Recap 2017 Movies

Introduction:

I didn’t do as well as I usually do keeping all the movie stubs this year, but I’ll look at a list of 2017 movies and let you know what I got to see. These mini-reviews are as spoiler-free as I can get them, but no absolute promises something won’t slip by.

 

Rogue One

Dates Seen: 1/2/17, 1/3/17, 1/4/17, 1/10/17 (and another 4 times in 2016)
Rating: 5/5 stars
Comments: Okay, so anybody looking at those dates would see that I really enjoyed Rogue One. Hadn’t planned to see it 3 consecutive days, but I remember the one on the 2nd was because I wanted it to be the first movie I saw in 2017, the Tuesday one happened because the theater had $5 tickets on Tuesday, and the Wednesday one happened because I had AMC credit and wanted to see what the hype was about the Dolby digital sound.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story satisfied most of the fan base. It brought to light the grittier side of the Rebellion against the evil Empire. War is messy. I also think it did a nice job with fleshing out some of the political maneuvering going on as moffs tried to please the emperor. The rather large cast of new characters integrated well with the old favorites.

 

Lego Batman

Date Seen: 2/20/17

Rating: 4/5 stars

Comments: A decent Lego movie that didn’t hesitate to poke fun at the long and varied history of Batman movies. Surprisingly, it also showed some character growth for our dark knight. I did end up seeing it again as a dvd, but it’s not the sort of movie I could take on loop.

Logan

Date Seen: 4/10/17

Rating: 4/5 stars

Comments: I had some time to kill in New York City, so I caught this movie I’d intended to see but hadn’t gotten to before. It’s enjoyable. There’s decent action. I liked the new kid and her story. They integrated the program thing well. I’m sort of a sucker for this type of secret government experiments scifi.

 

Born in China

Date Seen: 4/22/17

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Comments: Beautiful music. Nice for a nature oriented documentary. Not sure it’s one that needs to be seen on a big screen, but it’s worth watching.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Date Seen: 5/6/17

Rating: 4/5 stars

Comments: One of those rare sequels that comes off just as enjoyable as the first. The first may still be slightly better, but this one had all the same hallmarks: snarky humor, cool fights, weird scifi.

 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Date Seen: 5/27/17

Rating: 4/5 stars

Comments: A worthy successor to the Pirates saga. Like any 4th or 5th (this is the 5th right?) movie, it’s not quite as good as the first. The first movie was downright awesome, but the sequels have always fallen short of it. This particular one takes place a long time after the first few, so it’s sort of a reboot of the series. Disney’s trying to breathe new life into the franchise, and they mostly succeed.

Wonder Woman:

Dates Seen: June-ish 2017 (pretty sure I saw this one twice)

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Comments: I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It’s one I’d consider adding to a personal dvd/bluray collection. I haven’t yet, but maybe someday I’ll remember that at an opportune time. The movie has quite a bit of setup, but I enjoyed all that because I’m not familiar with the Wonder Woman lore. They even managed to throw in some character development, some humor, and a heck of a lot of action.

 

Spider-Man Homecoming:

Date Seen: June-ish 2017

Rating: 4/5 stars

Comments: Think I missed one of the reboot series for Spiderman. I don’t think I saw the ones with Andrew Garfield in the red tights. Anyway, this reboot works. I pity the poor props person who had to rebuild the Death Star they had to drop in the movie. The movie focused on Peter Parker trying to muddle his way through high school and being a superhero. Mr. Stark treats him like a kid, which has him terribly frustrated.

 

Dunkirk

Date Seen: July-ish 2017

Rating: 4/5 stars

Comments: This is definitely a movie enhanced by seeing on a big screen. There are very few lines of dialogue throughout this whole movie. It does a decent job showing the struggle to survive, and the desperation of the moment. War is messy.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Dates Seen: 12/15/17, 12/17/17, 12/28/17

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Comments: As the middle of a trilogy, it’s probably going to have the least closure of the new Star Wars movies. When people asked how many times I will see it, I’ve been answering that it’s likely to fall in between Rogue One (8) and The Force Awakens (14). The Last Jedi will likely stay in theaters longer than Rogue One, but I doubt I’ll be inclined to see this one 14 times in theaters.

