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8/10
Great story trumps odd casting and portrayals
21 September 2019
Free lance writer Wilson travels with fiancee McAdams to Paris while struggling with his latest masterpiece. While there he magically travels back in time and mixes with the expatriates and others of 1920's Paris. I loved the story and the characters involved (I watched the whole thing without even knowing Woody wrote and directed it!). Marion Cotillard steals the show as the enchanting muse of Picasso and others, and Rachel McAdams is good and attractive in the thankless role of the rich ditzy fiancee. Owens does well in portraying the enthusiasm with which his character finds the 20's personalities, but he seems more like a college sophomore than a struggling adult author. Someone with a little more sophisticated aura, like a Tom Everett Scott, might have fit the role better. I thought the portrayals of Stein and Hemingway shallow and uninteresting, in contrast to Cotillard's work, but some of the other parts like Brody as Dali were effective. It's all good fun with some unusual twists and turns that may surprise you. Recommended.
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The Lion King (2019)
3/10
And I REALLY kept a mostly open mind too...
21 July 2019
Despite the fact that I've seen enough Disney now for two or three lifetimes and don't care if I never see another Disney movie again. Visually impressive, totally uninvolving from beginning to end. Formula stuff without a soul. And I would think not entirely appropriate for a very young audience because of the scary scenes at the beginning. My 14 year old was more forgiving and gave it an 8 out of 10.
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7/10
I don't like the MCU anymore
7 July 2019
The more these movies become the Disney MCU and the less Marvel Studios (which I guess is only a name now), the less I like them. I can see how folks less concerned with my complaints could enjoy this movie. I just lament when thinking back to where Marvel Studios started. We're watching (and enjoying) the Toby Maguire Spiderman 2. Toby was a little old for the part but had the role down cold. A little bit of silly romance, a well-developed villain, good supporting roles (Incl J.K.), nice pacing. The world isn't facing destruction, you didn't have to see 4 other movies to understand it, Jon Favreau doesn't do an obligatory cameo nor Nick Fury, there's none of the stifling Disney idealogical and social twist, the plot makes sense and doesn't just fit the scene, and the CGI is as absolutely good as it has to be. So while maybe Far works nicely with the new generation, it's by-the-numbers agenda, plot and production have already grown very old for me.
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9/10
Wow do I disagree
30 June 2019
So I might have gotten in swing with the masses on this one except for one major thing - I grew up Marvel, not DC, and I can rewatch this movie 10 times (which I have) and can't really stomach rewatching any of the recent Marvel "blockbusters" (excepting recent Thor and X-Men), and certainly none of the recent Avengers. This group works okay for me, what makes things really special is Gadot and The Flash, they take this movie from okay to very good. I would say that I'm shamed in my aging years to side with DC against Marvel, but Disney has so warped Marvel that it's not really Marvel anymore, it's some PC contrivance. Go Flash! BTW, I like Jeremy Irons but Michael Caine was just so good as Alfred, and before him Michael Gough was the best.
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To Have and to Hold (2019 TV Movie)
8/10
Hallmark on Lifetime?
25 June 2019
The misses likes the sordid side of the Lifetime movie, when I dive in I prefer the pleasant side of the Hallmark movies. We got not too far into this and I had to let the misses know that, sadly, this was Hallmark-bound even if the Lifetime logo was bottom right. Christenson does an attractive and believable turn in these sort of things and the other actors were pretty solid, at least Hallmark-style. Is Lifetime realizing that pleasant can sometimes beat unpleasant? I don't know but this sure seemed to be on the wrong channel.
