Four stars (out of four)

The thing about the Toy Story franchise is the endings.  You can go through what is a fairly routine and pedestrian approach for a Toy Story script (which is always above average anyway) until that ending, and then...pow.  They knock you upside the head.

Wow.  They did it again.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Shaft (2019)

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

The movie opens with a backstory that has more Shaft to it than Samuel L Jackson's entire first Shaft movie.  We lead into Shaft's estranged son enlisting his father to help him figure out what happened to his friend.  That leads to a loose plot wrapped around outdated jokes when the modern man and a blaxploitation legend's worlds collide.  You'll either roll your eyes or you'll laugh a lot.

I laughed.  A lot.

Expecting something deeper?  Remember this going in...IT'S A FREAKING SHAFT MOVIE.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Rocketman (2019)

Rated: R - Runtime: 121 min
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

Elton's story is (verrry loosely) told through a script full of snippets of his lyrics and half-ass musical numbers.  It feels a lot more special early on than it does by the end.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 132 min
tesg's Rating: Two stars (out of four)

There’s a whole lot of WTF going on here (even one of the characters points this out) until the movie takes a breather about 30 minutes in to explain itself. After that, at least we understand what’s going on, but it doesn't make it any more fun to watch. The monster battles are vague at best and the battle footage keeps getting interrupted by cutting to human melodrama happening in the background as if they were undercut on the special effects budget and they had to fake it.

Mothra makes an appearance. Poor Mothra deserved better than this.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Booksmart (2019)

Rated: R - Runtime: 105 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

Booksmart is paced a lot like Lady Bird, and that's not a bad thing.  It's what makes this stand out from the classic "first time at a high school party" genre.  I laughed out loud for nearly the entire first fifteen minutes of this movie.  There's still plenty to laugh at after that, of course, as well as the surprise, hope, and teen drama twists you'd expect in such a movie.  And...spoilers...it ends in a really great place.

As teen party comedies go, this is a really good one.

Friday, May 17, 2019

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

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

This is the best of the John Wick movies.  Best script, best fight scenes, best sets, and most fun overall.  There's tons of deaths by gun and sword of course, but also by use of dog, horse, library book, and more.  The one thing to overlook...or maybe embrace...is the primary bad guy is played by the same guy who played The Chairman on Iron Chef America.  (Naturally, his first scene is in a restaurant kitchen.)

Every punch, kick, drop, and gunshot are exaggerated with resounding thumps, so seek out a theatre with a killer sound system to see this in.  This is the first John Wick movie I wouldn't mind seeing again.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 182 min
tesg’s Rating: Three stars (out of four)

God, this thing goes on forever. It just goes and goes and goes some more. Just like Infinity War. But at least it’s more fun and has a real ending. Oh, and an actual war.

For the core Marvel geeks, this movie is like the greatest multiple orgasm sex ever. For the rest of us, it’s understandable, often fun, sometimes touching, sometimes showing blatant plot holes, but you won’t be mad you came. You probably won’t want to sit through it again though.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Hellboy (2019)

Rated: R - Runtime: 121 min
tesg’s Rating: Two stars (out of four)

Anyone who hasn’t gotten the memo that Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman aren’t involved shouldn’t take more than ten seconds into this to be slapped in the face with that reality.  That’s about the point where the narrator uses the phrase “pissed off”.  Stay classy, narrator.  I’d be amused to see people walk out at that point.

The movie does have the basic Hellboy characteristics.  His snark is there and there’s lots of mythical creatures and battles and plot twists and stuff, but it’s all far simplier and less interesting than it would have been with del Toro.  The whole thing plays to an 80’s metal soundtrack, which is really really fitting.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Shazam! (2019)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 132 min
tesg's Rating: Three stars (out of four)

We start off with one hella confusing back story that didn't become clear to me until about an hour into the movie. Not sure if that was by design or I just missed the point. A good chunk of the movie is Shazam and his foster brother using his powers for...well...buying beer and buskering for tips. But eventually, the focus is on the bad guy and the importance of family.

I think all ages of the masses will eat his up, similar to the Jumanji crowd. It isn't quite as well done as that, but it's funny, touching, and in one particular scene, incredibly heartbreaking.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Us (2019)

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

The big problem with this feature is that it’s waaay too long. But at the same time, I don’t know what I would have cut out.