I’ll definitely buy the dvd and watch it a few more times, but it doesn’t have quite as much closure as I like in stories. Note, this is the same reason Empire was never my favorite. That shocks a lot of hard core Star Wars fans. The porgs are useless but amazingly cute. The story development is intriguing. It’s definitely a Disneyfied version of Star Wars, but it’s still very good.

 

Conclusion:

I feel like the year’s movie selection held a good number of gems. Did you see any of these? What did you think?


Spoiler Talk Review for Star Wars Ep VIII: The Last Jedi

Once again, I don’t own the pic. Found it on Google. Pretty sure it’s one of the standard ones Disney released to promo the movie.

Introduction:

I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Jedi, but being the middle of a trilogy, it’s not likely to be my favorite Star Wars movie of all time. I’ll definitely see it again, but I’m still not sure if it’ll make me get out to theaters as much as The Force Awakens. (Saw that 14 times during it’s run, though to be fair it was in theaters until like March.) It’s definitely the sort of movie that’s worth seeing in theaters a few times.

Things I picked up only on the second time through:

– Luke’s fight with Kylo on the salt planet. He doesn’t leave footprints. I don’t think their lightsabers strike each other either. I think Luke dodges the whole time. Didn’t pick up on that the first time.

– The elevator conversation between Kylo Ren and Rey. They’re technically both correct.

Epic Moments:

– When Kylo Ren pulls Rey’s lightsaber toward himself and Rey and she reaches up and snatches it out of the air.

– When the Resistance ship slices through Snoke’s ship.

– Poe clearing out the surface canons on the dreadnaught.

– Luke becoming one with the Force.

Moments I could have done without:

I think it’s worth saying that the movie wasn’t perfect. The story wasn’t perfect.

– Luke getting milk.

– Rey and the mirror within mirrors. There’s probably really deep meaning in that scene, but I still find it annoying.

 

Funny Moments:

– Chewie’s dinner with a Porg audience.

– When Rey takes out the stone pillar and it tumbles down the hill, destroying the caretaker’s cart in the process.

– Poe ignoring General Hux while stalling for time.

– Yoda’s Force Ghost vs the tree on the sacred island.

 

Favorite Moments:

(There’s going to be some overlap here, but there are also some small moments that I really enjoyed that might not be tops of everybody’s picks.)

– Chewie’s dinner with a Porg audience.

– When Rey takes out the stone pillar and it tumbles down the hill, destroying the caretaker’s cart in the process.

– When Rey’s coffin-like pod from the Falcon gets dropped off in space.

– When the Resistance ship slices through Snoke’s ship.

– Porg vs Falcon window.

– Rey and Kylo Ren vs the Praetorian Guards. I especially like the last moment of that fight.

– BB-8 vs the cops on the casino planet (after being in the casino a while and having drunk patrons fill him with coins.)

– Rey lifting rocks at the end. It’s such an inglorious task but it’s exactly what the heroes needed at that moment.

 

Quotes and Exchanges:

(Only saw it twice, some of these are paraphrases.)

Luke: “Where are you from?”

Rey: “Nowhere.”

Luke: “Noone’s from nowhere.”

Rey: “Jakuu.”

Luke: “Okay, that’s pretty much nowhere.”

 

Luke: “There’s nothing you can say that can make me change my mind.”

R2D2: *Plays the recording of Princess Leia begging Obi-Wan Kenobi for help.*

Luke: “That was a cheap move.”

 

Poe: “‘Finn. Naked. Bag leaking.’ What? Did you fry a chip?”

 

 


Movie Reviews: 4/5 Stars Spiderman Homecoming

Note: I don’t own the rights to the movie poster. You can find it here.

Introduction:

I enjoyed this movie. It’s an origins story for Spiderman, but it gets past the stuff we’ve seen before and dives into Peter’s struggle to balance school and life as the webslinger. He’s frustrated because Tony Stark/Iron Man’s treating him like a kid. He’s also crushing on a girl who’s head of the Academic Decathlon team. He’s a genius but unreliable when it comes to competing.