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Dark Phoenix (2019)
9/10
Unforgiveable Sins
9 June 2019
So we all have some unforgiveable sins somewhere, but the X-Girl's become heavier than most as the story unfolds. It doesn't help that she experiences a collision with a mega-force during a Space Shuttle rescue. That and her past send her on a spiral that leads to death and destruction. I liked this movie. I thought the story and writing were intelligent, the acting effective, and McAvoy and Fassbender at the top of their game. Let's talk about Rotten Tomatoes for a sec. Are they a shill for Disney movies? Are political correctness and addressing (certain) contemporary issues the new ratings standards? Their movie assessments have gone from arbitrary to just plain wrong in a rather short period of time. While we're at it, let's talk about the Avengers for another sec. The first Avenger movie was the best superhero movie ever. Since then they spiraled downward to a much-celebrated but disorganized and haphazard geek show. In looking backward, the MCU (with the exception of the first Avengers and Iron Man, and the Thor series) has produced some impressive cinematic eye candy but little of substance to me. The only movies I have or could ever rewatch of the MCU are the few mentioned. I can and do occasionally watch the McAvoy X-Men. I think the new group of X-Men was a smashing success, without possibly the star power of the MCU but with more compelling and consistent stories. I'm sorry that they are folding up the existing X-Men but hope we see a great new generation down the road. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
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9/10
Flawed movie very well told
1 June 2019
I am a Godzilla-lover and also a movie purist. So there were moments watching this where I had some reservations. I'm going to pretty much skip that. The story was told via the new fad Transformer-style, that is, get a nice small set of characters, have all hell break loose without rhyme or reason, and just follow the characters. While I struggled with this more towards the beginning I got sucked in as we went along and enjoyed the good acting and also the very good special effects. The Big Guy was looking healthy and King G never more menacing. I thought the 15 year old playing the daughter was very good among several good performances. So forget the stupid frequently unexplained moments and just enjoy the ride. I gave a bonus style point for it not being too long, just the right length with no lull from beginning to end.
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6/10
At a loss for words
3 May 2019
It's the next day after I've seen Endgame and I still don't quite know what to make of it. So I'll mention the downsides first: 1) Infinity War was a mess, there was just too much thrown at you without making much sense; to expect the audience to recall all the ins and outs of Infinity War was asking a little much; 2) they do some real interesting things here, particularly time travel, but don't overthink (or even partially think) the real complications or it will ruin it for you; 3) some of the stuff that happens either doesn't make sense or runs counter to earlier Avenger movies, and 4) the raccoon from Guardians shouldn't have had a major role. Plus a bonus complaint, how they treated Thor was stupid. On the plus side: 1) the sheer weight of the movie is spectacular, with a few exceptions the CGI doesn't get in the way of the story; 2) the logistics of the plot allows some of our favorite characters to do something magical, deserving and sometimes quite unexpected; 3) the work by nearly all of the main actors is quite good. So to recap the Avengers book: 1 was the best superhero movie ever; 2 was a disappointing bust; 3 had too much to work with but some of it was good stuff; and 4 was enjoyable with some moderate reservations.
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Tombstone (1993)
10/10
Magnificent Western
19 January 2019
I slowly progressed on this movie, watching bits here and there, then increasing the dose as I went along. I have never been much on Westerns, but this is my all time favorite. Wyatt Earp may not have been a saint, but he certainly exceeds the moral values of his enemies, the Cowboys. And has the gumption to stand up to them. Russell is almost always spectacular, no where more than playing Earp along with a ton of other stars, including a very effective Kilmer as the quirky Doc Holliday. I checked out the truth vs. Hollywood and was pleasantly surprised to say this is on the money in some key spots. Good from beginning to end, Russell should have been an Oscar nominee.
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8/10
Mixed feelings
29 December 2018
I can accept any review you want to dish out on this, from tired and trite to awesome. Right off the bat I could feel it was a blend of Star Wars and Mad Max, maybe with a little War of the Worlds thrown in. The lead actors were good (Anna Fang was occasionally obvious but spectacular throughout) and a lot seemed new at the start. Just the idea of "London" on Wheels crossing the Channel to wreck havoc on Europe was inspired. But then as we began to wind things up there were those deja vu moments. If the first 2/3s weren't so good I wouldn't care, but they were and then they sort of blew it in the home stretch. So here's my tip to Peter Jackson and Ms. Walsh and anyone else writing a new sci fi saga. I'll try to be discreet to avoid the necessity of a spoiler. The plot may seem great on it's own in a vacuum. But if it's been done before then you can't do it again, even if it's not the inspiration for your work. You HAVE to rewrite the end so it isn't a reboot of other films, even if it doesn't work as well. That's my two cents and I'm sticking to it.
