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While I do believe it's important for a film to have a high budget and acclaimed actors, the value of a well written script and good character development should not be underestimated. My Top 3 Best Films per year are below. Click "See More."
2018 Best Films: Christopher Robin, Rampage, and Paddington 2.
2017 Best Films: Fate of the Furious, Goodbye, Christopher Robin, and Justice League.
2016 Best Films: Sing, Now You See Me 2, and Hacksaw Ridge.
2015 Best Films: Cinderella, Furious 7, and Paddington.
2014 Best Films: Beauty and the Beast (French), Mom's Night Out, and Edge of Tomorrow.
2013 Best Films: Frozen, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and Now You See Me.
2012 Best Films: Les Miserables, Here Comes the Boom, and Skyfall.
2011 Best Films: Fast Five, Winnie the Pooh, and I honestly cannot add anything else.
2010 Best Films: The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Tangled, and Toy Story 3.
2009 Best Films: Return to Cranford, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and Fast and Furious.
2008 Best Films: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, BBC Sense and Sensibility, and Nim's Island.
2007 Best Films: Enchanted, Mr. Bean's Holiday, and Spider-Man 3.
2006 Best Films: Nacho Libre, Eight Below, and RV.
2005 Best Films: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Chicken Little, and Sky High. (Honorable Mention: Dreamer.)
2004 Best Films: The Incredibles, Christmas With the Kranks, and Starsky and Hutch.
2003 Best Films: Piglet's Big Movie and that is honestly the only 2003 film I can recommend.
2002 Best Films: (Not yet available)
2001 Best Films: Monsters Inc., Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure, and The Fast and the Furious.
2000 Best Films: Godzilla 2000, The Tigger Movie, and Mom's Got a Date With a Vampire.
1999 Best Films: Toy Story 2, Galaxy Quest, and Office Space.
1998 Best Films: Godzilla, Ever After, and The Truman Show.
1997 Best Films: Anastasia, Batman and Robin (it's so bad it's funny) and Starship Troopers (again, it's so bad it's funny).
1996 Best Films: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, Mission Impossible, and Jingle All the Way.
1995 Best Films: Rob Roy, Babe, and Jumanji.
1994 Best Films: True Lies, The Jungle Book, and since I haven't seen The Lion King I can't comment on it.
1993 Best Films: Last Action Hero, Denis the Menace, and Groundhog Day.
1992 Best Films: (Not yet available)
1991 Best Films: What About Bob, Beauty and the Beast, and Terminator 2.
1990 Best Films: Back to the Future III, Kindergarten Cop, and Home Alone. (Special shout out to Soultaker, for being so badly good.)
1989 Best Films: Back to the Future II, The Little Mermaid, and The Adventures of Milo and Otis.
1988 Best Films: Funny Farm... (pending)
1987 Best Films: The Princess Bride, Predator, and Masters of the Universe (because it's so bad it's good).
1986 Best Films: (Not yet available)
1985 Best Films: Back to the Future, Silver Bullet, and Rocky 4.
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Ever since, critics and viewers have had mixed feelings. How do you feel about it? Discuss here.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return is... Big Modern Media's Take on Something Quintessential.
Being a HUGE fan of the original Mystery Science Theater, and everything the MST alumni have done since then, I was looking forward to the new reboot of the show. The original, while popular, was still something that only a narrow group of people had a taste for. It was nice to hear that it was getting a comeback on a big streaming network like Netflix. But that honor has it's setbacks, too...
First of all, the jokes are spoken too fast. Strange as it may seem to pick on small detail like this, I must insist that timing is everything with riffing. Jonah, Crow, and Tom shoot off four jokes every 30 seconds, without taking time to pause and let the movie play out. Sometimes on the old one, Mike, Joel, and the others would be silent for a little while, waiting for the perfect time to interject. But that is just a reflection of the times we live in now: go, go, go, with no time to be settled.
Another issue is that the jokes are not as witty as they once were. This is not surprising, as most of the original writers were not involved. The original writers were all basically the stars of the show; the actors, puppeteers, and voices. Now, the writers are 'Hollywood people.' and this is not a good thing. They have lame 'Hollywood' humor, something that the old MST mocked.