Additional Comments:

  • I loved how doing the right thing didn’t always make everything better.
  • Much of the movie turned into typical Marvel action fare – how many buildings and vehicles can we destroy in the next two hours?
  • Tom Holland fills the role nicely. Aunt May works. Her last line’s perfect. I like how they worked MJ in.
  • I’m never a fan of home videos so the beginning was annoying. I like the idea, but the shaky cam style messes with my head.
  • There’s a good balance between ups and downs for the hero, sentiment, growing pains, and action. And comedy. I don’t think there were quite as many funny lines as other Marvel movies, but they worked in some situational comedy like the gangster giving him interrogation advice.
  • I wonder how many Death Stars they broke for that one scene?
  • They’re definitely shooting for a sequel, but there’s enough closure to feel like you’ve seen a complete story.
  • Except the stinger. It’s a stinker. (Okay, so mildly amusing but leaves one feeling annoyed nonetheless.)

Conclusion:

They’ve successfully passed along the Spiderman torch, yet again. Not even sure I saw the Andrew Garfield version. Last Spidey I remember was Toby…and that was a very long time ago. Definitely the sort of movie worth seeing in theaters and adding to your blu ray collection if you have such a thing.

In the mood to splurge on your Spiderman Obsession?


Movie Review: 4/5 Stars A Man Called Ove

Note: Here’s where I found the movie poster.

Introduction:

I had the privilege of seeing this movie while on my vacation to London, England. If you want to read up on that trip, go here. My mom and sister had both read the book and recommended it. I don’t have time to read much these days but the premise sounded fine and the ticket was free for me. (I’d bought the London Pass, which let you attend one of four Curzon theaters at off-peak hours.)

So, I roped a poor friend into going with me to see this. I’m fairly certain we were the youngest in that tiny theater. And I mean tiny! It was the smallest, cutest little theater I’d ever been in. My friends at home have a bigger setup in their living room. Anyway, the theaters in America might be bigger but not many of them serve a cup of cappuccino, which this one did.

Additional Comments (About the movie):

  • I don’t generally like movies with subtitles, but this was fine.
  • General premise: Grumpy old man finds himself in a strange position thanks to his new neighbors.
  • There’s a strong suicide theme throughout the movie, but there’s also both dark and light humor present as well. My personal favorite was his obsession with keeping people from driving where they’re not supposed to.
  • Second favorite moment: When his neighbor lady is feeling down and he just goes off on a 2 minute rant including something like: “You’ve escaped Iran, married a loser, and …” It was honest and priceless.
  • It’s not a comedy, but there are funny moments. It’s not a tragedy, but there are tragic moments.
  • Not a fan of flashbacks, but here they were necessary and well-done.
  • Characterization is handled nicely. You learn to love Ove, his wife, his new neighbors, and even that darn cat.

Conclusion:

If you have the time and opportunity, check out A Man Called Ove. Can’t say I’ve seen many foreign films, but this one’s worth seeing. There’s something very moving about the character.

If you don’t want to watch the movie, check out the book:


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Movie Review: 4/5 Dunkirk

Note: I don’t own the rights to the picture. Pretty sure it’s just one of a dozen different versions of the movie’s promo posters.

Summary:

You know what happens. It’s kind of like watching Titantic in that you have a general gist of the story. The taglines are pretty cool. There are a few very sentimental and moving parts, but by and large, I think they missed several opportunities to humanize the film.

Additional Comments:

  • It’s visually stunning and as gorgeous as a war movie can get. Lots of explosions, but nothing gory.
  • While on the short side, the movie is like watching one giant, long battle scene.
  • The way they chose to edit it made certain parts choppy. Nighttime, daytime, nighttime, and so forth.
  • I really wish I knew all of the character’s names. In the beginning, they did little lettered parts telling you the obvious like you’re now watching the air battle or the sea battle. How hard would it have been to add like 8 letters telling us some of the guys’ names?
  • I’m okay with there being little dialogue. The middle of a firefight is hardly the getting to know you time, but even a well-placed flashback would have sufficed to give the viewer more of a reason to care about these people and their fate.