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8/10
Pleasant enough
23 December 2018
So I've totally lost any respect for Rotten Tomatoes when they give this modest but solid entry a 25% and the scatter-brained Spiderverse 97%. They must be seeing something I missed. As I guess everyone knows, Carell is a former comic illustrator whose life fell off and then he got beaten permanently senseless by thugs in a bar. His means of coping with his loss of memory and grand trauma is to create a collection of doll friends, including himself as a dashing WW II pilot and ones for each of those who are helping him, along (unfortunately) with those who threaten him. There's some real good CGI when appropriate and a mild story line that doesn't go exactly as you would expect. I and my 13 year old equally enjoyed this movie and I don't agree with many of the Imdb reviews.
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7/10
Maybe this is a good movie in another dimension?
16 December 2018
I think this is an age/generational thing - my 13 year old liked it. I found the scattershot and unconventional telling of the story distracting and uninvolving. It was too much to get beyond for most of the ride. I still have the same feeling about the manner of presentation, but I liked the basic story and the wrap up.
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The Sweetest Christmas (2017 TV Movie)
9/10
Right on target
12 December 2018
On another Hallmark movie I said what things I need to see to enjoy one of these, I won't go through that again except to clarify that sometimes you can't describe it, it just works or it doesn't. Lacey has had some minor misfires but she remains the most consistently effective performer in the Hallmark Christmas stable. This is no exception. I don't know why Lacey shines so well in these, but she is always very cute, often tough yet vulnerable, and usually into her role and believable. This one works the formula well.
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8/10
Good biopic
18 November 2018
Well done, surprisingly conventional telling of Freddie Mercury and Queen. Malik gives 110% in his portrayal of the flamboyant(!) lead singer, and the rest of the band is also very capably played. There was a little something off with this that I just couldn't identify, something that could be fairly easily corrected but wasn't. I don't know that they fully projected Freddie's enormous live presence, and honestly some of the concert scenes were so obviously CGI-enhanced it detracted from the moment. Where the sequence of events is important I'm a stickler, and I must say this film falsely presented the juxtaposition of some key events, but to avoid a spoiler I'll leave it at that. Despite all of the above, a better-than-average film.
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The Grinch (2018)
7/10
Okay for young kids
17 November 2018
Sitting in the theater part way through my initial thought for a title to a review was "Empty calories", but in this case that would be too harsh. More accurate would be something like "Innocuously & mildly entertaining". This is quite a different Grinch, more of a victim than the ultra-nasty villain from the book and original TV show. As Kamunrah might say "he's not bad, just vaguely grouchy". So he gets in Wiley Coyote situations while ineffectively trying to spoil the Who's Christmas. This is brought to you by the same mindless folks that did Minions, so there's little soul to this movie, but there is a smidgen of real warmth and a nice wrap.
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10/10
Agreed
28 October 2018
Totally in agreement with the other comment here as to mesmerizing (particularly the baby doll traffic police). Michael Palin of Monty Python is the best on travel, his stuff is always top notch. He tries to take us to as many varied spots in Korea as an hour allows, and his selections seems spot on. One would assume his ability to travel in N Korea (with two escorts) and the leeway in his discussions with residents might be a further sign of N Korea's interest in joining the rest of humanity. This is a priceless and insightful travel work.
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Road Games (1981)
7/10
I mean, it's really not very good
27 October 2018
But just the same, like Cherry Falls, I found myself irresistibly drawn back to it time and again the other night. Keach is an American truck driver down under, Curtis (looking pretty darn good) a coy rich kid on the run. Some of the plot is just plain stupid or unbelievable, and Keach's talking to and otherwise entertaining himself while solo on the road goes beyond annoying and into the next category, but there's chemistry between Keach and Curtis that goes above all that in the end (barely). Better than watching a test pattern for those old enough to know what that is.