For the final two complaints, I say that the camera is too close to the screen at all times, whether they are in the theater or doing a skit (again, something odd to point out, but let me assure you it is not trivial). And finally, the actors seem to have no real talent. You can tell their heart's not in it, they're just reading the comments. They have no enthusiasm and no talent for funny voices or imitations.
In a nutshell, no matter how big of a budget you have, and no matter what large streaming website you go through, the only thing that really matters is heart and talent. If you appreciate those things, watch an original episode with Joel or Mike instead.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Thor: Ragnarok is... Loathsome and Revolting!
Let me just get right to it: It sucks! It stinks! It's a rotting pile of old brussel sprouts (my apologies if you like brussels) mixed with wet dog fur and topped with old braunschweiger for good measure. Okay, now that I've summed it up, let's get to the meat of it.
For starters, it's a Marvel movie, and a Thor movie, of which I am not a fan. But that aside, I tried it anyway. *sigh*
The characters are simply deplorable. It seems that each and every one of them is raunchy, over the top, and just plain unlikable. The worst of the lot is Vallkyrie (Tessa Thompson), whose name doesn't even make sense because it refers to her occupation. She is rude, drunk, and violent. Thor is, as always, completely annoying. His constant cheeky remarks quickly get tiresome. Hela (Cate Blanchett) is a typical villain, with no color or originality about her (well, she has antlers, but still). Loki (Tom Hiddleston) requires no complaint, but also evokes no praise either. Then we come to the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), who literally owns a space junkyard. My critique of him alone, should I write it, would be several pages.
The plot is awful; you care nothing for what's going on. The action is too busy to even look at. I usually go on a bit more, but all I can say is "Yuck!!!"
Pete's Dragon (2016)
Pete's Dragon is... Drab and Melancholy.
After practically falling in love with 1977's "Pete's Dragon," there's certain things we've come to expect from this magical story: humor, songs, likable characters, and of course, whimsy. Although the idea of a "Pete's Dragon" with a bit more action and "epic dragon stuff" is fine, we still need that Disney fun to make it all come together. Evidently, David Lowery, (who both directed and wrote the remake) forgot this all together.
For starters, the original was set in the 1900's, providing a colorful background for the story, while the remake is set in an early 1980's town, and not a very fun one at that. Pete seems to dwell in the forest for no apparent reason. The original Pete lived in the woods because he was hiding from the Gogans; he wasn't a Mowgli-style wild boy incapable of speech! The opening scene is very traumatic and very unnecessary. And the CGI Elliot is nothing special. He is furry, which is very strange. Last I checked, dragons were reptiles, not cats.
Bryce Dallas Howard is extremely off putting as Grace, the new Nora. She doesn't sing, she doesn't dance; in fact, she's a hard core forest ranger (how charming). Instead of having a funny, bumbling father like Mickey Rooney, she has a creepy, clinically depressed father played by Robert Redford, who would be more lovable if he wasn't in the movie at all. Then there's Oakes Fegley as Pete, who can be mistaken for a girl sometimes. The villain of our story is a lumberjack, Gavin (Karl Urban), who sets out to catch Elliot and prove his existence (how dare he want to make eye opening scientific advancements!).
Among the film's other issues is comedy found where it doesn't belong. Isn't people toppling off gurneys hilarious?!? No? You're right. If you saw a dragon outside a hospital window when you were 10, you would smile, right? No? Correct again.
To summarize, this dreary revision of "Pete's Dragon" will probably induce nothing but blinks and snores.
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Alice in Wonderland is... Inexplicable and Freakish!
Written by Lewis Carroll in 1865, "Alice in Wonderland" is the story of a sweet but smart little girl who travels to a strange dimension called Wonderland, where some cute and some crazy creatures bring her to defend her sane knowledge, and ultimately stand up to a corrupt Queen. This movie... is not that story.