Aside: Hearing British accents again was kind of fun for me since I’d just gotten back from a 10-day trip.

If you want to check out that series, go here.

Conclusion:

It’s a beautiful movie that’s well-worth seeing at least once in your life. I’m not sure if it’s a buy the blue ray and play repeatedly sort of good, but it’s definitely good. Certain elements would have made it better, but overall, it’s a solid war film.

Check out the Soundtrack


Awesome Movie Reviews: 5/5 Stars Wonder Woman Scores Big

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to the picture. Took it right off of Google images.

Here’s where Google got the pic.

Introduction:

I’m one of those people on the fringe of the comic book crowd. And I’ll admit I knew nothing about the Wonder Woman comic series or back story. I think my first glimpses of her were in the Batman vs. Superman movie. That one was okay, but this movie’s better. The not knowing part could have been the reason I didn’t mind there being a lengthy backstory for her. That, and the kid they got to play Diana as a child is adorable.

Additional Comments:

  • While it could be said that the morals of the story were about as subtle as a sledgehammer, it’s still a charming movie.
  • Gal Gadot pulls off the presence of Wonder Woman beautifully. So, I’m guessing her background as a model helped with being comfortable in some of those outfits. The scene where they were getting her clothes to blend in during WWI London era hit some much-needed nice light-hearted chords.
  • I love the line about slavery, and Steve’s secretary was awesome. She didn’t have many scenes, but the few she graced worked well.
  • Scene in the London back alley came through big too. The fight scenes in general were spread out enough to carry the slow points. The movie makers overdid the slow-motion a tad, but it did make the fight scenes fun.
  • The guy who played Steve (Chris Pine) did a nice job but he didn’t really sound like a British guy. His German accent was passable, and his acting was superb.
  • Not too sure about the evil chemist. Is she a character from the comics? Why did she have face coverings?
  • There are some fun reveals in the movie, but I won’t say more for fear of spoiling the movie.
  • When going to see an action movie, I subconsciously ask myself: was it fun? Am I entertained? Would I see this again? When I can successfully answer “yes!” three times, I know the movie’s a winner to me.
  • Not sure if I’ll see it in theaters again, but it’s got enough of a mix of story and action to carry a few viewings. I might have to buy the blu-ray.

Conclusion:

Wonder Woman scores as an action movie. It’s bright, flashy, and gorgeous on so many levels. Definitely worth watching. There are enough moments involving punching people to keep the crowd happy.

 


Movie Review: 4/5 Stars Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Men Tell No Tales – Surprisingly Good

Introduction:

The fifth installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Men Tell No Tales, follows in same footsteps as the first few. It’s weird. It’s loud. It’s got a gorgeous soundtrack. They were never the “serious” tales. Overall, I enjoyed this one much more than 2-4. It suffers from being a sequel, but that’s to be expected. As a story, it has quite a few “convenient” moments, but it’s pretty standard fare action/adventure/humor with quite a bit of Disney’s touch upon the tale.

I’ll try to keep this relatively spoiler free. No promises though.

Additional Comments:

  • Casting worked out very well. I thought the guy who played Captain Sullivan would annoy me because his voice is super annoying in the trailer. It’s the same voice in the movie but thankfully, his speaking parts are limited and most of the time he’s just stomping about shouting. The young man they got to play Henry Turner and the young woman they got to play, Carina (sorry, dunno if it’s supposed to be K or C), did nice jobs with their roles. Depp is his usual oddball self as Captain Jack Sparrow.
  • The opening scene in St. Martin sets the tone for what you’re going to get. It’s pretty funny among other things.
  • There’s no real sense of danger for our heroes and heroine during any of the times they’re on the land. You know they’re going to escape. It’s just a matter of how.
  • The banter between Henry and Carina is not always funny, but they do innocent charm decently well.
  • Although I think this movie’s world’s better than 2-4, it also makes more sense if you’ve seen them, especially the 2nd movie.