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Around the Horn (2002– )
1/10
The worst ever
12 September 2018
I happened to subject myself to this once or twice dialing in early for PTI. It is just astounding that a major cable network, ESPN, chucks this garbage out daily in a fairly key spot (5 pm), as a lead in to one of the best sports commentary shows ever, Pardon The Interruption. PTI should sue for lack of support. Exhibit 17, in with the ghastly new NFL Primetime, as to why ESPN is inferior to the new spate of me-too sports networks. Right down to the obnoxious host throwing his balled notes at the camera (every episode). That's the only part of the show I actually see now but it fits. Yeccch.
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The Great Wall (I) (2016)
8/10
Good fun
28 July 2018
The action never stops as Damon and friend, expert marksmen, visit China in the midst of an alien creature invasion. They have built the Great Wall against these creatures and they need it all for this most recent attack. Damon pitches in while wondering how he can get his hands on the legendary Chinese explosives. The action never lets up, and Jing and Damon make a very fascinating and attractive team. The end of this goes a little over the top, that's the only disappointment for me in an otherwise fine movie.
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8/10
Beats the first
13 July 2018
The first movie took a lot of time to get going; this one gets rolling, with maybe too much going on right through the end. Rudd hits the spot, Lilly (Hobbit) does pretty well as the Wasp. The Ant Man films have their own sort of goofy, less serious aura, this one doesn't surprise. Maybe a tad too long but a decent ride.
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8/10
Good follow-up
13 July 2018
I love not having to write 10 lines. Pratt and Howard worked fairly well first time out, they work better this time. Shenanigans surround the supposed wrap up of Jurassic Park, you know who gets right in the middle of them. Not too long, keeps the pace throughout.
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Margin Call (2011)
9/10
Awesome
15 June 2018
Fascinating and well-told tale of a corporate melt-down with excellent ensemble cast, especially the always-appreciated Tucci as risk manager and Spacey as floor boss. I'm not going to say much more since the one positive change to Imdb is no more ten line rule. The story and the characters are textured and have a very realistic feel to them. It was only after seeing this 1 1/2 times that I realized the real-life context but that's not the point of the picture. It's about corporate lowest common denominator stupidity and chilling selfishness.
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6/10
One hot mess
9 May 2018
Two other titles came to mind as I watched this. "The sum is much less than the parts", and/or "Way too much on the plate". As I've said in an earlier review on the Avengers, you get into this superhero escalation where the next movie has to be even more threatening and the evil even more evil than in the last one. Avengers 1 was the best superhero movie ever made period. Avengers 2 fell into the problem I just noted. Avengers 3 has just way too many important characters, story lines, plot twists, issues, blah blah blah. And the motivation and plan for the villain is about as sophomoric as you can get. One good thing - Doc Strange is actually using spells now, not just body throws. There's a number of good moments in this movie but it's just way too much and at its essence way too stupid.
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10/10
A smashing success
7 April 2018
Brilliantly written and acted, Death of Stalin highlights the scramble for power in the USSR after the death of one of the most despicable leaders in world history. I often criticize historical and particularly Biblical films for taking too much license with the facts, somehow in this case the satire allowed a compression of events and played even better than the raw truth. Steve Buscemi in ordinary life looks nothing like Nikita Khrushchev, nonetheless he is outstanding in the role and the driving actor in the film. The recent spate of historical films is refreshing, and this stands right among the best.
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Baywatch (2017)
2/10
Undeniably terrible
21 March 2018
I mean, with all due respect, who writes some of these movies? Baywatch on tv was goofy and very low-brow but still at times a modestly believable and entertaining program. This is an absolute piece of trash, from the same sort of folks who did Minions and Wet Hot American Summer. Give me two weeks in a hotel room in LA and I could write a better plot and script than this. I really don't have much more to say except it's hard to believe that credible actors like Daddario and Johnson would sign on for this geek show.
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