In this version, it is more like a sequel. Alice, now nineteen, escapes back to Wonderland amidst an unwanted proposal. Once there, her old "friends" - and when I say friends I mean nightmarish CGI monsters - celebrate her return because it means she will slay a dragon. Alice, however, believes and hopes she is merely dreaming (you and me both, girl).
There is actually no problem with the plot or characterization, because there is none!!! Director Tim Burton was obviously too busy making sure the cast was detached and the visuals were nauseating to worry about that.
Along for the insane ride is Johnny Depp, the King of Insane Rides. His interpretation of the Mad Hatter is even more mad and less comical than that of the book. Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen is incredibly annoying and has absolutely no charisma. Anne Hathaway is also somehow irritating as the White Queen; she suffers from "Sickening Sweetness." Crispin Glover also stars as the Knave of Hearts who works as the right hand man of the Red Queen (she was his last hope after 'A Match Made in Space' didn't sell many copies). And finally we have Mia Wasiikowa... or Wasakowki... Waiokaski... oh, whatever! as Alice, who can only be described as pale.
As for the CGI characters, there is a mouse named Mallymkun. But don't get excited - this isn't a cute, fun mouse. In fact, this mouse plucks out eyes. To be honest, I really don't know if it's male or female. The Tweedles are... stupid at best. And the hookah smoking caterpillar, Absolem, who was utterly confusing and slow in the book, has now become an Aslan-like voice of wisdom. Then there's the Cheshire Cat, who is creepy but somehow steals the show.
If you decide to watch this film, beware. It is disturbed, deranged, and dare I say offensive? But if you do decide to view, make sure you have sufficient headgear and other protection to avoid stray pieces of insanity.
Cinderella is... Very Lovely But a Bit Too Long.
When it comes to a classic Disney Princess, Cinderella is the classiest of them all! This live action remake suits her very well, as it does many things right. That being said, it is not a perfect film.
Among the things it does right is this: It does not screw with the story! The biggest thing a writer/director can do wrong is take a classic tale and twist it to fit his (or her) artsy ideas (as we've seen with Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland"). It pretty much sticks to the original story, adding, of course, more characterization and development along the way.
Lily James is wonderful in her leading role; Cinderella is sweet and feminine, a refreshing change from the Katniss Everdeens and Black Widows of recent film! Cate Blanchett settles nicely into her role as Lady Tremaine, with the same coldness as Eleanor Audley's interpretation of the character. Richard Madden, Prince Kit, was fair enough but he didn't deserve all the 'backstory.' This is Cinderella's tale, not Kit's 'Being a Prince is Too Hard!' lament. And finally we come to Helena Bonham Carter, the Fairy Godmother. I thought she was very talented and entertaining - a fresh new take on an old character.
The film's biggest flaw was that it was not a musical! You see, "Cinderella" is actually a rather simple, short story - not material for a two hour movie with no breaks for song. There were scenes/plots that seemed to drag on; a big number (other than the occasional 'Lavender Blue') would've helped things along a lot. Plus, "Cinderella" is just a perfect setting for bursting into song.
Aside from that, I must return to the good points of the movie: the gown. Oh, the gown! The entire transformation scene was breathtaking. And the little songs during the credits were absolutely delightful!
So, "Cinderella" is a magical movie well worth your time (even if there's not many songs).
Prinzessin Maleen (2015)
Prinzessin Maleen (Princess Maleen) is... Beautifully Made and Puts American Fairy Tales to Shame!
I've known for a while that almost any other country can make period/fantasy films better than American companies, but this just proves my point. Not only is "Princess Maleen" foreign but also made for television. Yes, it's German, it wasn't on at the big screen, it's only an hour long, but it makes recent Disney projects look like squat. Sorry, Largest-Fantasy-Company-in-the-World, you've been beat.
The first amazing thing about the movie is that the story is not well known in America. And that being so, I won't tell you exactly what it is.
Th acting is good, and the costumes are historical but beautiful. Not to mention the scenery, which is breathtaking. It doesn't have that "Disney magic," but that's almost a relief because it feels more genuine and real.
This film, along with all the others in this German fantasy film franchise, are must-sees. If you appreciate underappreciated fairy tales, you will not be disappointed.