Conclusion:

I don’t think it’s a see-8-times in theaters movie, but it’s certainly well-worth watching. I was entertained. I’ll probably end up buying the soundtrack. As usual, it’s a beautiful score that mixes the old and the new. Not bad for something inspired by a ride at Disney World.

 


Movie Review: 4.5/5 Guardians of the Galaxy Spoiler Free Version

 

Introduction:

I know a lot of movie review sites use a 4 star system, but I’m too well-trained by Amazon reviews to adhere to it. Just saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. As I didn’t know much besides what I’d seen in the first movie, I shall leave this spoiler-free for now.

Summary and First Impressions:

Crude humor and well-placed jokes punctuate the movie in all the right places and a few oddball ones. Still, there’s a surprisingly deep and touching story to be found if you really dig through the crassness. It probably won’t be on my must-buy and watch 80x list, but I’m glad I saw the movie. Most people will think it pales compared to the first in the series. While it suffers a tad from being a sequel, the makers took the story in a cool direction.

Fun Stuff:

Guardians of the Galaxy would never fall under “serious” movies, but I love how much fun they had with it. Things like “Taser Face,” the Sovereign golden people fighting with video game like drones, repeated “I am Groots” all over the credits, and so forth.

How many “I am groots” did you come up with in the credits?

I found 9, but I may have missed a few. Marvel does a stellar job of making you want to watch the credits. There’s so much going on in the sides.

Conclusion:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 lives up to the ridiculous tone set by the first movie while also moving the story along. (It doesn’t come off as a “gee, we just want to cash in another payday” sort of movie.) Go see it!

Movie Review: 4/5 Stars Born in China

Summary:

This is a documentary that follows a mother panda and her baby, a mother snow leopard and her two cubs, some scrappy deer-like critters, and an adolescent monkey.

Additional Comments:

  • The script got a tad silly sometimes, but the narration was done well.
  • There’s triumph and tragedy in this relatively short movie.
  • The little additional snippets provided a nice look at behind the scenes. This must have been one heck of a long, hard job.
  • I noticed how most of the movie posters are harping on the pandas, but it actually follows 4 different animal families.
  • The beginning part with the map was pretty neat.
  • Best part by far = the music. Beautiful and sweeping, it’s definitely got an Asian flare to it.

Conclusion:

I’m not typically a documentary person, but I found this enjoyable. Definitely worth seeing.

 

 

 


Movie Review: 4/5 Stars Logan

(I don’t own the picture.)

Introduction:

My rating on this movie may be slightly generous, but according to Rotten Tomatoes, it’s definitely fresh. It’s an action-packed. Even the kid’s fight scenes are brutal, bloody, and cool all at once. Both Huge Jackman and Dafne Keen did an amazing job with their roles. If you want to see the full who’s who in the cast, go here. The dude they got to play Dr. Rice was suitably creepy. The cast list is actually pretty long.

Content Warnings: Definitely not for kids. It contains violence and strong language in high extremes.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • An action movie like this provides many opportunities for expletives, but this movie kind of took that to the outer extremes. It seemed like 90% of Logan’s dialogue consisted of the f-bomb.
  • I didn’t really get a good sense for the main bad guy. I’m probably missing background that’s given in the comics or previous movies.

What I Liked:

  • That little girl’s at once adorable and deadly. I don’t think she even gets lines of dialogue until the last half-hour of the movie.
  • The plot’s rather simplistic, but it works. An evil company creates genetically altered children. When the program’s shut down, the doctors and nurses are ordered to kill the subjects, and of course, some have an attack of conscience. Bad guys try to contain the problem by sending overwhelming force. What’s not to love? Okay, so I’m a sucker for those sorts of plotlines.
  • I’ll admit to not keeping up very well with the X-men movies, but as far as I know, the makers stayed consistent to Logan’s character while attempting to expand him.

Conclusion:

I’m not sure it enters my “must buy and re-watch 80 times” pile, but it’s definitely worth looking up and renting once or twice.