It’s more original than the Stepford Wives reboot that was Get Out and nearly (not quite) as well done.

Dumbo (2019)

Rated: PG - Runtime: 112 minutes
tesg's Rating: One and one half star (out of four)

The fitting result of this movie would be that the person at Disney who green-lit this archaic, outdated script that has no place in the modern era even considering it’s a period piece is nicknamed “Dumbo” for the rest of their career.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Captain Marvel (2019)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 124 min
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

“Vers” (pronounced “Veirs” like indie folk rock goddess Laura Veirs), later to be revealed as Carol Danvers (no relation to Kara Danvers...you know, Supergirl) can clearly kick ass but has a history of being held back because she’s a girl. Seriously, they overplay the crap out of this, including a scene where a fellow pilot tells her “there’s a reason it’s called a COCKpit.” I spent a lot of time glaring at the screen over this nonsense. This wasn’t set that far back in time (1995 if you’re making wagers.)

Vers is on the good guy team trying to take out the bad guys...or IS she? Between manipulation and her own memory issues, who knows. At the point they twist the plot, if I were her, I’d have said “Screw you all, I don’t trust any of you”, locked myself in my home, taken meals via delivery, and binge watched my shows for the rest of my life. Not even the cat can be trusted in this movie, a fact that is probably the most obvious to see coming.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime: 122 min
tesg's Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

This was an abandoned James Cameron project that somebody else took up and wanted to make into a James Cameron-style epic.  He failed miserably, but you can see why Cameron would really like the source material.  I really enjoyed the first 3/4 of this, but then it just kind of went off the rails for me.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Cold Pursuit (2019)

Rated: R - Runtime: 118 min
tesg’s Rating: three stars (out of four)

Now THIS is my kind of revenge movie. It may be my favorite Neeson revenge movie ever. It’s a ton of fun with some ridiculous death scenes. The bad guys and law enforcement are completely oblivious to what’s going on in a way that reminds one of Clint Eastwood in “The Mule”. The dialogue is sparse. Laura Dern’s absolutely perfect letter reflects this. The cinematography is stark and beautiful, but it’s set in the mountains of Colorado in the winter, so why wouldn’t it be.

I probably had as much fun watching this as I did most of “The Lego Movie 2”.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Rated: PG - Runtime: 107 min
tesg’s Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

We start off with real world Dad declaring the son is now allowed to play in the basement and...in an onimous tone...his little sister. Back in the Lego world, everyone has toughened up and become all gothy as a defense mechanism against the Duplo (little kid Lego blocks) and the fear of “Armomageddon.” If you can’t see where this is going, consult your neurologist. Seriously...you’re brain-damaged.

The original movie was a surprise for a lot of people, especially that ending. This movie follows that exact path. It’s just as clever and funny up until the ending, which I did not like at all. Maybe it was because I correctly guessed who the real villain was and what direction this was going, but I left really unsatisfied with how they wound this up.

But prior to that, I was laughing, often out loud, a good 75 percent of the time.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Glass (2019)

Rated: PG-13 - Runtime; 129 min
tesg’s Rating: Three stars (out of four)

For fans of Split or Unbreakable (I fall in the latter...it’s my favorite Shyamalan movie), this is going to prove a very polarizing feature.  It’s slow and not very likeable for a long time for a multitude of reasons, but it gets better as it goes.  It has no less than three Shyamalan plot twists at the end.  Part of the end doesn’t make any sense, but that part didn’t make sense at the beginning either.  I probably should have gone two and one half stars based on that, but somehow my mind said “three” when the credits rolled.

If you’ve never seen Unbreakable and Split or didn’t care for them, there’s no reason to see this.  At all.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Vice (2018)

Rated: R - Runtime: 132 min
tesg’s Rating: Two and one half stars (out of four)

Simply put, it’s a shameless one-sided political hit piece.  The film makers even have a copout to it’s accuracy with an opening disclaimer that ends with “We tried our fucking best”.  Still, as one-sided political hit pieces go, it’s a pretty good one.  It’s biggest issue is overstaying its welcome.

Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, and Amy Adams do a fine job made up as their respective characters, but you still recognize them as Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, and Amy Adams.  But Christian Bale?  Holy crap.