Aquaman is... Corny and Terribly Written.
Not being a superhero fan, I was surprised when I was impressed with 2017's "Justice League." Aquaman was actually my least favorite character, but the trailers for his own movie showed sea monsters, so that sold it. So I saw it.
For starters, the script (written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall) is absolutely awful. Not only can you predict the outcome of the story from the moment the title comes up, but the dialogue is bone chillingly bad. It is even full of cliches like the "du du DU!" music that plays when the villain says something "scary." It also contains things that I never wanted to see or know, like an octopus playing drums, and apparently Aquaman doesn't wear deodorant.
And then we come to the cast: a fair enough group tainted by terrible lines. Jason Momoa (Aquaman) quotes his ill-timed one liners with all the dignity of smoked ham. So... yeah. Amber Heard (Ariel-Meara) graces the screen as your standard "tough superhero girlfriend" with all the dignity of, again, a smoked ham. Patrick Wilson (the evil Orm) is generally a talented actor, but is ruined by cliche "bad guy" yelling. Willem Dafoe is impossible to take seriously after his role in "Mr. Bean's Holiday." Dolph Lundgren rides a giant seahorse - and that's about it. And finally we come to Nichole Kidman, who looks lovely and doesn't botch her lines or performance. She should be apologized to for working with these people.
The visuals are amazing, if a bit overwhelming at times. The most impressive advancement of Atantis is their waterproof make-up. It's almost 2 hours into the movie before we see the creatures promised to us in the trailer. They are truly the highlight of the film and the mostly the reason for my 4 star rating.
This is a long, lingering, rather dull movie and only watchable if there's nothing else to rent at the video store: Carson Clay's "Playback Time." I mean, uh, "Aquaman!"
Peter Rabbit (2018)
Peter Rabbit is... Adorable and Funny!
I have never read the original Peter Rabbit stories, so I had no expectations for this film. I was pleasantly surprised, however, by the charm and sweetness of the story.
Firstly, the rabbits are ADORABLE! Rabbits can do anything and be adorable, but it's even better when they talk. The humor is fun and witty and the story is enjoyable. The actors are well cast, as are the voices of the (adorable) animals.
Don't get the impression that the story is "modernized" and dumb. It is charming and lovely, with just the right amount of spunk. It is definitely something to be enjoyed and watched again and again.
Venom is... A Perfect Example of Mediocrity in Superhero Movies.
After seeing Venom's character in "Spider-Man 3," I was a bit excited for this film. It had potential for being fun and awesome. But it was no more than the typical Marvel disappointment.
It wasn't poorly made in terms of budget or even acting, really - it's just a little shallow and boring. Tom Hardy is a quite unlikable character, and even when he gets Venom he can't pull it off. There is one well choreographed motorcycle scene though, and that's the reason for the three stars I gave it. And who on earth was Woody Harrelson supposed to be?
My biggest question is how this Venom fits into "Spider-Man 3." The film is "meh" and out of place for the current state of superhero movies. It could've been better.
Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
Mary Poppins Returns is... A Delightful Throwback to Classic Disney.
Usually, re-cast sequels made years and years later are tragedies caught on camera. But finally, this late follow up the 1964 film hits the mark.
The visuals and special effects style makes it feel like a classic Disney musical. Although the tunes aren't as catchy as the original ones, they're fun enough to pass. Some of the dance sequences felt like they were trying too hard to be epic. It would've paid to have some simple couples dances and waltzes.
Emily Blunt nails it as the title character, practically perfectly portraying the personality and mannerisms of Mary Poppins. But she still makes the role her own, which, in a way, respects Julie Andrews' former part. The grown and young Banks children are also well cast, with Emily Mortimer spot on as an adult Jane. Lin-Manuel Miranda was okay as Jack the lamplighter, but you could tell he was trying too hard to be the new Bert: the good ol' song and dance guy. That part just came so naturally to Dick Van Dyke. It felt a bit overcompensated with Lin. Oh, and let's not forget that Dick does play Mr. Dawes Junior again - doing a pretty good dance for a 93 year old!
The only element that puzzled me was Meryl Streep's appearance as Topsy - her story led nowhere. But that was made up for with Angela Lansbury's delightful part in the finale, which I enjoyed.
So, in conclusion, "Mary Poppins Returns" is a fun, magical family film, and though it somehow does not quite stand up to the original, it's not bad at all.
Mission Impossible: Fallout is... Not Quite Boring, Not Quite Exciting.
I've never been an avid fan of the "Mission Impossible" franchise. Although I do remember liking the first one when I saw it, these movies just don't resonate with me like, say, "Fast and Furious." But this installment was #1 at the box office for ages and got rave reviews, so I figured it was amazing.
As usual, when a movie is popular, I'm not impressed. It's hard to explain how this film made me feel. I wasn't really bored, but I wasn't in awe. For starters, the plot was too complicated. That's the problem with movies now. The story is either lazily written fluff or it's too much information for the viewer to understand.
The action was fun at times (the Paris chase, for instance) but the thrill was quickly gone. It was nothing to talk about later. And it's nothing we haven't seen before. Trust me. If anything, it occasionally rips off other action movies.
The acting performances where also mediocre. Tom Cruise was a bit hammy because all of his lines were. And it's hard to take Rebecca Ferguson seriously after "The Greatest Showman." I keep expecting her to burst into a cheesy pop song. And it's hard to take Alec Baldwin seriously - well, ever.
So, this movie is okay for a Saturday night when there's nothing else on T.V., but if you're looking for something to blow you away, this may not be it.
The Little Mermaid (2018)
The Little Mermaid is... Not Enchanting, But Entertaining Enough.
Beating Disney to the punch, Conglomerate Media and Kingsway Productions made their own live action take on "The Little Mermaid."
Some people have overreacted to the fact that it's not "Disney level" and give it more hate than necessary. I would not truly call this film low budget; it's not B grade, just, well, A-?
The biggest flaw is that the plot could have used more surprise, and possibly a bigger climax. Other than that, this is a fair-enough family movie... with a mermaid. I can say that the world is low on live action mermaid movies.
Some reviews would have you think this is comparable to "Plan 9 From Outer Space!" If you're wanting to settle in with a fantasy epic, this may not be for you. But with a cast that's well known enough to make it work, and a story that is simple but happy, "The Little Mermaid" isn't all bad.
13 Ghosts (1960)
13 Ghosts is... a Sloppy Mess of a Movie.
Although this film was sort of pioneering in special effects, given the Illusiono technology, in every other department it stinks.
So, the infamous 13 ghosts - or 12 to be honest, given that the final victim was never shown as an actual, trapped ghost. The biggest disappointment is that the ghosts are not really a threat. In fact, one of them ends up doing the little boy a great service. (Oh, I'm so scared.)
Our on-screen family consists of a Ward Cleaver impersonator, Shirley Partridge's mother, a girl called Madea but she's not played by Tyler Perry, and a boy with a bad haircut simply called "Buck." Not to mention the maid, who is the Wicked Witch of the West (literally).
Then of course there's the fact that this is a 60's movie, so it's not really that frightening. So, it's really a waste of time to watch "13 Ghosts." unless you wish to see it because of it's reputation.
Piglet's Big Movie (2003)
Piglet's Big Movie is... Sweet and Heartwarming.
Trying to prove that he really can be helpful, Piglet goes missing in the Hundred Acre Wood, which prompts his friends to go look for him. While searching, they realize they have taken Piglet for granted.
The first highlight of this film is that we get to see many of the A.A. Milne stories (Kanga and Roo Come to the Wood, Pooh Corner, and the North Pole) when the characters remember Piglet, although they have been slightly altered in Piglet's favor, which is fine.
The second highlight is that the movie itself is made beautifully. You really feel the emotion that the characters go through, which is strange for an animated film. It is not cheesy or forced - it is simply sweet.
But I must give you warning: as soon as Tigger and Rabbit lose the scrapbook, tears will be shed - and they won't stop until the movie ends. But that's okay, because we could always use a good cry.
This is by far the BEST animated Disney film ever, and the greatest animated movie period. Everyone, including adults, should see this movie.
The Watcher in the Woods (2017)
The Watcher in the Woods is... Nearly a Fail, But is Somewhat Saved at the End.
Although the plot is slightly intriguing (strange happenings in a creepy mansion), and not everything about it is bad, there's something about it that comes off cheesy. I can't decide if it's the poor film quality, or the over done scary-movie cliches that happen too soon in the story; i.e. old ladies "sneaking" up, antique dolls, haunted little girls, and crows.
And, of course, there's the parents that refuse to believe anything is amiss. Please, filmmakers/writers, can we have open-minded adults just for once!!! It really wouldn't make the story any less creepy.
There's also many non-scary movie cheesy plot terrors: a boy telling our protagonist "I've never met a girl like you before" after knowing her for a total of 1 day. Additionally, they mention a certain character is homeless, yet later we see her living comfortably in her not too shabby trailer. (Plot hole alert!)
In it's defense, Anjelica Huston is pretty talented in her role, some of the camera shots are genius, and the locations are beautiful. And it picks up a little towards the end, luckily.
So, if you're wanting a truly haunting mystery, you could take or leave this.
King Kong (2005)
King Kong is... Well Made and Pioneering for It's Genre.
There's always been two kinds of King Kong movies: the ones from the 50's where the guy wears a $10 monkey suit, and the brand new kind where your brain is cluttered with CGI. This version, however, is sweetly in between.
First of all, it takes it's time. For the first half, the cast are in the city and on the ship. There's plenty of time to develop their stories. It's also filmed with a warm style that reminds me of the old "Poirot" with David Suchet. When they finally reach the island, there's many more interesting dangers besides Kong: dinosaurs, giant bugs, and vicious native tribes.
Kong himself (and the other creatures, of course) are designed in what was, at the time, a brand new state of the art technology; not too cheesy, not "too good."
By the end of the film, everything falls into place and has a fairly heartfelt finale. Well done, Peter Jackson (and his talented cast).
Incredibles 2 (2018)
Incredibles 2 is... Exciting and Acceptable.
"Incredibles 2" was probably the most anticipated movie of the year; it's hard to believe it's made 14 years since the first original. So obviously everyone was more than ready for this.
The film does come through when it comes to entertaining action and comedy, with Jack-Jack, Bob, and Edna providing most of the biggest laughs. The plot is interesting, because we've got to know what happened to the Parr family. As far as the supervillain mystery, it's acceptable and somewhat entertaining, but a bit predictable and generic. The final criticism I have is that Edna definitely deserved more screen time.
That being said, it is still an entertaining movie and not at all "painful" to watch.
In conclusion, "Incredibles 2" is funny, exciting, and really worth a viewing.
Ready Player One (2018)
Ready Player One is... Predictable and a Bit Monotonous.
The only reason I bothered to watch this film was because of the 1980's element I saw in the trailer. I realize the movie was based on a book which I have not read, so I cannot compare it to that, but I can say that it was a disappointment.
My first criticism is that there were not enough 80's references for me - not visual ones, at least. Yes, they had a DeLorean, a "The Shining" sequence, and Mechagodzilla, but I hoped for more Starsky and Hutch/Dig Dug/Terminator stuff! Clearly, the scriptwriters felt that teenagers (the target audience) would not understand or appreciate any more deep cameos.
And then we come to the general story: kids living in a cliche ratty future who rely on a really weird dude's game to get rich. The action scenes are honestly dull because there's too much going on and we know what will happen anyway. But not like we care, because the characterization is useless.
This is a film for teens that don't really care about the 80's who like watching other teens be cool by having spiky hair. The only reason I give it 3 stars is because they play some nice oldies songs.
Christopher Robin (2018)
Christopher Robin is... BEAUTIFUL and Lovingly Made!
I am a devoted friend of Winnie the Pooh, so this film was the highlight of my year. Although I generally do like Disney movies, some of their more recent projects have been sloppy and strange. "Christopher Robin," however, is a refreshing change.
First, they did not try to turn it into "hip" Pooh. They could've easily set it in modern times with cell phones and snotty kids. Instead it took place in about the late 1940's and everyone was charmingly British, if you know what I mean. You can tell that the crew had probably read the original A.A. Milne books. They perfectly blended Milne's style and Disney's style.
Secondly, Pooh and his pals are adorable and hilarious! Their personalities were depicted well and true to the books/cartoons. Anyone who knows Pooh well will see that and appreciate it.
It was also well cast; Jim Cummings voiced both Pooh and Tigger, as he has done since the 80's. Sadly, some of the other voices were replaced, but without much complaint. The humans of the cast were also lovable.
Honestly, anyone will enjoy this film, no matter their age... but for those of us who hold The Hundred Acre Wood close to our heart, "Christopher Robin" is a true gem.
The Greatest Showman (2017)
The Greatest Showman is... Overrated and Definitely Not Mind Blowing.
I originally had no desire to see this film. I mean, Zac Efron flailing around in a circus? Not my cup of tea. But absolutely everyone I talked to that had seen it told me it was "sensational!" So, I tried it...
One thing everyone agreed on was that it had amazing choreography. Let me tell you, Disney Channel films have better dance sequences! They try to create the illusion that the choreography is epic by hiding the truly simple dance moves behind elaborate set pieces and dozens of extras. The singing is also nothing special. The main problem is that although the film takes place in the 1800's, most of the musical numbers are worthy of recordings by Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber! That's part of the "Magic of the Movies." When a film is set in another time era, you get to be transported there and experience it. Also, Jenny Lind's catchy tune "Never Enough" is masked as inspirational; it is actually about a spoiled brat that is basically never content.
Another flaw is that pretty much nothing in the movie happened in real life. But, if you are going to make it unrealistic, you might as well give it a heartfelt story. The writers almost achieved this in the very beginning, creating a blossoming friendship/romance between P.T. and his future wife, Charity. But as soon as the circus came along, their relationship was practically forgotten and it was all about Zac Efron. The movie would have been better if it focused more on Barnum's family life and the circus was a side story.
The only mildly talented cast member was Hugh Jackman, whose singing voice actually didn't make me want to scramble for earplugs, although my father kept asking when he would use his claws.
So, if you're wanting to see a truly beautiful and moving musical, I recommend "Les Miserables" from 2012. As far as "The Greatest Showman" is concerned, spare your eardrums from Keala Settle.
Gåten Ragnarok (2013)
Ragnarok is... Frightening and Well Made.
Foreign made films have a bad reputation for being long and boring. This is simply not true. Some of the best movies I have seen (including this one, obviously) were made in other countries. I must warn you, though, that since it is foreign it must be watched with English subtitles or dubbing.
Although it takes a little while to develop, once we get to the actual creature hunt, it was worth it. The creature itself (I won't say what it was, for fear of spoiling it) looks awesome and scary. The situations the characters get in make you wonder, "How are they going to get out of this?"
It's not a B movie at all; the special effects and acting are nothing to be laughed at. It is exciting and the characters have a realistic quality.
Looking back, I don't even recall reading the subtitles - it was so good I remember it as if all the lines were English.
In short, "Ragnarok" is great adventure story worthy of a watch.
A Quiet Place (2018)
A Quiet Place is... Creepy and Suspenseful.
In all fairness, I was actually playing a computer game while the rest of my family watched this, and though I looked up and listened many times, I have asked them for a little help in writing this review.
For starters, the concept was frustrating enough to be creepy. As seen in the trailer, people must be completely quiet to avoid monsters with ultra sensitive hearing. The challenge to live silently is impossible as the family tries to stay alive.
It was well made and acted, with plenty of "Doh! Crud!" moments, if you know what I mean. But it's still a movie that must lengthen it's plot, so they do stupid things that could have been avoided in real life, until they finally "figure it out."
Overall, "A Quiet Place" is a good thriller and is worth both trips to Redbox.
Justice League (2017)
Justice League is... A Nice Popcorn Movie.
After "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice," DC fans (and non fans) were depressed by the sheer agony. Personally, I was a little afraid for the future of DC's franchise. After an audience gets a bad taste in their mouth, it's hard to forget. But, "Justice League" actually comes though with just enough action and fun to make up for previous mistakes.
In the film, we are introduced to more heroes, like Cyborg, The Flash, and Aquaman, as well as reuniting with familiars like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. As I said before, it is a fun film, but has a few "flaws" in my opinion. First, even though there are many heroes, only Superman has died and the whole world falls apart? Sounds like Bruce and Diana aren't doing their jobs! And Aquaman is a little too cocky to be taken seriously; it takes from the drama. Cyborg is the best character because he is calm, level headed, and not annoying.
But, I must say I enjoyed the theater experience and it's worth your movie-watching time. The visuals are spectacular and not too cheesy, and the action is quite "edge of your seat." If you are afraid you're in for another "Batman vs. Superman," don't be. It really makes you look forward to the upcoming DC films, like "Aquaman" and "Justice League II." Also, it is not necessary to have seen any previous DC films like "B vs. S" or "Wonder Woman." All you need know is that Superman has died. But I do believe this movie was released at the wrong time. It premiered in November 2017. A superhero epic like this didn't deserve a release in dreary November! A June, July, or August "summer blockbuster" release would have suited it better.
So, if you see "Justice League," you will not be disappointed!
Rampage is... Fun and Epic.
When I first saw the trailer for this, I got as far as the giant wolf and I was sold! And I will never regret my decision to see it on the big screen. I mean, "Dwayne Johnson vs. Giant Animals"... what about that is not awesome?
The first thing that impressed me about the film was that, while it still did not have an immensely deep story, the plot was rather well explained and I always knew what was what and who was who. Even the action (though huge) was not too confusing, unlike the work of some directors I know, i.e. Mr. Bay. The plot has just enough "personal" backstory on some of the characters to make you kinda care, but not so much that I fell asleep - there were no love triangles or complications.
The actors, while not breathtakingly charismatic, are fair enough to pass. I really do not understand why this has so many negative reviews on IMDb. Don't see this film expecting a BBC style drama - it's called "Rampage" - expect a wild action movie!
The only bad thing I can say about it is that a handful of the lines were a bit cliche. But that's really it.
In conclusion, "Rampage" is a non-stop action romp with giant animals and The Rock... it's worth a see!
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is... Mildly Funny and Underwhelming.
When I first heard of this film, I was skeptical of how it could measure up to the original "Jumanji." It's not my absolute favorite comedy ever, but it was entertaining and fun. Then I heard of the cast - Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, and so on. All have a pretty good track record for being very funny, so my hopes were lifted.
So, this film basically broke box office records, remaining in my dinky hometown theater for at least 2 and a half months (and that's a big deal for them). And then when it came to DVD, it was impossible to get for weeks - all copies were rented constantly. When I finally rented it, I thought, "This must be a REALLY good movie!" Then I watched it...
At first, I was surprised at how not funny it was. But it was still only the beginning - the characters were still just kids - so I waited for the real stars to show up. And they did... and it still wasn't funny! Jack Black was hamming it up way too much as a girl, and The Rock was only given predictable lines to work with. Karen Gillan was a dull character. The only actor that solicited any out-loud laughs from me was Kevin Hart, whose character suffers from a hilarious cake weakness. But most of the joke writing was lazy, as if it was whipped up in a hurry and the writers spent more time on mind-boggling action and not laughs.
Aside from the performances, the plot was flimsy and predictable. The villain was stereotypical, and the film was mostly "normal" action, not many animal stampedes (other than one scene of rhinos) or living vines.
Also, in the original movie, Jumanji is portrayed as a rough place and the game sends animals and monsters to terrorize our world. But now, suddenly the players are compelled to SAVE Jumanji from the villain's clutches so it can be restored to a place of beauty. Why?
Lastly, I felt the Guns 'n' Roses song wasn't used enough - it was only played once during the end credits. When you've got a great song like "Welcome to the Jungle," and it's IN your TITLE, it should be showcased more and be the movie's "theme."
In short, if you value your time and energy, you just might want to skip "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" and see the original from 1995 instead.